Friday, March 22, 2013

Crocheting lately

It's been a while since I've done a crochet post! Here are a few things I've been working on lately:

This cactus was whipped together on a craft night with friends, and holds my rings in the kitchen! It's just a tube of alternating front-loop-only single crochet tied up at the ends and stuffed. It only took about 30 minutes to hook together even while chatting...I love small projects!

I made a set of these coasters from a vintage pattern posted here. They're quite lovely, work like a charm to protect our furniture, and can be made much bigger just by using a bigger hook! It's also an easy pattern to memorize and fits nicely in any bag, unlike this next project...

This is a work-in-progress...a belated birthday shawl for Zabrina. I had been working on one previously using this pattern for a lover's knot blanket as a guideline, but there was something wrong with my turn...the edges of the shawl/blanket were far too tight compared to the rest. I was already far overdue on her birthday gift and was so frustrated with the project that I just asked her to pick something, and she chose this pattern for a stunning Celtic knot shawl. I took an evening to frog all my previous work (all 4 balls of yarn), re-rolled the yarn into center-pull balls, and started on this. It's only been a couple of days with me working on it on-and-off in the evening watching TV, but I'm really enjoying the pattern! I can't wait until I'm far enough along to see the design start to really pop. 

It's also my first time working with filet, which I had only seen previously in antique white doilies and table runners with very small yarn or even thread. It takes a little getting used to, but I love that I'm getting to try it in this life-sized pattern before I ever attempted the old-fashioned microscopic versions. It's been an easy introduction to the technique and I can't wait to try other patterns!

The last thing I'm working on right now is a bit of a secret. It's taken quite a bit more work than I originally thought, but after pretty much making up my own pattern, I'm nearly finished! I'm trying to remember to take process pictures and will post all of them when it's complete!

What have you been working on lately?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pasta and Eggs

My friend Nancy in Colorado used to cook dishes I had never seen before. Her house always smelled amazing and I loved spending time with her, chatting it up while she cooked. 

Nancy's mother grew up in Germany and many of Nancy's dishes were German and Czechoslovakian. She made this delicious dish she called Pasta and Eggs, and although she explained you can use any meat such as German sausage, she used bacon and ham because it's what she had at the time. 

My take on this really easy recipe uses Gluten Free pasta, but other than that, I still keep it the way Nancy taught me.

Gluten Free pasta
1 large onion or 2 medium onions
8 Egg whites (use the yolks if you like)
1 Tbsp crushed garlic (from a jar I keep in my fridge)
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

 I use this Gluten Free pasta because it tastes as close as I can get to real pasta.


In a large pot, add butter, and chopped onions, ham, bacon and spice and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft.


As soon as the onion are soft, I turn off the heat and start my pasta. I don't do my pasta first for two reasons: One, I'll forget about it and let it cook to long. Two, I don't want to cook it first because I don't want it to sit around and turn to glue on me (not that that ever happens...) When the pasta is done, just add it to the pot and lightly toss to mix (don't over mix or the pasta will break up!)


Please forgive the steam on my camera lens. 

I do not use egg yolks for anything, but once in a while one will get away from me!


Pour your eggs over the pasta and ham and onions and give it a light stir, and then (tightly) cover it with a lid. I was too lazy to go get the french pot lid so I used the lid from the boiling pasta pan instead. 


Let this cook for 2 to 3 minutes and stir again. Put the lid back on and let it cook for another 2 minutes and you are ready to plate and eat!


I hope you try this easy, yummy dish. 

Enjoy! Zabrina

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lentil and Sausage Soup

One thing that continues to shock me about North Carolina is how quickly the weather can change. I made this soup just a couple of days ago, when we were spending our evenings snuggled under blankets and any outing required a search around the house for warm clothes. 

In contrast, the last couple of days have been unseasonably warm! Now, we're driving with the windows down and actually contemplating exercise. Hopefully this weather is here to stay; if it isn't, I may just have to make this soup again.

This is a variation of a recipe found on Pinterest here, with a few changes based on what I had on hand. My husband and I aren't gluten-free, but this recipe is!

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Sliced Cooked Hot Italian Sausage*
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup mixed greens (mine are frozen)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup lentils
2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
Spices (black pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, onion and garlic powder)

*We buy sausage from a local butcher and always grill extras to keep in the freezer for soups and other dishes. Always double-check that your sausages (and other processed meats) are gluten-free!

In a large pot, saute the carrots, onion, and celery until the onions are beginning to soften. Add chopped sausage and saute enough to warm the slices and bring out some of the spices. Add garlic, lentils, and enough water to fully cover everything with an inch or two above. Add greens. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Add canned tomatoes (do not drain), spices, and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to start. Add more spices and tomato paste until the broth has good flavor. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

This soup is even better the next day, but don't expect it to last much longer than that!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Home-made Mozzarella Cheese - a near failure, or how NOT to make cheese

Full disclaimer: This ball of cheese took about 5 hours to make! It worked out in the very end, but I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I need to buy a few things before I make another attempt, but for now here is a short list of my failures in this first batch:

1) Rennet: Whole Foods only had "Junket" rennet and no vegetable rennet. It was only after careful searching (and after my cheese had not separated 2 hours after carefully following the directions) that I discovered that Junket = junk in cheese-making. It's not nearly strong enough. I had to quadruple the dose to get any results, and all the additives make me uneasy.

2) Acid or Heat?: Even after adding this, 2 hours later the curds and whey were separated...but the curds were too soft. I couldn't even pick them up carefully with my fingers. It was like floating yogurt in a bowl of water. I decided to heat the mixture and add lemon juice to see if I could at least get ricotta out of it...and THEN it formed nice, big, firm curds. 

Maybe the acidity wasn't high enough for the quadrupled amount of Junket (I did add the citric acid in the beginning...)? Maybe the heat did it? Whatever the case, I followed the rest of the directions at this point and warmed, squeezed, and stretched the curds until I got the shiny ball shown above.

Also, at least one website called me a bad person for using tap water instead of bottled distilled glacial water. Oh well.

I let it sit overnight in a bag full of whey and tried it this's delicious! Also, despite my fears about eating anything that has sat at room temperature for more than an hour, I feel fine. I can't wait to try this again with some proper ingredients, and will post a full tutorial next time! 

For anyone who actually wants to attempt to make this cheese with Junket after all this, here's my list of ingredients:

1/2 gallon of (expensive) local, not Ultra-Pasteurized whole milk ( has a fantastic list here)
5/8 tsp citric acid, dissolved in 1/4 cup water (I found mine in bulk spices)
1 entire tablet of Junket rennet, dissolved (you'll have to crush it) in 1/2 cup water (found near pudding mixes)
about 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Follow the directions for American Mozzarella Cheese in the Junket box, with optional added cursing, hours of websearching, and complaining to your mother and/or husband about how much you fail as a person because you can't complete a seemingly-simple recipe.

Have fun!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter Birds in Georgia

Today is a cold day here in northern Georgia. My husband gets himself out early to feed the birds. Dave's love for nature is something I really love about him. I truly believe that animals in nature feel a true sense about humans. I love watching my husband feed the birds and once in a while I remember to grab my camera and take pictures.


The birds will eat right out of Dave's just amazes me to no end. We have some really beautiful birds here, unlike the ones I grew up with in California. 


Spring will be here in a few weeks and I'll take more pictures of our ever-turning yellow finches. Our hummingbirds should be back soon and I can't wait to show you! 

Just another Thursday morning at Zabrina's house.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fritos Chicken Chili Skillet

My mother used to make some interesting dishes when I was a little girl, way back in the 60's and 70's, and boy did I have my favorites. One dish was this hamburger meat casserole she made using Fritos. Mom's recipe was not very healthy so I made a few changes, but kept the Fritos for the sake of taste and This is so easy!

In the morning, add the following to your slow cooker:

Two frozen chicken breasts ( boneless/skinless)
2 cans of Hunt's fire roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz cans)
1 chicken bullion cube
1 package chili mix (yes, I cheated, but you can use your own chili mix seasonings.*)
1/2 onion, chopped 

Later, you will need 3 cans of beans, cheese, and Fritos of course!

*If you choose to use a seasoning mix, double-check that it is gluten-free. Some are not! Making your own is always the safer bet if you are avoiding any allergens.

Let this cook until chicken is soft (three hours for my cooker).


Turn on you broiler and get your oven hot and ready. When your chicken is soft, you can add the beans. I use three different beans: Black, red kidney, and chili beans. Always rinse your canned beans in a colander with cool water. As soon as the beans are rinsed, I add them to the slow cooker and give them a light stir. They're already cooked, so it should only be a few minutes before they're warmed through.

Now comes the fun part. Warm a skillet and toss in a bag of Fritos. (I know...crazy, right?) 


Then spoon in your chicken chili mixture on top (you're going to love this)...


Now cover this with your favorite cheese. I love sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever you love.


(I love all cheese) 


Now it goes under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes until cheese is all bubbly (but not brown, you have to watch it). Then you are ready to plate!

Now I had this wonderful plate all ready for you, but as I turned to grab my camera, my husband ran off with the plate. So this is a not-so-nice picture of my plate so you can see it. My husband devoured this in 20 minutes. In his own words: OMG this is awesome. Yay!

I hope you like this as much as I do. Fritos brings back great memories. 


I hope you give this a try. And oh's all Gluten Free!


Note from Yellow: Mom came to visit me last week and made this right before she left, and we loved it! It was perfect comfort food for the cold weather we've been having in North Carolina lately.