Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from Ina Garten's Chicken Pot Pie.
This one was excellent, I'm not going to write out the recipe as I didn't write down the quantities that I used, sorry, but you should be able to adapt it to how you like as it's pretty straight forward. If you click the link above it will take you straight to Ina's recipe.

Ina makes huge serves and uses a lot of salt and butter so I reduce these. (for instance approx 2 tblspns butter instead of 12)

I would use left over steamed, roast or BBQ chicken. I had steamed chicken breasts left over in the fridge, I used those instead of roasting them especially for this dish.

I cooked diced carrot for about 5 mins instead of 2, and I added corn kernels after approx 3 mins as I had some fresh corn cobs in the fridge. I didn't add the extra onions either.

I used ready rolled puff pastry sheets/squares instead of making my own. I'm lazy and I had some pastry in the freezer. Each sheet was big enough to cut two circles for the size ramekin I used. So two sheets was more than enough for 4 ramekins.  Next time I'll also cook the left over pieces of pastry, as every one wanted more!

I only used one chicken bouillon/stock cube and didn't add any extra salt. We are trying to reduce our sodium intake. So salt to taste if you like salt.

I din't add cream as I didn't have any,  I added a dash of milk and a large spoonful of sour cream.

I also found that it only needed to cook for 40 mins not 1 hour so check the pies after 35 mins to see how they are browning.

In a nutshell, it's a great recipe that you can adjust and play around with to cater for your family or friends.  It's easy and tastes fabulous, lots of flavour.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pyjama Party Sunday

Come and join in Pyjama Party Sunday. You don't need to have been in your pyjamas to participate, it's just that Pyjama Party Sunday sounds a whole lot better than Tracky Dacks Sunday (translation for non Aussies: tracksuit pants) or T-shirt and Jeans Party Sunday or Saturday.  I'd love you to join in and link up so we can all share in the love of PJ PS.

I was hoping to have this finished by this afternoon. Didn't happen.

I waged a war with the sewing machine and finally won, and had it fmqing for me without it changing the tension every 5 mins. Until then, my stitching was not exactly show standard, lol.

Just sneak peek photos today as I worked on the Red Monochromatic Block  today too, but can't show you the whole thing until it's finished. A huge thank you to Melissa for sending me some gorgeous snippets of red fabric to help me with this month's challenge.  A colour I love but for some very strange reason I don't have very much red in my stash. I will have to change that, I can feel a shopping spree in my future!

We had a lazy start to the day, Bitchypoo cooked pancakes but didn't quite read the recipe correctly.
Melt the butter before adding it to the mix!
Check out:
a) the large lumps of butter in the mix
b) how grotty the pan is, and
c) the smallest pancake, it has eyes and ears, should we try and sell it on ebay?  I could use the funds for my red shopping spree, lol!

Hope you all had and are having a lovely weekend,  and especially if you have an extra day this weekend for Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Favourite Things Friday

It's Friday and that means it's time to link up to Mrs P at Quilting In My Pyjamas.

This week my favourite thing is my computer in the kitchen.

When I renovated a couple of years ago, I swapped the living room with the kitchen. Most people thought I was stark raving bonkers, but I had a plan, and that plan was brilliant, even if I do say so myself.  It flows much better, it is in a much better part of the house, and opens up directly to the verandah. It also has a special place for my computer.
That's the late afternoon sunlight through the blinds, I love the shadows it creates.
There's Arnold who lives way up there above the computer, it's the only place in the house where he is not likely to be eaten.

I love having my computer in the kitchen. It's central, I can use it for recipes and have them up on the screen while I'm cooking. I can check emails and blogs while I'm cooking supposed to be cooking and I am close to all the action. I can Skype with friends and still work in the kitchen too.

The only downside
There is a nice little space to the side and behind just perfect for
my problem child to sit
and play, yes he is upside down
and plan attacks on his sister
and annoy the hell out of me, messing up my nice pile of crap that is sitting behind the computer

but he is so cute, hmm, maybe not so much..........what's next......................

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thai Chicken Salad

I haven't posted a recipe in ages. This is adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe so it's pretty healthy and really tasty.  As usual feel free to play around with it. As it's a WW recipe the servings are small, you may want to increase the amounts.

Serves 4

1 tspn of macadamia oil
2 tspns of sesame oil
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 piece of lemongrass finely chopped
400g chicken breast very finely chopped (minced/ground is fine)
3 spring onions finely chopped
1 can water chestnuts chopped
2 tblspns fish sauce
2 tblspns lime juice
1 tblspn brown or palm sugar
2 tblspns finely chopped mint
2 tblspns choppped coriander
1 tblspn Thai Basil
4 well shaped iceberg lettuce leaves
1 large carrot peeled and grated
1 small Lebanese cucumber, peeled and finely diced
2 tbspns coriander leaves, extra.

Heat oil in a large non stick frypan or wok. Add the onion, chilli and lemongrass and stir fry over medium heat for 2-3 mins or until the onion is soft.

Add the chicken and stir fry until the chicken is cooked through. Add the spring onions, water chestnuts, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, mint, coriander and Thai basil. Cook for 1 minute.

Place the lettuce leaves on 4 serving plates and divide the grated carrot between each plate and place on the lettuce leaves. Pile the chicken on top of the carrot, and top each serving with dice cucumber and coriander leaves.
Serve immediately.

My variation:
This time I used Rainbow Salad which is a prepackaged julienned mix of raw beetroot, carrot and broccoli stems, as I had it on hand and didn't have any cucumber. I also didn't have any Thai Basil so I just used the mint and coriander. I loathe cutting up chillies so I use Conimex Sambal Oelek in a jar, which is a south east Asian hot chilli paste. It looks more like minced chillies than paste.

P.S. If you don't like using sharp knives, you could use the Rainbow Salad, omit the water chestnuts and use chicken mince, then you could get away with only having to cut up the herbs, that might be safer for some people!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Not really tidbits today as not an awful lot of interesting stuff has been happening at Chez Sunshine, but as I posted Pyjama Party Sunday so early, I wasn't able to show you what I actually did on Sunday.

Thanks to everyone who has been linking to Pyjama Party Sunday.

I stayed in my pj's all day, yay.

It was so nice not to have to go out. I made myself a really yummy haloumi salad for lunch (sorry no pics) and sat out on the verandah in the sun enjoying the sunshine. It really was Sunshine Paradise.

So Sunday and yesterday I did a bit of this and a bit of that.  I have too many things on the go at once, I'm pretty sure I have crafting ADD and have the attention span of a gnat.

I finished trimming all the pinwheels, there are 30 all together, it's just going to be a small quilt.
I then applied Steam A Seam 2 and cut out all the pieces for the appliques (plural) that are a part of the pinwheel quilt.  I took ages attaching each piece with a tiny bit of glue as a temporary measure.  I didn't want to lose them before I was ready to attach them permanently to the backing as I still needed to press the bias binding properly and attach that before the final pressing. 

One teeny tiny problem, 

I forgot

and as soon as I finished glueing them

I pressed the whole thing BEFORE placing the bias binding which was going to be the flower stalks.  

Plan B:  Thanks to a very clever suggestion from one of the girls at Patchwork Angel today. I'm now going to embroider the stalks. It was way too hard to try and peel off the applique pieces, this time I did a really good job of making sure they were attached after my misadventures with applique attachment in Adelaide.

A very crappy pic of some of the pinwheels.

Do you think I'm ever going to get through a project from beginning to end without making a reasonably big mistake?

At least it makes life interesting and proves that I am quite good at adapting and open to alternate ideas.

On Sunday I also went with Plan D (or was it E?) on the Spice Boxes quilt and started machine quilting. Not exactly what I was hoping for originally, but I think it will look good when it's all finished. I used Gutermann Top Stitch thread and it worked really well in the machine, just a little bit of playing around with the tension to get it right. My stitching still has a couple of wobbles here and there, but then the above photo is an extreme close up!
I'm finding at the moment that sometimes my skill level isn't as good as it needs to be to produce what is in my head.  I did think about putting the quilt away until I had practiced enough to be able to hand quilt the design I was planning, but I don't absolutely love the quilt and I was afraid that if I put it aside I might never get back to it, and I like it enough that I want to finish it.

Last night I sat down and spent a lovely evening sewing these together.


My very first hexie flower. 
I think I'm hooked. For someone who really doesn't like hand sewing, I find these very easy, relaxing  and therapeutic. I can understand why English paper piecing is becoming so popular again.

You may also notice that my blog has changed again. I spent way too long playing around with it. 

See how long the current style lasts. 

I also made myself a little Award Free Blog button, it's up there on the right hand side, just above the Pyjama Party Sunday button and the clock which tells you what time it is here at Chez Sunshine. It's lovely to receive awards, and I don't mind telling you 101 things that you don't know about me, but I really don't enjoy having to "pick" x number of people to send them on to.  It makes me uncomfortable, who do I choose, who don't I choose who would like it, who would be really annoyed that they have been given one.  To make my life easier and less anxiety filled, I have decided to make my blog an Award Free blog. I love comments and they mean so much more to me than an award, as that means that you are reading my blog and interacting with me and enjoying what I write and the pics I show, and occasionally you may just think, and comment that I'm stark raving bonkers. Either way, a comment letting me know that you read and (hopefully) enjoy my blog or the things I create, means the world to me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pyjama Party Sunday

Good news, it's Sunday and we're still here. Just thought I'd let everyone know who's still in a Saturday time zone and you're wondering whether the world will end tonight, nope, not going to happen!

Now I've got that out of the way, I'm going to deal with the really important stuff, Pyjama Party Sunday, and it's even more cause for a party, because we didn't go up in a puff of smoke overnight.

I missed out last week as I was away having a great time on the Gold Coast, but would love you to link up this week to join in the fun. As usual you don't need to have been in your pyjamas. It's like any fancy dress party not everyone turns up in fancy dress, so whether you were in your pj's or not and would like to join in, please add your link below.
The really big news, I finished pebble quilting the Circles of Doom aka Strawberries and Champagne. I think I deserve three cheers and a glass bottle magnum of champagne for that achievement.
I went back to using the original fmq foot that came with the machine, so glad as it was a breeze compared to Friday night's nightmare.
It still took me half of Saturday so not a lot else was achieved on the crafting front, and I still have to quilt in the areas around the circles but surely that will not take forever and another 946 bobbins.

A view of the back.

Yesterday was interrupted by a nice lunch out with my parents here. It's a hard life, but I can cope!

I don't have much else to show as it's only early Sunday morning here, but I'm planning a crafty pyjama day today. If you would like to join in the pyjama party fun, link your post below.

Wishing everyone a happy Sunday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

I'm linking up with FNSI which is hosted by Heidi from Handmade by Heidi and Bobbi.

I hope you haven't stopped by in the hope of seeing some absolutely stunning project that I whipped up last night, as you are going to be very very disappointed.

Friday night started with an attempt to quilt more Circles of Doom.  I'm not sure whether I jinxed myself calling them that or they really are circles of doom.

If the world ends tonight I'm going to blame them.
I originally quilted them a few weeks ago as they are in the above photo. It didn't work, in fact they looked crap, so I had to unpick them, that's when they were christened The Circles of Doom.
After hours of time spent getting to know my seam ripper, which by the way is a very nice seam ripper, I was finally able to start quilting them in a pebble pattern. It was ok but I wasn't really happy with my Pfaff foot that came with the machine as it was a closed toe foot and gave me a limited view. I ordered an open toe foot and waited for it to arrive. I started quilting with the new foot last night, at first all seemed fine, but the longer I used it the more problems I had. The tension  kept on changing, I broke three needles last night and it just wasn't looking great. After a couple of hours of frustration I gave up in disgust.

I then went on to finish the pinwheel blocks, yay.
All was well until I checked some of them. A few had come out too small and the ones that I had to unpick the other day had slightly stretched out of shape.  Enter an hour of rotary cutter fun (dripping with sarcasm here), cutting them down to size. I still have about half left to trim.

Spice Boxes quilt top
Final attempt at being creative was to start hand quilting the Spice Boxes quilt. I'm not even going to show photos of that disaster.  It's not quite bad enough to stab it repeatedly, set it on fire and then run over it with my car, twice, BUT....................

A summary of my evening: FNSI would stand for a whole lot of other not very nice words if I had my way. There were plenty of those words flying around here last night. 

I hope everyone else had a much "funner" night than me.

Favourite Things Friday

I'm a little late this week, mainly due to the fact that I was in a sewing funk because my quilting wasn't quite going to plan, and I didn't think an FTF post filled with swearing was quite in the spirit of what Friday Favourites is all about.
Now that I've put my big girl pants on and stopped having a hissy fit, I'm going with Autumn this week.
I love Autumn/ I didn't used to like it when I lived in Melbourne or New Zealand, because that meant a yucky cold, wet, grey, depressing winter was just around the corner.  Here in South East Queensland, Autumn is a whole different matter.  I lurve Autumn, it means that the really hot humid oppressive days of summer have gone. 

It means beautiful big blue skies, most of the time. Low humidity, and finally days where I can wear something other than linen pants and a loose fitting cotton sleeveless top, YAY!!!!!!!! I do love my linen pants, but wearing them for roughly 6 months of the year, enough! I forget what else I have in my wardrobe. So now out come all my lovely winter clothes. Winter here means long sleeve cotton shirts, and jeans, or leggings and long tops, and lovely soft cotton cardigans.  Sorry no photos.

We do miss out on the beautiful autumn leaves, but I can always travel down south to see them, that's a great trade off compared to having to put up with chilblains and freezing my butt off!

These photos were taken at Hahndorf when I was visiting my wonderful friend Shay. Boy I had a great time there. I can't wait to go back. Shay beware!!!!!!!
So now I can unpack my doona/duvet and trackies/tracksuits and settle into the bliss of Autumn.

For more Favourite Things, pop on over to Shay at Quilting In My Pyjamas to see other favourites for this week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Wow what a week.  I had a couple of posts that I wanted to post late last week but as blogger was broken, that didn't happen. I was sort of secretly glad too as I went away for the weekend which meant I didn't have time to post to the Bloggers Quilt Festival and I would have really been pushed to do a Favourite Things Friday post.

I missed out on Pyjama Party Sunday too, but it will be back again next Sunday.

We had a wonderful weekend away on the Gold Coast. This time I went all out and stayed at the brand new Hilton at Surfers Paradise. The views were great, the weather was superb although a little cold and the room was excellent.
Warning, lots of photos.
Surfers Paradise, Queensland
View from our balcony, look at that sky.

The windows had blue tinting so the photos are very blue.

A certain someone jumped on the beds as soon as we were in the room.
The kitchen, which I didn't use!
 Love the architecture of the hotel, and the details below. It is curved, it's not an optical illusion.
The facade below would be great as a design for a quilt!
 The mosaic tiles on the columns are circular too.
I went for a walk each morning and took some photos on my phone.
Q1 Building, Surfers Paradise
The Q1 Building, it's tall.

Surf Lifesavers getting ready for the day.
Love this building.
A view along the walkway.
The Gold Coast is so different to where I live. It's much more developed, with lots of high rises, lots of nightclubs, but it's great for a bit of a change. I couldn't live there, or at least, at Surfers Paradise, way too busy for me.

I came back to find over 200 posts to read in google reader and over 50 posts in my RSS feeds.  On top of all that I want to look at all the beautiful and fabulous quilts on Amy's site for the Bloggers Quilt Festival. I am never going to get anything done around here! I've read a lot of them but had to cut back on commenting.

Monday afternoon I worked on the pinwheels and finished piecing all the blocks only to find that I had forgotten to check the orientaion of them and had sewn 10 around the wrong way. Guess what I did Monday night.
These are ok.
Being unpicked.

Spice Boxes quilt top

I was also going to start  hand quilting Spice Boxes, which has been hiding away for the last few months, but after unpicking the pinwheels, I pulled out the quilt and the frame to hold it but couldn't find the perle thread that I had bought some months ago for the quilting.
So instead of doing anything remotely crafty I went back to the computer to continue reading and commenting on blogs!