My Free Patterns

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Having grown up Phoenix, and then Southern California, it is a given that I love Mexican food.  Living in Scotland, one of the things I miss (besides Robins Eggs Easter candy, oh how I pine for you) is the readily available ingredients for cooking Mexican dishes.  Of course, that doesn't stop me, so here is a really tasty (and healthy) recipe for making enchiladas from scratch--sauce and all.  The sauce is really more like a mole, but it is divine so I don't care what it should or shouldn't be called.  I tried out numerous enchilada sauce recipes before I found this one.

This recipe also shows up my frugal side.  I have a firm belief that if you cook a (free range please) chicken you should use every part of it you can.  Therefore, even if we have a roast chicken, I throw the carcass in the slow cooker and make broth, and then freeze or can it.  This time I bought the chicken and had hubby chop it up for two different recipes I wanted to make, and into the slow cooker the carcass went.  The recipe below uses 6 cups chicken broth, so it was prefect to make this the next day.  After I make the stock, I always (and I don't like this part much) strip any last meat off the bones.  That is the meat I used for this dish, because you really don't need much, with those delicious black beans.

Enchilada sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp chili powder (do this to taste, esp, if using a hot one)
4 cups chicken broth
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cumin
½ oz dark chocolate (this is a must, don't leave it out!)

Black bean and chicken enchiladas
1 can black beans--I used home canned, so I don't drain them, but if used store bought you probably want to drain them.
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
½ cup whole black olives
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground corriander
½ cup chopped chicken
5- 8” flour tortillas
3/4 cup cheese, or as much as you like.  I just grate it over the pan until I am satisfied. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a bowl combine all ingredients except the flour tortillas.  Mix to combine. 

Spread one third of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of an 11x7 inch baking dish. Take one tortilla and spoon mixture down the centre, fold in either side. 
Place seam side down in pan.  Repeat 4 more times. Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the top, sprinkle on cheese. Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the covercontinue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 
Serve with Mexican Rice, sorry I don't have a picture of it.  Let me just say I searched for a good Spanish rice dish forever, and this is it.  Only as the same says it isn't Spanish, it is Mexcan!

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Sunshine Baby Hat

    This week the weather has been really, really nice!  It is so very spring-like I am hopeful it is actually here, and we won't get another snow flurry until next winter.  The sunshine makes me rather happy, and energetic, and this week I used that energy to make this baby hat, which I've dubbed the Sunshine Hat.

    I love, LOVE the yarn colours, and how it turned out.  I want to make a few more, because each one will be different due to the variegations.  Hurray for spring!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    A Great Day

    To be perfectly honest, I've been feeling just a bit down lately.  I know, it happens to all of us now and then.  My hubby has been struggling at work, and I have had a case of the crafting blahs.  However, that has now turned around, and I'm feeling my super-chipper self again.  Here is one of the reasons why:

    I got this fantastic award from Hawthorn at 11am It is my first ever award, and I'm so pleased I could burst.  Thank you so much for picking me!  Now the fun part of this award is that I get to nominate even more blogs for it, and share the love.  So get ready, I'm going to pay it forward!

    Here are my nominations, in no particular order:

    Now I must get on and finish my knitting so I have something to post for Creative Friday.  Until then............

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Pork Shoulder with Green Lentils

    The other night hubby and I went out for dinner at our favorite restaurant in Glasgow--Mzouda.  They serve Moroccan and Spanish food, and it is a real treat to go there.  For my starter I had lentejas estofadas (or something similar, I am terrible with names) and I wanted to try to recreate it at home.  I searched the internet (of course!) but couldn't find exactly what I wanted.  So I mashed a few recipes together, used my head and some inspiration, and here is what I came up with:

    Pork Shoulder with Green Lentils

    This was made in the slow cooker (crock pot), and took about 7 hours, though it could certainly cook longer if need be.

    1 pork shoulder steak (I don't know how much it weighed, probably about 1/2 a pound)
    1 cup green lentils
    3 1/2 cups pork (or chicken) stock, I added a bullion cube
    Salt and pepper
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 bay leaf
    2 carrots, diced
    1 chopped, onion
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 tsp turmeric
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1/2 tsp ground coriander
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    2 organic potatoes, washed and diced (I just scrub, never peel)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the potatoes, cilantro, salt and black pepper.
    2. Cover and cook on high for 7 hours. About 1/2 way through the 7 hours I cleaned and chopped the potatoes, and then par boiled them on the stove top (for about 5 minutes).  Drain and add to the slow cooker. I do it this way because I have had poor luck with potatoes cooking how I like them in the slow cooker.  It is up to you, you can add them at the start, cook them fully and put them in at the end, or try my way.  Do whatever suits you.  I like to make sure I give them time to soak up the flavors.
    3. When cooked to your liking, stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    To serve I made up some whole wheat flat bread, which I wasn't impressed with, so I won't share the recipe here.  Next time I will stick to making naan bread, since I have had good results with that.  Any bread would do though, so use whatever you love.

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    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Idle Hands

    I ordered some wool and a pattern to make myself a sweater, then ordered more wool to make short sleeve cardigans for the girls.  Well, my wool is on back order, and their pattern is on back order, so I'm stuck waiting for my projects to arrive!  Trying to keep busy, I've been working on little projects.

    I've been making bracelets!!


    The pattern I used is here.  I followed it exactly except skipped one repeat because I have an absurdly small wrist.  I like it.  I want to make another one with three small buttons instead of two, to see if I can keep it from curling up so much.

    Then I made a couple of button bracelets for the girls.  They wanted the huge yellow button on the end, which threw off my pink and white design.  Whatever makes them happy though.

    Next, I made a plain old stocking stitch cuff with garter stitch border.  Just sort of made it up as I went along.  

    After that I made some Cable Braid Bracelets, which I love!

    My favorite!

    It has been great experimenting with different yarn and buttons.  I might work up a couple more and list them in my Etsy shop.  Accessories for spring!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Mushroom Pilaf

    Ages ago I signed up for the Veg Box Recipes email service.  Usually once a month they send out recipes for what is in season.  The last one I received had a recipe that caught my attention--Crunchy Mushroom Pilaf.  I love the combination of red lentils and rice, it is creamy, healthy, and oh so tasty. While I do not like the "crunchy" in the title, yesterday for I made it for dinner. I've linked up to the original recipe, and below I've written out how I changed it to suit my families tastes.

    Mushroom Pilaf

    Serves: 4
    15ml/1tbsp oil
    250g mushrooms, halved, quarter the big ones.  I used chestnut.
    1 onion, chopped
    5ml/1tsp ground cumin
    2.5ml/1/2 tsp ground coriander
    5ml/1tsp ground paprika
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    100g/4oz split red lentils
    225g/8oz brown rice
    50g/2oz raisins
    900ml/11/2pts vegetable stock plus two bullion cubes
    75g bag watercress, roughly chopped
    2.5ml/1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    50g/2oz raw cashews, roughly chopped
    Salt and ground black pepper

    Heat half of the oil in a large pan, add the mushrooms and sauté over a high heat for 4-5mins or until nicely browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining oil and onion to the pan and sauté for 5 mins.

    Stir in the cumin, paprika, coriander and garlic, lentils, rice, and raisins. Cook, stirring for a minute. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30-40 mins or until the rice is tender.  When the rice was almost done I added the mushrooms back in, because I like them to soak up the flavor.  Add a little more water if the rice begins to stick.

    Add watercress to the rice, stir well then cover and cook for a further 2mins until the watercress has wilted. Season to taste. Stir in the cashews and serve straight away.

    This is a great recipe in the making.  I didn't really like the burst of sweetness from the raisins, but my husband did.  I am also not that keen on watercress I guess, so next time I will use spinach instead.  Over all, I will be sure to make this again, with a few alterations.  It is an excellent vegetarian meal.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Twisty Cowl

    After ripping out the mug cozy I was attempting, for the third time, I will (temporarily) admit defeat.  I put the yarn to another purpose, since I think it is a nice oatmeal colour that deserves some love.  The yarn is Sirdar Click Chunky with wool, which I scored on Ebay for about £0.60.  The pattern I used is Tom's Crossed Cowl

    I changed the pattern just a bit, so I'll write out what I did at the bottom.

    After I made it my girls saw it, and immediately wanted one for themselves.  I let them pick out the colours.

    Isla picked yellow and pink (just some acrylic I had in my stash), and I knitted it holding both colours together.  It came out a nice peach colour.

    Rori picked a darker pink and the same yellow as Isla.  I am particularly fond of this one, I think the colours together are really pretty.  The girls were happy too.

    I knit the first 5 rows with two strands of pink held together, then switched to one pink and one yellow for 5 rows, then double yellow for 10 rows, and then repeated the beginning colours for the top.

    I used the basic pattern I linked to above, I did changed it slightly to omit a few rows I thought weren't needed, and add a few at the end to make is symetrical.

    I used 6mm circular needles, 40cm long.  The first yarn I used was Sirdar Click Chunky, and the other two used two strands of acrylic held together.

    Cast on 72 stitches.

    Work 1x1 ribbing for 5 rows.

    Work following rows twice:
    Rounds 1-4 knit
    Round 5:  *Slip 3 to Cable Needle (CN), hold in back, K3, K3 from CN, K3.  Repeat from * until end of the round.Rounds 6-9 knit

    Round 10:  *K3, slip 3 to CN, hold in front, K3, K3 from CN.  Repeat from * until end of the round.
    After completing round 10 for the second time, knit four more rounds. 
    Work 1x1 ribbing for 5 rows.
    Bind off loosely.

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    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Lentil Soup with Homemade Bread

    While I like to use cookbooks, and I am surely a sucker for buying them, I also love looking at recipes online.  A few weeks ago I found this amazing recipe for no knead bread, which speaks to the lazy chef within me. It has a fantastic crusty outside and chewy soft inside.  I'm not exaggerating when I say I am STILL thinking about this bread, and any excuse I can think of to make it again. Last night my husband said something close to "Scotch Broth sounds nice."  What I heard is, "Let's have soup so you can make some of that fantastic bread."  So I have a loaf waiting for tonight that is 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup whole wheat.  I'll report back later on the results.

    Pretty AND tasty!

    Maybe we are greedy pigs (yes we are), but this loaf did my husband and I for 5 bowls of soup (total, not each), plus a slice for the kids, who are crazy and didn't like it.  They aren't fond of a crusty crust.  We cut generous slices, about an inch thick.

    Since I can't eat just bread all the time, I made some soup to go with it.  The lentil soup recipe is from a rather old, beaten up copy of The Joy of Cooking.  It has crossed the Atlantic three times, and given that I don't really like this book, that is saying something.  There are however, a few recipes that I like to make out of it, and this lentil soup is one (the mac and cheese recipe is good too, if you own a copy).  It is simple, and very tasty.  I always make 1/2  a recipe, and it is still enough for 5 big bowls.

    Lentil Soup

    olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, diced
    2 carrots, chopped
    1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
    4 cups water
    1 can chopped tomatoes
    4 slices bacon (more if you use streaky bacon, ie. American)
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

    Heat olive oil (about 2 tbsp) in a large sou pot over medium heat.  Add onions, carrots, garlic and bacon.  Cook until tender but not brown.

    Stir in water, lentils, tomatoes and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.  I tend to just let it cook on low until we are hungry, and that can mean upwards of 2 hours.  Just make sure the lid is on and the liquid doesn't boil away.  If you want it thicker then take the lid off and let some of the liquid evaporate towards the end of cooking.

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    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Cable hat

    I have come to the conclusion that I have an absurd love of hats.  I'm just going to embrace it, and keep on knitting.

    I have a lot of leftover yarn from the hat I knit my Dad, so I used it to make this Winter Femme hat.  Normally I don't think variegated yarn looks that great with cables, they just don't pop as much.  However for some reason I find this hat adorable, and I might just keep it for myself.  It should make a great hat for spring, the wool is 80% acrylic, 20% wool

    Darkened the resolution for better contrast

    Have a great weekend everyone!!  I hope it is dry where you are, I've got my fingers crossed we make it to the park today.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Viking Bag

    I really should have posted these earlier, but here are some pictures from last weekend.  We had Adventure Ted from nursery, so we went out to show him a good time!!

    Recently I found myself in turmoil.  Am I the only one that finishes up a knitting project and immediately wants to start a new one?  This time I felt panicked because I didn't have anything next in the queue that I really wanted to do.  I started trolling through the Ravelry patterns, to which I lost a good few hours.  In the end I picked a pattern that was already in my favourites--The Viking Bag.

    I also decided to translate the chart into words, because I have never worked from a chart before (gasp) and I'm a little hesitant.  So first I had to Google how to read a chart, because I had no idea how to do it.  After I figured that out I wrote out the 16 rows of the pattern, and then as I was looking at the comments I noticed that someone had already written the instructions out!  That pleased me, as I was able to compare and make sure I had done it correctly.

    Having a huge ball of 80/20 acrylic/wool yarn I decided I would use that for the bag, and black is good all around colour for a bag. The handles I had purchased previously (I think they were on clearance, I'm a sucker for a good savings).  I'm not sure what the second bar on the handle is for, does anyone know?  At any rate I just sewed the bag on at the bottom rung and called it good.

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    Tuesday, March 1, 2011


    I love snack foods, much to my hips displeasure, but I just can't help myself.  Take something crunchy and smear on a little bit of soft cheese, I'm in heaven.  This past few weeks I made two different types of crackers.  I got the recipes out of a wonderful book I got for my last birthday (it is in October if you want to send presents, he, he, he)

    First I made Curry Crackers.  I made these back closer to Valentines Day, so I cut them into heart shapes.

    Next, I made Poppy Seed crackers.  The picture isn't that attractive, but they tasted divine!

    For lunch I made broccoli cheese soup served with the poppyseed crackers, yummy!

    Broccoli Cheese Soup (this freezes really well for a fast lunch)


    • 2 cups chicken broth (or water and bullion cube, then miss out the salt later on)
    • 2 1/2 cups fresh broccoli
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Bring broth to a boil. Add broccoli and onion. Cook for five minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
    2. In a separate bowl, slowly add milk to flour, and mix until well blended.
    3. Stir flour mixture into broth mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is thick and bubbly. Add cheese if desired; stir until melted. Add seasonings and serve.

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