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10 Dec 2012 10 Comments
You may remember I made a Dashie hat for my kiddo a few months ago. This one is for her best friend. It’s almost done… Whattaya think?
26 Jul 2012 1 Comment
in Food, Geekery Tags: A Song of Ice and Fire, appetizer, bell peppers, cream cheese, entree, Game of Thrones, geek food, geeky recipes, jalapeno peppers, jalapeno poppers, pepper poppers, recipe, spicy, stuffed peppers
I first made this recipe for my Game of Thrones premiere party back in April. I am now addicted to them and I need an Anonymous meeting for them. So I’m going to get you all addicted to them and then we can have meetings and eat them together. ;)
The original recipe for this came from Inn at the Crossroads, a blog that specializes in Westerosi cuisine. I love them and their mission (they have a cookbook out now!), but I have made some modifications to their original.
I also want to mention that, as a work in progress, I have actually made some more adjustments to this process since the date that I took these pictures. I’ll make note of the changes as I go. I would normally have waited to share this until I was more settled on the recipe, but I’m sharing this recipe at a tutorial event on Saturday and I wanted to have it available if anybody wants to know the recipe.
– Peppers. Bell peppers of any color are nice, and I’m a big fan of the “mini bells” that I’ve found at the market this season. Spicy peppers like jalapenos are also good for this!
– Goldfish crackers. Other cheesy crackers will work as well.
– Onions. I used two small ones this time, but one large will do as well. Adjust to your preference.
– Cheese. Cheddar was my choice this day. I also have used Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Mozzarella. Any of these are nice.
– A block of cream cheese. I never said these were light on fat.
– Spices of your choosing. I always put cumin in. Garlic and red pepper flakes are nice, as are chile powder and just about anything you’d like to add.
There are essentially three parts to this recipe: the filling, the topping, and the peppers themselves. First, let’s prep the peppers so they’re ready when we are. Use a paring knife to remove the stem end of each pepper, and then cut it in half so it can lay flat. Remove all the seeds. If you’re using spicy peppers and don’t want them to be too hot, make sure you get all of the white membrane inside as well.
If you’re using smaller peppers like jalapenos or mini bells, you can simply cut off the top and scoop out the seeds, leaving the peppers intact. This is my current favorite way to do them, but I also really love the big bells.
Next, let’s create the filling. Chop up your onion(s) into a small dice. Here’s one of the biggest changes I’ve made – put these onions in a skillet with a splash of oil and cook them first. They’ll get soft and transparent, and a little brown around the edges. You can add spices directly to the onions if you like (garlic and red peppers are good here). I feel that the added flavor, not to mention softness, of the cooked onions is way better here. You may skip this step if you choose, as I did on this preparation.
Now you can shred your cheese, if it’s not pre-shredded. There was, at one point, a measurement involved with this, but I just eye it now. When the mountain looks big enough, I’m done. Haha. You’ll also want your cream cheese softened. If you cooked your onions, all you need to do is put the cream cheese in a bowl and put the onions on top and they’ll soften it right up. If you’re going with raw onions, try popping it in the microwave for a few seconds (withOUT the metal wrapper).
Put your onions and cheeses in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Looking at this photo with a bit more practice, I can say that there are a few too many onions in here and perhaps not enough cheese. You can adjust the ratio to your liking of course. You can also add any spices you’d like at this point. I generally don’t, though, since the onions are already spiced and I’m about to spice the topping.
Pop some cheesy crackers into the bowl of your food processor and crunch them up. You can also just beat them in a plastic bag but that takes too long for me. You can make the topping as crunchy or as fine as you’d like. I prefer it somewhere between the two, with some larger chunks but also a lot of fine-crumb sized pieces. While the crackers are spinning, add the spices. The spice that must flow here, for me, is cumin. Not too much; you don’t want to overwhelm it. Red pepper flakes will add a nice kick, and garlic is never remiss. Paprika and chile powder are also nice, and I bet nutmeg would make a good appearance as well.
Now that you’ve got all the parts, it’s time to assemble! Simply scoop the filling into the peppers. If you’re doing it popper-style with whole peppers, you may want to use a chopstick to press it down into the tip of the pepper.
Then, add the topping. Just sprinkle it on and press it down into the cheesy filling a bit. Or, you can pick up the peppers (the smaller ones) and just dip them in. The original recipe called for an egg wash and some rolling, but I didn’t like that very much.
Pop those babies into the oven! I think I do them at 350F for, oh about 15 minutes? I’ll be honest – I don’t time it. 350 is the default for my oven so I go with that, but then I just kinda keep an eye on them until they get all melty and soft. You can poke and prod them if you’re concerned about pepper texture.
However long it takes them in the oven, when they come out they are full of molten cheese and absolutely delicious. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was addicted. These make a great appetizer, of course, but I’ve also served them as a main course with a side of rice! And don’t worry about making too many. On the rare occasion that they’re not all eaten immediately, just put them in the fridge. Warm them up a bit in the microwave the next day and they are Even Better! (If that’s even possible, that is.)
Have you ever made a “geek recipe”? What was it, and how did it turn out?
18 Jul 2012 2 Comments
As you may know, I’ve been busy with a lot of projects the past few weeks. So busy that I had to halt all of my online activity to make time for them. The biggest of these projects is a personal project – costumes for the upcoming Renaissance Faire! We’ve always loved these and have even done costumes before. We decided to really go all out this year though, with full new costumes for all three of us. I’ve been working my tail off, making all three costumes by hand!
Before I share these photos, I have some caveats: 1) it was late at night, 2) it was swelteringly hot, 3) we both felt ridiculous, 4) these photos were taken with a Blackberry. So, not the best camera or photo conditions, and not the best time or mood for taking flattering photos. In other words, we both look less than our best.
This is the bottom layer of my costume. It’s a simple square-necked muslin shift. I actually really like this pattern and the shape of the dress. Might make some similar things for actual everyday wear. This is the typical undergarment that every woman from the 15th century (or thereabouts) would wear. It wasn’t really intended to be seen, but mine will be. The neckline is a bit too wide for me, but that’s okay in this instance. I am thinking of adding some embroidery along the neckline. Blackwork would be a nice nod to Catherine of Aragon, but I’m thinking I’ll do a white-on-white border design. I am wearing some yoga pants underneath because I didn’t feel like taking them off. I have a somewhat tighter pair that I’m planning to actually wear to the faire, for comfort.
And here is the top layer! The corset is the only thing not made by me (well, except the parts of hubby’s costume that he’s made himself). We bought it a few years ago at, you guessed it, a Ren Fest. (Our favorite one, in fact.) It dictated the color of my costume; otherwise I would not have chosen a red skirt. (Red dye was too expensive for ordinary people back in the day, and also I don’t care for how I look in red.) (My corset actually is reversible but the other side is a very dark blue that looks black and that didn’t really work for me either.) If I look a bit uncomfortable, it’s because the bottom of my corset is laced too tightly, and the top is not laced tightly enough. Hey, we were not going for perfection for these photos.
The skirt is a wraparound skirt and it overlaps on the left side there by my hand. I’m planning to conceal a pouch or two in there. I don’t really have a “character” exactly, but as I’ve worked, I’ve imagined my clothing as belonging to a sort of secretly-badass innkeeper, with a knife under her skirts and taking no shit from nobody. Yeah, basically a medieval River Song because that’s how I roll. Oh and for shoes, I bought some nice grey flats from Target. They rock.
Remaining items to be made: a pouch or two, for carrying things. Possibly a wrist bracer. Decorative items like necklace and earrings. Hairpiece. I’m also thinking of making a fabric vest-like thing to wear as a substitute for the corset if I get tired later in the day.
Now for the boy! This is part one, and it’ll actually probably be a part of most of his future costumes. Yay for multitasking. I am absolutely in love with the shirt. I spent days and days on it, and I am SUPER proud of it. The blue details turned out better than I imagined. There are silver buttons at the cuffs and top of the placket, but you can’t see them here. The pants are also handmade although in the end we probably could’ve gotten some karate pants and been fine, haha.
Armor! This sword-arm construction is actually two pieces – a shoulder piece and a wrist/forearm piece. They are both made of faux leather and are custom-fit to his arm (his upper arm is several inches shorter than the pattern, for some reason). It’s backed with a feltlike stuff and is pretty dang comfortable. I’m wearing it right now actually because I got curious as to whether it’d fit me. Both pieces can be worn separately and can go on the left arm as well (but you’d need a squire to help fasten the shoulder piece since the buckles would be in the back). The wrist part took only a few hours total, but the shoulder took longer than I expected. I really enjoyed making these and I’m hoping to actually make some to put up in my Etsy shop. If you’re interested, let me know!
There is also a chainmail shirt in the works that’ll go on just under these pieces (so the buckles are on top). I started it and taught him how, and Jonathan’s been working on it steadily in his spare time for weeks. We bought all the rings from Etsy for convenience and improvised the shape, and it looks great. I’ll share a photo when it’s done.
Here are the finishing touches. The sword, well, it’s not really part of the costume. It’s a Sting (we are nothing if not nerdy) that he decided to use as a photo prop. We are hoping to purchase a proper longsword this year!
The shield has an interesting story. It began life as a metal-mesh tabletop fruit basket at Pier One. At some point, lacking a surface to set it on, we hung it on the wall and noticed that it resembled old shield displays. After months of that thought rattling around, we finally decided to try weaving some suede lacing through it. This idea yielded the final result you see here. I love the serpentine pattern of the metal and the black leather. The top section is marine vinyl with a leathery look. We ran out of suede lacing, and that stuff is expensive. I really like the finished product, with the scalloped edge. The silver accents on the top are fleurs-de-lis, originating from our heraldic arms.
There is an open-sided tunic that is about half-done, sitting on our bookshelves. It’s the same deep blue as the accents on the shirt, and I have embroidered a water bouget (another piece from our heraldry) to applique onto it. However, I improvised the shape of the tunic and I am very unhappy with how it has turned out. I’m hoping to salvage it, since the fabric was NOT cheap…
Still to do for him: not much actually. There may be a hat forthcoming, and of course the tunic if I can manage it.
Did I say three costumes? Oh yes I did. There’s also an adorable pink satin dress for our daughter, which she’ll wear over some pink pants with her (purchased the same year as the corset) fairy wings. No pictures of her since, as I mentioned, it was late. I still need to make a hairpiece for her, and possibly a necklace or some other sparkly jewelry.
I’m pretty proud of these things, and I hope you like them too. I also hope you haven’t given up on my blog. I’m still here! I’m just sooo busy. With only accessories left to make, though, I might have a bit more time to spend here! Don’t go too far!
Do you like Renaissance Faires or festivals? Do you like costumes? Let’s talk about nerdy fun!