Friday, January 31, 2014

Things in Muffin Tins - Part 1: Pot Pie

As we all live our lives, we develop quirks and odd goals that ride side saddle to the more normal parts of our lives. It's those odd bits of personality that make life interesting and, often times, lead us to try new (and possibly terrible) ways to change up the mundane. Personally, I have taken on the habit of asking myself something very important while I'm cooking:

Can I put it in a muffin tin?

Usually the answer is 'No!' but sometimes I get lucky. Today was a lucky 'yes' day. Let me introduce you to my new favorite cupcake tin recipe -

Behold! The poorly photographed Mini Chicken Pot Pie and the first installment of Things in Muffin Tins.

Now, as you can see, it's a bit wobbly in shape and I've turned it into a shredded cheese volcano, but I feel like that's part of it's charm. It tasted great and required very little effort from yours truly while still being hearty. And! As my husband happily pointed out to me midway through dinner, you don't have to use a fork. So, for brave souls, I suppose it works as a finger food.

For those of you interested in giving this a try, I'm going to include my fast and loose recipe below. 

The Crust:

(Note: This crust recipe isn't my recipe. I don't remember where I found it online but I love it)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter (cold. I just use the 'from the tub' stuff)
- A sprinkle of salt
- A dash of sugar

Mix this lovely science project together until it's all crumbly. Add a few drips of water and then squish it all together into one big full-of-potential lump of dough.  

The Innards:

- 1 cooked chicken breast (or two if you want less veggies and more chicken)
- 1 can of condensed mushroom soup
- peas, carrots, onions, and, if you're feeling frisky, some celery.

- Mashed potatoes (Home made or from a box. Whatever makes you happy! Personally, I love yellow potatoes with a little garlic, butter, and milk)
- Shredded cheese

Shred the chicken like it said something mean about your grandmother and then stir it into the condensed soup and your veggies. This will be the yummy soft filling of your pot pie!

Next, roll out your dough nice and thin and cut it to fit into your muffin tin. I use a mason jar to cut the circles for the bottom, re-roll what's left and cut it into strips to line the sides. If you're like me and like lots of crust, keep those extra strips to put on top! Once your muffin tin is safely shielded via crust cups, spoon in your filling. Top it off with a spoonful or two of your yummy mashed potatoes and sprinkle some cheese on it. If you've got those left over crust strips, now's the time to get creative with them.

Lastly, put those bad boys into the oven (at 350 F) for 40-50 minutes. Let them cool for about 10 once they're free of their oveny prison and enjoy!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Coffee magic made at home

Let's talk about vices. More specifically, let's talk about that all important morning Cup of Coffee. For you brave souls who swallow down that wonderful, piping hot, dark mana with nary so much as a bleary eyed glance at the sugar bowl, this post isn't for you. It's going to be full of sugar. Lots of sugar. But if you, like myself, like your coffee sweet and creamy enough to offer you a sugar high before the caffeine can work its magic, have I ever got a treat for you!

Let me tell you 'bout some home made coffee syrups, darlings.

I love flavored coffees but, because I'm a fan of cups of caramel colored sugar slurry, I go through the flavored creamers a little too fast for it to be an affordable option. So today I'm going to teach you how to make some at home vanilla syrup for your coffee (or milk! A little cap full of the stuff turns plain Jane milk into a yummy tasting treat) that might even save you a trip to your sugar bowl!

To make yourself some of this sweet, sweet magic, you're going to need:

-A pot to boil water
-A stirring apparatus
-A container (I use and suggest an empty wine bottle. Glass containers just seem to work the best for storing this stuff.)
-And some Vanilla extract (Real or imitation. Both work fine. If you want to get really fancy with it, substitute the extract for the real deal vanilla bean)

First, get your water in your pan on low heat. A good rule for balance is a 1:1 ratio between the water and the sugar. Normally, I use/suggest 3 cups of water (which will fill up a standard wine bottle, if you're using one) but if you want a smaller batch, use that ratio to scale it down. Or, if you want less sweet to your syrup, do a 2:1 ratio.

Get your sugar in the pot as quickly as you can and settle yourself in for some stirring! If you're using some real deal vanilla bean, toss those bad boys in there so they can get all that vanilla-y goodness into your concoction while the water heats up! For the extract, just add a capful or two (or three or four if you really like the stuff!). I generally like mine to end up about the same color as a cup of tea - dark, clear amber.

Stay stirring until your undoubtedly delicious smelling mixture breaks into a boil. Then turn it off and let it cool a bit (and let the vanilla beans steep for a while if you've got them in there). Once you can safely handle it without burning your lovely self, pour that magic into your chosen container and store it in the fridge to await your next cup of coffee.

And enjoy!

As a little side note, though, you can also make fruit syrups with this recipe. Same ratio, same method. I've used it to make strawberry syrup (of course, you'll want to cut up your berries into little chunks and strain the left over bits out before you store it!) to mix into sprite and, once, a teensy bit of peppermint syrup for hot cocoa and it worked out well!


Note: All images in this post provided by the fabulous because yours truly can't take a nice picture of a coffee cup to save her life.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Intros are hard. Expect minor turbulence.

Welcome, welcome, one and all to the foundation post of what will eventually become a fantastic collection of Recipes, Thrifting, Crafting, and the day to day nonsense of two eccentrics. First off, lemmie tell you a little about what ThriftyStitchy is going to a basic sense, of course. ThriftyStitchy is going to be the (only slightly) chaotic catch all of the adventures of myself (Rianne) and my fantastic co-blogger, Lynn.

We are both avid cooks so there will be some tried and true, budget friendly recipes appearing at least once a week. Every now and again, we might toss in some culinary experiment and it's exciting successful (or catastrophic) conclusion. Rest assured, however, every recipe is done on a shoe string budget. So if you're looking for creative recipes that make use of the cheaper, seasonal veggies or creative tricks to stretch meals, or even a good laugh at Dinners Gone Awry, this is your place.

We're also ladies who hate to spend money - though we're nothing so extreme as television couponers or extreme cheapskates - and we have a lot of tricks and secrets to stretch pennies. We'll share the ones that we know work and pass along a few of our other nifty skills, ideas, and practices. Everything from how to save electricity to how to fake marble flooring, as well as some odds and ends, will find it's way here.

Lastly, we're both crafters. Lynn and I both crochet and sew avidly and with enthusiasm. Sometimes we throw glitter and glue and other times it's a mess. Sometimes our crafts turn out to be shining examples of our skills and other times they turn out wonky but with lots of personality. Let's face it, life is not a pinterest board and no one gets it right all the time. It's a journey of learning, refining, and, on occasion, mishaps... And that is half the fun! Expect some quilting from Lynn, some amigurumi from me, some paint, some glitter, and a whole lot more from both of us.

We might sprinkle in some other things as the blog grows (I believe there might be some gardening in the spring?) but, for now, these are our starting points.

Secondly, let me tell you a little bit about us (and give you an idea what else might be cropping up!):

Lynn is a stay at home mom, wife, aspiring cook, quilter, and part time super hero. She not only makes her own soaps and cleaners but she brings home some of the bacon while she does it. She has a flare for finding penny stretchers in both her crafts and in her shopping. If any one has some rabbits hiding in her hat, it's Lynn.

I'm Rianne. I'm an agoraphobe, stay at home wife, aspiring writer, mad scientist cook, crafter, and zen master. I am a 'fix it' fiend, a pattern hoarder, and a bad movie delicatessen. Expect all manner of nonsense - usually with bad jokes on its heels.

That's us in a vague nutshell. We hope to see you Monday, January 6th, when we will serve up our first official ThriftyStitchy post and accompanying shenanigans.