Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Japanese Chicken Curry in the Crock Pot. No Flavor Bricks or MSG!

One of my obsessions is Japanese Chicken Curry. It’s thick, creamy and magical. In the Asian section of grocery stores you can buy it in block form. You cook the chicken, potatoes and carrots in water and then melt the bricks in near the end. Buying the bricks is easy and delicious, but there is a downside.

I looked at the nutrition values… Box curry is not that good for you and has an insane amount of sodium and MSG. Therefore, my latest endeavor has been to make curry that tastes just as good without the blocks.

Through experimentation, it is abundantly clear that the best curry powder is S&B curry powder. It is specially made for Japanese curry. I got mine at the Nijiya market in San Francisco. I’m sure you could find it at most Asian markets though, just look in the spices.

Today I tried making it in the crock pot. It turned out wonderful :)

Here is what I did - The full recipe is posted at the bottom

1 lb Chicken Tenderloins, 3 Russet Potatoes, 1 White Onion, 1 C Baby Carrots (I prefer regular carrots but this is what I had on hand), 3 ½ Tb of S&B Curry Powder, 1 Tsp Salt, Pinch of Pepper, Pinch of Cayenne, Pinch of Instant Coffee, Pinch of Cinnamon, 2 Tb Flour, 3 ½ Tb Melted Butter, 1 Tb Katsu Sauce, 2 Tb Cooking Wine, 1 Tb Ketchup, ½ C Unsweetened Apple Sauce, 4 C Chicken Broth -- (Ignore the Worcestershire in the picture, I decided not to add it in the end)

First - Chop up your veggies! I don't cut up my chicken breasts when crock potting but you can chop it if you like. Lay the chicken and veggies in the crock pot, they can wait for a sec while you prepare the sauce. Cover it if you have nosy cats.

Mix your dry sauce ingredients. Curry powder, flour, cayenne, salt, pepper, cinnamon, instant coffee.

Start the broth boiling. Put the dry ingredients in a separate pan and heat on medium till aromatic. Do not overcook!

Add the melted butter, ketchup and katsu sauce.  Stir until it gets kind of crumbly.

Add about 1 Cup of broth to the spice mixture to liquefy it. Once smooth add the rest of the broth. Add in apple sauce and cooking wine. Bring to a boil then simmer until it thickens a bit.  Pour over other crock pot ingredients.

Close, cook on high for 4 1/2 hours.

Voila! Serve with white rice. (I use Jasmine because it’s my favorite) You know you want a bite.

Hubby and I enjoyed our dinner while we watched Return of the King in preparation for The Hobbit coming out in December :)

Homemade Crockpot Japanese Chicken Curry
1 lb Chicken Tenderloins
3 Russet Potatoes
1 White Onion
1 C Baby Carrots (I prefer regular carrots but this is what I had on hand)

For the Sauce:
3 ½ Tb of S&B Curry Powder
1 Tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne
Pinch of Instant Coffee
Pinch of Cinnamon
2 Tb Flour
3 ½ Tb Butter
1 Tb Katsu Sauce (Can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
2 Tb Cooking Wine
1 Tb Ketchup
½ C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
4 C Chicken Broth

Chop potatoes, carrots and onions and place in crock pot. Put chicken on top. For the sauce, boil the broth. In a separate pan combine dry ingredients – Curry Powder, cayenne, coffee, cinnamon, and flour. Heat until aromatic. Add melted butter, ketchup and katsu sauce. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes slightly crumbly. Add in about a cup of the boiling broth and mix until smooth. Now add the rest of the broth and mix. Put in the apple sauce and white wine. Bring back to a boil, then simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit. Pour sauce over the ingredients in the crock pot. You can add in more broth if you want it more saucy (I added about a half cup more broth) just keep in mind that the chicken will release some of its juices as well while it cooks. Put crock pot on high for about 4 ½ hours. Serve over rice!

And just for fun, I'm 28 weeks pregnant! December 19 is coming up fast!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roly Dog Crochet Pattern

Roly Dog Crochet Pattern

I think the Roly Poly Cats pattern by Nina Shimizu found here is super cute, but I wanted a dog version to make for boy babies. I took an evening and worked this pattern out, I like how it turned out. I also put a cat toy inside when I stuffed him so he rattles. :) Made two for both my cousins who had baby boys this year. Here is the link to the pattern on Ravelry:

I used an F hook and worsted weight yarn throughout.

This is worked in rounds, so don't join after each row. Just continue the spiral upwards. (Use a stitch marker if needed)

Eye Spot - Color B:

R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body

Head - Color A
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3:(sc 1, 2sc in next sc) around (18)
R4: (sc 2, 2sc in next sc) around (24)
R5: (sc 3, 2sc in next sc) around (30)
R6: (sc 4, 2sc in next sc) around(36)
R7: (sc 5, 2sc in next sc) around (42)
R8-15: Sc in each st around (42)
R16: (sc 5, sc2tog) around (36)
R17: (sc 4, sc2tog) around (30)
R18: (sc 3, sc2tog) around (24) - This is where I attached the eyes and started to fill with stuffing. I also added a cat toy as a rattle in the center. *Note* Make sure the safety eye goes through the Eye Spot before attaching to the head.
R19: (sc 2, sc2tog) repeat (18)
R20: (sc 1, sc2tog) around (12)
R21: Sc2tog around (6st) Cut yarn and sew up hole.

Nose - Color A:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3: 2sc, sc 5, 2sc, sc 5 (14)
R4: Sc each st around
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body, stuff
I used black yarn and a yarn needle to make a big black spot here for the nose.

Feet (4) - Color A:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3: In BLO sc in each st around (12)
R4-5: Working both loops from now on sc each st around (12)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body, stuff

Ears (2) Color B:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3-12: sc each st around (12)
R13: sc 6, leaving 6 unworked
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body. The ears are tubes but flatten them out so they are more like dog ears. Don't stuff this part!

Tail - Color B:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2-4: sc each st around (6)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body
Sew it all together, you can use my picture for help with placement. Also I've never written out a pattern before so I apologize in advance for any mistakes. Email me if you find any :)

How to Soften Red Heart Super Saver Yarn

*Please note!* if you are crocheting/knitting for hospitals or preemie babies this may not be a good method. They prefer no product has been used on yarn of donated hospital items.

This week I crocheted a Nyan Cat themed lovey for my impending baby. Unfortunately, trying to make something rainbow takes a lot of colors, and buying all 7 ROYGBIV plus the grey, pink and tan is a lot of yarn money. I bought Red Heart Super Saver thinking it couldn't be THAT bad.

I worked up the blanket part and it is bad - it would be scratchy and coarse for a baby at least. After getting depressed and dramatically declaring that my cute blankey idea was a failure (hey im pregnant, it happens) my husband suggested I look for ways to soften the yarn and save my project. At least someone was using their brain haha.

After a day or so of research and experimentation the blanket actually came out super soft :) It also had wonderful drape which I did not expect. There was much rejoicing. I'm not going to tell you it rivals the expensive high-end yarns but it does come pretty dang close. Now I can save money by buying cheapy yarn and softening them for the projects that require a lot of colors.

Take note that I had already finished the blanket part when I started this process, I don't know if this would work on the yarn itself before it's been worked up.

Step 1: Rinse in cold water

Step 2: Shampoo thoroughly, rinse twice

Step 3: Working in sections, saturate entire piece with hair conditioner

Step 4: Let sit in cool water for over an hour

Step 5: Rinse thoroughly

Step 6: Run it through the lightest wash cycle your washer machine can accomplish. Detergent is ok here as long as it is a small amount

Step 7: Put it in the dryer. You can use dryer sheets if you want. Dry until slightly damp. Take out and lay flat to let air dry the rest of the way.

That's it, you're done! You'll be surprised by how soft and pleasant this yarn can become. I've also heard that the more you wash it, the softer it gets.

I used cheapo shampoo and conditioner because that's what I had on hand, so don't worry if you don't have fancy hair stuff.

Finished product! It turned out bigger than I intended but still very cute. I may post the pattern at some point so keep an eye out if you're interested.

Update: The pattern is now available in my Etsy store for $2.40.

Owl Themed Gender Reveal Party

The moment I found out I was pregnant I planned on doing a reveal party, it's just too cute a concept to pass up. You get to know you are having but still feel surprised. Also, parties!

If you are not familiar with the concept, here is what we did: At the 20 week ultrasound we asked the technician to secretly write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope. Then we made a deal with a local baker to make us a cake that had either blue or pink coloring in the center depending on the gender and gave her the envelope. A few days later we had all our friends over for brunch and hubby and I cut open the cake and we all found out together what we were having. This is just one way of doing it, I have seen people fill pinatas with colored candy or open boxes full of colored balloons. I really want to do the pinata for our next baby.

love planning parties and I love DIY anything so that led to this reveal party that I had way too much fun with. I'd like to say right off the bat that Pinterest is responsible for many of these ideas. If you aren't on Pinterest, you need to be.

The theme was Owls and the colors were Green, Lavender and Brown. The pennants are made from green tissue paper, twine, staples and painted owls I stenciled on with an adorbs stencil I found at Hobby Lobby. 

I crocheted the owl family myself using this pattern by Sarah Zimmerman and Vanna's choice yarns. The pattern's owls are much smaller (the baby in my centerpieces is actually about the size of the daddy in the pattern) so I doubled the sizes. Took me way longer to make two centerpieces than I expected but the result was well worth it.

The "chalk board" is actually just a black poster board. Chalk worked surprising well on it so I just bordered it in burlap ribbon and cute buttons on the corners. The idea was for the guests to mark their vote on the board and then wear the pin showing off their vote. The pins are just ribbons hot glued to safety pins with buttons on the front. The guests loved it and it made for friendly competition. We also put up our top 5 baby names in each category and let people vote for their favorites. The vote winners were Eli and Ashlyn. (Update: We ended up naming her Aurie!)

The party was a brunch so the drinks were milk, OJ and Starbucks Mocha Fraps. Cute glass bottles are surprisingly hard to locate on their own but luckily Starbucks sells their cold fraps in adorable bottles. Costco had a deal this past weekend for $0.88 each - plus they were filled with the mocha fraps we were planning on serving. Score! All we did was peel off the sticker and use a little elbow grease and steel wool and they cleaned up easily. Even the expiration date came off, I didn't expect that. We got the carafes at Target. In retrospect we should have labeled the carafes because everyone thought that the coffee mocha was chocolate milk at first.
Note the purple paper straws because according to Pinterest, you just can't have a classy party without paper straws. :)

Food! Brunch happens to be one of my favorite meals ever. Though I also would like to be a hobbit and do second breakfast, elevensies and tea time.

The menu consisted of hashbrown-egg-ham casserole (cheesy and non-cheesy versions), french toast, bacon skewers, cinnamon rolls and and fruit cups. The fruit is in those plastic wine glasses with removable bottoms, we served the syrup for the french toast on the table in shot glasses. Party City probably thought I was throwing a drinking party. Also the owl stencil returns on the burlap table cloths.

Finally, the cake. The baker did such a good job on this, especially with how thick the frosting was. I printed the Owl pictures out on card stock and hot glued them to the extra straws to bring the theme around. (unfortunately the bakeries that actually do themed cakes were either booked up or ridiculous price-wise)

It's a girl!!! :) So excited. No wonder I'd been craving sweets like crazy!
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