Thursday, October 30, 2014

Batman, Butterfly & Green Ninja Costumes

My kids love to dress-up and it seems most of their "costumes" start with a favorite pair of pajamas. These are a few of their pajama costumes with a few added extras to make them trick-or-treat ready!

Lloyd the Green Ninja (from Ninjago)


Abe has been asking to be a ninja since he first saw Lego's Ninjago. It changes from day to day; some days he wants to be the blue ninja, some days the black one, but most days it's "the GREEN ninja!" 


The hood is just a ski mask that he can pull down when he doesn't need to conceal his identity. I had to make the face hole bigger on this mask so it would work that way though. 


I found the perfect plain green pajamas on Amazon. They're made by a company called VaeNait and are cozy cotton jammies that also come in gold, bluepink and purple. I totally want to make Edie a little purple ninja costume now! 


His "ninja" sword was a gift from his cousins and yes, that's how he carries it when he's not using it. 

Butterfly


This is Edie's actual Halloween outfit. I picked up the wings for their dress-up box one day at Target, and then realized I could throw on her butterfly pajamas (the purple shorts are under the skirt), a pair of tights, and the purple tutu from her grandma and she'd have a complete costume.


All I had to make was the sparkly antenna headband...and a trick-or-treat bag. It's a little bag/purse with a flower on the front. 


She loves her costume and asks to "fly" every time we put on her wings. Cutest thing ever!

Batman


Abe is going to be Batman (both for Halloween and "when he grows up"), but this costume is the before-I-bought-him-a-mask-and-made-him-a-utility-belt version. 


He likes to wear it outside when he's playing in his "Batcave"...


...and he likes to chase villains, so here's Edie dressed up as Catwoman. Rubber boots are an acceptable substitute for leather, right?


The cape is just a black piece of fabric I had laying around that I cut out (Abe insisted that I make the bottom pointy) and added the Batman symbol using iron-on transfer paper for dark fabrics. (Find a printable Batman symbol here.)


I made the felt mask for him awhile back and he likes it, but his dad insisted we get a real one for Halloween. It has since been replaced with this one from Amazon. 


Here's hoping Batman can keep Mr. Freeze away this Halloween!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blueberry Curd

Way back in March when I posted about Edie's 1st birthday, I mentioned that I was going to share the blueberry curd recipe that I used for the filling of her cake. Then the snow melted and I quietly disappeared to enjoy the rest of spring, summer, and a good chunk of fall playing with my kids. Now Abe's back at preschool three mornings a week, Edie's settled into taking one long afternoon nap, and I have a bit more quiet time than I'm used to. So yeah. Welcome to my first post in almost 6 months! It's a yummy one.


Blueberry Curd

2 cups frozen blueberries
zest & juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed


1. Combine blueberries with the lemon zest and juice in a 2-quart saucepan, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Blueberries should be very soft. Let cool.


2. Gently smash the berries that haven't burst and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Press with a rubber spatula to extract juice from the berries. Discard skins. Strain juice again (but don't press) to separate the seeds from the juice.  You should end up with about 3/4 cup of blueberry/lemon juice.


3. In the same saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup blueberry juice, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium low, stirring often, until all of the butter is melted and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


4. Optional - Strain mixture a final time (pressing if needed) to remove any remaining seeds or bits of cooked egg.


5. Cooled curd can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or poured into freezer safe containers and kept in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

A few notes:

* I've found that recipes that call for more sugar than fruit juice tend to be too sweet. You can add up to 3/4 cup sugar to this recipe, but I think you taste the flavor of the fruit more if you use less sugar.

* Straining at the end really helps remove tiny bits of cooked egg, seeds, and fruit skins ensuring you get the smoothest curd possible.

* Blueberry and citrus curds are excellent for filling cakes, cookies, donuts, or even just spreading on biscuits or toast. They're also great mixed with plain yogurt. Mmm....


Last winter, before I attempted making blueberry curd (the first recipe I followed was a terrible failure - way too sweet, and too gritty from the unstrained seeds and skins), I made a whole batch of citrus curds. Pictured above are blood orange, cranberry, lemon, and lime. Below are links to the recipes I followed and my notes for what I'd change about each one.

* This lemon curd recipe is fantastic as is - no changes recommended except to double (or triple) it!

* I used the same recipe just replacing the lemon for lime to make a lime curd, and it was good although a bit strong. I think a bit less lime zest or a little more sugar would have fixed that.


* My blood orange curd turned out sweeter than I would have liked following this recipe. Cut back to 1/2 cup of sugar since the blood oranges are sweeter than lemons and limes. This one had a really beautiful floral scent and flavor!

* This cranberry curd didn't have a strong cranberry flavor. May have been better with less water and perhaps the addition of some fresh orange juice and zest.

* I don't have a picture of this one (made it over the summer instead of last winter like the rest), but this rhubarb curd is great too. Next time I'll have to try making the rhubarb bars that go with it!