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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Jalapeno Popper Cheese and Corn Dip - Gluten Free


  •  I took this dip to my granddaughter's birthday party, knowing there would be several adults there too. Well, actually, I forgot I had told my daughter I would bring something and since I didn't have time to go to the grocery store, I scrounged around in my kitchen looking through ingredients for something simple to make. I knew I wanted to make an appetizer to go with the pizza she was ordering, but also did not want to bring anything sweet. I hurridly looked on Pinterest for something gluten free since I am wheat intolerant. Wheat acts like a sedative on me and that wouldn't be good for me while driving back home. I am also dairy intolerant, but as you can see, this dip is not dairy free. It's really difficult to find wheat AND dairy free recipes! 

Several of the adults at the party liked this dip and asked for the recipe, so here it is! I looked at several dips on Pinterest and used some ingredients from each one to come up with my own version. If you are intrested in seeing the other great recipes for Jalapeno Popper Dip (and other cheese dips), see the links below my recipe. Hope you like my version!

  • Ingredients
  • 3-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (save 1 slice for the topping - see below). You could use Bacon Bits
  • 1- 8 oz package cream cheese , softened
  • 1/2 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarrela cheese (I used half Gouda cheese and half mozzarella, because I didn't have enough mozz)
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed in the microwave about 2 minutes. (You can use fresh or canned corn)
  • 1/2 of a 4 oz. can Chopped Green Chilis (freeze other half for another dish or more dip later)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons jalapenos from a jar, diced, omiting seeds. I only used about 1 Tb, but next time I'll use more. 
  • Note: you could use fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet, green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet yelloe or red pepper (I used yellow)
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet Vidalia onion or green onions, finely diced 

  • Topping
1/2  cup mozzarrella cheese (I used Gouda, but think mozz would be better)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
Few dashes of parsley
Serve with Crackers or Chips

Turn on oven to 350. 
Cook bacon. I usually cook my bacon in the oven, but this time I cooked it in the microwave between paper towels, since there wasn't much. 
While bacon is cooking, combine the next 12 ingredients in a bowl. Add crumbled bacon  to mixture and place in small casserole, oven safe dish. 
Spread Topping ingredients on top of cheese dip, and cook in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with crackers or chips!

Other Ch Dips on Pinterest

Jalapeno Popper Dip
https://www.spendwithpennies.com/jalapeo-popper-dip/
Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Dip
https://www.thechunkychef.com/cheesy-bacon-jalapeno-popper-dip/
Cold Corn Dip
http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/cold-corn-dip-209831.aspx?cm_mmc=Social-_-Pinterest-_-CPC-_-ColdCornDip&pp=1
Fiesta Corn Dip
https://hugsandcookiesxoxo.com/2013/09/fiesta-corn-dip.html
Creamy Bacon Parmesan Dip
https://www.bunsinmyoven.com/2013/09/06/creamy-bacon-parmesan-dip/
Creamy BLT Dip
http://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2016/05/blt-dip.html
Famous Neiman Marcus Dip
http://www.justaspoonfulof.com/2012/05/neiman-marcus-dip.html
Skinny Poolside  DIP
http://www.cleverhousewife.com/2012/06/skinny-poolside-dip/2/
Hot Cheezy Spinach Artichoke Dip
http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2013/12/hot-cheesy-spinach-artichoke-dip.html
Cheezy Bacon Ranch Dip
https://deliciouslysprinkled.com/cheesy-bacon-ranch-dip/
Hot Crab Dip
https://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/hot-crab-dip-recipe/
Jalapeno Popper Football Shaped Cheese Ball
https://peasandcrayons.com/2016/09/jalapeno-popper-football-cheese-ball.html




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Advice On Reading Crochet Patterns - 7 Tips

I'm writing this, assuming you have already learned to crochet. If you have not learned, a good place to start is at www.LearnToCrochet.com. Another idea would be to look at the numerous youTube videos out there on "How To Crochet", especially if you are a visual person. I'm not teaching you to crochet here, but am giving you some tips I have learned along the way, that will make it a little less stressful. If you are wanting help with the basics, please read Jean Leinhauser 's article on "How To Crochet" at the Yarn Standards website. It is excellent, with very clear diagrams.
Please see my 7 tips below that may help as you learn to read a pattern.

How I Learned To Crochet
I learned to crochet in 1968, back when long vests with fringe were so popular. Tbis was such a fun, "groovy" time and I was thrilled when crochet came back into style around 2004, after about a 30 year absence. I am amazed that so many of the same styles of that time such as newsboy caps, ponchos, long vests, fringe, bell sleeves, etc are so popular now. I learned to crochet in a class at college and actually taught myself from looking at a book because I was too shy to go up to the front of the class to gather around the teacher's desk as she was showing the other 30 girls. I'm glad I did that though, because it taught me how to follow a pattern. So many people who crochet don't know how to follow a pattern because their mother or grandmother just "showed" them. So most who learned that way never tried to learn how to read a pattern and all they ever do is make afghans, scarves or washcloths. If you are one of those persons who has been frustrated trying to follow a pattern, please read on.

1. Where To Find Corrections If You Suspect There's An Error
To me, reading a crochet pattern is not only fun, but is challenging, as well. If you get stuck on something and no matter how hard you try and can't figure it out, just ask a more experienced friend.  Something else to remember is that there might even be an error. So no matter how many hours you spend trying to figure it out, you may never be able to. Some may be very minor, but there are errors in most patterns. I never even thought about that back when I was learning. Don't let that discourage you though, because some errors in patterns are easy to figure out without getting help from someone. This is especially true with today's very detailed charts or diagrams.

2. Do What Looks Right or Contact the Designer
If it seems impossible to figure out, please don't give up! If you don't have anyone to help you, that's when you should either "do what looks right" or look for errata on the web. If you can't find corrections for a particular pattern at the publisher's or designer's website, you can usually contact one of them personally and ask if there's an error, and they should help you. There's something to keep in mind though. Most of the time, people who ask me about one of my patterns are inexperienced. I never ignore these people, because not only do I really want to help them, but I have a reputation to keep. I have had numerous crocheters tell me (after asking for help), that most designers won't "give them the time of day"! And if they do answer they wil say "you'll have to ask the publisher about that". As a designer, I can't imagine doing that! The publisher will then just have to contact the designer, so why bother the publisher? Even though it's stressful sometimes, because of deadlines in the design business, I still try to help. I might tell them there are no errors in that pattern and if I can help, I will. I might even ask if they know someone who can look at their work up close along with the pattern. But I have to be honest about something. If they are asking about a pattern I designed 5-10 years ago, I most likely will not know how to help them. Sometimes my own patterns look like Greek to me and in order for me to help them, I would have to make that garment or accessory all over again myself to know what they are talking about. And for sure if I can't see their work, it's just too difficult for me to help, especially because I am such a busy person. I might have a heart to help, but sometimes I can't. That's why if you have a more experienced friend to help you, it's always best to go that route first before asking the designer. We just don't have those older patterns fresh in our minds. I even get confused on my patterns I wrote just 2-3 years ago! But that's only because I am reading an exerpt from the pattern. Reading the whole thing as you are making it from the beginning, makes a big difference. That leads me to another bit of advice on reading patterns.

3. Don't Read Ahead!
Whatever you do, please do NOT read the whole pattern ahead before you start it! This is very, very important! I'm saying this because it can save you from a lot of headaches! Some might think reading ahead is a wise thing to do, but I say no, no! And here's why. I can't tell you how many people have written me asking for help on a pattern saying there's an error or it doesn't make sense. Then I spend hours trying to look over what they have written, comparing it to my original pattern. This takes a lot of time and is even confusing to me, but I still want to try and help. If I find out they read the pattern ahead before even starting it, and I can't help them, I tell them to just start working the pattern. They have always written me to apologize because once they started working it, things made sense to them! I am an experienced crocneter who has been crocheting for 49 years and a pattern never makes sense to me if I read it ahead of time! You can save so much time and frustration by not reading ahead.

4. Find Help On the Intenet!
Since we have the internet today, there's no excuse for not looking these things up, (such as the designer) on Ravelry or other sites. And don't forget youTube! There are tremendous resourcses there! You can actually watch someone work a partucular stitch that you might be having problems with. Stop each frame as you work if it's going too fast for you.

5. Ask An Experienced Crocheter for Help
I learned to crochet back when there was no help. I felt kind of alone. After I left college, I didn't know anyone else who could crochet, so I'd spend hours on trying to figure out a pattern, but I was determined! Then after I got married and moved from the south to Ashtabula, Ohio with my husband, I found several ladies who could crochet, at the church I was attending. Most were much older than me and had a lot of crochet knowledge.  We met regularly, every month, in each other's homes to work on crochet. All these years later, I give these ladies credit as someone who helped me on the road to becoming a professional designer!  There was only one who had not passed away after I started having my patterns published in 2005 and she was the only one I could thank for the patience and knowledge I learned from them all those years ago in the early 70's.

6. What If The Pattern Is Old and In A Vintage Book or Magazine?
If you are one of those people who loves to collect vintage pattern books and magazines from the 50's, 60's and 70's, like me, you'll probably be out of luck trying to find corrections. This would be the time you do what looks right or ask a more experienced person. I have over 300 old books and magazines from those eras, and even though I don't have time to make any of the patterns, I have a blast looking through them!
I started a blog post on my vintage crocnet books but never finished it. I need to do that! If you are interested in this, you can purchase those old books on eBay and other sites. It's a fun hobby!

7. Learning Crochet Language is A Necessity!
And finally, one of the most important things you should do is to learn crochet language. If you're new at this, start by learning what the abbreviations mean. A good source is at the Craft Yarn Council HERE. That will help tremendously. I've had many people ask me something simple that they could have found on the internet or in a crochet book. This step is absolutely essential if you are wanting to design your own patterns. You may be able to write down your instructions so that they are clear enough for a friend to understand, but there is certain crochet language you will be required to go by if submittimg a pattern to a magazine or book for publication. Each has their on style, but it's not difficult to learn or understand. For instance, one publisher may want you to say (when describing a purse), "12"x 10", without handles", but another publisher might require you to write "12" x 10", excluding handles". Another example is one may say "Finish off", but another may say " End off". You will know what each publisher requires by reading their Guidelines or by simply looking at written patterns in their magazines.

Another excellent source for learning to read a crochet pattern is at Anie's HERE.

I hope these tips have helped! If you think I should add anything that will help someone in following a pattern, please let me know and I will add it!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pasta Broccoli Salad with Bacon

My Favorite Pasta Salad

This  is by far my favorite pasta salad and I fix it when I want to take it to a special event. This recipe makes a huge bowl full. In fact it almost fills up one of those large Tupperware bowls that used to be sold in the 70"s and 80's. You remember. They came in green or yellow. If you never had one chances are your mom or grandmother did.

I have to warn you. This is a sweet salad, but it's not as sickeningly sweet as some of those other sweet broccoli salads. In fact you can control the sweetness. I don't add as much sugar as the original recipe calls for. Also, keep in mind the bacon is essential in this salad. Mozzarella cheese also helps it not taste so sweet.
Everyone who tries this loves it and I hope you do too!

Pasta Broccoli Salad withBacon

Ingredients
1 - 16 oz box Bowtie Pasta (you can substitute gluten free pasta. I like brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe's or Aldi)

1 large head fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces (can use cauliflower too)

¾ -1 cup sweet red onion or Sweet Vidalia onion, chopped (to take some of the hotness away from the red onion you can soak the chopped onion in ice water for 30 mins - 1 hour)

1 lb pkg Hickory Smoked Bacon, cooked

3 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated

Sauce
1-1½ cups Hellman's mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
½ cup sour cream
¾ - 1 cup sugar
3-6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use 2-3 at the most)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain in cold water rinsing off some of the starch so it won't stick together. Place in large bowl.
In the meantime, place bacon on large cookie sheet that had been sprayed with oil in 375ยบ oven and cook til crisp. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain.
Put onions, broccoli and mozzarella cheese in same bowl with the pasta.
Make the sauce snd slowly stir it in with the pasta mixture, small amounts at a time, to make sure you don't get too much. Break up the bacon, but do not add the bacon til right before serving. If I take this to a pot-luck or family holiday dinner, I put the bacon in a baggie, placing it on top of the pasta. If the bacoon is cold from storing it in the refrigerator, heat it up on about 40 seconds in the microwave before adding to the salad. Stir and serve!


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Funky Stripes Legwarmers - FREE Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Funky Stripes Legwarmers - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall
Now that tne days and nights are getting cooler it might be a good time to start thinking about making these legwarmers for yourself or maybe even for a friend or granddaughters. This is a really fun project. I first designed these to match a sweater my daughter had. I loved the colors and wanted to recreate that color combination to match.

Funky Stripes Legwarmers, Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall.
This photo is by nicole02 of Ravelry. Even though I love thecolors of my original leg warmers, I like hers just as much! Thanks for your photo Nicole!
I love makaing Puff Stitches and even if you have never made that stitch before, it's not difficult at all.  See the solid color ones a friend on Ralvery made. I like the bows she added! 

Crochet Legwarmer free pattern by Mary Jane Hall

ltlblonde,   a solid color and I love them! I love the bows too! Thanks Robin for your picture!


Thank you Megan (Yonder22 on Ravelry) for your picture. I love e color yarn you used!



Wine Crochet Shrug - FREE Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

This easy crochet shrug is so cozy with the soft yarn that is used. It was originally published in a book called Top It Off! which is a book of designs by several different designers. I was fortunate enough to get my 2 designs on the front cover! That's always an honor. This pattern is now being offered as a FREE pattern HERE.

Wine Shrug by Mary Jsne Hall - Free Crochet Pattern

The pattern is basicslly a rectangle, so it's pretty quick and easy. This shrug would be a nice addition to your wardrobe for those cool nights and days. 
See the ways below this shrug can be worn. It can be turned into a scarf and a wrap too!






Sunday, August 27, 2017

Medallion Belt - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

This is the FREE pattern of the crochet belt I designed to go with the Newsboy Cap HERE See pattern for Medalluon Belt below.

Medallion Belt - free crochet pattern by Mary Jane Hall


Medallion Belt - free crochet pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Make 16.
  • Rnd 1: With size F hook, ch 3, sl st to join in first ch of ch-3 to form a ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join in beg sc. (12 sc)
  • Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in same sc as beg ch-1, ch 3, sk next sc, [sc in next sc, ch 3, sk next sc] 5 times, join in beg sc. (6 ch-3 sps)
  • Rnd 3: (Sl st, 2 sc, sl st) in each ch-3 sp around, join in first sl st, fasten off.
    Join Medallions at 2 points of 2 sc groups on each Medallion to previous Medallion until all are joined in a strip.
    Draw ribbon through ch-3 sp at each end of Belt, tie ends in a bow.

Copyright © 2006. House of White Birches. Hooks-Only Crochet From Start to Finish.

Newsboy Cap and Medallion Belt - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Newsboy Cap Pattern by Mary Jane Hall - Free Crochet Pattern
This Newsboy Cap pattern I designed was published in a hardback book called Hooks Only Crochet, From Start To Finish, in 2006. It is now being offered as a FREE Crochet Pattern! Link for the free psttern is HERE at Annie's website, who now publishes the ever so famous Crochet! magazine. 

This cap pattern is unique in that you create "pie" shapes and then put them together. Now if you do not like the idea of sewing anything together, this pattern may not appeal to you, but I promise, it will look unique and different from all the others! You have the option of sewing with a large yarn needle or sewing the shapes together with a crochet hook. Instructions are also given to make the button on top. By the way, I designed a belt to match! Free pattern for belt is HERE.
See more photos below.

Pie shapes are crocheted, then sewn together to form a hat.
Newsboy Cap by Mary Jane Hall - Free Crochet Pattern