Welcome to our little bit of knitterly Heaven- I'm so glad you found your way here!
Our goal is to teach beginning knitters some tricks of the trade as well as to work enough swatches to have a finished afghan by the end of the year! Join along with us as we learn about patterns, cables, lace, and some other handy techniques! A new pattern will become available each month ranging from newbie to adventurous. So stop on by, pick your pattern and knit along with us!

All patterns can be found here as well as on Ravelry.com!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Lentil Tacos

Hello and welcome to Day 21 of the 31 Days At The Table challenge.  As you can see, I am still (slowly) catching up.  Hopefully, I will get this done over the next couple of days.  To all my knitter friends, I have a square for October done and plan on posting it on either Halloween or the first of November, whenever the challenge is done.
I have a meatless meal to share with you for this post.  I am a huge fan of lentils, and I'm pretty much willing to try any lentil dish.  When I saw this recipe, I have to say that I was rather intrigued.  I know that a lot of vegetarians use beans as a replacement for meat because of their high protein content.  These lentils were a great substitute for beef in these tacos.  They were well seasoned and rather tasty.  You can cook them for less time to end up with slightly crunchy lentils or cook them the whole time for a softer cooked bean texture.  Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos
Recipe from Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

3/4 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t canola oil
 1/2 lb dry lentils, washed
1 T chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1 t oregano
2 c chicken stock
2 c salsa
for serving-
taco shells or tortillas, avacado, lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream

Sautee onions in oil until softened.  Add garlic, lentils and spices.  Cook stirring occasionally until the spices and garlic are fragrant.
Place lentils and chicken stock to a slow cooker.  Cover and cook for 5 1/2 hours on low.  Stir in salsa and replace lid.  Cook another 30 minutes until heated through.
Build your tacos by your preference. 


One Year Ago...
Chicken Sausage Pizza

31 Days At The Table: Cinnamon Roll Wrapped Sausages

Hi and Welcome to Day 25 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  It's breakfast time!  I am really excited about this recipe.  Again, here was a really easy recipe that made a major impact with the family.  I'm planning on making this recipe for Christmas morning.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Wrapped Breakfast Sausages
Original recipe here

One can of cinnamon rolls (8 count)
8 fully cooked sausages link
pancake syrup

Heat oven to 350*.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Separate cinnamon rolls and wrap around a pre-cooked sausage link.  Secure with a toothpick.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until sausage is hot and cinnamon rolls are golden brown.
Serve with the frosting that came with the cinnamon rolls or with pancake syrup.  According to my Darling Husband, the best way to serve is drizzled with frosting and dipped in syrup.

One Year Ago...
Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

31 Days At The Table: Makin' Life Easy Chicken Parmesan

Welcome to Day 24 of the 31 Days At The Table.  Just like the title sounds, this dish is really the easy way of making a family friendly meal.
Makin' Life Easy Chicken Parmesan

Frozen chicken strips (I prefer the crispy style chicken, but grilled chicken would be good too)
1 lb spaghetti
your favorite jarred or homemade spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 

Prepare frozen chicken strips according to package directions.
Boil and salt water for pasta, cook according to package directions.
Prepare your tomato sauce.
Layer noodles with chicken and sauce.  Top with cheese and enjoy!


One Year Ago...
Applesauce Muffins 

31 Days At The Table: Gnocchi Soup

Welcome to Day 23 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge!  I've got another soup for you for this post.  It was pretty good but it's best attributes were that it was super fast, super easy, and didn't take much clean up.  I think this meal was on the table in about 20 minutes.  It really only made about three dinner sized servings, but would be great as an accompaniment to a meal.
Gnocchi Soup

1 pound prepared gnocchi
6 oz baby spinach
1 can diced tomatoes, with Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 T olive oil
1/4 t crushed red pepper flake
1/2 t salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.  Add gnocchi to pot and cook according to package directions.  When gnocchi is done, remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon.  Once the gnocchi is removed, add the spinach to the water and boil for a minute.  Drain well.
Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a blender and process until smooth.
Heat oil in a sauce pan.  Add red pepper flake and cook for a minute (you are infusing the oil with the red pepper making it nice and spicy).  Add the tomatoes and salt and cook until slightly thickened.  When the gnocchi and spinach are done, add them and the basil to the sauce and stir.  Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheese. 


One Year Ago...
Ginger Pears (PS- I LOVE this dessert!)

31 Days At The Table: Tomato Basil Soup

Hi there and welcome to Day 22 of the 31 Days At The Table.  This post is all about soup.  Or rather about one soup.  It's a pretty darned tasty soup and (of course) easy too.  The one recommendation I can make to you is to definitley go with the fresh herbs in this one, especially the basil.  It will lend a more complex flavor to your soup that the dried herbs just won't do.  Also use really good flavorful chicken stock. 
Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
I found the recipe here

2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 T fresh oregano, chopped (1 t dried)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (1 T dried)
1 bay leaf
4 cups good chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups warmed half and half
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Sautee onion, carrots, and celery in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat to soften. 
Throw the veggies, tomatoes and their juices, oregano, bay leaf, chicken broth in a slow cooker and cook on low for 5 hours. 

After the 5 hours, melt the butter over low heat .  Add the flour and stir continuously for 5 minutes until the roux is done.  Stir ladle-fulls of soup into the roux, stirring constently, until the roux no longer bubbles.  Pour the roux and warmed half and half back into the soup.  Using an immersion blender (or a standard blender in batches) blend the soup until smooth.  Stir in the basil, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning as necessary. 


One Year Ago...
Chili Cheese Dip

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Breakfast Biscuit Cups

Welcome to Day 20 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Saturday's breakfast was fantastic and I know you'll enjoy it too!  We had Breakfast Biscuit Cups.  They are portable and highly adaptable.  Just fill with your favorites and bake them till golden brown.  I topped my biscuits with mini pepperoni (the kids loved that) and some with green chilies.  Yum!
Breakfast Biscuit Cups

1 can biscuits (8 count)
1/2 lb breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup ham, diced
2 cups diced hashbrowns, cooked
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 375*
Spray 8 slots in a standard muffin tin.
Separate biscuits and press out to about a 3 inch round.  Gently press the biscuits into the muffin tin. 
Spoon cooked breakfast meat into the bottom of the biscuit cups, top with cooked hashbrowns and then cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes.  Allow the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.  Serve warm with salsa. 


One Year Ago...
Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

31 Days At The Table: Chow Mein

Welcome to Day 19 in the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  This meal was intended to satisfy the "Fishy Friday" aspect of the challenge.  Although we used three different types of protein in this dish, you could limit what you used  to what you like, but I would recommend all three.  This made for a fun and rather authentic meal (by authentic I mean, what I would expect to have at a Chinese food restaurant).  You can also alter the spicy level by adding more or less chili sauce or red pepper flake.  You can even add chopped chilis to the stir fry.  Use whatever you have hanging out in the fridge for a great meal.
Chow Mein
Original Recipe found here


Chow Mein:
1/2 lb Beef (I used stew meat) cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 lb Chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 lb Shrimp (I used pre-cooked shrimp, so they just needed to be heated through)
4 packs ramen noodles
1/2 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 small can baby corn, drained
a couple leaves of bok choy cabbage, rinsed and shredded
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1t ginger, minced
2 T oil for cooking (I recommend sesame oil if you have it, otherwise your normal veg oil)

1/4 soy sauce
1 T chili sauce (I used Sriracha sauce)
1 T ketchup
1 T Teriyaki sauce

In a pot of boiling water, cook the noodles for one minute to soften, then place directly into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and remove the extra starch.  Lay out the noodles on a cookie sheet and set aside.
Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
In the mean time, heat sesame oil (or veg oil) over medium heat.  Add beef and chicken and cook until mostly done.  Add onion, pepper and carrot to pan and sautee for a few minutes until slightly softened but still crisp.  Add shrimp, baby corn, cabbage, garlic, and ginger and cook until heated through.  Add the noodles and sauce, toss to coat and heat through.
Serve hot.


One Year Ago...
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

31 Days At The Table: Green Chilie Cornbread Muffins

Hi there and welcome back to the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  I'm sorry for the absence over the last week.  I suffered a first during this challenge- a rash of bad meals.  Not just one bad meal, three to be exact!  I kinda panicked.  They were bad enough there was no way I was going to share them with you and I didn't have anything waiting in the wings.  I didn't know what to do!  I've decided that I will share with you the recipes worth sharing and skip the ones that aren't worth it.  The first is a side that is great with soup or chili- Green Chilie and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread Muffins.  Its a really simple recipe, and sadly kinda a cop-out since it basically comes from a box.  But its worth a try. 
Green Chilie and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread Muffins

1 box of your favorite cornbread mix (I like either the Krustez brand or Jiffy brand- if you use Jiffy, you'll need two boxes)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz can of diced green chilies

Prepare cornbread according to package directions adding the cheese and green chilies to the batter (yeah... I told you it was easy!). 


One Year Ago...
Vivian's Pasta

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Slow Cooker Posole

Welcome to Day 17 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Tonight's dinner was fantastic and I am so excited to share it with you!  I made Slow Cooker Posole, which is a stew-like Mexican meal.  I can't tell you how much we enjoyed this dinner.  Even the kids scarffed it down with no complaints (which is significant in this house~ usually there is some coercion involved)!  Like all slow cooker meals, this was so easy to make.  Throw everything in the pot and let it cook all day.  I bet the leftovers will be even better tomorrow, after the flavors have had some time to get to know each other!
Slow Cooker Posole
original recipe found here

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2- 15 oz cans enchilada sauce
2- 15 oz cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
1 onion chopped
1/2 c green chilies, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t cayenne
2 t oregano
2 cups dry brown rice, cooked according to package directions
chopped cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese,  sour cream, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips

Place meat on the bottom of the slow cooker and pour over the enchilada sauce.  Top with hominy, onion, garlic chilies, cayenne and oregano.
Cook on low for 6- 8 hours.  Shred chicken.
Top cooked brown rice with the Posole and garnish with your favorite toppings.

Traditionally this recipe is made with a pork tenderloin (I decided to use chicken since it was more affordable).  You can substitute the meat without changing the recipe. 
The spicy-ness can also be varied depending on the heat of the enchilada sauce.  While I am a big fan of spicy, my family isn't.  So I opted for using a mild enchilada sauce.  It was the perfect heat level to please everyone.  Remember that you can always add heat, but once its in you can't take it away. 


One Year Ago...
Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days At The Table: S'mores Bars

Hello and welcome to Day 16 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Tonight is going to be a little different.  Ya see, we are all of a sudden over-loaded with leftovers.  Loads of leftovers.  My husband likes to take these meals for his lunch during work.  But with the long weekend behind us, all we did was load up more the fridge with leftovers and didn't eat them.  So rather than let these go to waste, we had a "find-your-own-dinner-in-the-fridge" night.  The kids had stroganoff, the hubs had mini-meatloaves, and I had chili.  It was a good night.
But I can't leave you empty handed, can I?  So we made a sweet treat to top off our feast from the fridge night.
S'mores Bars
Recipe from Betty Crocker

10.5 oz bag of mini marshmallows (5 1/2 cups)
9 oz chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate... yum!)
5 T butter or margarine, plus extra to grease the pan
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
13 oz box of Golden Grahams (8 cups)

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with butter.
Reserve 1 cup marshmallows.
In a 3 quart sauce pan, melt chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and remaining 4 1/2 cups marshmallows over low heat, stirring until completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour cereal into a large bowl and add melted marshmallow mixture.  Stir until coated.  Mix in reserved marshmallows.
With the back of a buttered spatula, press into your 9 x 13 baking dish.
Let cool for at least one hour at room temp.  Cut into bars
Store loosely covered at room temp (if they last).


One Year Ago...
Penne Bake

31 Days At The Table: Crustless Spinach Quiche

Hello and welcome to Day 15 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge!  Today marks the half-way point.  Have you tried any of the recipes?  I've had a great time trying new recipes and revisiting old favorites.  Tonight's meal, Crustless Spinach Quiche, was a new one for us and it was quite good.  I think my favorite part was that there wasn't a crust.  It is slightly more healthy this way and there was nothing to stand in the way of the cheesy-eggy deliciousness that is quiche.

Crustless Spinach Quiche
Recipe from: Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010

4 ounces smoked Gouda cheese
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
2 T flour
1/2 t grated nutmeg
4 scallions chopped
1 T grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t paprika

Preheat oven to 450* with rack in the upper third of the oven.  Place a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven to preheat.  Grease a 9 inch round or 8 inch square baking dish.
Pulse Gouda in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add spinach, eggs, ricotta, flour, and nutmeg and process until combined.  Add the scallions and pulse until mixed.
Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with paprika and Parmesan cheese.
Place the quiche on the preheated baking sheet.  Bake until center is set, about 25-35 minutes (it actually took my quiche about 40 minutes to finish cooking).
Can be served hot or cold.

I really thought it would have a very strong spinach taste, since there seemed to be a ton of spinach in the dish (it was quite green!).  However, there was a really nice balance between the cheese and the spinach.   The Gouda and paprika created a slightly smokey note which complimented the quiche well. 


One Year Ago...
Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Pumpkin Chili

Welcome to Day 14 of the 31 Days At The Table.  Sunday is feast day, and we decided to go for a great football watching meal: Chili.  But this isn't just any normal chili, we made Pumpkin Chili!  It has is a really surprising flavor- the pumpkin is certainly there, yet it is subtle and not overwhelming.  The chili powder, red pepper flake, and cinnamon work together to warm up the chili as well as your palette.  Don't be afraid to try it.  I have two "go-to" chili recipes and this is the one I like to use in the fall.
Pumpkin Chili
Original Recipe found here

1 lb ground beef
1 t minced garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
15 oz can black beans
15 oz can kidney beans
15 oz can Canellini beans
12 oz tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 t crushed red pepper flake
2 t chili powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t cloves

Start to brown the ground beef.  After about 5 minutes, add onion, garlic, and red pepper flake and cook until beef is no longer pink and onion is softened.  Drain.
Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours (or all day if you'd like).
Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, crushed tortilla chips, and or avocado.



One Year Ago...
Breakfast Scramble

31 Days At The Table: Breakfast Burrito Bar

Hi there!  Welcome to day 13 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Saturday was breakfast day, and we decided to make breakfast burritos.  This is really more of a game plan as you can use any thing you like for breakfast to make this dish.  Enjoy!
Breakfast Burrito Bar
serves 4

8 eggs

2 cups cooked breakfast meat: breakfast sausage, bacon, and/ or ham steaks

2 cups cooked tater tots (or if you prefer, cooked hashbrowns)  
4 tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese
salsa for garnish

Cook tater tots according to package directions (for a small batch, I prefer pan frying).
Cook the breakfast meat: crumble sausage and bacon and cube ham.
Scramble the eggs.
Warm tortillas in the microwave wrapped in a wet paper towel for 30 seconds to soften.
Assemble burritos and devour!


One Year Ago...
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Crab Cakes and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Hello All and welcome to Day 12 of our 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Today was ''Fishy Friday'' and we make crab cakes!  Enjoy!

8 oz container lump crab meat
2/3 c Panko bread crumbs
2 T minced red bell pepper
1 T minced onion
1 t Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs, divided
1 T mayo
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T butter
2 T olive oil

Combine crab, 1/3 c Panko, bell pepper, onion, and seasonings.  Set aside.
Beat 1 egg, whisk in mayo and lemon juice.  Add mixture to crab and combine.  Form into patties.
Beat remaining egg.  Lightly brush patties with egg and dip into remaining bread crumbs to coat.
Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat.
Brown cakes for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. 

Roasted Potatoes

2 lbs small red potatoes, halved
2 T olive oil
2 t paprika
1 1/2 t crushed Rosemary leaves
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t each salt and pepper

Mix oil and spices in a large bowl.  Toss with potatoes. 
Roast in a 425* oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  

I wasn't able to find any fresh lump crab, so we used the canned variety.  They turned out fine, but I think they'd be even better with the fresh stuff.
If I'm in a hurry for making the potatoes, I'll steam them in the microwave for a couple of minutes before I put them in the oven.  It can cut out half the time and they still taste roasted.


One Year Ago...
Cheesy Potato Soup

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Cheese Stuffed Mini Meatloaves

Welcome to Day 11 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  I hope you've been enjoying the meals so far- we're a third of the way though already (the days are just flying by for me)!  Tonight's dinner was definitely a great one.  It would be a great dish served at a potluck, a football party, or a cozy night at home in front of the tv. 

Cheese Stuffed Mini-Meatloafs
Adapted from the recipe found here.

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
18 oz can of Progresso "Recipe Starters" Fire Roasted Tomato Cooking Sauce
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup minced onion
12 1/2inch cubes extra sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400*
Stir 1 c sauce and bread crumbs together.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
Chop 12 half-inch cubes extra sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.
Mix beef, egg, onion 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Add to bread crumb mixture.
Spray a standard 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Divide mixture evenly into muffin tin. 
Push one cube of cheese into each meatloaf. 
Place muffin on a cookie sheet before placing in the oven (will catch any grease or drips).  Bake for 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 160*
Heat remaining sauce to serve with the mini-meatloaves. 

I made a double batch of this recipe, so we could have some leftovers.  We practically polished off the whole batch!  I was a big fan of the recipe starter sauce.  It had a nice complex flavor you don't often find in a store bought sauce.  I am looking forward to trying other recipes with the different sauces (check some of them out here). 
Make sure that you go for the leanest ground beef you can find when making this recipe.  Ground beef will render quite a bit of grease as its cooked, and since the mini-meatloaves are sitting in a metal cup there is no place for the grease to go. 
The original recipe called for using string cheese.  While it is convenient, it doesn't melt.  I'd opt for your favorite type of block cheese (yummy yummy sharp cheddar) for this recipe to send it over the top!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Sausage and Bean Stew

Hello and welcome to Day 10 of the 31 Days At The Table.  Wednesday is soup day, and I have a crazy good soup for you!   The rice made it super hearty and the flavor was outstanding.  Use your favorite sausage for this dish for the ultimate fall stew.

Sausage and Bean Stew

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups water
1/2 to 1 lb sausage, sliced
2 cups cubed cooked lean ham
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
8 oz tomato sauce
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 t garlic powder
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4 hours.

This. Soup. Is. Awesome.
The End


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Chicken Stroganoff

Welcome to Day 9 to our 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Today was Crock Pot Tuesday so I decided to treat my family to one of our favorite meals: Crock Pot Chicken Stroganoff.

Creamy Chicken Stroganoff

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 T melted butter
.7 oz packet of dry Italian Dressing Mix
10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup (can substitute cream of mushroom)
8 oz cream cheese, softened

Pour melted butter in the bottom of your crock pot.  Place chicken in a single layer in crock pot and top with the packet of dry Italian Dressing mix (I like Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix).  Set cooker to low and cook for 5 hours.
When chicken is done, shred with a fork then add the can of soup and cream cheese.  Stir until  well incorporated.  Let mixture cook for another 30 minutes.  Serve with mashed potatoes or brown rice. 

This recipe is a top ten in our family favorites and my son lovingly refers to it as chicken and gravy.  We've had this recipe forever and I don't even remember where it came from.  It's a great meal for cool weather and for feeding a crowd. 


One Year Ago...
Greek Pasta Salad

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne

Hello All and welcome to Day 8 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Today was Monday (duh) and that means meat-free meals all day long!  We celebrated by having Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne.
Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne with Goat Cheese
Original Recipe found in Cooking Light, May 2011 Magazine

2 cups penne pasta
12 asparagus spears
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 T minced shallot
2 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t dried herbes de Provence
1 1/2 t honey
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 cups arugula
1/2 c crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Place asparagus and tomatoes on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and season with 1/4 t each of salt and pepper.  Toss until well coated.  Roast for 6 minutes.  Remove asparagus from cookie sheet and return tomatoes for another 4 minutes.  Set aside and let asparagus and tomatoes cool for 10 minutes.  When asparagus is cool enough to handle, slice into inch long pieces.  Place in a large serving bowl.
In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and place in the serving bowl along with the tomatoes, asparagus, arugula, and olives.
Combine minced shallots, lemon juice, mustard, and herbs along with a pinch of salt and 1/4 t pepper in a small bowl.  While whisking continuously, stream in 3 T olive oil.  Dress the pasta, toss and top with crumbled goat cheese.  You can serve this dish immediately while still warm or refrigerate for 2 hours and serve cold.  We chose the warm salad.

Along with the fact that this dish was super quick to make (total time about 30 minutes) it was surprisingly hearty and delicious.  If you aren't a fan of goat cheese (or don't want to spend that much on cheese), feta would make a great substitute.  I found that the goat cheese melted well into the pasta while it was still warm, and preferred that creaminess to chucks of the cheese.  This dish would also be good with spinach if you can't find the arugula.  I also believe the tomatoes roasted too long, they completely disintegrated into the sauce.  Next time, I would take them out with the asparagus after 6 minutes.

One Year Ago...
Green Chile Stew

31 Days At The Table: Lasagne

Welcome to Day 7 of 31 Days At The Table.  Sunday is Feast Day with meals designed to feed a crowd.  We often put on family dinners where 8 or 10 people show up.  Cooking for a crowd can be a challenge, especially if you want to do it on a budget.   What better way to serve a crowd and save some dough than with pasta?  Lasagne always seemed like a lot of trouble, but I've got it figured out.  Serve it with a loaf of garlic bread and a salad and you've got a complete meal.  Plus there is always some leftovers, even after feeding a crowd!


2 15 ounce containers of Ricotta Cheese (can substitute cottage cheese)
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 t dried basil
1/2 t each of salt and pepper
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
5-6 cups prepared spaghetti sauce (use your own or 2 24 ounce jars of your favorite store bought variety)
12 ounce box of lasagne noodles, prepared according to package directions

Boil pasta according to package directions adding salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water (the oil will prevent the noodles from sticking together).
Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined.
Scoop a small amount of sauce into the bottom of your lasagne dish to prevent the noodles from sticking to the dish.
When noodles are done, layer 1/2 cup sauce, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese mixture, in that order until there is one layer of noodles left.  Top the lasagne with the last bit of noodles, top with sauce and Parmesan cheese. 
Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Uncover and let bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let the lasagne sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to set up.  


One Year Ago...
Peach Pancakes

31 Days At The Table: Cranberry Pecan Struesel Muffins

Hello again and welcome back to 31 Days At The Table.  Saturday (Day 6) is the day that we'll be making (and sharing) our breakfasts!  I built this day into our plan so that we could devote a night to keeping a handle on our leftover situation. 
Saturday's breakfast was Cranberry-Pecan Streusel Muffins.  They were outstanding!  I was a bit wary of the amount of cranberries in the muffins.  I thought the muffins would end up way too tart.  But the cranberries along with the streusel topping created a great balance of flavor.  These muffins are moist and delicious and were gobbled up in no time! 

Cranberry Pecan Streusel Muffins
original recipe found here

Streusel Topping:
3 T flour
4 t granulated sugar
1 T packed brown sugar
2 T softened butter
1/2 c pecan halves

1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 cup pecan halves
2 eggs
1 T confectioners sugar
1 cup plus 1 T sugar
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cranberries

Process flour, sugars, butter, and pecans until it resembles course sand.  Set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder and 3/4 t salt. 
Process pecans and sugar until it resembles course sand. Set aside.  
Whisk eggs, butter and milk until combined.  Whisk in flour mixture.  Fold in pecan and sugar mixture and set batter aside and let it rest for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 425 and place the oven rack in the upper middle position.
Pulse cranberries, 1/4 t salt and confectioners sugar until chopped.  Fold cranberries into rested batter.
Scoop batter into a greased and floured muffin tin (or into cupcake papers) and top with about a tablespoon of streusel topping.  Bake for 17 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

This recipe makes about 18 muffins and are sure to please your family!


One Year Ago Today...
Rustic Peach Tart

31 Days At The Table: Grilled Salmon and Roasted Tomatoes

So, I had a bit of a hiccup with the weekend as far as posting the meals, but I'm happy to report that I am back.  I did all of the cooking this weekend, as planned, and took all the pics as usual.  I apologize for the 'silence' over the weekend, and the fact that I'll have a load of recipe posts for you today.  Well, onto the recipes!

Friday was our first "Fishy Friday" for the 31 Days At The Table Challenge, and we had salmon.  I'm lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest where we can get loads of fresh and local seafood, and salmon is no exception.  This recipe could be prepared by grilling or in the oven, depending on your preference.  We used the oven this time because we ran out of charcoal.  If it were up to me though, I would definitely opt for the grill if you've got both available (it cooks up faster and clean up is a breeze when you cook on the grill).  I served my salmon with roasted tomatoes and cheesy-garlicy mashed potatoes.  

Grilled Salmon and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes
Salmon recipe adapted from this recipe

1 lb salmon fillet
1/2 t lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 t salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Roasted Tomatoes:
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1t minced garlic
1t dried basil
1t dried oregano
1/4 t red pepper flake
1/4 t salt and pepper, each
1 T olive oil

Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper seasoning, salt, and garlic and set aside in a resealable container.  Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and veg oil and stir until brown sugar is dissolved.  Pour over the fillets, cover, and refrigerate for up to two hours. 
Oven option:
Preheat oven to 375.  Wrap salmon fillets in foil packets and place packets on a cookie sheet.  Discard leftover marinade.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
Grill option:
Preheat grill to medium heat.  Lightly oil grill grate.  Place on grill, skin side down, and cook for 8 minutes.  Flip salmon and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.  You can also grill salmon in a foil pack.

Roasted Tomatoes:
Preheat olive oil in a skillet until hot.  Add garlic and sautee until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients and sautee until the tomatoes start to pop and release their juices, stirring frequently.  This should take 8 to 10 minutes.  

I hope you'll give this one a try- it's healthy and delicious!

One Year Ago...
Meatball Soup and Pesto Pizza

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Creamy Chicken Salad

Hi there and welcome to Day 4 of 31 Days at The Table.  Today was our first Quick Cooking Thursday.  Today's dinner was easy, fast, and versatile.

Creamy Chicken Salad Wraps

4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 T lemon juice
1 T white wine vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
1t honey
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/3 c chopped celery
1/3 c sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 c coarsely chopped almonds
2 cups washed salad greens
6 flour or whole wheat tortillas

To make the dressing:  Combine sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  Whisk until well combined.  Set aside.
Stir the shredded chicken, celery, cranberries, and almonds until combined.  Add 1/2 cup of dressing and mix until well coated.  Add more dressing to your liking.
Warm tortillas in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to soften.  Place 1/2 cup of salad greens down the middle of the warmed tortillas.  Top lettuce with 1/2 cup of the chicken salad mixture.  Roll up tortillas.   Enjoy!

There are tons of ways to serve this chicken salad.  You can do like we did and serve them on a tortilla as a wrap.  Or you could make them into a sandwich, serve it on top of salad greens as a salad (or serve it as lettuce wraps), stuff a tomato with it (ooooh leftovers!), or eat it on its own. 
I have to say that I was a bit skeptical about the sauce at first.  The variety of ingredients really made me wonder how they were all going to come together.  But, surprisingly, it was good.  I only used about half the amount of prepared dressing for my chicken salad, so next time I'd either make a half batch of dressing, or double the chicken part.  The contrast between the creamy chicken, crunchy almonds and celery, and tangy cranberries made for an interesting and delicious salad.  I added a sliced tomato to mine and created perfection.  This would be a really great way to use up chicken leftovers.  Next time you roast or grill up some chicken breasts, through in an extra one and save it for this salad, you won't be sorry!

~ Lindsey

One Year Ago...
Mexican Grilled Corn with Cilantro

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

Hello and welcome to Day 3 of the 31 Day Challenge!  Wednesday is Soup day, and I have the easiest. Soup. Ever.  No joke, quite simple.  And pretty darn tasty to boot!  Enjoy on your next chilly day or whenever only soup will hit the spot-

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

1 T olive oil
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
32 ounce carton Chicken Stock (I like Kitchen Basics)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup sliced carrots
2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cup pasta or egg noodles
1 t dried basil
1/2 t lemon pepper seasoning
Garnish: shredded Parmesan cheese

In a 4 quart sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and sautee until they start to become tender (about two to three minutes).  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center (four to six minutes). 
Stir in chicken stock, water, and sliced carrots.  Increase heat and bring to a soft boil, cook for five minutes.  Then stir in broccoli, noodles, basil and lemon pepper seasoning.  Simmer uncovered 20 minutes until veg and noodles are tender.
Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

I cannot tell you how simple this recipe is.   This soup can be made in as little or as much time as you need.  You can let it go for hours (throw the broccoli and pasta in in the last 20 minutes to maintain it's integrity) or have it on the table in 30 minutes or less (use leftover chicken and pasta to make it up even faster).  Have leftover veggies you don't know what to do with?  Throw 'em in!  It's easy enough you could make it when you're sick.  Not the snuffly-runny-nose kinda sick even.  Migraines, flu, the plague... whatever!  I know, disturbing, but true. 
Have it with a sandwich, a salad, a giant hunk of crusty bread (my favorite), or simply on its own. 


One Year Ago...
Tuna and Potato Pancakes

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Hello all! 
Welcome back to Day 2 of the 31 Days At The Table Challenge.  Tonight was our first Crock-Pot meal.  There is a great deal of prep work with this meal (think 30 minutes of prep), which I tend not to relate to standard crock pot meals.  I usually think that the best crock pot meals require nothing more than mixing the ingredients together and letting the appliance do the work.  But, I am happy to report that it was worth all the work, and I will definitely be repeating this one! Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
 adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T grated onion (if you don't have a small hand grater, you can mince the onion)
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper 

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 T soy sauce
13 1/4 ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks, undrained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups dry brown rice, prepared per package directions
Combine all meatball ingredients, being careful not to over-mix (use your hands until all ingredients are incorporated).  The more you handle it, the tougher the meatballs will be.  Shape into uniformly sized balls.  Brown over medium heat in a nonstick skillet (the insides should still be raw when you put them in the crock pot).  Place meatballs in the bottom of your crock pot (if there is an excess of grease, drain first).
Add brown sugar and cornstarch into your skillet.  Whisk in vinegar, water, and soy sauce stirring constantly until there are no lumps.  Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer, then add bell pepper and pineapple juice and chunks.  Heat through, stirring as needed to prevent burning.  Pour over meatballs.  Do not stir (stirring will cause the meatballs to fall apart, since they aren't cooked though).
Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.  
Serve over prepared brown rice.
This dish had a great balance of sweet and tangy-ness (not really sure if that is even a word, but I digress).  The meatballs were fall-apart tender and I would even recommend them as a standard meatball recipe (think spaghetti and meatballs...).  My favorite part, though, was the pineapple.  It was warm and juicy and just a tiny bit caramelized.  I added a good shake of red pepper flake to my dinner to add a bit of a zip, and next time I'll add it to the cooking time (about 1/2 teaspoon per batch depending on your spicy level).  If you're feeding a crowd, double the recipe because the meatballs go quickly!  This recipe will serve four. 



Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days At The Table: Day 1

Hello all and welcome to my 31 Day Challenge: 31 Days At The Table!  I hope you are looking forward to this challenge as much as I am.  For the next 31 days, my family is going to try to only eat homemade, healthy and mindfully prepared meals.  Nothing from a box and no fast food!  A handful of the recipes I will be sharing aren't mine, so when that's the case I'll be sure to share where I found the recipe as well as whatever changes we made and the family's response to the meal.  I've come up with a theme for each day so you'll kind-of know what to expect, and so I won't get too overwhelmed with sharing all of our meals.  I'll also link over to the meals I prepared last year so you can take a look at those if you'd like!

Mondays: Meatless- Finding healthy meatless options.
Tuesdays: Crock Pot- Fix it and Forget it!
Wednesdays: Soups- The best reason for cold weather.
Thursdays: Quick and Easy- On the table in 30 minutes or less!
Friday: Fish and Seafood
Saturday: Breakfasts- The most important meal of the day!
Sunday: Family Feasts- Designed to please a crowd.

So, without further ado... welcome to 31 Days At The Table!

South West Black Bean Pasta
1T extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1t cumin
1t dried oregano
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 pound pasta- I used whole wheat linguini
Optional Garnishes: lime wedge, cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream

In a dutch oven or other deep sided skillet, heat olive oil.  Add onion and sautee until they start to becomes translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add peppers and continue cooking until they begin to soften (about 2 to 3 minutes).
Add garlic and spices, cook until fragrant (about a minute).
Stir in beans and tomato sauce.  Simmer sauce while preparing pasta according to package directions. Top prepared pasta with sauce, and garnish with toppings of your choice.

This was a fantastic no-meat option that the whole family enjoyed.  It would serve four adults, or if you're feeding kids with smaller appetites, up to six people.  I felt the cumin was a bit heavy handed though.  I really think cumin one of those spices where a little goes a long way.  Next time I'd use only about 1/2 teaspoon instead.  The kids loved it though, and that's all I can ask for.   
Happy cooking and see you tomorrow!

One Year Ago...
Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

The book for September is The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier’s Wife asks “What would you do for your family” “What should you do for a stranger” and “What would you do for love”

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship—and her family—safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger

-excerpt from Google Books

Friday, September 21, 2012

Briar Patch and Checkered Lace

Hello knitters!  Have you been enjoying your fall so far?  I have.  September has been a great (but busy) month!  My Little Big Man just started preschool and is loving it!  He's excited to go to school and see his new friends and learn new things.  Aside from the memories of when he was a wee babe, I'm doing fine too.  He's my first to ''go to school'' although it really is only a couple of hours a week.  It's fun to have a few hours with my younger son (or if he's napping, to myself).  I'm happy to say we are all adjusting well to this new stage.

On the other side of the "September's Great" coin, the weather has been awful.  Half of Washington is on fire right now.  While the fires aren't too close to us, the smoke is relentless!  We've been getting stagnated air and poor air quality alerts and the sky is a murky tan.  By now, the weather is supposed to be clear and sunny with just the tiniest hint of crispness to alert us of the coming season.  We've had to keep the air conditioner running and the windows shut to keep out the smoke. Blah.  Hope it clears out soon and the fires stop so those poor fire fighters can go home to their families and get some rest!

I've got two pretty lace swatches for you for September.  Both are a series of repeats within the main pattern repeat.  Take a look at this post if you need some help with the decreases ssk and k2tog.  They do look different and will define the direction of your knitting.   

Briar Patch
by Lindsey Melvin
This swatch is a 12 row repeat over 9 stitches.  The borders, as written, are 4 stitches each knit in seed stitch.

Cast on 44 stitches
Border Rows
1, 3, 5: K, P across
2, 4: P, K across

Pattern Rows
Row 1, 3, 5: (P, K, P, K) *(K1, YO) 3 times, K2tog 3 times repeat from * across (P, K, P, K)
Even Rows 2-12: (K, P, K, P) Purl (K, P, K, P)
Row 7, 9, 11: (P, K, P, K) *K1 (SSK) 3times, (yo, K1) 2 times, yo repeat from * across (P, K, P, K)

Repeat these 12 rows until square measures approx 9 inches from start, ending with either row 5 or 11.
Repeat border rows 1 thru 5.  Bind off all stitches loosely.
I adore this swatch!

Checkered Lace
by Lindsey Melvin
This swatch is a 12 row repeat over 12 stitches. The border is 4 stitches on each side knit in seed stitch.

Cast on 44 stitches
Border Rows:
1, 3, 5: K, P across row
2, 4: P, K across row

Pattern Rows:
Rows 1, 3, 5: (P, K, P, K) *(SSK, yo) 3 times, K6 repeat from * across row (P, K, P, K)
Even rows 2- 12: (K, P, K, P) Purl across row (K, P, K, P)
Rows 7, 9, 11: (P, K, P, K) *K6, (yo, k2tog) 3 times repeat from* across row (P, K, P, K)

Repeat these 12 rows until square measures approx 9 inches from start, ending with either row 5 or 11.
Repeat border rows 1 thru 5.  Bind off all stitches loosely.

I hope you enjoy these swatches.  Next month (and the remainder of the year) we'll be working on cables.  I wanted to let you know that I have a bit of a surprise planned for October.  Last year, I took part in a blogging challenge over at The Nesting Place called The 31 Day Challenge.  It's where you blog about a single topic for 31 days!  I had so much fun that I am planning on doing it again this year.  I don't blog over on my other site anymore, so I am going to incorporate it into this blog.  I will have a swatch for you (hopefully) at the beginning of October along with the daily account of my Challenge.  If you'd like to take a look at what I did last year, you can check it out here!

Happy knitting!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's Go To The Market Bag

"Let's Go To The Market" Bag
By Lindsey Melvin

There is a fantastic Farmer's Market in my town that's open every Friday morning from the start of summer through the end of October.  The vendors supply us with fresh produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, artisan meats, eggs and even local wine!  I go practically every week- when I can- and stock up on as much as I can carry!  What better way to support this local commerce than with a "green" carry-all?  This fabulous market bag comes in two convenient sizes.  The larger bag is perfect for carrying all your Farmer's Market produce, while the smaller is just right for taking your knitting on the go.  The 8-Point Star on the bottom of the bag provides for a sturdy but visually interesting base, while the lace-work that makes up the middle will grow and stretch as you fill it.  Make the strap as long or as short as you prefer.  Make your bag in a single color, or use up all the leftover scrap yarn you have hanging about.  The possibilities are endless- just have fun!
Large or Small? It's up to you!
Why not both?

Yarn & Measurements:
-Large Bag:  For the large bag, you'll need 2 balls of worsted weight cotton (about 150 yards each), one each in two coordinating colors.  The large bag measures about 14 inches deep by 30 inches around with room to stretch.  The strap is 24 inches long.  
-Small Bag: For the small bag, you'll need one ball of worsted weight cotton (about 150 yards) plus a small amount of yardage for contrasting color band.  The small bag measures about 9.5 inches deep by 24 inches around with room to stretch.  The strap is 16 inches long.

Tools Needed: 
-US 7 double points and circular needle (24 inches) and size 9 circular needle (24 inch)
-Stitch marker to denote start of round
-Small stitch holder
-Large eyed darning needle for sewing in ends.

Large "Let's Go To The Market" Bag

Using size 7 dpns and main color, co 8 and join in the round.  Change to size 7 circulars when there are too many stitches to fit comfortably on the dpns.  
Place a marker at the start of the round.

8-Point Star Bottom:
Row 1: *yo, K1* (16)
Row2 and all even rows: knit
Row 3: *yo, K2* (24)
Row 5: *yo, k3* (32)
Row 7: *yo, k4* (40)
Row 9: *yo, k1, yo, k2tog, k2* (48)
Row 11: *yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k1* (56)
Row 13: *yo, k5, yo, k2tog* (64)
Row 15: *yo, k8* (72)
Row 17: *yo, k1, yo, k2tog, k6* (80)
Row 19: *yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k5* (88)
Row 21: *yo, k5, yo, k2tog, k4* (96)
Row 23: *yo, k7, yo, k2tog, k3* (104)
Row 25: *yo, k9, yo, k2tog, k2* (112)
Row 27: *yo, k11, yo, k2tog, k1* (120)
Row 29: *yo, k13, yo, k2tog* (128)
After this round, move the marker denoting the start of the round back to before the last yo (back two stitches). This will be the new start of the round.
Row 30: knit around
Row 31: *p3tog, p13* (112)
Row 32: knit around
Row 33: purl around
Row 34: knit around
Large 8-Point Star bottom
Lace Panel:
Switch to size US9 circular and contrasting color (if using two colors).
Round 1: *k2tog, yo*
Round 2: knit
Repeat these two rounds until the lace panel measures 8 inches (or desired length).  
Lace Panel
Switch to size 7 circular needles and main color.  Knit in garter stitch as follows:
Purl a round.
Knit a round.
Purl a round decreasing 12 stitches evenly throughout round, using a p2tog decrease (100).
Knit a round.
Purl a round.
Knit a round.
Purl a round.  
Knit a round.

Cast off round:
Knit in seed stitch over the first 8 stitches (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1).  These stitches will form the strap for the bag.  
Bind off the next 42 stitches purlwise.  
Knit in seed stitch over the next 8 stitches (as above) and slip to a stitch holder.
Bind off the next 42 stitches purlwise.  
Close up of the strap and border band
Continue to knit the 8 live stitches (leave the 8 on the stitch holder alone) in seed stitch until the strap measures 24 inches long (or desired length) as follows:
Row 1: P, K, P, K, P, K, P, K
Row 2: K, P, K, P, K, P, K, P
Seed stitch strap 
Using a 3-needle bind-off, bind-off the strap stitches with the stitches on the stitch holder.  Weave in all ends. 

Small "Let's Go To The Market" Bag
The small bag mimics the construction of the larger bag.  Start knitting the 8-Point Star base as for the larger bag Rows 1 through 16.
Row 17: *kfb, k8* (80)
row 18: knit
row 19: purl
row 20: knit
row 21: purl
row 22: knit
Small 8-Point Star Bottom
Switch to size US9 circular needle
round 1: *k2tog, yo*
round 2: knit
Repeat these two rounds until the lace panel measures 6 inches (or desired length).

Switch to size 7 circular needles and contrasting color (if using) and knit in garter stitch as follows:
Knit a round.
Purl a round.
Knit a round decreasing 10 stitches evenly throughout the round using k2tog decrease (70 sts).
Purl a round.

Cast off round:
Knit in seed stitch over the first 5 stitches (K, P, K, P, K).  These 5 stitches will form the strap for the bag. 
Bind off the next 30 stitches knitwise.
Knit in seed stitch over the next 5 stitches (as above) and slip to a stitch holder.
Bind off the next 30 stitches knitwise.
Close-up of the strap and border band
Continue to knit the 5 stitches in seed stitch until the strap measure 16 inches (or desired length): K, P, K, P, K

Using a 3-needle bind-off, bind-off the strap stitches with the stitches on the stitch holder.  Weave in all ends. 
Carry your projects in style!
**A note about the strap**
  Since these are working bags, the strap will have a tendency to stretch with use.  You can combat this in a couple of different ways.  First, you can knit your strap a couple inches shorter than you prefer.  With a couple of uses the strap will stretch out to your desired length.  You can also line your straps with some fabric or canvas straps, by measuring and then sewing in the strap to the underside of your knit strap.  Experiment and have some fun!

Happy knitting, and happy Labor Day weekend!  See you in a week for September's Swatches!