Recipe: Carthay Circle House Biscuits

If you've arrived here through a Google search, well, you already know what you're in for. California Adventure's Carthay Circle Restaurant's House Biscuits are the stuff of legend, and if you've not been lucky enough to have them in person, I'll just say this: Get ready for the best bread you've ever had. Yeah, I said it. Hot, doughy, crisp-on-the-outside, full-of-melty-cheese-and-bacon-on-the-inside, these are beyond good. Doc and I visited the Carthay Circle Restaurant last year as part of my 30th birthday bash, and being a bread lover I couldn't resist ordering a round of these as a starter. At $12 a basket (a basket containing perhaps 8 rolls), they are worth every penny. If you ever find yourself at California Adventure, you MUST make a reservation at Carthay Circle and order these rolls. You simply must. However, in the meantime, I'm going to tell you how to enjoy them at home, because after more than a year of experimenting, I believe I've finally nailed it. Now, down to business.

Carthay Circle House Biscuits Copycat Recipe

Yield: 16 rolls (serves 4 adults or less - trust me)


For the bread:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

6 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 heaping tablespoons vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt

For the Filling:
4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and trimmed
8 oz Cracker Barrel Sharp White Cheddar, grated
12 slices nacho jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup jalapeño juice
Bacon grease from cooked bacon

For the Butter:
1 stick salted butter, softened
1/4 cup Smucker's Simply Fruit, Apricot
1 tablespoon honey

Oh, and you'll need a deep fryer filled with vegetable oil and a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop...

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

To make the starter, combine the warm water and yeast in a bowl until yeast has fully dissolved. Add the flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.


While the starter is working, you can make your filling. Grate the cheese and set that aside in a large bowl; cook the bacon until extra crispy, trimming the excess fat when cool. Let the bacon grease cool down a bit while you combine the bacon, jalapeño slices and jalapeño juice in the food processor (I used my Magic Bullet). Pulse until you have a rather chunky paste, like so:

It really is just like magic...

Combine this mixture with the cheese and slightly cooled bacon grease. You don't have to go crazy with the bacon grease, just whatever sort of slops out of the pan is fine. Once your mixture is evenly coated with all the goodies, pop it in the fridge - it'll be easier to work with later.

Awwww, yeah.

You probably still have time to make your apricot honey butter before your starter's done, so throw all those ingredients in a bowl and blend them up with your mixer. It's really important that all of these ingredients be at room temperature when you try to mix them, or the butter will try to bead up on you. You want nice, fluffy butter.

Sweet, salty goodness.

Now then, you're ready to finish the bread dough. Combine the water, honey, and yeast; stir to dissolve the yeast, then add the shortening, salt, and starter. You'll have something that looks like this:

And it will smell heavenly.

 Mix in the flour, either by hand or in a stand mixture, kneading until the dough is fully developed.

This dough is good on its own, too, by the way. We like to use it as bread bowls for soup.

Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Now comes the fun part! Separate your dough into 16 even pieces. I like to start with 4, then break each one of those down into 4. SO much easier than eyeballing 16ths! Flatten each small piece into about a 3-4" square. With your cookie scoop, scoop out a firmly-packed ball of filling into the middle of your flattened dough. Wrap the dough around the filling, pressing dough firmly to close (I like to use a dumpling method, but whatever works for you). Roll your filled dough back into a ball-like shape. When all your dough bits are filled, place them into the freezer for an hour or until fully frozen. At this point, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe container and leave them until you're ready to eat (this is an excellent way to stockpile these for when cravings hit, and trust me, they're going to).

I feel an Oliver-esque chorus of "Food, Glorious Food" coming on...

While your dough balls are in the freezer, preheat your fryer to 360ºF. Depending on the size of your fryer, you'll probably be frying the rolls in batches of 4-6. I have one of these, and generally put in 4 at a time. You want them to have some room, because they will puff up a bit once they hit the hot oil. Let them cook in the oil for 3 1/2 minutes. When they come out of the fryer, toss them on a paper towel to soak up any residue oil that might be hiding in the nooks and crannies.

Golden brown crust, nicely crisp. So unassuming...

If you let your friends and family have at the first batch before you're finished frying the rest, be prepared to start fending people off with your butter knife. Yes, they're really THAT GOOD. Never, ever take these to a party unless you want to be asked to bring them to Every Single Party Forever After. Think I'm overselling them a bit? Wait 'til you try them.

Delicious, ooey-gooey amazingness.

Break one open, slather with apricot honey butter, and try not to think about how much you'd like to be queuing up for Radiator Springs Racers when you're finished. Enjoy!

Online Bread Making Class


Style Your Knits: Fisherman Twist

It's been awhile since I did one of these, but I've been stockpiling photos for weeks. These kinds of posts are going to start happening more regularly around here, as I intend to start sneaking my blog ever-closer towards being a knitwear-themed style blog. But more on that later! For now, let's just get to the eye candy, shall we?


I picked up Carol Feller's pattern, Fisherman Twist, at a print-pattern sale at my LYS. I happened to have a bag of Adagio, a wonderful llama/silk blend from Skacel that's sadly been discontinued, that I thought would be just perfect for this pattern. Turns out, I was right!


I'm very happy with how this sweater turned out. After a full wet blocking, the thing grew into a giant mess, so I lightly felted it in a very hot dryer and it turned into just the perfect size for me. (And bonus, when you lightly felt llama & silk it turns into an amazingly scrumptious fabric!) I styled it up by pairing it with a one-shoulder chiffon maxi dress, tights, wedge cowboy boots, a long necklace, and a large envelope clutch. It would be wonderful with jeans, too, but y'all know that's not how I roll. ;)



So here's the rundown, style-blog style:

Pattern: Fisherman Twist by Carol Feller
Yarn: Skacel Collection, Inc. Adagio (discontinued)
Dress: Eric Daman for Charlotte Russe, thrifted (similar)
Boots: Old Navy, thrifted (similar)
Snake Ring: Vintage, thrifted (similar)
Necklace: Handmade by me (similar)
Envelope Clutch: eBay (available here in multiple colors)
Nails: Sienna from Julep (here; also, read my blog post on how to get Julep for FREE!)


This sweater-over-a-maxi style is great for an environment where you don't know what the weather will be like...because even without the sweater, you still look perfectly put together! Would you ever wear a sweater over a dress? Let me know in the comments!

Get the knitting pattern from Carol Feller for $5.95 on Ravelry here. Click any of the photos above to see my project on Ravelry.


Vogue Knitting Live: Chicago 2013

I just got home from a weekend in Chicago with my friend Joslyn, and we had such an amazing time at Vogue Knitting Live! We decided to skip taking any classes in favor of spreading out our spending money between the market, Michigan Avenue shopping, and high-end dining experiences. What fun we had! Here's a little visual recap (click each photo for a larger version):

knitting on the train - joslyn is making a westport shawl

the fiber factor runway show - old favorites & accessories from challenge 6

none of the contestants tried to stab me. i considered this a success.

hijinks on the show floor

shopping splurges on michigan ave - spent WAY too much on these fab shoes!


And Now for Something Completely Different...

I'm taking a sick day today, which means I'm spending most of the day wasting time on the internet while in my jammies and drinking copious amounts of highly sugared coffee.

You may have seen this floating around on Facebook, but it's definitely worth a giggle! The BBC, man. Gets me every time.

who knew animals were so funny?
By the way, we have a winner for the Anzula giveaway! It's @run_knit! Thanks for the RT, Stephanie! Your mini-skeins will be in the mail for you soon!


Anzula giveaway!

By now you all know how much I love Anzula Luxury Fibers, right? Well, the time has come for me to pay back some of Sabrina's generosity in years past. You see, their mid-CA factory doesn't have air conditioning, and that's just unacceptable (can you even imagine?). Sabrina and the team have set up a little Indiegogo campaign to help fund this project, which you can see here.

ooh, pretty

In addition to sponsoring a pretty cool perk, which you'll notice on the Indiegogo page and can read more about here and is still available, I also want to help them promote the campaign by hosting a little giveaway! I've got 18 mini skeins of For Better or Worsted up for grabs in the following colorways: Au Natural, Seaside, Clay, Maple, Rootbeer, Coco, Ducky, Avocado, Country Green, Denim, Periwinkle, Navy, Charcoal, Hyacinth, Luine, Paprika, Petunia, and 1 Red Shoe. This selection was designed to give you a great range of colors to get a real sense of the Anzula line, and they would also be perfect for a scrappy project like Mustaa Villaa's Garter Stripe Beanies.

you know you want 'em!

So, here's what we are going to do. To gain entry for this giveaway, you can either:

Tweet the following: "Help @anzula get a little cooler! RT and you could win 18 mini-skeins of For Better or Worsted from @TheSexyKnitter! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/anzula-a-cooler-yarn-factory"


Log into your Facebook account, and share this post with your friends! (Then don't forget to "like" my and Anzula's Facebook pages, if you haven't already!)

I'll announce the winner on or around October 22nd. But seriously, go check out their campaign! No one should have to work in a sauna, and they've got some really awesome perks up for grabs. :)


New Pattern: Urban Houndstooth Cardigan

I've been saving this one for quite awhile, but now that there's a nip of fall in the air, I think it's time to share.

My latest pattern is a top-down raglan that's a style which could only be described as "librarian chic". The fantastic 2-color houndstooth pattern is worked with slip-stitch knitting, meaning you'll only use one color of yarn per row (it looks SO much harder)! There are deep, squishy ribbed cuffs and collar, afterthought pockets, colorblocked waist shaping, and a pop of color right along the raglan line. All the thoughtful details combine for a knit that's as fun to knit as it is to wear.

Best of all, this pattern is on promo now through Halloween at an introductory price of just $4.50. But hurry - the regular price of $6.00 will go into effect on November 1st! Click the photos to be taken to the purchase page. As always, queues and faves on Ravelry are appreciated!


New pattern: Cursory Cowl

Just in time for the fourth-quarter Team Sexy Knitter KAL, I've released a new pattern: Cursory Cowl!

This cowl, worked in Knit Collage's Rolling Stone yarn, uses just 35 yards of super bulky yarn. You'll be finished almost as soon as you've started!

this wooly, thick-and-thin yarn is spun with delightful embellishments like paisleys, sequins, and glittery Angelina

Once you cast on, you'll simply work the easy, 2-stitch pattern repeat until you're almost out of yarn, making good use of every inch in the skein. This also means that this pattern is wonderfully customizable for any weight of yarn or needle size! Simply cast on your desired number of stitches and get going. I happen to love the vibrant, color-explosion nature of the original sample, but if you're looking for something a little more neutral, this would be great in a solid color with a single color of coordinating ribbon. In fact, if you don't love the fringes you could even just weave one long strand of ribbon through all the yarn over holes, and give yourself a completely different look!

brightly colored ribbons weave through yarn over holes to add to the festive appeal

The generous folks over at Knit Collage have gifted me 2 lovely skeins of yarn to give away in conjunction with this pattern's release. Aren't they gorgeous?

So here’s what we are going to do. Because this is SUCH a quick knit, completing a Cursory Cowl by October 31 will make you eligible to win one of these skeins of yarn! I will be selecting 2 winners at random from the pool of completed cowls, so the more you knit, the more your chances of winning!

You do not have to be a member of my Ravelry group to participate in this mini-KAL, but we do have an active thread for folks who would like to participate. If you're a group member, you can also use this project in our regular, 4th quarter KAL, which will double your chances of winning something awesome. All are welcome!


Things You Need: Dishcloth Diva, by Deb Buckingham

Deb hits it out of the park with TWENTY amazing patterns

Okay, I'll admit it. I've never been much into knitting dishcloths. In fact, I think the closest I'd ever come before reviewing this book was a single, purple, acylic potholder (don't ask). However, Doc's mother had been asking me for quite some time for some hand-knitted dishcloths, and when Deb popped by my Ravelry group and started chatting us up about her new book, Dishcloth Diva, I knew I needed to take a peek.

I quickly realized what all the fuss is about. When knitting dishcloths, see, you can take about a third of a ball of cotton yarn, combine it with an hour or so of knitting time, and come out with this lovely, useful little thing!

I was hooked. I thought I'd just knit one or two dishcloths, just to get a feel for how Deb's patterns are written up (they're perfect, by the way), but wound up knitting six. Even then, I only stopped because I needed to actually wrap these all up and give them to their intended recipient! Truly, all 20 of these are knit-worthy; it almost makes me wish I had more folks to knit them for! I think I'll knit the other patterns, and add them to my just-in-case gift box. Paired with a bar of luxurious, handmade soap, wouldn't a knitted dishcloth be a nice stocking stuffer or "just because" gift?

Deb has a real knack for writing these patterns; she's gone through extra effort to make sure each pattern is written out stitch-by-stich, line-by-line, meaning that you have to use almost NONE of your own brain power when knitting along (and if you're anything like me, that's the first thing you look for when working from a pattern)! In 6 patterns, I found not a single error - just clear, perfect instructions for absolutely delightfully satisfying dishcloths. You should be comfortable working from written instructions though, because there are no charts here, but trust me - you won't miss them. For the knitter who hates to purl, Deb's gone one step further, because many of the patterns incorporate the patterning into the wrong side rows, meaning you get a plain knit row instead of a plain purl row. Whew!

I'm giving this book an enthusiastic, two thumbs up, mostly for its power to convert a non-believer into a (somewhat timid) addict. If you have any interest in knitting dishcloths whatsoever, you need this book on your shelf, pronto! You can get all 20 patterns as an eBook for just $9.95 via Ravelry, or a print AND digital combo for $15.95 + shipping via the Cooperative Press website.

Even better, Deb and Cooperative Press have teamed up to provide one lucky commenter with a FREE digital copy of this wonderful book! Just leave a comment below telling us which is your favorite pattern from the book for a chance to win. I'd tell you when I'll announce the winner, but regulars know that's pretty much a joke at this point, so we'll just say, post away, and check back in about a week to see if you've won!

If you're on Twitter and would like an extra entry, tweet the following:

Have you seen 's latest giveaway? I've entered to win a copy of Dishcloth Diva from

Looking for the winner of Lee Meredith's giveaway? It's Faith the Vampire Slayer! Congrats, Faith! Lee will be gifting you a copy of the Short Stripes Trio shortly! Enjoy!

Picks of the Day:

Want your Etsy Mini in this spot? Click here!


Getting to Know You #11: Lee Meredith

Back after a nearly 10-month hiatus, I'm reviving this series! Today's guest is none other than Lee Meredith, whom many of you know as Leethal. I had the pleasure of meeting Lee in person last year during the June showing of TNNA, and she was just as delightful as I'm sure you've always imagined her to be.

Lee and me, TNNA, June 2012

Lee has just come out with a new mini-collection that I'm completely in love with, Short Stripes Trio, and after taking a peek at the patterns I knew I needed to have her by the blog for an interview.

TSK: You clearly have a mathematically minded brain. I love that you're able to take fairly complicated mathematical ideas, translate them into knitwear, and then make them accessible to even the most mathematically-challenged of knitters. Are you the kindof math geek who sets out to translate a specific math idea into knitwear, or do you start with the knitwear and then use math to accomplish your goal?

LM: I definitely start out with the knitwear idea, then use math as needed to make it work.  I usually spend a lot of time swatching to figure out just how to make a construction idea look how I want it, more trial and error rather than hardcore math… I didn'treally take any math in school post high school, since I was an art major, so actual math knowledge is all old and foggy in my brain, I just kind of think mathematically, which helps me figure out weird construction concepts in my knit design, along with allthat swatching experimentation!

TSK: You're famous for coordinating some pretty badass mystery knitalongs. As a fellow designer, I simply MUST ask: Do you complete the pattern before you've ever released a clue, or do you feed off the group's reactions to develop each pattern's twistsand turns? How much planning do you go through to ensure the project stays a surprise for as long as possible?

LM: I've always completed the patterns before beginning the mystery knit-a-longs; I've never thought about the option of using the knitters' reactions to decide where to take the pattern!  (Might be thinking about that in the future now, hmm…)  For most ofmy mystery knit-a-longs, I've had them tested by test knitters first before releasing any clues, so the pattern is in a pretty much completely finished state by the time the first clue is out there.  As for keeping it a surprise, I feel like most knitters likeseeing spoilers each week as the pattern sections go out, so I let knitters put photos on their project pages, etc; I don't really take any steps to keep it extra mysterious, except, of course, telling my test knitters not to reveal their finished knits untilthe end.
TSK: You've created quite a niche for yourself in designing cleverly constructed accessories. Any plans to cross over into garment designing? How would you imagine applying your techniques to that branch of knitwear?

LM: I've thought a lot about this for the future, but have no immediate plans to go there yet… I'm always overflowing with accessory design ideas, and I never have time in my schedule to knit anyone else's designs, which means I have very little understandingof how to construct a sweater, when I think about how I'd design one.  I'm actually in the middle of knitting my first real sweater right now (I've been a knitter for over 10 years! I've just always been accessory-focused), but it's slow going since I alwayshave to prioritize my own designs.  So maybe within the next couple years I'll be able to squeeze in a couple more sweater knits in order to increase my grasp of garment construction, and then I'll be able to brainstorm more seriously about garment design!
TSK: You offer most of your designs with customizable instructions for any gauge or yarn, and you often include many different options and variations. That seems like a lot of extra work, especially when you consider that the majority of designers out there are writing patterns for one specific yarn or gauge. Are you just an overachiever, or...what's the deal?

LM: There is always so much possibility with knitting, it's so personalizable, and part of the fun of designing for me is to brainstorm about a concept and think of all the places it could go.  So I don't want to limit myself to choosing one single yarn, andmaking the design one specific way - I'd feel like I've destroyed all these other potential awesome versions!  So, I write most of my patterns for any weight yarn, letting the knitter choose what kind of piece they want to make, and I often include severalstyle/shape/size/etc options to choose from.  It's more fun for me (even though it's also more sample knitting work!) and I LOVE seeing all the different versions by knitters that look totally different from my versions!  It all kind of connects with how Ilike to view knitting as a fun, almost game-like activity - from my ebook that's actually called Game Knitting, to my Quick Knits projects, which are fun (and often silly) ways to use up leftover yarn bits, to my mystery knit-a-longs… I'm working on a new projectfor the summer which will combine some of these knitting-is-fun elements, which I can't talk about yet but I'm SUPER excited about!  Anyway, I think the whole any weight yarn, customizable options, etc, aspect of my patterns scares some knitters away, but allthat variety is to make the knitting experience more personalized and fun!  It doesn't mean my patterns are hard to make, I promise!  (Well, most of them aren't hard, some can be tricky, but if you trust the pattern, you can do it!)
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lee! For those of you not already following Lee around the web, here are some handy links for you:
Ravelry: Leethal
Twitter: @leethal
Ravelry Group: Leethal Knitters!

Are you a longtime fan of Lee's work? Leave us a comment with your favorite pattern of hers, and we'll draw one lucky winner to receive a copy of her new Short Stripes Trio! Comments will remain open until May 31st.