Sunday, December 21, 2008


I'm in love with fresh food.

I'm sick of canned this and powdered that.

So when I decided to make gingersnaps for the first time, I determined that there was only one way to do it.

With fresh ingredients.

Including the ginger.

As much as I could control it.

So I did some searching and found this recipe for Gingersnaps. A few weeks ago I made some sugared ginger, so even that ingredient was pretty fresh. Well, it was fresh when I made it two weeks ago!

So here, I embark on yet another fresh recipe!

I made these for chirstmas gifts, but only 6 made it before I realized my hubby was wolfing them down! Fresh indeed, these were fantastic!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sugared Cranberries

I think this one is going to work! (I'll be sure to update with my progress tomorrow.)

Presenting: Sugared Cranberries.

These were great! Juicy, beautiful. They were the Wow factor on my Christmas trays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cornbread and a good story

I found Homesick Texan via google's Food Blog Search. Can't say enought great things about that!

HT tells about her (her?) love of cast iron skillets, how to treat them, and then goes right into the greatest Cornbread recipe. I can't wait to try it! Our friend made chili and asked for cornbread to go with it. He's kind of finicky, so I'll probably make a separate, more conventional batch, but I'm definitely trying out this recipe tonight!

I made this last night, as indicated.
Well, it looked FANTASTIC. But it tasted "off," not sure what exactly I did wrong, but I'm going to try it again sometime. Good thing I made another type!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alton Brown's Christmas Soup

I was able to watch the food network with my hubby a few nights ago and he didn't flee!!
We caught a clip of Alton Brown's Christmas soup and my hubby was enthralled. Well, enthralled is kind of a strong word. He was definitely hooked though.

It's a kielbasa soup with kale. And the kielbasa did it.
Check it out!

Made this tuesday - it was a hit! Though he wasn't impressed with the kale, I think it added some good flavor.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kiwi Kiwi Kiwi

There was a sale on Kiwi and I just had to grab my share. Now, I just need some good recipes.

I'm going to try Kiwi Lime Marmalade, Kiwi Chutney, and Kiwi Fruit Salsa.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Alfredo Sauce

Quite simply, Alfredo Sauce.

Never use a packet again.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Worcestershire Sauce

So last time we went to Baton Rouge, we visited Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Sauce! We got some special stuff at their gift shop and in the bag they gave us a Tabasco brand Worcestershire sauce. My hubby LOVED it. I thought it was pretty darn good myself. We tried to find it online, to no avail. We scoured the shops around Baton Rouge on this latest trip down, to no avail. So I've decided to make some of my own. Why not?

So I found this recipe for basic worcestershire sauce, and I'll "kick it up" with some tabasco.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another one for the cranberry column

My hubby asks for cranberry juice and voilla!
It's more about my internet searching ability than cooking, huh?

Thus, making cranberry juice from fresh cranberries...

Yeah, that didn't turn out so great...I'll keep looking for another recipe...

Thems Animal Crackers!

I was looking for a light appetizer idea for thanksgiving, and found this idea for a new type of animal cracker!
I'm actually going to use a rotary wheel and make squares or triangles, but the idea is the same...Can't Wait!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Hunt for Drying Spinach

I love how hunts often yeild so much more than expected. I was on the hunt for preparation instructions for drying spinach leaves. As in dehydrating. And that has lead me to Sharon Astyk's blog. She is the author of Depletion and Abundance which is quite worth checking out. It is purportedly about taking a more purposefull approach to preserving our bounty, planning rather than haphazardly preserving willy-nilly. Since I am taking this winter to plan my first real vegetable garden, I think it will be a good read for me.

On to drying spinach...The Baklava Queen has a great overview of dehydrating fruits and vegetables, very general directions, but I'm on my way...

Okay, so I also found directions for blanching spinach, specifically I wanted to make sure I didn't over cook it, so I wanted to know how long it should be in the boiling water. Beyond Wonderful is, well, beyond wonderful!

I also experimented with simply taking the soaking wet leaves and laying them out, one at a time, on the parchment-covered baking sheet. Alternatively, I took the last half of the spinach and squeezed it into a ball to get the excess water out, then tried to separate it in some manner for drying on another sheet.

By far and away, laying out each individual leaf was well worth the effort! It was a cinch to grind with my mortar and pestle, and you could still see the wonderful color and it didn't get all hard and nasty.

Not nasty is a good thing, don't you think?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Here's my first Tyler Florence recipe that made it to the blog!

Last night I made Ultimate Sloppy Joes. Mmmmm...

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (I cut out the onion...big surprise. But I added two cloves of garlic instead.)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (Don't have the turkey on hand, so I used ground beef.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
12 parker house rolls

Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add ground turkey, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon - about 7 to 10 minutes. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a splash of red wine vinegar and season it once more before serving on parker rolls.

I did fewer adjustments on this recipe than I think I ever have on anything else! It came out WONDERFULL and it's a good thing I made a double batch because there was barely enough left over for my lunch today! I was a bit curious about the red wine vinegar at the end, but it really worked!!
Oh, also - with the change of using beef instead of turkey, there was a lot of oil rendered that I should have drained, but I didn't do so until the end. Well, I waited to add the vinegar unil after it was drained, but that was it.
So if you use a meat more fatty than turkey, just remember to drain and you won't be as grossed out by the pools of oil toward the end!

Also, I was totally pleased and surprised that it took me only 40 minutes to make this, from defrosting the meat and assembling all the ingredients to plating and serving! (I'm a bit slow, it'll probably not take you as long!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tyler Florence. Ultimate. {Chef}

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Stephanie and her amazing Crockpot Blog. Well, I've been thinking lately that it could be fun to do the same kind of challenge next year. Not the same EXACT challenge, though I'd certainly love to use my crockpot every day! No. I was thinking...mabe grilling every day!
But then I was thinking, that's an awefull lot of food. And quite a commitment. And perhaps after that I'd never want to look at another grill again. And I don't like the idea of never grilling again.
So I'm thinking now that I'll do a SIMILAR challenge, with less of a commitment.

2009: 4 meals a week using Tyler Florence's recipes.
Whadya think about that?

I'm drooling already.
Over the food.
I'm a married woman, people!

I decided to pare this down a bit and do 1 recipe a week. That's okay. The leftovers will last awhile!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Roasted Goodness

I have a handfull of various produce left in my pantry and thought I'd roast it all up for freezing. Here's what I've got:
4 Pie Pumpkins
1 Acorn Squash
Tons of Apples
1/2 bag of carrots
2 garlic bulbs
1/2 onion

So I've got the whole roasting squash/gourds thing down pat by now, and I enjoy roasting garlic and onion from time to time, but what about carrots and apples? Well, ask and ye shall's just a google search away:

Roasted Carrots
Roasted Apples

later that same day...
I stand corrected, Roasted Apple Sauce sounds the BEST! I'm going for it! And Bonus: I found a new food blog! Closet Cooking is fun, down to earth, and pretty funny, if you ask me.

Okay. Yesterday I made the Roasted Apple Sauce. I made one change in the recipe because I didn't have apple cider on hand, and I roasted it "low and slow" instead of at 400 degrees.

I don't want to share.

It's addictive.

It makes way too little.

Next time I'm loading up every deep pan I have and can fit into my oven.


Here's the recipe, with my alterations in bold:

12 apples (peeled, cored and chopped) I used empire and cortland
3/4 cup apple cider Didn't have apple cider, so I looked through my fridge wondering what I could substitute for it...I used coke. Seriously. I used 1/2 cup coke and 1/4 cup water.
3 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
I also added 1/2 teaspoon ground clove.

1. Toss everything in a bowl.
This was kind of vague, so after mixing it all together, I laid the apple secions out on a baking sheet and drizzled the remaining juices over them. Caution: It made a bit of a mess in my oven, so next time I'll use a deeper pan, like a roaster or casserole dish. Whatever you long as it has taller sides than a cookie sheet!
2. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the apples are very soft, about 30-50 minutes.
I baked for 30 mins at 400, then had to leave the house, so I turned off the oven for an hour, but kept them in it. Then when I got back, I jacked the heat back up to about 300 and left them in there for another hour or so.
3. Mash the apples.
I let them cool a bit before transferring to a bowl to mash. Next time, using a deeper pan, I'll probably keep them in the original pan for mashing, then transfer to the storage jar or bowl.

Out of the 12 apples, I got about a quart of apple sauce (aprox 4 cups). It's actually more like an apple butter. So amazing! I don't know if I'm tasting the coke because I know it's there or not, so the next step is to give it to my hubby for snacking. He's the apple butter king!

{shhhh! the coke is our secret!}

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Melt-in-your-Mouth Rolls

I am traveling 1600 miles for thanksgiving this year and have been told I'll be able to make rolls! I have made homemade rolls for years, but never in the bread machine, so I want to try out this recipe from Suzie of Friendship of the Fabulous Foodies before I go.

Fingers crossed...

Infused Vinegar

I'm on the hunt for cranberry infused vinegar and found this site, which provides general directions for making herb or fruit infused vinegars. I'm already on my way to the kitchen to try it!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet & Sour Carmelized Onions

And here it is...Sweet & Sour Carmelized Onions! This one's just for me, And I plan to enjoy it tonight to it's fullest!

Pecan topped Sweet Potatoes

I'm back! After a week of arguing with the computer, the modem, the router, the ISP, and finally walking away...and back...I've finally got my internet working again! And now I'm in search for a fantastic onion idea I saw last week but didn't take the time to create a link to....this is why I have blecipes!!!
So in my search for this elusive onion recipe, I ran across Stephanie's idea for sweet potatoes and I happen to have everything on hand!

So I decided conclusively that I don't like using nuts in anything baked. Every time I walked past the crockpot, I just didn't like the smell. As I thought more about it, I can't recal ever liking nuts in my brownies or pies. Excluding pecan pie, of course. But with that much sugar, what wouldn't taste good.
Anyway, if I make this again, I'll probably forgo the pretzels and the pecans, and possibly even cut down on the cranberries because as much as I like cranberries, I didn't enjoy the whole fruit in the same bite as the sweet potatoes. I'd still use them though because the infused flavor was wonderfull.
Just me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I've put up some more cans of fruit tonight. This time Cranberry Sauce and Spiced Pears. I've decided to start a canning journal to keep with my stored cans in order to document the specific recipes used and ingredients, etc. I've been labeling the jar lids with the appropriate name, plus the date it was made, but this way I can look back and see what "else" was put in it.

What do you do to keep track of these things?
Do you have jar labels, or write on the lids?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Stephanie's done it again! I'm going to grab one of my frozen bags of pumpkin puree and make this quick Pumpkin Pie dip for the crew of friends we have working on our house today. They totally deserve it!
Maybe I'll whip up a batch of gingersnaps to go with it...

Okay, I did end up making this Saturday afternoon, but I wasn't completely won over. Oh, and my hubby thought it looked like cheese dip and was totally surprised when he tried it with a pretzel!
In general I thought it was bland. I did add pumpkin pie spice although it didn't call for it. I think next time I'll go with a little less sour cream and maybe a tablespoon or so of sugar.
Yes, I will definitely be making this again!

Black Beans no longer Black Listed

I have been screwing around with using dried beans, soaking, boiling, soaking, ... soaking, etc.
I haven't quite gotten a good method yet with a consistency I like, but I'm hoping Stephanie's method, using the crockpot, will be the winner. Gotta love that crockpot!!

I finally tried this a few weeks worked wonderfully! I'm definitely won over to using dried beans now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

All about Cranberries

I'm in love with cranberries.
I know.
I tend to exagerate a bit.
But this time I mean it.
I absolutely love taking cranberries and surprising people with the versitality of them. So far, I've come up with Cran-Apple Crisp and some Cranberry Burst Muffins, but I want to really go for it this year, so I went in search of some new-to-me cranberry recipes and boy did I find them!

Simply Recipes has a fantastic recipe for Cranberry Sauce.

I knew I could count on Apartment Therapy for something great! They list a Cranberry Jam that has me breaking out the pots and pans!

And what about Cranberry Salsa?! Never imagined...but Simply Recipes is definitely a creative bunch!

101 Cookbooks has abother Cranberry Jam recipe, loaded with fantastic commentary.

I laughed out loud at the truth to the dilema of the "Morning After Cranberry Sauce Muffins" over at Serious Eats. Indeed, until people give it a chance, there is little love for cranberry sauce.

Kitchen Parade's Cranberry Chutney looks oh-so-sophisticated. (And easy!!)

A shameless little plug...though I don't benefit from it at anyway: I found all of these recipes by typing in "cranberry" to google's Food Blog Search engine. Cool huh?

I also found this beautiful (to me) pic of a New Jersey cranberry bog harvest.

And this site told me it IS possile to can-preserve cranberry products!

That makes me a very, very happy girl!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blue Cheese Dressing

I'm making hotwings for our work party this saturday and wanted to try my hand at Blue Cheese Dressing. This recipe looks like a keeper! It's made with all staples in my pantry.
Yes, I make it a point to always have blue cheese on hand at all times.
I'm okay with that.

Easy Chocolate Torte

We are having a work party Saturday for our roofing project and instead of ordering pizza, I decided I wanted to cook for all our helpers. I have plenty of meal ideas, but wanted a really special dessert idea....enter Easy Chocolate Torte! I cannot wait for Saturday to get here! I may have to think about an alternate recipe thought, for two reasons.
One, the torte may not make it out of the kitchen,
and Two, guys aren't as chocolate-driven as us ladies.
Or so I hear.
Maybe I'm just justifying myself...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs

Mmmmm. I just watched Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals and I wish I hadn't already started dinner! I think I'm going to dream about her Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs tonight!

Okay, I made these last night and I am officially the s-loooooow-est cook in the east!
But I'm okay with that.
And my hubby's more than okay with the results of my slow-and-steady cooking!
I can't stress enough that it is imperative to coat the meatballs with olive oil prior to cooking. I didn't do it. I really should have. I was watching Alton Brown's Good Eats later last night and found out why! (Go figure!)
The Olive Oil creates a moisture barrier making sure the meatballs don't loose their moisture... AND it cooks faster. Mine didn't cook so fast. I think it took a half hour for them to cook to proper doneness.
Also, I made the tomato gravy which is also listed in the recipe, but it never thickened up. Not sure why, but it was still quite tasty!
It makes 8 gigantic meatballs. I ate one, my hubby ate two, and we have 5 frozen for future meals.

Grilled Cornish Game Hens. Why didn't I think of that?

We're having Cornish Game Hens tonight...and now we're doing it on the grill! This is a fantastic idea, I can't wait to get started!

This hen was so incredible! The skin was trully crispy, the meat was full of flavor and oh-so juicy! I got a couple nice second degree burns, but it was worth it!

The recipe:
Turn the bird over and cut out the backbone (just cut up one side and down the other with poultry shears.) This is so you'll be able to lay it flat on the grill.
Next, brine the bird in 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry on paper towels. Next, rub the bird with a spice rub on both sides.
Spice Rub:
1-1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch coriander
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne or hot pepper
Grill the bird over indirect heat (375-400F). You can skewer the bird to keep it from breaking apart while grilling or put in a grilling basket. If your grill doesn't allow for indirect heat, simply monitor it to be sure that the temp doesn't go over 375F.
Grilling will take about 30 minutes.
For the last 10 minutes, apply the glaze, first on one side, then flip after 5 minutes and glaze the other side.
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/4 cup water
1 whole minced garlic clove
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to develop flavors. Remove from heat until ready to glaze the bird.
My modifications:
I ended up soaking the birds in the brine for about two hours, the spice rub was just enough for both the birds, and I used my homemade tomato paste instead of ketchup for the glaze.

Erin's TX Cowboy Pie

I think I'll be trying Erin's TX Cowboy Pie this week. Her pic makes my mouth water! Erin is THE genious behind $5 dinners!

I made this a few nights ago. We didn't eat it that night. My hubby has been working late into the night on OUR house, not wanting to stop for silly things like eating and such, so my wonderful dinners have been left unsampled.
Yesterday, I reheated a bit of this for him and he loved it! I did too, and I'll tell you what my revisions were... (in Bold)

Leftover Beef Roast I didn't have leftover meat, so browned up about a pound of ground pork that needed to be cooked or frozen.
2-4 T Barbeque Sauce I did have leftover homemade barbeque sauce from my grilled cornish game hen, and used up the rest of that.
3 Large Potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Boil potatoes, mash with milk and butter until desired creaminess. Add Salt and Pepper.
2. Shred leftover beef and mix with BBQ sauce. Or cook whatever meat you wish to add.
3. Spread mashed potatoes in bottom of 8x8 baking dish. Top with saucy meat mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until cheese begins to golden.

While browning up the meat, I forgot I was adding bbq sauce so I added an envelope of taco seasoning to make it a little less dry. I thought about the combination of flavors and decided what the heck...and added the bbq sauce too. It was fantastic!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another shot at Taco Soup

As good as my previous attempt at Taco Soup was, it was closer to a stew or chili in my book, so back to the internet I I found Emily's Southwest Taco Soup. This shows promise! It may be more of a soup, so I'm giving it another try this week!

Pumpkin Puree

I decided I wanted to do as much "from scratch" cooking for the holidays, so I grabbed a few pie pumpkins to make filling now, while it's fresh. I wanted to can them, but it looks like I may have to freeze it. Oh long as it lasts until Christmas! I found this site quite informative about the process...This other article was also quite informative about why it's not recommended to can pumpkin and squash...unless you have a pressure canner...which I do not.

Acorn Squash

When I was checking out at the grocery store, I was asked what acorn squash tastes like. I haven't the foggiest idea! But I'm SO looking forward to trying this crockpot recipe for Acorn Squash!

I didn't make any variations on this recipe at ALL and it is definitely a winner! For some reason, I thought the brown sugar would turn crunchy, but of course it wasn't, it was a very liquid sauce so be carefull lifting the sections out of the pot. I ended up keeping the flesh in the skin and fork-mashed it so the brown sugar sauce got into each bite. Mmmmm.

Brie with Apricot Topping

This sounds like the perfect appetizer for the Tea Party I've always wanted. Just the sound of it makes me want to call up the ladies and start the teapot! Brie with Apricot Topping. And in a Crockpot to boot...what could be easier?! Once again, Stephanie comes up with a winner!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been finding just amazing recipes for all this produce I've found! Like Spiced Peaches, Apple Butter, Old Fashioned Barrel Pickles, Pickled Beets, Pumpkin Pie Filling, Freezing Turnips, which I have way too much of, Freezing Greens, and much much more at
So now I'm torn. I finally learned how to can this week so I'm eager to jump into canning everything in sight...and I just picked up a small freezer for $20 at a yard sale (and it works!). So I can freeze anything in sight too!
Oh, the choices in life...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spiced Grape Butter

I found this recipe here, but I'm doubling it becuase, well, I have 21 pounds of grapes and a pound and a half is just a drop in the bucket!

SPICED GRAPE BUTTER (already doubled)
3 lbs stemmed grapes
2 tab. Grated orange peel (about equivalent to two average sized oranges)
2 cup water
5 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Wash grapes; separate skins from pulp. Cook pulp until soft; sieve to remove seeds. Add orange peel and water; cook 10 minutes. Add skins; heat to boiling. Add sugar and spices; cook till thick. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Seal immediately. Makes about 8 cups.* from BETTER HOMES & GARDENS COOKBOOK *

My Comments:
These directions are a bit sparse on specifics. It took me about a half hour to separate the skins from the pulp. My grapes were already washed. As I was waiting for the mixture to thicken after adding the sugar and spices, I was getting impatient (an hour later) and looked up another recipe for grape butter that said it could take between 2-3 hours. I had to go out, so I put it on low and left for a few hours. When I got back it was still very thin (but super sweet!) so I used my immersion blender to break up the skins. That did the trick. It thickened quickly after that. Now I have purple fingers and lots of strange looks. But I also have a spiced grape butter that's going to be a big hit with kids of ALL ages!

Mine cooked for a total of 6 hours, but I think it would have gone quicker if I'd used the blender to begin with.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hopefully Taco Soup

Five years ago I went to Dallas for a convention and had Taco Soup for the first time.
I fell in love.
I've never had such wonderful soup again.
Hopefully, Stephanie's Crockpot Taco Soup recipe will reunite me with my favorite soup. I'm running out for the ingredients tonight and I'll post about it tomorrow.

I made this last week and it was more like a chili than a soup. It tasted fantastic, but it wasn't my long lost taco soup. Alas, we keep on searching. But meantime, I'll definitely make this again!

This has officially become our new House Chili. I'm making it today for our "work party" at our house tomorrow. The day after you make it, it becomes thick and hearty, it'll be a great topping for chili dogs, or fantastic on it's own!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grape, Grape, Gripe

Okay, 48 pints of grape jelly?
Not happening.
So what do I do with the rest of my grapes?
I'm thinking Grape Parfait Pie or Spiced Grape Spread.
And more!

Here's another site, for Grape pie or cobbler filling.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I've been meaning to make ahead some pizzas to freeze for those nights when it's a struggle to even set the oven and wait! Jen's post gave me the impetus to make it happen!
I figure, if Tony and Freschetta and DiGiorno and the rest of them can do it, why can't I?

This was fantastic dough! We made two individual sized pizzas and a regular size. It was the perfect combination of strength and crispiness.

Concord Grape Jelly

We decided to make jelly instead of wine this year, since last year's wine isn't quite ready to sample yet and we're not sure if we want to make any adjustments to the recipe yet. So the plan is to alternate years and this year it's Jelly-Makin' time!
This also means I have to jump in and actually can the jelly...a process I've been avoiding. I'm SO afraid of poisoning my friends and family!
But I'll bite the bullet and figure it out...once I get the recipe figured out! All the recipes I have found thus far call for 3.5 lbs of grapes. When I weighed ours this morning, I came up with 20.5 lbs that are usable. Rounded up a teeny bit, that's 21 lbs = 6 times the "normal" recipe!
So here's the re-calculated recipe, adapted from the Concord Grape Jelly I found on

21 pounds Concord grapes
3 cup water
42 cups white sugar (21 lbs!!!)
3 (36 fluid ounce) containers liquid pectin

Sort and wash grapes, and remove stems. Place them into a large kettle and crush them. Add water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and extract juice. Allow the juice to stand in a cool place overnight to prevent the formation of crystals in the jelly.
Strain the juice through a double thickness of damp cheesecloth. Measure 24 cups of the juice into a large pot. Stir in the sugar. Quickly bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in pectin, and allow to boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and skim off foam. Pour into hot sterile jars, and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

So I've already washed, removed stems, all I have to do is dig out our turkey fryer so I have a large enough pot for all of it!

But holy tamoly! That's a lot of sugar and grapes! It'll yeild 48 pints! Do I even want all that jelly? Where will I store it all?! I guess I know what y'all are getting for christmas this year!

A word about Tomato Paste

I love making my tomato paste! Scratch that. I love the results of making tomato paste.

But it's time consuming.
And it's labor-intensive.
I've never actually made it in one day. It probably would only take a day, but I usually cook in the evenings and one night just isn't long enough. Not if I want to sleep some too.
And it's expensive if you're not using your own tomatoes.
I probably won't make them again until I harvest my tomatoes next year.
I'm making my second batch today. Well, I started yesterday.
You have to have a LOT of tomatoes to make any worthwile amount of paste. Seriously.
And peeling, seeding, chopping...that all takes time. Not to mention the simmering. Granted, then you can be doing other things, but takes all day.

So take the recipe with a grain of salt and if you're up to it, I say dive in!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

5-minute Chocolate Cake

Wow, great idea! For that can't-deny-chocolate-craving! Check out Chocolate Cake in 5 minutes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Salsa it up, Local style

I got another 5 lbs of tomatoes at the farmstand down the road for a homemade salsa. But what recipe do I want to use? I found this recipe for "Authentic Mexican Tomato Salsa."
I used three banana hot peppers and four cherry hot peppers which I got at the same farm stand down the road; 5 cloves of garlic I got a few weeks ago at the Lull Farm in Hollis, NH. These cloves are HUGE, so I didn't use 7, like I was planning. I also used a lime I'd picked up at Lull Farm, and olive oil. That's the only ingredient not local, but I'm okay with that.
And that was it for my salsa. I used my immersion blender to mix it up and I think I blended a little too long. Now it's a bit soup-y, but this is why I think that's okay:
It's WICKED hot. I think I'm going to have to use it as a "starter" so-to-speak, and simply add fresh tomatoes (or whatever) to it when I'm ready to use it. I'm excited about this for a number of reasons. It'll still be a "fresh" salsa, but less expensive and time consuming than making it in the middle of the winter with jacked-up prices. It will also allow me to get creative with my ingredients like adding black beans, corn, and (don't tell my hubby) peaches!

From 5 1/2 lbs of tomatoes, I froze 8 cups of the salsa blend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thai Coconut Soup

I HAVE to try Stephanie's Thai Coconut Soup Crockpot recipe this weekend! Maybe my little sister will come and try it out. I know she's not thai, but she's korean and that, at least, is asian.
Is that bad of me?
Like saying I'm of european heritage so I should like french, italian, mexican, british and german food.
Which I do.
So there.

I finally tried this soup! My variations are in bold:

--4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
--1 can coconut milk (if you opt for the lite, you many want to add a drop of coconut extract to boost the flavor) I thought I had coconut milk, but it was cream of coconut (not a soup). I separated out the coconut oil (a solid) and mixed the goopier bit with the purely liquid part and added that to the soup instead of running out for coconut milk. This also contained sugar so I didn't add sugar later, as listed.
--4 limes (3 juiced, 1 for garnish)
--1/2 tsp lime zest I was using frozen limes, slightly thawed, and zesting didn't work out so well, so I left this out.
--1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips I left this out.
--4 oz sliced shitake mushrooms, cut in quarters
--1 large vine-ripened tomato, or 4 small-med, coarsely chopped No tomatoes on hand, so I used my salsa base. This also is taking place of the chili paste as it is very hot.
--1/2 pound extra firm tofu, cubed I've tried tofu many times and it never agrees with me, so I substituted mahi mahi. It was frozen when I put it in and it cooked up nicely.
--2 garlic cloves, minced
--3 T fish sauce I found this in the international section of the grocery store.
--1/2 tsp to 2 tsp red chili paste, to taste (you can use red chili flakes, too)
--1 tsp sugar (not pictured, I used a sugar packet)
--1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

The Directions.
I used a 5 quart crockpot. Add all of the ingredients, cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or on high for 2-4. This soup is finished when it is fully hot, and the flavors have combined nicely.

This smelled a little funny to me but tastes fantastic! It's sweet and spicy, but not too much of either. Definitely a hit!

Plum Syrup

I picked up a bag of fresh plums at my neighborhood farm stand. I don't know what I was thinking, except that I wanted some fresh, local fruit. I'm just not a plum girl.
Now what to do with them...since I don't really love the taste of fresh plums, and I don't want to throw them out!
I could add them to a fresh salsa, crush them up and put into tomato sauce...or make plum syrup! I'm a syrup-y kinda gal and I'm pretty sure my manly-man of a hubby won't appreciate plums in his salsa since he doesn't like peaches in it. And as a purist-style spaghetti guy, he just won't get the nuances of plums in his tomato sauce. So syrup it is!
I found this great pictoral instruction guide for making plum syrup...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Found a new blogger! Coffee with Mrs. Dani posts a comprehensive list of what can be frozen and how to do so.
Alternatively, has a wealth of information on how to freeze, can, generally preserve anything you can get on the farm!

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

New soup recipe from recipezar by way of Thimbly Things. I can't wait to try this! I think I'll make it tonight...

Ingredients (My Variations in Bold)
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 1/4 cups beef boulion or vegetable stock, which of course I have on hand...
1 1/2 cups thick or chunky salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
6 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons sliced scallions I tend to leave out onions/scallions for my hubby's reflux
6 teaspoons chopped green chili peppers (optional)
I added a bit of Shredded Cheese on top.
1-Combine beans, boulion, salsa and cumin in a blender or food processor fitted with metal blade.
2-Process until smooth (about 1 minute). (I processed so it was in-between smooth and chunky.)
3-Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until heated through.
4-Ladle into soup bowls.
5-Spoon a 1 Tbs dollop of sour cream on top of each and swirl gently.
6-Sprinkle with sliced scallions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tag, I'm it...

I've been tagged by Virginia at Living the local life! She lives in New Hampshire, like myself, and blogs about the challenges and excitement of eating locally. This is a goal I've set for myself for the month of October and am excited to check out some of the same resources she's blogged about!

So here are my 7 random/weird facts about myself:

1. I don't think of myself as picky. But I do like my food a certain way. Turns out, I am indeed picky!

2.In fifth grade, I read at a seventh grade reading level. In sixth grade, we got a TV. In seventh grade, I read at a seventh grade reading level.

3. I rarely keep to a recipe.

4. I used to pretend I was a food network star and make commentary to my imaginary audience as I cooked or baked.

5. I'm not allergic to poison ivy. But I am sensitive to just about everything else under the sun!

6. I like to rearrange our furniture every few months.

7. 8 is my favorite/lucky number.

And here are my 7 random tags:
$5 Dinners (seriously), Jana's Journeys (Jana also contributes to the friendship of the fabulous foodies blog), Busy Bee (gardening, homeschooling, great pics, wow), The Happy Hut (refashion, container gardening, crafts, etc...), Bragger (funny funny funny!), Thimbly Things (crafts, raising kids, cooking, what doesn't she do?!).
Okay that was only six, but I tried!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bread machine recipes

I'm looking for recipes specifically for the bread machine that are simply bread machine recipes, start to finish. I'm finding lots of treasures:

Onion Garlic and Cheese Bread from

Italian Cheese Bread from This was very flavorful and the italian seasonings added a great visual texture to the bread. I cubed my cheeses instead of shredding, but was surprised that I still didn't find pockets of cheese...but the flavor was still infused throughout the loaf.

Panettone from Better Homes and Gardens

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread from Better Homes and Gardens

Challah from This is also often called egg bread and I labeled it as such to avoid the inevitable questions and dubious looks. (Some people can't try anything new or different!) IT WAS A HIT. Great flavor, wonderfull light texture, it went FAST! This has become our every-day bread!!

Easy Sourdough French Bread from This was also a hit! Easy to make, no "starter" necessary.

Mexican Sunset Bread from which calls for salsa and taco seasoning!! Virginia has already tried this, and I can't wait to make it myself!

Portuguese Sweet Bread from

Um, I think I need to run out and get more yeast!

In a Pickle

I could swear I've seen a recipe for refridgerator pickles, but can't for the life of me remember where. It's also not on Blecipes, illustrating WHY I started this blog to begin with!
So, I went in search of a good recipe for refridgerator pickles again and found this great suggestion! Since I'm still a bit shy about canning, I'm going to go ahead and do pickles this way for now. I have a whole year to get comfortable with canning before next year's crop!

I found another recipe...this one is from and actually contains dill...which in my hubby's opinion is a requirement for any "real" pickle!

Chex Mix in the Pot!

Yahoo! Stephanie also has an easy Chex Mix recipe made in the crock pot which Rocks!

I'll also be making this for our little trip coming up...

Make-Ahead Chicken Nuggets

Another make-ahead recipe I may try if I have time is a crockpot recipe for Chicken Nuggets from none other than Stephanie from A Year of Crock Potting! This may really come in handy this week with traveling...

10/1/08 Well I didn't get around to making this for our trip a few weeks ago, but I made them today. Right now they're cooking, but I have to tell you...this took me about an hour to prep. I consider myself sort of slow, so it might not take you that long...but just a word of warning!


After breezing in from a weekend away, I'm right back to planning more time away from home. This past weekend we spent at our local NASCAR track, NHMS in Loudon, NH. On Wednesday night, we leave to go to a semi-local track in Dover, Delaware! (About 500 miles later!) So I'm putting together as many make-ahead meals as I can, and was SO pleased to find this muffin mix page! Now for the hard part: deciding which one to make!
The base recipe for most of the recipes is the A-B-C Muffin Base Mix. It is for a huge store of mix and since I'll probably be making 6 muffins at a time instead of 24, I'm going to scale my "mix" down a bit.

Scaled down, I'll mix:
6 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk blend or nonfat dry milk
2 T baking powder
2/3 T baking soda
2/3 T salt
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg

I'll probably add 1 t ground clove instead of the cinnamon.

This will make about 8.5 cups of mix. Many of the recipes say to use 5.5 cups for 24 muffins, so if you're like me and just want to make 6 muffins, pare down the recipe to a quarter and use 1 1/3 cups. If you do it this way, you can make about 6.5 batches of 6 muffins each with this amount of mix.
I think.
Depending on if my math is right.
Which is a very big "IF."
If you know what I mean.

9/24/08: Okay, this abc muffin mix is good for sweet OR savory muffins, so if you're like me and like your sweet, well...SWEET, then you might want to add some source of sweetener in on the end-result-muffin recipe. I used one that incorperated dried fruits for easy traveling. The others enjoyed them for breakfast and I did too, but I'd have liked just a bit more sweetness.

9/27/08: I added some honey. I'm sorry, I didn't measure, but what's done is done.
And it rocks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bread Machine Magic

I finally broke in my yard sale bread machine the other day and sure enough, the first loaf just dissapeared! That's the only problem with having homemade bread in my house. It just doesn't last as long as store-bought. It seems like the minute it comes out of the oven, half of it is gone! Then before you know it, the other half dissapears!

I swear, my hubby doesn't understand that this bread is just like the other bread - it can be used for sandwiches, french toast, even hamburger buns (in a pinch). But no, he just pops it in the toaster, slathers it with butter and eats it in two bites! I don't know about that boy. I just don't know.

Well, I'm going to try it again with a sweet bread. I tremble to think about how fast this one is going to go! But I'll try it anyway! I found this great recipe for sweet bread, and this other one for Portugese Sweet Bread. But this other one uses the white bread setting on the machine, so I might try that one, because I'm not sure if I have a sweet bread setting on mine.

I'll be sure to set the clock and let you know how long it lasts!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Basil Oil

Once Upon a basil plant, I mean, once upon a cakestand has exactly what I'm looking for!

I went to a REAL farmstand not too far from work today and got a BUSH of fresh cut basil! I'm so psyched! I looooove basil! But I don't want it to go to waste, so I was thinking I'd make it into basil oil. But how?

Enter the food search button on my is a google tool that links to all kinds of blogs dedicated to food! I found once upon a cakestand and fell in love. It's not just a basil oil, it's a "super potent," "deluxe" basil oil! And it's actually green!

How to Freeze Basil

Found a Fantastic Food Blog using the food blog search that I've put on my sidebar. I love useful tools! Andrea outlines a good way to freeze basil so you can use it later!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

speaking of sauce...aioli

And don't forget aioli. think mayo but 1000% better!

hollandaise sauce

ohmyword, isowanteggsbenedictnow...

Pioneer Woman just made my day! I'd never had hollandaise sauce until about a year and a half ago and seriously, I couldn't belive I'd lived that long without it!

Here's her recipe for home-made hollandaise sauce. You have to link to the site, because I just can't do it justice here. Her pictures are gorgeous. Yes, pictures of melting butter are oddly beautifull. And her commentary is hillarious. Seriously.

To plastic or not to plastic

Virginia created a great post about the safe use of plastics in the kitchen, including quite a few links so you can do your own research too.

$5 dinners' Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

More great stuff from $5 dinners. I have to say, even my hubby will love this one! Of course, prices vary according to your location, and fresh tomatoes aren't free to everyone, but it's still quite frugal and tasty at the same time!

Aunt D's Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner
1 box Bowtie Pasta ($1.25)
3-4 Fresh tomatoes from the garden, diced (Free!)
3-4 FreshBasil Leaves, finely chopped (Free!)
1-2 cup mozzerella cheese ($1.67)
4 T EVOO ($.25)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped ($.10)
1 zucchini ($.79)
1 T EVOO or Butter ($.10)
1. Marinate diced tomatoes and basil in EVOO and garlic.
Add a splash of vinegar to the marinade if you like!
2. Cook pasta as directed.
Pour marinating tomatoes over pasta.
Srinkle cheese throughout.
Let cheese melt.
Serve warm.
3. Saute zucchini in EVOO or butter.
Serve with pasta!
Cost $4.16

My Variations:
I guess you could call me the queen of using what's on hand.
I'd made up a balsamic vinegar/EVOO dressing for my MIL the other day and couldn't for the life of me imagine what I'd use the rest for. Enter Marinade!
The only cheese we had on hand was parmesan, so I shredded up a bit of that and it was fantastic!
My hubby's a meat & potatoes kind of guy and although I've been able to convert him to a meat & most anything else kind of guy, I haven't had any luck with leaving out the meat, so I grabbed some leftover steak tips, cut them up in teeny tiny pieces, and added them to the pasta mix. He loved it, and went back for more!
I'm sure it ended up being a quite different taste than the original recipe, but it was still quite good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fudge Oatmeal Cookies

My all-time favorite cookie!
I had a craving for something sweet tonight, so threw together a batch of these cookies I've been eating all my life! One of the great things about it is it's a stovetop recipe, so you don't have to heat up your oven. And of course, it's chocolate!

The Recipe:
1 stick butter (8 tbls), cut into smaller pieces
1/2 c milk (reconstituted dry milk works fine)
1/2 c cocoa (I use two squares of unsweetened baker's chocolate, cut in pieces to speed the melting)
2 c sugar (this ends up being quite sweet. I used a cup and a half once because that's all that was left and it was still pretty sweet.)
pinch salt

Add the above ingredients to a saucepan, bring to a boil and allow to boil for three minutes. (It should be about 200 degrees.) Remove from heat, add:

1 t vanilla
3 c oatmeal (this recipe was originally 2 1/2 c oatmeal, but I've been adding more lately and it still tastes great. granted, with all that sugar...)

Stir until mixed well, drop on waxpaper and allow to cool.

I like it when recipes say how long it takes to make, so from now on I'll do my best to remember to add that.

I consider myself kind of a slow cook, and these cookies took me about a half hour from gathering the ingredients to dropping the cookies on the wax paper. Cooling/setting will vary according to humidity.

Chai Tea Mix


And Hillbilly Housewife has an "instant" version!

Hold me back!

Forget the candida diet, I'm making bread!

Check out Hillbilly Housewife's flatbreat recipe! Oh my gosh, I think I'll expire if I don't make it tonight!

Recipe "Author": Susanne, of Hillbilly Housewife, an incredible resource!

The Recipe:
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil or melted fat
1 cup tap water
Mixing by Hand: Get out a large bowl. In it combine the whole wheat flour and salt. Add the oil and water. Combine everything together to form a stiff dough. Mix it with your hands when it gets too stiff to mix with a spoon. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water, if it seems too wet, add a little more flour. Work and knead the dough for 10 minutes by the clock. All of this kneading is what makes a tender finished product. After kneading the dough, cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out. You may allow it to rest over night if desired.
Mixing by Bread Machine: Measure all of the ingredients into the machine’s bread pan. Start the machine and allow it to mix and knead the dough for you. Set your timer for 10 minutes, or watch the clock. When the time is up, turn off the machine. You should have a nice stiff ball of dough inside of it with a clay-like consistency. Allow the dough to rest inside the machine for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight. It won’t rise because it doesn’t have yeast in it.
Rolling & Shaping the Dough: After the dough has rested, divide it into 8 or 10 pieces. Roll out each piece into a large thin circle. I roll mine out on waxed paper dusted with flour, or a square piece of clean muslin cloth dusted with flour. Make the flat-bread as thin as possible. Roll out all of the flat-bread before you begin to cook them if possible. This makes the work go faster. The thinner you can roll the dough, the more tender the finished product will be.
To Make Chapatis: After rolling out the dough, heat a dry iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, place one of the prepared flat-bread on it. Let it cook for about 10 seconds and then flip to the other side. Cook the second side for about a minute, or until it is brown and puffy. Flip the flat-bread again and cook the first side for about another minute. It will be light brown, tender and puffed with little bubbles all over.
To Make Fry-Bread: After rolling out the dough, heat about 1/2 an inch of oil in a large skillet. Get the oil very hot, almost smoking, or about 375°. Carefully slip a prepared flat-bread into the hot oil. Press it down gently with a pair of tongs so that it is submerged in the hot oil. The bread will bubble up and puff all over. Use tongs to turn it and brown the other side. Remove it and place it on a paper towel covered plate, or a brown paper bag to drain. Continue with the rest of the flat-bread, until all are cooked.

No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna

I'm going to have to try this for tomorrow's edition of Crock Pot Fridays.

From Stephanie's "A year of crock potting" blog, I found Vegetarian No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna.

I finaly made the No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna, but I haven't had any yet. I made it overnight for lunches throughout the week, but it was literally bubbling, so I stuck it in the fridge to cool off for lunches later in the week. Or maybe we'll have it for dinner tonight! {sorry menu plan!}

Here's what I did:
--1 26 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce {I used Elizabeth's Roasted Tomato Sauce until the last layer when I ran out. Then I used my meat sauce. I don't have a recipe up for that one yet.}
--1 small container of ricotta cheese
--8 slices of mozzarella cheese
--2 cups shredded Italian cheese mix
--1 large eggplant {I used only half of a HUGE zucchini, so skipped the eggplant}
--3 summer squash
--1 pound of slices mushrooms {I skipped the mushrooms, personal choice}
--bag of baby spinach {I skipped the spinach, my hubby's choice. It's enough that he's eatting zucchini!}
--2 T warm water
The Directions.
I used a 4.5 quart Crockpot. Wash all of the vegetables. Slice the unpeeled squash and the eggplant in long, slices, about 1/4 inch thick. {I sliced my HUGE zucchini width-wise to create large circles and cut up a few to fill in the spaces} These are going to be your noodles! In the bottom of your crockpot, pour about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce. Layer in a few pieces of squash and eggplant. Smear some ricotta cheese on top. Add a handful of baby spinach and mushrooms, and a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Pour in some more pasta sauce. Continue layering the ingredients until your crockpot is full, and you have run out of ingredients. Top with the end of the pasta sauce and the shredded cheese. Put 2 tablespoons of warm water into the empty pasta sauce jar, cover, and shake. Pour the remaining sauce on top of everything. {I was tired and it was getting late, so I misread this and put a layer of sauce on top of everything, then sprinkled the water on top!}

The Results:
I woke up this morning again to a wonderful fragrance! I'll update later with how it tastes! (and if it passes the hubby test!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Helpful Candida Sites

~Yet another new blog by your's trully: My Candida Journey.

~Basic information at

~A holistic approach at Holistic Health Solutions.

~A free ebook on an easy home test (spit into a glass of water...way cheap!) and suggestions on treatment at or go directly to the report at The Candida Fix. It will ask you for referrals, but they are not necessary for getting the free report. It will be e-mailed to you whether you provide referrals or not! The spit test is described in the report.

~A blog devoted to all things candida related! Amazing amount of information here!

~A long list of what you can and cannot eat. Oi.

~Interesting's an e-book for sale. The "hook" follows:
"Please don't waste money on supplements that do nothing but chase symptoms - I have been there so you don't need to.What You Need To Understand Is How To:Identify And Eliminate The Root Causes That Create The Perfect Breeding Ground For Candida Yeast.If you want a solution that is Effective, And One That Gets Fast Results -- Then Click Here To READ MY STORY" My normal policy is not to post/ advocate/ recommend sites that are strictly sales sites, but I've purchased the book & haven't had time to read it yet. I'll update here with my impressions so if you wish, wait for my report back by the end of the week (9/6/08) before you shell out $24 & change for it...

~Another interesting link, Candida Free. I've only skimmed it so far, but proves to be chock full of info. It does recommend product sales, but you don't have to buy a book!

A Granola Answer

I posted earlier about how I made two batches of for me considering my dietary restrictions, and one for my hubby. Neither will do because the one I made for me, though I said it was palatable, isn't being eaten. I made it Sunday night and it sat on the counter, waiting for me to partake all day Monday and I just didn't do it. I'm not excited about it. I won't eat it, it'll go bad, and I won't make it again. Simple as that.

My hubby's batch is half gone, true, but he says it tastes like oatmeal cookies. Nothing wrong with that, but he doesn't WANT oatmeal cookies in a bar, he wants granola in a bar. WELL. I guess he told me, huh?

Enter Kat Food. I went looking for other bloggers that have similar dietary restrictions as my own this morning and found Kat! What a blessing, this blogland!

Here's Kat's Granola:
2 c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. puffed rice
2 c. puffed millet, or any other handy puffed cereal (wheat, etc.)
2 T. of each"small stuff" - flax seeds, wheat germ, wheat bran, hemp protien, for example)
2 t. of cinnamon
2 T. sugar-sweetness equivilant of stevia
1/2 t. of nutmeg
a dash of ground clove
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. oil
Mix together. Spread on a cookie sheet so that it's no more than 1" deep, put in a 350F oven for 30 mins, stirring half way through. Let cool before storing - best if stored in the fridge.

This would TOTALLY fit in my restrictive diet! If you're wondering where to find puffed rice, puffed millet, (or what millet is), you probably don't have the same type of health issues that Kat and I do! But if your wondering anyway and want to try it out, check out the health food section of your grocery store or a special natural or organic food store if you have one in your area.

Menu Plan Sept 1st

First I have to share a tip I found for easy Menu Planning. I've searched and wondered and thought about it, and contemplated, but didn't have an EASY, organized approach to Menu Planning. This tip makes it so simple!

Okay, as for my Menu Plan for the week...
Crock-Roasted Chicken, using Virginia's idea.
Jenn's Zucchini Soup
I'll make my own pasta dough with my breadmaker, then make Pasta Salad to accompany our grilled chicken.
Chicken enchiladas with mexican-seasoned roasted zucchini
Tomato basil pizza Saturday:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Allrecipes' Granola Bar

I made two batches of granola bars. One for me and one for my hubby. Mine abides by most of the restrictions of my upcoming "food-related lifestyle change" but my hubby likes one sweet snack every day, so I abided by this recipe for the most part:

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

{the only thing I changed for my hubby was to substitute 1/2 cup each of almond slivers, sweetened coconut flakes, raisins and craisins.}

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the 2 cups assorted raisins, nuts etc.
Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Fantastic! Just the perfect amount of sweetness for my hubby (not too much) and pretty chewy, not crumbly.

The Verdict:

Well, I'm going to have to keep looking and experimenting because my hubby says it tastes like an oatmeal cookie. Which are great. But he wants a granola bar, not an oatmeal cookie bar.

Granola Bar overhaul

I decided to try this Granola Bar recipe from Allrecipes, but with some alterations. I decided not to list the original recipe simply because it's so different! Because I'm going on a "food lifestyle change" this coming week, I ended up substituting alternatives for many of the ingredients. I'm listing the original recipe in an entirely separate post to avoid confusion.

The recipe with My Variations:
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 of a blended fresh peach
1/8 t stevia
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup craisins
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, fruit and stevia. Stir in the 2 cups assorted raisins, nuts etc. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

If you're looking for something sweet, this isn't it. It has a really plesant nutty flavor and a positive aftertaste and is almost sweet, but doesn't quite make it.

The Verdict:
I actually really like it for a breakfast bar or mid-day snack. I'll probably make it again, not sure if I'll make any more changes. If anything, I might use a sweeter fruit to add.

Updated Verdict:
It's not happening for me. It's been two days and I haven't eaten it. I'm not excited about it, so I won't eat it. I have to be excited about food. (Tall order for this "diet!")

My Mexican Spice Mix

I originally got this recipe from Gifts in a Bag: Rubs & Seasonings.
The recipe:
Mexican Seasoning Rub Mix
4 T. chili powder
2 1/4 t. ground cumin
2 1/4 t. dried oregano
2 1/4 t. garlic powder
2 1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cloves
Unsure about the cloves? Don't skip it! Trust me.
I make up a batch and store in a small ziplock to keep it fresh.

Black Beans and Goat Cheese

Tonight we're watching the NASCAR race, so we're in the mood for superbowl-style food! I decided to "culture it up" a bit with Stephanie's Crock Pot Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip.
The Recipe:
1/2 can of refried black beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a lime, juiced
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t cumin
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
3-5 slices of goat cheese
Open the can of refried black beans, and scoop out about half of the contents into the Little Dipper. Squeeze in the lime juice. Add chopped garlic, the spices, and the cilantro leaves. Stir. Top with the sliced goat cheese.Cover and plug in. The Little Dipper doesn't have a temperature gauge. Cook for 1-2 hours, or until the goat cheese has melted and the beans are warm and gooey.

My Variations:
{I didn't have refried black beans on hand, so I searched and searched and didn't find another recipe I really wanted to try, so I said "heck with it" and decided to keep the spirit of this recipe with a few variations.}
So I used:
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
4 oz cream cheese, softened
{I've been making my own mexican seasoning for a few years, so used a tsp of that instead of the suggested spices.}
A dash of lemon juice {it was on hand}
{I unintentionally forgot the garlic}
For a refried bean consistency, I combined the above in the DipPot (1/2 Quart size crock pot) and used my immersion blender to mix it up and make it a little smoother.
I scraped down the sides of the DipPot with a rubber spatula and topped with almost 4 oz of goat cheese. {I had to sample it first!}

Two & a half hours later, I was surprised that the goat cheese still maintained it's form and texture. It was pretty soft, though, and balanced the bean and mexican seasoning really well. The only problem was that it was a tad bit dry.

Great alternative dip with a little class!
I think the next time I won't drain the beans so it will be a bit more moist. {moister isn't a word, is it?}

{sorry for no pics, next time I make it, I'll take plenty!}

Friday, August 29, 2008

Basic Granola was the source of this recipe.

It is listed as "Master Granola Recipe" and has suggestions for alterations in flavoring and added elements.

This is what I did for my first Granola:

2 cups Old-fashioned Oats (NOT QUICK!)
½ cup Wheat Germ
2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
¼ cup Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp flavorless cooking oil, such as Vegetable or Canola (I used Canola)
1 Tbsp Water
1 cup Extra Ingredients (see "Variations" at the bottom of the AllRecipes list)
My Extra Ingredients:
2/3 cup Almond Slivers (hubby LOVES anything almond!)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Flavoring (see "Variations" at the bottom of the AllRecipes list)
My Flavoring:
¾ tsp almond extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Coat a 9-by-13-inch metal pan with cooking spray, then set aside. (I lined my pan with foil but forgot the spray. It stuck in some areas, but didn't burn and it came off easily once cooled.)

{Just the oats}

2. Mix oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt and Extra Ingredients--except dried fruit--in a bowl. Bring syrup, oil, water and any Flavoring to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over oat mixture, and stir to combine.

{yummy, slightly gooey goodness}

{I took this about a minute after putting it in the oven because I forgot that I'd already taken a "before" picture!}

3. Pour mixture onto prepared pan. Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in dried fruit and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool. (Granola can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.) Makes one quart.

{After the first 1/2 hour of baking, just added the cranberries. Already starting to "tan up."}

You can double the recipe, but bake the granola in two pans. You also may need to increase cooking time. The key is to bake the granola until it is an impressive golden brown.

The Verdict: (In this case, did it pass the hubby test?)

1000% yes!

We're ready to make granola bars now (if this batch lasts long enough to make bars out of it!!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CrockRoasted Chicken

Or Croasted Chicken?
Or Rocked Chicken?
You decide, I'm still salivating over Virginia's recipe and pictures!

Author: Virginia, who's also from New Hampshire! (Go freedom fighters! Live free or Die! Yeah!) She is also pursuing an eating-local-lifestyle with her and her family.

The Recipe:
I lined a 4.5Qt crock pot with aluminum foil and placed four aluminum foil balls on the bottom to lift the chicken off the bottom surface. I roasted a 4.5 lb chicken for 6.5 hours and it turned out great! The skin wasn't crispy & the meat was nice and tender. I then transfered the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool for 15 nimutes. I carved it, then used the bones and what meat was left on the bones to make the crockpot chicken broth for which Virginia also listed a link in her blog post. Here's the broth recipe:

2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
6 cups water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 tablespoon dried basil
Place the chicken pieces, water, celery, carrots, onion, and basil in a slow cooker.
Cook on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Strain before using, and discard vegetables. Chicken may be removed from the bones, and used in soup.

My Variations:
I didn't have carrots or onion so just used the celery and basil.
It crocked on low for 12 hours (yikes!) and I woke to a fantastic chicken soup smell! Can't wait to use it for soup bases this fall!

Great Peach Ideas!

Virginia continues to offer great ideas! This post is all about peaches!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Granola Bars

My hubby typically takes a granola bar to work with him for his mid-morning snack and try as I may, I haven't broken the habit of just making cookies or bars for him instead of buying the packaged bars. (and paying dearly for them!)

I came across this recipe quite by accident today and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try... Suzanne's Granola Bar.

I also found this general granola recipe with 8 variation suggestions on the AllRecipes site.

We'll see if it passes my hubby's test!

How to Make Tomato Paste

As does often happen, I found myself at a site through a suggestion on a comment, then I lost the trail. But somehow I ended up at eHow and found this recipe for making my own Tomato Paste.
Let me share my thought process behind this:

I'd begun buying canned chicken for sandwiches instead of canned tuna. I thought it would be a nice change of pace for my hubby because he doesn't like fish, but doesn't MIND canned tuna salad sandwiches.
Well I was certainly surprised one day when I had some of it myself and couldn't remember if I'd used chicken or tuna because tasted like canned tuna. To my dismay, I went home and discovered I had indeed used canned chicken...and they taste. exactly. the same.

So if two such different flavors taste so much the same when they're canned, what else am I eating that I think I know what it should tast like but I'm. completely. wrong?

Enter tomato paste (among many other things). So many recipes call for tomato paste. Even some that call for fresh tomatoes also call for tomato paste. So I decided I wanted to try my hand at making my own tomato paste and see how it comes out....

And finally, here's the link! (Thanks for your patience!!!)

In addition, I have an idea for storage. It's recommended to use the paste right away or freeze it. Many recipes call for the standard size small can of paste, but some call for half a can, or another quantity. I think I'll freeze them first in an ice cube tray and weigh the average cube, then label the freezer bags with those weights. Just another tip you can use or not!

Jana's Crusty Parmesan Zucchini

Recipe "Author:"
Jana, from Jana's Journeys. I can't tell you how fun it is to hear about other people's lives, so similar to your own. The best way to describe her is how she did so herself: "I'm 4'11" of crazily fun cuteness!"

I found this recipe at another blog she contributes to: the Friendship of the Fabulous Foodies. (so fun!!)

Original Recipe: Crusty Parmesan Zucchini (Jana adapted it from a recipe she found in "The Vegetable Dishes I can't Live Without."
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsps minced or cruched garlic (or powder, to taste)
4 small/slender zucchini and/or summer squash, halved lengthwise (or one huge zucchini, cut into strips)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1-2 tbsp fine bread crumbs (optional)
2-3 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
Preheat Broiler.
Line cookie sheet with tinfoil, coat with olive oil.
Place zucchini in the pan.

Mix the remaining oil in with the garlic in a cup, then brush the mixture onto the top and sides of the zucchini.
Shred the parmesan cheese (add breadcrumbs here if you're using them) and sprinkle it onto the zucchini.

Broil for about 7 minutes.
My Modifications:
I did mine pretty much how Jana did her's.
~I try to shy away from breadcrumbs, so I omitted them just like she did.
~I didn't measure the parm that I used, but I know for a fact that I used closer to 1/2 cup! (Maybe more!)
The Result:

Perfectly "al dente!"
Even my hubby said they were something he'd eat again. He doesn't often say that about veggies in general!
The Verdict: (Will I make it again?)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baked Breakfast Cereal

In my regular blog, I've not held back about how LITTLE I'm a fan of oatmeal! However, I'm always on the lookout for a new way of making it. I simply don't like it, but I'd LIKE to like it. I like food! I don't WANT to not like ANY food item! So it bothers me.

I saw this recipe for Baked Oatmeal and decided to read a little more. Even if I decide not to try the oatmeal version, I've found that I don't mind Hot Rice Cereal. It's much the same idea as oatmeal, but with rice (though you have to look for the special hot rice cereal - don't just use regular rice grains!)

So I may try this with my hot rice cereal someday. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

Elizabeth's Roasted Tomato Sauce

Recipe "Author":

Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Flowers. She is such an inspiration in her creative use of materials as well as her testimony. She also has a website for her pressed flower cards and art, using recycled paper (she recycles it herself), and an Etsy shop!

Original Recipe: roasted tomato sauce
15 cloves of peeled garlic
8 # of ripe tomatoes (any kind)
5 medium onions, quartered
1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped (I use a mixture of oregano, Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
freshly ground black pepper (I like a lot)
2-4 tablespoons of honey, optional

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop 5 of the cloves of garlic. Leave the remaining cloves whole. Cut each tomato in half. In a large roasting pan, carefully toss together the tomatoes, garlic, onions, herbs, oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Roast for 25 minutes. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes, stir again. Roast another 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and broken down into a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.
3. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning. Mash tomatoes slightly, (some chunks are nice) or blend until smooth if you wish. This sauce freezes well, or is great for canning. Use it with pasta, fish, or as a wonderful dipping sauce for really good french bread.

My alterations:
~No onions ('cuz I know my hubby's tummy won't appreciate them)
~1/4 cup dried herbs ('cuz I don't have my own fresh and WON'T pay out the you-know-what for them!)
~No salt or pepper. When I got married, I stopped using salt in most of my recipes because my hubby and I have VERY different tastes when it comes to salt, so we add it after if necessary.
~And I forgot the honey.
~I happened to have a few Sweet Banana Peppers from my mom's garden, so I sliced two up to add to the sauce. I kept the seeds, but discard those if you don't like the heat.
***AND be sure to wash your hands very well after handling peppers! If you happen to wipe your eyes before you wash up, you'll be sorry!
~Because it was late, once I took the sauce out of the oven, I removed the sauce from the roasting pan and put it in a dutch oven of sorts with an ice bath in the bottom half. (Two pans, the bottom one slightly larger having the ice water bath to cool the sauce a bit faster.)
~Then I took my immersion blender (long wand-looking blender used often for drinks, etc.) and blended it all together so it has some chunks but not too many. I also took out some of the skins, but not all.

The results:

My house smells SO good! I tasted a little and it was fantastic, I can't wait to have a whole meal of it!
I was a little surprised at how little sauce I got out of it though. I haven't measured it, but probably 3-4 cups of sauce from 8+ lbs of tomatoes. That may be normal, I don't know. (Never made my own sauce from fresh tomatoes before!)

The real test: (Will I make it again?)
Guaranteed YES!
(I'll probably double batch it to make it worth jacking my stove up to 450 for an hour and a half on a hot summer night though!)

***An idea - using a good oven thermometer, I could try this in a pan on the grill. Hmmm...something to consider!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Berry Peachy Tarts, Results

whole peach
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
handfull berries
15 phillo cups

Cut up one peach, squirt lemon juice over peaches, and blend to a puree consistency. If you're serving right away, the lemon juice isn't necessary, but I was blending up the peaches the night before, assembling in the morning. I find that when cutting/blending most fruits it's beneficial to add the natural preserving benefits of lemon juice.
I love to use an immersion blender, just throwing everything into a mason jar to do the blending.

I bought pre-cooked phillo cups in trays of 15 so there was no prep for the cups. If you aren't buying premade, prep according to package directions.

Pour pureed peach into cups, top with berry. I used blueberries as they are in season right now.

Two words: Yum-Ee!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh, the decisions....

Now, just as I'm planning tomorrow's tomato cooking fest, I run across Elizabeth's recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Could this get any harder? (The decisions, not the recipes. Nor the eating of the results of said recipes!)

Berry Peachy Tarts

I'm supposed to bring a "non-messy, non-greasy, healthy (if possible) finger-food type snack" to church Sunday.


Can't do my health bars.

Or brownies.

Veggie sticks & dip?

How about (drumroll please...)

berry peachy tarts

Yeah, I just came up with that.

Yeah, I do well sometimes.

I wonder if there's already a recipe out there for this.

Probably, but I'm going to do it my way anyhow!

I have phillo puffs in the freezer just waiting for something special!

I'll cut up a fresh peach, then puree it, adding just a touch of lemon juice.

Then I'll quickly bake the puffs, then fill them with the pureed peach and put a berry on top! (Whichever berry is in season right now!)


I'll let you know how it went, and hopefully add some pictures, too.

Fresh Crock Pot Tomato Sauce

I can't wait to try this with my mom's garden tomatoes!
Or this one! (Both from
And I find these instructions from have a lot of useful advice.
I may do a hybrid sauce!
Definitely need to invest in canning supplies.

Use your Crock Pot as a Smoker!

I'm really intrigued by this one! My hubby will be so thrilled!

CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

I've been looking for a crock pot recipe for making my own tomato sauce from whole garden tomatoes. So far, this is what I've found. I may be able to adapt it from canned tomato products to fresh. If I do, you know I'll post it here!

Stephanie's Crockpot Barbecued Chicken and Cornbread Casserole

In my search for something else, I stumbled upon Stephanie's Crockpot Barbecued Chicken and Cornbread Casserole. My hubby's not a huge cornbread fan, but I think he'll suck it up for a chance to get at the BBQ Chicken!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Ever tried growing your own sprouts? This was listed on Jenn's site Frugal Upstate, one of my very favorite blogs.
This isn't exactly a recipe, but I don't want to have to look for it AGAIN.
It's a very cool idea and I just got myself some black beans to try it out.

8/27/08: I found another site with very simple instructions (and no soliciting!)

Grapefruit Granita

Granita is Italian Ice. It's just that Italians don't call it Italian Ice. It would be Americans calling American Football "American Football" instead of "Football."
Well, then this would be Grapefruit Italian Ice.
Soooo refreshing!

Pasta Salad

As well as how to make C.O.R.N. for dinner!

Check it out!

Rice Salad

You'll have to scroll a little ways down, past the yellow grainy stuff. (Actually, it's a recipe for laundry detergent, if your interested.)

Until you get to the Rice Salad. I promise, it's better than it looks!


This post highlights some of Ann Kleinberg's recipes from "Gift from the Kitchen."
Indluded are Pineapple Corn Relish, Onion Jam, and Pickled Radishes.
I also included directions for my Gorgonzola Stuffed Olives. (Who knew you'd need directions?)

Macaroni and Cheese


Jenn's All day Mac N Cheese.

I talked about it here on my blog.

I made this again yesterday with a few twists. First, I can't stress enough how important it is to mix all the ingredients together in a huge bowl before putting it in the crockpot. I don't know why it works, but it was even better this time than ever before! (I've made this quite a few times in the last couple of months.)
Second, I mixed with the milk before adding to the noodles:
1/4 tsp white pepper (I'll probably use 1/2 tsp next time, I couldn't tell it was there.)
1/2 tsp ground mustard (I love adding mustard to my mac n cheese, I've never measured before though. I'll probably use a whole tsp next time.)
And the flour.

Then I took a tip from Rachael Ray and toasted up a couple pieces of bread, slathered them in butter, and chopped them up for breadcrumbs. I would have used a food processor to make them finer, but I don't have one, so that's that.

I wasn't 100% sure I could do this, but I took the "crock" out of the "pot" and slid it under the broiler for a couple minutes and it was ... Scrumptious!!