July 30, 2010

Be on the Lookout!

For my first GIVEAWAY!!!

One of my wonderful followers will have a chance to win a gift certificate and use it towards anything , even towards one of many Dinning room sets. So what are you waiting for?
 Make sure you are following me on Blogger
  So be ready come next week!

Just so I don't leave you without being hungry about something, Here's a Recipe fresh from the garden for you
 Zucchini Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce,

1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used about 3 cups chopped tomatoes)
1/4 cup vodka
1 package (12 ounces) whole wheat penne pasta
2 teaspoons prepared pesto
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk (I used Skim)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-3 small or medium sized Zucchini sliced  (I just use whatever I have on hand which was about 2 , don't cut too thin)
In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in tomatoes and vodka. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions. - I did the pasta last so that I could throw in the Zucchini. I chopped up 2, which were a little larger than a small zucchini, add how much you want or have on hand, you can never have too much!
Stir the pesto, salt and pepper flakes into tomato mixture. In a small bowl, combine flour and cream until smooth; stir into pan. Add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Drain penne; serve with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese

It's a very creamy sauce, I loved it. Wasn't so sure my kids would like it so I made them a simple garlic marinara sauce, but they all went for the Vodka sauce. Go figure right? If your not a fan of the pepper flakes, omit them, just add a dash or two of pepper to your liking. You could even add some smoked sausage or ground sausage to this, anythings possible really. As I always say, a recipe is your starting base, once you make it, create your own!

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July 28, 2010

Sinful Treats

This started out coming together in my head after I flipped through a magazine again at the store.I usually flip through one or two while the kids pick out their drinks but this time I had no kids with me. None. Zilch. Nada, Zero! That to me right there is a vacation.A Mommy Vacation. It hasn't happened since last year so you can bet I took my sweet Mommy time walking around the store. It was odd though, whenever I turned and normally saw my kids weaving back and forth through the aisle asking me "Mom, can I have this? What about this? How about those? Oh Mom you have got to get me this!" I saw nothing. The whole concept of actually getting the food only on your list, and neatly piled into the car came to light that day as well. Never happened before. No one yanked stuff out of bags, no one opened a carton of milk or orange juice to try to drink in the car, no grapes everywhere either. I sat in the car for another few minutes trying to figure out what that noise was humming through my head.That humming was ME!
    This is when my idea really came together. I wanted something yummy, something that would take me back to that moment where no kids where creating chaos, back to my vacation moment, where all was calm. Now you tell me, does this not just take you into your own little moment?

It's homemade cinnamon  raisin bread toasted with heaven inside! It was good, now stop licking the screen!

You don't have to make cinnamon bread if you don't want too, but I really enjoy homemade. Plus it makes your house smell divine all day long.
Now for the Sinful treat part! Cinnamon Raisin S'more Sandwich

I didn't really measure anything for this, it's just making a sandwich but don't over do it with anything or you'll have a mess on your griddle. What you need-
slices of cinnamon bread
Marshmallow creme
Hot griddle or frying pan

I took slices of cinnamon raisin bread and covered one side with Nutella, the other slice with the creme to make a sandwich. Butter the outsides of the sandwich and place on hot griddle or frying pan.

Cook it like grilled cheese :)

There you have it, one Sinful Delicious Treat!

Stop licking the screen already!


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July 26, 2010

Tomatoes speak for themselves

There's nothing better than fresh ripe tomatoes from any garden. Ours aren't red yet, but it won't stop me from trying dozens of recipes with Tomatoes. I'll have hundreds on my hands in a few short weeks so I've been searching for recipes I can use.  Whether making them into sauce, salsa, or just canning them for later use, there's going to be enough that will need to be used right away. Usually I make them into a side dish, even a sandwich with mozzarella,  or chop them up for a quick snack with some peppers on bread. I make Quiche with sliced tomatoes on the top, or make frittata when there's alot of other vegetables around. They don't ever go to waste, but I sure do love finding new ways to use them. This past week I found a recipe for cake using green tomatoes! Tell me does that not peek your interest?
       This isn't cake though, this is a snack, or an appetizer, which will grace our tables alot more. Think this would be more of an adult snack, though my kids loved it, it's more adult friendly I should say.

Four Cheese Broiled Tomatoes

1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese blend
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used lite)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 large tomatoes
In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut each tomato into five slices. Spread each with 1 tablespoon cheese mixture.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil 3 in. from the heat for 3-5 minutes or until cheese mixture is golden brown and tomatoes are heated through.

The first time I made this I followed the recipe, second time I cut out the ricotta cheese as well as the salt. Using fresh minced garlic as well as just Italian seasoning in place of the oregano it turned out just as good!

This is warm cheesy tomatoey goodness. :) Enjoy!

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July 22, 2010

Who's in for S'mores!?

My kids love S'mores right after school. Though only one was in school last year it was still a super duper treat after we got back from picking up my son. This year I'll have two in school, YAY! What better way to come home after working and running around on the play ground all day?
We start off by racing into the kitchen, Kids usually grab the big bag of Kraft Jet-puffed marshmallows and I'm heating the  Hershey chocolate over some heat on the stove. They like dark chocolate, I'm the Milk Chocolate kinda S'more! The Honey Maid Graham crackers are usually broken into bites after the kids grab them and put them on plates so we end up having mini mis-shaped funny looking S'mores. What kind of S'more are you? Do you do anything special or fun to make them with your kids?
Here's the Classic Recipe for S'mores (as if you even need one!) I really don't think there's a wrong way to do S'mores, come to think of it, there's isn't. Unless you burn it, so Hey! Don't burn it ;)

2 HONEY MAID graham crackers
1 HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bar (1.55 oz.)
2 large JET-PUFFED marshmallows

1. Break graham crackers in half. Break chocolate bar in half; center one section on each of 2 graham cracker halves. Top each with marshmallow.
2. Place on paper towel. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) in 10 second intervals until marshmallow puffs. Top each with another graham cracker half; press gently.
3. Let stand 1 minute to soften chocolate. Serve immediately. Makes 2 snacks.
 -Conventional Method:

1. Center half of chocolate bar on each of 2 graham cracker halves. Place remaining 2 graham cracker halves on cookie sheet; top each with marshmallow.
2. On middle oven rack, broil 30 seconds or just until marshmallows are golden brown. Immediately invert onto chocolate-topped graham crackers; press gently.
3. Let stand 1 minute to soften chocolate. Serve immediately.

This was too cute,check out the website  http://www.smoressmiles.com/ It's where the Classic S'mores recipe came from . I bet you can't say S'mores without smiling either :)
by the way school starts in 28 days here!

I am entered into a contest for a S'mores Prize Pack from Mom Bloggers Club. No other compensation was given
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Second Glance

Everything deserves a second glance right, why not a recipe? The other week we had some Apricot Honey Dijon Chicken. It was wonderful, sweet, tangy, tender, it said yummy in your mouth and the kids gobbled it right up claiming I was the" Super Best" ! I felt like I could run a victory lap, just getting them to all eat, no complaints at all. So I decided to try the glaze out with pork this time, hoping to duplicate the same reaction. My kids aren't much of a fan of pork , neither is my husband so this was nice to see them all grabbing some more, again with no complaints. Another Victory for Mom!
    That wonderful victory was shorted lived though, right up to the point where they tossed peas into each others cups of milk. One of these days my kids will sit at the table, as it was made to be sat at and eat, just doesn't look like it'll happen anytime soon. Though I must say the aim my kids have from across the table with such small objects is remarkably accurate. Just don't tell them I said that :)

On to the recipe!
Apricot-Honey Dijon Pork Chops

3 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. apricot preserves **to cut out the extra sweet, go sugarless & buy local as well. Our local food market has hand made preserves with no added sugar, a burst of flavor!**
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
 6-8 pork chops (I used thin ones so I had about 8, you can mix up more mixture if you feel you don't have enough)
To Make It --

 -Mix mustard, preserves, honey and ginger until well blended. Remove half of the mustard mixture; set aside. Brush pork with remaining mustard mixture.
-The original recipe called for grilling, about 10 minutes on each side or until done.Brushing occasionally with the reserved mustard mixture. I did this once again in the oven and it turned out perfect. The small chops took about 20 minutes at 350F. Depending on your cut it may take more,

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July 21, 2010

Picking out Recipes

  One of the first things I look at when coming across a new recipe is the time.  I've got four monsters that will run around me like crazed little animals the second I step into the kitchen (or pick up the phone for that matter). Either way, the time is a huge factor in any recipe. Devoting more time to food just isn't something I can do. Everyone always asks how I can get so much cooking done with four kids, well I'll tell you. I divide my time up.
   First things first, plan your meals, I shop weekly. We don't have a huge freezer, and all our kids eat non stop throughout the day. There's just no stopping the fact that we must have fresh, food throughout each week. I do everything I can from scratch which makes it that much harder to find the time. What I do is, spread it out. Meals are planned for about two to three weeks, recipes that call for extra time are done days before hand. Say I'm baking bread for a meal, the dry ingredients are put together labeled and ready in a zip lock bag. The day the bread needs to be made, I just gave myself an extra 15-20 minutes from reading the recipe, gathering items, measuring ingredients and so on. If things need to be diced for a recipe, I dice them up the night before. Making sure everything is ready at hand is also a real quick way to shave some time off any meal your cooking. Every little bit helps, So when I find a quick recipe it's even better :)
      This past weekend it was supposed to be boiling hot so pool time was in the works, quick and easy meals were a must as well.When I came across this recipe on ifood assistant it fit right into the plans as well.You take meat, put it in dressing, let it sit, slap it on the grill.Wait, that's it? Oh yeah, eat it. Forgot that most important part there!

Balsamic-Marinated Flank steak
Don't blink you'll miss them!
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
Beef Flank steak (1-1/2lb)
Zip lock bag
Your Grill!

  Pour dressing over steak in large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag , turn to evenly coat steak. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight to marinate; turning occasionally. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill steak for 5 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand for 5min. Cut the steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve it up anyway you like.
The first night we did this, I served it with grilled vegetables. Second night I made this into some steak wraps, with spinach, diced onions, tomato, peppers and some more Vinaigrette as well as some cheese. It's also very good as a salad, serve cold (or warm) meat over greens of choice and add your own salad favorites.

  The meat was very tender, juicy, and the Vinaigrette was a wonderful zing to our meal. Be careful when you cook this as it's a thin piece of meat, as well as already tender so don't over cook it!
 Enjoy a quick and easy meal!

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July 19, 2010

Supermom to the rescue!

As a Mom you would know, 1. No two kids are the same, 2. They will find anything and everything to argue about, 3. The easiest thing will turn into a long, dragged out drama on any given day, 4. It is not easy to make one meal that everyone will like.
  Of course there's more, but these are 4 things that come to my mind when I think of dinner. Or any meal for that matter. Heck my kids argue over a pancake!
      Mealtimes, are like marathons around here. I'm lucky if I get to sit down longer than 30seconds, or get warm food to taste! Better yet, even get my fork in my hand before someone is taking my food off my plate. Some days I know what's coming, other days it's as if I was smacked in the face and run over by a stampede of my own kids, and in that case it's a battle zone. It gets crazy, so when I come across something there's never been an argument over it's a must to share.

The one of very few meals I've come across that have made it through several years of never getting old with the kids is, a Hero Loaf!! You start with a basic recipe and after you make it once, you can whip up your own different fillings. I bake two of these, each with different filings, slice them up, and serve with dipping sauces. My kids grab and dip in silence. Yes, SILENCE! It's a tearful ending to any meal I'm telling you. Your taking bread, slapping in meat of choice, or going vegetarian and coming out on top a Hero. Or in my case a Supermom!
This one has Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese.

Hero Loaf- makes one

3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 envelope Active Dry or RapidRise Yeast
2 teaspoons Italian Herb Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120 to 130F) <--- I always tell you this, test that water, it'll make or break you with the yeast!
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
3 ounces thinly sliced cooked ham
3 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced salami
1 (2-ounce) jar sliced pimientos, well drained
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, drained
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Sesame Seed

In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, Italian herb seasoning, and salt. Gradually add warm water and oil to flour mixture; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. (With RapidRise Yeast, omit rising; proceed with shaping.)

Punch dough down. Remove to floured surface; roll to 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Layer ham, cheese, and salami lengthwise over center-third of dough; top with pimientos and olives. With sharp knife, make cuts from filling to dough edges at 1-inch intervals along sides of filling. Alternating sides, fold strips at an angle across filling.Place on greased baking sheet; cover. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Brush loaf with egg white; sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes or until done. We like to dip these in a couple things, salsa, marinara sauce, left over spaghetti sauce even, it's great alone as well.

The ones below all have different fillings,  the One on top (which didn't rise very well, I made the mistake of leaving the fan in the kitchen,) is filled with sharp cheddar cheese and broccoli.The other two on the bottom are filled with simple sandwiches meats. Yeah, sandwich meats, in a pinch if all you have is slices of meat, show no fear, whip up a Hero Loaf! I've filled these breads with pretty much anything I've got laying around, left over chicken, roast beef, hamburger even, chop up the burger toss it in with cheese. Try the original first, and see how you like it, it's easy, after that be creative and have fun creating your own. The kids love to make this with me so get your kids into the kitchen with you!

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July 15, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

It's been a super busy week! My daughter, the one who had a fever over the weekend and kept me up all night for a couple days is teething through 4 molars. Can we say happy day? I made a bunch of pancakes and froze them to take out so she can have at it whenever her gums hurt, so far so good, but hopefully the pain stops for her soon enough, my ear drums are taking a beating when she lets out a scream!
    Been planning a birthday party again as well, my daughter will be five tomorrow so busy planning and all other sorts of things this week. The sandwich and easy dinners continues around here for quick but yummy meals. Summer in general brings the need for easy dinners though, it's hot, who wants to slave over a hot stove for hours at a time? Or better yet who wants to heat up the oven to heat the house up hotter than it is outside? Not me, that's for sure. Here's an easy healthy meal for you, and it's quick, though you do have to use the oven. If you use the thin cut chicken breasts though it cuts the time nearly in half!

Chicken Parmesan

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil
1 egg white
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
Hot cooked pasta, optional (in the last minute of boiling I threw in some garden fresh zucchini)
Directions for chicken-

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and basil. In another shallow bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Dip chicken into beaten egg white, then roll in crumb mixture; place in a 1-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

The sauce I used was from a meatless spaghetti which was canned for later use, it's chunky when you make it but since one of my kids picks sauces apart if it has chunks I pureed this till it was smooth. Add seasonings to your taste, as when ever I make this I always try something a little different to find some new tastes.

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large skillet, saute the tomatoes, mushrooms, green pepper, carrot, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper in oil for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add tomato sauce; heat through. Serve over chicken and pasta.

I did this chicken with half thin chicken breasts as well as thighs, it turned out wonderful. What's even better was having left overs for the next day. I made some Chicken Parmesan sandwiches!

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July 12, 2010

Weekend Blunders

If this weekend proved anything it's that this Mommy right here can still function without any sleep, with few mishaps that is. Baby girl had a fever that had me up right along with her the last two nights. I've walked into a wall, opened and closed a door on myself, poured hot coffee on myself, nearly drank straight coffee creamer and tried cutting meat with a butter knife. Lack of sleep can make you do weird things, but at least I didn't mess up cooking!  Last night, luckily I got about 3 hours of solid non interrupted sleep. Thank you Little Miss!
    When you are going on nearly two days of no sleep, lets just say making dinner is the very last thing on your mind. This weekend consisted of the grill, quick small thin pieces of meat and hamburger buns. Sandwich city in this house.
This is one of my favorite sandwiches as it's so simple to make. I saw this somewhere in a magazine at the check out stand, not really sure which , but I got the idea from it. That's how a lot of things get made around here, I see a picture, see the title and remake it at home my way.

Grilled Chicken Ranch Pepper Sandwich

1/2 cup ranch dressing plus more to dress the buns/rolls
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used thin sliced, it's quicker as well as better suited for sandwiches)
1 large tomato, sliced
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced (I used squash, see how I'm so daring!)
1 red and green bell pepper  julienned
1 small onion sliced if wanted
4-6 slices Canadian Bacon if wanted
Hamburger buns or rolls
Lettuce of baby spinach

Depending on how much chicken you have, use enough dressing to coat them in a dish. Let them sit in the fridge either overnight or for 1-2hrs. I used about half a cup for 6 thin slices chicken breasts. You can use more or less.
Heat gas or charcoal grill.Discard the dressing the chicken sat in. Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover the grill.Cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning once or twice and if desired coat with some new dressing. Cook until thickest part is cut (170°F). Add bacon if your having any to grill for last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time to heat along with the peppers and onions. You can toast the buns as well if you want.
   I put a small dap of dressing on each bun sprinkled with chives, placed spinach over it as,  added the squash (you can use cucumber) tomato, bacon, then the chicken, peppers and some onions thrown in there.
This is such an easy sandwich , and my kids loved it. Next time I make it though I will use different dressing and see where that gets me :)

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July 8, 2010

I said Can it already!!

Carrots that is :)
Finally the day has come to use "Bes" She was ready to Rock and Roll this morning when I came in with carrots from the garden. A friend of my husbands also gave us baby carrots, so mixed all together I had about 5lbs. Canning time!
Preparing your kitchen, remember canning is like an assembly line! Get your kitchen in order, I covered my counters with towels as hot jars can't touch cold surfaces. My tools are ready, which consist of - jars are being heated, lids are as well. I have a jar lifted, plastic spatula for getting air bubbles out as well as tongs to pick up the hot lids. You can pick out a canning tool kits as well, that have everything in there you need, here's a good one
Back to Basics 5-Piece Home Canning Kit
This is from the Ball Complete Book of Home preserving

1.Preparation: Wash Carrots and drain. peel and wash again. Leave baby carrots whole. Slice or dice larger carrots.
2.Since I'm using Hot-pack, the directions are- In stainless steel saucepan, combine carrots with boiling water to cover. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to boil over gently for 5 minutes, until tender crisp. Drain reserving cooking liquid for packing. (Raw packing is just tightly packing carrots in the hot jars and filling with boiling water)
3.Tightly pack carrots into hot jars within a generous 1inch (2.5cm) of top of jar. Add salt if using, ( 1/2 tsp per pint, or 1tsp per quart) Ladle boiling water or cooking liquid into jar covering vegetables, leaving again 1inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if necessary by adding more hot liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

4. Place jars in canner, Adjust water level (use your pressure canners instructional booklet, it's different for all sizes of canners as well as the pints/quarts yours using, you do NOT fill the pressure canner up with water as you do a water bath one.) Mine was 1 1/2 quarts of water.

5. This is where using the Directions in the Ball Book don't help me one bit. My Pressure canner is over 20 years old, it's a weighted gauge one, not a dial. The directions say to Vent steam for ten minutes and then close vent. "Bes" her owner graciously emailed me (4 times) to answer questions. She said all she's ever done was put the jars in the canner, close her up, start the heat and put the weight on top. There was no "vent steam" So she sees no point in that. Since "Bes" as been a true and loyal canner, I went with her instructions, put the weighted gauge on and listened for the pressure to build.

    Boy did it build. You ever here a tea kettle start hissing? This is nothing compared to a tea kettle my friends. I moved everyone out of the kitchen, we sat on the living room floor listening, waiting patiently while this big thing, started to make noises. I was to wait till it "jiggled" That's the steam coming out of the top and moving the weight. Until then, you just hear hissing, and your on edge wondering if it's about to pop. I'm not lying, I blocked my entire kitchen off so the kids couldn't go and see what the noise was, it was an unmistakable noise before something goes KABOOM!

   Nothing did though, I continued to heat until the weight "jiggled" which meant the pressure canner achieved 10lbs of pressure. Now you start timing, for carrots in pints sized jars it was 25 minutes of hearing jiggling about 2-3 times per minute. At first when I turned it down, it stopped jiggling, I had to turn it up again and wait for the jiggling to start again. You must avoid see sawing the heat, you  can cause unnecessary liquid losses from the jars. Start timing only when you've reached the correct pressure. I don't have a dial gauge, but for those you need to be watching it. Yet another reason I selected my weighted gauge, I have 4 kids, I cannot stand there staring (plus I you won't catch me standing in front of those things anyways!)
    After the time is finished turn off the heat and walk away. Again I don't know what using a dial gauge pressure canner is like, but it reads wait until the pressure lock releases and wait another few minutes before opening. My canner was still letting out steam for a couple hours.Just ended up walking away and didn't open it till after the kids went to bed. I wanted to make sure that wouldn't blow up scolding hot steam or water at me. Cause guess who came with a record? "Bes" blew up in her Grandfathers face when he wasn't thinking, he opened the canner too soon and got burned by steam. So, read your instructions for your canner over and over, make notes on your recipe if you have too. If all else fails, walk away from it after it's moved off the heat and leave it be. It will cool down on its own. NEVER force it to cool down, that's another major no-no!
 When you open the pressure canner, jars will still be hot, use your jar lifter. Set them on towels and don't touch them for 24hrs. This is the sealing processing, you will hear popping noises as the jars cool. After 24hrs, check and inspect the jars for leaks. Unscrew the bands to check the lid, it should look concave, test it by pressing it. If it pops up, a proper seal failed. You must either refrigerate them or reprocess immediately (with new lid) Use unsealed products with a few days. Do not store jar with band on them (if you do, do not tighten!). Clean the jars from residue before storing and make sure you label them. Use within a year.
*if your product didn't seal, repeat the entire process including, removing everything from jar, re-heating product, with washed jars, and new lids.

My very first pressure canned item of the year :) I selected carrots becuase they are easy, and if I didn't do it right, I'd be able to cook them and use them right away. Not sure what will be next but can't wait to start again :)

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July 7, 2010

My kitchen had a very busy day yesterday!

Bes, came to life yesterday! We canned carrots. Those of you who don't know who Bes is, she's my pressure canner ! Finally the day has come to can. I was excited to get things going, but had lots of other things to do as well yesterday.
   I picked that Mutant squash while getting the carrots (alot of carrots came from a friend, it made almost 5lbs all together) and other zucchini, it was very busy in my kitchen. This is all that I made from just one days worth of picking. Now tell me all that hard work in the garden isn't worth it? That's Zucchini bread, 8 jars of carrots, and 2 carrot, and zucchini garlic quiche that came out of my kitchen.

Lots of work, but totally worth every second! I'll be posting the recipe or the instructions for canning the carrots in a bit, I'm enjoying a nice cool day here with the kids. We see tomatoes growing, more squash, cucumbers, peppers are growing very well, so are the all the other vegetables we have. After a rough and questionable start, we're just booming with life in the garden :)
Happy carrots!
Aren't they just pretty?
I'll post instructions most likely tomorrow, the day must be enjoyed outside!
Enjoy your day!

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July 6, 2010

It's Burger Time!

Burgers, you just can't go wrong with a burger! Seriously think about it, endless meat possibilities, fillings in the meats, seasonings in the meat, or ontop of the burger, toppings, sauces, different buns or rolls. Really, I don't think there's a number of how many different kinds there are for this summer time staple of food. You just can't go wrong, unless that is you stand back and watch the burger burn or it falls through the grill and just burns against coals, in that case you can go wrong. Try not to do that!
 Let's move on to the burger!

You drooling yet?

This is My Sweet Onion Beef Brisket Burger, say Hello :)

 I'll be honest and tell you I've rarely gone from the simple ground beef hamburgers in the last few years. I may have switched up the way I make it, mix it or slap it on together but the meat has always been lean, mean and juicy! In light of all that, and the entire reason this blog was started, which was to try new things as often as possible, I was well over do to try a different burger.  In January of this year after my kids told me they didn't want their normal favorites and myself as well  tired of the same things every few weeks, I challenged myself to the entire month of February to do a new recipe each day. One I created, found, or one a friend passed on. As long as it was new, I did it. That's how this blog got started. So, now new burgers are formed!
This Recipe started from Cooking light, which gave me the idea of using different meat. Original recipe is called Brisket Burger.That's the only part I used

Sweet Onion  Beef Brisket Burger

1 (1-pound) beef brisket, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces *I had the butcher in our store ground a 2 pound beef brisket *
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 finely diced onion
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1 sliced onion and caramelized for extra topping (either do it in a frying pan or on the grill till they are lightly brown or to your liking, it doesn't really matter)
Sweet Onion Dip
 slices of Cheese if wanted

1. To prepare grinder, place feed shaft, blade, and 1/4-inch die plate in freezer 30 minutes or until well chilled. Assemble grinder just before grinding.

2. Arrange meat in a single layer on jelly-roll pan, leaving space between each piece. Freeze 15 minutes or until meat is firm but not frozen. Combine meat and oil in large bowl, and toss to combine. Pass meat through meat grinder completely. Immediately pass meat through grinder a second time and mix in the onions and garlic gloves. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty. Cover and chill until ready to grill.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

4. Sprinkle patties with salt and pepper. Place on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes or until grill marks appear. Carefully turn patties; grill 3 minutes. Top each patty with 1 cheese slice; grill 1 minute or until cheese melts and beef reaches desired degree of doneness.
 I used whole wheat buns, spreading the Sweet Onion dip on both halves, before placing baby spinach on both and adding a tomato and the canalized onions. It was juicy, and oh so yummy!! The dip alone adds a zing to the burger, hard to resist :-)  Enjoy!

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July 2, 2010

Take a tour with me before you have some Dip

My garden, is just like one of my kids, but without diapers,and it doesn't talk back, doesn't even whine, doesn't roll it's eyes at you either....come to think of it, my garden is nothing like my kids, it's much more easier to train and deal with. :) Just,don't tell my kids that.

Before my daughter was born, (she's now turning 5 in 14 days) I started my first garden. We were in NC and were able to map out a good one with rows and rows of vegetables, this is me holding my daughter around the garden in 2005.

We moved when she was nearly 5 months old, and I had to rip up every plant still in the ground. Can you imagine that? Planting and caring for things for months, and then just having to rip it all to shreds? It was heart breaking to me. Though the move itself was just a bit more overwhelming at the time. We packed and left within a week, on Thanksgiving no less! My garden just faded away as we drove across country, two kids, two dogs. Talk about stressful!!
    Now here we are in the same place we have been since that move . Guess what I'm not willing to do? Plant anything long term in the ground. Yup that's right I plant out of containers, lots of them as well. Ones my husband made, which are about 8ft long, 3ft deep and 2ft wide. The others are self watering , which saves us on water big time.I have 14 self watering, and 8 others, plus two "flat bed containers". Not counting the other huge ceramic planting pots. I've lost track. Very few things go in the ground, peas, and beans, sunflowers as well, but nothing else. Nothing I may end up having to yank from the ground or wave good bye too as we move. This way I can bug my husband and beg, plead him to drag these heavy, fully loaded containers onto a truck and haul them to our new place.. Much better this way I think, don't you? Ha. Trust me, my husband doesn't like that idea at all, but I'd much rather be able to know I can take it with me, rather than leave it all behind.

This year my garden took a heavy beating by weather, which brought hail even in May. A Squirrel, a.k.a. Mr Nutters, and my children have left a big dent in it as well. They pulled all my labels and tossed dirt around before they sprouted which left me with 4 different kinds sprouting in one cup, or more in others. It's funny now, it wasn't at the time. I'm just happy that I have a garden right now!

These are my girls searching for strawberries.

That's my son not about to pass up a fresh picked berry :)

This "Mutant" Squash, I still can't figure out. It's growing on a yellow summer squash plant, the plant right next to it, grows zucchini, maybe it's my first cross? Who knows I'm leaving another day or so before I pick it. Still wondering what's inside. We've harvested, tons of peas, strawberries and a couple zucchini already, so my first dish from my own garden was Baked  Zucchini sticks with Sweet Onion Dip. Tell me what about that doesn't sound good?
                    This monster zucchini made the baked sticks the kids gobbled within 15 minutes!

Baked Zucchini Sticks

3 medium zucchini (1 1/4 to 1/2lbs) cut into 3 in sticks
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup (1 3/4 ounces) Panko bread crumbs (I didn't have these, just used plain bread crumbs and it was fine.
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pizza seasoning
1/2 cup (4 ounces) egg substitute
 Olive oil spray
Salt for sprinkling

Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit & drain for an hour.

Combine the Panko, Parmesan and pizza seasoning in a bowl set aside. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with olive oil (I just brushed it on)

Blot the sticks dry with paper towels. Dredge them a few times in the egg substitute, and then roll in the crumb mixture. Place sticks on the prepared baking sheet.
 Bake for 12 minutes, then turn over to bake for 8 more minutes until golden brown & crispy. Serve immediately.

    Sweet Onion Dip

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium sweet onion about 1/2 pound, peeled and sliced.
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cider
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounce) honey
1 tablespoon mustard
1 cup ( 8 ounces) mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in med. frying pan over moderate heat and add the sliced onions. Cook stirring occasionally, until the onions soften then caramelize. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
 Once the onions are medium brown remove from heat and deglaze the pan with the cider. Place the onions and liquid into a small food processor or put into bowl to blend. Add the honey, mustard and process till smooth. Add the mayonnaise , salt and pepper to taste. Use as a sandwich spread or with vegetables for dipping. 

Hope you all like fresh vegetable recipes, because I have a garden full of them!

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July 1, 2010

4th of July Cheesecakes

Couple years ago I came across this sort of "Mock" Cheesecake recipe for an awesome throw together dessert. It was strawberries and so delicious everyone sort of just melted into their chairs going "Mmmmm".
We can't have My New York Cheesecake that I sometimes dream about, that's right I won't lie..I do crave that rich smooth velvet work of art. It took me years to finally get it so it didn't crack, the crust came out perfectly, it wasn't under cooked, or over cooked. Either way, I miss it! My Husband as some of you know is diabetic so this Mock cheesecake took some -not all- of the worry out of a nice dessert. To down size the sugar even more I used the lighter cream cheese as well as I make my own whipped cream.

This is a wonderful way to dress up the holiday weekend! Super easy as well as there's no baking! Non! Just make sure you have room in the fridge:-) My kids always get excited when they know a holiday is coming. I try to pull out all the little creative ways to spruce up a dish, or dessert, this one they loved to help with.
1-1/2 cups  Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
 2 pkg.  (8 oz. each)  Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.)  Whipped Topping, thawed or make your own whipped cream (Recipe below)
1 cup strawberry jam, heated 1 pt.
(2 cups) blueberries
Make It
MIX crumbs, butter and granulated sugar. Press firmly onto bottom of 13x9-inch dish.

BEAT cream cheese and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spoon over crust. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

PRESS assorted sizes of star cookie cutters lightly into top of cheesecake. Drizzle jam over surface of remaining cheesecake; spread gently to completely cover area around the stars. Carefully remove cookie cutter. Arrange blueberries around edge of cheesecake. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator. This was a Kraft foods recipe that I got in the mail!

-Whipped Cream-
this recipe came from Food Network

2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.

Fluffy 2-step Cheesecake -this makes one cheesecake-
this one came from a mini Philadelphia cookbook for cheesecakes

2 pkg. (8oz each) Cream Cheese Softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tub whipped topping, or make your own as these were (Recipe Above)
1 ready to use graham cracker crust (9in)
 Arrange fruit if any and store till time to serve.

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