September 30, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Pumpkin Pie

I don't even like Pumpkin Pie, I know how horrible is that? My kids love it, and my husband does as well, but I'll never eat it. Pumpkin Cheesecake maybe, but not pie. Pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, even cake, now there's something I'll eat, but Pie? Nope. I'm just that strange. :)  I'll make it for just about anyone who wants it though, in a heart beat. This one is my fall back recipe, simple, never fails  and everyone loves it!

If you happen to have some fresh pumpkin you can use it for this.

Ingredients For Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can pumpkin (15 ounce, and NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
Recipe for One Pastry Pie Dough


Heat over to 425. Make a the pie crust and place it into pan. Either flute or crimp the edges to the way you like it.

In a large bowl beat eggs, with wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in remaining ingredients. Pour in the filling in the prepare pie crust and place it on the middle oven rack and bake 15 minutes before turning down the temperature to 350. Bake about 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out cleans. Cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until set and chilled.

I got bored with a plain pie, so I dressed it up for Halloween with Chocolate :) I'll have tons of fun, Halloween foods starting next week!!!

Read more ...

September 29, 2011

Land O'Frost Wrap Kit Review- Yum!

Image Detail

Land O'Frost Sandwich Wrap Kits are super kid friendly, so you better grab one yourself before the kids eat them all!

With school functions, hot days and hungry kids, some days it calls for something a little more simple when it comes to dinner time. Or in other words, a day that Mom doesn't cook or turn on the oven. :)

Sandwich wraps are always a win around our house, my kids can't find anything to complain about when I make them, so who am I to mess with a good thing? Dress them up, dress them down, sandwhich wraps are great any which way you make them, and now Land O'Frost makes a kit with the basic needs to get you started.

Each kit makes 5 wraps, including cheese, the tortillas , and the deli meat. We were able to try the Black Forest Ham and Swiss cheese, and the Oven Roasted Turkey with Pepper Jack Cheese (my favorite!)

I set all the ingredients out and made a buffet style set up for the kids including extra things like lettuce and tomatoes and sauce. All four of my kids lined up picked out what they wanted to build their own wrap. The Wrap Kits are great alone as well, my picky eater didn't have anything extra just what was supplied from the kit. She loved it! My other kids got picky over toppings but it all ended with full bellies and empty plates. I was lucky to even get a taste by the end of dinner, so they really go fast.


I like how the Flour Tortillas are small, a perfect size for the kids. This kit makes a great take a long for a picnic too.  Since everything is in it's own bag within the kit, it makes for easy clean up as well. Win - Win for Land O'Frost Wrap kits in this house, definitely something my kids love and great for on the go families!
 Check them out in your local store, as well as the other kinds of kits Land O'Frost has. 

Happy Sandwich Making :)
**Disclosure- I received Wrap Kits from Land O'Frost in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write an positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.* 
Read more ...

September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Isn't he just the cutest thing ever?  He lives in the garden. :)

Read more ...

September 27, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday

Seeds are everywhere! If you have a garden either flower , vegetable or herb, it's a great thing to know how and when to get the seeds. There's a lot of fun growing any kind of garden, but it's even better if you can collect enough seeds for next years garden and not have to buy anything at all for it!

Someone asked me recently about Basil, as they were given a plant and wanted it for the next year. Easy as pie, I tell you if you want to collect seeds, so here you go my fellow Basil Grower!

   It may not look pretty in the garden with a half dead plant sticking out, but don't pull it! This is when the seeds are developing and you want to wait till the plant is nearly dried all up before collecting. For Basil, it'll look like this,

The stem is still green, there's even green leaves at the bottom of the plant. But at the end of the season after it's flowered, the pods turn brown and dry up. In each of the pods will be the seeds. Wait until it's completely brown and dried, just pinch with your fingers to see if it's dry. Then shell out the seeds.

Told you it was easy!

Read more ...

September 26, 2011

It's Salsa Season!

Yup, Salsa Season. Not just because of Football either. The garden is booming, exploding with tomatoes!  Homemade salsa, you just can't beat it!

You can find the recipe here, along with full instructions on how to can them yourself. It takes an entire afternoon.
I don't know how long it would take me if I wasn't constantly stopping to be with the kids, or do stuff around the house, kinda how things roll around here, which I don't really mind at all. Everything happens that way around here, I just set aside more time. It takes me anywhere from three to six hours to can anything. Factor in chopping, weighting, or measuring things out, preparing your jars, your counter space, heating the water bath, and then the cooking, it goes fast. With any and all canning, I really suggest you prepare things the day before, make an assembly line out of everything, keep it as neat and tidy as you can or else it just gets too messy, and too crowded. Set aside an entire afternoon and you will not be sorry, this salsa is great!!

Read more ...

September 25, 2011

Walk , Walk, Walk!

Friday was our Walk-A-Thon! We do it every year, the kids love it. Just like I figured it reached close to about 100 that day. It was a blast though, even with the heat. Not as crowded as the last few years but still alot of the students showed up. We ended up staying for a few hours, just long enough to get the kids red  in the face, and worn out by dinner time, just another plus on my part!

Two of my girls walking,

Son always on the move!

 Everyone did great, they were all pushing to do more laps, and having the live DJ there made all the students rocking out as they walked. Most the parents sit it out, cooling off in the shades cheering the kids on. Since I've got the younger ones and sitting still just is not an option for them, I always walk it. It's fun, plus it helps get more younger kids out there supporting their older siblings.

My Kids :)
I was lucky to get them to sit still for the picture, it was just so hot, and they heard I had fresh ice pops at home, so they were in a hurry to go home and cool off. I love their red cheeks :)
Maybe next year the weather will me slightly cooler! Hey, I can always hope!

Read more ...

September 23, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday

It's been a crazy, crazy week. I've been busy canning, and dealing with the sudden unlucky high heat, you know now that summer is over and it's fall. *eye roll*  That's California for you, it's always hot around this time, can be even through October! It's been close to around 100 all week, which isn't fun at all. Mainly today, as it's time for the schools annual  Walk-A-Thon!!!

 We do it every year and they have a blast, it pretty much runs all day, starting during school. The younger school walks to the older school where they keep doing lap after lap. We have a live DJ, games just endless fun. I'll get plenty of pictures as I always do :) Here's hoping none of the kids get over heated, as they did last year. I'll be packing plenty of water and sunscreen that's for sure!

 Didn't have any time this week to make any sweets, it's just been canning salsa, sauce, paste and pickles, but I won't leave you without something to drool over.

 Head over to Have Sippy Will Travel where I guest posted last weekend to take a look at the Cherry Apricot Crumble Bars I made! Thanks Sam for having me :) While you are over there, check out all the giveaways she has listed!! There's some cute ones :) Check them out all here

Enjoy them, they are sweet and yummy!! Enjoy your weekend!

Read more ...

September 22, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Sauce- Canning

Finally the canning season has started!
  I've made two batches of this Heirloom Tomato sauce so far  using up to about 15lbs of tomatoes per batch. Seems like a lot, but it really isn't when you look at the size and bulk of tomatoes. This recipe you can use any variety of tomatoes, and since my garden is full of different tasting heirlooms, it makes an incredible sauce!

 16lbs heirloom tomatoes, any variety
36 garlic gloves, peeled and chopped
Fresh Thyme leaves from about 36 sprigs
3 cups Olive oil
6 cups onions chopped
6 cups dry white wine
12 stems fresh basil with leaves
salt and pepper to taste

* Halve the tomatoes and scoop the seeds out to a separate bowl. You will later send the pulp through the press, or food mill to get the juice *

Place tomato halves cut side up in a roasting pan that will hold a single later. Combine the thyme leaves with half the chopped garlic and cover the mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Drizzle half the olive oil over the tomatoes.
 Roast until the tomatoes are soft, about 35-40 minutes. Take them out and cool till they are lukewarm. Strain them through a food mill to remove the skins.
 Warm the remaining oil in a stainless steel pot and stir in onions and the remaining garlic. Cook over low heat for several minutes until it's clean but not brown. Add wine, and turn the heat to medium to simmer about 15 minutes reducing the mixture by half.
 Using the seeds an pulp you scooped out, run it through the food mill, keeping the juice to add to the cooking mixture. Add the basil and a teaspoon or two of salt.

Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until thickens (up to about 30 minutes) Stir often so the mixture on the bottom doesn't burn or stick. Add more salt if needed and pepper to taste. Remove and discard basil, before canning process.

*Prepare your canning jars, lids and tops, as well as your water bath canner while the sauce is still cooking. The water bath process for this Sauce is 30 minutes. It made about 10 pint jars of sauce. You can find all my canning posts here.

Enjoy your canning season :)

Read more ...

September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

                                                   Don't you just love fresh bread? :)

Read more ...

September 19, 2011

Fire on the Hill!

This weekend seemed to be full of Hazards left and right. From Earthquakes, to fires, to the hot weather and cranky kids.  It was really hot this weekend, enough so that my kids started getting red in the face from just standing in the shade outside after a few minutes. It wasn't fun. The weather didn't help my canning weekend either,  It just intensified the heat inside the house with no relief.

 The Earthquakes were small, no biggie, but not a little while after that there was a fire in the hill.

 This grass fire happened around 2 in the afternoon in the hills just down from the house. Lots of smoke at first then we saw the flames. I was knee deep in picking beans when it started so I didn't get the pictures right away. By the time I did get them, you could see the large patch of blackened burnt grass and the firefighters. Two air tankers, a helicopter, five fire trucks and a bulldozer ended it thankfully with no one hurt.  It was put out very quickly, about an hour.

This was towards the end. The planes were circling right over our heads the whole time, while the Helicopter kept dumping the water. Neat to see, and glad no one was hurt.  If you click on the picture above you can see the area of burned grass below the chopper.

Just another crazy weekend here. I'll share the Homemade Heirloom Tomato Sauce that I canned over the weekend later this week!

Read more ...

September 17, 2011

Slow Down A Little!

Some days there's no slowing me down. With four kids I am always on the move, it's not easy, always challenging and of course  very rewarding in the end. Some days though, in the middle of the crazy chaos of my life, I stop and catch something. It could be a pretty rock, or catch a humming bird flying around, even a cool little scratch on something, doesn't really matter. I find small things the most interesting, odd I know but go with me on this.

Have you ever gone so fast though that you rush by something? Could be an opportunity even, something if you hadn't rushed through you may have noticed? This week that happened, several times until I slowed it down. I was rushing to get things done, By the time the afternoon comes around it's just non stop with pickups, play dates, homework time, getting ready for dinner and so on, so I try to get most things done in the morning.
   This week I just happened to be walking through some pretty amazing things, ones some people would back away from. \
 We had a lot of rain this year so we have more spiders now, garden is crawling with them! Each row between my plants there's another web and I barely even noticed walking through about a dozen of them before one caught my eye. I nearly walked right though it!!

I aways find the webs interesting. It's amazing what a small little creature can do.

It was huge, it would have covered my entire head, shoulders and arms! Thankfully, since I didn't plow right through it, I also didn't have this guy all over me.

See what slowing down does? Saves you from big fat spiders!

Once in awhile you just need to slow it down and take a look at things :)

Read more ...

September 16, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Apple Raspberry Pie

Fall brings Pie! It just feels like Pie Season, Or maybe that's just me. Either way, I love making pies!  This simple Pie is for the bakers that don't want to bother with  measuring it out to fit perfect in it's pan, or crimp edges and make it look perfect. This is a free form pie, one you just fold the sides up and over and let it bake on a baking sheet.
Doesn't it look yummy?It is, that I can promise you!
This came from Land O'Lakes recipes.

Rustic Apple Raspberry Pie

*I suggest getting the topping ingredients put together and set aside, the sugar mixture as well (just don't cut the apples yet as they could start turning brown ) for the filling put together, and set aside as well.  That way it can come together as soon as the crust is finished. *


 2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter cut into chunks
4-5 tablespoons cold water

 3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 med. sized apples or 4 cups peeled and sliced apples.
 1 cup fresh raspberries

 2/3 firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
1/3 cup cold butter cut into chunks
coarse sugar

Heat the oven to 400F. Crust directions- Combine 2 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the 2/3 cold butter with pastry blender or fork till it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water (1 tablespoon at a time) till the flour is moistened.  Shape into dough ball, flatted slightly on lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 15x12 inch rectangle. (Really mine wasn't perfect at all, I just rolled it out as evenly as possible) Fold in half and transfer to ungreased baking sheet, unfold carefully.

Working with the Filling - If you already combines the sugar mixture, now is the time to cut the apples and drop in the raspberries. mix gently till the filling covers the fruit. Pile fruit onto the crust leaving about 1-1/2 inch around all the sides.

Topping directions- Combine brown sugar, flour, and oats in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter, and mix till it resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle over the fruit. Fold the edges of the crust over the fruit and topping. You'll be making a square , make sure the sides are all pinched and sealed. Brush the edges with water and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

 Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown or the juice is bubbling. Cover with foil if the crust is burning too quickly.

Serve warm, and if desired, which I know many of you will , serve with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream.
Also, try not to eat it all!

Read more ...

September 15, 2011

Simple Sides - Tomatoes

There's really no surprise with what my favorite side dish is, Tomatoes. It's possibly my favorite over anything at all for several reasons as well. There's never lack of taste, never lack of color and honestly it goes with pretty much everything. The best of all? How simple it is to make a simple side dish look good with tomatoes.

These are some of my Heirlooms I grew this year,  which were picked for their taste, the brilliant colors are an added bonus.  Cherokee Purple, Two different Big Rainbows (yellow, and the yellow/Orange ) Zebra  and Brandy wine along with  Black Krim. 

I consider these my slicing tomatoes, ones to use for sides, sandwiches and snacking. Each have a different taste, and each bite is full of a new bursting flavor. My husband favors the Black Krim,  my first year growing them , and will most definitely be growing again. They have a  distinctive taste to them, smokey almost. I think the Krim has more salty hints to it than the Cherokee Purple but both are welcome on my dinner table. 
The other tomatoes are bright in flavor, all popping in your mouth, Brandywine is one that I adore , sweet like wine. The Big Rainbow almost has a melon hint of flavor to it. My kids eyeball it as if it were some mutant piece of fruit. When I get a good handful of the different colors,  I like slicing them and plating them together. 
 Makes a pretty side dish for company.

The simplest way to serve them besides just plain slicing and eating them plain is dressing them up with wine vinegar, garlic, basil and pepper. It's quick, and always a winner. You can add slices of Mozzarella to the plate, perfect for company! 

Dress up simple dinners with some tomatoes! If your store has different varieties, try at least one new tomato before the season is over. You may find a new one you enjoy! If you plan on planting some for the next year, you may end up tasting one you want to grow yourself!

Read more ...

September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

                                                                       I can see you.

Nice try though.

Read more ...

September 13, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Baking Substitutions

We don't always have everything on hand, through the years, I've made note of what can be switched in for something else and have found it a lot easier to approach a recipe knowing I can switch it up if I wanted too. There's a lot more substitutions out there, but my list is what I tend to run into the most and some you may not even have thought about before. In a pinch though, they work perfectly!

Some things you may not know-

 * Baking powder ( 1 teaspoon ) You can use 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

* Make your own brown sugar (1 cup) Use 1 cup white sugar , and 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup or molasses.

* Make your own buttermilk (1 cup) Put about 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar)  in a measuring cup and fill with milk till you reach 1 cup. Or you can use a cup of plain yogurt, which will be a healthy addition.

* Don't have cake flour? Use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1 cup measuring cup and fill the rest with all purpose flour.

* I never have cream on hand, not a problem. Use 3/4 cup milk and 4 tablespoons of softened butter or melt it and add to the milk. This makes 1 cup.

* Don't have a full cup of sugar? Not a problem either, use 1 cup of honey or corn syrup!

* Self rising flour (1 cup) Use 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt added

*Don't want to use white wine in a recipe? Not a problem, use 1 cup of chicken broth.

*Don't drink red wine? Use 1 cup beef broth and it will be just fine.

*My store never has Vanilla beans, that's why they make Vanilla Extract! 1 whole bean can be subbed with 2 teaspoons extract.

*During the holidays if you just love Pumpkin Pie spice, there's no need to spend anything on a bottle of it when you can make it yourself. -- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Mix this up in an old spice jar.

* Powdered Sugar- Combine 1 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch and blend together till powdery. makes about 1 1/3 of powdered sugar.

Have any substitutions you use in the kitchen?

Read more ...

September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

This time ten years ago, I had recently made my move , flying from NY to CA.  I remember where I was, what I was doing, even eating, when my now husband, called me to tell me to turn on the news channel. He had just left for work, barely got in the office when he called and headed right back home. No one worked that day.

 Photographs, speeches, and video's have imprinted and etched their ways into all of us all over the world.

I never really liked looking at the photographs of that day, or reading about it, it took me awhile to do so. I'm sure other's feel the same, but when I do glance through them people's memories live on.

Yahoo put together an amazing Tribute, if you haven't looked through the Ten Year Anniversary Profiles, I encourage you to do so, it's very moving.

We will never forget and their stories will forever be remembered.

God Bless Everyone.

Read more ...

September 9, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Applesauce Cake

This is a wonderful cake. I love the taste and it makes for a perfect afternoon snack for the kids once they get home from school. The moist taste of apple and cinnamon win you over in the first bite.  Super easy to make as well, you most likely have everything on hand already. I don't ever frost this, there's really no need or at least in my opinion. My kids don't notice there's no frosting either, so who's to mess with a good thing?

Applesauce Cake
Ingredients1 cup sugar
1 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 milk
2 cups homemade applesauce or unsweetened store bought
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
 In a large bowl cream together first three ingredients. Beat in the applesauce and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture a little at a time. The batter when combined completely will be lumpy and thick. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely. It will keep up to 3 days when stored and sealed up.


Read more ...

September 8, 2011

Childhood Food

My Mom used to make this amazing Pepperoni Loaf when I was a kid, it's almost like the Hero Loaf that I just love, but different. Instead of folding the filling in, the loaf would be rolled. For some odd reason it's all I've wanted lately, so not having the recipe I came up with my own. Funny thing was, I posted on Facebook about trying it out, guess out of all the people who suddenly remarks about it? My Mother! Of all the people to see my status, of all the times, and that's not it either. Guess who's had the recipe for the Pepperoni Bread all this time? Guess who didn't ever share that recipe with any of her five kids? Hmm?

 After all this time, she not only had the recipe, she had it on hand. Think I got the emailed recipe a total of forty minutes after I posted about the bread. She's been holding out on us, I wonder what else she's been keeping hidden away.....if I didn't live three thousand miles away, I'd be raiding her recipe box right now. :)

On with the bread, I took go figure, my Mother's Famous White Bread recipe.  It turned out great! My kids ate them quick, and they tasted just like I remembered!

 She normally did one pepperoni, the other ham and cheese, which I did as well. Ran out of pepperoni, so this ended up being salami with pepperoni and cheese. :)

All I did was followed the White Bread Recipe. I divided the dough into four pieces as directed, set aside two while I shaped two for the White bread. Set aside to rise.  The other two dough balls would be used to make 2 "meat  breads"  This is one dough ball rolled out.

I placed my fillings out over the dough, and began rolling up jelly style.(don't over do the fillings, and go easy on the cheese) 
 Make sure it's tight, if you leave the dough too loosely rolled you'll have huge pockets when the dough is cooked. Pinch the ends and seal it up, placing it seal down on a prepared sheet. I don't spray my baking sheets, I just sprinkle cornmeal on the pans. I let it rise till doubled, and then baked it. It took just under 30 minutes for the loaves to bake at 350F. They will be HOT, so let it sit before you cut them, and serve with dipping sauces of choice. This isn't much different than the Hero Loaf or the other "meat bread" I do, it was just a different bread dough, but I like this so much more !

You can find My Mother's White Bread Recipe here, which is what I used.

Here are Two Recipes for the Hero Loaf, Both easy to do, fillings can be whatever you want pretty much.

I'll share the Real Pepperoni Bread recipe after I make it myself!

Read more ...