Monday, August 31, 2009

Homemade Craisins


I swear- I love my dehydrator.

This weekend, I made craisins from some cranberries I had frozen last fall (ekk!) but never used.


The craisins are quite good- but I will add a bit more sugar next time- these suckers are a bit tart.

Homemade Craisins
adapted from several wise internet finds including here

Ingredients
  • 1/2 bag cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup water
Directions
  1. Cut cranberries in half. This will be tedious. Be patient. (You can also put them in boiling water for 30 seconds to split their skins if you would prefer. Follow the directions for de-skinning tomatoes here, except don't actually take off the skin off.)
  2. Make simple syrup. (Add sugar to water and heat until sugar dissolves.)
  3. Add cut cranberries to syrup and soak for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Drain berries and add to dehydrator.
  5. Dehydrate at 125 degrees for 8 hours or so until they are dry.
  6. Yumm-o!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Favorite Things

I am so sorry Meredith and Kayla- thank you so much for thinking of me and tagging me for this. Sorry it took so long . . .

Both Meredith and Kayla tagged me in My Favorite Things- so I will show you my 6 favorite things- right now.

My favorite things right now:
  1. My pillow- I always love my pillow
  2. Fall
  3. My Dehydrator
  4. New Worm Bin that I will be building. I bought the bins- now I just need to do it!
  5. Painting Chairs
  6. Life in general
Thanks again for the tag. What are your favorite things?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zucchini Chips and Mail!

The Dehydrator has come to life. I made my first thing- guess what it was? I'll bet if you hadn't read the title- you would never have guessed. But since you probably read it- go ahead and tell the inanimate computer screen the answer like Dora- "Zucchini chips!"

That's right!

Weird, I know.

Here is what you do . . .
  1. Cut your Zucchini into slices, preferably similar sizes.
  2. Spay with some olive oil and salt a bit with Super Salt.
  3. Lay on dehydrator.
  4. Turn on and leave alone for 8 hours at 125 degrees.
  5. Come back to these gross looking things.
  6. Taste one and think, "Hmm, not too shabby."
  7. Move on to fruit roll ups.
On another note- Thanks Kayla for the package! You are the best.

(Don't notice that the Swedish Fish are not only opened, but gone entirely- all within a matter of hours. I would never do that. I have self control. Really. (Example: You should see how many Zucchini Chips I have left.))

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Have Been Painting!

We live in a big apartment complex. People move out all. the. time. Thus the dumpsters are often overflowing with treasures. Like these:


What? You don't think these are treasures?

Wait until they have a coat of sea foam green Oops! paint from Home Depot and you might change your mind.


See?

The chair with no back is serving as a stool in our bedroom so I can adjust the quilt we have hanging up to block light, heat and cold.

(Funny story- I painted the stool and then distressed it because I love stuff that looks old. Chris however could not comprehend that I would paint something and then scratch it all up. He thought I was sanding it for another coat of paint. Sorry Chris- this is the way it is supposed to look.)

The chair with a back is in the bedroom also. It just sits there and holds the pillows we don't sleep with at night. sigh.



I am pretty proud of my chairs. They are not perfect- but so much better than they were- don't you think?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grilled Marinated Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon

The end of summer is coming- I can feel it in the air sometimes. But this weekend we were able to enjoy summer at its best- with a grill.

We do not have a grill, but our community center does, so we finally took advantage of it and grilled up some shrimp.


These were quite good. But they cooled off annoyingly fast on the walk home from the community center. However, most people who have grills probably won't have that problem.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon
adapted from suggestions online

Ingredients
  • 40 little shrimp, deveined with the shells removed
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed mustard seed
Directions
  1. Marinate shrimp for several hours, then place on skewers and cook on grill until no longer pink.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blueberry Banana Bread

This recipe comes from my post about The Very Best Banana Bread, which I posted a million years ago when I first started blogging (it really is the best banana bread I have ever had). While I was home in Minnesota last, I made some of this bread for my sister and her husband on their long trip to Chicago. However, I made it too soon, because it was all but gone before they left the next day!


I added blueberries because there were some in the fridge that needed to get used. It was perfection.


Blueberry Banana Bread
Adapted from me!

Ingredients
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5-6 TBSP sour milk (just add a little vinegar to the milk to sour it)
  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • 1 TBSP baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 pint of blueberries (You could use less- but I had them, so I used them!)
Directions
  1. Beat butter and sugar.
  2. Add bananas.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients (excluding blueberries)
  4. Gently fold in blueberries pour batter into a greased pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Yum.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Taryn!

Yesterday we celebrated my birthday with the in-laws and I just have to show you what I got . . .

Tada!

No more messy oven drying for me- Hip hip hurray!

Thanks!

image from nesco.com

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Modified Carrot Cake

First off, I would like to thank everyone for the super sweet birthday wishes! You guys are so awesome!

Now onto Birthday Cake.


I love carrot cake. It might be my favorite cake ever. Except maybe ice cream cake, cheese cake, or anything with cream cheese or ice cream. Yumm.

I posted the original recipe for this cake here, but then Snowhite changed the recipe to include zucchini and applesauce, so I thought I should give that a try.

The end product was amazing. The applesauce made the cake considerably more "mushy." But not really in a bad way. However, if you are like my father-in-law and like you cookies burned- then this "mushy-ness" was not an improvement. However, everyone else loved it.

Enjoy! Happy Birthday!

Modified Homemade Carrot Cake
From My Mother-in-Law and Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 2 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C applesauce
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger (not 3 tsp. each- but total- mix it up however you like)
  • 2 C carrots, shredded
  • 2 C zucchini, shredded
Directions
  1. Sift all dry ingredients.
  2. Add oil, eggs, carrots and zucchini and mix well.
  3. Grease and flour 3 8'' layers (or two 9'' pans with one 8'' pan (or just two big 9" pans)).
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add cream cheese, beat until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla.
Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

. . . Birthday!

Thank you for all of your well wishes yesterday. It was a good day- not great because I am nanny-ing twin four-year-olds and the first day with a new nanny/ new kids is always a transition. But I am confident Monday will be great.

But the more exciting news is that . . .

Today is my 25th Birthday!

I just finished my breakfast of champions (two doughnuts- one cake doughnut with chocolate and one regular with sugar- I love doughnuts) and now am waiting for my present to come.

Unfortunately, I have to wait for several days still. But it will be worth it. This baby is coming in the mail for me on the 24th!

Thank you Chris!

Happy Happy Friday!

image from garmin.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Day . . .

Today is my first day of work.

Wish me luck- I'll see you on the other side!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black Bean Brownies

Just do it. You will not regret it.

Black Bean Brownies
from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 T applesauce
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 C brown sugar (I would maybe do more sugar- these were not that sweet.)
  • 1/2 C chocolate chips (I used peanut butter chocolate chip swirl)
Directions
  1. Spray a 7 x 11 or 8 x 8 pan.
  2. Puree your beans, eggs, applesauce and oil together. Make sure they are really well pureed- you don't want anyone getting a bit of bean in their brownie!
  3. Mix in the remaining ingredients (leave the chocolate chips out).
  4. Pour into greased pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Test for done-ness with a toothpick.
I know you may be skeptical about these brownies- but here is what 5 of us did to them in one sitting . . .
Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homemade Buttermilk Panacakes and Funnel Cakes

Thanks to Meredith at La Buena Vida, I had a huge craving for pancakes with peanut butter this weekend.

We were out of mix so decided to try some. To be honest- I cannot for the life of me remember where I got the recipe. But oh well- they were too salty anyway. Perhaps our buttermilk is different? We used the powdered stuff that you add water too. I don't know. But when you covered the pancake in peanut butter and syrup- the salt factor disappeared and only the yum factor remained.


Chris was not as pleased with the pancakes as I was, so he made Homemade Funnel Cakes this weekend too. Chris LOVES funnel cakes. Every time we go to a fair or carnival he always scopes out the funnel cakes.

Chris wanted full credit for the funnel cakes on the blog- just so you know. This was all him.

I found the recipe though.

Homemade Funnel Cakes
from Heavenly Homemakers

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar or sucanat
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Oil for frying (I used up some canola oil)
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Place in a bag with cake decorating tips like so: Or just try to push is through a funnel.
  3. Heat an electric skillet to 350 degrees, and squirt mix into hot oil.
  4. Cook on both sides for about a minute or two.
  5. Sprinkle with sugar and enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Best Way to eat Peaches

I am pretty sure that Lucy Marie never wants to see another peach in her life (check it out here) but I want to share the best way to eat peaches (according to Chris).

First you take a peach and cut it up into slices. (Yes- these are white nectarines- but work with me here.)


Then sprinkle sugar on top. I was hesitant to do this- why put sugar on more sugar? But you will see . . .


Then wait a few hours. The sugar will become a syrup. Delicious!


Enjoy.

(Sad news- I never did get that interview with the guy from the plane.
Good news- I got a perfect part time job! Yes! My job searching days are over for the school year.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Homemade Apple Butter- For Lucy Maire

Here you are Lucy Marie. The best recipe for Apple Butter ever!

(well, I have never had apple butter before this- so I have no idea if this is how it is supposed to taste . . . but it tastes good.)

(Also- I used Granny Smith apples- so if you use a sweeter variety of apples, maybe cut down on the sugar. It is plenty sweet.)

Apple Butter
from Betty Crocker

Ingredients
  • 12 medium granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves (I used ginger instead)
Directions
  1. In a large dutch oven heat all ingredients until boiling- then simmer for about an hour.
  2. Mash the apples with a potato masher.
  3. Simmer a bit longer- until you have the desired consistency. Betty says to simmer for an hour more- but if you live at altitude or in the desert, about 20 minutes will do.
  4. Cool and store for up to three weeks, or process into cans.
Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Homemade Apple- Pear Sauce

Remember when I said that we received a ton of apples and that I was going to make more apple butter and take pictures? Well, I was wrong. Sorry. I did not make more apple butter. After looking at all 6 cups of apple butter, I realized that I had more than enough to last us for a year. (Don't worry Lucy Marie- I will post the apple butter recipe tomorrow.)

However, I do use a lot of applesauce in baking so I decided to make the remaining 24 apples and 10 pears into Apple-Pear Sauce.

When I looked online- everyone (I mean everyone) said not to use Granny Smith Apples for applesauce because it wouldn't be sweet enough.

But I did it anyway- gotta go with what you got, right?

I don't know if it was the pears or the tablespoon of sugar I added- but the applesauce is perfectly sweet. I buy unsweetened applesauce from the store- so maybe the applesauce I know is not as sweet as the stuff people we talking about online. Whatever the case- I successfully made nearly 14 cups of Apple-Pear Sauce yesterday- with the forbidden Granny.

Tada!

However, like the apple butter, I did not take any pictures. I really don't think you want to see pictures of beige blobs in a pot, then in the Cuisinart, and then in cans. Sorry to disappoint, but pureed apples are just not that pretty or photogenic.

Homemade Apple-Pear Sauce
from me, Betty and the Internet

Ingredients

for every 4 apples/pears add:
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
Directions
  1. Peel, core and cut apples.
  2. Cut and core pears.
  3. Place with water and sugar in an appropriately sized pot and boil until tender.
  4. Pulverize in a food processor until it looks like applesauce.
  5. Cool and refrigerate for up to a week or process in cans.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Squash-sagna with Homemade Crushed Tomatoes

Anybody have some zucchini and tomatoes growing in their gardens? Unfortunately, I do not- (my puny tomato plant has two or three tiny green ones- but that is all)- however, I am lucky enough to have several friends and family who do!

I promise this is better than is sounds. Chris even liked it. Despite the fact that it has visible zucchini.

As I note below- I cooked my instant brown rice in broth (because since I started making it, I have had too much). And I really think the extra flavor was worth it. Brown rice can be a bit bland, but this dish was definitely not bland at all.

Squash-sagna with Homemade Crushed Tomatoes
adapted from Cooking During Stolen Moments

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef, fully cooked and drained
  • 4 c. fully cooked brown rice (I cooked mine in broth- I think it made a huge difference)
  • 8 oz homemade crushed tomatoes (see below)
  • 14 oz spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. green onions, sliced
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 t. Super salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 4 medium-sized zucchini
  • 2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, green onions and seasonings. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice zucchini squash lengthwise.

3. In a 13 x 9 casserole dish, layer beef mixture, zucchini slices and cheese until dish is full, ending with a layer of zucchini and cheese on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate until dinner time or bake immediately at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.


Homemade crushed tomatoes

I decided to make some crushed tomatoes because I got this many tomatoes from the in-laws.

While I like tomatoes quite a bit- this was too many to eat with a whole watermelon, peaches and other good stuff around. So instead of letting them go bad, I cooked them up.

To make tomato sauce/crushed tomatoes/diced tomatoes here is what you do:

  1. Mark an X on the butt of the tomato.
  2. Dip into a boiling pot for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Quickly take out and dump into a bowl of ice water.
  4. Peel off the skins that will magically be falling off.
  5. Cut tomato into quarters or less.
  6. Scoop out the seeds (mostly).
  7. Put about 1/4 of the tomatoes into a pot and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the rest of the tomatoes and simmer down.
  9. That is all!
I hope that this all makes sense. Good luck. If you don't want to make your own sauce- just use it from a can. Not a big deal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yellow Watermelon?

Did you know that there is a version of watermelon that is really, truly yellow?

Looks normal on the outside . . .

But crazy on the inside!

Its a little more sherbet hued if you ask me.

We went to the farmer's market around us this weekend and came back with many treasures. But the watermelon was by far the coolest.

Check out your markets- you might have some too! Who knew?

(Yes, I really did pick all the seeds out when I cut it up. Mom- I was channeling you the whole time. I don't know how you did it all those years.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whew- Life Got in the Way

Sorry about the lack of posting- life has gotten in the way of blogging! Where have my priorites gone?

Anyway, I am here.

kinda.

I am trying to figure out my life.

It is hard to do.

But in the breaks between life soul searching, I have been pretty busy with apples.

A good friend came back into town (sans his wife- we miss you Heather) for some work. When he and his brother came over the other night, they brought a million Granny Smith apples. Well not quite a million, but about half a box.

So we did what any good apple loving people do- we made apple butter and apple crisp. Delicious.

I didn't take many pictures of the apple butter, but I hope to make some more tomorrow or Thursday (I still have 22 apples left) so I will document it then.

However, I do have the recipe for Apple Crisp that I can post for you now.

Apple Crisp
from Betty Crocker

Ingredients
  • 4 medium cooking apples (sliced)
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C flour (whole wheat)
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 1/3 C butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 375. Grease 8 x 8 baking dish.
  2. Spread apples in pan. Don't try to be pretty. I tried- but it was just a waste of time because there were so many apples.
  3. Mix together remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over apples.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes. When the top is lightly browned and the apples are tender it is done.
Betty said that we didn't need to peel the apples for the crisp- but I I think I would do it next time. Some of the skins didn't get cooked all the way or something. They were not great.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We are Petey-Sitting!

Our friends are going on a little vacation, so Chris and I get to babysit for this cutie for the night!


Wish us luck.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Homemade Watermelon Lemonade

You know when you cut up watermelon and all that extra juice starts to accumulate at the bottom of the bowl? My mother will drink it, but I cannot seem to- even though I love fresh watermelon.

While I was home, there was a little bit of watermelon that had passed its prime in texture (and I am a texture person all the way). I didn't want it to go to waste and I wanted to do something fun- so I made it into Watermelon Lemonade. Thankfully Smitten Kitchen had just posted about it, so my job was super easy.

It was quite good. I had had some watermelon lemonade in Boston this Spring, but it was too pulpy and too tangy, so I was a little nervous about this stuff. But it was good. I got to determine my level of pulp which helped tremendously. And you can too! Enjoy your leftover watermelon to its fullest.

Watermelon Lemonade
from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 2 Cups pureed watermelon
  • 1 Cup fresh (or not) lemon juice
  • 2 Cup simple syrup
  • 3 Cups water
Directions
  1. Puree the watermelon and extra juice.
  2. Juice the lemons. Easy with Mom's juicer.
  3. Strain the watermelon through a mesh strainer into the lemon juice. Strain to get rid of the watermelon fibers. I love pulp in my orange juice- but there was just too much watermelon pulp for me to handle.
  4. Make the simple syrup by dissolving 1 Cup sugar into 1 Cup water. The same recipe for feeding the hummingbirds I believe. But without the red.
  5. Mix it all together and serve with ice.