Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day Six (6)...LOT, TMOT...Pregnant?? Really?! MILKSHAKE!!!

The "No, I'm not pregnant just a little fat milkshake..."

On this busy Saturday there was not much going on in the kitchen.  Our family had a full day of activites planned.  A mother daughter tea party at noon, a baby shower, abirthday party and a whole lot of driving back and forth.  We spent over 3 hours just driving here and there, picking up and dropping off.   My plan for today was to start a collage project that I discovered on Pinterest but I completely forgot at the time that I wouldn't be home much today.  I guess that will wait until Monday because Sunday is not a day for craft projects around my house.  It's church in the morning and then chill out time for the rest of the day.

Before the craziness that was our day began, my hubby suggested we go to this restaurant called, "Al Carbon."  He had gone there last week and had a steak and eggs breakfast and wanted to take us there.  It's a little hole in wall and the food is cheap and good. I took pics of course!  And because I didn't want the kitchen to feel totally abandoned today after showing it so much love with my 3 batches of jam yesterday, I decided to concoct a milkshake in honor of two women.  Two women who asked me if I was pregnant today.  I know, devastating isn't it?  One of the ladies even told me, "you better get it together because no man likes a woman who isn't in shape."  I very calmly let her know that I was just the mother of 4 big babies all delivered by c-section and the most recent just 8 months ago and that I was going to pretend I didn't hear that and walk away.  I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Oh well, I guess I better look into that gym membership again.  And so I name this the, "No, I'm not pregnant just a little fat milkshake." 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day Five (5)...LOT, TMOT...10lbs in one day!! I'm plum tired!

Jamapolooza 2012...

Peach and Plum Goodness!
I lost 10lbs in one day!!!!  Okay, it was ten pounds of peaches and plums not body fat but a girl can always dream.  I was absolutely determined to get my jam done today before I was left with 4 pounds of peaches and 6 pounds of plums that I could do nothing with.  I even managed to finish one batch before 10 am and I was quite proud of myself.  I started the day making plum jam because I had never made it before, I would delve into the plum world (cue dramatic music).  I also wanted to be more focused because I think I get more loopy as the day goes on and I usually try to do only one batch a day but today I would do three, yes three I said!  Check out the plum below.  It was so good that I literally jumped up and down with pleasure and I think it just might take the place of Strawberry Banana which is my current favorite.  I'll let you know for sure as I continue to test my sample jar throughout the week.  Final tally...13 pint sized jars, 1 half pint jar and two tester jars. 

Plum Jam Recipe
 (1)Wash, pit and Chop, chop, chop up your plums. (2)Put in your blender and blend away. I like smooth with a few chunks in for "purrrrty" factor.  (3) Add 6 cups of processed plums in your pot, add a half cup of water (4) bring to a boil, cover and then turn down to low (5) simmer for 5 minutes.  (6) remove from pot and re-measure 6 cups (7)  return to pot, add 1/2 tsp of butter to reduce foaming (8) add your pectin, if using and stir.  (9) Turn on high heat and bring to a rolling boil (10) add 8, yes 8 cups of organic sugar and your spices, not to exceed 2 tbsps total spices.  I'm not revealing my spice combo because a girl just has to have some secrets but play around with whatever spices you like or just leave it plain.  (11)Bring to a rolling boil again and let boil for 1 minute but keep on stirring.  (12)Turn off heat, stir and remove foam, if you have any (I had none). Put in your jars, remove bubbles and put a whole cinnamon stick in the jar.  I guess I just revealed one of my spices, oops! Seal jars and proceed with water bath.  And if this is confusing, go to youtube and watch a video, it's how I got started.  Fyi...if not using pectin, boil until temp reaches 220 degrees and stir so it doesn't stick and burn!

 I had never had plum jam before and I have definitely been missing out!  This is seriously one of the most delicious jam I have ever had and if you have never jammed before, now is the time to start!!

 The final product. I got 5 pint sized jars from this and hubby said, "it made my taste buds do a cartwheel."

The second batch was a Spiced Peach and I actually was a rebel and left the skin on the peach because I removed the skin before on prior batches and it just didn't make sense to me.  Why waste?  It came out great and these peaches were much better than my previous batch.  Sweeter, darker in color, just more peachy.  Trader Joe's really hooked me up!

The final batch was Peach Plum Perfection.  I had some peach left over and some plum but not enough to make a separate batch of each so I combined the two and it worked out perfectly.  This time I peeled the peaches.  I guess I'm not the rebel that I lead you to believe I was.  Well, that's all folks. I'm tired but very happy with all the jams and I'm looking forward to experimenting with black plums next.  Now, what to do with that pineapple and those mangoes still staring at me.  To be continued...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day Four (4)....LOT, TMOT...most eggcellent!!

An eggcellent adventure... 

Well today was a simple day and because I was dealing with a sick 3 year old and a morning doctor's appointment for my 8 month old, I didn't spend too much time in the kitchen.  While relaxing in bed this morning with my older girls we decided to brain storm breakfast in a jar ideas and decided to try an 'omelette' in a jar.  We have done oatmeal in a jar, an eggs, meat and grits parfait, granola, etc...but we wanted something different.  We came up with some other kooky ideas that we will try later but figured the omelet was the most foolproof.  As we found out later, maybe not. 

The problem was I did zero research on how to bake eggs in a jar so I had no clue as to what temperature to cook it at, how far to fill up the jars or how long it would take to cook.  Let's just say that I looked at the clock after it was in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and noticed that the time was 10:15!  My daughter's appointment was at 11:00 and guess who hadn't showered yet?  Me!!  I cranked the oven up to 375 degrees and had to decide whether to be late or save the eggs.  Lucky  for me hubby was going so he took off with all but one of the kiddos so I could finish up in the kitchen and get dressed.  So as you will see, the pics aren't fancy and the food styling just didn't happen today but remember, I'm in rush so please be gracious.

We headed to the kitchen and cooked up some bacon, sausage and the little bit of ham we had left and that was one thing I could check off the 'little' list. I beat some eggs in a bowl, added some smoked salt and some pepper and we filled a half pint jar about half way and then tried them in a pint jar as well. As you can see in the pics that follow, we overfilled the half pint jars and the pint jars were a much better option but we used 4 eggs in each pint jar, yes I said 4 eggs. No one should eat 4 eggs at a time on a regular basis. Check it out.

 The ingredients were applewood smoked bacon, sausage patties, ham slices, 8 eggs, smoked salt and fresh ground black pepper and one of my favorites pecorino romano cheese.

 These two half pint jars were slathered with butter in the inside and filled with two eggs each.  I guess they really are a bit more than half full.  Add the egg and some of each type of meat put on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Just keep checking them every five minutes, remember I was rushed and a bit distracted. 

This is what they looked like when they came out.  A bit too much egg and some of it was still soft on the very top but I just stirred it around and the heat cooked it nicely.  Any longer and you would completely dry out your eggs.

 After stirring it up it fell a little bit so it actually fit in the jar and then I topped it with the cheese.
These two smaller ones were for my 10 and 11 year old. My three year old is not into eggs yet.  They both gave it a big thumbs up!

Here are the ones in the pint sized jars and instead of butter I sprayed them liberally with canola oil Pam cooking spray and also added spinach.  One for me and one for the hubby.  Put in spinach, whisked eggs and meats.

 Fresh out of the oven! 

 Mixed it up for hubby because I would have to take these to go!  Looks good to me!

 Did I tell you that I whipped up some slow cook grits to go on top of mine?  Yes, I know, I should have been in the shower but I just really wanted those grits on mine.  Hubby hates them!!  I added some American cheese on top of the eggs along with the Pecorino Romano cheese, then added the grits and a pat of butter.

 Feeling like Paula Deen.  Mmmmm, butter!  Wasn't I just juicing the other day? Oh well, everything in moderation!

 All mixed up and ready for a lid so I could eat it on the go.  I couldn't eat it in the car because it was too hot and stayed quite warm. We were actually in the examination room and I pulled it out to start eating and my husband said, "you're going to eat that now and in here?"  And I said, "Of course! I'm starving and you know how cranky I get when I'm hungry."  He ate his after we left and called me from the car on his way home and said that his was really good too and he liked it a lot!! 

My lovely little lunch bag that kept all this deliciousness warm.  Oh, and if you add grits, I recommend you eat it with a spoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day Three (3)...a little of this, too much of that

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine...

Wednesdays are a very busy homeschooling day for me so I'm cheating a little with my clementine jam because I really made it last night and I just couldn't lie and say I made it today.  I'm usually out all day on Wednesdays from about 8:30am until about 5:00pm or later and so I wasn't expecting to do anything too labor intensive today.  I was really trying to come up with something fast and a little creative for dinner tonight but lo and behold, I got a phone call from my daughter saying they were going to Chic-fil-a after ballet class per their daddy.  Did I want something?  Uh, yes!  I told them to bring me a spicy chicken deluxe sandwich, hold the fries.  In the meantime I had a little snack and used up the rest of my carmelized onions, a bit more of my papaya strawberry jam and my way too expensive cheese that hubby bought me while in Paris.  When I did get my sandwich, I used a bit of comeback sauce on it.  That's 4 things that are closer to being completely consumed this week.

Back to the clementines.  Sorry, got a little sidetracked for a moment. The abundance of clementines was due to my husband buying clementines whenever they were on sale but then we had too many.  Sales are a good thing but I wondered how we would eat so many without going into clementine shock.  I scoured the web for Clementine marmalade recipes and most told me I had to let the sliced clementines soak overnight and well, I just didn't want to do that.  I wanted instant gratification so this is what I did.  See recipe and results below.

8 Clementines
2-3 additional Clementines for juicing
1/2 cup Clementine Juice
Organic Sugar

After a thorough wash, slice 8 clementines as thinly as possible(I didn't do so well), cover with cold water and bring to boil. Once it boils, turn it down to medium low and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and return Clementines to pot and repeat the above process 2 more times.  You are trying to remove the bitterness so that you will have marmalade that is edible.  After the final drain let it cool for about 5 minutes and then put the clementines in a food processor or blender and process but first, save the end pieces and cut them into nice thin slices(aka julienne)so you can have some "pretty" in your jars.  After processing weigh the clementine mix including the julienned pieces and then weigh the same amout of sugar and add to the pot along with a 1/2 cup of clementine juice. I had 1lb 1oz of Clementine so I added 1lb 1ozs of sugar. Mix it all together and turn on high heat.  Cook and stir occasionally until it reaches a temperature of 220 degrees.  Put hot mixture in your jars and if you don't want to store it in the fridge add it to a water bath for 10 minutes, let rest until cooled and store.  Or you can just pop  the jars in the refrigerator and enjoy!  Makes about 2.5 cups.

I just love the color!

After I made the marmalade I just had a little taste while it was still warm but got to really enjoy it today.  The half cup 'extra' I had I put into one of my Ball Freezer Jam containers and this will be my tester.  I heated up a soft pretzel roll, added a smear of butter and the marmalade, grabbed my cup of tea and ahhhhhh!!!  And did I mention that both of the little ones were asleep and the two older ones were at ballet class?  Let me say that again, ahhhhhhhh!  Now go in the kitchen, grab any citrus fruit and get your marmalade going.    

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day Two (2)...a little of this, too much of that

Let nothing go to waste!

I am far too excited about posting today.  Why? Because I came up with a really cool idea for using up the pulp from juicing as opposed to putting it in the trash or trying to bake with it.  Now, I am in no way a health food nut.  I love my fatty fried foods and baked goods but I try to strike a balance and with all this produce I am pushed in that direction.  Otherwise, I would just batter and fry all of this stuff and then I'll never get rid of this baby weight.  But I digress.  I knew that I needed to do something with the produce because like I said, I hate throwing out food. Not only is it wasteful but it's also like throwing money away.  Well, I decided that I would pull out the juicer and concoct a really yummy juice and boy am I glad I did.  I am pleased to report that it was very refreshing, sweet and I even got my super picky daughter to try it and she loved it!  As you can see from the pictures below, I used one large cucumber, 5 carrots, 1 tomato, 1 granny smith apple, a thumb sized piece of ginger, 5 clementines and about 2 cups of grapes(that were a bit too soft to eat).  I wondered if it would be overly 'carroty' or 'cucumbery' but no one flavor overpowered the juice and there was a nice hint of the ginger. 

I started off with the grapes and the grape juice alone was splendid. I just might make some grape jelly with the juice from the remaining grapes.  I then alternated between hard and soft fruits and veggies and ended with hard to get the softer stuff through.  The colors were beautiful before mixing it together and I was hoping it would take on that beautiful grape color, but it didn't.  Oh well!  After I had a glass of it, my daughter came into the kitchen (she needed some help with her math work) and when she saw the juice, she said "eeewww."  Now, I try to teach my children to never say that to people when they are eating or drinking something because it's rude she hadn't even tried it. I decided to make her drink some. I put about 2 sips worth in a cup and told her to have at it.  Well, to make a not so long story short, she loved it and asked for more!  This is a big deal with her because when it comes to fruits and veggies she is very limited with what she likes, and cucumbers, tomatoes and ginger are not on her list.  What a breakthrough!!

 It made about 6 cups of juice.  Love the colors.

 This is the color after mixing and now everyone wants a glass.

My super picky daughter Sydney!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day One (1)....A little of this, too much of that.

Let the 7 days of creative consumption begin...

After a hearty breakfast of oatmeal in my handy dandy , oh how I love to eat anything in a jar, jar; I found myself staring into the refrigerator feeling completely overwhelmed.  I was faced with a little of this and too much of that.  What I refer to as, "kata kata (kah-ta kah-ta) .  Almost a dozen containers of leftover rice, chili, carmelized onions, tomato paste, pasta salad, coconut creme and the list goes on.  What happened?  Didn't I just clean out my refrigerator less than two weeks ago?   Don't get me wrong, I am blessed to have this "problem" and I don't take for granted the abundance of food in my refrigerators (we have one in the garage for Costco stuff and holiday overflow). The problem is,  I don't like to waste food so I realized that I have to come up with serious concoctions so that nothing ends up in the trash bin.  In addition to that I have lots of fruits and veggies that I have to use up in ways others than eating them straight from the bowl.  In spite of having a family of 6, we couldn't eat them fast enough before they would start to go bad.  There are clementines, apples, melons, a pineapple, sweet potatoes, bananas and plums, cucumbers, name it, I got it!  My goal is to stay away from eating out this week and try to come up with creative and maybe not so creative ways to use the little and the lot.  Let's see what day one inspired!

I had one scoop of jam left in a container so I used that in my oatmeal. #1
Old Fashioned Oats with Dream Cream(mix of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and half and half), 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds and my homemade Strawberry Banana jam.

All mixed good and so filling!!

The 2nd creation, Green Sandwich Spread

Great to use in chicken salad or just to add a little zing to a sandwich
1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup of packed spinach
2 tbsps of cilantro
1/4 cup of greek yogurt
1/2 cup of mayo
2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Put mayo and greek yogurt in blender or food processor(I use a Ninja Blender). Add lemon juice, avocado, chopped jalapeno pepper, garlic, spinach, cilantro and salt and pepper.  Blend or process until smooth, taste and modify to your liking (I added more jalapeno because I like a little more kick).  Place in an airtight container and enjoy! You might even consider letting it sit for 24 hours to let the flavors develop.

Here's my open faced chicken salad sandwich made with green spread and some leftover rotisserie chicken from last night. #3
 Half Sour Pickle on the Side(from Russian market that I bought two weeks ago).

 Put some spread on a slice of toasted bread and top with romaine lettuce, the chicken salad and some sliced tomatoes.  I added a dash of salt and pepper and ate it with banana peppers. The peppers gave it a little extra kick because my jalapenos weren't that spicy.  And they were leftovers from a party yesterday.

 I had to use a fork and knife to eat this!

Some of the bounty of fruits and veggies

And to end the day, we have Mango and Unsticky Rice! #4
This was a great way to use up my leftover Jasmine Rice and and coconut cream.

Not the neatest presentation but it's late and I'm tired.
3 cups of leftover cooked rice
2/3 can of coconut creme
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp of vanilla sugar
Toasted sesame seeds
Half of a ripe mango

Warm coconut milk over medium heat and then add rice and stir.  Do not let cream come to a boil!  Add cinnamon stick and 3 Tbsp of sugar, stir.  Let simmer on low for about 8 minutes and stir occasionally to keep bottom from sticking.  Let sit on stove for 5 minutes or cool completely if you prefer it cold.  Scoop about 1 cup of the rice(or more) into a bowl, slice the mango and place on top of rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Have a seat and enjoy!!

That's all Folks. Goodnight.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Uncobb Salad Breakfast Crepe...yum!

Ahhh...Saturday Morning Breakfast Crepes  

Saturday mornings are always a relaxing time around the house for me. I generally lay in bed for a few hours with my coffee or tea and watch cooking and home shows.  My dear husband is a master chef when it comes to breakfast and his specialities are crepes and french toast made with fresh bakery bread purchased that morning.  Well, today was a crepe day!  I can't give out his recipe because it's top secret and even I don't have the exact measurements because he doesn't really use them.  I know the basic ingredients are AP flour, heavy whipping cream, milk, eggs, vanilla sugar and pure vanilla extract.  But just search the web for a crepe recipe and practice, practice, practice and you'll be an expert in no time.

Well, this morning I had a hankering for a few things and it started with bacon and bleu cheese.  It was one of those mornings that I opened the fridge and saw a little of this and a little of that and I kind of wanted it all so I set the wheels in motion and started to think about what I could create with what I had.  Knowing that I wanted bleu cheese and bacon, I decided to add tomato, spinach, avocado and eggs and that reminded me of a cobb salad.  So I decided I would call this the "Uncobb Salad Breakfast Crepe.'  I also made a cobb salad dressing with olive oil, S&P, sugar, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and bleu cheese. It was delicious but not on the crepe.  Fail!!  

Give it a try, I really enjoyed it and I was the envy of the rest of the family with their eggs and bacon on the side and their Nutella smeared crepes.  Commoners!  I look forward to more Saturdays being inspired by what's in my fridge and seeing how it works with my husband's yummy crepes and french toast.  Click on "read more" to get the recipe and see the luscious pics!. Bon Appetite!

In the beginning. Well, sort of...

My homemade version of the "Big Mac."

Coconut Pineapple Milkshake with a slice of Pineapple Upside Down Cake blended in!  Yum!
I decided that the first two pics on the blog should be of a burger and milkshake from my kitchen.  The Big Mac was inspired by the fact that they tasted so much better when I was kid and I was sure that I could make them better.  I hopped on the computer and googled the secret sauce recipe and the adventure began.  It was so delicious and this really opened my eyes to the fact that I could make many foods that I have enjoyed at restaurants at home and for a lot less money per serving.  Aside from that, it usually tastes a lot better.

The Milkshake was inspired from our annual beach vacation where we always frequent the ice cream shop on the boardwalk that mixes in a whole slice of pie or cake into the milkshake.  I had a tub of coconut pineapple ice cream, some milk and some leftover pineapple upside down cake and that is when the above milkshake was born.  It was so rich and decadent and will be certainly something I have at least once a year.  That isn't to say that I won't be experimenting with other flavors.

The "textbooks" side of this blog will include some homeschooling adventures and life on our 2 acre "ranch" and my pursuit of becoming the country farmer girl that I never was and never knew I wanted to be.  I have already begun canning and jamming and hope to start planting soon. 

I can't say that this blog will be perfectly organized and always grammatically perfect or even close to it (I focus enough on that during school hours) but I hope it will be interesting and real and warrant a few LOL's!  Was that a run on sentence?  See, I'm already worried that some grammar and writing super person is at home proofreading this and wagging their finger at me. Oh well, enjoy!