Archive for October, 2011

Freesia’s and Day Lilies are sprouting. Neither had come up this summer as I had expected, but first true cooler weather and rain burst brought them to life.

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This weekend I was blessed with a pleasant surprise of a bag of pomegranates.  If you never had pomegranates before you are truly missing out. Cleaning them however…left my kitchen looking like a brutal murder scene.

Some of the seeds (or aril for correct term), I placed in muffin tins with a little water and froze for eating later or using in salads.  The rest I turned into jelly.

Making pomegranate jelly is just like all other jelly making.  I put all the seeds in a pot with a little water and let simmer to soften.  When softened I run them through a blender to separate the “seed” from the juices.  Pour the broken down mixture through a fine screen colander or cheese cloth.  Use a spoon or hand to make room for drainage as you will have a LOT of seeds.  After separating the liquid from rest it’s just a matter of using the recipe that comes with your pectin box.  My personal favorite is to add 1 tbsp lemon juice per batch and use low sugar pectin.

This makes a wonderful and tasty seasonal gift to give for the holidays.

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I decided it was time to propagate my blue hydrangea bush again.  I’ve had little luck in past with it holding the blue coloration, usually turning pink with the soil.  The drought didn’t help, and I was certain I would not be able to keep these cuttings alive long enough to see blooms.  Normally I would have put them directly in ground, but really wanting to avoid scorched and brown foliage I opted for trying planters instead.

The hydrangea’s shocked me and not only survived, but bloomed in the most beautiful blue hue.  I’ve not had them bloom in October before but I am so glad they did. What a fitting farewell to Summer. Now….just to keep them alive in the frosts of winter.

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Pumpkin pie, oh I love you.  Yet, I am one of those who will scrape the filling out of the crust and leave the crust behind.  It’s not that I don’t like pie crust, I eat it in all other types of pies, but pumpkin pie it’s the filling that I crave. My children have developed this eat filling-leave crust preference as well so I was overjoyed when I learned I could make pumpkin pie without needing to make a pie crust at all.  Not a bite goes to waste and every fork full is a delight of rich, creamy, golden decadence.

Crust-less Pumpkin Pie

1 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh..not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 cup sugar

1 can evaporated milk

1 tbsp butter melted

1/2 cup bisquick mix (or homemade bisquick mix)

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

Mix all together and pour into greased pie pan (or square cake pan because you can’t find pie pans until after you already have it made).

Bake 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

*If you want to make small individual pies, pour into greased muffin tins and bake 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.*

To make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground allspice

Mix and store in airtight container.

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Long, steaming, fragrant, luxurious baths is there really anything better to wash the stress away?  I admit, it’s rare I get opportunity for such luxuries.  For the last ten years the majority of my baths involve quick in and out jumps in the shower, a child at the door that suddenly has to “go now!’, or is laying outside prone against the floor asking over and over what I’m doing. This is if I’m lucky, the youngest one is also sly enough to recognize if I’m in the tub, I can’t catch her getting into the “forbidden” stuff in the pantry.

Yet, on the rare occasions I do get to treat myself to a truly relaxing bath time I have a few tricks up my sleeve to save money on expensive bathing spoilers. Sugar scrub is one of these such items. I love the feeling the exfoliating scrub leaves on my skin and the softness to it from the oil.

To make you own is very simple and requires four to five ingredients.  They are:

MYO Sugar Scrub

1/4 cup demerara cane sugar (Course sugar)

1/4 cup white sugar (fine sugar)

3 tbsp liquid oil (Olive or aloe vera work best)

1/4-1/2 tsp fragrance oil  (Mix and match scents if you desire to create Lavender/Camomile, Vanilla/Verbena, Lavender/Vanilla, Gingerbread Cookie.)

Put all items together in a bowl and stir with spoon. If you find the sugar to dry, add a few drops more oil and stir until desired consistency.

You can also add other ingredients, such as epsom salts for reliving aches, crushed herbs or flower pedals.

Now…go make yourself some sugar scrub and enjoy a relaxing soak.

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It’s fall festival time and with them come caramel apples.  All year long I look forward to this time of year, the sour tang of the apples mingling with the sweet butter of the caramel…treat of the gods, I swear.

I’ve lost count of how many of these delicious beauties on a stick I’ve made through the years but one thing has always reigned true. I have no luck with pre-wrapped store bought caramels.  Perhaps others do, but for me it always slides down the apple to become a sticky pile at the bottom.  To remedy this I have taken to making my own caramel.

To make your own caramel is amazingly simple, even more so if you have a candy thermometer.

Homemade Caramel Recipe

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp vanilla

In heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and condensed milk; bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 248 degrees, this is what is known as firm ball stage.  If you do not have a thermometer, take a glass of ice cold water and drip hot caramel into water. If it forms a stiff ball as it sinks it is ready.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

I do not suggest doubling this recipe, if you need more, make a second batch.

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I went to pull the melted chocolate out of the microwave to drizzle over some caramel apples when I noticed it wasn’t in the microwave, but rather sitting on the island in the kitchen and looked to be a lot less then I had melted to begin with.  Now..I was sure I hadn’t removed it, and sure I had used a whole package of chips to melt..but perhaps feeling brain dead today I was mistaken? This puzzled me, until the proof walked out of the bathroom she was trying to destroy the evidence in.  Even being caught, she still denied she had sampled any of it.

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There have been fall festivals, craft shows, bake sales, costumes to make and walk-a-thons to participate in.  There is gardens to work, herb seeds to start, fruits to pick and food to preserve.  There are Fall craft projects to finish and Christmas gifts and crafts to begin. To say it’s a busy time of year is an understatement.

With the cooler fall air moving into the crisp chill of winter, casseroles are a large staple food to warm not only the body but the soul as well.  Casseroles are wonderful for not only their simplicity to set a nutritious meal on table in hurry, but also to use up leftovers without waste.  Added to their benefits, they can be made in large amounts and frozen for those times you are time pressed.

This dish is very easy to make for your family, or in larger quantity for social events. Make up several and put some in freezer, then you have a quick meal ready for when unexpected holiday company shows, or that last minute “bring dish to pass” event.

Cheesy-Chicken Casserole

2 cups shredded left over chicken

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 can (or 1 cup) garden peas

1 cups milk

1 cup water

2 cups wide egg noodles

1 tbsp corn starch

1 cup sour cream

1 sm. can mushrooms (or 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced)

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup corn flake style cereal (beaten to crumbs with hammer or rolling pin)

Place chicken in large fry pan on stove place your milk, water and corn starch. Mix well.  Add your egg noodles and cook until beginning to boil. Reduce heat to low and add your chicken, peas, mushrooms, sour cream, and spices.  Cook until noodles are near done.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Transfer into a casserole dish and sprinkle top with corn flake crumbs.  Put in oven at 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve.

**You can skip the oven step and make it a skillet style meal. I prefer to do the oven step as I like the crispness it gives to the top of the casserole.**

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I Am NOT A Plumber!

My “problems”…1) Plumbing sticking out of the precut hole in wall…shower is still not attached to anything, because no where for shower to connect to.  2) Faucet is left hanging…to attach handles, back piece “bar” had to be removed and came with no face plate or connection to secure faucet head.

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My evening was spent making these wonderful butterscotch pies.  I am a huge butterscotch fan and while I know it can be eaten anytime of year, to me it is a very fall flavored treat.  Make one for yourself during the fall holidays,you are in for such a delicious treat.

Butterscotch Dream Pie.

1 pre-made graham cracker crumb pie shell

1 small package instant butterscotch pie filling.

1 small tub cool whip.

Make your pudding as directed on package (2 cups milk + package and beat well until thickened).

Fold in cool whip.

Place all in your pie crust and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.

*Decorate with drizzles of butterscotch icecream topping, chocolate or additional cool whip if desired*

Here is a recipe for MYO Instant Butterscotch Pie Filling.

2 cups non-fat dry milk

5 cups brown sugar (packed)

3 cups corn starch

1 tsp salt (optional)

Mix and store in airtight container. Use 1/2 cup mix to 2 cups milk.  Heat and stir constantly until thickened.  Cool and serve.



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