Monday, July 29, 2013

Bountiful Baskets Bonanza

Have I mentioned I am addicted to Bountiful Baskets? Oh, yes, I believe I made mention of that. I was a good girl this week, and didn't order too much.
Photo: Bountiful Baskets haul - $63.50 in all. I see freezer slaw...and guacamole...and jellies...and pickles...
Just three regular baskets and two Mexican veggie add-ons. All the food you see above for $63.50. Of course, my reverse buyer's remorse, I wish I had at least ordered the assorted bread pack as time! 
I was absolutely thrilled with how fresh everthing was. Usually there is something I need to rush to cook/can/freeze, but this time I was able to take my time and google different varieties of recipes (all of which I then ignored, and made up my own.) Day One's accomplishments:
Grape Wine Jelly
The grapes had a good flavor, but were seeded, so I decided to try jelly.
Grab your grapes,
mash 'em in a pot,

add the wine that has been sitting in the fridge,

cook and smush,

then add a cup or so of sugar, and bring to a boil.
Strain all the good stuff out,

add some pectin (about 6T for 8 cups of liquid), and boil again for a minute. Can in a hot water bath.

Freezer Slaw
(Grandma's Famous Recipe)
There are infinite possibilities for a slaw base. I started by shredding the cabbage that was in the basket,

the last of the green onions from a couple weeks ago,

this week's celery,

and the carrots,

then stirred in some kosher salt and let it sit for a couple hours while I did other things.

Then I mixed
3 cups cider vinegar,
3/4 cup water,
6 cups sugar,
3 tsp celery salt,
3 tsp mustard seed
and brought to a boil.

Dump it on the slaw mix, and stir it into a soupy mess.

It will instantly shrink down to about half of what you thought you had! Let it sit again if you have time, or go directly into bagging it for the freezer. The longer you leave it, the better it tastes.
Bread and Butter Pickles
I like cucumbers as-is, but with so many other fresh veggies around to nibble on, I decided to try making pickles for the first time. I discovered they are really pretty simple:
slice them up with some onion, sprinkle with kosher salt, and let sit for a few hours (I love recipes I can start and then leave while I start another!)

Have you noticed I usually do extreme close-up shots of food? That's because my kitchen is tiny and crowded, and I don't have beautiful counter space with floral arrangements behind them, like The Pioneer Woman. Plus, my kitchen is usually a mess.
When you are ready to get back to the pickles, mix:
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp turmeric
and bring to a boil.
While that is going, pack your jars with the cucumber and onion slices. Add 1/2 tsp coriander or celery seeds (I used celery) and 1 tsp mustard seed to each jar.
Pour hot vinegar solution into each jar. Run out because you didn't get the proportions right (4 large cucumbers was too many for the above measurements!) Realize that was the last of your turmeric. Add turmeric to the growing shopping list, put the unfinished jars in the refrigerator, and process the rest in a hot water bath.
Honeyed Lemon Slices
I did this with orange slices earlier, and have been putting one in my tea every morning. Can't wait for cider weather!
Just slice up your lemons,

and put them in a pot with some honey, sugar, cnnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole allspice (unless your local Walmart doesn't even CARRY it any more, then you can use ground), and add enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil,

then simmer gently until most of the water is gone.
At this point, they look kind of gross, but it's all good. Pack them into a jar, then add a cup or so of water back into the pan. Simmer and stir until everything is dissolvd again. Pour over the lemon slices, and process in a hot water bath. They should look prettier when done, and will taste good either way!
At some point, here, I realized Daddy couldn't really take any of these on his 3-day trip, so I threw some cookies in the oven. A while ago I made batter for several different kinds, then rolled it into balls and froze it in mixed bags.

This way I can make just a dozen or so at at time, and still have a variety. Daddy likes the peanut butter, I like oatmeal raisin, and the kids are happy with M&M!
Tomatillo Salsa
I mostly used this recipe from, but I made a few changes. I had never cooked with tomatillos before, and was very happy with the end result. 

I used jalapenos instead of serrano chilis, and added a few tablespoons of sugar. That gave it a little bit of a bite, but not too much for the gringa from Ohio:) I have been in NM long enough to learn the trick of adding sugar so it doesn't melt your tongue off!
And, this is what the table looked like by the time I stopped.
Do you see how HUGE those avocados are?! I am planning to make guacamole with those, the limes, onions, garlic, and jalapenos, but they aren't ripe. I have plans for all the others, which will hopefully appear in a Day 2 post. I feel good having made a dent in the pile, though! Hope everyone else is enjoying their baskets!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Leftover Pasta Mess

It has been a loooooooooooooooooong time since I have posted any recipes. It is certainly not that I haven't been cooking - I have been freezing and canning up a storm. Mostly I have been stealing other people's recipes, though (this site is my latest addiction!).  
Today, however, I am trying to clean out the refrigerator so I can fit some of my Bountiful Basket haul in it tomorrow, so I experimented - and I think it turned out pretty well! Or, maybe it's just that baby-to-be is finally letting me EAT again, so everything tastes fantastic!
I had two packs of grape tomatoes that never made it into a salad. I rolled them around in some olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper,
yeesh, when did my oven get so dirty?
And roasted them at 350 until they burst:

Then I chopped some green onions that had seen better days:
And the garlic that has been sitting there:
And sauteed them in butter for a bit.

Started to chop up some zucchini, and realized
a) it was cucumber, and
b) it was slimy.
Onto the compost heap.
What else is taking up space?
A handful of olives:

This may be a mistake, but we can blame the pregnancy thing.
Four small carrots - where were those hiding when I was pickling carrots last week?


(with the peeler, because I am not cleaning out the whole food processor for four carrots.)
Throw it all together...hmm...well, it's colorful.

Cook up some pasta (no pictures. You know how to cook and drain pasta.) Unless you clicked on this post because you thought it would tell you what to do with your leftover pasta, in which case - use that! 
And add the tomato mess.

Give it a stir, and a tentative taste...

Hey, that's actually good! I mean, of course it's good. I knew it would be. Maybe a small can of tomato sauce, though.

Perfect! Now, at some point, Daddy called to remind me this is a "Party at the B.'s" night (I don't know how I could forget, with S. bugging me about it all day.) No problem - more food never goes amiss there. Stick it in a casserole dish, sprinkle some Parmesan on top,

and pretend you had planned to bring this all along! See you around 6:00, T. and crew!

Monday, July 22, 2013

K is for...

I know, we've missed a couple letters on the blog. We didn't do a whole lot with the last few, although we did learn about them. Just too busy! This week we are on the letter "k", and while it's every bit as busy, I did at least get a couple pictures.
Besides being busy, it has also been a bit wet this week:

good thing I have all those hoses, so I can water the garden later.

so we did some very passive "K" activities. "K" is for "Kiss", so we watched the movie "Enchanted".

Remember, kissing causes you to be attacked by giant dragon creatures and thrown from tall buildings!
We are replacing the flooring in the living room, which gave us a one-time canvas to practice our letters:

This activity ended when S. pulled a Robert Munsch, and painted her toes. And her fingers. So, I K-is-for-Kicked them all outside.
Um...K is for...Kitten. And there's a Kitten in this picture. Supervising the children as they learn the words to that epic tale of Mr. Leroy Brown.
Yep, that's pretty much all we've got this week. Looking forward to "L is for Lunacy"!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Baby - Sniff!

In honor of my baby turning TWO today, I bring you his favorite bedtime song (and yes, this is how we sing it):

Twinkle, twinkle, Little Turd,

Such a butt you are, I've heard.

Dimples, curls, and impish grin,

Photo: We're good on pants, but those darn sleeves still give us a bit of trouble.
Mommy knows she just can't win.
Twinkle, twinkle, Little Turd,
Such a butt you are, I've heard.

Photo: Thursday night party time with the kiddos. But is it bad I have to remind Logan not to run with a knife in his hand?