Tag Archives: homemade

The DIY Life: Arugula Pesto

22 Oct

So, um, wow. I haven’t blogged for over a month. Now that I’ve had this epiphany, I feel it’s a little ridiculous because I’ve been cooking my ass off making all this from scratch food. Lots of squash type dishes. Complete with photos. And yet, not a blog post to be found for over a month. Damn.

Well folks, don’t you worry your pretty little faces off anymore. I am back. I have recipes out the wazoo. But since it’s been so long, I wanted to start off simple. With a different twist of pesto sauce. Most of the time when you think of pesto, you think of basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Which is delicious and simple in its own right. BUT…what if you were to try a pesto made from peppery arugula, mixed with salty parmesan and nutty roasted almonds?!?!?!? Have I blown your mind yet?!?!?!? It’s a simple list of ingredients, and the only other tool you need to make this is a food processor. And like, 5 minutes. Really. I made a bunch of this and froze it into cubes so that I could use it on pizzas, in sauces, or as a cooking medium for chicken. It’s pretty versatile. And tastes wonderful. For reals.

2013-09-07 12.07.28 2013-09-07 12.08.22

Arugula Pesto

7oz bag of arugula

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2oz toasted almond slivers * see notes below on how to toast

Add your arugula, cheese, almonds and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to add the arugula in batches (I did). Once all of the arugula has been processed, turn the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Use immediately on whatever tickles your fancy, or freeze for later use.

Spoon into ice cube trays and let freeze until solid. To remove cubes. set the ice cube tray in a shallow dish of hot water to loosen up the pesto cubes. Place in a freezer safe bag or container and use as you need to!

Notes:

To toast almonds, put in a dry skillet that has been preheated over a medium flame. Toss around until they start to brown. Let cool completely before adding to food processor.

The DIY Life: Canning your own fresh made pasta sauce – Tomato Basil

13 Sep

I realized when looking into my freezer, stuffed to the gills with bags of frozen garden tomatoes, that I had never posted the recipe for Tomato Basil sauce last year. Then I looked at my drafts and confirmed it. And I’m thinking, hmmm….we are coming up on the end of tomato season here in Pa, with the last bushels available for purchase at the local farms thinning out and thought ya, I should probably post that recipe. You know, as a reminder to folks who want to can some sauce to get their hands on some tomatoes…and those who have tomatoes get canning! Below is my original, forgotten about post from Tomatopalooza of 2012. Tomatopalooza of 2013 hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know what my sauce yield will be. I still have some sauce on the shelf, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get on canning sauce. Plus, I’m waiting for hubs to hook me up with an outdoor propane stove so I can can on the deck under the the open sky. *hint hint hubs*

Enjoy the post from the past!

 

Tomatopalooza continued – this round consisted of a basic pasta sauce with simple flavorings so that it can be canned and stored for later use. With the surplus of tomatoes I have in the freezers, I needed to get a head start on making pasta sauce. We don’t eat TONS of pasta anymore because of the heaviness of it and the fact that it packs on pounds unless you are planning to run a marathon – so pasta becomes a special treat instead of a weekly meal. But I wanted to stop having to buy canned pasta sauce. I have become a huge fan of being able to look at a the jars on my shelf and be able to recite – and pronounce – all of the ingredients, regardless of the jar. And gifting someone a jar of something I made from scratch is so fulfilling. People are so appreciative of something, anything in a mason jar. And canning makes me feel proud and empowered. In control of my food source. It also makes me feel in touch with my family history because my Bubba was the canning icon in our family. Sadly, she passed away when I was only 7 so she never got to share her wisdom with me but I can feel her in the things I do.

This batch of sauce was something I spread out over 2 days. Since all my tomatoes were frozen, I thawed them in a HUGE pot over the next two nights, draining off any of the water that seeped out of the tomatoes (this made the cooking down process much faster!) and piling more in as the tomatoes settled and squished down. Out of roughly 40lbs of tomatoes, I ended up with 8 quarts + 6 pints of sauce. It wasn’t super thick like some of the commercially produced sauces but it was a nice consistency. We had some for dinner and with it being just a basic tomato sauce I added spinach, ricotta cheese, some salt and some cooked sausage. It was great!

I have linked to the original post on the Ball canning site for those of you wanting to not do such a huge batch of sauce. Me, I can’t help but do everything in bulk!

Basil Garlic Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Ball Canning

Yield: will vary depending on how long you cook the tomatoes and what type you use. 

2012 yield: 8 quarts 6 pints

40lbs frozen tomatoes – preferably Roma’s

2 cups chopped Vidalia onion

16 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – ½ cup dried basil

Citric acid or bottled lemon juice – refer to canning book for amounts based on jar size

Canning jars, lids and bands – sterilized and hot according to proper canning methods.

The day before cooking sauce, thaw your tomatoes in the pot you will be cooking them in. Drain off any “water” that seeps out of the tomatoes. Add your onion, garlic and basil to the pot. Use a potato masher to break up the frozen tomatoes. Cook until everything is boiling and onion is soft.

Strain the mixture through a food mill to remove seeds and skins. (At this point, you may put the strained sauce into the fridge and cook down another day)

Cook the strained mixture down until reduced by half for a thin sauce.

Add your citric acid/bottled lemon juice to each jar according to size. Fill with sauce to 1 inch headspace. Add to PRESSURE CANNER and process for 15 minutes for both pints and quarts at 11lbs of pressure, adjusting for your altitude.

No pressure canner, or you’re scared of it? You can process jars in a water bath canner as well: 35 minutes for pints

Let cool on counter for 24 hours. Remove bands and wipe down jars and store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. Any jars that did not seal can either be reprocessed or stored in the fridge for use.

***Follow all canner directions for both pressure and water bath***

Use up that jam! Easy Homemade Jam Ice Cream.

30 Aug

I have to say, for a little bit there I was on a strawberry jam kick. It was easy to whip up and can a batch of it and be able to enjoy that one batch the whole year. But then I got chickens, which means I have lots of eggs. Which means my most favorite way to enjoy those eggs is over medium. What does that mean for my jam? It means it doesn’t get to make its debut on a buttery english muffin quite as often since strawberry jam coated english muffins do not go well being dipped into egg yolks. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not my thing. So my strawberry jam has been collecting a little dust, going unloved on the canning shelf.

Then Northwest Edible Life throws me a recipe that is simple to whip up and use some of that jam! This ice cream recipe is so simple to use. No cooking a custard base, no cooling. Just your ice cream maker and 4 ingredients and you’ll have a batch of homemade ice cream with homemade jam for sweetness and flavor. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it!

It’s a great way to use up some surplus jam. Don’t have any homemade jam? You could give it a try with store bought. Not quite as good in my opinion, but it will still be quick and taste amazing. After tasting this easy ice cream, I plan on making a large batch of jam – strawberry and apple pie – so that I have it on hand for a quick batch of this ice cream! And to smear on homemade bread and english muffins of course.

strawberry jam ice cream

Homemade Jam Ice Cream

Adapted from Northwest Edible Life

1 cup cold milk – I used 2%

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

1 pint jar jam of your choice – I used strawberry

Put all your ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine using an immersion blender. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker, following the manufacturers directions.

Since this will be a soft set, I like to place it in a freezer safe container and firm up overnight. The lovely thing about this recipe? It doesn’t get rock hard. My ice cream scoop easily cuts through it and I serve it up with a little chocolate sauce for dessert. It’s rich, so one or two scoops will satisfy.

A healthy dessert alternative – Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

19 Aug

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I love me some coconut. And not just food, coconut everything. Coconut oil, candy, body wash, body spray, shampoo, soap, candles, beverages. You name it. I haven’t met something with coconut anywhere in the description that I didn’t like. Seriously. As many of you have picked up, I am working to lead a healthier lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat well or live a good life. I still enjoy food, and the whole act of eating. I just choose to make better choices. Organic as often as I can, growing and preserving as much food as possible, and doing much of my cooking from scratch. I have cut back on my beer consumption since that and too large portions are what contributed to my weight gain (fall beers are starting to arrive though, so I’ll have to be strong!!!) I don’t follow any particular diet or eating fad. I’m not gluten free, paleo or vegan. I like meat. I like dairy. I like bread. I don’t stop myself from eating the things that I like, I just limit myself to how much I’m eating. I’ve stopped boredom snacking. When I have a craving for something that may not be the healthiest food choice, I wait a few days. If I still have the craving, I indulge in a small bit of whatever it is I have a hankering for. Like a slice of pie, or a piece of cake. If the craving goes away, it was just a random craving. I certainly don’t exercise as often as I should. My days have been pretty busy as of late with cleaning, gardening, and taking care of my 10lb back surgery dog. So I’m not sitting around. I have actually lost 10lbs of the 30 that I want to lose, and that is mostly with diet changes. It’s amazing how great it feels when a pair of pants that had previously not fit FIT. Like you can button them up and not struggle to breathe. There is no muffin top or unsightly bulge. It’s a total victory. I’m not FAT, but I’m certainly not at my healthiest weight. So this lifestyle change is working, and I can see results. Therefore I choose to continue making healthy food choices. BUT…that doesn’t mean this girl doesn’t want something sweet from time to time. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have it be a healthy sweet treat. Enter in the Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites – aka Coconut Klondike. Coconut is a healthy fat to ingest. Coconut oil has so many benefits I won’t even go into listing them all here. Dark chocolate is also beneficial. One of these little Coconut Bites satisfies a craving without blowing your daily progress and on a hot day, the frozen texture of them helps give you a mini cool down. I love that they are a 2 bite treat (on if you are a man and toss the whole thing in your mouth), there are no added sugars, no processing, no ingredients that can’t be pronounced or identified. They are actually a HEALTHY treat!!!  Go figure!

Your yield for these can vary depending on how much you fill up those muffin liners. I got 30, but know I could have gotten less if I would have packed in the coconut. I also chose to add in some more of the shredded coconut – probably 1/4 cup more so I got a larger yield. The original recipe called for making these in the standard size muffin papers but I chose to do mini so having 2 would feel like a real indulgence.

If you like coconut, are trying to be healthy, or both definitely give these a try. I’m so glad I did!

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Yield 20-30

Adapted from PaleOMG

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup coconut butter

½ cup organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of your food processor, add all of your ingredients with the exception of the dark chocolate chips. Blend it until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and you have a silky texture with bites of coconut.

Line your mini muffin pan with paper liners, adding a scoop of coconut mixture smashing down the mix with the back of a spoon to level it. You will fill your liners ¾ of the way full, leaving room for chocolate.

After filling all of your muffin cups, melt your chocolate chips. To melt, I used a double boiler, but you can also use the microwave if you want to do it quicker.

Top each coconut cup with melted chocolate until tops are completely covered.

When done, place muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes until coconut cups are set and firm. Remove from freezer, transfer to an air tight container and store in freezer.

When you want to eat one, remove it from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the coconut and chocolate soften a little.

Don’t turn on the oven – easy Crock Pot Roast Chicken

8 Aug

Hi there. Remember me? I sure hope so, otherwise this post is going to fall on deaf mailboxes and feeds! I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I’ve had good reason. Our little mini Dachshund had some major surgery on his back, and I’ve been playing momma nurse to him. The good news is that he’s recovering really well, and starting to walk again. It’s a pretty wonky walk, and he flops down more often than not, but it’s a walk, and it’s going to get better as time goes on.

The bad news is that the rest of the world kept going on while I was playing momma nurse. Laundry, cooking, groceries, bills, work. They are all pretty rude considering they did not cease to exist until I was able to manage them again. The nerve. But, I’m BACK. Blessing you all with a weekly (maybe every other week) post of cooking, crafting or domestic bliss.

Today, it’s all about chicken. No, none of my chickens were sacrificed to make this lovely, filling and delicious concoction. But I’m sure they could smell it. And had they been given some of it, they would have gobbled it down like the little cannibals they are. Here is good old Pennsylvania, we had a week or two of fall like weather. Cool crisp nights, cool days. It was nice having the windows open, and the AC turned off. But alas, it is August, and summer is back with the 85 degree temps and ridiculous humidity. What does that mean? It means I’m pretty reluctant to turn on the oven for any extended period of time since it makes the AC run more often, which raises my electric bill, which taps into my food/fun/vet bill money. But a girl still wants a hearty meal of roast chicken every now and again. And wants it to be an easy meal. Something that cooks slowly while I’m at work. And the crock pot roast chicken was born.

This “recipe” if you can even call it that is a fairly simple one. I guess it’s more of a method. And it’ll get you to dust off your crock pot, and be almost done with dinner. I promise you won’t even break a sweat making this chicken. For real. It doesn’t have the crisp skin like you get from oven roasted chicken, but it’s tender and literally falls apart when you go to plate it. You don’t need to add any additional liquid since cooking it in the crock pot does a sort of self basting, and you can use the juices left in the pot to make a homemade gravy.

 

roast chicken sliced

Crock Pot Roast Chicken Method

Ingredients/tools:

1 whole chicken, 6-7lbs

1 lemon

Seasoning of your choice – I use Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb

Crock pot, preferably one with a timer function. Otherwise you’ll need to be around to turn it to warm at the end mark.

Start by removing the giblets if you have any. Hubs likes them, so they get tossed into the bottom of the crock pot. Rinse your chicken off and pat dry with some paper towels. Place the chicken in your crock pot, breast side up. Next, slice your lemon in half and squeeze both halves over your hand held over the chicken to catch any seeds. Toss the seeds, then stuff the juiced lemon halves into the chicken cavity. Sprinkle chicken liberally with seasoning of your choice, put the lid on your crock pot, and set it to cook on high for 6-7 hours (my rule is add 1 hour for each pound over 5lbs). After the 6 hours, remove your chicken from the crock pot and serve!

Since the crock pot doesn’t allow for crisp skin, and you may be into that – you can put the chicken in an oven safe dish and crisp up the skin under the broiler for roughly 5 minutes.

roast chicken whole

The DIY Life: Healing Salve

19 Jun

Every so often I make something from scratch and think, hmmm….I MAY need an intervention. And then I take a moment to gather my thoughts and realize, nope, I’m good. Making this healing salve was one of those ohmygoshwhatthehellamidoing!!! moments. BUT – why aren’t MORE people doing stuff like this? I mean, it was simple enough. And people were making their own medicines and salves long before traditional medicine came into play. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad we have hospitals that can heal us, where they perform surgery under sedation, not where they give you a bottle of booze, then cut at you until you pass out like back in the day. Whew. But still. There is something to be said for the healing powers of natural things. Things found in nature, not created in a lab. Enter in this healing salve. It’s simple enough to make, with quality ingredients easily found on the world wide web (see below for links to small businesses I purchase from). This salve is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, moistening, and soothing. And, it’s all natural. The ingredients are simple – coconut oil, olive oil, dried comfrey, dried calendula, beeswax, honey, and lavender oil. That is it.

This took me about 30 minutes total – with roughly 10 of that hands on. EASY. Mine turned out slightly darker than MrsHappyHomemakers, I’m guessing because my olive oil was a lot greener than hers. I had some baby food jars that I had originally set aside for another craft but decided to use them to store this salve. The recipe was enough for 2 jars. I’m looking forward to seeing what it does in the long term for any wounds. I put some on a cut that was already healing and it felt nice on my skin and softened the rough edges of it. After I finish are jar I’ll decide whether to make another batch!

homemade neo

Click HERE for the recipe, as well as details on what each of the ingredients does!

I purchased my herbs and lavender oil from Ancient Indigo Herbs. Get your own here. Fast shipping, and quality products.

Beeswax purchased from Mill Creak Honey. Get your own here. Fast shipping of an unfiltered great quality beeswax. I purchased one pound just to have it around for future recipes!

The DIY Life: Homemade Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer

14 Jun

I’m slacking lately on the posts. Between the garden, weekend obligations, and a ginormous amount of work, ain’t nobody got time for blogging. But before my anniversary camping trip, I decided to grace you all with an easy to do from scratch post.

The hubs and I love to have a morning cup of coffee, english breakfast tea or chai tea. Something about a warm beverage jest feels like it helps to slowly melt away your sleepiness and get you ready for the day! That being said, when you have two people drinking a cup of coffee on average 5 days per week, you can really go through creamer. I admit that I have been purchasing the Sweet Cream varieties in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. 😦 I decided to stop that since only one or two options contain actual dairy ingredients, and all contain additives that aren’t found in homemade versions. This is so simple to make that I can’t believe I was spending $3.50 weekly when I could spend that same amount for enough creamer to last us at least 2 weeks and not be full of artificial ingredients!

This recipe isn’t exact in taste as the store-bought, but that is because I don’t have any chemical taste enhancers. The next batch I make I think I’ll add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to boost the flavor profile.

sweet cream coffee creamer

Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer

1 14oz can organic sweetened condensed milk

3 12oz cans organic evaporated milk (not fat-free or low-fat)

Add all of your cans to a medium saucepan and heat of low heat for roughly 5 minutes, until the milks have combined. Let cool and place inside a container that you can easily pour from. Store in the fridge and use to sweeten your coffee and tea!