Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy Breakfast/ Chocolate Milk

100 posts! Imagine that..the big One Hundred. All in about one year. That makes me smile! And so does this recipe I'm about to share. What child doesn't love chocolate milk? My kids would have that be their dairy choice for life if I let them. But, instead, I limit the "treats" to on occasion or else it isn't special anymore! Of course we don't like to use refined sugar if at all possible (which it's quite possible to not!) so as with most everything, I sub sugar for honey. Some people don't like the taste of honey, but thankfully my kiddos are still young and getting "used" to things, so honey is something they are so down with! Aerro loudly proclaimed his chocolate milk is as good as rotten blueberries this morning. That's supposed to be a good thing....I think...! This paired with their fav breakfast of toast, cheese, and apples, it's a quick make and a healthy fare! Not bad at all...

(Warm) Chocolate Milk (for three people)

3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons or more of hot, hot water
2 (+) tablespoons of honey or sugar depending on how sweet you like it..
2-3 cups milk depending on how "rich" you like it

Start by mixing the cocoa with the water until it's all wet. You'll notice it super powdery and "poofy" until you stir it more...then it becomes wet like a runny mud. Cool visual, right? Continue to stir until you're certain it's all combined. Then add the honey. Stir well to combine. Heat milk until warm. Add chocolate to milk and serve! You can also cool it in the fridge for cold chocolate milk, but my kids like it warmed. Add more milk if you like the chocolate taste to be less strong....


Friday, September 9, 2011

Honeyed Pear Crisp

I have jars and jars of canned pears just waiting to be used, so instead of my usual apple crisp/pie I decided to mix it up a little bit with pears. Now, my cooking time is quite low beings the pears were already "done", so I can only guess how long to cook it using fresh pears. All that aside, this was such a favorite I'm making it for the third time this week =) 

Honeyed Pear Crisp
(for an 8x8 pan)

2 quart jars pears (or around 6 cups)
Honey for drizzle
2 cups pretzels
1/3 cup butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar or succanat

Start buy cutting pears into thin slivers. Put pears in a frying pan and drizzle with honey...probably about 2-3 tablespoons worth. Heat on medium for 5-7 minutes. This really helps get the honey into the pears. If using fresh pears, I would cook them with a little bit of water until the pears get at least a little bit soft. Transfer pears to an 8x8 pan. In a food processor or blender, pulse the pretzels, butter/coconut oil, and sugar. You could do this by hand with a pastry blender like I did the first time but really, it was worth adding another dish to my sink to use the processor. Pretzels are hard, dude! Evenly sprinkle crumble on top of pears. Bake on 350 for 20 minutes if using canned pears or around 35 or so if using fresh pears. You'll have to test partway through for done-ness as I really don't know exactly how long to bake using raw pears.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three Cheese Rotini

End of summer and I'm quite tired of hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled meats. I'm ready for fall and "comfort foods"! So, despite the balmy 91 degrees, I decided tonight was pasta night. This is a weeee bit spicy so if you're not all into that, decrease the pepperjack and up the sharp cheddar. Whatever you do, don't boil the cheese mixture. You will regret it. I sure did the first time I let a cheese sauce bubble over! 

2 boxes of rotini noodles
1 lb pepper jack cheese, cubed small
1 lb sharp cheddar, cubed small
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 cups sour cream 
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Using large saucepan, melt on medium heat the cheese, sour cream, butter, and milk. I use a flat bottom whisk to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently until everything is melted. Whisk in salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directions on box state. Drain and pour into large greased oven-safe pot or casserole dish. Stir cheese sauce into pasta. Sprinkle with additional parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs if desired. Cook on 350 for 15-20 minutes, uncovered. Let sit a few minutes before serving.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Canned Potatoes

Usually when I say I've canned potatoes people give me a really weird look. But, see, they don't know what I know now! Last year Sonja and I had the grand idea of experimenting with canning potatoes. we didn't invent the idea..just decided to try it out. So we labored over the pressure canner and made two batches hoping and praying they worked. Yeah, well, they did and I had very few things on my list this year to can and these were on top. I used them for everything. Any kind of chowder, soup, or stew calling for potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Skillet potatoes. Baked potato "fries". They were so incredibly perfect! S and I were super excited. And that's why, from now on, I envision myself canning potatoes every season. Especially when the garden yielded over 800lbs of them this year. Oh, and no, I'm not canning all 800 =) Just maybe 150 or 200. 

Nice and dirty =) 14lbs potatoes should fill 7 quart jars.

My kitchen happens to be very old-school and lacking a dishwasher. To sterilize my jars I wash and rinse them super good and "bake" them on 220 for 20 minutes. Sterile jars!

The instructions are pretty basic.
Scrub potatoes. I don't peel mine.
Cube into 1 or 2 inch cubes throwing away any green bits, eyes, or worm holes, obviously.
Bring a large pot to a rolling boil.
Dump potatoes in pot, return to boil, and wait 2 minutes. This is called blanching them.
Remove from pot with slotted spoon.
Stuff sterilized jars to a 1 inch heads pace.
Add 1/2 tsp salt (for quart jars)
Fill to 1 inch head space with hot water.
Clean rims.
Add lids (that have been heated thoroughly) and rings.
Process in a pressure canner at 10-12lbs pressure for 40 mins.

 Tis all, my friends! One day of work for a whole year's worth of potatoes. This makes my heart sing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Mom's Salsa

It truly is no secret that my mom makes the best salsa. Anybody who eats it wants the recipe and it's something to put on the TO DO list for the year. Can lots and lots of salsa. We drink it like water around here. It even has it's own name. Janine's Salsa. And it's not even a rocket science recipe! It's just a perfect combination of peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro. When planting our garden this year, I made sure there was everything I needed to make salsa. Except for the vinegar and tomato paste, of course. I'm much too lazy to make those things. So, without further ado, my mom's salsa.....

Janine's Salsa

24 regular tomatoes (or 2-3 roma per regular tomato, depending on how big the romas are)
4 green peppers (or a mix of green, red, orange)
4-6 jalapenos (or more depending on how much heat you like...)
1 bundle cilantro
4 onions
8 long banana peppers (I use hungarian wax)

2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 cans tomato paste

Some people like to remove the tomato skins. To do so bring a large pot to boil. Put tomatoes in pot until skins start to blister and pop. Immediately remove to a sink filled with ice cold water. The skins will peel off easily. I only remove the skin if I'm using regular tomatoes. This and last year I used roma tomatoes and didn't do anything to the skins. It turned out perfectly!

Chop all ingredients. The easiest way to do this is to pulse them in a blender or food processor. Simmer in large pot (or two or three) for a half hour. Process in waterbath canner for 25 minutes if using quarts, 15 mins if using pints. If your new to canning, this website has great step by step instructions on how to can!
---> Website <---

My fresh picked from the garden produce

 My mom and dad's fresh picked produce from Joe's Place

Freshly Canned Salsa!!