- I suggest removing the skin, cutting the fruit off of the mangos and then pulsing in the food processor. It will save a lot of time and energy not chopping by hand.
- Make sure sugar is completely dissolved before adding pectin and lemon juice to avoid a grainy consistency.
- Try this jam on ice cream, in yogurt, on pancakes, or in Easy Cheater Hand Pies. It’s pretty much good on anything.
Oh my. My, my, my. It’s all I can say after tasting this little experiment. This “blondie” started out a lot like my PMS Cookies. I had a serious hankering for a good chewy chocolate chip cookie, but didn’t have all of the ingredients necessary. Then I remembered a blondie recipe I wanted to try, and again, didn’t have all of the ingredients, so it was up to my creative whim to come up with something new. This is not actually uncommon for me, but what is uncommon is for the results to be successful enough to want to share them with you. This time, however, I actually impressed myself! Hopefully I can impress you too!
1.5 c flour
1 small box cook and serve butterscotch pudding
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Another successful experiment in pancakes this morning. pancakes are kind of a staple food around here. They are so cheap and easy to make, and you can vary them so many ways; it’s hard for me to get tired of them. This morning’s concoction proved to be especially delicious! They were so moist and chalked full of blueberries that they didn’t even need any additional butter or syrup. Of course if you want to add them, please be my guest! I would suggest real maple syrup or blueberry syrup; just my opinion. Oh! Or add a big dollop of real whipped cream! Yum! I hope you enjoy them as much as my munchkin and I did!
I’ve used the same pancake base for years. It is from the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook. I use their batter and just add my own flare to it.
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
2 TBLS sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 TBLSP cooking oil
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
~2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
~1/2 c sliced almonds
**Note: If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, you can place 1 TBLSP white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup and fill to the one cup line with regular milk. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before use. For a cup and a half I use 1 1/2 TBLSP vinegar. You won’t taste it I promise.**
Combine dry ingredients in med-large mixing bowl.
Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl or 2 c liquid measuring cup.
Poor wet into dry, and stir just until wet through. Batter should be very lumpy.
Set aside and heat large skillet or electric griddle to low-medium heat; about 275 deg F if you are using the griddle.
Very lightly toast almonds, about 30 sec to one minute. They will cook further when added to pancakes. Set aside.
Butter griddle. I just use the stick and run it all over the griddle.
Measure out 1/4-1/3 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Next sprinkle batter liberally with blueberries and again with almond slices.
Allow to cook until bubbly and edges appear dry.
Carefully flip and allow to cook through.
Butter the pan or griddle again between batches.
Now eat, eat, eat.
Christmas starts in July. That’s it! That’s the big secret that Martha and every other Martha Stewert-Like blogger isn’t telling you about Christmas, and all of those beautiful hand made decorations and gifts. I am sharing this little secret with you, because every Christmas the same thing happens to me.
It starts in the Fall with Halloween; I call it Holiday Fever, and I get it bad! I see all of these beautiful hand made decorations and gifts everywhere. They sparkle, and shine — and taunt me. “Make me. Make me! Make Meeeeee!” They call from the magazine rack in the grocery store. “Don’t you want to give me to your friends?” They beckon from my e-mail. “Your house will be the prettiest on the block,… if only you will decorate it just like this.” I hear as I scan my favorite craft blogs every morning. But what they aren’t telling you is, you have to start planning months in advance to achieve these beautifully decorated houses and handmade gift baskets. If you are a procrastinator with high hopes, like myself, then you may have attempted to get all of these things done in previous Decembers, only to have Christmas come and go in a hot, stressful, flash; leaving you feeling unsatisfied and disappointed.
How can you achieve a beautifully decorated home, make heartfelt handmade gifts and still have the time to enjoy your friends, family and true spirit of the season? Easy, start now! There are so many things you can do in the summer to prepare you for the Fall Holiday Season. Here are a few (ok, several) suggestions to get the ball rolling.
1. Start collecting! Start collecting pine cones for decorations (or one of these cute, homemade fire starters) on your next camping excursion. Not only will you save time, but you will save money, buy not having to buy them.
2. Spray Paint now! If you have items (like your pine cones) that you want to paint gold or silver (or white, or green, or red…) do it now. Spray paint doesn’t dry well in the wet Fall weather; dry summer heat is ideal for spray painting.
3. Get cooking! (Or canning.) Homemade jams or jellies, and liqueurs are always appreciated. Jams can be made and stored for months in advance, saving you time later. Liqueurs need time to infuse with flavors and taste better with a little age, so they really need to be made ahead of time. In order to save yourself precious “holiday time,” avoid giving “fresh baked” gifts that have to be made the same week they are given. If you like giving fresh baked cookies, consider making the dough ahead of time and freezing it in an airtight container. That way you will always have fresh baked cookies on hand within 15 minutes.
- Here is a link to a blog with 50 different canning recipes.
- Creative Culinary has an amazing Chocolate Liqueur Recipe.
- Of course, I love my Mellocello and it needs a few months to infuse, so get started now.
- My favorite Christmas liqueur… Coffee Liqueur, like Kahlua, only better!
- We made this Elderberry Jelly last year. It was a huge hit! Elderberries ripen in late summer and early fall, so you have plenty of time to plan ahead.
4. Get Sewing! Or Crafting. There are so many handmade gifts that can be sewn or crafted ahead of time. My current favorite blog is EverythingEtsy.com They have…
- 101 Simple Handmade Gift Tutorials
- 101 Handmade Holiday Tutorials
- 101 Handmade Ornament Tutorials, and more!
5. Simplify! Don’t try to design a different homemade gift or basket for every single person on your list. Pick one or two crowd pleasing themes for your baskets, (or sewing pattern, or craft) and stick to it. Here are two of my favorite gift baskets:
- Coffee for Two Basket: Include 2 coffee cups, homemade irish cream, chocolate or coffee liqueur (made ahead), a tin of your favorite coffee and a bottle of milk or cream. Save your coffee tins and frappuccino bottles over the summer. Remove labels and decorate with your established theme between now and Halloween. Set aside until Christmas, then fill with store bought bulk coffee and milk or cream just before gifting. You can even make Biscotti a month in advance and store in an air tight container, or cheat, and buy it from your bulk store. Oh, and one more tip; wait to buy your baskets until you know what is going in them! This will save you money, and a head ache, when you go to put them together. I speak from experience on this one.
- Spa Basket: Make skin care items over summer and decorate the jars ahead of time, so all you have to do is put the basket together come gift giving time. Here are a few recipes for DIY Skin care products: Exfoliating Scrub, Bath Salts, Bath Bombs.
6. Pick one theme and stick to it. Whether it be red, green, and blue plaid; blue and white snowflakes; snowmen or nature inspired; pick a theme and stick with it. You will be amazed at how much easier it will be to decorate your home, and your gifts, if you pick one color combination or character and focus on that when purchasing or creating your decorations. Plus, your friends and family will be amazed at how well “put together” everything looks when even your tree decorations and presents match.
5. Start your decorations early. You don’t have to hang them, but most decorations can be made ahead of time and stored unit the fall.
I hope I have motivated you to get started on those Christmas gifts and decorations, or at least got your wheels turning. For more DIY decorating and Gift ideas, see my Pinterest page!
I threw this together, sort of “off the cuff” last night for my hubby. He had requested Elk Steak for dinner, and I felt my regular recipes were getting tired. I wanted to use the grill, as it’s just too hot to turn the oven on right now. I didn’t want the elk to dry out on the grill, so the obvious solution to me was wrap it in juicy bacon! Of course! As I was looking for motivation online I saw a recipe that included jalapeños, and I knew that would be something my hubby would like. Thus, the Bacon and Jalapeño Backstrap was born. OK, I’m sure I wasn’t the first to wrap bacon and jalapeño around a piece of meat, but it was a new and novel idea for me!
As I stated earlier, I just threw this together, so the measurements are approximate.
Bacon & Jalapeño Backstrap
1.5-2# Elk or Venison Backstrap, sliced across the grain in 1-2″ thick slices
1# bacon slices
4 jalapeños (or 1 per 2 slices of backstrap)
Tony’s Creole Seasoning
1/2 c cooking oil
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 TBLS red wine vinegar
2-3 TBLS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBLS minced garlic
2 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
Whisk together marinade in shallow dish. Rub steaks with Creole seasoning and black pepper. Place in marinade. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning to coat half way through.
When ready to cook. Preheat grill. Halve the jalapeños and remove seeds and ribs. Grill jalapeños until they begin to soften. Remove from grill. (Leave grill on.) Place half a jalapeño on a slice of steak, wrap with bacon. Repeat with all the backstrap. Don’t be afraid to use all the bacon if there is extra! Grill over low heat, jalapeño side down until bacon is crisp and jalapeño is fully cooked. Flip, crisp bacon on other side. Remove and enjoy!
If you like gravy, reserve the marinade and make a gravy with it. Bring marinade to a low boil, add a couple tablespoons of flour and whisk, whisk, whisk. I had an extra half of a jalapeño left and some white wine, so added them too. I sliced the the jalapeño thin and added them before bringing it to a boil. Then added about 1/2 cup white wine after the flour was whisked in.
Serve backstrap and gravy with potatoes or rice, and greens or grilled veggies.
Hello dear Bloggy Friends! It has been far too long since I have written. I had to do some serious soul searching on whether to continue this blog or not. I have recently had some serious recipe failures and was beginning to lose confidence in my abilities as a cook. Iwas starting to think i should call this site “not-so-fabulously-homemade.
I aspire to craft and bake like Martha Stewart, live like Ree Drumond and have the personality of Rachel Ray. Unfortunately, I often fail at most of these goals. BUT, I have decided that’s ok. We all have to start somewhere; don’t we!? So I will continue to aspire towards being more like Martha, Ree and Rach. In the meantime, I plan to share my successes as well as my failures with you and hope you do the same. Take pride in the learning process, for life is a journey. If you focus too much on the destination, you will miss out on all the fun to be had along the way.
That being said, I will share the success and the failure of my quest for a healthy and delicious breakfast this morning. I was up late last night searching the web for healthy crockpot recipes. I found several for crockpot oatmeal, and thought it sounded delicious and creamy and wonderful. I hopped out of bed, threw some ingredients in the crockpot, and went to sleep confident I would wake to a tasty and hot breakfast early in the morning. Well… my husband got called out to work in the middle of the night, so there wasn’t anyone to wake me in the morning. Yes, I still need someone to drag me out of bed in the morning. A habit acquired in my teens that I ashamedly never outgrew. ANYWAY, I overslept by 2 hours and when I woke the oatmeal was very burnt. So burnt, I am really dreading scrubbing the pot.
Luckily, I was also looking at muffin recipes last night! I had found a great, no sugar added, muffin recipe that I was really looking forward to trying. I washed my hands (literally and figuratively) of that darn oatmeal and started right away with my muffins. Did I have breakfast waiting for me when I woke? No. Did I have a delicious, hot and healthy breakfast a half hour later? YES! I’ll take that as a win.
As I was mixing these muffins up, I thought to myself, “If I were making these, and I am, I would do things a little different.” So I did, and they turned out delightfully fluffy and just sweet enough, and I felt better about my baking skills. Win, win, WIN!
Mrs.F’s Winning Blueberry Banana Muffins-no sugar added
1 c mashed ripe or over-ripe bananas (aprox. 2.5 large bananas)
1/2 c water
1/2 c oil
1 c wheat flour
1 c all purpose (unbleached preferably) flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
tiny pinch of table salt or 4 grains of course sea salt (Most all purpose wheat flours contain a lot of salt, so use salt very sparingly)
1.5 c fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line 18-muffin tin.
In mixer, thoroughly beat bananas. Continue beating and add water and oil. Then add eggs, just until incorporated. Do not over-beat. Turn mixer off. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn mixer back on and add flour mixture slowly, stopping half-way to scrape sides. Mix only until wet and slightly lumpy. Remove bowl, scrape sides again. Fold in blueberries by hand.
Measure 1/2 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 16-18 min. Muffins will be fluffy and bounce back when touched lightly.
Notes: Of course, you can change out the flour for all wheat or all all-purpose; as well as the fresh blueberries for frozen. This is just how I made them. Living in Oregon, and this being Summer, it would be a mortal sin if I used frozen berries. OK, maybe not sinful, but definitely silly! Recipe adapted from No-Sugar-Added Blueberry and Banana Wheat Muffins by Speck on Allrecipes.com
Italian Mellocello-Refreshingly Mellow Lemon and Vanilla Infused Alcohol
OK readers, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We like to booze it up a little at my house. Especially during the summer. There’s just nothing like an ice cold fizzy concoction to take the edge off, and cool your head in the hot summer sun.
This amazing lemony yellow treat is bright and summery, not just in color, but in taste as well. Plus it has a lingering “mellow” vanilla finish that will definitely “chill you out” this summer. My husband and I made this for the first time last year and we loved it so much that it ended up becoming the unofficial “Signature Cocktail” for our wedding, or rather wedding party, as it was just too good to share with all of our 250-odd guests. This summer, we doubled the recipe with intent to share a little… We’ll see how that goes.
I’d love to take credit for this amazing liquer recipe, but I can’t. Unfortunately, I can’t give anybody else credit for it either, as my husband printed it (without reference) off the internet last Spring, and I have no idea where he found it. No matter where it came from originally, you are going to thank me for sharing it. I guarantee it. You will notice this is a two part process with a bit of waiting for the alcohol to infuse, but it is totally worth the wait!
Italian Mellocello Recipe
2 750 ml bottles of Everclear (or Vodka if you prefer)
5 Vanilla Beans
6 c distilled water
4 c sugar
Sanitized 2-3 Liter glass jar with lid (we used a big pickle jar)
Fine mesh sieve
Bottles or container for bottling final product
1. Wash and dry lemons thoroughly.
2. Pare off spots, blemishes and stem ends.
3. Using a very sharp paring knife or peeler, remove zests (that’s the yellow part of the peel) and place in distilling container, or pickle jar as we like to call it. Be sure you do not get any of the white pith, for it will make your mellocello very bitter. If you do, just use your knife to scrape it off, before dropping the peel in the jar.
4. Add Everclear to jar.
5. Slice vanilla pod down the middle and scrape insides into your mix.
6. Seal tightly and allow to steep in a cool, dark place for 3 months. We sealed our lids with Saran Wrap and duct tape to be sure it was air tight. If your container is not air tight, the alcohol fumes will evaporate and the drink will lose it’s potency.
7. Swirl lemon peels around twice a week to mix oils and alcohol.
1. After 3 months has lapsed and you are ready to bottle your concoction, you will want to sweeten it up a little… or a lot, whichever you prefer.
2. Bring 4 cups of sugar and 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, strain your lemon infused alcohol, through a cheese cloth lined sieve, removing all the peels and vanilla grounds. Squeeze cheese cloth to be sure you have removed all of the alcohol and oils from the peels.
4. Add sugar-water to lemon-alcohol and stir.
5. Bottle your mellocello! It’s done! . . . or drink it, whatever. I won’t judge you.
The longer you let it set after bottling, the smoother it will become, but it is perfectly drinkable right away. I suggest storing it in the freezer as it is delightful served “up” ice cold. I prefer mine in a rocks glass topped with seltzer water. So refreshingly mellow. I really hope you try this recipe. I know 3 months is a long time to wait for a cocktail, but it is so worth the effort and time put into it, and it will be ready before you know it. If you start yours today, there will be plenty of hot summer days left to enjoy your mellocello.
I am sharing this post on …
Remember those amazing popsicles we had as kids, with the sweet vanilla ice cream in the center surrounded by tart orange sherbert on the outside? I believe they were called Dreamsicles. Well those popsicles were the inspiration for these heavenly cupcakes. I have such fond memories of summers growing up in the hot California sun. Popsicles were a must for every kid (both young and old,) and Orange Dreamsicles were mine and my dad’s favorite. Well Fudgesicles too, but don’t worry, I’m working on a cupcake for that too. In the meantime here is a recipe guaranteed to knock your socks off and probably make you want to slip on your Jellies sandals too.
These delightfully fresh cupcakes were so easy to make; I even cheated and used a box of cake mix for the base. Of course if you have a favorite recipe for white cake, by all means use it. I was just looking for a quick and easy fix to fulfill my cravings for this cool summer treat. What really makes these cupcakes so fantastic, is the frosting! I adapted a vanilla cream-cheese frosting recipe by simply adding lots of orange. The result: a perfect blend of smooth vanilla cream at the start and a surprisingly bright tart orange finish that leaves you begging for more. Oh yes my friends. These little devils are addicting! I bet you can’t eat just one.
1 box white cake mix
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 c butter softened, but not melted
zest of one orange (aprox. 1 TBLS)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp Orange extract
Orange food coloring (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325, and lightly grease, baking pans or muffin tin or whatever you are baking the cake in. Set aside, and lets begin.
2. Beat butter on low to medium speed with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add cake mix and orange juice until well incorporated. Then add eggs and beat until just incorporated. Do not over-beat or your cake will be flat, and nobody wants a flat cake!
4. Then stir in zest, extracts and food coloring by hand, again, just until well incorporated.
5. Poor into pans and bake until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
APPROXIMATE BAKE TIMES:
13×9: 20-25 min, Mini Muffin Tin: 12-17 min, Standard Muffin Tin: 15-20 min, 9 in cake rounds 18-25 min
I recommend starting with a low time setting and checking your cake often so as not to overcook it.
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
4 oz. room temperature butter
3 1/2 c sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp orange extract
fresh squeezed juice of one small orange
food coloring (optional)
1. Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (aprox 4 min.)
2. Gradually mix in powdered sugar and orange juice.
3. Mix in extracts and food coloring if you choose.
Decorating and Serving Suggestions
- Divide frosting in half, add orange food coloring to one half. Spoon frosting into piping bag fitted with an open star decorating tip, alternating between white and orange frosting. Pipe a swirl of frosting on each cupcake. The end result will look like orange and vanilla swirled soft serve ice cream.
- Make these cupcakes a day in advance and allow them to cool in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. The frosting will firm up and will be just like a popsicle! These chilled cupcakes will be great for summer barbeques and other hot outdoor activities this summer. Hope you enjoy!!!
Today’s money saving tip: Use leftover fruit salad to make your morning smoothie.
I’ve been seeing those green smoothies all over the internet lately, and have recently fallen in love with several of the recipes. Unfortunately I have found that I rarely have all of the ingredients in the fridge at once, so I have just sort of been making up my own recipes. For example the one I had this morning was an improvised recipe made with left over fruit salad from last nights barbeque with my folks!
Through experimentation over the last few months, I have managed to break down the smoothie into three elements in order for it to be both fulfilling and delicious. The first element, and my most favorite is the “cream.” A good smoothie has to be creamy. (At least in my opinion, hopefully you will agree.) Next, it should be sweet, because why would you eat it if it didn’t taste good? Finally, you have to sneak in some protein in order for it to be fulfilling. Now how do I achieve all of these elements into one delicious refreshing beverage you ask? Read on my dear friend.
The creaminess in your smoothie can be achieved several ways and meet several dietary needs. For example, if you are allergic to gluten, dairy and/or peanuts you can use a banana to both thicken and sweeten your smoothie. If you are not allergic you can use Greek yogurt or peanut butter, which will also incorporate your protein. There are many protein shake powders on the market, which usually contain malt for thickening, as well as a plant based protein for energy. I also like adding coconut milk for a little extra flavor and creaminess.
As for the taste, I really don’t think you need my help telling you what tastes good. In the event you need help with some flavor combination suggestions, I will offer you some suggestions that I like best towards the end of this post.
Now for the seemingly most difficult element, the protein. There are a lot more options than one might think. Consider peanut butter, almond butter, Greek Yogurt (Vanilla or Plain, low-fat or nonfat) protein powder, protein drink mix, even oatmeal has more protein in it than one might think. I am sure there are plenty of soy products out there for you soy lovers as well. I will not list them here though, just because I am not personally a fan, but I know there are plenty out there. Almond milk is another option. It will add the creaminess and has more protein and calcium than dairy milk. Surprise! So play around with some different combinations, and see what you like.
As promised some of my favorite flavor combinations.
2 TBLS almond butter
2 TBLS Greek Yogurt
1/2 c Almond Milk (I use Vanilla flavored)
Drink your greens! Add a handful of baby spinach to give you an extra boost in the morning!
1-2 TBLS Diced pineapple
2 TBLS Greek Yogurt
1/4 c Coconut Milk (NOT low fat)
2 TBLS Vanilla protein powder (optional, but I like Trader Joe’s Hemp Based Protein Powder)
1/4 c dairy or almond milk
sprinkle of sweetened coconut flakes (also optional)
1/3 c fresh ripe strawberries
1 kiwi (peeled, obviously)
handful of ice
6 oz. strawberry yogurt (Being an Oregonian, I prefer Tillamook!)
Simply half a banana, 1/2 cup fruit salad, 2 TBLS each plain Greek yogurt and vanilla protein powder, and enough almond milk to blend it (about 1/3 cup)
So there you have it friends! Easy as 1-2-3, elements that is, and you have your morning smoothie. Hope you all enjoy!
Hello again! Yes, I am still chugging smoothies and squeezing in extra lunges whenever possible, in order to trim down for summer. I hope you are sticking to your guns and working hard toward your summer goals as well. This morning I had a summer inspired epiphany while making my smoothie. It was just so delicious I had to share!
I bought 4 pounds of beautifully red ripe California grown strawberries from Costco last night, and when I saw them in my fridge this morning, I knew I had to incorporate them into my breakfast. Since the sun is shining brightly today, I decided it was a great day to enjoy a smoothie outside on my deck. I knew I wanted strawberries and yogurt, but what else? Then I opened the freezer and was reminded of the delicious frozen peaches I bought from my fruit stand. So much better than the ones you buy at the grocery store; locally grown and hand picked at the peak of ripeness. But I digress. What a perfect combination fresh summer strawberry mixed with frozen peaches and creamy yogurt. Yum! After I had mixed it up and had begun drinking it while taking photographs for the Mellocello, Mr F and I just finished bottling, I had an epiphany. I squeezed my prop lemon into my smoothy, stirred and sipped. Mmmmm… now that my friends is perfection. I couldn’t believe what a difference a few drops of lemon juice made. It really just brightened the whole drink up and really excentuated the sweet tartness of the drink. Anyway, I just thought I’d share that little tidbit with you. I hope you will give this summer harvest inspired smoothie a try and let me know what you think!
Sweet Summer Perfection Smoothie
3-4 Large fresh ripe strawberries
1/2-2/3 c frozen peaches
6-8 oz yogurt (I used Nancy’s Honey Yogurt, but I’m sure vanilla would taste good too!)
Handful of ice cubes
Squeeze of Lemon.
Place first 4 ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Squeeze lemon wedge over top and gently stir. Poor into cold glass and sip in the summer sun.