Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Come check out where I'm linking to today!!

I'm trying to "Spread" the word about my little blog and have been encouraged to link up to other people who have graciously set up "linky parties". A place where other bloggers can link their posts and find new friends, followers and share their creativity. Here's where I've linked up today.

White Lights on Wednesday is doing her first Link Party!! If you're blogging and have something to share, come on by and link up! I'm sure we all could use a little extra Blog Love. I know I do!! Thank you Julie for letting us share our creations on your blog.

I also found a few others that I'm following and thought I'd share some of my latest creations. Please stop by, say hi and maybe find even find a new blog to follow!!

Oopsey Daisy

Friday, March 16, 2012

Burgers with Biscuit Buns

The weather here in Pennsylvania has been incredible all week!! May-like temperatures and since we Sprang Ahead, we have even more time to play out in the yard and even enjoy some Grilling!

Tuesday, I had been planning on making Belgian waffles and I wasn't budging on it. I had been thinking about those beautiful, golden brown wonders all day and no matter how nice it was outside, I was making them. Connor was completely shocked when I agreed to eating out back with our waffles. He's gotten so used to me saying no because it's been too cold or DARK outside, so he jumped at the chance to eat out there not caring what it was!!

We may have looked silly sitting at the table with our plates filled with waffles and fresh fruit, but we didn't care. There was a beautiful breeze and we watched the birds in the bird feeders while we enjoyed our waffles.

Coming inside, Steve and I agreed we should grill for the first time this season the next day.

Burgers! What's better than a plump, juicy, flavorful burger grilled to perfection and served up on a nice hearty bun? Can't think of much, except we didn't have any buns. Sure, we could have eaten them bun less again but I was really in the mood for a "real" burger.

I remembered this easy Drop Biscuit Recipe I had in my kitchen binder.They're quick (ten minutes or so to bake), easy and SO good. What if I made big biscuits and served up our burgers on them?


It WORKED!! I was a little nervous because by nature a biscuit is dry and can crumble. These didn't. The bottom "bun" held up really nicely and the top began to crack a little towards the end but with how good it tasted, who cares!

Here's the recipe:

Easy Drop Biscuits (makes approx. 20 biscuits)

4 Cups of Flour (any flour of your choosing)
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C buttermilk (to make your own buttermilk, combine 1/8 cup of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to 1 7/8 milk)
3 Tbsp. oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add oil to buttermilk and pour into dry ingredients. Beat approximately 10 strokes with a spoon or spatula, making sure well combined. (will be sticky!)

You can either roll these out on a WELL floured surface and use a biscuit or cookie cutter to get uniform shapes or flour your hands and scoop them out and shape by hand.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit gluten-free and dairy-free diets

I made these large to hold our burgers (which ended up shrinking so they looked kinda silly in those big "buns") and got 6 out of the above recipe.

You could serve just about anything on or with these biscuits. They're incredibly flavorful for so few ingredients and the best part is if you make a large batch of them, you can freeze them for future use. I love recipes that I can freeze. So handy for those days when it's 4pm and you say to yourself, I haven't planned dinner...

Do you have a Go to meal when you've forgotten to plan dinner?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Has Arrived!!

The first day of the beautiful weather that has become the norm, I was suspicious! Connor and Liam played outside all afternoon and were tickled pink to not be trapped in the house anymore which made me worried what the next few days would bring . . . even BETTER weather!!

one of the many beautiful colors in our Spring Garden!
So, let the clean out begin. We leave the fall leaves in our flower beds over the winter to protect the bulbs from the pesky squirrels and the heavy snowfall we usually get. So the last few days I have spent slowly but surely getting them all cleared (and building up a nice sized compost pile in the process!) We're about halfway through now and what a difference the green of the tulips leaves popping up 6 inches above the ground has made to what was a dreary, brown and grey yard!

With the Boy's Moose party coming up in less than two weeks, I am very motivated (probably too much so) to get the yard totally cleared out of the winter debris so we can enjoy this wonderful weather during the party.

My mind has so quickly gone to what we are going to plant in our annual vegetable gardens!! Tomatoes and Bell Peppers are a must. I know for sure we have to plant more chives. I absolutely love them and use them year round. I was pretty sad when we had to start buying them in the store after we'd run out...there's nothing better than being able to use something you grew in your own yard to help enhance the flavor of your meal.

Here's a great idea for getting your seedlings started early!! Reuse Gallon Milk Jugs

Having a fresh vegetable garden is awesome and I love being able to go out and pick fresh veggies every day or so, but my Favorite thing about gardening is my container gardens. I just love being able to have a pot that pops up with the same wonderful perennial and then adding in some new, colorful annuals!! Our container gardens work double duty. They're beautiful to look at and add color to our back porch but they also serve as a "railing" since there isn't one...

Do you have a garden? What are your favorite things to grow?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When your Bread Machine gives you rocks

It's the simple things in life!! I've always been a fan of practical gifts. Maybe it's because we lived a quiet, humbled existence as children or because I'd started working at the age of 13, but I have always appreciated useful/practical gifts. When I got a waffle maker for Christmas when I was 21, I'm pretty sure the friend who gave it to me thought I was nuts because of how truly excited I was about getting it. (I still use it to this day!!)

Steve knows this all too well. So he chose a wonderful gift for our 5th Wedding Anniversary in October!! A Panasonic Automatic Bread Maker. I had been talking to him for a few months about how I'd like to start making our own bread, but doing it by scratch made me nervous with needing the water to be the exact right temperature and how long to knead the dough...I can cook pretty well, but making bread wasn't something I was ready for.

a beautiful loaf

I love how easy it is to use!! After a few tries using the machine to not only make the dough, but cook the bread as well, I learned that we liked the texture better when I baked it myself in the oven. I was on quite a roll averaging a loaf every three days or so (if we had french toast, I needed to make more) and how wonderful does the house smell!!

The flavor is so fresh and light with homemade bread. Even a simple Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich is better on homemade bread. When I use it for French toast, It's heavenly!!

 Then it went wrong

 January was a tough month for me for whatever reason I couldn't remember to make bread, so a few times Steve had to pick up bread at the store. It just didn't taste the same. So I resolved to get back on track!!
Got all of my ingredients out for our favorite Egg Bread. Measured and poured exactly as usual and set the machine on Dough. When it beeped 2 hours and 20 minutes later, it looked wrong. It was too dense, too small and weighed what felt like 50 pounds. I kneaded it a little more to reshape the dough and continued to do what I've always done....that didn't help. I needed a chainsaw to cut through it since it hadn't risen properly and it was hard for the boys to eat being so dense.
I tried again the next day with the SAME results! Now I had to become a detective. What was causing this? I immediately thought of the yeast. I've been storing it in the freezer and using it regularly until my 3 week hiatus. Maybe the yeast went bad. So i replaced the yeast AND flour and tried again yesterday. The photo below is my end result...just like the last two loaves.

the dud
Connor really wanted a sandwich, so I sliced a few pieces for him and kept it open faced, so it would be easier to tear through.
I wasn't going to waste this! One of the biggest reasons we like homemade bread is it's lightened the purse strings a bit, not when I am wasting ingredients though. Sure I could slice it and make sandwiches with it or toast, but it tastes so doughy. Then it hit me! I could cube it up and hold onto it for stuffing. I keep a bag in the freezer of nubs from specialty loaves, bagels that went a little too stale before we ate it etc. All the bread gets tossed together with butter and stock so this would work well since it's so dense...

I'm making another loaf tomorrow. With the new flour, new yeast and real butter. (had used Smart Balance the last three, this may be the problem!) We shall see what happens!!

Have you had any kitchen oops that turned into something awesome?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A New Twist on Dessert

After hearing how many of you really liked the idea of Homemade PopTarts, I was super excited when my sister Leah emailed me another idea. This was using those poptarts!!

Pie. It's delicious, pretty easy to make, smells amazing...but sometimes you want pie without wanting to MAKE pie! The 9pm sweet tooth has gone from a pester in the back of your mind, to the only thing you can think about. You want something sweet and warm, maybe with a scoop of Ice Cream. Oooh, pie! But it's 9 o'clock in the evening. There's no way you're rolling up your sleeves, turning on the oven and starting to peel apples. Who wants to wait hours for it to bake and then cool enough to eat? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE pie! But when my sweet tooth won't back down, I am not staying up until midnight to satisfy it.

Here's the solution to that!! Take one of those magnificent little Homemade PopTarts from the freezer, or make a batch in the afternoon to have ready to heat in the evening. Cook it in the oven according to the directions in the link.
Slice it in half once it has cooled enough to handle, set in a bowl and top with your favorite flavor of Ice cream! Tada!

Since the poptarts are made with pie crust, if you use a jam like Blueberry or Peach, you'll have that rich, thick flavor that you find in pie filling.

When Connor and I set out to make these, we did make them smaller than the standard poptarts. Since I was thinking how sweet these would be as a party treat, I made them smaller so that they could serve a crowd and would fit nicely into a bowl. Of course, you can make them any size you want!

 I also experimented with making Tarts with the filling and the pie crust and they turned out beautifully.

Can't you just picture a nice Ice Cream party or Shower with a selection of two or three different tarts and a few complimenting flavors of ice cream? Everyone gets to create their own dessert.

For the mini Tarts:

1 store bought ready to use Pie Crust
1 mini muffin tin
a rolling pin
knife or Pizza Cutter
Nonstick spray or butter
Your Favorite Flavor of Fruitful Delights Jam

Roll the dough out until it's about half the thickness it started out as. I ended up with 12 after I combined the scraps and rolled them out.

Either spray with non-stick spray or butter the muffin tin to help keep the jam from sticking.

Cut the dough into 3 inch squares and carefully place into the mini muffin cups. Make sure to press the folds that you create to help keep the jam from oozing out.

Once all of your pieces are done, carefully spoon about a teaspoonful of Jam (I used Strawberry-Banana) into each.
(Note: if you have any muffin tin slots that haven't been used, fill them about halfway with water before baking.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown and the Jam is bubbling.

Remove while still warm, but cool enough to touch an edge of the crusts to help keep any oozage from sticking which will make removing these tasty bites quite challenging.

Now is the hard part!! Waiting until it's cool enough to eat!!

I served them warm with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and they were so tasty!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A whirlwind weekend

Well, what was just supposed to be a "day off " turned into the entire weekend!! I apologize that I didn't get the post up with the new Recipe on Friday like I'd planned. The four of us (along with one of the boys Grandfathers) took a trip on Saturday to Baltimore, MD and visited the National Aquarium.

Connor's first time meeting the fish in 2009
We have been members for the last few years and visit at least twice a year. The boys absolutely LOVE spending the day there. Even if you spend the day walking along the Inner Harbor and never go inside, what a spectacular day you will have. We were so blessed with weather in the upper 50s and the sun was shining! No wonder there were so many people buzzing about.

I'll have the recipe and some sweet photos of our latest Jam involved creation tomorrow.

 Also stay tuned for a new Sneak Peek on Friday!! I'll be launching another new flavor for the upcoming Jam Season. If you've missed the first two, they are
Golden Raspberry and Strawberry-Banana.

Do you have a favorite day trip spot?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taking a day off...

Since today is Connor's birthday, I decided to take the day and just spend time with him. Whatever he may want to do today, which seems to be being bossy and cranky (it's tough being big enough to have an opinion, but not big enough to always get your way). 

I did want to let all of you know that I have a really fun post coming up tomorrow! To Pie or Not to Pie, that is the question!! Mmm, can't wait to share it.

With March's arrival, that also means some sales will be revealed in the shop. There are a few flavors that I'd like to move out so that when Strawberry season starts in May, I have lots of room for new flavors!

I hope you have a wonderful March 1st. See you all tomorrow!!

I had to share him being silly when he was a baby!! Oh, how quickly their moods change...