October 13, 2013

Blackberry Extravaganza: Part 3 of 3

Summer is over, but hopefully this last blackberry recipe will last me through the next few seasons. This recipe was definitely out of my wheelhouse: jelly AND canning. PB&Js are still a lunchtime staple for me, so i thought I'd give it a whirl. I myself prefer jelly over jam. do you remember the difference? Jelly = no crunchy seeds! This recipe calls for the blackberries to be strained from through a cheesecloth or pillowcase, but I used an extra shirt. I wasn't supposed to press the blackberries, but instead let it drip until I had enough amount of liquid to boil. Well, this was definitely testing my patience. I waited a couple of hours and didn't have enough juice so I definitely ended up pressing those jerk berries.

Everything went fairly smooth after this; boiled the mixture, got it in the cans, and put them in the water bath. My jam tasted delicious, sweet and fruity. It ended up a tad on the runny side, not sure if I didn't use enough pectin or left my cans in the water bath too long. I'm using this to my advantage though, perfect for sandwiches, syrup on pancakes, or even drizzled on sundaes.

All in all, not too shabby for my first foray into canning. I'll be ready to try more next summer. Tuck this recipe away for next year if you want to try something new in the kitchen. On to Fall though, ready to break out the crockpot!

September 2, 2013

Blackberry Extravaganza: Part 2 of 3

Next up on the Blackberry Menu: Blackberry Yogurt Popsicles

I'm bummed that summer is wrapping up here (it doesn't seem long enough in New Hampshire!), but there's always great sales at the end of the season. I found a jelly belly popsicle mold at Target for 98¢! Score! So continuing on with the Blackberry theme, I made a batch of Foodess's Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt Pops.

I tweaked the original recipe that called for plain whole-milk yogurt for vanilla yogurt, not because I don't like the tangy taste of plain, but because it's nearly impossible to find these days! The whole yogurt aisle has been taken over with greek style varieties. It even took me awhile to hunt down the plain vanilla. These pops are super easy to make. I dumped the blackberries in my mini food processor with the sugar and squirt of lime. I opted to extract the seeds through a fine sieve at this point. I let a few through, I didn't mind a little crunch or extra fiber. Alternate vanilla yogurt and blackberry puree into Popsicle mold, swirl a bit with a knife, and freeze until solid. These were a yummy on a hot day. If you like your treats sweet, add more sugar to the puree mixture. Pin and make these before all the summer berries are gone. How about pops with raspberries or blueberries?

August 26, 2013

Blackberry Extravaganza: Part 1 of 3

I have risked thorn pricks, lumpy mosquito bites, and tick infestations to forage for the blackberries that grow wildly through our wooded backyard. I have collected quite the bounty! Luckily I've found plenty of recipes to use the copious amount of blackberries up.
First Up: Blackberry Crumb Bars by Shall We Cook

I made sure to whip up a batch of crumb bars before I ate all the blackberries. I liked that the berry layer in the bars had no added sugar so the flavor and tartness of the fruit stand out. The crumb layer adds the perfect amount of sweetness. Make sure not to over process the crumb. I know I did and it the top layer ended up being a tad soft. I think I would try adding a little almond to the top next time for an added crunch. Regardless, these are a really good treat for a leisurely summer breakfast with a cuppa tea, so pin away.

August 24, 2013

DIY Chair Makeover

This post is for my mom who said she is sick of looking at the Doritos Casserole on my very outdated Blog.

Mike and I have been yard-saling this summer in an attempt to find goodies to fill our new home with. Not only did we find a second hand chair, but we got it for free! We packed it up in the trunk of my car to take back to the house to figure out what to do with. Mind you we were driving my small 2-door Honda, so it was an interesting, slow drive home.

It was pretty beat up; the paint was peeling and the caning had seen better days. I stripped the chair completely down, not really knowing if I'd have the skills or creativity to redo the bottom and backing of the chair. It was free though, so what did I have to lose?

Good ol' internet. You can teach me to do anything. After watching this video on how to weave a seat with flat reed, I ordered some supplies and headed to the hardware store to get some sanding paper and pick out a color to paint the chair.

So we sanded that baby down (I helped too Ma, I swear), threw on about three coats of paints, and weaved her up. I'm making this sound like it was a fast processes, but it really took a few weeks to complete. The video by Peerless Ratan is excellent, he walks you through every step of the process. His website is also awesome; lots of information for weaving and caning newbies and all the supplies you'd need to complete any DIY chair project.

Not half bad for a side of the road-junk chair, huh? So go ahead and pin the detailed instructed video if you have a fixer-upper chair you're looking to do something with.

April 10, 2013

Doritos Casserole

I wanted to make Jam Hand's Doritos Casserole for ages, but figured it might be a tad much for just me and Mike on a weeknight. Two boys at the dinner table though? Completely different story! With a casserole that includes Doritos, cheese, cheese, and more cheese, how can you go wrong?

This recipe is great for a get together. It includes ingredients that are really hard to hate so you wont be left wondering if your company will eat it or not. Serve with copious amounts of salsa + chips and beer and you will surely have no complaints! The only change I would make if I whipped this up again would be to top the casserole off with additional Doritos for a crunchy top layer. The Doritos in the casserole add great flavor, but do get soft from all the wet ingredients. I double the recipe to fit into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

4 cups cooked shredded chicken
2 cups cheese
1 large can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 large can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with the jalapeno peppers
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 bag of Doritos (I used Nacho Cheese, but use whatever you want!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Combine all ingredients, excluding Doritos in a large bowl
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Add a layer of crushed Doritos to the bottom, then top with a layer of the chicken mixture. Repeat. Top with cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes
  4. At 30 minutes, take casserole out of oven and top with additional Doritos if you want a bit of a crunch to your casserole! Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Wait a few minutes to cool if you like having a layer of skin on the roof of your mouth.
Definitely not the prettiest dish I've made, but I'd still give it 4 out of 5 noms for how easy it was to prepare and how delicious it came out! Pin, pin, pin away!

March 28, 2013

Burger Bites

What's better than one pinterest idea? Two rolled together, clearly! Cheeseburger Casserole and Bacon Cheeseburger Balls sound good enough on their own, but combined they form Burger Bites: a dish worthy of heading home early on a Saturday night for.

While I highly recommend both recipes, here is my version.

Ingredient List: Yields 16 bites
* 1 pound of ground beef
* 1/2 onion diced
* 1/2 cup of ketchup
* couple squirts of mustard
* slice 16 pieces of cheese from a block
* relish or pickle slices
* 2 cans of Pillsbury Grand Rolls ( 8 buns in each sleeve)
* 1 egg
* sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425
1. Brown the beef and onion together and drain.
2. Add the ketchup and mustard to the beef mixture.
3. Flatten and spread the Grand Rolls in your palm.
4. Start by placing the cheese in the roll. Then add a spoonful of the beef mixture. Top off with either a squirt of relish or a dill pickle slice.
5. Fold the roll up into a little bun. The first one will be tricky, but don't give up! You'll figure out what technique works best for  you quickly.
6. Place the bun seam side down in a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
7. Brush the tops of all the buns with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

These are definitely a crowd pleaser. Dainty enough for girls to enjoy and delicious enough to satisfy guys. Not into burgers? You could fill these up with anything! Buffalo chicken, sloppy joe mix, pizza mixture! Don't skimp out on the egg wash. It really gives the buns a nice brown glazy appearance and tasty texture. My friends and I chanted "Burger Bites" the whole way home on a Saturday night in anticipation of eating the left overs.

Don't be afraid to tweak ideas you find online! Go ahead and pin any 3 of these burger creations or create your own. What modifications would you make?

March 10, 2013

Sirloin Steak & Pepper Sandwiches

Winter isn't over yet, no matter how much I try to will it away. The only thing I am remotely enjoying about the cold weather at this point is the crockpot. Meaty aroma floating through the house almost makes you forget that there's a a foot of snow out there still. I have a few more recipes left for the season before I retire the slowcooker for the year. We had the chicken tacos last week, so I thought I'd try beef this time after finding Where The Cookies Are's Slow Cooked Italian-Style Sirloin with Yellow Peppers. MMM beef.

It doesn't get much easier than this. Seasoning, Water, Pepper, Beef, and Buns are all you need to make these sammies. I opted for hot peppers, but you can use bell if you have wimps non-spicy fans at your dinner table. I was afraid I had overcooked the meat, a fear I often have when you using a crockpot. The meat seemed dry when it came time to shred it. However, when placed back in the pot, the beef absorbed the juices and the pepper water like a sponge. Problem solved. Make sure you use extra big buns that can accommodate and handle all the delicious juice. Simple and satisfying meal for any day of the week or for a large crowd. Pin away!

P.S - I served these sandwiches up with the brand new Sriracha Lays and green beans (out of guilt). I was disappointed with the chips. They delivered more of a ketchup taste rather than a traditionally hot rooster sauce flavor.  Hoping the garlic bread and chicken and waffles flavors are more promising!