Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blueberry Lemonade

I recently discovered Blueberry Lemonade at the local grocery store. I had to try it, of course, and discovered a refreshing delight. I figured it can't be that hard to make so I gave it a shot and set it before my taste testers. They approved  :) so I'm sharing it with you.
It looks more red than the bought stuff does but I suspect food coloring to have something to do with that and I opted not to use any.
15 lemons, sliced thin
4 cups blueberries
¼ cup sugar
 amount in personal preference
8 cups ice
20-24 cups water
Slice the lemons and place into a large kettle. Add the sugar and Stevia and with your hands squeeze the lemon slices and mix well till a syrup forms. Let set for about 15 minutes. Squeeze lemons again and remove fro the kettle. Remove seeds as well.
Blend the blueberries and push through a sieve. Discard pulp and add the liquid to the lemon juice.
Add ice and water. Add more Stevia if necessary.
Serena and I have been enjoying quiet, relaxing days at home. The last few afternoons have been spent reading in the gazebo where the breezes keep us cool. It's so nice to be in the Summer vacation (from school) months! Our high school boys have one more day. They are ready! :)
♥Blessings to you!♥

Monday, May 20, 2013

Coconut Chia Granola and Things That Make Me Happy

I've been out of granola for quite a while and really missed having it around. I had ingredients for this one in the cupboard ever since I had bought a box with the same name at Costco. It's amazingly delicious! While I didn't have all the correct ingredients listed on said box and no measurements for anything, (I like to guess and experiment :) I'm quite pleased with the end result and look forward to fresh fruit and Greek yogurt parfaits once again!

6 cups Rolled Oats
2 cups Shredded Coconut
¼ cup Ground Golden Flax Seeds
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
Mix together in a bowl.
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Butter
3-4 Tablespoons Cane Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Molasses
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Coconut Shavings, optional
¼ cup Chia Seeds
In a small saucepan combine the butter and oil. Heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Stir in molasses and stir well. Add the cane sugar last and stir over low heat until it boils. Boil for about one minute. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir well.
Pour over oat mixture in bowl and toss to coat. I stirred it a bit with a spoon then waited till it was cool enough and mixed it by hand till it was evenly mixed.
Pour onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake @325° for 10 minutes. Stir and return to the oven. Continue baking, stirring every 5 minutes until coconut is evenly toasted. Add the Chia seeds about halfway through the baking process.
Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

- the yogurt but still fabulous!
Now for some Happy Things
 Outside my kitchen window
The last part of May and the month of June are my favorite of all because everything is lush and green and all the flowers are fresh and beautiful and the bugs have not had time yet to be a pain.
front porch
I've always loved bird houses but this one is extra special. It's made from materials from the original barn where I grew up. More importantly it was crafted by my parents (Dad cut and put it together and Mom painted it/them, they made some for all of us) who have always been creative with their hands. I have fond memories of hanging out in my Dads wood shop as he crafted anything from buggies to furniture of all kinds. The last few years before he quit completely (before cancer) he made sewing machine cabinets. These kept him busy doing what he loved.

 I love to sit here and unwind after a long day chatting with anyone who sits down with me :)

 And here are the ones who make my life complete.
Last week was super busy and not once did we get to eat supper together all at the same time!Saturday came and late in the afternoon I saw that it would happen again if we didn't quit doing projects and just make time. So I asked one of the boys to start a campfire and Serena perked up right away and started bringing the necessary things for a simple time together catching up, relaxing and enjoying the company of family time together. It was much needed and so lovely to sit and bask Nature's beauty too.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Simply Roasted Chicken Legs and Veggies

Lin and I went out with friends last night to celebrate an anniversary, but I still wanted the kids to eat a decent, filling supper without spending a lot of time on it. This fit the bill quite perfectly and was very tasty too!
I had been to the grocery store in the forenoon and picked up some chicken legs quarters and some McCormick Perfect Pinch Original Chicken Seasoning. I seasoned the chicken in the forenoon with plain sea salt (to tenderize) on all sides and refrigerated it until late afternoon.
The Pampered Chef Bar Pan was perfect for this recipe. Spray pan with oil, arrange 4 Chicken Leg Quarters and fill in the spaces with Red Potato Chunks, Carrots, and Shallots that have been tossed in Garlic Oil and seasoned with the chicken seasoning.

Bake at 400° for 1 hour. Test chicken for doneness with an instant read thermometer. Push into thickest part of the thigh not touching any bone. It should read 165°. The garlic oil, seasoning, and the drippings from the chicken seasoned the veggies just right. They were yummy!
It is fabulously beautiful outside tonight, and I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be than outside enjoying it.! I hope you get to enjoy it too! :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tropical Berry Coconut Chia Smoothie & A Family Mountain Weekend

If you need a quick breakfast that will last a long time this one is filling and yummy. I had some fresh fruit that needed to be used (Mangoes, Strawberries, and Pineapples) and had recently cracked open a Coconut and was looking for a way to use it up. I decided the quickest way to use everything was a smoothie. It was fast, really yummy, and filling.

1 Cup each of Pineapple Chunks,
Mangoes, and Strawberries
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
½ Cup Coconut meat w/Coconut water
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
Place all ingredients into a blender (magic bullet) and blend till smooth. Serves 2.
We enjoyed a good weekend at the family cabin in mountains with Lin's family.
lots of four wheelin' - always a favorite! :)
cousin time
Serena reading to her younger cousins
and somehow there's always a bit of work to do,
fitting rubber mats into the Gaga pit

Love the scenery!
shooting clay pigeons
Father and Son :) 2 special men!

and our wonderful parents
We love you Mom and Dad!
We feel blessed to have had this special weekend together as a family! Dad was well enough to go along and also to enjoy our time there. He is still able to manage his pain but gets tired quickly. We feel overwhelmed at times but know that God is Ever Faithful and He will walk this journey by our side. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for our family and for those of you who are always there with an encouraging word! We appreciate and love you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Black Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake

mmmmmm, yumm!
I was recently asked to bring a cheesecake to a family gathering, something with raspberries. Usually when I get a request like that my mind is either drawn to one of my favorites (White Chocolate Raspberry) or I get the urge to create one that I've never made before. Knowing that my Father In Law loves black raspberries I decided to create this one just for him.
Back in March I had buried some Vanilla Beans in white sugar in a Tupperware container, marked the date on top and stuck it into the cupboard and forgot about them. The ingredient Vanilla Sugar had been dancing around in my mind for a while and I thought I would at least prepare it so I have it on hand when an inspiration hit me. When the label Black Raspberry Vanilla Swirl popped into my head I knew I was prepared. :)
I had an abundance of black raspberries last year and instead of freezing all of them whole I had blended and sieved some of them and froze just the pulp. This came in handy too because the true raspberry flavor came through in the sauce and the whole frozen ones I added after it was cooled made it seem like they were fresh. Win win!
I was pleased with the color and creaminess of this one, and it was so delicious!
Line the bottom of a 10 inch Spring Form pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°.
For the Crust:
 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons cup All Purpose Flour
 9 Tablespoons Almond Meal
 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
 9 Tablespoons White Sugar
 1/3 teaspoon Salt
Mix together in a food processor or by hand until small crumbs form. Press into the bottom of a 10 inch Spring Form Pan (lined with parchment paper and sprayed). Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Reduce heat to 300°. Place a small pan of hot water onto the bottom oven rack.
For the cake:
6 (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1½ cups Vanilla Sugar
6 large Eggs, room temp.
½ cup sour cream, room temp.
1½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup raspberry juice, no pulp
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Sugar
1 Tablespoon AP Flour
In a mixer bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine eggs and sour cream, beat till combined. Add into the cream cheese mixture and beat only till combined.
Measure out 3 cups of batter and place into a separate bowl. Fold/add in 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract to this.
Combine the raspberry juice, 2 TBS. vanilla sugar, and 1 TBS. AP flour and mix until no lumps remain and sugar is dissolved. Add to the batter still in the mixer bowl. Gently fold in just until mostly combined.
Pour half of colored batter onto cooled crust.
Pour in vanilla batter, try to cover all the colored batter.
Repeat with the last of the colored batter.
Bake for 60-65 minutes in a 300° oven. When the sides look puffed and dry and the center is still jiggly, turn the oven heat off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon handle for another 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven and run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before removing from the pan onto a serving plate.
1 cup Raspberry Juice, no pulp
1/3 cup Vanilla Sugar
½ cup water
1 cup frozen Black Raspberries
2 Tablespoons Clear Jel powder
water to make a thin paste
For the sauce: Combine raspberry juice, water, and vanilla sugar in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Thicken with Clear Jel, not stiff, this should be thickened but still runny. (I ended up not using quite all the clear jel/water mixture I had prepared). When it is cooled add in the frozen berries and stir until combined. Serve over cheesecake.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Homemade (Canned) Mushroom Soup

Superb Flavor and Super Easy
For a long time I had abandoned the use of canned cream soups unless someone requested a dish that required the use of them. Two reasons for this, 1. because they were not the healthiest thing on the planet and 2. they have extreme anemic flavor! Yuck! Not worth the calories in my opinion. I mean, seriously, anyone can mix flour and water and a few tiny mushrooms or chicken pieces and seal it in jars!! But the effort is completely wasted if the end result is a flavorless glop. Okay, I'll quit ranting and move on to share some absolutely amazing mushroom flavor! Yes, in a jar! :)

A few months ago my MIL shared this recipe with me and I've made it several times and totally love the flavor and the fact that it's also gluten free.
2 cup butter*
6 cups baby Bella mushrooms,
sliced or chopped or both (your choice)
4 Tablespoons sea salt
2 cups tapioca starch
16 cups milk
*Original recipe calls for this amount of butter but half would be better. IMO.
Melt butter in a large kettle. Add the mushrooms and cook/sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the salt and tapioca starch and stir. This will be very thick. Slowly add the milk (I added about a 1/3 of the milk and then ran it through the blender before adding the rest) and stir well.
Stir over medium heat until thickened.
Pour into 12 clean pint jars, wipe tops and seal. Fill only to the bottom of the neck, soup expands while in the water bath, or pressure canner in my case, and leaks out if the jars are overfilled. 
Water bath 2 hours or if using a pressure canner (follow manufacturers instructions!) 1 hour @ 11 lbs. pressure.
I prepared this recipe and sautéed some sweet onions and extra mushrooms and added them to the canned soup which I had diluted slightly with water. And because most of my family enjoys the flavor but not the texture of the mushrooms I blended everything till it was smooth before pouring it over the meat.
So much yummy, yummy flavor!
Poor Mans Steak
This was a different night that I served it over chicken breast and wild rice.
It was wonderful!!
I hope you have a wonderful week! It's going to be a very busy one for us here but we will do our best to enjoy it anyway. :) I don't usually like when there's too much going on because I enjoy time to think, reflect, and savor moments. But some things can't be avoided and life becomes busy so you do what you can and enjoy it anyway.

Linking to:
Kitchen Flavours