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small batch strawberry vanilla preserves

I love making preserves. I love the way may pantry looks lined with glass jars filled with colorful fruits and tasty sauces, I love that I don’t have brand name labels staring me in the face, and I love the simplistic beauty in a jar of jam. Unfortunately, sometimes preserves, jams, and jellies call for insane amounts of produce.

Really, who has 40 pounds of tomatoes or strawberries laying around?

I don’t. Now: 40 pounds of laundry laying around?  No comment. ;)

Unfortunately, we can’t make preserves out of  40 pounds of laundry.  Although there is a Latin dish called Ropa Veija which translates into “old clothes”… but that’s another post.

Eeek. Speaking of posts. I have slacked here. I have treated this blog like the forty pounds of laundry…. not that I haven’t wanted to post or write… things just happened to keep me away. For instance:

My “new” (1 year, 3 months) computer was “terminally ill”. Seriously. How many times have you heard four computer techs say: “We took it apart, even called the company. We can’t figure it out.” However-!!!! This “quieted” my husband who kept saying all along that I got a virus on it from Facebook.

And, I saved up and got myself a new one…. and- get this: I can do my videos again!!! YAAAAAAY! Remember the “keeping it real” cooking series I did a while ago? Oh yes.  More of those are coming.

Speaking of Facebook,  (and viruses)I unplugged from my personal page and news feed for near forty days… and, can I tell you how awesomely enlightening it is to be away from social media? I wake up and live my own life  instead of vicariously living through someone else…I realize what an extreme time sucker news feeds can be so in the future,  I am only going to check news feeds ONLY at red lights and school lines.  I’m sure I’ll be honked at on occasion a lot.

In a way, those news feeds ARE a virus. A time sucking virus that numbs your mind to the existence of real society and life. Just look at your average pre-teen with a device in their hands…I’m still not sure if my stepdaughter knows we got a new couch…

So… with my new-found “no news feed time” I managed to:

have more time to read devotionals and do homework

get laundry done before 7am

lunches made before the children awake

animals fed/watered

be a better wife and mama

I challenge you to unplug for a week (or month?) from social media. See what you can accomplish. And, share it with me, who knows maybe we’ll start a whole movement together. Sound fun?

Now: back to the preserves.

I has a lot of strawberries… not 40 pounds but maybe two or three.

Strawberry Preserves (1 of 5)

Too much to eat, and not enough to can.. (or so I thought.)

Strawberry Preserves (2 of 5)

 

Strawberry Preserves (3 of 5)

Exactly enough for six small jars of preserves.

Which will last me six months depending on how many PB&Js are requested in the allotted time period.( I have a weird kid that loathes peanut better.)

Probably because I ate so much of it while I was pregnant… luckily she’s not allergic, because I have heard that can happen…

 

Strawberry Preserves (4 of 5)ENJOY! ~ LOVE, MK

small batch strawberry vanilla preserves
 
Author:
Recipe type: preserves
Ingredients
  • 6 cups halved strawberries
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Sterilize 6- half pint jars and lids
  2. In a large saucepan combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Cook over high heat and bring to a full boil 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Ladle into the sterilized jars, attach lids and process 15 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

chocolate mint chiffon pie

image

This was a recipe I created for Florida Dairy Farmers, and it’s the perfect Springtime dessert, (or, almost Spring-at least)
It’s fluffy and minty, and has a chocolate cookie crust that balances the creamy mint filling like nothing else…

I created this recipe specifically for St Patricks day, it’s green, it’s the ideal dessert after you feast on Corned Beef and cabbage…or Irish stew, or Guiness Flank Steak.

image
You catch my drift… :)
For the complete recipe, head over to Florida Dairy Farmers website- they even have a kids section, you you can entertain the toddler on your lap, too.

strawberry shortcake roll

Strawberry shortcake rollBelieve it or not, this was a partial fail recipe…you see.. I left it a bit too long to cool after I rolled it which equals the “lovely” flat bottom the “roll” has. Hey…isn’t there a Queen song about flat bottoms? Wait. Fat bottoms. Whoops. Hmmm that makes me think of Black Bottom Pie… ever hear of it? It’s got a chocolatey fudge bottom. Yum. But, that’s another post.

I’m pretty sure the song had nothing to do with pies, that’s just how my mind works. I can pretty much relate everything to food…

So, despite this roll’s “flat bottom”, it still tasted divine-Like a fluffy pink cloud at a bakery during sunset.  Clouds always look appetizing to me…I think that’s   because I love cotton candy so much.

Cake rolls are very retro, chances are you had a granny or a nana that could whip up a mean jelly roll for Sunday’s potluck. And, there is a reason they were so popular at one time- because they are just plain fun to make. Think about it: You get to roll up a cake! It’s the ultimate in “playing with food”.

Speaking of playing with food…

I used to like jello just so I could play with it… I loved how you could hold it and not get sticky, and how it would quiver like a strange alienistic space dessert. It’s a wonder Jello took off the way it did. Especially when you think of what it actually is….

Random food thoughts for the day.

imageTo make this, you’ll need a jelly roll pan, line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking…

imageWhile the cake is slightly warm, you wrap it in a clean dish towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Mmmm powdered sugar…

Allow it to cool (just don’t leave it 8 hours to cool like I did)

And, spread with filling:

imageI used fluffy homemade whipped cream…

(And fresh chopped strawberries mixed with strawberry jam.)

You can substitute any other fruit, but if you happen to use something other than strawberries, I’d suggest changing the name. You don’t want to mislead folks, you know.

Once it’s filled you roll it back up. It’s that easy. And, trust me.. the cake will want to curl back up with you. Jelly roll cakes are very obedient.

I hope you enjoy this! Here are a few more cake roll recipes:

Like this Boston Cream Cake Roll

boston rollSwiss cake Roll:

swiss cake roll

There is also a Buche de Noel on here, but we’ll save that for Christmas time. :)
8

strawberry shortcake roll
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, set aside
  3. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and vanilla.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and salt.
  5. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff but not dry
  6. Gently fold in the flour mixture and yolks.
  7. Spread onto prepared pan.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes
  9. Meanwhile whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form,
  10. set aside
  11. Once cake is done, gently remove from pan and invert onto a clean towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar.
  12. Roll up, starting with shorter end.
  13. Set aside to cool
  14. Once cool, gently unfold and spread with whipped cram.
  15. Dot with strawberries and jam and re-roll.
  16. Place on serving platter seam side down and dust with powdered sugar to garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

baked sour cream doughnuts

baked sour cream doughnuts   There are times I get cravings for moist, cake like doughnuts smothered in a slightly crisp glaze, there are other times I get cravings for grilled cheese made with (gasp!) white bread and lots of salted butter in the pan, with creamy American cheese oozing at every bite. Junk food at it’s finest.

Then, there are times I get a non food craving- a craving to declutter all the excess stuff in my life, of course this usually happens after I watch an episode of “Hoarders” … not that any of my stuff is anywhere near some of those, of course.( Although I will admit I have an abundance of cookbooks and pretty mismatched dishes.) There are also times I get cravings to shut down everything that requires electricity or batteries and go off the grid for a week. Then, there are times I get a craving to say yes to every wish of my child because she won’t be this young forever, and then there are cravings of five minutes of freedom from the worries that saturate a mother’s mind. I get cravings to go on vacation, I get cravings to stay in bed all day, I get cravings to blow it off, and other days I have cravings to conquer the world.

The point is, at some point- everyone gets a craving, a hankering, a ” gotta have ________ “feeling. And, there are good cravings and bad cravings, there are wants and needs and addictions.  And, there are some cravings that no matter what you cannot fulfill on your own. Innermost wants, desires and needs that nobody else knows about.

I think it’s time to start to crave something new.  Contentment.

I’m content with my imperfections and my flaws both with myself and around my house. I’m content that my near 39 years are beginning to show- (finally people will take me seriously) I’m content with my not so perfect family (we work through stuff instead of faking it) I’m content that I give in once in a while ( I’m not a tyrant) and I’m content that I give myself a break on occasion (but I always get out of bed)

It’s time to start trying to look for ways to be content, despite the discontentment that can sometimes saturate our thoughts.

Gratitude, contentment in all things, and peace.

Gratitude= contentment in all things= peace.

Peace= ability to love others and help people, because you’re not so preoccupied on yourself.

Loving others & Helping people= LIFE.

I went on a bit of a ramble this morning, huh? My daughter is sick, so no school for her= no lunches/car drive/ morning routine for me.

Does this mean I’m happy she’s sick? Not at all. Have I found the contentment in the situation? Yes.The gratitude? Yes. I was able to write and share without distraction. The peace? Yes, I know that this too shall pass and she will be better.

There will be times when the contentment, gratitude and peace will be close to impossible to find. In death, illness and injury.. we are sometimes left lost and bewildered in reasoning.

Those are the times when the answers lie elsewhere, and not in the moment, sometimes not in any moment of this life… and that is where life in general can be most difficult to endure. I’ve been through death, disappointment and rage. I’ve been through periods of complete and utter hopelessness, despair and neglect.  Attempting to be content in those times is close to impossible.

But, there is a way.

Faith. Prayer. One step at a time. Day by day….

Recently,  I have become friends with three ladies that have been placed in my life. Two are widows, and the third is the caretaker for her husband who had a stroke. . sweet wonderful strong women, who inspire me. Through their sadness and grief they still live. Although it may not be living in the way they had imagined as young brides, they are still alive. Actively living- sharing stories with people, gracing groups with their company… taking each day as they come, and knowing that they will see their loves again. Widows like that inspire me to not be afraid of what my future holds, and that sometimes in walking alone we can make an impact on so many more. Sometimes, it’s finding contentment even in the things that are missing in our lives, even tough we think they shouldn’t be.

What on earth does this have to do with doughnuts?

A doughnut is missing it’s center. It’s been removed and set aside, and reserved for another purpose. It once was whole, but in order for it to become what it is- something had to be removed.

It’s about being content with the doughnut, despite what’s it’s lacking.

baked sour cream doughnuts

baked sour cream doughnuts
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 6 TBS sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • GLAZE:
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 6 TBS cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Add the milk, sour cream, oil, sugar,vanilla and egg and mix until there are no lumps
  4. Pipe into greased doughnut pan and bake for 12-15 minutes
  5. Allow to cool before glazing.
  6. GLAZE:
  7. In a saucepan gently heat the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla,.
  8. Do not allow it to boil. Gently heat to a simmer.
  9. Dip or pour glaze over each doughnut, allowing excess to drip off.
  10. Allow to set and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the best homemade pizza crust recipe..ever

Most of you know that every Friday I make pizza. Tuesdays are usually tacos, and the rest of the week is a gamble.

My culinary creativeness is definitely in hibernation right now. But, despite the lack of creativity in having pizza for dinner, there is still a recipe to be had, and some pictures to go along with it. (I know, it’s been a while and I’m not even going to start with some random excuse at how busy/tired/writers block  consumed me)  I was gone living life, loving Christmas, writing things other than recipes and taking photos of things other than food. That’s another story.. today it’s a pizza story.

I use my bread machine’s dough cycle for the dough.But… It’s just as easy by hand, and you’ll get a nice arm workout when you knead the dough. Pre-pizza calorie burning.

Now: let me tell you a little story about my bread machine.

I bought it 6 years ago at a thrift store (Goodwill to be exact) it seemed in perfect condition, except it was missing it’s little paddle that goes inside to knead the dough. No biggie I thought, I bet I could find one on Ebay for five bucks… I was sure of it.

So, I handed over 9.99 for the machine, (actually it was 10.60 with tax) Took it home and went paddle hunting. Bread machine paddles for this model? $35.00. WHAT?!

So, I complained and just put it on my Ebay watch list.

Some time later it was Mother’s day, and my husband placed several wrapped gifts in my daughter’s crib. (She wasn’t using it yet- she was still napping in swings and bassinets) I remember mother’s day morning, going to the crib to place some blankets and seeing the gifts. (It’s almost as good as seeing a baby there)

My sweet hubby went “shopping” off my Ebay watch list, and got me a sweet camera lens and a bread machine paddle. (one of the million reasons I am so glad he’s mine)

Today, 6 years later, the machine’s digital display is out, so when I program the dough cycle to start I have to count the number of “beeps”. Lord help me when the beeper sound goes…. I am terrible about replacing some things.

Cookie sheets, for instance.

I need new ones.

Bras too… but let’s keep on topic here. Bra talk is totally for another day.

Homemade pizzaIt took me a while to find the perfect crust that wasn’t to thick and soggy,  literally it took me about six months of Fridays. I wanted a crisp crust but also a nice softness and chewiness on the inside.

The secret ingredient for that?

Nonfat dry milk powder.

You can see some of the earlier crusts that were way too thick for my liking.

1-DSC_0230-001I also cook my pizza on a baking stone.

And, I usually burn my hand at some point every Friday night. I currently have a doozy right on top of my hand. Battle scars of pizza making, I suppose. ;)

As for the sauce? I don’t go all Martha homemade. I usually scoop up a jar and season it heavily with oregano and garlic… sometimes if we have pasta earlier in the week I use the leftover sauce. (Shhh… that’s our little secret) Another secret? The cheese!!! Don’t use the pre shredded stuff. It’s coated with flour to prevent it from sticking and it doesn’t melt as well as the kind you grate yourself. I also toss in a wee bit of cheddar or Colby. It breaks up the monotony of Mozzarella. Little tips from yours truly. <3

For the recipe below, it will make two thin 16″ pizzas.  Be smart. Make one and freeze one so you can be really lazy next Friday. ;)

Enjoy!

Friday night pizzas
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1⅔ cups warm water
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBS non fat dry milk powder
  • 4½ cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp yeast (either active dry or instant)
Instructions
  1. By hand:
  2. Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add the sugar and set aside for five minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to form a dough.
  4. Knead the dough for five minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
  5. Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size.
  6. Sprinkle some coarse cornmeal on a pizza stone or oven sheet.
  7. Divide dough into two equal portions and roll out to ⅓-1/4″ thickness.
  8. Top with desired pizza toppings.
  9. Bake in a preheated 475 oven for 15-20 minutes, or until bubble and golden.
  10. If using a bread machine:
  11. Select dough cycle and remove the dough after the first rise.
  12. Remove the dough and follow directions above for rolling and baking.