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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from me, Joe, and the boys! I hope yall have a very Merry Christmas amd very Happy New Year!

Yesterday was spent with Joe and I going to see a movie, then coming home to open presents and do absolutely nothing else.  We spent the previous weekend with my parents and my brother and his super sweet family. Today was spent doing a ton of housework and cooking a delicious ham. Sounds fun, right? 

I love spending time with family, I really do. But it's nice to have some alone time in the rush of the holiday season. I'm thankful for everything I have with Joe and our boys and quiet holidays like this give me time to realize how much I really do have.

Have a good holiday y'all!  I'll include my super yummy ham recipe in a few days.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

Joe and I decided that we would not travel this year for the holidays due to extensive travel throughout the year. Instead, we decided to keep a low profile and have a few of his co workers over for a late Thanksgiving dinner. We had a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner with an oven baked turkey, buttermilk mashed potatoes,  crockpot dressing, crockpot sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry pomegranate sauce, and a sweet potato pie.  I get full just from reading that list!

I'm not one that likes cranberry sauce... I'm also one that has never actually tasted cramberry sauce...Joe makes fun of me for this. I know, I can't not like something if you've never tried it before but, hey! Its my party and I'll cry if I want to. 

I remembered at about 2 o clock on Thanksgiving Thursday that I hadn't yet gone to the store for cranberry sauce and I was not about to leave then and go. I'd watched the Thanksgiving Live show on the Food Network earlier in the day which made it about the 4th time I'd watched it  since that previous Saturday.  You could say I was a professional by this time when it came to Thanksgiving....haha only kidding!  I remembered seeing Alton Brown's recipe for homemade cranberry sauce and decised I'd give it a shot.  The only ingredients I had that he called for were cranberries and honey so I'd have to improvise...I didn't try the main recipe but I think this one is much better!

          Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

1/4 cup cranberry-pomegranate juice
1/4 cup apple cider
1 cup honey
1/2 bag cranberries (I think its a 12oz bag)
Arils of 1 pomegranate

Mix together both liquids and honey in a medium saucepan amd bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to a medium-low heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Add cranberries and pomegranate arils and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries burst.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a mold of choice ( I used a pint and a half mason jar ans it was the perfect size) and refrigerate for 6 hours up to overnight.

I could have eaten this stuff straight out of the jar on crackers it was so good! Make it for Christmas and enjoy all the compliments you'll get!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Easy Nights

For the past week and half or so we've had pretty low temperatures in the 30's.  I had some pepper plants outside that I was trying to let ripen completely before I set them out for seed drying.  But...since I was late planting them and they clearly weren't hitting their fully ripe stage, I went ahead and snatched them off the plants before frost hit.  I put them on my kitchen windowsill in hopes that they will ripen.  

If y'all have any tips on this, please share!  

Agave, bamboo, and another plant I'm not sure the name of!  Getting everything inside before cool weather really hits.

Baby red bells & cayenne peppers

Tobasco peppers waiting to be turned into homemade tobasco sauce

This morning I had all intentions of coming home after work and spending the day mastering meatloaf....but that didn't happen.  Starbucks & Jason's Deli sounded like a better idea so I decided on making an easy dinner instead.  Ever have those days?  I have them about 3 times a week (and I usually cook 5 out of the 7 so it happens more often than not.)  

With the chilly temperatures we've been having, I figured a comfort food was in order.  Joe will be excited to see that chili is on the menu instead of meatloaf.  He wasn't too thrilled when I told him that's what I had planned for the evening.  

Now, chili is one of those dishes that everybody makes different and I think you like whatever you grew up on.  I'm a simple person so I like simple dishes.  When it comes to chili, I don't want to spend my time throwing in veggies, curing the sauce, using a bunch of herbs or whatever else it is that people put in it.  Okay so it may not be too complicated, but I like eating what I grew up on and veggies were not in it!  

My chili has tomato sauce, chili beans, homemade taco seasoning, extra chili powder, and ground beef.  I brown the ground beef and drain it, add it to my pot of tomato sauce, chili beans, and seasonings, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Voila!!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Add a pan of homemade buttermilk cornbread and a big ole' glass of milk and you've got a delicious and easy supper.  

Chili Ingredients

2 cans tomato sauce
1 can chili beans
1 pound ground beef (or ground deer)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tablepsoon chili powder

I'd love to hear your variations on chili and what you grew up on!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Night Dinner

Tonight I sit here watching The Voice, tummy full, glass of wine in hand, and the sound of power tools in the background.  Joe is busy making a new feeder for the boys' food and water bowls.  I came across this yummy deer roast recipe from my favorite blog and it was just as delicious as it looked on her post.  You can find it here.

I fell upon this blog about 2 years ago when I was starting to research my obsession on canning.  You'll often see my refer to it because this incredible woman is full of so much knowledge and I admire her greatly.  Okay...back to this kick ace dinner.

My family hunts (and when I say my family, I mean my dad and stepbrothers), and we've learned to surround ourselves with hunters as well because of our love of Deer.  I will eat deer any way I can: in spaghetti, fried, slow cooked, baked, you get it...  Throughout the year we have deer stocked in our freezer but today I used my last deer roast.  It was a sad day, but also a glorious one because of how good this deer roast was.  

First I took my deer roast, dried it off well, and seared it in my cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  You just want to sear it til it's nice and brown on each side.  

Then I took some of my frozen onions and browned them in my skillet to get all of those yummy juices soaked into them.  

Now, you'll want to take your roast of your skillet once it's browned on each side (before you put the onions in) and place it on a plate or cutting board to let it cool a bit.  Cut about 5 slits in the top of your roast and place sliced garlic in it.  If you really like garlic you could probably add a whole clove in each slit but I'm a little leery of that much garlic so I opted to use one clove for the whole roast.  Next time I'll use more garlic for sure.  

Place your roast in the crockpot.  She calls for 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 tablespoon parsley, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and pepper to taste.  I'm not a fan of thyme, and I had no mushrooms on hand so I used 1 quart deer broth (you could substitute beef or chicken broth with bouillon cubes just  make sure it covers the roast), 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the onions from the skillet, and topped the roast with 1/2 stick of butter. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.

When the roast was cooked, I took it out and placed it on a platter and covered it with foil to let it rest.  I then added 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of corn starch with enough water to make a paste and poured it into my crock pot (set on high still).  Be sure to stir it well and let it simmer for about 30 minutes and you'll have your gravy!  I sliced my roast and covered it in gravy because I felt it looked more homestyled.  Joe did not grow up on deer like I did so sometimes he gets that shy sparkle in his eye when I tell him deer is for supper and it's a new recipe.  Rest assured that if you are not a venison fan, he said you couldn't tell that this was deer. I wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or if he was bashing my cooking but he seemed to enjoy it and so did I so I didn't care too much.  

For my sides I used a quart jar of my canned potatoes, drained them, mashed them and mixed them with some buttermilk, salt and pepper.  And some zipper cream peas from my stepmom's garden.

Just some good ole southern homestyle cooking to make a perfect night.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Freeze Pepper & Onions

I don't know about you but I love having peppers and onions on hand for cooking.  Frozen bell peppers and onions are so handy for soups, stews, tacos, casseroles, sauteing, and more and they are so easy to do!  Anytime I find bell peppers on a good sale at the grocery store (or in the summer time, at the farmer's markets) I love to buy a few, dice 'em up, freeze 'em, and keep 'em in the freezer.  Onions, I do the same.  Costco always has sweet yellow onions for pretty cheap and just recently my MIL gave me a few of her homegrown onions.  

This is a pretty hard process so be sure to follow closely.....

Dice your bell peppers and onions.

Spread them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Pop them in the freezer for 2 hours.

Take them out and bag them.

Told you it was hard!

About to go in the freezer

Out of the freezer and into bags

Canning Potatoes

Yesterday was a busy day with laundry, canning, cleaning house.  Man what an exciting day!  It was a gorgeous day out and the dogs enjoyed playing outside for the majority of the day.  I wish I would snapped a few pictures on my camera phone...  Joe was at a dinner meeting so I had some yummy frozen corn dogs for supper.  

Back to the topic.  Last week our local Price Chopper had 10 lb bags of russet potatoes on sale for $1.99!  HOLY COW!  I already had 1 10 lb bag and 1/2 a 5lb bag of golden potatoes and another 1/2 a 10 lb bag of russets in the pantry but I couldn't pass that good of a deal up.  

First thing I did was peel my potatoes.  

Next I diced them up into 1'' pieces and put them in a large dishpan with cold water.

I boiled my pot of water and got my pressure canner ready with 4 inches of water in the bottom of it.

I warmed my jars in the dishwasher on the heat warmer setting and brought my lids and rings to a slight simmer.

Fill your jars with potatoes, add 1/2 tsp of canning salt, and fill with water to the 1/2" headspace line.

Make sure to get your air bubbles out with a non metallic object and wipe the rims of your jars with a damp washcloth.  

Place your lids on your jars, put on your rings, and put jars in your canner.

Process at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes.

Wait til the pressure goes down completely, places your jars on a double folded dish towel, and let rest for 12 to 24 hours.

I did 2 different styles of potatoes, long cut potatoes for french fries and cubes for mashed potatoes.

Once I pull out a jar to use, I'll let y'all know how they cook up!  Otherwise we'll be having lots of mashed potatoes!  I'll be finishing up my potatoes tomorrow by doing slices, more fries, and more cubes!  Hopefully potatoes won't be on my grocery list for a while!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Change is Good

So when I first started this blog, I wanted to make it kind of personal but mostly just about my crafting, canning, cooking, couponing, etc.  But the more I read my favorite blogs that I can connect with , I feel like my readers would connect more with me and my blog topics if I shared with you more of my daily life. (Hope that made sense)  On days that I don't work, I enjoy piddling around in the kitchen, a little bit of crafting, and more piddling around in the kitchen.  I'm always looking for ways to cook more from scratch, preserve food,  and use less processed food.  The blogs I read on a daily basis (you can find them on the right side of this page) continually inspire me and I hope I can do this for y'all from here on out.  I hope to post more and would love to hear about any topics you would love to learn about.

Here's a look at my family and I hope to share more with y'all as the days pass!

My Fiance, Joe, & I

My babies, Boomer (the bigger guy) & Rango

Boomer sporting his doggles

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homemade Chicken & Dumplins

The HF (that's right!  that handsome boyfriend has now become the handsome FIANCE!...more on that later) and I have been going without chicken for a while...and he hasn't been a happy camper.  While I try and keep us on a strict grocery budget of $200 a month, he has no problem with buying whatever he wants for food.  Needless to say, I keep up with all the grocery buying.

A guy that the HF works with passed on to him a flyer for whole organic chickens from an Amish farm for a pretty decent price so we ordered 10 of them (6 for us, 4 for some friends).  Yesterday I spent the day cutting up all of the chickens and dividing them up into bags for later meals and last night I made our first chicken dish in over a month!

Here's the recipe for the best chicken and dumplins you'll ever eat:

1 1/2 quarts homemade chicken stock
3 chicken legs, shredded
3 chicken thighs, shredded
Dumplins (recipe below for those)
1 can evaporated milk
lots of black pepper and some salt

Pour your chicken broth into your pot and bring it to a boil, drop in your cut up dumplins (about 1/3 of them) into the boiling water and wait til they set, then throw in a handful of chicken.  Repeat with the dumplins and chicken until it's all gone then pour in the can of evaporated milk, turn the heat down to simmer, and pop the lid on it.  Let simmer for an hour then they're ready to eat!

Dumplin recipe:
2 cups self rising flour
pinch of baking powder
pinch of baking soda
3 tbls olive oil

Mix together your dry ingredients then mix in enough buttermilk til the mixture is moist but not sticky.  I don't measure my buttermilk so use your best judgement.  This is a recipe that my step mom passed on to me and it is also her biscuit recipe!

No picture for this recipe because we ate them faster than the time I could grab my camera...maybe next time!

Bragging Rights--Canning Tally 2013

In the past year or so I've really gotten into canning.  I happened to stumble on a couple of blogs through Pinterest and they changed my life forever.  Canning has been the most rewarding hobby I've ever picked up.  I guess I didn't realize it when I was younger, but everybody around me canned food.  It's amazing being able to go down to my basement and grab a jar of beans to go with supper that night, or grab a jar of homemade chicken broth to make homemade chicken and dumplins'.  Does canning take a while to get the hang of? Yes.  But it is SO worth it in the end.  You may spend a little more money upfront by buying fresh veggies (you could grow your own garden to lower costs) but your family will be eating much healthier foods than the MSG loaded stuff you buy in the stores!  Don't be scared, give it a try!

So far this year I've canned:

6 pints purple hull peas
40 quarts, 2 pints, & 2 One & a half pints of green beans
7 pints pickled okra
9 pints dill relish
4 half pints pickled pepper rings
12 half pints of hot Tabasco pepper sauce
14 pints rotel
5 pints jalapeno salsa
8 pints tomato juice
5 quarts, 2 pints, 3 one & a half pints of chicken broth
3 quarts, 4 one & a half pints smoked pork broth
3 pints pintos
3 pints zipper cream peas
4 pints butter beans
2 half pints Chile sauce
8 pints peaches--Thanks Karie!

To add to what I have left over from 2012:

9 pints dill pickles
4 pints bread and butter pickles
4 pints squash pickles
2 pints dill relish
3 pints, 1 half pint applesauce
2 quarts apple cider
3 half pints pear jam
3 half pints jalapeno jelly
5 one & a half pints red pepper relish
4 quarts smoked turkey broth
2 quarts deer broth
2 half pints apple glaze

De-Waxing Candle Jars

Recently I came across these super cute candles in mason jars at Dollar General for $1.50.  They were fall scents and I immediately had multiple craft ideas for the jar pop in my head when I saw them...and you can't beat $1.50 for a cute candle AND a mason jar, right?! I'm left with  burnt out wicks and 4 candle jars with wax in them.  I looked online and several websites gave me the same way to do this.  You simply grab your jar with wax, pour boiling water over them and let them sit for a few hours!  I got impatient and had to do this twice but all in all it only took about 3 hours.  


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mason Jar Soap Pump

So I was browsing through my Pinterest folders today and came across these Mason Jar Pumps.  I was already going to have the HB make me these Mason Jar To Go Cups so I made sure to grab extra Jars from the store to use. I've got a basement full of jars but Ball has come out with these new Vintage Blue jars and they are too cute!  

What you'll need

Pair of needle nosed pliers
Mason jar with lid and ring
x acto knife
super glue
pump from soap bottle

First thing you'll want to do is make an "x" with your x acto knife in the center of your jar lid.  Take your screwdriver and poke a hole in the center of your "x" then take the pliers to open up the hole to where your pump will go. This doesn't need to be an exact circle because your pump will cover it up.

Take your super glue and glue the lid to the ring and let it dry completely.  Don't put it on your jar just yet because the ring will stick to your jar and it will be a big me on this.  

Once that's all said and done glue your pump to your lid and screw the ring on the jar.  And you're through! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cherry Pie

I owed a friend of mine's husband a favor for fixing my car a while back and his only request was a homemade cherry pie.  6 months later and he got his request.  You can't really beat cherries at $2.88/lb!  So I set off to trusty ole' Pinterest to find a cherry pie.  I realized a few different things when I looked for a recipe for cherry pie: 1. Pitting cherries is not a fun job and 2. There are a million different cherry pie recipes!  I mashed a few together and will tweak it next time because it was a little watery but AWESOME nonetheless!

First off, I pitted my cherries by using a toothpick.  Once you pull the stem out of the cherry, take a toothpick and poke the pit.  From there you'll want to run the toothpick around the pit and pop it out.  It sounds easy, huh?  Yeah...not so much.

Cherry Pie

(2) 9" pie shells
2 lbs cherries, pitted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbs flour
1/2 cup cherry limeade
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar

Place your first shell in your pie plate.  Mix all other ingredients together and pour into the pie shell.  Cover with second pie shell and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Fun

This weekend my dad & Hobby (my stepmom) came to visit and it was fabulous!  We had a wonderful weekend full of bargain shopping, thrift store browsing, and family bonding.  We hit some major deals and it was great some quality time with my parents.  The HB even got to sneak away from work Friday afternoon and Saturday and was able to smoke a chicken and a fresh pork shoulder that dad brought up!  My favorite store Hobby and I hit up was a little antique store and we scored some awesome items.

We got this adorable relish tray and  1/4" Pyrex plate at Goodwille for super cheap.  The HB isn't a big pie eater so the small pie plate is perfect for a personal pie dish!  

Just a forewarning when you're deal shopping at stores like Goodwill:  Home good items are not always a great deal...canning jars in particular.  They were selling them at $.99 a piece which is not a deal because you can get a case of 12 brand new ones for under $10. 

A blue bird of happiness.  Hobby says every kitchen should have one.  I think it gives my kitchen a cute touch.  We got this at the cute little antique store.

This little gem was one of my favorites.  I've been obsessing over cast iron for a while and thought was absolutely adorable.  It's heavy duty and Hobby suggested it would be a perfect toothpick holder.  

"Watkins 1868"
 I'm assuming this was made on the printed date but if anyone has any information on this I would love to know more about it!

Earlier in the day we went to Target just to browse and picked up a flemsy plastic pastry blender.  Then we went to the antique store and came across this beauty!  It's pretty much one of the greatest inventions ever and I'm in love with it.  I love that it's old, it has history, and it was made in the USA!  Watch out pies, here I come!

Anybody know anything about these?  Year it was made maybe?

Hidden in the corner of this same antique store lay 4 unopened boxes.  Me being the nosey little gal I am opened the top one up and almost squealed in excitement.  There were 4 dozen quart size canning jars just waiting for a home to love them and I snagged them up! I paid a quarter a jar and I can't stop admiring them.  The front of the jars have MASON JAR stamped on the front with a star.  Any idea on what year these babies are?  I'm not thinking they are super old.

Hobby & Daddy brought me some canned goods that I was just ecstatic about!  To add to my stocked pantry she brought me a jar of blackbery jam, 2 jars of zipper cream peas, 1 jar of pinto beans, 3 jars of purple hull peas, a jar of venison spaghetti sauce, and a jar of vegetable beef soup.  

I am so lucky to have the family I have and love that I have grown so close with them.  Never take family for granted because they won't always be there and always cherish the moments you have with them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Over 1000 Views!

Well y'all...

We've hit over 1000 likes!!!!!

As a thank you to all my readers I am going to do a giveaway with a variety of the items I've canned this year!

If you would like to enter this giveaway, leave a comment with your name and e-mail address and I'll have the HB randomly pick someone!

Thanks again y'all for visiting my blog!!

Photo Credit

Fried Chicken, Southern Style

I remember the very first time I cooked on a cast iron skillet it was nothing short of the most disastrous thing I'd ever done.  I had no clue how to cook and decided I would surprise my boyfriend at the time with Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper.  I should have stopped when the majority of the hamburger meat stuck to the skillet but I kept on going.  I don't remember it being edible and looking back now I see that the reason it probably didn't turn out was because the pan wasn't seasoned.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

My mom gave me my only cast iron skillet about 4 years ago and I've finally decided I'd really learn how to cook (more than cornbread) in my cast iron skillet.  After a chat with my step mom on how to cut up a chicken I thought, now I bet I could fry this up good in my cast iron skillet!

Let's get started on this chicken.

Start with soaking your pieces (skin on) in buttermilk overnight.  This will make the pieces tender and juicy.  
 2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon chili powder

Mix your coating together very well and roll chicken pieces in it.  Make sure to pat the coating into the chicken to ensure that it sticks well.

Heat enough oil (use whatever you like...I used my lard that I rendered) in the pan til it bubbles when you drop your flour in.  I only put about 1/2 an inch of oil in my skillet, some people like to put more, some less so just use your judgement as far as how you like to fry meat.  You'll also want to put a lid on your skillet when you fry your chicken.

I cooked each piece for abour 6 minutes on each side but I'll increase it to around 8 minutes on each side next time because it wasn't quite ready with 6 minutes.  Fried chicken is not something that you are going to perfect the first time you do it so don't feel bad if it doesn't turn out perfect.  It'll still be darn good tho! :)

I found this recipe on pinterest but adjusted it a little bit on here per our tastes.  Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cuttin' Up Whole Chickens

Today I bought 4 whole chickens for $.99/lb at Costco, bound and determined to get them cut up tonight.  After going to the store and paying $6.00 for 3 chicken breasts the other day I decided that was absurd when I can get an entire chicken for $.99/lb at Costco.  That $6 cut into my budget tremendously.  Between youtube videos and my stepmom walking through how to cut up a chicken, I think I've got it...sort of.  It may not be pretty but dangit it's done!

What you'll need:
whole chicken
sharp, sharp knife
cutting board

First thing you want to do is pull out all those gizzards and whatever else is in the cavity.  Lay the chicken on your cutting thigh side down.  

You'll see where the skin is loose all around the thigh and leg and you'll want to take your sharp knife and cut that skin away from the chicken. Once you've got your skin cut you'll find the joint on the thigh. Stab that sucker and jimmy the thigh off.  (I'm sorry that these aren't clearer, but directions aren't my strong suit)  Repeat and cut the other thigh off.  At this point you can find the joint that connects the thigh and leg and you can cut through there to make 2 seperate pieces.  (I left mine be.)

The next part I like to cut off is the wing.  The easiest part to do this is find the joint on the wing, cut through it and cut the wing off.  I like to cut the skin arounnd the wing like I did with thigh because it makes detaching easier. 

Wings, thighs, and legs off

Next you want to pull the back off.  Lift the back apart from the breasts and cut through as far as you can.  Once that's done, it's pretty simple to pull it off.  

This is what you should be left with once the back is off (2 breasts).  I toss the back in my bag of chicken parts to make broth with.  

Now, I don't have a picture of cutting the breasts because I really wasn't sure how to go about it.  I wanted boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I'll admit, it wasn't easy to pull those babies off without butchering them.  By golly I got it though! Practice makes perfect...Right?

Opposite side of what it should be BUT, breast side up jam your knife down the center and split those breasts.  You can either stop here or take it a step further...

by skinning them and making boneless & skinless chicken breasts.  

Pretty simple, huh?

How many of you will start buying whole chickens instead of forking out the big bucks for pre-cut boneless chicken breasts?

Note: It only took me 45 minutes to cut up all 4 chickens.  Now I'm no professional chicken cutter upper but I'd say that's pretty dang good!