Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Ahh, the day of crazed shopping known as Black Friday. Whether or not you'll be participating, the idea for today is simple:
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Super easy and delicious. Make it in the blender or food processor, and refrigerate until serving, and
Friday, November 20, 2009
Mashed Yams- my mom used to make a batch of yams and a batch of regular mashed potatoes a few days ahead, and spoon or pipe them into the empty yam skins (half yam and half potato.) Besides looking nice, they re-heat in only 15 minutes.
Stuffing- this can easily be made ahead. I like mine in a shallow baking dish, making re-heat time faster. If you don't actually stuff your turkey, it cooks faster also (and won't be overdone.)
Vegetables- steam them on the stove, in only a few minutes. Serve with a cheese sauce or hollandaise.
Raw Cranberry Relish- so easy! Blender it up a few days ahead of time, keep in the fridge.
I am happy to share this psot at Homemaker Mondays- check it out for lots of great ideas!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I'm sharing two recipes that I posted for the Holiday series:
Mashed Yams - (self-explanatory!)
Green Beans "Uncasserole"- (beans w/ homemade hollandaise- yummy and easy)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I adapted my basic pot roast for the crockpot, just to make it easier.
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4-6 lb chuck roast, seasoned with salt and pepper (and browned on all sides if desired)
2 cups beef stock
2-3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
Place crockpot to low. Add in the onions and garlic, rest the roast on top. Mix the stock with the tomato paste and thyme, and pour in. Cook for about 4 hours. Add in the potatoes and carrots, and cook for another 1-2 hours.
Refried Bean "Enchiladas"
I created this meal out of mostly pantry ingredients (although they were homemade), from desperation at having very little to cook. It's a time-light meal, only 2 hours on high.
4-6 tortillas, homemade (purchased okay)
1 1/2 cups refried beans-homemade preferred
1 cup each of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, mixed (all one type okay also)
Spread tortillas with beans, and sprinkle each filled tortilla with about 2 Tablespoons cheese. Layer into crockpot
2 cups tomato puree
1 cup salsa (homemade preferred, or add in 1 tomato, 1/2 onion, and 1/2 jalapeno, chopped)
Mix together, and pour over tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Cook for 2 hours on high, or 4-5 hours low.
Additions- try more hot peppers, sliced olives or sweet bell peppers on top.
This post was inspired by Passionate Homemaking's Slowcooker Carnival- check it out!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Strangely enough, right at this time my sister married, and her husband's mother also made the dressing. I feel that this was one of the things that helped bring together the two families. My brother-in-law's parents came for Thanksgiving, and it was like my grandmother was still there, and these two ladies and their recipe was connecting us all. The recipe was a tradition we kept.
A new tradition for our now bigger family also came from my brother-in-law's mom, egg noodles (served with the gravy.) I love these noodles, as the are also traditionally Pennsylvania Dutch. She made this for many years, but after she also passed away, we did not have it for two years. I think we simply forgot about it. I decided to start bringing the noodles the next year. It was something I missed, and I didn't want to lose the tradition. Two years later, I brought my DH to Thanksgiving. As it turns out, he loves egg noodles. So this once-new tradition brought together a now even-larger family.
The lesson? Keep all the traditions you can, and don't be afraid of making new ones. You never know what the family will remember, and one day your kids might continue them on.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
- Go over this with your spouse and whole family. Who will you definitely see on Christmas Eve? Christmas Day? Maybe this year you would like to spend the holiday with just your household,and see other family members a few days before. Stand up for whatever plan you decide on.
- Come up with a plan for the other family members and out-of-town guests. Are you visiting or will they come to you? Will they stay at your house, and what will happen for meals? If there are hard feelings from changing old traditions, try to come up with new ones. Get grandparents to watch the kids sledding, or go caroling, and then make cocoa.
- For friends or extra-extended family, consider having a party a week or two before the actual holiday. If this seems like too much work, you can host a pot-luck, or have an appetizer party with make-ahead dishes.
Just remember that this season is supposed to be about having fun, which you won't be if you're stressed out about all the people you " just have to" see within two days. Spread out the love over a longer time- people will eventually come to see that it allows you to all enjoy each other's company more.
I am happy to share this post at Finer Things Friday.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Sweet potatoes or yams, about 1 per person, baked for about an hour (fork a few times so the steam escapes, otherwise they could explode)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Please forgo any comments, and just keep your prayers for Stellan and his family.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Planning your last-minute details is critical in maintaining your peace of mind when the holidays are upon you.
- Plan for the big day- every little thing. I like to make an hour-by-hour schedule. I base this on my earlier plans, which allowed me to see how long each dish would take to cook, etc.
- Plan for the preparations- be ready! Make sure you schedule all the little tasks, like cleaning, and big things (like making sure guest rooms are ready.) This will keep your stress down as the holiday approaches.
- Plan for the unexpected- it will happen. You know, it, that thing that can't possibly happen and then does. An unfrozen turkey, even after 4 1/2 days in the refrigerator. Forgetting that your brother-in-law is allergic to raisins and putting them in both apple pies. Those things, they will happen. Be sure of it, and try to plan for whatever you can. Otherwise, relax and enjoy knowing you've done all you could.
Remember, plans will help you to keep your focus on the important part of the season- family, friends, faith.
I am happy to share this post at Homemaker Monday.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
- Go through the rooms in your house to get all the basics, i.e. tissues, dishwasher and dish soaps, laundry soap, and yes, toilet paper. If you have young children don't forget diapers and wipes- buy the big boxes if you can. This is a time of year when these things go on sale, because stores know people need lots of them and are trying to save money for the holidays.
- Kitchen necessities are also on sale, including baking items like flour, sugar and sweeteners, butter, yeast, chocolate, fruits and nuts. As reminded me, don't forget the spices (or extracts.)
- Think of the extras such as tape, gift-wrapping items and stamps. Bonus points for picking out cards a few weeks early -while there's still a good selection.
I know it can be a challenge to buy this stuff ahead of time, especially on a budget. If you try to get the things that are most important, and fill in as you can over the next few weeks, I guarantee you will feel more relaxed. And don't forget to put gas in the car before you go to the stores!
I am sharing this at Finer Things Friday- go and see all the great ideas!
3/4 c. real cultured buttermilk, or yogurt thinned with a bit of milk
1/4 butter, slightly softened
2 cups whole grain flour (I use "white" soft wheat, but imagine you could use your favorite)
Mix together the yogurt and butter until well combined. Add in the flour, and let sit at least 8-12 hours, up to 24 hours. (I usually let it sit overnight and part of the next morning.)
Roll out thinly, using plain white or sprouted flour to dust the surface and rolling pin. Cut into squares (or use cookie cutters for shapes- I have a fish one!) and place on a baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper or other seasoning as desired.
Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. Alternatively, if desiring a "raw food" product these may be dehydrated at a low temperature, and will take from 4-8 hours.
I am happy to share this post at Pennywise Platter Thursdays- check out all the great frugal, real food posts!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons butter
flavoring- optional (1 teas. real extract of vanilla, mint, orange, etc. or 1 Tables. fruit jam)
Melt chocolate, heavy cream, and butter in a double boiler. Alternatively, heat the cream and butter in a saucepan, add the chocolate and take off the heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Mix in the flavoring if desired, and spread into a shallow baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 4 days. Scoop out, and roll into balls. Refrigerate on parchment lined baking sheets for at least 30 minutes. Coat truffles, if desired, in cocoa powder, melted chocolate, coconut, or diced nuts. Refrigerate, will keep for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!)
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar (raw unrefined sugars work well in this recipe)
1 Tablespoon baking soda (non-aluminum)
1 Tablespoon vinegar (I prefer apple cider)
Prepare a shallow baking dish or a baking sheet by liberally coating with melted butter.
Melt honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until thick and medium brown, at a temperature of 300 degrees (hard-crack stage, using a candy thermometer is recommended) stir in the vinegar. Remove from heat, and sift in the baking soda. Stir a few times, and pour quickly into your dish. You must get the candy into the dish/ sheet fast; this sets up in very little time. Spread out as best you can, score into squares with a buttered knife if desired, and let sit until cooled. Break into pieces. Coat with melted chocolate to finish. This will keep for a few days, or refrigerated up to a week and a half.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I love making gifts for the holiday season- it's frugal, and fun. Making gifts allows me to focus on the true meaning of the season instead of being stuck in the consumerism that can define the holidays if you're not careful.
- Gifts from the kitchen- just about everyone loves homemade goodies. These allow you to really spend time and effort on the gifts, which people notice. The possibilities here are endless- try some flavored vinegars.
- Gifts suited to the recipient- make your homemade gifts "fit" the person just as you would for purchased gifts. Have family with food sensitivities? Make them special mixes/ treats that fall within their dietary needs.
- Gifts that look good- wrap the presents with care. Consider making gift baskets with a theme like breakfast- with homemade granola; pancake or scone mix- and fill it out with some purchased items (like some good coffee or tea.) Try using different containers and wrapping, such as a saucepan, metal colander, or kitchen towels. You can get inexpensive cookie and candy tins from thrift stores, clean them in the dishwasher and line them with parchment or colored plastic wrap.
For recipes I love, be sure to visit the links above. See the other posts in the Holiday Series by clicking on the picture. I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday, come see all the great ideas!
- Start with a budget- allotting a certain amount for each person and commit to not going over this amount. This alone helped my stress levels so much, knowing that I could work harder to find a simple gift that would actually have meaning; rather than just buying what seemed like a great gift but was actually just plain pricey.
- Start writing down ideas now- whether you're planning homemade gifts or store-bought. This way, if you find a great deal at the store on something that would make a good gift, you can buy it. Likewise, for homemade gifts you'll have a way to make a timeline so you won't be making everything last minute.
- Start getting a gift area prepared- a place to keep everything organized. I just started this last year, in a desperate attempt to save myself from Christmas Eve-itis. You know, the thing only men are supposed to have- the syndrome where on Christmas Eve (or at 5:30 am on Christmas Day) you're still wrapping gifts. Avoid this at all costs- store/hide all gifts in the same area, and get out all your gift-wrapping paraphernalia and put it there too. Paper, boxes, tape, scissors, ribbons- all in one place, all with your gifts. Doesn't that sound nice?
In case you also make cookies, I want to share one of my favorite cookie recipes. Alert- this is a basic butter recipe with few modifications. Readers who are regular visitors here and expecting a "healthy" recipe: you should probably leave now! For everyone else, you'll see why I love this recipe- it can be modified to create three variations, so your baking day(s) won't be so crazy.
Basic Cookie Dough
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar (this is one place I don't use honey, although I do try to use unrefined cane sugar)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups flour (I recommend sprouted flour here as soaking doesn't work well with cookie doughs)
In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs and vanilla and combine. Add in the salt, and then add in the flour slowly. Combine well, then divide the dough into four equal portions (if planning on using all the following variations.) Refrigerate at least 3 hours until firm, or for up to 1 week.
This dough may be rolled and cut, or shaped as desired. Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Variations: Orange-Chocolate; Ginger-Spice; Snowballs
1 Tablespoon orange zest (organic oranges recommended)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
Add in the zest to the cookie dough. When cookies are baked cool on rack, then drizzle melted chocolate on top.
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice (may substitute 1/4 teas. each of ground cinnamon and clove)
These are especially nice formed into balls, pressed down flat with a glass, and sprinkled with sugar.
1 cup pecans, almonds or other nut diced finely (best if almost ground, use a food processor or grinder)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Add nuts and coconut to dough, and shape into medium balls, about 1 tablespoon of dough per ball. Bake, and when out of the oven for 1-2 minutes but still warm, sprinkle with (or roll into) powered sugar. An alternative decoration is to drizzle with white chocolate.
Additional ideas/ tips:
I like to make these three variations, leaving one quarter of the dough to make plain rolled cookies which I shape by cookie cutters, and decorate with diced fruit, colored sugar or royal icing. These are especially fun to make with children. This dough is very versatile, consider altering the recipes above to suit your family's tastes. See this Martha Stewart article, which inspired the idea of this dough and the recipes.
Please come back tomorrow for more holiday tips and another recipe- perfect for Thanksgiving.