Thursday, October 29, 2009

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I was cleaning out pumpkins in preparation of carving and my daughter asked me if we were going to keep the seeds.  I first I wasn't going to bother but one of the pumpkins had seeds that were practically sitting on top of the rest of that pumpkin goo so my daughter started collecting them.

Ciara loves doing anything in the kitchen so we washed the seeds and dried them.  We put a small amount of olive oil on a cookie sheet and then spread out the seeds on it.  Sprinkled them with some fresh ground sea salt and put them into the oven.  We baked them for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven until they were crisp and golden.  (Give them a little stir about halfway through.)

A healthy little snack among all those sugary Halloween sweets!

Apple Crisp? Apple Crumble?

Ever since we canned our apples, my daughter Ciara has been dying to eat them.  I even bought some premade crust but for some reason was not in the mood for apple pie.  Due to illness in our house this week, dinner was just boring hot dogs so I decided to make a quick yummy dessert.  Based on what was in my pantry I decided on Apple Crisp.  Or is it Apple Crumble?  I'm not sure what the difference is.

Anyhoo.......I heated the oven to 375 degrees and then sprayed the bottom of a small casserole dish with Pam.  I poured in some of our homemade Apple Pie Filling. (A 1 pint jar) In a bowl I mixed together:

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
 Then I cut in:
1/3 cup butter cubed

Topped the pie filling with the oat mixture and baked for 40 minutes.  Soo delicious with a scoop of whipped cream.  Yum!

This made just enough for our family of five since it is fairly rich.  If your family is bigger or if you want seconds or leftovers, I highly recommend doubling this recipe.

Fall Traditions, Apple Picking and Apple Pie Filling!

Every single year we have lived here, without fail, rain or shine we head out to Grafton to go pick apples and pumpkins at Eckerts.  We love the atmosphere of this farm.  We love taking a hayride into the apple orchards and out to the pumpkin patch.  The kids can pick out any pumpkin they want as long as they can carry it.  They love the fresh apple cider and of course funnel cake and kettle corn.  Yum!

Our youngest was a little cold when we got there and she didn't seem very enthusiastic.  As soon as we got out to the apple orchard and she realized she could pick apples (which she loves to eat) straight off the tree, she got super excited.

So we ended up with a bunch of apples.  More than we could possibly eat.

So I decided to make a batch of Apple Pie Filling and can it.

I washed, peeled and sliced all the apples.  If you are making a huge batch of this, a peeler and/or corer would probably come in handy, but being part irish and pretty handy with a paring knife I did mine by hand.  I like my apple to have a little bite to it and not be mushy so I cut mine in fairly large slices.  I also mixed up the two different varieties of apples we had.  I really like the end result of tart and sweet mixed together.

If you have never canned before take a visit to the USDA's site.  Some recipes may contain outdated or inaccurate information so check them against the guidelines provided on the site.

I used the following recipe:
9 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Peel, core and slice your apples.  I'm not sure how many pounds of apples I had.  I put the apples into a bowl of water with about a tablespoon of lemon in to keep them from going brown.

In a large pot mix together the water, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and bring to a boil.  In a separate bowl mix together the cornstarch and 1 cup of water.  Slowly add to the syrup mixture while stirring.  

Tightly pack your hot sterilized jars with the apple slices.  Pour the syrup over the apples.  You may want to use a flat utensil to scrape around the jar to get the syrup flowing and eliminate air bubbles.  Leave an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Seal your jars and process in a hot water bath for 20 mins.

 I was able to can 12 - 1 pint jars full of pie filling.  (I did have some syrup left over)  I think quarts would have been more practicle for my family of five but I only had pint jars on hand.

Hmm, Is it time to make pie yet?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

It was time for our annual Fall Festival at church where they serve baked potatoes and chili and I needed a sided to go with that.  I always try to fix something that my kids like cause they are picky eaters and that way I can guarantee that there is at least one thing they can eat.  I thought Mac and Cheese would be a good accompaniment but didn't want to take the boxed kind.  So I went online to find some recipes.  I love to read comments, but the problem is there are always mixed reveiws.  So I then decided to take key components from a different bunch of recipes and try that.  I would have to say that the end product resembles Paula Deen's recipe a lot.

4 cups cooked elbow macaroni  (2 cups uncooked)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz velveeta cheese (melted)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2  tsp ground mustard
4 tablespoons butter cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook macaroni according to box instructions.  (Do not overcook)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  In a large bowl mix together milk, sour cream, beaten eggs, butter, mustard, salt and pepper.  When macaroni is cooked, drain, return to pan and stir in shredded cheese right away. (You can save a little of the cheese to put on the top.)   Stir in the melted Velveeta cheese.  (I cubed the velveeta and then melted it in the microwave for about 1 minute)  Add a small amount of the hot macaroni mixture to the milk and egg mixture.  Stir and then add a little more.  Stir again and then add in all the rest.  (Not sure if this is necessary but I did it to temper the eggs mixture so it wouldn't break.)  Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

My kids loved this.  I do not like that famous mac and cheese that comes in a box but I really like this.  That being said, this is nothing like that famous boxed mac and cheese.  This is a southern style baked Macaroni and Cheese that is creamy but resembles more the consistency of a quiche.  (Hmmm quiche, I love quiche!)

You could try this recipe with your favorite cheese or combo of cheeses.  You could even add in bacon, cubed ham or chopped broccoli to make it more of a meal instead of a side.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hours and Hours of Playdough Fun!

Ever since my two older ones have gone back to school, my little one has been a little bored at home by herself.  She is great company and I love to hang out with her but I also work from home, so its nice when she is entertained with something (other than TV!)

On Thursday while she was at preschool in the morning, I made her some homemade playdough.  It had been a while since I mixed up a batch so I had to dig through my recipe box.  The recipe is super easy and I made three batches in about 15 minutes.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 pkg unsweetened kool-aid
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a medium size saucepan mix all the ingredients together and stir over medium heat.  Keep stirring for a few minutes until the mixture forms a dough.  (Your arm will get a little workout here!)  When the dough balls up and separates from the sides of the pan its done.  Turn it out onto a heat safe surface and when it is cool enough to handle knead until nice and soft.

I made three batches and then I ran out of cream of tartar :(.  Each batch makes slightly over a pound of playdough.  I used Orange, Grape and Cherry KoolAid.  Not only do you get the great color but the playdough smells great too!

We got out the cookie cutters and my little one literally played from lunch until dinner.  After dinner she and her older sister played until bedtime.   Hours and Hours of fun!

I love so many things about this playdough:
  • All the ingredients are already in my pantry.
  • It smells great!
  • It's softer than store bought playdough therefore easier to roll out, especially for little ones.
When playtime is over, simply store it in an airtight container!

Friday, October 16, 2009

About me

My name is Clair and I have been married to my sweetheart Chris for 15 years! We have three wonderful children: Our son Riley who is 11, and two daughters, Ciara 8 and Ella 4. I consider myself a stay at home mom because I am lucky enough to get to work part time from home.

I love to do anything creative, whether it be cooking, sewing or scrapbooking.  I really enjoy blog hopping and get tons of inspiration from those of you that are truly crafty.

Most of all I love creating things that make my family happy and spending time at home with my husband and my favorite creations:  my kids!