Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Freezing Strawberries

Local Fresh Strawberries
It's Strawberry Season!!!

Now!!!  The time of year when we can drive out to a local roadside stand and purchase a quart/ quarts of the sweet, juicy, red, local strawberries.  This week was the week to drive out to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow and purchase a flat + 2 quarts of these tasty local berries.  No, there is no way we are devouring them all at once.  The strawberries were prepared for the freezer and then frozen.  There were other plans for 3 of the quarts.  During the remaining months of the year a bag needs only to be defrosted to enjoy as a topping on Belgian Waffles, Oatmeal Pancakes or on ice cream. 

Living in MA where this fruit does not grow year round, I like to freeze the local berries in June.  The quarts purchased during the winter/ colder months in our grocery stores are not very tasty. 

Packaging the Strawberries!
Freezing the strawberries is an easy process.  Well worth the time, too, if you enjoy eating the local tasty fruit during the winter months. 

There is always a little "strawberry snacking" going on after the bags are placed in the freezer.  Some berries are saved out to enjoy now!  Yum!  While preparing the fruit, my kitchen has the aroma of a strawberry field.

Freezing Strawberries
  1. Working with a quart at a time, the tops are cut off. 
  2. Then, the strawberries are triple rinsed in cold water.
  3. Drain.
  4. Slice each strawberry in half or thirds and measure out 2 and 1/2 Cups to place in a Ziploc Quart sized Freezer Bag.  
  5. I prefer to add about 1 Tablespoon Sugar to each Ziploc Bag before freezing.
  6. Move the Sugar/ Strawberries around in the bag to dissolve the Sugar.
  7. Close, label & date each bag.  Then, place in your freezer.
  8. Defrost in fridge when needed.
This year the Strawberries are so sweet & so juicy!  What a delicious local fruit!  We need to make a return trip and purchase a few more quarts.

Do you also freeze the local fruit??

Enjoy!
Yummy!

     

Saturday, June 9, 2018

~Raisin Rice Crispies Treats~

Raisin Rice Crispies Treats
So many times I have purchased a bag of marshmallows.  So many times I have plans to make a batch of Raisin Rice Crispies Treats.  But, so many times I was not quick enough and my DH had opened the bag and started snacking on those yummy white puffs and soon they were gone!  Well, this week I was quick enough!  Woohoo!  This is a snack that we have enjoyed for so many years and I make occasionally! 
  • They are so easy to make. 
  • However, read the directions first.
  • The key is to work quickly!  :)
  • After cutting into bars, store in fridge.  
  • Before eating, microwave a bar for 7- 9 seconds to warm slightly!
 Raisin Rice Crispies Treats

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine 
1 (10 ounce) package Marshmallows
5 and 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 Cup Raisins

Method:
  1.  In a large pot (6 quart pot) melt 4 Tablespoons Margarine/ Butter over Low heat.
  2.  Add in 1 bag (10 ounces) Marshmallows, stirring until completely melted.
  3.  Turn off heat.
  4.  Add in 3 Cups Rice Krispies cereal, stir quickly.
  5.  Add in 1 Cup Raisins, stir quickly.
  6.  Then, add 2 and 1/2 Cups more Rice Krispies cereal, stir again.
  7.  Place the mixture (will be sticky) into a 9" x 15" glass baking dish (sprayed with PAM).  Press down lightly with the bottom of the measuring cup.  
  8.  Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 1 hour.
  9.  Cut into bars, place in covered container & store in fridge until serving. 
These are definitely a treat!!
Enjoy!
Yummy!

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    Spring in New England!!


    Just walking around our home outdoors beautiful colors change when we go around the corner.  The pink Peonies are just bursting with fragrance.  The flowers are heavy, so the stems are staked- ready for any rain that may fall. 


    Turning around 180°, the Purple Irises come in view.  The first buds opened this morning!  There are so many more that will add color to our yard this week.



    The lavender Chives are going a bit wild!!  The delicate flowers always add color to our back perennial garden.




    Glancing to the right- the Variegated Iris!  It has flowered again this year!!



    On our deck 3 potted Citronella (Mosquito) Plants are very helpful- all summer.  The Vinca adds a bit of color to the pot. 

    Spring is a great and beautiful time of year!! 

    Enjoy!
         

    Sunday, May 27, 2018

    ~Memorial Day~


    Today 
    we honor 
    the men and the women
    who have died 
    in service 
    to our country!




    Sunday, May 13, 2018

    Today- May 13


    I wish all Mom's 
    a very
    Happy Mother's Day!!! 

    Enjoy your special day!!!

    Sunday, April 22, 2018

    Chicken Florentine via Slow Cooker

    ~Chicken Florentine~
    via Slow Cooker
    One morning a little over a week ago a few snowflakes began floating down.  What??  No!!  Say it isn't so!!  Well, they did, but the melting process happened really quickly.  While watching them, suddenly it just felt like "Slow Cooker" time.  The kind of morning when there is much to do and you just know that dinnertime will come just too quickly- even though it is hours away.  You just have that feeling! 

    It had been many months since I'd made this Chicken dinner in my Slow Cooker.  A quick glance and I had most of the ingredients.  So why not??  It seems whenever I prepare it, I make it a little differently.  This time there were no Potatoes or Yams to add to the Slow Cooker's pot.  Well, that was just no problem!  We enjoyed this flavorful dish served over pasta. 

    It was so good!  It's always very tasty.  The Chicken is always so tender.  Carrots and Spinach are filled with flavor.  There's a sauce to drizzle over the pasta, too.  On a busy day this is tasty and hearty to enjoy at dinnertime.

    Chicken Florentine
         via Slow Cooker
     

    Ingredients:

    1 lb. Baby Carrots
    1 teaspoon dried Parsley
    1 teaspoon dried Chopped Onion
    1- 1 and 1/2 lbs. Chicken Tenders
    1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano
    1/4 teaspoon dried Basil
    1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen Spinach, defrosted
    1 can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
    1/3 Cup Water

    Method:  
    1. Rinse Baby Carrots under cool water.  Place in Slow Cooker's pot.
    2. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon dried Parsley and 1 teaspoon dried Chopped Onion.
    3. Rinse Chicken Tenders under cold water and place on top of Carrots.
    4. Sprinkle on Oregano, Basil and Garlic Powder.
    5. Add defrosted Spinach on top, spreading evenly. 
    6. In a small bowl mix well Cream of Mushroom Soup with 1/3 Cup Water.
    7. Spread evenly over top of Spinach.
    8. Place lid on Slow Cooker and set temperature.
    9. Cook on #5- High for 1 Hour.  Then, reduce heat to #3 for 2 Hours
    10. Serve over Pasta.
    11. Enjoy!
    Refrigerate any leftovers! 

    This is a great dinner any season of the year.  I always keep a can of the soup in the pantry, just in case I need it.  Much like there's always an extra bag of Flour sitting on the shelf, too.

    Dinner tonight??  Oh, our temps were in the mid 60's°F, so Chicken on the grill was quick and easy.  We live in New England!

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
       

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    Just Around the Corner

    Question: 
    What is the season??


    ...might be Spring!  You know, the season when we enjoy wearing short sleeved tops, light weight or no jackets outdoors.  Maybe even shorts.  This year we need to rely on memories when thinking of Spring! 

    As I write this, it is raining.  Earlier we had snow.  It does make for a fascinating photo.  

    Three seasons are represented in our backyard perennial garden:  Autumn- Zebra Grass, Winter- Snow and Spring- pink Hyacinths and sprouting Japanese Irises.

    However, this is New England!  With a blink of our eyes the weather will change again!  :)

    Enjoy!
     

    Monday, April 2, 2018

    ~April 2, 2018~


    One just might believe that it's April 1st and Mother Nature wanted to surprise all of us!  However, it's April 2, 2018.

    Excited about Spring,

    Saturday, March 31, 2018

    Blueberry Torte


    Blueberry Torte
    (File Photo)
    Decisions, decisions, decisions! There are so many yummy desserts that can be baked to enjoy after a delicious Easter Dinner.  What would be the choice??  Last night the vote was cast!  Blueberry Torte!  A slice of Blueberry Torte served with vanilla ice cream.  That led to a package of frozen local blueberries from our large freezer to be placed in the fridge to defrost overnight.

    A slice will be served with vanilla ice cream
    (File Photo)
    This dessert is always so good.  A light cinnamon flavored cake filled with blueberries.  It taste delicious any time of year.  Did I mention that this dessert is easy to prepare?  It is.

    I use 1 Whole Egg + Egg Whites along with Soy Milk when preparing the cake batter.

    Click here for my recipe!

    The afternoon is moving along and I need to get started!  Now, it's time for me to pull up my recipe on my iPad and get started.

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!

    Happy Easter!!!

             

    Friday, March 16, 2018

    ~A Welcome Sight!~


    What a welcome sight!  Every year I await the first Crocus sprouting up.  Usually the first flowers are located near our front bushes.  Not this year!  This lavender Crocus sprouted in our lawn.  They do every year, but just not the first visible flower in our yard.

    Enjoy!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread!
    (File Photo)
    It's like clockwork!  Every year about a week before St. Patrick's Day I check to see if I have unsalted Butter in the fridge.  Buttermilk is always on the top shelf.  Raisins in the pantry, too.  Those are 3 of the needed ingredients to bake an Irish Soda Bread.  Every year on St. Patrick's Day we enjoy a slice of this light sweet tasty bread at breakfast.  It's also called Spotted Dog!  

    This week I've baked 3 of these yummy breads.  One son had a bread delivered and the other son will have one delivered, soon.  
     
    Sliced & packaged!

    The third bread is for my DH & me to enjoy.  Oh yum!! 

    It's become a tradition with me to share with all of you how I discovered this best ever Irish Soda Bread.  I post this story every year:  

    "I'll always remember the year I was "googling" for an Irish Soda Bread recipe that used 1 Cup of Buttermilk.  That's all I had in the fridge.  There was the recipe on the blog Charli and Me written by Carol.  Carol shared that this great recipe originally came from the Will O'Glenn Irish Bed and Breakfast in Michigan with Mrs. Biddy Gahan sharing it.  I'm always so happy that all of these kind folks passed it along!  I use unsalted & fat free/ low fat ingredients & it's so good!  Every year I bake this Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day & also a couple of other times during the year.

    One year in my haste, I melted the unsalted Butter in the microwave.  I then learned that it was much easier to mix the cooled melted Butter with the flour mixture, so that has now become my method.  I also add the drained Raisins and stir in before adding in the Buttermilk. 

    Some Hints:
    • Melt, then cool Butter before using. 
    • Before placing the very sticky dough in the pie plate, rub a little Butter on your hands, so the dough will not stick to your hands.
    • Spray the pie plate with PAM.
     
    Ready for the oven!
    (File Photo)

    Best Ever Irish Soda Bread 
    Oven:  400°F, then lowered to 375°F.

    Total Baking Time:  40 - 45 Minutes

    Ingredients:
    1 and 1/2 Cups Raisins
    1 Cup Boiling Water
    * * * * * * *
    1 stick unsalted Butter 
    2 and 1/2 Cups Flour
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    5 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 Cup Buttermilk, can be Fat Free or Low Fat

    PAM- to spray on pie plate

    Method: 
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Spray Pyrex pie plate with PAM.
    3. In a small bowl combine Raisins & boiling water.  Let sit while preparing dough.
    4. Melt Butter.  Cool.
    5. In large mixing bowl combine Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder & Sugar.
    6. Add melted Butter to dry ingredients.  Stir in.
    7. Add drained Raisins.  Stir.
    8. Add Buttermilk.  Stir.
    9. Shape the dough into a ball after placing in pie plate.  **Dough will be sticky.
    10. Bake 15 Minutes at 400°F.
    11. Then, lower oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake 25- 30 Minutes longer.
    12. Use a cake tester or toothpick to test for "doneness".
    13. Remove bread from pie plate to a cooling rack.
    14. Cool on rack.
    15. Wait at least 5 hours before cutting into slices.
    16.  Enjoy!
    ***Before removing from pie plate, I use a knife to separate bread from pie plate edge.  A spatula also helps to lift the bread to the cooling rack.

    This is the best Irish Soda Bread I've ever tested, 2 thumbs up!!!  It is yummy served warm or cold.  However, heating a slice in the microwave for a few seconds is just the best. 

    2 slices are also placed in our freezer to enjoy sometime in the next 2 weeks.

    Put unsalted Butter & Buttermilk on your grocery list!  Raisins, too, if you do not have 1 and 1/2 Cups ready to use.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
      

    Tuesday, March 6, 2018

    ~March 6, 1930~

    My Freezer Door
    (File Photo)
    It was on March 6, 1930!  The location was Springfield, MA!  That was the day that Clarence Birdseye test marketed his new product- frozen food!  That was way before my time, but Springfield is just north of my town.  What an interesting story of Massachusetts history!   

    This inventor was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, NY & attended Amherst College in Amherst, MA for a period of time. Later, when Clarence lived in Labrador with his young family it was challenging to feed his family.  It was during this time that he watched the Eskimos "quick freeze" their food.  His interest in "quick freezing" grew.  Now, his name Birdseye is so familiar to us.  We see it on packages of frozen foods in the grocery stores.

    For the complete story from MassMoments click here.  I always enjoy reading Massachusetts history!!!  

    Thank you Mr. Birdseye!!!
    We enjoy your idea!!!

        

    Friday, March 2, 2018

    Dr. Seuss Day!!

    Stacked up!

    It's
    March 2 ...
    Happy
    Birthday
    to you,
    Dr. Seuss!!!

    Memories from a FuN visit to
    The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum (in Springfield, MA) this past autumn.  
     
       
    Enjoy!

    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    Oatmeal Pancakes

    Stack of 2 Oatmeal Pancakes
    with Strawberries
    There is something about winter and me thinking about oats.  Not in cookies nor as a topping, but as in Oatmeal Pancakes.  Oatmeal Pancakes!!  Their name may not sound very exciting, but let me tell you they are so good!!  With each bite there is a little crunch going on.  Oats,  fat free Buttermilk, egg whites, olive oil ... all favorite cooking ingredients for me!  I had not make these pancakes in a while.  The memory of enjoying them in the morning with strawberries served on top came back.  I like mine stacked before topping with the strawberries.  Yum!!   

    The combination of Strawberries and Oats tastes so good!  So, the night before, a Ziploc bag of frozen sliced (slightly sweetened) strawberries were taken out of our freezer to defrost in the fridge for the next morning.  The Oats and Buttermilk are also combined the night before.  Then, the next morning finish preparing the batter and get your skillet hot!  It was time to combine the Buttermilk and Oats in a bowl and let the process begin! 

    This recipe makes a large batch, so I freeze the extra pancakes.  Each is placed in an individual sandwich bag.  The pancakes are stacked and then placed into a Ziploc freezer Bag and popped into the freezer.  They are ready to enjoy at other breakfasts.  Defrosting/ reheating the Oatmeal Pancakes in the microwave works great. 
                 
    Oatmeal Pancakes

    Ingredients:

    2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
    2 Cups Fat Free Buttermilk
    1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

    *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
    1 Cup Fat Free Buttermilk- use the next morning
    1/2 Cup Flour
    2 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites, beaten
    4 Tablespoons Olive Oil for baking & sauteing 

    Method:
    1.  Combine Oats, Buttermilk, Cinnamon and Nutmeg in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
    2.  Next morning add 1 Cup additional Buttermilk.  Stir.  
    3.  Stir together Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder & Baking Soda in a small bowl.
    4.  Add to Oats/ Buttermilk mixture.
    5.  Add beaten Egg + Egg Whites and Olive Oil. 
    6.  Stir all together, adding small amount of Buttermilk if needed.
    7.  Pour 1/4 Cup batter on hot griddle for each pancake.
    8.  When brown, flip over and cook other side.
    9. Serve!
    What a great breakfast!  If you do not have Strawberries for a topping, Maple Syrup also tastes so good!   
    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
     

    Sunday, February 18, 2018

    A Taste of Winter!

    A view from our front window!
    Snowflakes fell last night.  Well, it is February.  During the daytime hours we've been getting a taste of Spring, lately.  Daily walks outside are great!  Brisker weather came in yesterday and the flakes fell.  In the wee hours of the AM the snow plows cleared our streets and we are all good to go again.

    Our Grill is hibernating!
    This week we just may be able to use the grill!

    Enjoying the seasons!
     

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Hawaiian Flatbread

    Hawaiian Flatbread
    There was a coating of snow on the lawn this morning.  Lately it's been warm, so most of the piles of the white stuff have disappeared.  That is unless you look at the piles of snow left by snow plows in parking lots.  That takes a long time to melt.  It is a pretty sight looking out a window and see snow on tree branches.

    About 2 weeks ago when the outdoor temperatures were a bit chillier, I baked a Ham.  That may happen about once every 2 years.  Two nights later we enjoyed Hawaiian Flatbread at dinnertime!  The combination of the sweet pieces of roasted Pineapple with chunks of Ham was so good.  The creamy texture of the Ricotta Cheese and roasted Broccoli florets added to the delicious flavor.  It was also quite filling!

    Before putting the flatbreads in the oven, the Pineapple and Broccoli florets were roasted.  I roasted them, because the fresh veggie was crispy and the Pineapple was very juicy.  That just would not work well considering the short amount of time a Flatbread is baked.  Roasting took out the excess juice and the broccoli was tender.     

    ***Roasting Pineapple and Broccoli Florets:
    Rinse Broccoli under cool running water.  Pat dry.  Cut off stalks, so small florets remain.  If needed, cut smaller.  Drain about 1/2 Cup canned Pineapple chunks.  Coat florets and chunks with Olive Oil for sauteing & baking along with a 2 shakes of Basil & also Oregano.  That's when I visit my Spice Rack.  I place the Olive Oil & dried herbs in a Ziploc Gallon Bag and add the veggies/ fruit to coat.  Roast in a 450°F oven for 11 Minutes.     

    Hawaiian Flatbread

    Ingredients

    Flatbreads- I use 3.
    1/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese (can be fat free) for each Flatbread
    Roasted Broccoli and Roasted Canned Pineapple chunks
    Chunks of Baked Ham
    4 teaspoons BBQ Sauce
    1 teaspoon Water
    Shredded Cheese- desired amount

    Method:
    1. Place 3 Flatbreads on a large cookie pan.  Prick with fork. Bake in 375°F oven for 2 Minutes.  Remove from oven.
    2. Spread about 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese on each Flatbread.  
    3. Place Roasted Broccoli and Pineapple on each Flatbread.
    4. Add Baked Ham chunks.
    5. In a small cup combine BBQ Sauce + Water.  
    6. Drizzle BBQ Sauce mixture over Flatbreads.
    7. Sprinkle desired amount of Shredded Cheese on top.
    8. Bake for 5 Minutes at 375°F.
    9. Remove from oven.
    10. Cut each Flatbread on a diagonal- into 3 pieces.
    11. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. 
    Hawaiian Flatbread is just so delicious!!!  If you do have any chunks of Baked Ham in your fridge, use them while preparing flatbread for dinner.  It is just so good!

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins

    Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins
    A few months ago I tasted Cinnamon Chip Bread.  The name sounds interesting and let me tell you each bite of this bread was just... delicious.  The Cinnamon Chips have that bit of pizzazz whenever your taste buds discover even a bit of one chip!  I had read recipes that contained this "mystery" ingredient, but had never been able to purchase a bag in the grocery stores.  Well, that changed!  Yes!!  Woohoo!!!  I could not wait to bake a goodie using them.  This led to an old recipe I posted years ago, Banana Crumb Muffins.   I used the batter recipe for this Cinnamon Chip variety.

    **There was no need to make a "crumb topping" here, so I did not.  However, I did sprinkle a small amount of granulated Sugar on top of each muffin before baking.

    The batter for the muffins was prepared with the addition of 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon Chips.  I did not want to overwhelm my recipe, so I used this small amount.  When putting the batter in the muffin liners, there were plenty of chips for each muffin. 

    While these muffins were baking, my entire home smelled Cinnamon!  Yum!  These muffins are so good!  I did learn that they do not freeze well.  That's no problem, because 12 muffins do not last long.     


    Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins


    Oven Temperature:  375°F     Baking Time:  18- 20 Minutes
    Yield:  12 Muffins

    Ingredients:

    1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
    1/2 Cup Sugar
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    1/2 teaspoon Salt
    2 Tablespoons Cinnamon Chips
    2 large overripe Bananas
    2 Egg Whites- slightly beaten
    1/3 Cup Olive Oil for baking & sauteing

    Method: 
    1. Combine Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt in large mixing bowl.
    2. Add 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon Chips.
    3. In another bowl mash the 2 Bananas.
    4. Add 2 Egg Whites and beat mixture with a whisk.
    5. Add Olive Oil to Banana/ Egg Whites mixture and whisk together.
    6.  Stir Banana mixture into Flour mixture until combined.
    7. Spoon batter into the 12 muffin liners.
    8. **Optional:  Sprinkle a small amount of sugar on top of each muffin.
    9. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 18- 20 Minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
    10. Remove from pan & cool on wire rack.
    Cinnamon Chips are a new ingredient to me, but one I will always keep in my pantry from here on!  Amazing how much pizzazz these Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins have.

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!

    Monday, January 1, 2018

    ~Happy New Year!!!~


    Have a
    Happy and a
    Healthy New Year!!!

    Enjoy!