Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rose Petal Jelly

This must be what it tastes like to be a humming bird!
I happened to come across a site that showed how to make flower scented jellies ~ it's incredibly easy and the end product is delicious!

The ingredients you need are:
1 cup packed fresh flower petals
3 cups of water
Juice of one lemon
1 box powdered pectin
4 cups sugar

I picked these rose petals from our back yard. The more heavily scented the rose, the BETTER! You can make this jelly with practically any flower like hibiscus, violets, jasmine, bee balm, etc...just make sure they are not sprayed with any pesticides.
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir in the roses. Remove from the heat, and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes, as if you were making rose-petal tea.
Strain the "tea" making sure to squeeze the petals to get every last drop of flavor out of them.
Now this is where the magic happens:

Pour in the fresh lemon juice and the "tea" turns back into the color of the flowers you used! My petals were mostly pink and the resulting liquid looked like a watermelon Jolly Rancher when I poured in the juice. You should have exactly 3 cups of liquid after the lemon juice is added, if you don't, put in enough water to make 3 cups. Now pour in your pectin and dissolve.

Over the highest possible heat, bring the mixture to a boil and add the sugar. When the solution returns to a hard rolling boil, time it for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. After 2 full minutes, transfer the jelly to hot, sterilized glasses and seal according to manufacturer's suggestions.

As soon as these beauties cool you can store them in the fridge for up to three months. I wanted to give some of these as gifts so I processed them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal the lids.

The taste is divine!
See that little hummer on the feeder eying my jelly?

I can't wait to make homemade labels and tie them up with pretty ribbon to give as Mother's Day gifts!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mama's day off...

Should you come looking for me today I'll be out in the backyard with a tall glass of this:

Nothing on the agenda today but watching my garden grow!

Work has been HO-REN-DUS!
Someone once told me,
"What a wonderful job you have, you can't have too many babies!"

Well let me tell you,


My feet and back still hurt from the umpteen-thousand deliveries we've had, and if I see another pregnant woman coming at me in the next 24 hours I just might go postal (or at the very least develop a serious facial tick!).

So my dear family, you get the day off...
Play in the sprinklers, go pick black berries, watch the humming birds ... or just sit with me in the back yard with your own glass of sweet tea,
'cause I'm not sharing!

Oh, and don't forget to bring the leftover Easter candy with you!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breaking for Holy Week

Taking the week off blogging to concentrate on Holy Week. Wishing you a most blessed Easter!

See you next Monday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Meatless Fridays

I've really been craving fresh greens lately and this week's meal fits the bill! Very fresh, light, and satisfying. Do not omit the anchovy, it gives a wonderful depth of flavor to the dressing (trust me, you'll like it!).
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Classic Caesar Salad

10 ounces Hearts of Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Croutons - either store bought or homemade
Toss with dressing as follows:

2 small garlic cloves mashed to a paste or minced
2 anchovy fillets, minced, or ½ tsp. of anchovy paste
1 egg cracked into a small bowl (Tip: Because it has a raw egg in it, this dressing must be refrigerated and used the same day it’s made. If you are wary of serving a dressing with raw egg, substitute 1 tbsp. mayonnaise.)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, anchovies, egg, lemon juice, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the oil in a stream, whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Someone hitched a ride in with the flowers!

Every morning I like to go out in the garden and cut some fresh flowers for the kitchen table. This morning I got more than flowers! This little guy hitched a ride inside with the amaryllis:

After we had a good laugh, JP and Danny had fun trying to catch him and put him back outside...oh that poor little froggie will never be the same after encountering the Creamer boys!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gettin' my thrift on!

I haven't been thrifting in a loooong time, so one afternoon last week me and the boys went out for an afternoon lunch and thrift hunt~

JP found a huge LEGO set for a steal at three bucks!
It was worth every penny and then some, the boys played for HOURS after we got home.

I found some pretty vintage sheets. I'm going to make a summer skirt out of the yellow print and begin a rag rug with the other two.

Found some perfectly funky potholders for a dollar per set of three!

And some glassware: Three milk glass vases and some small juice glasses for .25 cents each!

It was a nice afternoon for some (cheap!) retail therapy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going Green!

Drinking green smoothies, that is!

We've started juicing and are loving it!
Doug is the Juice-Master-Deluxe. He just takes a handful of whatever we have on hand and makes some delicious drinks. The green comes from the bumper crop of swiss chard we still have growing in the garden, and trust me, you hardly taste it at all!

You truly get a little "boost" of energy following a juiced drink! Much better for you than a sugar/caffeine buzz. We're even getting the kids on the juice bandwagon...

"Drink your fruits and veggies, Dan!"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Good bye night shift!

After six long months I've finally made it off night shift and now work on the day shift. 7am-7pm for three days a week!

Can I get a 'woot-woot'?

Sunday afternoon I asked Doug to take down the thick black plastic and heavy blankets that have been covering the bedroom windows... let that glorious sunshine through!

Back to the land of the living.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Meatless Fridays

If you are on a carb controlled diet like me, you'll take any substitute for bread that you can! I'm growing lots of eggplant again this year and was looking for new ways to use it when I came across this simple idea. The recipe can be adapted a hundred different ways to suit your family's taste and is a great way to get your kids to try something new!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Eggplant Pizza

2 large eggplant
Your favorite marinara or pesto.
Your choice of toppings:
a variety of cheeses, grilled onions, tomato, mushrooms, olives, and herbs.

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds and either lightly roast, grill, or fry to cook through. Slather eggplant with your favorite sauce and top with cheese and veggies. Place finished pizzas under a broiler (or grill) to melt cheese and serve with a fresh salad.
Leftovers are great on sandwiches the next day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In a house with four boys....

...sometimes you just need a little "pretty".

Fresh cut roses from the garden make this mama happy,
and the fragrance is divine!

I'm going to enjoy them before they are moved off the table to make room for model building, gun cleaning, or Boy Scout projects!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

'Tis the season

It's that time of year again,


This year we have two ball players in the family, Kyle will play in the Babe Ruth League, and little Danny makes his debut in T-ball.

I have to say that it's pretty tough coordinating and getting everyone to practices (...and scout meetings, and CCD, and a dozen other things!)
But when I get moments like this one:

It makes all the hassle worth it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homemade red wine vinegar

Buying good vinegars at the store can be quite pricey, so why not make your own?
There are different paths you can take to your own homemade vinegar, but this one is about the easiest way to go about things (it’s pretty much foolproof). The two things you need to start with are:

About 2 cups of red wine
(Do not use Port, not enough sugar. I used Merlot, the better tasting the wine, the better tasting the vinegar!
About 1/2 to 1 cup of live cider vinegar
(A live vinegar contains a living bacterial "mother" starter.
Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is pretty commonly found and will work great for this!)

Mix the vinegar and wine together into a clean glass container. I found this decorative bottle at the thrift store but you could even use the bottle the wine comes in. Cover with cheesecloth, paper toweling, or something else that will keep the flies and what not out, but let air flow in and out.

Store the bottle in a dark place for 2 weeks.
Do not move it around.

After 2 weeks, taste. It should taste good and be ready for use. Pour off as much as you’ll need to use for a few weeks into a new clean bottle, being careful to keep all sediment in the original bottle. You now have a red wine vinegar ‘system’ that will keep you in homemade vinegar forever, and that will keep producing vinegars that taste better and better over time.

Whenever you have any leftover wine, add it to the original bottle – making sure you wait at least 2 weeks after any addition before use. This original bottle will just keep getting better and more complex tasting as it ages and as you add wine over time.

You can experiment with your homemade vinegars by adding herbs or different types of wines, you can even make vinegar like this using beer! What you don't use you can pour into decorative bottles and give as gifts!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Meatless Fridays

Not to sure how this one is going to go over in the Creamer household. Normally Doug only likes tuna on sandwiches, and I'm pretty sure he hates warm tuna. But the recipe sounded really good to me and I think I'd like to add some salty kalamata olives or capers to this recipe. Anyhoo, try it out and tell me what you think!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Rigatoni with Tuna and Sun Dried Tomatoes
adapted from Pampered Chef's '29 minutes to Dinner'

8 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
2 oz Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pouch chunk light tuna or canned albacore

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Meanwhile, grate cheese. Pat tomatoes dry using paper towels. Chop tomatoes and parsley. Cut lemon into wedges; set aside.
Heat oil, pressed garlic and pepper flakes in skillet over medium-high heat 1-2 minutes or until garlic turns golden (do not allow to burn). Immediately stir in tuna and tomatoes; cook 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Add pasta, half of the parsley and half of the cheese to Skillet; toss gently.
To serve, divide pasta among serving plates. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.