Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes, #3

1.  My kids have been playing with their play silks for YEARS.  Our little "Bubbles" likes to flitter aroung the yard in her fairy dress she receieved in her Easter basket.  I could rid of all the toys in the house, but the silks will remain so my grandkids can enjoy them!

2.  I have been experimenting in the kitchen a lot lately.  I tried soaked whole wheat tortillas this week.  Why haven't I done this before?  So easy and so good!

3.  We also picked red and black rasberries and made lots of jam. 

4.  This makes me so happy:

5.  Look at the sweet gift I receieved from my Little Flowers group.  We had a great end of the year ice cream social last weekend.  How did they know that the Cooking With The Saints cookbook has been on my Amazon wishlist forever?

Here is a recap of our year:

6.  Last week we found a newborn baby bird that had fallen out of its nest in our yard.  We were so happy when we were able to save it and get it back into its nest.  Unfortunately, I was watering my plants yesterday and found a slighlty bigger baby bird had fallen out of the nest and did not make it.  My girls are heartbroken.  My animal lover asked why the mama bird didn't swoop down and pick up her baby.  I wish she could :(

7. My kids had a wonderful week at VBS.  Thankfully, the girls have a few more to attend in the coming weeks.  What a great way to spend their summer days :)  To quote one of the songs they learned, "Nothing is impossible with God."

8.  I realize this is 7 quick takes but the spellchecker on blogger is not working. Please excuse any mistakes that I did not catch - I have a baby to put down for a nap :)

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7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 176)

This post is linked with 7 Quick Takes which is hosted by Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

I was recently told by a parent of little ones that their kids love fruit roll-ups.  They often have a few a day because they consider them to be "healthy," unlike chips, cookies or candy.  I even think I saw them on the preschool "healthy snack list." Have you ever had the opportunity to look at the ingredients of fruit roll-ups?  You know the ones with the {ick} tongue tattoos? Check this out:

Strawberry Ingredients: Pears From Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Mono And Diglycerides, Pectin, Malic Acid, Natural Flavor, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Color (Red 40, Yellows 5 % 6, Blue 1). Berry Berry Cool Ingredients: Pears From Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Mono And Diglycerides, Pectin, Malic Acid, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1).

As a disclaimer, I did not buy a box to find the ingredients. They were listed on the Wal-Mart website.  The funny thing is, homemade fruit roll-ups are so incredibly easy to make as a treat for your family.  They stay fresh a long time in an air-tight container.  They typically don't last too long in my house so that isn't an issue around here.

On a recent trip to a local farm, we picked quite a few strawberries. You can make fruit roll-ups with almost any type of fruit.   I washed and removed the stems of approximately 2 pounds of berries. Add them to your blender, food processor, or my personal favorite, a Vitamix.  I added about 3 teaspoons of homemade vanilla.  I think it sweetens the fruit leather up a bit without having to add sugar.  If you are using bottled vanilla, make sure it is pure vanilla extract.  Never use imitation vanilla. 

Smooth a thinnish layer of the puree on your dehydrator sheet making sure to use the non-stick dehydrator sheets or the plastic fruit leather sheets that come with your dehydrator .  You can also use parchment paper.

 If drying in your oven, put parchment paper on a cookie sheet or bar pan. Bake at your oven's lowest temperature, typically 170 degrees for 4 + hours (sometimes up to 12 hours).  You know when it is done if you can peel it off the parchment paper in one piece and it is no longer sticky.  The length of baking time will depend on how thick the puree is and your oven's temperature. Check it every so often.

I set the dehydrator temperature to 135 degrees to dry for about 4-6 hours.  Check on it after 4 hours.  Again, the time will depend on how thin your puree spread is.

When the leather is done, peel it off and place it on two sheets of plastic wrap, placed side by side.  If you are using parchment paper, you can probably just leave it on there, roll it, and cut it.

Roll up your leather, cut off excess plastic wrap, and cut into individual pieces.

Could it get any easier??  If my kids want these healthy treats every day, I think I will let them!


What are you doing with your local strawberries this season?  Feel free to leave your recipes and strawberry links in the comments!

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Links I Like This Week

For the kids - Homemade Summer Passports @ Simple Homemade to track your summer of fun list.

Is the apron the ultimate symbol of a culture of life?  by Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary

How to dehydrate yogurt by Kitchen Stewardship

Summertime Drinks by Lynn's Kitchen Adventure - I need to try the Orange Julius!

Homemade Ranch Dip from Traditional Foods. I've made other versions but this is simple - just how I like it.

Homemade Tortillas @ Real {Fast} Food- why am I not doing this??

I had the opportunity to test recipes for Modern Alternative Mama's new cookbook, Simply Summer. We have been making tropical punch and turning it into popsicles. Yum!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes #2

1.  We made our summer of fun list with everything we would like to do and learn this year.  A few simple reminders of things that make life fun. I think all moms should do this.  The summer goes incredibly fast.  I do not want August 15th to roll around and have to say, "we meant to do that but the summer slipped by."

2.  I spent the first half of the week processing strawberries.  Some would argue that the time invested is not worth it, but I disagree.  There is something about creating truly simple healthy, homemade food for my family that makes me incredibly happy.  On the other hand, I am way behind on the laundry and housecleaning . . .

3. I cannot believe our Little Flowers year is coming to a close.  Little Flowers Girls' Club® is a Catholic program for girls ages 5 and up based on learning Catholic virtues through the lives of Catholic saints, Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Three of my daughters participated this year. We are having an end of the year ice cream social this weekend.  It is amazing how much the girls have grown in their Catholic faith this year. I am really looking forward to starting Wreath II in September!

4.   I do not watch a whole lot of T.V. but I am addicted to Pioneer Woman.  There is something very relaxing about watching someone else cook. And I want to move to their ranch. 

5.  I recently purchased The Homemade Pantry.  I think it is the best cookbook that I have read in a while. Beautiful pictures and amazing recipes.  And I do "read" cookbooks :)

6. We won tickets to a raspberry festival this weekend, which will probably include picking a few quarts.  While I love to eat them with breakfast, I have never cooked or baked with them.  Do you have a raspberry recipe to share?
7.   I probably should not write while I am hungry. Clearly, I have nothing else on my mind today as every quick take involves food.

I am slowly trying to grow my little blog.  I'd love to connect with some new readers. Would you like to join me?  Stop by Blessed and Busy and follow me with Google Friend Connect and sign-up to receive email updates.  You can also follow Blessed and Busy on facebook or on twitter to keep up on new posts.  Hope to see you soon!

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 176)

This post is linked with 7 Quick Takes which is hosted by Conversion Diary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Summer of Fun List

Well, summer is finally here in our neck of the woods.  And there truly is no place like home.  We are so happy to be done with school and have lots of time to spend at home. But, we do have many things we would love to do this summer.  We may not be taking a true vacation this year, but there are plenty of things we can to close to home.  This is our summer of fun list:

Lots of time at the library, vacation bible school, summer recreation program and the pool . . .

A trip to our favorite amusement park . . . Idlewild

Many trips to the local farmers' markets

Photo: First farmer's market of the season!

Fishing with Poppy

A trip to the Springhouse

A trip to Round Hill Farm

A few date nights at home and in the city we love.  And yes, sometimes date nights include a baby :)

Plenty of canning, dehydrating and freezing all the goodness of our local fruits and vegetables.

My big girls would like to learn to cross-stitch, so I may try to learn with them.

I also have a few things I would like to accomplish around the house including sorting and donating clothing, streamlining my kitchen and pantry, and organizing our favorite family recipes.

I would like to create some new goodies in my kitchen including homemade pasta and mozzarella cheese.  My kids would love to try homemade soft pretzels.  I am also considering taking the Cultured Dairy e-course at GNOWFGLINS.

But most of all, we want to spend a lot of time resting, finding a few bugs, and discovering a fairy house or two!

What are your plans for summer?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sweet Summer Strawberries

This weekend, we drove to Triple B Farms to pick strawberries.  If you live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, it is well worth the trip.  They have a strawberry festival, a raspberry festival, and an awesome fall festival along with u-pick fruits, a playground, animals, and an amazing country market.  While this is the end of the strawberry season, we worked hard and managed to pick enough strawberries to make lots of goodies.

For a little under $35, this is what we picked:

And this is what we made:

Strawberry jam, strawberry vanilla fruit roll-ups, strawberry vanilla syrup, dehydrated strawberries, and lots of frozen strawberries for smoothies.   They taste particularly wonderful in the middle of January!

To dehydrate strawberries, I wash and slice them.

 I pop them in the dehydrator for 4-6 hours at 135 degrees.  These are great for snacking, in trail mix, over cereal and oatmeal, and in granola bars.


In the coming days, I will post about how to make super simple jam, fruit leather and strawberry syrup!

Have you ever picked your own fruits? What have you created in your kitchen with them?  Please feel free to share your recipes and links!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Links I Like this Week

Photo: Another check on our Summer of Fun list!
We went strawberry picking this weekend so I will be busy in the next few days freezing, dehydrating, and baking with these luscious berries.

Here are a few links that I liked this week:

Strawberry Vanilla Jam from Food In Jars.  I made this last year for teacher gifts.  It is so so good. I had some extra vanilla beans leftover from my batch of vanilla and made it again last week.  My strawberries were very soft so it turned out more like a syrup. I served it over homemade vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

Speaking of vanilla, this Ground Vanilla from Penniless Parenting would be nice to have on hand.

And one more use for all this vanilla - Vanilla Bean Coconut Macaroons from Mommypotamus.

This is something crafty that I have to try : Tinted Mason Jars.  Very pretty. 

I love these 50 Ideas for Mason Jars from Beauty and Bedlam. 

And finally, these Sacred Heart of Jesus Tie Dyed T-shirts are awesome from Shower of Roses.  I think my kids would love these!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My first 7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 176)

1.  I love reading Conversion Diary.  This is my first shot at 7 Quick Takes . . . I am kinda excited.

2.  I am absolutely enjoying the summer break.  With lots of free time, I have been cooking and baking like crazy.  I recently attempted my first sourdough bread.  It was very easy and just as good, if not better, than anything I could buy in the bakery.

Photo: First attempt at Sourdough

3.  I also made an Italian hearth bread after I found this stone baker at a yard sale for $3.  It is $50 on Amazon.  I LOVE a great yard sale find!!

It was delicious warm and slathered with grass-fed butter!  It did not last long . . . .

4. Summer break is really treating us well.  We love the simple pleasures of getting up a little later, staying up a little later, simple meals, the pool, the library, the summer rec program, and soon some VBS.  And who doesn't love the sprinkler?

5.  Sticking with the summer theme, I have not been in the mood for hot coffee on hot days.  While I have switched to decaf in the last month, I still enjoy this daily break.  So I started cold brewing coffee to make iced coffee.  Soooo good over ice with a tbs. of sweetened condensed milk and some whole milk!  This truly tastes like summer. Here is the recipe:

6.  So we now have a boy.  I never thought I would enjoy having a boy so much!  I love to sit and play cars and trains with him on these lazy days of summer.  And he is such a BOY.  Do not tell me that raising girls and boys is the same.  There is  a big difference  . . . but a beautiful difference.  I love my little guy more than words can describe.

Photo: Hangin'

7.  Speaking of having a boy, they are tearing up and repaving our street.  It is very noisy and messy.  And apparently, 6:15 a.m. is a pretty good time to start working.  But he does not care.

Photo: A little guy's happiness . . . road work.

He will spend hours watching this.  My girls could care less :)

7 Quick Takes is hosted by Conversion Diary

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Bountiful Summer : Zucchini Casserole

Here is a quick six ingredient recipe using the bountiful vegetables from your garden, local farmers market or CSA box. This recipe freezes and reheats well. It is always a big hit at parties and picnics.

  • 2 to 3 large zucchini, peeled and sliced
  • 2 to 3 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 to 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 stick butter, cut into squares
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place layer of zucchini on bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of tomatoes and onions followed by 1/2 of the amount of cheese. Repeat.

Top with bread crumbs and butter. Cover and bake for about an hour. Remove cover and bake until brown and bubbly.


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This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival, Life As Mom's Make The Most of Summer Produce Ultimate Recipe Swap, Heavenly Homemaker's Homemaking Hints, Little House on the Prairie Living's Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange, This Chick Cooks Whole Foods Wednesday, and GNOWFGLINS Squash and Zucchini Seasonal Recipe Round-up.