Tag Archives: homemade

Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon Curd
Yield: 1 Pint Jar Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients – Equipment Needed
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3/4 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
6 to 7 tablespoons cold butter
1 sauce pan OR double boiler
whisk
sift / strainer
juicer (optional, just your hands works well too!)
zester / micro plane

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Step 1: zest one lemon, roughly a tablespoon worth of zest, set aside. Juice lemons, strain pulp, and set aside.

Step 2: Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Reserve egg whites for another recipe* Add egg yolks and one whole egg to sauce pan or double boiler**. Add in lemon juice, sugar, zest, and whisk till incorporated. Now turn on your heat low, keep whisking…

* Side note – saving eggs: Separated eggs can be frozen easily and stored in a freezer sealed bag for at least six months to a year. In my instance, I have backyard chickens and have an abundance of eggs, so in order to not waste, I separate them, and freeze. This recipe is made with frozen eggs.

** Side note – double boiler vs stand alone sauce pan: this is based on your comfort level of cooking eggs to ensure you don’t turn your yolks to scramble. The double boiler keeps the liquid eggs from the direct heat, allowing you more flexibility when whisking to not develop scrambled eggs. If you do not have a double boiler, you’re still good… just keep the temp very low, and don’t stop whisking. Worse case, get out that fine mesh strainer and run your curd through to remove any lumps that may have formed during cooking.

Step 3: one by one add in a tablespoon of butter. Whisk till incorporated and add another, one at a time. Keep whisking. At this time, get a small metal spoon and take a dip. Time to taste test before the curd comes together. Not sweet enough, add a teaspoon or more of sugar and keep whisking… keep whisking… and watch the magic start to happen.

Step 4: after 15 + minutes of whisking you will see your curd start to thicken. Keep in mind, once you turn off the heat the curd will continue to cook and continue to thicken. When you’re able to form soft peaks with your curd you are ready to turn off the heat and set aside. Once cooled, transfer your curd to a pint jar with sealing lid. If you’re concerned with lumps, run your curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps formed during cooking.

Storage: half pint and pint jars by Ball or Kerr freeze extremely well and this recipe will freeze incredibly well for at least 6 months. Its consistency remains in tact even after freezing. Store in the fridge in a sealed pint jar for up to a week… if it lasts that long.

ENJOY!

Meyer Lemon Curd
Serving Suggestion: we enjoyed a dollop of Meyer Lemon Curd this morning atop my homemade french toast and berry sauce… everything from scratch… bread, berry sauce, & lemon curd!

Egg Breakfast Cups

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Bacon & Kale Cheesy Egg Cups – Part of a Successful Weekly Meal Plan
Yield: 12 individual egg cups Temp: 325° (f) Cooking Time: 25 minutes Prep Time: 15 minutes  

Ingredients – Equipment Needed
undefined 1 head kale, chopped
undefined 5+ strips bacon, cut/crisped (save some bacon grease for cooking the kale)
undefined 12-14 eggs, medium to large
undefined ½ cup combined, shredded Parmesan & mozzarella cheese
undefined Kosher salt/pepper to taste
undefined 12 pan muffin tin
undefined Parchment paper or cupcake liners
undefined Skillet
undefined Canning funnel

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325° (f) and prep the muffin tin with liners. Set aside. My best advice for still intact, non stick egg cups is to use parchment paper by making your own muffin tin liners or purchasing liners that are specifically made from parchment paper. Making your own is super simple and here is a really quick cool video I found on the interwebs by Cooking with Manuela on how to make your own. If making your own is not your thing, I use these from Paperchef all the time and I 100% swear by them *not a paid ad

Step 2: Dice bacon and crisp in a pan. I use a cast iron skillet, but any pan will do. Make sure to drain the fat (but save it!!) while cooking to ensure a good crisp on the bacon. Once crisp, remove from pan and set aside.

Bacon rendering in a cast iron skillet.

Step 3: Wash, dry, and remove kale from stems. Chop and place in skillet with a tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat. You can omit and use olive oil or any oil of your choosing. Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Saute until desired wilt or crispness has been achieved, add back bacon and toss for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4: Crack and whisk eggs with kosher salt and pepper. Set aside. Fill each muffin tin with a tablespoon of bacon kale mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese mixture on top.

Step 5: If you have a canning funnel, I would totally use it because it will help to eliminate any drips or spills, which in turn makes egg cup removal from the muffin tins a bit tedious… the funnel helps keep everything in the cup where it needs to be. If not, use a large spoon or ladle and fill each muffin tin ¾ full.

Step 6: place in a 325° (f) preheated oven for 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy immediately or do as I do and store in airtight containers in the fridge for your meal planning win during the week.

Additional Ingredient Options: Here are some additional examples of breakfast egg cup variations I’ve made this year:
undefined Broccoli, bacon & goat cheese
undefined Kale, sweet peppers, & cheddar cheese
undefined Sweet peppers, zucchini, sausage & Parmesan cheese

A Note About The Ingredients I Use:
The eggs in this recipe and all recipes I create are made from the chickens I raise. They are fed organic feed in addition to all of the organic produce scraps from my kitchen and all that nature has to provide for them in my pasture. All other ingredients I do my very best to source locally if it does not come direct from my homestead (i.e. the produce & meats) as well as organic and non-gmo options. These recipes do not need to be local & organic but this is what I chose to do for my family.

The Story: I’m a fulltime remote employee for a global tech giant, I wrangle two very active boys and husband daily. The dog needs walking & the chickens need food. The land needs tending and there are only so many hours in a day, then you need to eat. This year I’ve decided to reinstate meal planning and meal preparation. Egg cups – the first installment of that plan. I’m typically (when Covid-19 doesn’t have us stuck at home) on the go, tacking on 120+ miles a day in the car in addition to meetings, kids activities, tending to the homestead, trying to stay physically fit and all the things life has to offer. In my back to basics journey I’ve made deep strides to improve the health in my life and I don’t want to hinder the progress by eating crap on the fly. Having good for you, fueling meals ready on the go is key for success in my day to day. This recipe makes 12 egg cups for me for the week. I warm up 2 egg cups a day from Monday through Saturday for my breakfast. Sundays are left for meal planning and meal prepping. I’ll be 100% honest, these are best the moment they come out of the oven and look a little sad on day two, but the taste is still delightful and fills me up on the go. So, here’s to your meal planning success, Egg Cups!

Banana Bread Muffins

According to the interwebs, banana bread was one of the top icons of the recent quarantine. Everyone and their grandmother has been baking like their lives depend on it and banana bread was at the top of the list. This is not your grandmother’s quarantine banana bread. These are fluffy, moist and quite chocolaty. A perfect mobile breakfast for the meal planning guru’s arsenal, easily adjusted to be gluten free using a 1:1 baking flour, and really the only way I’ll enjoy banana anything… muffins!

Chocolate chip or double chocolate with deep rich red dutch cocoa, better than grandma’s. If my grandmother heard me say this… she might agree! This recipe is hers, with a twist.

As it relates to a meal planner’s arsenal, these muffins store well in the fridge or freezer and easily warm up in the oven or microwave oven for a good meal “on the go”. During what I refer to as meal prepping Sundays, I make at least a dozen and this will satisfy breakfast for my little boys for the entire week.

So don’t let those bananas go to waste on your counter top. If anything *pro-tip*, peel, cut in half, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to a freezer sealed bag to use for future smoothie material. OK, I’ll enjoy banana two ways… but for now… muffins!!

Banana Bread Muffins
350 (f) degrees / 25 – 30 minutes baking time / 10-15 minute prep time
Yield One Dozen (12) Muffins

3 Medium Ripe Bananas
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Spice (combination of cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg)
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
2 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips (or as many as you like!)

For Double Chocolate Chip Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Add 1/4 Cup Red Dutch Cocoa Powder
Reduce All-Purpose Flour to 2 Cups only


For Gluten Free Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Replace All-Purpose Flour with 2 1/4 Cups of 1:1 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour

STEP 1:
Pre-heat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.

STEP 2:
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment mix bananas, vanilla, sugars, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, change the whisk attachment to the mixing attachment to fold in the flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

If no stand mixer is available, start by mashing the bananas and sugar together with a fork or potato masher, then with a hand whisk or handheld mixer whisk in vanilla, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, use a spatula and fold in flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

Your batter should be thick and not able to easily fall from the spoon.

Why add the soda & powder to the wet ingredients & not the dry like every recipe on the interwebs??? I’ve found that by whisking the soda & powder with the wet ingredients, it helps to create a fluffier texture. This is why I recommend folding (do not over mix) your flours into the wet to avoid breaking down the fluff you’ve just created. I’m no scientist but baking is a science and to test & experiment is to find new improved ways to do things!

STEP 3:
Fill each cupcake liner to the brim. Don’t overflow but fill them to the top. Place the filled muffin tin in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick to ensure a clean removal & your muffins are done and ready to consume.

STORAGE:
Stores well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or in a freezer bag for a few months. Heat up on the go in the oven or the microwave for a few minutes. Perfect with your morning beverage to go!

Enjoy!!

Simple Country White Bread

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

I first started making bread eight years ago. I was trying to save money and cut out all of the crap in our daily consumption. The original recipe was quite tasty but there were too many ingredients involved for me to consider it cost saving. Plus, a simple tasty slice of bread is made from just a few simple ingredients.

Simple country white bread consists of flour, yeast, water, honey, and flax seed or chia seeds. I add the seeds for protein and omegas. The seeds are 100% optional and not needed to get a great fluffy loaf of bread. I store our loaf in an airtight container in a cool location. The loaf will last the week for the oldest’s sandwiches for lunch or honey toast for my youngest for breakfast. Any leftovers get turned into french toast at the end of the week!

SIMPLE COUNTRY WHITE BREAD

350 (f) degrees / 38 minutes / yield avg. 12-14 slices

  • 3 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/4 cup organic chia or flax seeds *optional
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw local honey

STEP 1: In a bowl combine yeast, honey, and warm water. Note, not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Set aside and let activate. You’ll have a layer of foam when you know the yeast has bloomed.

STEP 2: Once the yeast has bloomed add flour, seeds (*optional), salt, and olive oil. Mix. You can use a stand mixer with bread attachment or the best tools you have in the kitchen… your hands. Mix until combined and kneed for a couple of minutes. Add flour if it is too sticky. Once combined, set aside in the bowl, covered with a dish towel in a warm location. Let rise or double in size.

STEP 3: Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has doubled in size, kneed out the air for a couple of minutes, shaping to your desired loaf pan. Cover with dish towel and set aside in a warm location to double in size.

STEP 4: Preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Once doubled in size, sprinkle the top of the loaf with some warm water and place in preheated oven for 38 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and loaf pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

STEP 5: Store in an airtight container in dark cool location for up to a week. ENJOY!

Granola Bars

“Before I had kids, I didn’t even know it was possible to destroy an entire house with a granola bar.” – Twitter Quote

I will be revisiting all of the recipes presented on this site, as well as sharing new ones. The first recipe I’ll be revisiting is my infamous granola bars!

When I first wrote this recipe, I was starting a new journey, looking deeper into the food I ate and attempting to make better decisions on what my family consumed. Looking back on the recipe, what seems to be healthy on the outside may not always be healthy on the inside. I chuckle because I had added extra brown sugar in the recipe that really doesn’t need to be there.

Now don’t get me wrong, the original recipe is still very tasty but I decided to remove the brown sugar and make some other adjustments to reduce the amount of sugar we were consuming in our day to day lives. These bars are quick & easy to make and quite versatile. I make a batch weekly for my boys. The granola bars are better than ever and according to my oldest son, should be famous!

GRANOLA BARS

350 (f) degrees / 25 minutes / yield avg. two dozen bars / Prep Time: 15 mins / Bake Time: 25 mins / Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 4 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, melted (*can sub coconut oil)
  • 1 cup organic dried fruit, chopped
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey
  • 1/2 cup organic semi sweet chocolate chips (*can sub cacao nibs)
  • 9 x 13 pan
  • sheet of parchment paper

Step 1 – preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees. In a large bowl combine oats, seeds, and chopped dried fruit. Mix well.

Step 2 – fine chop dried fruit of choice. You can really use any kind you like. In my recipe I use 1/2 cup dried chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots. Add to the bowl and mix.

Step 3 – add melted butter and mix to ensure all ingredients are coated.

Step 4 – add peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips. Make sure to mix well so all ingredients are well incorporated.

Step 5 – line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Press your granola mixture into the pan, making sure you have an even spread across the pan.

Step 5.a optional – this is where you can get creative. I don’t add this to the ingredient list above but you have the option to add an extra layer of peanut butter to the top of the granola mixture or chocolate chips. When the granola’s are done baking, you would use a spatula knife and spread the layer of chocolate thin to cool and harden. The layer of peanut butter needs no attention after baking

Step 6 – place in preheated 350(f) degree oven for 25 minutes. When finished, place on wrack to cool. Pro tip – once the tray has cooled, place the tray in the refrigerator for an  hour to make cutting your bars less sticky and more uniform. Once cooled you can cut your bars to desired size. I typically cut the bars 4 inches in length which yields me up to 24 bars. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week… If they last that long 🙂

ENJOY!

PS: this recipe is quite versatile and simple to adjust. Don’t want chocolate chips, keep them out. Ingredients not coming together well enough, add more peanut butter or honey. Too sticky, add more oats. Substitute butter for coconut oil. Add any dried fruit of your desire. Add more nuts, chopped up walnuts or almonds or sunflower seeds. The possibilities are endless… have fun and enjoy!

There’s A Bun In The Oven

There’s a Bun in The Oven

It has been an amazing roller coaster of a year, 2014. Our little family found a beautiful place to call home that will allow us to fulfill many of our goals towards a less dependent lifestyle. We have the best neighbors anyone could ever ask for and we are grateful. After 19 years of renting together I believe the hubs and I have paid our dues and this is our reward.

bun in the oven

We’ve spent more time outside this year than in the past 5+ years collectively.

bun in the oven

We created a beautiful garden that will continue to grow and flourish in the years to come.

bun in the oven

bun in the oven

We’ve built our own coop and added some feathered friends to our household for fresh eggs.

bun in the oven

bun in the oven

Despite a full 9-5 schedule with new roles, promotions and more, I’ve still been able to maintain keeping things homemade, from scratch, local, and organic. I’ve been able to keep canning, keep making my kiddo’s snacks from scratch, and most meals… most… are cooked at home.

bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven

Our handsome little boy has grown by leaps and bounds. He’s learned to ride a bike without ever using training wheels and has overcome his fear of swimming.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

He’s developed a love of nature and wildlife.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

He loves to draw and write words, “Mommy, how do you spell…?” He teaches us more and more every day.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

We took one step further in our journey for food closer to home. We learned how to harvest and butcher a pig that has filled our freezer for the year. We added homemade bacon and sausage to what we’ve learned how to make vs. buying at the store.

Bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven

We took tiny steps to get ourselves involved in our new community with hopes for more involvement in the future.

bun in the oven

The hubs and I went on our first real date in over 4 years. Official Date Night of 2014!

bun in the oven

We celebrated 90 amazing years of the woman who has been an integral part of my entire life and has shaped us all, the matriarch of the family.

bun in the oven

I picked back up an old hobby and got the best anniversary present ever, celebrating 19 years with the best father and husband.

bun in the oven

We finally got a real family photo for the first time since our kiddo was born. I also got the opportunity to include my ol’ girl with us in the photos thanks to Marisa Duran Photography.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

I was so happy to capture this moment with my girl because as these photos were taken I knew in my heart there were going to be major changes on the horizon. Positive changes but major ones none the less.

The first of those changes was the major decision to add another four furry legs to our household. As we started the last month of 2014 we welcomed lil’ girl to our home with open arms.

bun in the oven

It may seem that the decision was quick but we’ve been talking about another dog for more than a couple years now. It was important that we didn’t let any more time pass to allow another member of our family to grow with our son. It boiled down to now or never. This statement, now or never, lends well to the next major change in our lives… at the age of 37 with a lot on the horizon it was now or never that we made this final leap to close the circle of our little family…

bun in the oven

From the moment my son was born people were in my ear, “we’ll see you back in 2 years with another”, “when are you going to have another”, “don’t you want more”, “it’s only fair to your son to have a sibling” and the comments continued. Of course I wanted more children. Of course I want a sibling for my son. But it was so much more than that. So much more than most could ever understand. From the moment I learned I was pregnant with my son I was deathly sick. Not morning sickness, all day all night sickness. So sick that one could not drink water or eat food without every ounce coming back up within minutes or hours of consumption. A sickness that depleted every ounce of energy from one’s body where simple tasks like taking a shower or washing a dish would wipe one out for the entire day or week. The sickness has a name and its hyperemesis gravidarum. Only with the assistance of medication and forced fluids was I able to make it through 8 months. My son arrived a month early and after 30 hours of labor and an emergency C-section did we make it out alive and more than well.

Those eight months were the hardest months of my life. In the end it was all worth it but with a heavy price. Not only was my physical tested beyond belief my mental as well. It took close to 6 months before I could get to a true recovery state. In my case, having a child changed every bit of my being and existence. Our lifestyles did a complete 360.

When I was pregnant with my son I had family and friends with 20 minutes of me in any one direction. The husband was close to work and my mom was within minutes to get to me when I was in need. With the strong support of my employer, I was able to take the bed rest that was required while still maintaining my job. I had no one else to tend to other than myself. The hubs did the groceries and cooked dinners. Every so often I’d have to let 2 already potty trained dogs out to wander the yard for fresh air. Otherwise I lay in bed for what seemed to be months. My mom would visit on weekends to bring over my cravings only for me to throw them up soon after. Exhaustion and stress only amplified the intensity of the illness so my activity was minimal to none.

Once my son was born and the questions constantly imposed, I was forced to be reminded daily of how I struggled and how times are now oh so different. I could not imagine (although I know many women who do) having to tend to a very active toddler while trying to manage the extreme sickness. Constant throwing up, nausea that never goes away, dehydration, exhaustion, aches and pains from throwing up, and constipation from the harsh medication. As I mentioned our lives did a 360 which meant that I was no longer brining in an income. We moved well over an hour away from family, friends, and support. I did not have a village to turn to in times of need. For as much as my little man and I had been through in the previous months I didn’t want to take any more time away from him that had already been taken.

The questions were a constant but I was able to push past them without much explanation. After all, most I’d speak with never could truly understand how sick I was.

As time progressed, my son started preschool and I returned to work. We moved on and upward with our lives thinking about our futures. We’ve always wanted more kids but as I just explained the pros and cons were to be heavily weighed. After much thought, planning, and as much preparation as we could do for ourselves knowing what was going to be ahead… we decided it was time. It was now or never and well…

With all of the planning and preparation I had hopes. I had hopes that this pregnancy would be different. After all, it is true that everyone is different… but how different is the question. With my first son I was sick within a day of my missed period. After 2 months of throwing up, extreme dehydration and lack of nutrition the doctors to finally placed me on Zofran, which is an anti-nausea medication. I had also been on Phenergan which was a suppository and only added to the worst experience of my life. It took roughly 4 months for the medication to regulate but if I missed a session, hello toilet!

Given our timing and planning, I had high hopes to be able to surprise the hubs on Christmas with a wonderful ultra sound picture, vibrant and happy, and not nauseous. Wrong. Within a week of my missed period the sickness started to creep on me. Given my history my OB did not hesitate to prescribe Zofran immediately. I know many “natural” moms that follow me and read my ranting’s may look down upon my use of a chemical, synthetic drug during pregnancy. Believe me, I’d rather not be throwing up, I’d rather NOT be taking a bunch of pills just to get through my day… but I can’t. Don’t tell me to eat crackers or ginger. This sickness is so much more than that. Smelling and eating peppermint, ginger, crackers, and broth, etc.; every natural remedy that has been thought of, women of HG have attempted. Even with the use of medications like Zofran the nausea is still very much present on an hourly, daily basis. It also does not always stop the puking sessions. As I mentioned exhaustion is a killer and doing a bit too much no matter how much medication will most likely result in an evening in the bathroom hugging the toilet.

I was a week into the medication when we brought our little four legged fury child home. Our lil’ girl is just that… so little and so new. She is a puppy. Puppies require potty training, puppy training, acclimation to a new home and a new pack. Of course this is also December and my most favorite time of the year. A time filled with decorations, baking, family time, holiday crafts, DIY gift making and more. This is my time and more than ever an important one because it is the last Christmas that I’ll have my kiddo just to myself.

Roughly 2 weeks into the medication, a week with a new puppy, and a mounting list of projects to get done for Christmas ahead, I still had hopes. I was exhausted but not yet sick beyond control.  We were out and about to get our Christmas tree and I had forgotten to bring my medication. Keeping in mind I had not yet told the hubs I was pregnant. I was trying so hard to keep it a surprise but after 19 years he knows me more than I think. I should also take more consideration to understand that not only was the first experience of HG a huge impact for me, it was huge for him as well. We’re in the car and I couldn’t help but express how crappy I felt at the moment and he knew right then and there. “You’re pregnant… aren’t you???” Well, so much for that White Christmas surprise. Instead he learned of the news in the car parked in the parking lot of a FedEx and a Five Guys Burgers. Joy. Coming to the end of the 2nd week of starting the meds and the sickness was rearing its ugly head. Every smell, everything made me sick. My poor kiddo kept asking when I was going to feel better. It’s not like me to sit on the couch for more than a couple minutes at a time. I’m a battery that keeps going and for me to be sidelined causes much concern from those who know me.   I wanted to wait to tell our kiddo till after I made it out of the 1st trimester. I wanted to get past his birthday before sharing the news but there was no hiding it. I was just too sick to keep something like this from him. So that following weekend the hubs and I so carefully told the kiddo he was going to be a big brother. It took some time for it to sink in. It wasn’t until he got to see the ultra sound picture did it really make sense there was something growing in my tummy. Since then he’s been asking a million questions with excitement and curiosity.

It was at roughly 6 weeks into the pregnancy when the illness had fully overcome me. My early morning routine, a routine that I cannot make much adjustment to, was causing great havoc. The sheer act of waking up is a task in itself. Knowing that the moment you open your eyes the nausea will wash over your entire being and you’re in dry heave mode. The light at the end of the tunnel was an already planned time off due to the holidays and an extremely supportive employer and team members. If it wasn’t for my wonderful managers and team members to pick up my slack… I wouldn’t be functioning as I am today. As much as I loathe when my little man catches a cold I was also thankful he was home sick with me so I did not have to rush him off to school. We both spent the week hibernating. He was such a big boy and so helpful beyond belief. The poor hubs who has a 3 hour round trip daily commute has been picking up the extra slack by taking care of dinner and the evening kiddo routine. I’ve been nothing but a lump on a log. I’m of no help. The week of Christmas was the worst so far and I know it has everything to do with exhaustion. I had to do as much as I could for my DIY presents, mandatory errands and doctors’ appointments over an hour away from home. They all took a major toll. By Tuesday before Christmas I was bed ridden and couldn’t move. Despite the medication I threw up daily, dehydrated and in pain. I made it to two family gatherings over the course of Christmas Eve and Christmas, but beyond that… I’ve been bed ridden.

I’ve missed out on crafts with my kiddos, volunteering at his school, baking cookies with the kiddos, and my favorite… amusement park rides with my lil’ man. I had to sit behind while the family went out for a Christmas light celebration and amusement park rides. I’m the one who usually rides the rides with my kiddo and for the first time I wasn’t there. I was so sad but knowing my kiddo was getting a chance to get out and have fun, pushed me through.

At this point in the journey I must take it one day at a time. Some days are more tolerated than others. I am fully accepting that I can’t do all what I do normally. I know there will be a time for it all in the future but for now I must rest. I am concerned for the days to come when work resumes. Will I be able to without being unbearably uncomfortable and putting a strain on my team? I hope for the better. I hope to get past this as I did with my first. Why do I share all of this with you… because a big part of my life has been this blog, the stories I share, the information I share, and the photography that helps me to tell the story. The blog will continue because it’s become a part of me but it will be sidelined until I get past this illness. It could be a couple weeks or it could be the entire duration of the pregnancy. Of course we hope for the best but understand anything can happen.

For now we’ll take it one day at a time and I hope to check in as often as I can with updates on the homestead and all we’re doing to get ready for the next venture in our family’s life. Thank you to all who have been there since the beginning and continue to follow me through the ups and downs. Thank you for the support! From my growing family to yours… I wish you the very best in the New Year!

 

365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 – 17

365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 – 17

365 Project 2014 Day 13 – Homemade Bread After a full weekend of sick boys I had to spend Monday catching up on some of our basic staples. One of which is homemade bread. We have not purchased store bought bread (minus the occasional local baked sour dough) in years. I make our daily bread, buns for burgers, I’ve attempted hot dog buns or pretzel buns if you will but those need some perfecting. Considering 2 loaves of well made bread from the store costs roughly $3-4 each, I estimate I’m saving $20 bucks a month on bread alone in my grocery bill. That’s a rough estimate but either way I’m saving money and I know exactly what ingredients are being put into my bread.
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 13 – Tea Time I’ve never been a big tea drinker. I can remember spending nights at my grandmother’s house and her evening routine always involved a hot cup of chamomile tea. Anytime she was sick she always had a cup of tea. It was a warming healing comfort to her. Well I needed that very much Monday evening. With boy the big boy and the little boy very sick I could feel it creeping up on me. Thankfully my cousin had gifted us some tea recently so I pulled out my cups and enjoyed a warm cup of calming chamomile tea. It worked. At least in my mind it did. It soothed my throat and relaxed me for the evening. Thankfully for the remainder of the week I fared way better than the boys. Could it have been the tea?
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 14 – Learning to Snap No he’s not flipping me off although it looked like when I took the picture. He’s learning to snap and doing a mighty fine job at it too. He was so proud when his little fingers made the sound.
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 14 – Bird Watching More like deer watching.
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 15 – Happy Hump Day We’re mid week…watching the sunset on our ridge line gives me a sense of calm.
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 16 – I’m an Artist! You sure are kiddo… you sure are!
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

365 Project 2014 Day 17 – Homemade Granola Bars TGIFF! It’s Friday and it couldn’t come too soon. I’m not a fan of rushing my days by but this week has been tiring with sick men and being cooped up with them. Once again, catching up on our weekly staples since I was preoccupied with my guys. Granola bars is another staple like bread that I choose to make myself. Consider you buy a box of granola bars at the store containing 6 bars at roughly $5 a box. I would have to go through a cost breakdown but on the surface the ingredients I used today didn’t equate to $5, it was less than and I came out with 24 bars. My kiddo eats at least one to two of these a day. Filled with organic oats, nuts, dried fruits, honey, and peanut butter… these have been the best homemade treat I’ve made to date.
365 Project 2014 Week in Review 13 - 17

Homemade Scones

Homemade Scones

It’s neither a muffin nor a biscuit. Homemade scones are an easy grab and go add for your breakfast or snack on the run. I first tried a scone from one of my office cafeterias several years back. It was an overly sweet, overly dry square of dough. I needed more than one cup of coffee to help get the dry dough down and it usually lasted till lunch time rolled around. All of the scones I’ve tried, the fruit was a reconstituted substance with not much flavor and the dough was dry and chalky. I thought any baked fruit flavored dough must be good – but not these bites. There must be something more to the scone. There had to be because I saw them in almost every breakfast bakery section throughout grocery stores and cafes everywhere. I decided to try my hand at a version of my own. The store bought scone was dry, tasteless and expensive. Not to mention a majority of the ingredients were unknown. I tested several recipes, some with more fat some with more liquid. The following homemade scones recipe is a combination of several recipes found over the interwebs, which has become a “country breakfast” staple at our kitchen table.

Originally known as a “Scottish quick bread” and griddle cooked, the scone became an integrated part of English tea time, served everyday at 4:00pm. Now the scone is more likely to be baked in the oven and typically enjoyed at breakfast or during a very late night snack! The scone can be made sweet or savory; cheese, herb, fruit, vegetables, and even custards… a well made scone is a versatile dough ball of goodness.

Variations
Using the basic dough recipe, you can make several variations of the homemade scones. The following are variations I’ve tried all of which have been successful and tasted great!
* = organic
^ = local

– 2 small carrots, shredded & drained + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 medium zucchini, shredded & drained + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 large apple, peeled diced & caramelized in sugar or honey + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 cup shredded raw cheddar cheese + 1 tsp ground pepper *^
– 1/2 preserved lemon, cleaned & diced + 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries *^

The variations are endless. For this particular recipe we’re going to utilize fresh local organic strawberries that I’ve frozen and preserved meyer lemons. Have fun with your homemade scones recipe, the options are endless!

Homemade Scones
yeild: 6 to 8 scones depending on size
425 (f) degrees for 20 to 25 minutes

Basic Dough
– 2 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
– 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional ingredient)
– 1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional ingredient)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla (corn syrup free)
– 1 egg *^
– 6 tablespoons butter * (or any fat of your liking. You can use lard or tallow, both of which I’ve tested and work great!)
– 2/3 cup whole milk *^ (you can also use buttermilk)

Variation – 6 strawberries, diced *^ (frozen or fresh)
– 1/2 a preserved lemon, washed cleaned & diced *^

Step 1: In a food processor, using a dough blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, seeds (optional), and salt – quick pulse to get the ingredients combined. Next add the egg, vanilla, and cut butter. Process till the mixture has a crumbled texture… kind of like sand. Remove the dough crumble from the food processor and place in a bowl. Set aside. {NOTE: if you do not have a food processor you can use 2 butter knives or a dough knife to cut in the butter.}
homemade scones

Step 2: Next wash and chop the strawberries and preserved lemons. Since a preserved lemon is stored in salt, you will remove the lemon from the salt, remove the pulp and wash. Once cleaned make a small dice of the preserved lemon. You can also use the zest of one fresh lemon in replace of the preserved lemon. You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. If frozen, make sure that the berry is semi defrosted before chopping. Mix in the chopped fruit to the crumbled dough mixture.
homemade scones

homemade scones

Step 3: Next slowly mix in the milk. You may not use all of the milk. You want the ingredients to come together but the dough must be sticky and thick. Thick enough to form a ball of dough. You don’t want to add all of the milk or the dough will turn into a batter and you’ll have pancakes instead of scones!
homemade scones

Step 4: Now with a large spoon, scoop out 6 to 8 balls of dough onto a cookie sheet; depending on the size of your scoop. They don’t need to be perfect but should generally be the same size to allow for equal cooking time. You can use a sheet of parchment paper or grease the tray. I do neither because there is plenty of fat in the mixture to keep it from sticking. Place in a pre-heated 425 (f) degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes to make sure the scones are not burnt.
homemade scones

Step 5: Once the cooking time is up, remove the scones from the oven and place on a plate to cool for 5 minutes – the inside will be hot and soft and the outside will be golden brown and crisp. Serve with fresh homemade jam or butter and a hot cup of coffee… enjoy!
homemade scones

Apple Cinnamon Scones
homemade scones

Blueberry Lemon Scones
homemade scones

Carrot Cinnamon Scones
homemade scones

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along. – Antonin Scalia

Pancakes were a special treat for me as a child; I only enjoyed them during overnight stays at grandma’s house. Sunday morning we’d wake up early and she’d pull out her very old very long griddle and we’d mix up some bisquik pancakes.

It wasn’t until my kiddo was born that I detoured from the typical box mix I remembered from my childhood. I took the time to read the box labels and I had that ‘ah-ha’ moment. I realized… I can make this myself, allowing full control of the ingredients!

I set out, scouring the interwebs to find a solid go to pancake. After testing a few variations, this has become our family’s go-to recipe. You can incorporate any fruit or vegetable… make the basic batter and fold in blueberries, sliced strawberries, apples, shredded carrots, or even zucchini. Yes, zucchini… just think zucchini bread. My three year old who once was the champion eater of our home, eating everything in sight, now only eats specific items; pancakes being one of them. To ensure he’s getting the most out of his pancakes I incorporate zucchini when in season. I hope to find and test a gluten free recipe that is comparable. For now…

Here is your basic pancake recipe with a zucchini variation… zucchini pancakes, enjoy!

zucchini pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Makes 12 to 15 zucchini pancakes depending on size
* = organic
^ = local

1.5 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
3 tablespoons cane sugar *
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1/4 cup melted butter *
2 eggs *^
2/3 cup milk *
2 small zucchini, shredded *^

Step 1: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and seeds). Give a good stir to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
zucchini pancakes

Step 2: Slowly incorporate one at a time, the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk. You’ll end up with a thick lumpy batter. Here is my kiddo helping to crack the eggs (2nd egg was not a success).
IMG_3304 v2

Step 3: Wash and trim 2 small zucchinis. Fine shred the zucchinis into a clean kitchen towel. Once shredding is complete, twist towel to drain out the extra liquid from the zucchinis. It is important to do this step otherwise your batter will be runny and the final pancake product will have too much moisture. Fold in till well incorporated but don’t over mix.
zucchini pancakes

Step 4: Prepare your cooking surface accordingly. I have a small griddle, which is a flat non stick skillet cooking surface but you can use a frying pan or cast iron skillet if available – prepare accordingly. Do not to over crowd the cooking surface to ensure the heat is maintained at medium to medium high. Bubbles will form at the surface when the pancake is ready to flip – between 3 and 5 minutes but make sure to check mid way to ensure your pancake doesn’t burn.
zucchini pancakes

Time to enjoy… topped with a little organic grassfed butter, or some fresh maple syrup, or our favorite some homemade jam.
zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

Homemade Peach Pie

Homemade Peach Pie

“I don’t think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while.” ~ John Gould

homemade peach pie

As a child, I remember in my grandmother’s backyard an apple, apricot, and peach tree. Every summer the tiny peach tree would provide just enough fruit for grandma to make a few trays of peach bars, peach cobbler, and homemade peach pie. I remember her making the peach treats in the morning after picking the fruit and by late afternoon the tray holding the gooey peach goodness would have been picked over leaving a half mangled bar and several crumbs.

Peach season was short-lived and as I got older the tree seemed to get smaller and the fruit arrived less and less. The peach tree is now no longer there but it still provides me great memories.

Today, I have two peach trees in my backyard. I look forward to those beautiful peach blossoms and the bounty of fruit we’ll receive; and when we do we’ll be making peach bars, peach cobblers, peach jam, canning peaches for use later in the year, and of course homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Here is my take on a summer favorite in our household, homemade peach pie. I use fresh ginger and spices to give this pie an extra kick that my family loves… homemade peach pie, enjoy!

* = organic/non-gmo
^ = local

Homemade Peach Pie
375 degrees (f) 45-60 minutes bake time

CRUST
1 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar *
1/2 cup butter or lard or tallow, chilled, cut into pieces *^
4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or vodka, chilled

In a food processor with dough blade or stand mixer with a dough hook add flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix till the flour turns into a crumbling texture. In a measuring cup add vinegar to water and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to get the water ice-cold. Remove the water from the freezer (do not let it freeze). With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour/drizzle the water into the flour/butter mixture until the dough barely holds together when pinched. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in 1/2, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes or overnight.
homemade peach pie

PEACH FILLING
5 cups fresh peaches, skinned/pitted/sliced **quick peeling method listed below** *^
Juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
1 cup sugar *
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon *
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped *
1/4 cup flour *
2 tablespoons butter – used for topping before top crust is added *
CRUST TOPPING
1 tablespoon sugar – used for topping crust before baking *
1 tablespoon cream + 1 egg white – used to brush top crust before baking *^

In a bowl mix peach slices, sugar, flour, spice, and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough.

**QUICK PEELING METHOD**
Make a small slit in the bottom of each peach and drop into a pot of near boiling water for 30 – 45 seconds. Remove peaches from the hot water and immediately drop into an ice bath. The more ripe the peach, the skin should slide right off. From here you can de-pit and slice.

PIE ASSEMBLY
Remove one of the balls of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Keep lifting up the dough and turning it a quarter turn as you roll, rolling from the center of the dough outwards to ensure equal thickness around the circle. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Remove the excess dough by pinching it down along the edge of the pan. Remove the peach filling from the refrigerator…
homemade peach pie

Place pie filling into pie shell and top with butter.
homemade peach pie

Remove the 2nd ball of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough same as before.
Cut dough in 1/2 inch wide strips.
homemade peach pie

Begin by laying horizontal strips, 1/2 inch apart, across the top of the pie. Then take one vertical strip at a time, laying over/under, creating a braided pattern. You will have to carefully lift each horizontal strip as you braid in the vertical. There will be roughly 5-6 strips of dough horizontal and 5-6 strips of dough vertical. Remove excess dough by pinching off the edges.
homemade peach pie

With the remaining dough, roll out 2 separate strips of dough to cover the pinched edges. Create a “worm”, with your fingers, roll the dough from the center out. Creating a 12 inch long thin roll that will go around the edge of the pie plate, covering the pinched edges. With your pinky finger, create an indent every 1/4 inch for a simple decorative edge.
homemade peach pie

homemade peach pie

With a silicone basting brush (BPA free, leaves no stray strands), brush the entire pie with a thin layer (no puddles) of cream/egg white to create a shiny deep color to the crust after baking. For a deeper shine, add a sprinkle of sugar after basting.
homemade peach pie

Your pie is now ready for the oven. To avoid spill over, place the pie on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or tin foil). Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. If the edges of the crust are getting too dark before cooking time is up, cover with pieces of tin foil.
homemade peach pie

Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a heaping scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream… enjoy your fresh baked homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie