Author Archives: TaMara

Quick Tip: Freezing Fresh from the Garden

 

DSC_8743 (1600x1060)

It’s the time of year again when things begin to ripen faster than you can eat them, but there are still not enough to think about canning or cooking down and freezing. So what to do?

_DSC8825 [1024x768]

I had a bunch of cilantro and two tomatoes which were rushing to ruin and decided I needed to do something so I didn’t end up composting them. You can do this with any leafy herb, such as the basil, parsley, cilantro and veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.

I added the tomatoes and cilantro into my blender, covered with water and blended together well. I froze them in 8 oz portions, as that is the amount I would use in soup or sauce. Ice cube trays are an option, too, but that size is better for when you’re freezing intense herbs, like basil, by itself, where you would only use a tablespoon or so in a recipe.

I also zest all my oranges, lemons and limes and freeze them in a thin and flat layer in ziplock bags. Then I break off whatever amount called for in a recipe.

Herbs can also be packed in oil (click here) as JeffreyW did with his basil pictured above and tomatoes can be flash frozen whole, as JeffreyW did with the batch  pictured at the top and detailed heregreen and red peppers can be seeded and cut up into large pieces and frozen in the same manner.

There are many more ways to preserve fresh from the garden produce and I’ll try and remember to document as I go along this summer. Until then….

cropped-habenaros.jpg

 

UPDATE: Gadget Post: Hamilton Beach BrewStation Coffeemaker

In March of 2014, I needed a new coffee maker and this one appealed to me. A year later and I have to say, it makes really good coffee and it stays hot for 4 hours without it becoming bitter or stale. A bonus when you have a home office. But I felt I must update to say that it makes EXCELLENT iced coffee. I put in 4 cups of water, fill the warming station with ice (two trays), add enough coffee for 8 cups, make sure the warmer is turned off and brew it on BOLD. Brews perfectly and is ice cold when I pour it. Smooth, strong and not at all bitter. Sipping a glass of it right now. –  Cheers, TaMara

Brewmaster 1a

Last week my coffeemaker died, mid-brew. That is a code red emergency in my house. I stumbled across this carafe-less coffeemaker, on sale, in a pretty cherry red and decided the price was right. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I must say it has exceeded my expectations and I’m very pleased with the Hamilton Beach BrewStation.

It claims to keep your coffee piping hot without burning it or turning it bitter for 4 hours. And that was my first test. I usually brew 4-cups at intervals during the day when I’m working at home, because I’m a slow coffee drinker. I often poured out the last cup because at the 90 minute to 2 hour mark the taste was off.  After running vinegar through the machine, I brewed up 6 cups of coffee. It made a really decent first cup of coffee. I set the warmer to 4 hours and went about my day, grabbing a cup now and then along the way. At the four hour mark, the cup I poured tasted as good and fresh as the first cup.

And if you’re worried about BPA in the warming station, as I was, Hamilton Beach has several PDF’s on their website detailing how none of their products contain BPA, including this coffeemaker.

Brewmaster Innards 1
It’s easy to use. You can either fill the warming station with water and then pour it into the coffeemaker, or since I use filtered water, I just pour the water directly into the coffeemaker. You put the warmer in, top it off with the basket, add filter and coffee and press the buttons. You can choose between bold, 1-4 cups or regular brewing styles, I’ve experimented and really like the bold setting. You can set the warmer to 0-4 hours. It is programmable, so morning coffee is ready and waiting when I wake up.

Everything is easy to read. The water level marks are large and stair-stepped up, so it’s easy to fill, the warmer clearly shows how much coffee is left and setting the clock and programming the autobrew is intuitive. If you get to the 4-hour mark and you still want to keep the coffee hot, you hold the start button for 3-seconds and it resets the warmer.

Easy Pour

And pouring the coffee is easy and quick. You hold the cup up to the bar and fill. It easily fills mugs and travel mugs, though it’s too short for my thermos, but I made do by pouring it into a mug first.

I give this high marks, for $35, it does what I need. And it’s a pretty red to boot.

============================

 

Happy 4th of July from Bixby and the Gang

Bixby 7 4 15

“Whatcha doing?”

Trying to get a picture of Bixby’s big ole paws….he had other ideas.Bixby paw 7 4This was the best I could do. I have really big hands (I can palm a basketball), his are bigger. Bigger than a few months ago:HandsSurprised me, too. I’ve lost all perspective. People say, what a horse (like I’ve never heard that before) and I think, oh, he’s not that big.  I keep thinking he’s stopped growing…but it’s only slowed.

Bixby 7 4 profile

Those white marks around his face? He decided he was going to do some landscaping in the backyard by trimming the bushes that line the fence. Those are scratches from the thick brush and bites (from what, I don’t really want to know).  Silly boy.

Fireworks2

We’ll be missing the fireworks this year. I’m worried about leaving Bixby home alone for his first July 4th. They don’t seem to bother him too much, but for this first one, I think I should be home. Even if it is my absolutely favorite holiday. Have a safe and fun day!

Paw print

Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream Delights

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It’s that time again. Time to dig out the ice cream maker and try out some new recipes. I cannot express how much I love the ease of the frozen bowl style machine. No fuss, no mess.

Pictured above is this summer’s first batch, Vanilla Nut Crunch, recipe here (where there is also a bonus kitteh)

And here are four of my favorites from the past summers:

Key Lime Pie Gelato, click here for recipes and photos.

Strawberry Ice Cream, two recipes here.

Blueberry Sorbet, recipe and photos here.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato, really my very favorite of all the recipes, is here.

For the pet lovers, in case you missed it, Bixby needed to cool off in a cute video here. He now has his own kiddie pool in the yard because flooding the bathroom nightly was not an option.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Getting ready the big holiday? Any favorite frozen treat recipes?

Double Dutch Chocolate

Tonight’s featured recipe is one of the most chocolaty ice creams ever. It takes a full cup of dark dutch cocoa and just enough sugar so it’s not too sweet. The ice cream scoop in the photo was my very first Kickstarter contribution. It works great on the hardest frozen ice cream with little effort. But in all honesty, I contributed because the presentation was so funny and the inventor was a riot.  I <3 engineers.

Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 1 cup dark dutch cocoa, unsweetened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

mixing bowl, ice cream freezer

In the mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugars and salt, until well blended, add milk and use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, you usually have a soft serve consistency, you can freeze it until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

That’s it for this week. There won’t be an exchange next week because of the holiday. I hope you have a great week and a terrific 4th! – TaMara

Fireworks2

 

 

Frozen Treats: Vanilla Nut Crunch (and Bonus Kitteh)

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It was time to break out the ice cream maker and cool things off. I’d been focusing on gelatos the last couple of summers, but yesterday I wasn’t interested in standing over the stove and stirring an egg mixture. I dug out the instruction manual for my Cuisinart machine and sure enough, there were some simple cream-only recipes. I decided to start with vanilla.

I have two favorite ice creams, one was Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy, RIP (their new hazelnut is inedible IMHO) and Blue Bell’s Moo-llenium Crunch (fingers crossed they can come back from the shut down). I’ve mastered Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato and it’s a fine substitute for Wavy Gravy, so this time I thought I’d tackle the crunchy vanilla ice cream from Blue Bell.

From their description:

Classic vanilla ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds and walnut pieces.

The nuts and crunch

Vanilla ice cream recipe? Check. Dark chocolate? Check. Caramel chunks? Nope, but we’ll get to that. Roasted pecans? Nope, will have to live without because I was not going to drop everything and run to the store. Almonds and walnuts? Check and check. On to the recipe:

Vanilla Nut Crunch

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp really good vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds (raw or roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (raw)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional ;-) )

mixing bowl, ice cream maker

In the mixing bowl, combine milk, sugar and salt, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, fold in nuts and chocolate. Freeze until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

Remember the caramel bits? I had a bottle of caramel syrup which made a nice topping and when I was done, it was pretty darn close to Moo-llenium Crunch. I’m sure pecans will make all the difference next time.

And here is a bonus kitteh because he had to “help” me take the photos today.

Z-Man Whatcha making

For tomorrow – Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  Until then – TaMara

cropped-1024_10200157233835609_870836514_n.jpg

How to Entertain a Great Dane Puppy

Bixby Tub

Bixby celebrated the first day of summer by cooling off in the tub. One year old and a charmer.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Tidbits

Buffalo Leg QuartersJeffreyW uses the Tidbits title when he puts together a lot of different items in one post, so I thought I would co-opt it for this eclectic post.

It’s been a busy week of cooking, surprisingly. When stressed, I retreat to the kitchen and even in its unwelcoming state, there was solace there this week. Bixby turned one on Tuesday, I baked up some more dog biscuits for him and his best play-buddies. You can see his birthday photos here.

Then I was at the store and found chicken leg quarters on sale and sitting right next to them, my favorite bottle of wing sauce, so I made some Buffalo Leg Quarters, pictured above and recipe here. They were really good and much easier than making wings.

JeffreyW was busy in the kitchen, too and his Shrimp Mornay with Broccoli from earlier in the week looked delicious. Photos and recipe here.

What’s been cooking in your kitchen this week? Is it time to give up on indoor cooking and move it all out to the backyard? What’s up for Father’s day? Cucumber Salsa I had tonight’s featured recipe tucked away for the day I could find decent tomatoes. That day was today. And if you want other cucumber salad ideas, click here for a bunch of them.

Crisp Cucumber Salsa

  • 1 large chopped cucumber – I used an English cucumber so I didn’t have to peel or seed it.
  • 2 small chopped tomatoes
  • 3 green onions, chopped, greens included
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, chopped (seeded if you want to lower the heat)
  • 4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper (opt)
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • Tortilla chips
  • Small tortillas, cut into eighths

small bowl, serving bowl

In a serving bowl, combine the top seven ingredients.  In small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour dressing over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat.

Let the flavors blend for about thirty minutes. Serve at room temperature or ice cold with chips and tortillas.

That’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a lovely Father’s Day. – TaMara

 

cropped-squash-blossoms15.jpg

You Only Think It’s Your Bed

You ARE NOT Making the Bed

All week long, Jake has been making a stand when I go to make the bed. Usually I relocate him. This morning, I thought I’d let him win.

row-of-hearts

Buffalo Leg Quarters

Buffalo Leg QuartersI love Buffalo Wings. I don’t make them much because it seems a lot of work. But when I found a special on leg quarters and look over there next to them…bottles of my favorite buffalo sauce. I purchased both and made some yummy…

Buffalo Chicken

  • 4 lbs of leg quarters (approximately 4 pieces)
  • flour
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne pepper (opt)
  • oil
  • favorite Buffalo sauce (mine is from a local shop that sells bottles at my local grocery store)

skillet, baking dish

Mix together flour and spices. I like mine spicy so I added cayenne to the flour mixture. Dredge chicken in flour mixture until well coated.

Over medium heat, heat a tbsp of oil for each quarter (I had to fry mine in two batches, so I added 2 tbsp for each batch). It doesn’t take much to crisp up the skin. Fry until golden brown, turn and brown on the other side. It can take from 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Remove to baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 degree until the thigh temp is 175 degrees (about 30 to 40 minutes). Every 10 minutes, remove and baste with Buffalo sauce, about three times. Before removing the fully cooked chicken from the oven, give a generous coating of Buffalo sauce and let heat through. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with favorite dipping sauce: bleu cheese or ranch dressing, and celery sticks.

================================

 

Happy Birthday Bixby!

Headshot 1 year oldA year ago, I woke up to a text message saying the puppies were arriving. I was so excited because I had waited so long for a puppy (several years). A few weeks later, the first photos arrived.

Bixby Baby Pix 7 14 14

I had no idea how much my life was going to be ruled by this bundle of attitude and energy.  But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 698 other followers