Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bottling Grapefruit

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I ran across a Pin one day while looking at "Popular" pins and found a fun blog that had lots of canning and preserving instructions.  The post that interested me most (at the moment) was the bottled grapefruit.  I like grapefruit.  Even as a kid I liked it--provided it had a lot of sugar on the top.

I really enjoy the fancy grapefruit in the glass jars from the grocery store that have all the membrane removed--but its usually over $3 a jar, so I don't buy it too often.  Today, looking at the grocery ads, a small store had grapefruits on sale 5 for $1.  I stopped by and picked up 20 fruits (each were about a pound) for just $4 and tried out home canning of grapefruit.

When you peel and de-membrane the fruit, you lose a lot of volume.  I did 10 fruits and got 4 pints of finished product.  It took me about 40 minutes to peel and prepare the fruit.  I thought about doing the other 10 fruit on the counter, but I think I'll just eat them fresh--but it was a fun project for an evening.

Canning jars with new lids and bands
Sharp knife!
Water bath canner

Prepare the fruit
I used my sharp santoku knife to slice away the peel and pith.  Then I sliced as close along a segment's membrane on both sides and popped it out of the fruit.  Do this over a bowl since it will be juicy and slurpy.  Put the prepared fruit in a bowl and try to keep out the seeds.

Sugar syrup
You can make it more or less sweet.  I used 5 cups of water and 1 3/4 cups of sugar (which was about twice the syrup I needed for my fruit).  Mix the water and sugar in a pot and bring it to a boil.

Add the fruit to the jars and then pour the hot sugar syrup over the top, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar.  Use a knife to slide around the edges of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles).  Wash the rim of the jar off and put on the lid and band.

Process the fruit
Put the hot fruit-filled jars into the water bath canner and bring up to a boil.  Once its boiling, process for 15 minutes (I live above 4,500 feet).  Pull the jars out and set on the counter.  The lid should have "sucked down" and not make any noise when you push on it--otherwise the seal didn't work and you'll need to keep the jar in the fridge and use it first.

Since I already had jars and sugar, I got 4 pints of grapefruit for $2, so much better than the $3 at the store-and I enjoyed a couple episodes of Big Bang Theory while I was at it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tomato Soup for a cold day

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Up until last week, its been unusually warm (I think it might have been 50+ just a couple days before Christmas).  That changed on Monday when the winds came to town and brought single digit temps with them ("lucky" for me I had returned home from the holidays, because my parents home experienced below zero temps).  In weather this cold, soup is the order of the day.  A grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup is one of my go-to winter meals, but since I was off work, I went with home made soup instead.  Only took about 20 minutes!

3 cans of diced tomatoes (I had some tomatoes from my garden I had roasted and frozen this fall, yum)
3 T. olive oil
1/2 c. diced onion
1 T. dried basil (use fresh if you've got it)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
1 tsp. sugar (opt)
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until transluscent (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds and then dump in all the rest of the ingredients except the sugar.  Taste your soup and decide if its too acidic for your liking, if so, add the sugar.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes while you get the grilled cheese sandwiches going.  I prefer my soup more smooth, so I used my immersion blender to puree it right in the cooking pot (you could put it in the blender, but be careful, blending hot soup can create a disaster, so use a dishtowel instead of the lid).

Enjoy your hot soup.  I know I did.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

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If you have a holiday party that you want to "WOW" everyone at, I suggest this tasty dessert from America's Test Kitchen (I've never been disappointed with one of their recipes).  Warning, while the dessert is not super challenging, it does take all morning to get it prepped and then it will need to refrigerate the rest of the day (or overnight).



Bottom Layer
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I didn't use this)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs , separated
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1/3 cup packed (about 2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar , crumbled with fingers to remove lumps 

  • Middle Layer

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder , preferably Dutch-processed
  • 5 tablespoons hot water
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt

  • Top Layer

  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • Shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for serving, optional

  • Directions

    1. FOR THE BOTTOM LAYER: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of 9 1/2-inch springform pan. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.

    2. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through. Using whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer batter to prepared springform pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula

    3. Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove cake from pan.


    4. FOR THE MIDDLE LAYER: Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

    5. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.
    6. Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.
    7. FOR THE TOP LAYER: In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 minutes. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly).
    8. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatula. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2 1/2 hours.


    9. TO SERVE: If using, garnish top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa. Run thin knife between cake and side of springform pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    Christmas Water Bottle Labels

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    I enjoy singing, especially with a choir and especially at Christmastime.  I like to give a little something to the ladies I sing with, but none of us really NEED anything, and even small items can get expensive when you buy 50 of them.  So, this year I thought why not a bottle of water?  We're singers, so we are always needing a swig of water during rehearsal.  I made some cute labels, bought a flat of water from Costco and included a note that I made and printed on the computer to go along with the water.  I've seen the labels go around other containers too (salsa, candy etc...) might make for a nice neighbor or teacher gift.  They are sized to print on a regular 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.  Just print, cut the strips and tape them around the bottle.

    You can download the labels on my site, just look for the files called "bottle" in the list.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Cleaning Out

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    Do you ever walk into a room in your house and just wonder "where did all this stuff come from?"  I do.  I know I'm supposed to get rid of something in my closet if I bring something new home, but I don't (or I plan to and forget).  So I've got way more stuff than I need and I'm not waiting until the New Year or Spring to get started on getting rid of it.  I saw several other blog posts on keeping your de-cluttering process small and manageable.  I'm not even planning at organizing stuff--just getting rid of stuff.  I suspect the organization will happen pretty much by itself when I don't have items towering or falling out of the closet. 

    So, I sat down and made a list of places in my house that could probably use a de-junking.  The list is LONG.  But that is ok.  I'm not going to make myself do a space every day, but I did make the spaces small enough that I can do one in a reasonable amount of time.

    Supplies I'll need:
    Lots of old grocery bags or trash bags
    Camera/paper pencil to document items I'm donating for tax purposes

    Anybody else want to try it?

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    No Slip Running Headband

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    I have a few weaknesses-that it doesn't seem to matter if I need any more or not (and believe me, I don't NEED any more stuff) lip gloss, black yoga pants, boots and cute exercise accessories.  I suppose I figure that if I can't be the fastest or the most coordinated person out there, at least I can look cute while I'm at it. 

    I was volunteering at a race expo before a marathon last week (I didn't run this one, but maybe next year)--so I wandered around the booths to see what was out there and there was a booth full of headbands.  They were cute, but I knew I had most of the supplies at home, so I decided to try making my own.

    16 inches of pattern ribbon (1" width)
    16 inches of velvet ribbon (1" width)
    7-8 inches of braided elastic

    (FYI, velvet ribbon is expensive, so use your Hobby Lobby or Joanne's coupon)

    1.  Cut each of your ribbons and place them together, wrong sides together. 
    2.  Fold the ends of the ribbons under and place under the presser foot of the sewing machine.  This is the trickiest part.
    3. Sew along the edge of the ribbon as close to the edge as possible (I adjusted the needle on my machine to the far right).

    4. When you get about 2 inches from the end, fold those edges under like you did at the other end and sew to the edge.  Do the same thing on the other long side.

    5. Slide the elastic into one end of the headband about 1/2" and sew across 3-4 times to secure.  Repeat on the other end (make sure that the elastic is not twisted).

    You might want to use another headband or measure your head before you start to make any changes to the length.

    Now I'm ready for running...and for an upcoming trip!  

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Garlic Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Butter Sauce

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    My mom made us this dinner and it was a perfect summer meal.  So quick and tasty.  I've made it several times since.  The recipe was modified from this recipe.  Since mom has a great crop of cilantro growing in the backyard, it made sense to use it (plus, we love the stuff).

    You need about 10 minutes from start to finish if you use some ready made ingredients like the peeled shrimp from Costco and the jar of minced garlic.

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    1 pound raw shrimp (shelled and tails off)
    1 teaspoon of minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup real butter
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro

    8 oz spaghetti noodles

    Boil the water and get the pasta cooking.  Once the pasta is boiling away, heat up a large saute pan. Add the butter, garlic, cayenne, salt and shrimp.  Cook on medium heat until shrimp turn pink (about 2 minutes per side).  Remove pan from heat and just before serving, add the fresh lime juice and cilantro and stir. Drain the noodles and add them to the butter and shrimp and toss.  Serve with some tasty bread and possibly a caprese salad.