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Born in Maryland but became a Pennsylvanian in 1993. Have a great family with children and grandchildren!  Interests in sewing and quilting. Like watching NASCAR races. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Freeze Tomatoes From Your Garden

My neighbor and friends have been giving me a lot of tomatoes from their garden and I was thinking about freezing them. So in my search for an easy way to do it, I came upon this recipe. It looks easy ;-), and looks as if I can do this. So I will try this recipe and let you know how it turns out. Here is the link for the site Pick Your Own . You ought to check it out because it lists places you can pick your own. 

Freezing home grown or farm fresh tomatoes for use in winter cooking is very easy to do! The flavor of spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and salsas you make then will be superior to those made from canned tomatoes or store bought so called "fresh" tomatoes.

Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.   This method is so easy, ANYONE can do this!  It's a great thing to do with your kids!  If you'd rather can your tomatoes, see this page for canning directions for tomatoes!
These pages may also interest you:

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Tomatoes - any quantity, ripe, but not over ripe, still firm.
  • Vacuum food sealer or plastic freezer bags
  • 1 large pot
  • Large slotted spoon

Process - How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

Step 1 - Selecting the tomatoes

It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality tomatoes!  
At right is a picture of tomatoes from my garden - they are so much better than anything from the grocery store. And if you don't have enough, a pick-you-own farm is the place to go!  Below are 4 common varieties that will work:
Top left: Beefsteak
Bottom left: Roma, paste-type
Top right: Lemon Boy, yellow
Bottom right: Better Boy

The picture at right shows the best variety of tomato to use: Roma; also called paste tomatoes.  They have fewer sides, thicker, meatier walls, and less water. And that means thicker sauce in less cooking time!
Also, you don't want mushy, bruised or rotten tomatoes!

Step 2 - Removing the tomato skins

Here's a trick you may not know: put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough)
then....
Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.
This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce, not very pleasant.


Step 3 -  Removing the skins, bruises and tough parts

The skins should practically slide off the tomatoes.  then you can cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the tough part around the stem and any bruised or soft parts.
After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half.  Now we need to remove the seeds and excess water. 
Note: why remove the skins? They become tough and discolored in storage.  You wouldn't want to eat them!

Step 4 - Squeeze of the seeds and water

Just like it sounds: wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds.  You don't need to get fanatical about it; removing just most will do. Another way to do it is to cut each tomato in half, across it, instead of lengthwise. Then just shake the seeds and juice out. Here are before and after photos:

Step 5 - Drain the tomatoes

Toss the squeezed (Squozen? :) tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off.  You may want to save the liquid: if you then pass it through a sieve, screen or cheesecloth, you have fresh tomato juice; great to drink cold or use in cooking! By draining the water off now, you'll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time! And that preserves vitamins (and your sanity).

 Step 6 - Fill the freezer bags

Don't overfill the bags, leave a little room for expansion. Do try to avoid leaving any air pockets!   A vacuum bag is shown at left, but you can use ziploc (or similar) bags, show below.  But be sure to squeeze out the extra air (below left is before, below right is after squeezing out the excess air)

Step 7 - Vacuum seal the bags (if you have a vacuum sealer)

Obviously if you haven't got a vacuum food sealer, just inspect the bags and you may need to open them and reseal them to eliminate any air pockets!
TIP:  If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out.  To remove straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.

Step 8 - Freeze the bags

Pop them into the freezer (on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one).  Now leave them for 2 or 3 hours till frozen.


Put in the back (coldest part) of your freezer
And wait for a cold winter night when it is dark and dreary out, to remove it and defrost (microwave works well) and use in making so fresh tasting spaghetti sauce or other tomato cooking!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna


This is a recipe from the Real Mom Kitchen Blog. I love lasagna and I love chicken. What a great idea to put them both together in one dish! I plan to make the lasagna and will let you know how it turns out. In the mean time, if you try it, let me know your results. Happy cooking!

chicken lasagna 6 450
Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk (not fat-free)
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 C. cubed, cooked, chicken
1/8 tsp pepper
1 (16oz) lasagna noodles, cooked (I recommend reducing it to 8 oz to 12 oz)
1 1/2 to 2 C cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 to 2 C mozzarella cheese, grated

Cook the chicken and noodles first at the same time. Once noodles are done–rinse in cold water and set aside (it keeps them from sticking together). Combine evaporated milk (don’t use fat-free version) and Ranch dressing in a 3 quart heavy saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently until dry ingredients are dissolved. Stir in chicken and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes (don’t do any less), stirring frequently. Layer half of lasagna noodles, poultry sauce, and cheese in well-buttered 9×13 pan. Repeat layers again. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 10, 2012

DIY Fabric Floorcloth


Now this is a great idea! Do you want a floorcloth for your room that is like no other, any size you want, any design you want, and messes can be just wiped off??? Here you go. I saw this on East Coast Creative Blog

I love the endless possibilities! You can use it for a kitchen floor mat, a dog bowl mat (Oh, are they messy when drinking water!), an entrance mat that will welcome your friends (can't you just hear them say "Where did you get that beautiful mat?" ), a bathroom mat to match your curtains or towels, or even a runner that just takes your breath away? This is it!! You will even use the secret of DIY'ers everywhere - duct tape! Hooray!! I am so excited to try this!


Step 1: Gather your materials.
Fabric: the amount depends on the size of your mat. I used about 3/4 yard for my kitchen mat, and 1 1/2 yards for my entryway mat).

Rubber Mat Runner: I've seen similar floor mats made with vinyl flooring remnants (check out Diane's floor mat from In My Own Style!), but I wanted something sturdy with traction and this fit the bill! Found at Home Depot in the flooring section.


Spray Adhesive
Water-based Polyurethane
Scissors
Duct Tape


Step 2: Using your scissors, cut your rubber mat to size.
I wanted an octagonal shape for my kitchen so I measured the angles and then cut accordingly.

3. Measure and cut your fabric to size. Leave approximately 2-3 inches all the way around your rubber mat, because you'll be wrapping the fabric around it later. Don't forget to iron your fabric before moving to the next step! I used two different fabrics for two different mats. I had extra fabric from the pendant light I made for my kitchen. It's called Waverly Solar Flair in Lime & Indigo, and it's fabulous. I can't remember the name of the other fabric- sorry! But I love.them.to.pieces. (I realize that loving fabric that much is weird, but I'm OK with that)

4. Determine your fabric placement
. Then fold the fabric back about halfway and spray the rubber mat with spray adhesive. Fold the fabric back down, smoothing out the bubbles and wrinkles as you go. Lift the other side of fabric up and repeat that method. The fabric should stick well to the rubber mat.



5. Brush a water-based polyurethane on to your fabric. Make sure it's water-based so that your fabric doesn't yellow! This will seal your fabric and protect it from water. You'll also be able to wipe the mat down should anything spill on it (let's be honest, I wish I could poly every surface in my house for this reason). I did 3 coats of poly, letting it dry completely in between coats.
6. Once the final coat has dried, lay your mat fabric-side down on the ground. Begin folding the edges of the fabric towards the center of the rubber mat. Spray each edge with adhesive and press down until it sticks. Then take your duct tape and run it along the edges to create a seal. No one will see the underside of your mat and you'll want the extra security the duct table provides!

To create perfect corners, just follow these simple steps:
1. Grab the corner and fold up towards the center of the mat.
2. Fold one side up flush against the edge of the rubber mat to create a straight line.
3. Fold the opposite side up in the same way until both sides meet in the middle.
Once you've finished duct taping, you're done! Lay your floor cloth down and admire your handiwork. So easy, and so cute! Here's the one I made for the entryway (It's 4 feet by 2 feet, if you were wondering):



And the one for my kitchen:

Because this mat already has traction, it doesn't slide around really at all. However, if you wanted extra stay-put-ability, just run a line of caulk around the edges where the fabric is, and it will better grip the floor.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I love easy!!

Yes, I love easy - easy recipes, easy quilts, easy jobs, and an easy life.
It's less stress ;-). Any way, when I saw this recipe on Bakerella , I just got so excited!!! She calls it "Ridiculously Easy". The recipe was sweet (I do have a sweet tooth) and it was easy!!! I love peaches whether they are fresh, frozen or in the can. So right after I finish blogging this recipe, I am going to the store to pick up some peaches. I'll let you know how it turns out ;-).
IMG_2336
You need some sliced peaches in syrup.

Just dump them in a 13 X 9 dish. Syrup and all.
IMG_2372
Cut the peaches into smaller pieces and you can distribute them more evenly.

Next up, you need a yellow cake mix.

IMG_2378
Sprinkle it right over the top of the peaches. No mixing. None.

Keep sprinkling until it’s all covered up.
IMG_2381
Then layer 1 stick of butter right on the top.
Next, add the brown sugar on top.
IMG_2390
Oh this is looking good. So fluffy. I need a spoon. No… I need to wait.
IMG_2402
Finally, add some chopped walnuts. These are optional.

Bake it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes and voila…
IMG_2433
Here is the recipe:

Peach Crunch Cake

24.5 oz jar of sliced peaches in light syrup

1 package yellow cake mix

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), cut into 16 pieces

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Layer ingredients in a 13 X 9 dish, in order starting with the peaches.

Bake for about 40 minutes.

Serve warm or cold… with or without ice cream

Friday, August 03, 2012

I am going to make this!!!!

Yes!!! I plan to make this recipe this weekend!! I just can't wait!! I love red velvet!! I love cream cheese!! And I love brownies!!!

I saw this on Pinterest and went to the website that had the recipe: Honey What's Cooking


APPROXIMATE NUTRITION PER SERVING (yields 16 squares)

Calories: 192 cals
Fat: 11.3 g
Saturated Fat: 6.9 g
Carbs: 21 g
Protein: 2.9 g
Fiber: 0.25 g

RED VELVET SWIRL BROWNIES (adapted from Sunny Anderson)
~ yields 16 squares @ 350 degrees using a 8" x 8" baking tray
~ fat and calories were not reduced in this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

Unsalted Butter – 8 tbsp (1 stick) – melted
Sugar – 1 cup
Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 1/4 cup
Pinch of salt
Red Food Coloring – 1 tbsp
Vinegar – 1/2 tsp (original recipe is 1 tsp)
Eggs – 2
All Purpose Flour – 3/4 cup

Cream Cheese Layer:

Cream Cheese – 8 ounces (softened)
Sugar – 1/4 cup
Egg – 1
Vanilla Extract – 1/8 tsp

DIRECTIONS for Brownie Layer:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking tray.

2. Melt a stick of butter.
3. Once melted, add it to a mixing bowl.

4. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Blend until combined.

5. Add cocoa powder, pinch of salt, red food coloring, and vinegar.

6. Blend until well combined.

7. Add the blended eggs and combine until well incorporated.

8. Add the white flour.

9. Gently fold flour into batter.

10. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the prepared pan and reserve a 1/4 batter for later.

DIRECTIONS for Cream Cheese Layer:
11. In a separate bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 egg, sugar, and vanilla extract.

12. Blend until smooth and creamy.

13. Add the cream cheese layer over the brownie mixture.

14. Spread.

15. Add the remaining red velvet batter.

16. Swirl.

17. Into the oven for 30 minutes exactly – DO NOT OVERBAKE.

18. This is what you should have.

19. Cut into 16 squares. Refrigerate before serving - it tastes much better if you do.

red velvet 036


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Isn't This Just Beautiful!!!



I saw this picture on Facebook and just has to share it! A weatherman in Florida described it: "Steve Weagle says "It's called iridescence. It is caused by sunlight refracting through ice crystals." They say that it occurred this past Tuesday in Florida
.


Ormond by the Sea
FL

Iridescent clouds contain small water droplets of similar sizes diffracting the sunlight to produce various colors. 
These photos were taken shortly after 7pm facing west, with the direct light of the sun blocked by lower dark clouds. 

I just had to get more information on these iridescence clouds, so here goes...

Iridescent Clouds

August 16, 2011
Manila_iridescenceIMG_0870-1200 (2)
IrisationNH
Photographer: Randell Teodoro (top); David Lee Tiller (bottom); David's Web site
Summary AuthorsDavid Lee TillerRandell TeodoroJim Foster

The photos above show examples of iridescence in mid-level clouds. Iridescence or irisation occurs in clouds composed on water droplets having similar sizes. They're most frequently observed in altocumulus or altostratustype clouds -- in clouds not undergoing substantial vertical growth. Diffraction processes are responsible for their formation and their metallic coloration. Note that the reds are found on the outside of the blues.

Midday iridescence can be spotted more readily if you're wearing sunglasses. However, always use extreme cautionwhen looking near the Sun. Roof peaks were used in both pictures to block out the Sun. Top photo taken on June 13, 2011 from Manila, The Philippines. Bottom photo taken on July 9, 2011 from Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S.