Pennsylvania Street Tacos-Recipe

Two winters ago we ate Korean Street Tacos from a food truck along the coast of Maine in the middle of winter on the backside of a garden.  it was an unexpected find. We only bought it because it was late and we were hungry. It was just something to fill the hungry space inside.

We bought one to share. It wasn’t huge, it was meant to be “just enough”. After one bite Jeremy said, “You eat that one, I’m going to get my own.” Then we bought Kaitlyn one of her own.

And our food world was never the same.

This street taco from a food truck in the middle of winter in Maine on the backside of a garden was one of the best things I’ve ever, ever put in my mouth. It’s so good, in fact, that we have never stopped thinking, or talking about it.

I remember us walking back up to the food truck to order more and telling the cook in the window how much we needed more of his tacos.

It was so good that this week-way too long to have put a recipe on the shelf and only thought about it-I finally decided to make Korean Street Tacos.

Sort of.

After looking at a few recipes online, I decided to just do my own thing. What I’m affectionately calling Pennsylvania Street Tacos.

Because let’s be real…there’s nothing that says Korean Street Taco anywhere near us in little old central Pennsylvania.

I have no pictures of the process because I didn’t honestly know if they would be good at all. But alas! Pennsylvania Street Tacos were a hit in the Smallwood home. And seriously…they were goooood. Like make it again good.

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You should make it too. Cuz really…if I’m posting it, it’s food worthy. And that means you should eat it too. 😉

Here’s what you need: 

6 small corn tortillas, warmed

1/2 large cucumber sliced very thin, almost see through

1 avocado, sliced

2 cups coleslaw-no sauce added, just the veggies

1/2 cup  pineapple juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

olive oil

1 pound very thinly sliced steak

1/4 cup bbq sauce, your choice on flavor

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What to do:

  1. In a saute pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and crushed garlic. Saute garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add thinly sliced steak. I cook it until there is no red left, but you can cook it however you like.
  3. Place tortillas in a warm oven.
  4. While steak is cooking, slice avocado and cucumbers.
  5. Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper, a little olive oil.
  6. Add coleslaw to a bowl, pour over pineapple juice and mix well.
  7. Add bbq sauce to steak and mix well.
  8. When steak is done begin to build your taco.
  9. In a tortilla shell add steak, top with coleslaw mixture, avocado and cucumbers. Put some more bbq sauce on for added flavor.

Enjoy!

PA Street Taco

The Real, Raw, Honest Truth About Us

The title of this post could also be:

  1. No, no I really do cook!
  2. Criticism from the Hill (you know who you are…)
  3. You must think I don’t cook, but I really do!
  4. Kids cannot live on real food forever.
  5. The truth comes out

Insert humiliation every. single. time. I go to buy fast food at The Hill…and have to convince the cashiers that I really do cook despite having a blog that promotes real food and home cooking.

Here is the honest, real, raw truth in The Parsonage.. Ready?…we don’t always eat real food. And when the kids say “Hey, I’ve got money can you go buy me food at Turkey Hill? Since you’re going out anyway….” I go! Because my babies….

And they get this:

Despite the fact that Jeremy and I ate this for lunch..Tuscan Soup

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and despite the fact that we HAVE food in the house…the kids HAD to have fast food.

Also, on Sundays mom hardly cooks, so they get a LOT of Turkey Hill.

Me? Totally owning it.

This one’s for T and C…you know who you are….:)

Baking Soda-Your Kitchen’s Best Friend

This will be a quick, helpful hint sort of post about the benefits of using baking soda as a cleaner for tough stains on kitchen surfaces. A little baking soda, a little water and potentially a lot of elbow grease and your kitchen counter stains will be lifted.

Why were my surfaces so messy? Because a better person would have put down newspapers before letting their kids and friends dye eggs for Easter. But we aren’t afraid of messy and a little hard work! Check out our Easter Egg Dye post here!

This is what my mom and I have used for a long time, and truthfully…she uses it more at my house than I do….somehow she finds all the little spots that need removing.

And if I’m more honest…she’s better at it than me…and….I kinda don’t hate it….;)

But here it goes…complete with pictures….

Make a baking soda paste, using as much or as little soda as you want, adding water to it little by little. Place it over the stain and scrub. It’ll work.

It should work.

It works for me.

Here’s what you need: Baking soda, a sponge and water.

 

Here’s the table and counter before….

 

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Sprinkle the baking soda, soak your sponge, and make a paste right on the counter.

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Start scrubbing. As you scrub you’ll see the colors begin to be lifted and soaked into the baking soda.

Replace baking soda and water as often as you need until the stain is removed from the surface. DSC_0074

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After an undetermined amount of time…you’ll have this…

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and this…

Happy Cleaning!!

cjs

Tuscan Soup-Recipe

Earthy, simple, real, hot. Four words that easily describe this soup. I started cooking it on the stove top around 4:00 p.m. last night and we ate it around 6:00 p.m.. This could easily be left in the crockpot in the morning so it’s ready when everyone gets home from their day. It would be a great weekend meal as well. We topped our soup with Parmesan cheese, and it gave an added flavor boost to the flavor. This is a vegetarian recipe but could easily be made with meat added to it. Sausage or shredded chicken would be great in this.

I found this recipe on my new favorite Netflix show Taste of the Country, which showcases South Pond Farms in Southern Ontario.  (Seriously, I can’t get enough of this show. ) I decided to make it because quite honestly, I have three quarts of home canned tomatoes left in the pantry from summer’s harvest and I couldn’t figure out how to use them. Now I’m down to one quart of home canned tomatoes. Not sure where that will lead us…chili maybe? Or I might try my hand at a homemade pizza sauce or tomato jam. I’m not sure yet.

My version doesn’t follow South Ponds exactly, but it’s close. They were my inspiration rather than my rule.

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What you’ll need: 

3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped

1 small onion, roughly chopped

32 oz broth-chicken, veggie, or beef

2 quarts canned tomatoes, liquid included

2 cans 15 oz Great Northern Beans, drained

1 can 15 oz Great Northern Beans, drained and mashed

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp crushed garlic

2 handfuls baby kale

salt, pepper, hot peppers flakes to taste

Parmesan, optional

To Do: 

1. In a large soup pot, on medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, celery and garlic. Saute until onions and celery are soft.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, beans (crushed and whole), kale and salt, hot pepper flakes

3. Cover and let simmer on medium low heat until heated through, or until you are ready to eat.

4. Serve hot and add Parm Cheese to the top for added flavor

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Peanut Butter Eggs!

Are you needing one more super tasty thing to make today? Maybe tomorrow with the kiddos? Anna made these Peanut Butter Eggs last night, the family jumped in to help shape, we froze them, dipped them and watched them dry. Then we waited until they were hard enough to eat for breakfast.

And we ate some for breakfast.

None of us feel any amounts of shame about our life choices.

So here goes….the majority of our recipes are easy peasey, and are made from scratch. This one’s no different. We like knowing what we eat and like to get our hands in the making of them. Putting some extra love into what we do.

What you’ll need-

1/2 cup butter softened

2 cups peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

1 32 oz bag confectioners sugar

4 tbsp milk

For chocolate: 2 bags chocolate chips, 1 tbsp veg oil.

Extras-2 serving forks, wax paper, two cookie sheets

To do-

  1. Add everything to a mixing bowl and mix until well integrated. The texture will be smooth, but stiff.
  2.  Set aside. Lay a sheet of wax paper on each cookie sheet.
  3. Place chocolate chips and veg oil in a small kettle. Don’t melt yet.
  4. Begin shaping peanut butter mixture into egg shapes. Set them individually on the wax paper.
  5. When the cookie sheets are full, place them in the freezer for about an hour.
  6. Set your timer to 45 minutes. When the timer goes off start melting the chocolate on low.  Stirring regularly so chocolate doesn’t burn.
  7. At an hour, when the timer goes off, remove one tray of eggs from the freezer.
  8. Picking up one egg at a time with the fork, dip the egg in the chocolate and shake excess chocolate off. Set back on wax paper.
  9. Continue until all of the eggs are coated.
  10. Set aside until chocolate hardens.

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When you run out of chocolate chips and have to hunt for random holiday chocolates around your house!

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Clafouti Recipe

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I’ve discovered South Pond Farms in Ontario this month and their show on Netflix Taste of the Country. The meals they make, the gardens they grow…the events they host. Just wonderful.

I made this dessert, Clafouti, recipe this week. With eggs, milk, a tiny bit of sugar and flour and blueberries and cherries we froze from the summer’s harvest it was an easy, simple, and beautiful dessert to make.

Clafouti is a sweet custard dessert, that any fruit would work in.

I take zero credit for it. It’s South Pond’s Recipe, but enjoy! (and yes, it works wonderfully for breakfast!) 😉

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups raspberries
powdered sugar for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using a blender, combine the mil, 1/3 cup of sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend

3. Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish and put a 1/4 inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside.

4. Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off yet).

5. Distribute the raspberries over the set batter in the pan, then spring with the remaining sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the raspberries and sugar.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Servings 6-8 for dessert, 4 for breakfast.

 

Sausage! Homemade Recipe

3 days ago:

Hey, did we happen to get a picture of the sausage after it was cooked?

Nope.  I ate it.

Okay. We’ll just cook more and get another one.

Today:

Hey, does anyone want sausage?

Yes!

Good, I’ll get a picture of it.


Did I get a picture? Nope. I didn’t get a picture. It was eaten again before I remembered to take a picture. So, as much as pictures of raw meat are awful to look at, what I’m posting here are multiple pictures of raw meat.

For Christmas Jeremy gave me Kitchen Aid Food Grinder attachment. I’ve used it for vegetables, but this week was the first time we used it for meat. Jeremy and K love sausage and bacon. Anna does not. I am allergic to it, so….

In the continual journey of self sufficiency, while we can’t raise our own pigs, we certainly can buy good meat and make our own sausage. Awesomely…all of the herbs we needed for sausage making were already in our pantry from this summer’s herb garden!

Read a post here from a couple of years ago about drying herbs. We’ve since started using a dehydrator, but we still grow and use all of our own herbs!

For this sausage recipe we used 

1 lb thawed pork (the more fat the better), sliced thinly

1 tbsp each of thyme, sage, brown sugar and rosemary

1 tsp each of garlic powder and red pepper flakes (make your own!)

A sprinkle of salt and pepper

Add all of these ingredients to a bowl and let sit or at least an hour in the refrigerator.

After the hour is over, piece by piece put the mixture through your food grinder. We first used a grinder with larger holes, then put the mixture through again, using a grinder with smaller holes.

When all of the meat is ground, shape it into patties and cook! They can stay in the frig for a week or in the freezer, wrapped well, for three months.

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Now imagine them cooked. And forgive the amounts of pictures of raw meat.

 

When Our Souls Are Weary

There are days, like today, where I’m tired. I don’t feel like cooking dinner. I don’t feel like picking up one more piece of laundry. What I’d rather do is take a little nap and let my jobs for today be taken care of tomorrow.  I know that this feeling is just today. Today I just happen to be tired. A little caffeine, a little fresh air, a little just keep going attitude and bedtime will come soon enough. Tomorrow is a new day.

There are other days, perhaps weeks if not months, where after a time, our souls become weary. Life has burdened us. It has pushed us toward the edge of what we feel like we can deal with for much longer. We are not just tired from lack of sleep, we’re wondering if we can do another day. If we can enjoy our day beyond simply functioning through it. Some days feel like just ticking time off the week. Just marking the to do list. Our attitudes don’t glorify God. Joy is far off, and hope is waning.

I was feeling this weight a few weeks ago. Weary from carrying other’s burdens, from extremely busy days. Late nights and short mornings with full days in between.

On one particularly weary Sunday morning God spoke through my pastor husband as he reminded his congregation that if we are tired “there is a God out there who WANTS to give you His strength, you just need to ask him for it.”

Isaiah 40:31 says: “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Often it seems we try to work through our days on our own strength, like we think we can replenish ourselves. A pot once emptied, can’t refill itself. It’s okay to ask God for strength. It’s okay to say we are tired. To put the list aside and take a little nap. To admit we can’t do it all. It’s okay to rest and hope in the Lord, taking His strength that is far stronger than anything we can gather from inside ourselves.

Shaving Cream Easter Eggs

Excuse the mess…my children are having fun!

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It works! The whole shaving cream dyeing Easter Egg thing.

I was skeptical at first, but Kaitlyn wanted to try them this year, so we loaded up on eggs and a couple of bottles of shaving cream and regular egg dye for those of us who didn’t want to do the shaving cream thing.

It’s easy. Messy, but easy. But messy is fun, right? We aren’t afraid of messy.

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First things first, hard boil the eggs. I piled 5 dozen eggs in a huge pot and boiled them for 15 minutes.  On a smaller scale a dozen will fit nicely in a small soup pot.  Cool the eggs completely before dyeing.

Simply fill muffin tins, or small plastic cups with shaving cream.

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Add your dye color of choice. We’ve done natural coloring too, but we went with good old food dye for eggs this year. Swirl the coloring a bit.

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Dip the cooled eggs in the colored shaving cream. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

 

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Rinse under water and set aside to dry and set.

 

 

Then make pretty Easter Baskets!

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Easter Eggs 2018Easter Eggs 5

Meal Plan-3/18-3/24

Yup.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted meal plans. At some point in the recent history meals got away from me. Oh, we ate, but wasn’t always pretty (and lemme tell ya…next week is going to be all about eating from the cupboards and freezer-anyone’s guess is up for grabs)

Here goes:

Breakfasts have been pancakes, eggs, bacon, or good luck. It can go either way.

Lunches have off and on been all salads or leftovers.

Dinners: Here’s where it gets fun

Monday: Leftovers-over the weekend Jeremy made some Turkey soup AND we had some friends give us some Beef Stew and Baked chicken. We ate it much of the weekend and what was left between that and the fridge we ate on Monday for dinner.

Tuesday: “Honey, we can’t have hamburgers three times this week. You can pick one day.” Said I to an unnamed member of my family. So Tuesday it was for Hamburgers. I sauteed some mushrooms, garlic and onions to place on top of them, along with cheese. We had Roasted Asparagus and Veggie Chips to go along with them.

Wednesday: Dinner at LCN

Thursday: Beef Stroganoff over potatoes (recipe to come!), lettuce wedges

Friday: Spaghetti with meat sauce, lettuce wedges and Stuffed Apples

Saturday: Twice Baked Potatoes and Rice

Happy Eating!

Stuffed Apples-Recipe

Lately, the snack of choice around here for a particular family member (Anna) has been apples with Nutella. I wish I could say it were me…but Nutella…I just can’t. Not even a little bit. I took a bite of it yesterday just to remind myself that I don’t like it.

Between buying lots of Nutella and many bags of apples, we’ve had  a LOT of extra apples around the house. A lot of extra apples, means that sometimes those apples start to get soft. What to do with soft apples besides applesauce? One option is to make this recipe for Stuffed Apples.

This is a great dessert for a cold, chilly night at home.

Ingredients:

6 Medium Sized Apples

1 cup Quick Oats

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

4 TBSP Butter

Dash of Cinnamon

To Do:

  1. Take the stem and seeds out of the apple. Be sure to leave the bottom of the apple intact.

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2. In a bowl and using your hands, mix the oatmeal, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until it’s a crumbly texture. It’s okay if there are chunks of butter in it.

3. Fill each apple until overflowing with the oatmeal mixture. DSC_0976

4. Bake apples at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes or until apples are soft when inserting a fork or knife into the apple.

5. Remove and let cool until still warm but not hot. Serve with a dollop of homemade whip cream. 

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Stillness

We went away for a couple of days. Just the two of us. Jeremy and I found a place not too far away, but far enough away to be alone with no distractions. A lovely Christian Lodge set in the woods. And, as it turns out we were the only two there with the exception of a couple of construction workers and staff.

I’ve always known it, but I was reminded of it yet again-I am my best self when I have alone, quiet, stillness on a regular basis. My mind needs to settle and my heart needs to reengage with itself.

Stillness was just was I needed and got during these couple of days away, tucked into a nest of woods, with no tv, no phone and no need to interact with anyone if I didn’t choose to.

What WE needed was time together after a very busy season of living. It’s just what we got. Time to sleep in. Time to walk in the woods. Time to talk.

I’m often reminded of the importance God has put on stillness and the level of busyness most of us take pride in. I don’t believe God ever intended us to be as busy as we are. He knows our soul needs refreshing and our minds need to be restored.

The Father walked with the first humans in a garden. He didn’t run, He didn’t multitask. He walked and talked. Have you ever spent time in a garden? Feeling the dirt beneath our feet and hands restores us. It reminds us to slow down.

The Son spent time away from his disciples. He needed his own time to pray and connect with His father. To listen, to quiet his spirit. To let the noise out for just a little bit.

When life is poured back into us we have strength to continue. But if we constantly give away, not only our energy will be taken, but our joy will be lessened. We must find time to get way, to be still and know that God is God.

 

Maple Almonds-Recipe

“The almonds are amazing!” Jeremy shared with me as I’m preparing this post. I hadn’t tried them, before he had, but yeah. They’re really, really good.

If you’ve followed us for the last couple of years, you know that we appreciate homesteading (though we aren’t homesteaders…we’re more urban farmers living in a rural town) and making food from scratch, gardening, and eating seasonally. Our latest endeavor has been making our own maple syrup. You can read about it here. We’ve talked about it for a couple of years, and finally this year we took the plunge. Few things have been as satisfying to me as watching this process happen and seeing the fruits of labor.

So far this season, we’ve made 12 pints, plus a little extra we’ve eaten. Two were made since this picture was taken. I don’t know how 12 pints ranks in the big picture of how much syrup we “should” be getting, but we are quite happy with our 12 little pints. 🙂

Look at those colors! Aren’t they gorgeous?

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So I made this Canadian Maple Pie this week from Num’s The Word.

To.Die.For.

And I thought I’d make some Maple Almonds. Oh goodness…these would be great on top of Maple Cheesecake. With a little caramel or white chocolate drizzled on top. Or cinnamon apples. Drool….

So anyway, I made these almonds just this afternoon. In fact, they are still warm on the stove. Any nut would work for this, we just prefer almonds. I made them two ways-I’ll explain after I give the basic recipe.

Before I begin though..you might also be interested in this basic Candied Almond Recipe from a couple of years ago. 

For things first, you need to use pure, real, 100% from the tree, not-pancake-syrup real Maple Syrup for this recipe. Don’t try using the fake stuff. Ever. Just ever. For anything. Ever.

Interesting fact: Maple syrup is packed full of magnesium. It’s good for you!

So the basic recipe is this, then we have choices: 

Ingredients: 

2 cups raw, unsalted almonds

1 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp. butter

2 egg whites, beaten until hard peaks form (beat until the egg whites can stand up on their own)

To Do: 

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a sauce pan, on medium heat, add the butter until melted.
  3. Add the maple syrup.
  4. Let mixture heat through until just bubbling.
  5. Add the almonds.
  6. Stir well until all of the almonds are coated well.
  7. Let mixture again, heat through until bubbling, stirring frequently, until syrup begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
  8. In the meantime beat egg whites in a mixer until hard peaks form. Set aside.

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Now, here is where we can choose the almond path we want to take.

Option 1: I divided the almonds in half, placing one half of the mixture on a baking sheet and spreading them evenly in the baking sheet.

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Option 2: I let the almonds cool just a bit and folded the second half of the almonds into the eggwhites. I spread this mixture on the same baking sheet and spread them thinly just like the non- egg white almonds.  These don’t look super pretty right now, but that’s okay. They will.

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Place baking sheet in the oven for about 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. Stir each type-egg whites vs. non-egg whites each every 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove from the oven and let cool before eating. They don’t have to be entirely cooled, they’re quite good warm, but hot sugar is very hot and could burn if you eat them too quickly from the oven.

So here’s the verdict on which we prefer…egg whites vs. non-egg whites:

  1. Both are really, really good.
  2. Neither are overly maple-y. Both are just enough maple-y.
  3. Both are really, really good. (did I mention that?)
  4. However, my ultimate decision is that I prefer the egg white version. As the egg whites bake they seemed to capture the maple flavor more than the plain almonds. After baking the egg whites will harden and become a bit more candy like, with an added texture. The overall experience is more of the candied almond effect that I was hoping for. I would choose to make the egg white version again when I do them.

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Let us know if you make these and how you liked them!

Have a blessed day!

CJS

PS-I should explain the picture…Jeremy wanted some on his way out the door, before I got a chance to get a “good” picture. 🙂

Breakfast Tortilla

All props go to Kaitlyn for this post…

“Hey mom, how do you think sausage, egg, and cheese would be in a tortilla shell?”

I think the picture speaks for itself!

This is so simple, I wont bore you with details.

Basically, cook and scramble one egg. Cook two pieces of breakfast sausage. 

Place them in the middle of a soft tortilla shell tossing some shredded Cheddar on top, letting it get ooey gooey melted. Because there are few things in life better than melted cheese.

Fold the shell over, bringing the sides in to meet in the middle.

Eat. 

Eat! That’s it. This would be a great breakfast on-the-go wrap or even a quick lunch.

You could add sliced avocado, diced onions, grilled peppers, some jalapenos…oh my the options are endless. Even making it meatless and going heavy on the veggies would be just as good (I think, but then…I don’t eat pork so I might be a bit jaded…)

Ingredients: 

  1. One large egg, cooked and scrambled.
  2. Two links breakfast sausage, cooked through.
  3. 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  4. One soft tortilla shell

To Do:

Place all ingredients in the middle of a tortilla shell and wrap shell around ingredients.

 

Banana Chocolate Pavlova

  1. These pictures don’t do this amazingly satisfying, decadent dessert justice.
  2. This dessert is called a Pavlova-named for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
  3. The origin of pavlova is from either Australia or New Zealand. Both countries claim it.
  4. There is no flour in this. It is full on meringue. Layers and layers of baked, cracked whipped cream
  5. It’s easier to make than we might think at first.
  6. It’s Valentines Day! Make this to impress a loved one!
  7. In hindsight, I wish I would have taken step by step pics…but REGARDLESS! This is SO so yummy.

I can’t claim this recipe. I used a basic Pavlova recipe like this one from Allrecipes and added my own touches to it. Basically you make as many layers as you want of meringue and add whipped cream and fresh fruit.

How to make this Banana Chocolate Pavlova: 

FYI-This will take a good solid three hours to three and a half hours make from start to finish. Broken up, 50 minutes of that time is baking, and about 2 hours of it is cooling. The rest of the time is spent making the meringue-about 15 minutes.  This recipe can be made a day ahead of time. Keep in mind though, that if you add the toppings, the meringue will lose it’s crunch by serving time. If needing to make it ahead of time keep all of the elements separate until ready to serve.

Also, note that many pavlova recipes make one large “cake”. I separated my batter and made two layers of “cake”. I’ve also made it before separating the batter into three layers. I like the look of more than one layer, but you can do whatever you like. l

  1. Use this recipe from All Recipes for the basic Pavlova layers.
  2. While the layers are baking or cooling, whip up my recipe for Homemade Whipped Cream. Set finished whipped cream aside in the refrigerator.
  3. Move on to the Chocolate Ganache-using 11.5 ounces of chocolate bits/chips, place them in a double boiler. Slowly add 16 fluid ounces of heavy whipping cream. Letting the water in a double boiler boil away while stirring the cream and chocolate together until it’s smooth. Set aside, but keep warm so it doesn’t harden.

To assemble: 

  1. Place one layer of meringue on a cake plate/serving dish.
  2. Add half of the whipped cream, spreading almost to edges of meringue.
  3. Add 2 sliced bananas, spread evenly. (any fresh fruit will work or sauce will work)
  4. Drizzle with Chocolate Ganache.
  5. Repeat 1-4.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Bean Burritos-An easy weeknight meal

One of our favorite meal choices is Taco Tuesday. Taco Tuesday can happen any day of the week, but it is lovingly referred to as Taco Tuesday.  Taco Tuesday is always an easy, simple, budget friendly meal to make, that has so many variations to it depending on taste preference, ingredients on hand and time to cook. Normally our Taco Tuesdays end up being taco salads, but this night our ingredients were a little different and sometimes a break from the norm is just plain good. I made rice and beans and bean burritos.

First: Rice and Beans:

  1. Saute some onion and crushed garlic in a pan with olive oil until the onions are translucent. DSC_0096
  2. Add one large can of black beans (or two cups of your own soaked beans) and four cups of cooked rice.
  3. Warm on low to medium until the burritos are done OR the beans are warmed through. DSC_0097

Next: Bean Burritos:

  1. Take a can of refried beans ( we use vegetarian, but you can use whatever you like)…DSC_0092
  2. Spread two tablespoons of the beans over a large tortilla shell. DSC_0093
  3. Fold shells over onto itself (I made 4) and place side by in a baking pan.
  4. Sprinkle with awesomely large amounts of shredded cheese. Enough so it’s gooey when it’s melted. DSC_0095
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top.
  6. Remove from oven and place on plate. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, more cheese, chiles, whatever you like. Serve with rice and beans.
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Backyard Maple Syrup!

Before I met Chrystal I preferred Log-Cabin over the real deal.  But if I was going to marry a girl from Maine I learned that the deal was going to quickly change.  20 years later I can’t imagine life without real, maple syrup.

We’ve been enjoying the Norway Maples in our backyard for years.  Norway Maples are an invasive species spreading quickly in the northeastern US, so they are very prolific.  They make great shade and add beautiful color and shape to our back yard.  But could they make good syrup?

This year for Christmas Chrystal got me 12 maple taps with the tubes, a filter, and everything needed for a backyard sugaring operation along with a how-to book.  According to the book, once temperatures begin to fluctuate back and forth between freeze and thaw its time to tap – and in some climates like PA, that could be as early as late January.  On the last Friday of January I drilled my first hole.  Before I could go back into the house to grab the tap and tubing I noticed water (sap) gushing from the hole.

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I quickly got 5 taps established with milk jugs.  As soon as I got them connected I could hear them dripping into the jugs.

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By the next evening I was already boiling maple sap.  It wasn’t much, but we were doing it!  About 5 gallons boiled down over several hours, and by that night we were sampling our first pint of backyard maple syrup, and yes – it is delicious!  By Monday we had gathered another 7 gallons, and late Monday Night we had a full quart of finished maple syrup.

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Since then we hit another cold snap and the taps have all but stopped.  But soon enough they’ll be flowing again and we’ll be cooking away – hopefully for a year’s worth of finished maple syrup from a few trees in our backyard.

JAS

 

 

Bramble!

Anna is raising a baby cow for a 4-H project and here he is! Bramble is a perfect name for this little guy. A bramble is a prickly vine-think blackberry, wild roses…well, this little guy is scrambly and all over the place! But my goodness, he’s lovable, cute, fuzzy and still a bit wobbly.

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Quick Smore’s Dessert!

Need a quick snack for the big game tonight? I made this quick Smores Dip the other night. It’s good! All you need are 1 bag of marshmallows, 1 Hershey’s Chocolate bar and a package of Graham Crackers.

Simply place the marshmallows and chocolate in a short baking pan and place on broil for about 5 minutes. Watch it closely! Once the marshmallows start to brown they will burn quickly, so take them out as soon as they start to brown. Serve it warm and with graham cracker pieces.

This is a great way to use up that extra chocolate hanging around the house and also, whatever marshmllows have been getting dry in the cupboard!

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Hello!

We’ve been MIA for a few weeks. Life. Got. Busy!  But we’re back, lots of ideas strolling around my brain for posts, and how to make time to get them done. New years and new stories do that don’t they? They force us to re-think and re-adjust as needed.

We’re settled into winter now, taking advantage of some days inside in sweats with blankets and hot chocolate. In fact, yesterday we just simply took off. The order of the day was nothing. Do nothing. Do something. Do whatever you want. Work from home. Sleep. Eat frogs. Whatever you want! It was bliss. 6:00 a.m. came early today for us to be up and out of the house by 7:00, so tonight we are once again settled in. Jeopardy is on in 20 minutes…

In the meantime of all of our busyness, though, the world outside is a live and well. The trees are producing sugar water for syrup (that’s a post to come!), the birds are enjoying the feed on our deck, the deer are on the next hill over and the bunnies have been all over our snowy side yard.

We’ve kept the camera right by the door to the deck so we can snap some quick pictures through the glass of our feathered friends. Jeremy put cut logs outside for tables for the birds a few weeks ago and wow, are they taking advantage of them! We can’t give them enough, but how joyful is it to watch God’s creatures simply be.

Watching these little guys, perfect in their perfectly bird ways, reminded me of Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” How precious are they to God, and how precious are we to him? He continues to amaze me in new ways everyday.

I’m sharing some pictures here of our outdoor life for you. Enjoy!

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(Most of these photos-creds go to Jeremy!)