We love good food in our home. I love to cook and bake for my family. I have shared recipes and pictures of our yummy goodness on different venues. Many have suggested a blog to share the recipes.

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a professional cook, photographer or writer!

I will always try to give credit for recipes. Many I have collected over the years off of TV, various websites, friends and family.

Please leave comments if you try a recipe or share variations of things I post, I always love learning new tricks of the trade.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

I got some fabulous Amish tomatoes and fresh herbs (oregano, basil & thyme) in my Harvest Box this week and decided to make some Spaghetti Sauce. I am going to walk you through the steps versus telling you measurements because the fun thing about homemade spaghetti sauce is that it's all about what you like and the flavors you like. This will hopefully give you some type of basis to start your own flavor profiles for a really great sauce.

I had about 10 or 12 tomatoes (I kept meaning to count but I have kids who feel the need to talk to me when I'm trying to do something...I know that NEVER happens to anyone else!)

I rinsed the tomatoes then cut a small "x" in the bottom. This will help you peel them later (trust me on this).Drop them into a pot of already boiling water for about a minute.
Then put them in a bowl of ice water (not sure what happened to that picture!)

As you can see in the picture below, you have a nice start for when you peel your tomatoes. I actually just pulled them off by hand, didn't even need a knife!Now this step may or may not be necessary for you, if you like a more chunky sauce and plan on simmering for a long time (3-4 hours) then you don't need to puree in a blender or food processor. My kids do not enjoy big tomato chunks and I was planning on only simmering for an hour so I put the peeled tomatoes in a blender.
Next I put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in my heated pot, adding in garlic...this is probably my favorite step, I just love the smell of garlic heating up!After the garlic got nice and toasted and the air smelled amazing, I added in some green pepper and onion (remember what I said about the kids not liking chunky, that's why my stuff looks like mush, I put it in the food processor for a bit). This is when I added in my fresh herbs...oregano, basil and thyme. Oh yeah, the air was smelling even more amazing as the flavors were being pulled from the fresh herbs!
I added my tomato puree to the sauteed vegetables and then added about a tablespoon of sugar, and some salt and pepper. If you want your sauce to be a little thicker you can add a can of tomato paste. I did add some tomato paste and for a little heat I also added a shake of Hot Shot which is a red/black pepper blend.
We served it over some wonderful parsley flavored noodles we also got with our Harvest Box...

Hot Pepper Mustard/Butter

For my inaugaral canning experience I found this wonderful recipe that would help me use up the banana peppers that were feeling sad in my veggie basket. We had eaten plenty but the kids didn't want them anymore and I didn't want them to go to waste. When researching banana pepper recipes I found this one on three different websites so I figured it must be good. It is a hit with the family and it was super easy to make. I ended up using a mixture of peppers but the flavor is quite delicious and the color is beautiful! If you are wondering why I called it mustard/butter it's because the same recipe had two different names. You can call it whatever makes you happy!

The color of the butter will vary, depending on the peppers, from a green/yellow to an orange. This is okay. It looks much nicer if you seed the peppers.

I actually cut this recipe into a third.

Hot Pepper Mustard/Butter
36 hot banana peppers (or whatever you have, you will see in my pic that I used a combination of peppers)
1 quart cider vinegar
1 quart prepared mustard (yes, you have to use mustard to make mustard, interesting concept...no?)
6 cups sugar
1 cup flour


Grind peppers finely (I put in food processor until they are a mush).
As you can see I left a bit of texture in it so it's not complete mush
Place peppers, vinegar, mustard & sugar in a large pot & cook a while (until pepper bits are translucent). Add flour (that has been thinned to a smooth paste with cold water) to mixture in pot, stirring constantly. Cook until thick and smooth.

Pour into hot jars,

seal, boiling water bath fifteen minutes.

And ta-da my first ever canning jars...hearing that wonderful "ping" was magnificent!

The husband and the boys have already planned what they are going to eat this with..pretzels, bratwursts, sandwiches and hot dogs!

Zucchini Pickles

We continue to enjoy our fresh vegetables from our local Farmer's Market and I am enjoying trying this canning business. Although this recipe isn't really a canning recipe because it makes a small amount and you put it right in the refrigerator I still feel quite accomplished. These pickles will have a mustard flavor because of the mustard seeds but they are quite tasty. Enjoy!

makes about 2 pints.

1 pound zucchini squash, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons pickling salt

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Not sure where the onion was in this picture but you need an onion!

1. Place the zucchini and onions slices in the large bowl, add the salt, and toss to distribute.

Add a few cubes of ice and enough cold water to cover. Stir to dissolve the salt, and allow to soak for about 1 hour.

2. After the 1 hour soak, taste and feel a piece of the zucchini. It should be softened and taste faintly salty. Drain well,

and spin a few handfuls at a time

in a salad spinner, or drain on towels.

3. Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and turmeric in the small saucepan and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until just warm to the touch.

The brine should not be too warm, or it will cook the vegetables and make them soft.

4. Pack the zucchini and onions into the two pint jars,

then ladle the brine over the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Honey Goat Cheese Dressing

Last week I got some beautiful goat cheese from a vendor at our Farmer's Market and wanted to do something different with it. I also had some wonderful local honey that my friend gave me and I came across this recipe at SkinnyTaste.com (and a few other recipes that I'll be sure to try!)

We enjoyed this on a fresh garden salad, my husband loved it. You'll see my goat cheese has black on it, the vendor puts a thin layer on her cheese to help keep it fresh, it doesn't mess with the flavor at all. I'll definitely be making this again!

Honey Goat Cheese Dressing

  • 4 oz fresh creamy goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small blender, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, water and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Mix until fully combined and creamy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eggplant Snack Sticks

You gotta love Taste of Home Recipes, I have so many that now sit in my recipe box that I constantly fall back to time and time again. This will be one of them as well. One of my issues with Eggplant is the texture. So unless I'm frying it, I have a hard time eating it. This recipe got it just crispy enough and kept the natural flavor of it balanced out enough for me to enjoy it!

Eggplant Snack Sticks
  • 1 medium eggplant (1-1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

I used the long skinny Eggplant (Asian)

Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-in.-thick slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into 1/2-in. strips.
In a shallow dish, combine the wheat germ, cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic salt.Dip eggplant sticks in egg, then coat with wheat germ mixture.
  • Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  • Spritz eggplant with cooking spray. Broil 4 in. from the heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn sticks and spritz with cooking spray. Broil 2 minutes longer or until golden brown. Serve immediately with marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Well okay, these were dehydrator dried tomatoes but same concept. Note that I said dehydrator so that is what these instructions are for. With the heat we have been having across the nation, you could certainly do the rustic sun-dried method and let the sun actually dry them out but I decided to go the lazy route and use my trusty dehydrator.

I had an abundance of tomatoes and I wanted to use as many as I could before I had to start throwing them out to the wild animals that live in our woodline. I love cooking and even baking with sun-dried tomatoes so I figured this would be a great way to use some of these 'maters up.

Now, from everything I read, roma style tomatoes are the best but any kind work. The key is not to have any that are too overripe otherwise they will take forever to pull the moisture from. I just used what I had...
I sliced the tomatoes in half, then scraped out the seeds and pulp out of most of them and even quartered some of those slides. I then sprinkled salt all over the sliced tomatoes. For the last batch (which isn't pictured) I sprinkled salt and Italian Herbs to give a little different flavor.

I lined them up on my dehydrator trayIn my dehydrator these took almost 8 hours to dry (they were a little juicer than I thought, so they took a bit longer). You want them to be dry of moisture but not so dry they crumble.I put most of them in freezer bags and froze to use later. But a few of the regular and a few that I sprinkled Italian Herbs on, I put in jars and covered in olive oil to use for cooking/baking later on.

Zucchini Brownies

We got some great zucchini in our Harvest Box last week and I decided to do some yummy baked goods. School is getting ready to start so it's time to bake up some breads and muffins that I can freeze and the kids can grab and go in the morning. But today I started off with a nice treat of Zucchini Brownies. I love using Zucchini in brownies because it makes them so moist! My kids love these and they add a little bit of veggies (or fruit if that is what your vote that zucchini is!) into their snack!

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional...I do not enjoy nuts of any type in my baked goods)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended.

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture.

Fold in the zucchini and walnuts.
(Your batter will not look as thin/runny as regular brownies, but don't worry, they will be fine! The zucchini will bring out the moisture as it bakes!) Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

For Chocolate Frosting:
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.
For Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
1 package (8 Oz. Size) Cream Cheese, Softened
2 cups Powdered Sugar,
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cantaloupe Sherbert

We received some wonderful cantaloupe in our harvest box this week. It was nice and ripe and ready for whatever we desired to do with it. I found this simple recipe in a Taste of Home Magazine a few years ago and decided now would be a good time to try it! It turned out awesome! It was easy and so good!

Cantaloupe Sherbert
  • 1 small ripe cantaloupe
  • 2 cups cold fat-free milk, divided (I used 2% milk and it still turned out very good!)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cut cantaloupe in half; discard seeds. Scoop out pulp (there should be about 4 cups of melon).
  • Place cantaloupe and 1 cup milk in a blender or food processor; cover and process until smooth.
  • In a large saucepan, combine sugar and remaining milk. Sprinkle gelatin over top; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is complete dissolved.
  • Stir in the corn syrup, salt and pureed cantaloupe.
  • Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. pan. Cover and freeze until partially frozen, about 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Place cantaloupe mixture in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Return to the pan. Cover and freeze until almost frozen, about 1 hour.