Monday, September 1, 2014

Switching Gears & A Finish or Three

Taking a break from the garden fresh-recipes,
though I still have lots I want to post.

My mantle quilt is already out.  Too fall too early?  Never!
Fall doesn't last near long enough so I stretch it!

It's just that I decorated for fall today,
which got me really thinking of what projects
I want to get started on right away,
and then which ones will be more fun
 as the temperatures drop.

I've mentioned before that I'm a huge
list-maker so here's the beginning of my list:

This guy is begging to be quilted. 
I've promised it to a family friend for a long time now.

It's even all basted and ready to go.
I'm so ready to send it on its way;
it's even sitting out, just waiting...

I don't think I ever posted a picture of this
next quilt top actually put together.

I jumped into this one last fall and had so much fun 
with it that I can't wait to get back to it.  
All scraps.  All random blocks.

Sometimes lots of little pieces,
but always lots of fall color.

My goal is to get this one basted and quilted 
before the first day of fall.

 I try to be one of those people who don't start new
projects till at least most of the old ones are done.
These are my almost-done projects; more are waiting
in other stages, some just piles of fabric with a mission.
I may have multiple ones going at a time but I do
know my limit, and right now I think I've reached it.

I have a couple of finishes from some time ago that 
I'm not sure I ever posted so I guess I'll start 
my favorite quilting season off with those.
(It also might have a little something to do with just possibly being 
a teensy bit jealous of everyone else's finishes I'm always seeing...)

Sorry for the blurry pic but it's the only one
I have of this very simple quilt that's also 
the guest list from my daughter's wedding.

I believe I last left off with this next quilt when I was
basting it.  I prefer doing them on the floor 
but sometimes I'll use the table method.

I actually got that one quilted, too...
sometime in the spring, or was it in the winter?

I don't really remember.  Things got rough about then.
I do remember really enjoying the quilting.  I've never
done this specific random quilting before.  If I'd known 
I'd be this happy with it, I would've done it sooner.

I always thought it would look messy but discovered
that, when looking at the big picture, I love it.  
I'm going to do the American quilt up there in the 
same way, especially because I'll just be getting
back into it and I'm kind of in a hurry.   Plus, I think
a man would prefer simple, no-frills quilting.

Another surprise?  I despise solid fabrics so I 
never thought I'd keep this one...till I finished it.
(I still feel, for me, this is the only acceptable use of solid fabric:
that retro look to set off these feedsack fabrics.)

It totally grew on me!  I now use this lap quilt 
almost every time we watch a movie.  
Going to have to snap a better pic of this.
It's one of those quilts that makes you happy
to use it.  I rarely ever get sick, knock on wood,
but if/when I do, I think I'll be requesting this one.

And lastly.

An I-Spy quilt made from a disappearing 9-patch.

Yet another surprise, I wasn't real sure what to think
of this one as I made it.  I gave a friend carte blanche
in choosing a quilt for her new baby.  Okay, I was 
expecting to do something real traditional but hey,
who am I to argue with easy!?!

Another one that really wasn't my taste at first but
it did turn out pretty fun and I think it'll keep the
little guy's eyes busy.  And when he gets a little older, 
it should help to build vocabulary.  

Yet another way of looking at quilts,  
this one doubles as a game.

This just had so much going on that I nixed any
borders, plus, it was already the right size.  
I then struggled to find a suitable binding.
Even though the binding is a busy fabric, 
somehow it still helps pull the quilt together.

Clearly I need to work on taking better pictures, 
but these were actually just snapped quickly to 
message to my sisters throughout the process.

So here I was pouting that I hadn't any finishes
when I actually have three!  I know many have
reached double-digits for the year but hey, 
my real quilt season is just getting started!

Our porch last fall.  Just waiting on the pumpkins 
to ripen for this year's display!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Skillet Unstuffed Peppers

Got peppers?

Here's a great green bell pepper recipe.
Most gardeners have a ton of them this time of year.
Hopefully you:
a)  Are a gardener with lots of green bell pepeprs
b) Know a gardener with lots of green bell peppers
and can be the happy recipient of their surplus.

This is another family favorite.  
Fast, fresh and fairly healthy.

I do think the key to this being so yummy is using 
a great rice blend.  I don't have the package to show 
you but it's one of the "Rice Select" Royal Blends
and it comes in a big, clear plastic canister.
Among other things, it has wild rice and wheat...
which has me thinking it's labeled something
real witty and catchy like..."Wild Rice Blend."

Here's my stash in my uber-organized pantry.
Fyi, that's a 2-qt jar.
(Right next to the pinto beans--a new garden item of which I'm pretty proud.)
Definitely the yummiest rice blend out there.
But it does take longer to cook so bear that in 
mind for this recipe because it's wicked-fast
other than that.

If you know you're going to be in a hurry,
I would suggest doing all of your slicing and dicing
in advance, keeping the ingredients in the refrigerator.
I suppose you could even make the rice ahead
of time and just warm it back up.

Okay.  Let's get started.  Boil that rice with a little salt.

Seed and chop 2 green bell peppers.
Chop, chop.  In big ol' easy-to-do chunks.

Slice 1 lb of mushrooms.  
Or just buy them pre-sliced.

Cut up a big red onion in little wedges.

Here the recipe calls for 1 lb Italian Sausage links
and then tells you to remove the casings 
so you can chop the sausage up.
Why don't they just call for 1 lb ground Italian Sausage?
Whatever.  You pick.  I know what I'd do.

Brown your Italian sausage in a little olive oil.
Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and 
set aside in a dish.

Next lightly saute' peppers for a minute or
two.  Add onions and saute another minute or so.

Now let's give the mushrooms a go at it.
(We like our veggies fairly crisp; adjust times according to your tastes.)

Next, add in cooked sausage and cooked rice.

Salt if desired but usually the sausage provides 
enough of that; I do recommend fresh-ground pepper.
You're done!

Unstuffed Peppers
Rachael Ray Magazine

1 c long grain rice or rice mix of choice
1 T olive oil
1 lb Italian sausages, casings removed
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped

Cook rice according to directions with 1/2 t salt.
Brown sausage in olive oil in a large skillet.
Remove sausage with slotted spoon; set aside in
a bowl.  Saute' green peppers for 2 mins.
Add in onions; saute' another 2 mins.
Add in mushrooms; saute all veggies together
till desired "doneness".
Stir in sausage and rice; heat through and serve.
Salt and freshly-ground pepper if desired.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Pepper Preparedness Party

Taking a break from the peaches and
heading back to the garden to see
what else is growing in abundance.

Hola, peppers!
(That's as far as my Spanish goes.  I don't even know if I spelled that right.)
Definitely in abundance, yet not very big
this year.  Odd, but hey, no complaints.

I spent Wednesday morning putting up peppers.
(Why do we say "putting up"?)
JalapeƱos, green chilies, green chilies that had
ripened to red (and therefore became hotter)
and bell peppers:  red, yellow and green.

This weekend we'll be pulling out the smoker to
make chipotles out of the red jalapeƱos.
And I still have some poblanos to work on.
That's another new crop for me so I'm open
to suggestions there.

I'm really excited to be getting all of this pepper-ing
out of the way.  Typically at this time of year, 
I'm still cooking away with peppers, popping them into
our meals while they're fresh; 
I normally don't tap into my inner-squirrel for 
pepper-ing until the threat of frost comes around.

This blender/processor/smoothie-maker is put
to use on a daily basis.  I love it!

However, my kitchen will soon be off-limits so 
I'm staying way ahead of the game this year.
Have I not mentioned this?  
It's time for my 1988 kitchen to go away.
It just doesn't work well for one who is in 
there as much as I am.  

The cabinets are currently being built.
I've already purchased all new 
appliances, including a double-oven, a warming
drawer and a cooktop with 5--FIVE!--burners.
Oh, and a ridiculously expensive apron-front
farm sink.  I insisted.  Single-bowl.
I stole a pic from the site:

Isn't it beautiful?  
I have dreams of it filled with produce.

Should be fun to watch the progress so I'll
be letting you follow along on here.
We're a good month away so...back to the peppers.

This picture hurts my eyes.

Mostly I just dice them in the food processor 
and freeze, especially the green chilies.
Pretty big chili fans around here and we love
the flavor that the green chilies bring to it.
(By the way, the little snack-size baggies hold the perfect amount for many
recipes.  Because they aren't freezer bags, though, I just put them together 
inside a larger freezer bag.  I use these peppers quickly so there really is
no need to waste the vacuum bags on them.)

Lots of chowders and soups call for 
diced red bell peppers.

And I have recipes that call for roasted bell peppers. 
I can't see why it won't freeze well that way,
so I saved myself a step and roasted them first.

I froze these in little snack baggies, too, and then 
put them into quart-sized freezer bags.

I also saved myself time, energy/resources and dishes 
doing them all at once.  I'll try to remember to update
you on that when I go to use them.

I also froze some in strips for fajitas.

All of this took me about 3 hours, flash-freezing
time included.  This was definitely not one of my
bigger "pepper parties" but I feel like it's a great
start.  And if that's all I get done, well...that
will just be enough.

I'm all about pepper-preparedness, apparently.
You do realize that the more preparing one does now,
the more time one has for quilting later.
(I actually pulled a "to be quilted" out of the closet on Wednesday...but it 
just felt too hot to be working on it.  A lot like it's too hot to be serving 
Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Starbucks!  Anyway, we'll call that a start--a 
step in the right direction.  Now bring on the cool weather!)

Why, of course I have pepper recipes coming!

Healthy Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast--Make Ahead!

Lots of posts these days, huh?
I guess I've just been so busy in the kitchen that
it becomes pretty important that I 
take some time to get off my feet.

I will admit to doing some of this, too.  Didn't get much
time for it all summer but now that the kids are back 
in school, I've been trying to get some color before
the fall weather kicks in.  You'll notice there is no one
else there.  I go early for just this reason!

And I've been doing a LOT of reading.
One of these days I want to add in book reviews.
Any avid readers out there? 
Did you find any good summer reads?

I know I keep posting this picture but I think it's really pretty!

Today's peach recipe is a real winner. 
If you've got a hectic morning routine, listen up
because you can do most of the work the night before.
And guess what?  It's healthy too!  

 Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole 
2 c rolled oats 
1/3 c brown sugar 
1 t baking powder 
1 t cinnamon 
1/4 t nutmeg (opt)
1/4 t salt 
1 c walnut pieces (or pecans)
1 c blueberries 
2 c milk 
1 large egg, beaten
3 T butter, melted 
1 T vanilla 
1 ripe peach, pitted and chopped
1 ripe banana, peeled, 1/2-inch slices 

The night before:  Generously spray a 9X13 glass baking dish (best if it has a lid).  In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.  Toss in half the blueberries and nuts.  Pour into prepared dish.  Top with remaining berries and nuts.  Cover and place in refrigerator.   To save on dishes, I like to do this next part in a quart jar.  Melt butter in jar in microwave.   Add milk (when you add the cold milk, the butter will harden.  Just swirl it around right away so the particles stay as small as possible.), beaten egg and vanilla.  Put lid on jar and place in refrigerator as well.  Go to sleep and dream happy dreams of yummy breakfast...but set your alarm to get up in time to put this in the oven!

The next morning [insert happily-chirping birds here]:  Remove casserole and jar from fridge.  Cut up banana OR peach (though I suppose you could do both?  Or try other fruits, even--this is flexible) and spread over top of oatmeal mixture.  Lightly shake jar; pour liquid contents over oatmeal mixture, making sure it soaks in thoroughly.  You can give it a gentle shake or even move it around with a fork to make sure.  

Place dish in oven and THEN turn on to 375'.  I just don't think it's wise to put an ice-cold glass dish into a pre-heated oven!  Then you can go off and take your shower while it bakes about 20 minutes or so--till milk is soaked up and oatmeal set--but do not over-bake as it can dry out.  Sorry to be vague about the time but the original recipe used a smaller dish and baked longer.  Who wants that on a busy morning?  So I spread it out in a bigger pan so it'll bake faster.  You can top this with syrup if you like but it doesn't really need it.


Linking to:
Keeping It Simple

Friday, August 29, 2014

Peach Butter and Bourbon Vanilla Bean Peach Jam

More peachy recipe reviews today:

Striving for simple and healthy, I made
several batches of peach butter.

I make a lot of yogurt and I like to have fruit to blend into it.
Pinterest gave me some great ideas for peach butter,
which is just like apple butter, by the way.

There is no real recipe here.
You can make it on the stove or in the crockpot 
(leaving the lid ajar as you want to reduce liquid)
and you can add spices (such as cinnamon or nutmeg)
and/or vanilla bean.
 (scrape out the beans into the "butter"; 
the pods go in as well but remove before canning)

For yogurt I prefer to leave the spices out and
just add the vanilla and some sugar to taste.  
Cook it down till it thickens and can. 
(water bath for 10 minutes, a little more if you're like me)
Everything I came across said it could be canned but
I was a little concerned so I added some lemon
juice for acidity just in case.

Bearing that in mind, I also put a big batch 
into the freezer as well.

Now, how about that bourbon-vanilla peach jam?
Wouldn't that make a good little gift for a guy?

I love me some vanilla bean!

I lost my recipe so I had to try out a couple new ones.
I like this one from Yummly best.
It calls for a whole 1/2 c of bourbon.
And I used the good stuff--worth it.
Just don't tell my hubs.

I have one more peach recipe to
share but I'll save that for next time.

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