Friday, July 26, 2013

Homemade citrus, gelatin gummies

  I've never been a big gummy candy fan, the consistency is just kind of weird to me.  However, I love Sour Patch Kids, especially the yellow, lemon ones.  I remembered in the days when my kids were little, and we used to make jello jigglers.  We used to always make green, lime dinosaurs and train engines using Jello and cookie cutters.  I wondered if I could follow the same principle, and try to make some lemony, sour gummies.  The end result was good, but not as sour as I would have liked.  I think next time I will go with less honey, and more lemon!

I had some Pampered Chef cutters, and I found my husband's aspic cutters.

  It was really easy to make.  I simply took 3 packs of the gelatin, added 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup honey, and about 4 drops of orange extract.  Then you whisk and pour into a glass dish to set in the refrigerator, I put mine in the freezer because I was impatient.

The aspic cutters were smaller, so I chose a simple shape.

 Cut the desired shapes, and it's ready to eat.  Like I said, I am not a big fan of gummy things, but I knew that consuming real gelatin would be good for my nails and my hair.  I loved the citrus flavor, but I will try it next time with maybe a tablespoon more of the lemon, and one less of the honey.  I know that Sour Patch Kids have a sour coating, that I won't be able to replicate, but this was a fun experiment!  Happy snacking, and enjoy a blessed day!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home canning-Chow Chow

I love canning with an old, traditional recipe.
  You can't beat a pot of beans, hot Southern chow-chow, and cornbread!  This is the first time that I made enough chow-chow to can.  I usually just make a quick refrigerator version.  Since I am loving canning this summer, I got out the old church cookbooks of all of mine and my husband's grandmothers, and picked one that sounded good.
  You will need the following ingredients to make 6 pints (this is half of the recipe):
Beautiful colors!
  • a medium sized head of cabbage
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 3 white onions
  • 2 hot peppers
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 Tbl. mustard seed
  • 1 Tnsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

  We used the food processor to grind all the vegetables...we have it so much easier than our grandparents, who had to grind/grate by hand!  You sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, and  refrigerate overnight.
  The next day, drain and squeeze out all the water.

 Pot for sterilizing jars, canner, and Le Creuset for cooking vegetables.

  Mix all ingredients, except the turmeric, and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables look transparent.  Add the turmeric and stir well.  Pack the mixture into sterilized jars and seal.  Process in canner for 10 minutes.

  Let me know if you try this recipe from 1962.  I'm sure that the recipe is probably the same for centuries.  I know my grandma's had books older than this, and I wish I had the handwritten papers that I saw them use when  I was little.  Do you have a favorite recipe?  I would love to hear about it, be sure to leave a comment.  Have a blessed day,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bacon and peanut butter dog treats DIY

Well, if you saw any of my other posts about Marley, you'll see that she is my baby, and I spoil her.  I have had dogs in my life for as long as I can remember, my dog Dixie when I was about four years old is the earliest memory I have.  We had a wonderful lab named Lonesome, who found my family when I was in middle school.  Although divorced, each of my parents had at least 2 dogs at any given time in their homes, and they still do.  They always believe that their dogs are part of the family, as all dogs should be!
  It was many, many years later before we got a family dog for my kids.  Marley joined us in 2008.  She quickly became my baby!  So, as I make cookies for my boys, so I make cookies for my girl.  These are so easy, and she loves them!  Enjoy making treats for your dog.
  Here is the link for the first recipe I posted for treats.
Marley doesn't do this when I'm baking, but the smell of peanut butter and bacon lets her know this will be for her.

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease (I had saved it in a jar from breakfast a few weeks ago)
  • 1/4 creamy peanut butter
  • handful of fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg

She thought she should get the remaining dough; even dogs like cookie batter!

  All I did was mix all the ingredients, flour my pastry mat, and mash the dough down with my hands.  Then I used my dog bone cutter and made the cookies.  I baked for 17 minutes on 350*.  After they cooled on a wire rack, Marley was able to taste one...she loved it!
Enjoy the blessings of owning a dog, 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homemade antibiotic skin cream

Creamy antibiotic (excuse the pic of Thai Basil in background :)
  I love having this home remedy available, as we usually will have a need for it.  Have you ever had a cut, skin irritation, or infection that you wanted to coat with something soothing?  Well, this is my favorite way to make such a soothing cream.  I am not a doctor, nor a professional in the healing field, so use your own judgement when treating your condition.
  For minor cuts, skin irritation from eczema or dermatitis, or minor infection (redness, soreness) on skin, this cream works nicely.  Please make sure you clean the skin before applying this, as it will heal quickly! Some examples of when my family has used this:  to prevent infections, and treat the sting of dog or cat scratches, to treat and protect from cuticle tears or hangnails, irritation on hands from contact irritants, eczema, and bug bites.  *Some herbal books say Chamomile can cause contact dermatitis to those who may be allergic to this kind of weed use sparingly until you find out, we have never had a problem with it! 

  •   Start by making an Olive oil tincture with Chamomile flowers, and Burdock Root.  I used 2 Tbls of each in 1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil.  I set the jar in a sunny window for 5 weeks.  Then strain...
After 5 weeks in the sun.

Strain the mixture and discard the herbs (make sure to mash the herbs and get every drop)

  •  Now you need to mix 1/4 cup of the oil mixture with 1/2 cup coconut oil, and 1/4 beeswax.  Melt over a double boiler (I use a glass bowl over my pot, just don't let the bowl sit in the water).
  • After you remove from the heat, add 15 drops of Lavender, 5 drops of Clary Sage, and 4 drops of Vitamin E oil

    Stir until all melted.

  • Put the mixture into you refrigerator for about 2 hours, then remove and mix with your mixer.
  • Whip until you get a nice, buttery consistency, then store in glass jars.  During the summer months it is important to keep the mixture cool so that it doesn't melt or separate.  If you find that a counter top isn't cool enough, keep in the fridge.  I have mine on my bathroom counter, and it is doing fine, but some of my family like to keep it in the fridge.

  I hope you like this easy, all-natural way to treat minor skin irritations.  Let me know if you give it a try!  Many blessings,  Joanna

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chicken stock/bone broth made with all leftovers

  I just wanted to share my simple way of getting the most out of a whole chicken.  Once we had eaten most of the roasted whole chicken, I froze what was left of the carcass.  For a couple of weeks, I bagged and froze the ends of all of our celery, carrots, onions and garlic.
  I added all of the veggie scraps along with the chicken carcass to my crock pot.  I added enough water to cover it, then cooked it on low for 12 hours.  Then I strained it and put it in leftover glass jars.  Now we have fresh chicken stock/bone broth for whenever we need it.  It made a little over 3 quarts.  I used what didn't fit in the jars to make some rice, then froze the rest to pull out and use as needed.
  So easy, and a good way to make stock basically for free!  Have you ever tried making other types of stock?  I'd love to hear about it.  Wishing you a blessed day, Joanna.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sun-infused, all-natural, facial skin toner

  During the summer months, my skin tends to get a little oily.  In my 20's it was always oily, in my 30's it was combination, now it's mostly just dry.  When I feel my skin needs a little extra cleansing in the hot months, I make a nice toner to follow my cleanser with.  This is simple and easy to do, very inexpensive, and no harsh chemicals will be going on your face.
  All you need to make 4 oz of toner is:

  • a 4 oz glass bottle
  • about 1.5 Tbl dried lavender
  • about 1.5 Tbl dried rose flowers
  • 3 oz of distilled witch hazel
  • 1 oz of distilled water
  • a sunny window or deck

Gather your dried flowers  
   Put the dried herbs into your glass jar and add the witch hazel.  Shake well to combine and let it infuse by the sunshine.  You only need to give it 6-8 hours and it's good to go.  Then simply strain the witch hazel infusion, add the ounce of distilled water, and you are ready to apply with a cotton ball.  How easy is this, and it feels so nice on your skin.
  Lavender is so soothing for your skin and has antibacterial properties.  Rose is a nice skin softener, and witch hazel is an astringent.  Go ahead, pamper your skin and tone it at the same time.  Let me know if you give it a try!
Place in a sunny window and let the sun infuse it for you!

Here is the link for my homemade scrub
  Wishing you a blessed day,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fresh summertime cocktails using garden herbs and local fruits

  Cocktails made with summer's fresh fruit are just meant to be enjoyed in the backyard.  For the last couple of months, some of our weekends have been spent experimenting with different drinks and enjoying them on our deck.  Spending time out back means that I  have also had to experiment with different mosquito repellents!
Strawberry Martini 
Strawberries and champagne
  Once I found out that my favorite vodka made me sick because it's made from grains and not potatoes, I thought my days of martinis were over.  With gluten intolerance, a lot of vodkas were off limits, or some of the potato varieties didn't taste good. Then we found Tito's! Tito's vodka is USA made in Texas and it's gluten free. Tito's was the first gluten free vodka that I found to taste really good in a martini.  
  We made strawberry martinis using Tito's and fresh pureed strawberries.  Awesome and refreshing and tastes like summer.  Another time we used the strawberry puree, basil infused simple syrup, and Blanco tequila and made margaritas, simple and tastes like a fresh dessert.  *We later purchased margarita glasses :)

Make a simple syrup using garden fresh basil, and top with more basil
  When strawberries were finished locally, we made peach martinis in the same fashion as the strawberry ones using Tito's and S.C peaches.  We topped them with mint from the garden.  Super good!  We then went to the local watermelon and came up with a nice rum drink.
Muddled watermelon, rum, club soda and basil

  When the weekend rolls around, it's nice to be able to relax with your family.  A few hours spend outside grilling dinner and enjoying cocktails is a fun way to re-connect after the stresses of the week.  By the way, we discovered that adding basil plants, citronella plants, and lemon balm plants to the deck helps keep the pests away.  My favorite blend for homemade repellent is a cup of water mixed with 10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemon and 5 drops peppermint.  (I always experiment with different blends and scents, but so far, I think this one works best).

  Do you have any favorite summer time drinks?  I would love to hear about them.
Enjoy a blessed day,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Natural cleaning supplies from your garden, fruit bowl and essential oils

  Cleaning supplies...what a lovely subject!  Well, we have to try to keep our homes germ and dirt free, so we may as well try to use natural things instead of all the harsh chemicals that abound from the store bought stuff.  I must admit, I am slowly coming around to using natural stuff, as it is so convenient to go to the store and pick it up off the shelf.  However, now that my schedule allows for more creative time, I decided to start making cleaning supplies as well as all the health and beauty products that I love to make.
  I have always made the standard sink scrubs of baking soda and lemon, I clean the bathroom sinks using borax and clove oil, and I use lemon oil to clean my hardwood floors.  I've done that for years, but to replace my all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, I had to make something new.

I added fresh orange peel and sage from our garden to white vinegar.

  This is so simple, and it smells so nice!  I let the herbs and peel infuse the vinegar for 3 weeks.  Then after I strained the liquid, I used it to clean my windows, mirrors and counter tops.  It gave a nice, clean scent that wasn't overly "vinegary".
  I thought I needed a stronger all purpose cleaner for the bathrooms and the rest of the kitchen, so I created a spray bottle consisting of:
  • 1 Tbl. Borax
  • 1/2 Tbl Castille soap
  • 8 drops of sweet orange essential oil
  • 8 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 2 cups of distilled water (I recommend some kind of filtered water unless you will use it all right away, in that case it can be tap water).

  That's it!  So easy, inexpensive, and healthier for our environment!  I am now experimenting with some other fresh herbs from the garden, adding them to baking soda, borax and salt.  I will let you know how that goes.  Do you have a favorite recipe for homemade cleaners?  Please let me know!

  Enjoy a blessed day,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer's easiest Strawberry Pie

  I don't think there is a dessert out there that satisfies like a homemade pie!  When summer offers beautiful fruits, the number one request from my boys is to make pie!  I recently made a wonderful cherry pie, and 2 days later this delicious strawberry pie.  Needless to say, pie makes for happy teenagers!

This strawberry pie is so quick and easy to make! ( Sometimes we top it with whipped cream).

  I know it's not that hard to make homemade crusts, but sometimes you just wanna focus on prepping the fruit, and let Pillsbury make the crust for you!  
  •  9" Pillsbury frozen crust, or your own homemade crust
  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
  • 3 Tbls. cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
How's this for a simple ingredient list?!  Bake the crust according to directions, then prepare the berries.

  • Start by slicing and arranging some berries on the pie crust.
  • Then add the remaining berries to a stockpot and mash together with the sugar

I like to save a few berries to add back after I mash the others.  It just adds a little texture.

  • Cook until it's bubbly 
  • Add the cornstarch to the water in a small bowl and mix well
  • Gradually stir the cornstarch mixture into your pot of berries
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until thickened nicely
  • Pour the mixture over the berry topped crust
  • Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before cutting

  That's all there is to it!  Of course, this isn't a gluten free crust, so I couldn't have any of this pie.  (I did taste the filling though).  I have yet to find a gluten free pie crust recipe that I like, and as far as I know, there isn't a ready made one.  I will keep trying different crust recipes and let you know if I find a good one.

  Even if I can't have some of the things that I make, I enjoy making them for my family.  I hope you will try this recipe and let me know how it goes!

Have a blessed day, 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homemade, all natural dog treats for your best friends!

  If you are like most dog owners, your dog is a part of your family.  I know my dog Marley thinks she is my child, and I never told her otherwise!  As I began to eat gluten free, and experiment with so many different recipes, I thought I should make some homemade treats for Marley.  I mean, how great is it to make something in the kitchen, save a lot of money, and control the ingredients to be all natural?!

This is my baby, Marley!

She always has to find one of the boys socks to go with her bone!
  This recipe showcases things that I had on hand and needed to use up.  I have other recipes that I will share later.

The boys got to eat all but 1 piece of the bacon.

  •   bacon grease from cooking 7 pieces, about 4 TBL.
  • 1 piece of fried bacon
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  Mix all the ingredients, and make into TBL. size balls and flatten.  I use a dog shaped cookie cutter for some of my treats, but not this one.

  Bake in a pre-heated 400* oven for about 15 minutes.  They look like people cookies, but I didn't try one!  Marley loves them!  I store them in the refrigerator as they don't have preservatives.  Freeze for longer storage.  
  Do you make homemade treats for your dogs?  Let me know if you try this one.  Have a blessed day, Joanna

Pasta and eggs for breakfast...starting the day with comfort food!

   I saw an episode on the Food Network called something like "the best thing I ever ate".  On the show, celebrity chefs tell about something they had at a restaurant that they just loved.  I saw one episode where the guest showed a dish called "pasta mama".  I can't remember who it was, as it was many years ago.  We didn't get an exact recipe, just basic ingredients and technique.
  This quickly became one of my son's favorite meals, and I made mine the same, only gluten free.
What could be more comforting than to start your day with cheesy pasta?!
    Here is my take on the recipe:

  • leftover spaghetti pasta
  • eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • garlic, salt and pepper

  The easy part here, is that you just add all ingredients based on the amount of pasta that you have leftover. For an example, I had about 1 1/2 cups of gluten free vermicelli.  I used 2 eggs, I shaved off about a Tbl.or so of parm, I use fresh oregano from the garden, (or I use dried oregano off season), about Tbl butter and same of EVOO.  Garlic, salt and pepper are to your liking; I use a pinch kosher salt, a few turns on the pepper mill, and a pinch of garlic (minced about a clove, or you can use powder).

This is without cheese or eggs, just to brown a bit.

  • Start by adding the butter and EVOO to the pan and let it get hot.  
  • Add only the pasta, oregano, S, P, and garlic
  • cook until pasta gets a little color
  • Then add your eggs and Parmesan need to scramble first, just stir as you add it 
  • That's it!  It is so cheesy good, and you won't believe the flavor of the oregano!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Please let me know if you try it...
Have a blessed day!  Joanna

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gluten free, vegan, Indian" Vesan" dessert...a wonderful candy-like treat

  I hope you will try making this wonderful Indian dessert.  I saw Bal Arneson, the Spice Goddess from The Cooking Chanel make this.  It was already gluten free, as it used Besan/Chickpea flour, so no flour swaps were necessary!  It is so very fragrant as it cooks, (I had only used cardamom before in savory dishes). There's something about adding it to sugar that  makes the aroma heavenly, and it is such a rich, decadent treat!
  Mine didn't turn out looking like a fudgey bar cookie as hers did...another one of my cooking adventures that possibly produced something different!  Mine were more like a rich candy that reminded me more of a brittle.  I think I could have cooked the sugar for a few seconds too long, and that's why, or perhaps it's because I used Earth Balance instead of butter.   It was however, awesome!
  It only takes a few ingredients to make this out of the ordinary, gluten free dessert:

  • 1 cup sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tea ground cardamom (I didn't have ground, so I used my mortar and pestle to convert the whole seeds)
  • 3/4 cup butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 cups Besan/Chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • * 2 additional Tbl of chopped pistachios for the garnish

Add caption

I used my mortar and pestle to make my whole cardamom into ground.

1.  Put your sugar, water and cardamom into a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil the mixture until it becomes a thick syrup.  The directions say to make sure the mixture forms a "thread" when pinched between your thumb and finger.  I think that because I was waiting for this "thread", I may have overcooked this, or perhaps I had the heat too high.  Anyway, Bal says about 15 minutes is right to cook it, and I cooked for 14 minutes.

This is before it has gotten to the boiling point.

This is after about 7 minutes of boiling.

 2.  Melt your butter in another saucepan, and add the flour.  Cook while stirring until it's a deep golden brown.  About 10-12 minutes.

3.  Add your pistachios and blend.  Then add the slightly cooled syrup mixture.  Stir well and pour into a buttered 8x8 glass pan.  Sprinkle with extra pistachios.  Let it set for 15 minutes and cut.  As I said, mine turned out differently than Bal's, and I will try this recipe again to see the difference.  It may have been my cooking method, or it may be that I used a butter substitute instead of real butter, but it was a delicious treat all the same!

Please let me know if you give this a try, I'd love to know how it turns out!  What other gluten-free treats do you love?  Hope you have a blessed day!