Monday, July 31, 2017

Tastes of Summer - Garden Tomato Sandwich on Homemade Bread



Slices of hot, buttered toast using homemade sandwich bread + juicy, garden ruby-red orbs of deliciousness a/k/a "garden tomatoes"  = one amazing summer lunch!

Tomato sandwiches!!  YUM!!

Not only do I LOVE summer for sandy beaches, hot concrete under my bare toes, and shorts & flipflops.  I also love summer for the abundance of fresh garden food!  Last week it was peaches and this week, we are popping at the seams with garden fresh tomatoes!

Lucky are we that my husband's uncle lives in our neighborhood and that he has a bumper crop of garden goodies!  He leaves garden goodies all over town!  For us, we find bags of red, plump tomatoes, dark green zucchini, cucumbers and peppers hanging on our front door while we are at work. Rolling into the driveway, we can see that "Jerry's been here!"

Yesterday, I put a loaf of our everyday white, sandwich bread (RECIPE HERE) in the oven with plans of eating it for breakfast as toast, slathered in my beloved and newly canned Peach Preserves.

Fast forward to this morning as I was checking for overripe vegetables/fruits and I just couldn't get past some perfect summer tomatoes screaming at me from the counter.  

I once had a favorite farm blog , FARM GIRL FARE, and the Susan described a day full of gardening, feeding beloved farm animals, and breathing in the fresh air that I craved from inside my office.  Susan's blog was a window into another world for me.  But, what I WAS able to do was eat what she was eating.  Often that came in the form of a tomato sandwich on thick slices of homemade bread.  Is there really any better way to eat homemade bread and garden fresh tomatoes?  I think not!

Anyway - there are lots of ways people eat tomato sandwiches.  On homemade bread or store bought bread, on toast or soft sandwich bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you eat it; with mayo or butter; with meat like turkey, ham, or bacon - or no meat at all.  My preference is always toasted homemade sandwich bread, buttered, with slices of salted tomatoes.  That's it!    

Don't forget to make time for garden tomato sandwiches this summer!  Summer will be gone in a blink so find your favorite bread, your favorite spread and some thick slices of tomatoes and make a sandwich AT HOME YOUR WAY!

Enjoy!


Gina


Friday, July 28, 2017

Peach Preserves - Less Sugar Recipe - More Peaches than Sugar Ratio!


*Because I hate scrolling down for the recipe, my recipes are AT THE TOP - comments are at the BOTTOM below!  :))

"They are mighty little peaches; sweet, juice running down your chin kind of peaches! Delicious and smell divine!" 

                        



Fresh Peach Preserves 
Less Sugar Recipe

  • 5 half-pint canning jars with lids/rings
  • 4 1/2 cups peeled/chopped/pitted fresh peaches (place peaches with skins in boiling water and then in ice water and the skins loosen, just like for peeling tomatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups white/granulated sugar, measured into a separate bowl
  • 1 box SUREJELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes
  • 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)

Instructions (FOLLOW directions in order exactly or pectin won't work):
  • Sterilize jars, lids and rings per USDA recommendations.
  • Place peaches in boiling water and then place in ice water for easy peeling - the skins will slip right off!
  • Measure 4 1/2 cups peeled/chopped fresh peaches into a medium/large pot (cold-do not heat yet) AND stir in lemon juice.
  • Measure 3 cups sugar into a separate bowl (of this 3 cups of sugar, remove 1/4 cup of the sugar and place it into a separate small bowl)
  • In the small bowl with the 1/4 cup of sugar, dump the SureJELL for Less or No Sugar Need.  Stir/combine well and then add to the pot of fruit.
  • Bring mixture of peaches/SureJELL to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred).  Stir OFTEN so it doesn't burn.)
  • At boiling, add the remaining measured sugar - ALL AT ONCE (2 3/4 cups), stir well and stir OFTEN.
  • Bring to another full rolling boil and start timing when the boiling stays consistent when stirred.
  • Time for 1 MINUTE (stirring constantly).  
  • REMOVE FROM HEAT (skim foam).  
  • I then mash my fruit with a potato masher but you don't have to if you like chunky preserves.
  • Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch space at top
  • Add sterilized lids/rings (two parts)
  • Process - hot water/boiling with water covering jars for 10 minutes.


We have a little peach tree in our back yard by my clothesline that my husband always wants to cut down.  I'm not sure what he hates more, my peach tree or my clothes line!  Ugh!  

Finally the little tree produced so many peaches that I doubt Doug will ever ask me to chop it down again.  WHEW!  This year I could see peaches on it and I knew I wanted to get them before the deer (because last year they ate every single peach once the peaches were ripe - all in one night).   I had no idea there were so many peaches until I picked them all off!  Check out the motherload of peaches we got from one little tree (about 10 feet tall).  These are huge bowls, each almost as big as one side of my sink!


My peaches weren't overly big.  Probably they are about just a little larger than golf balls.  But they are mighty little peaches; sweet, juice running down your chin kind of peaches! Delicious and smell divine!

I gave some away to a friend and she was able to make two batches of preserves for her family!  And still I had a ton of peaches.

I have made three batches of these low sugar preserves for my family (so far, and still counting).  

I am sold on SUREJELL pectin though!  I have used other brands and had flops.  Surejell is dependable and it never fails me!  

I used a box of this No-Low Sugar Surejell and it worked like a DREAMBOAT!  The preserves taste plenty sweet and still the beauty of the peaches shines through.

I hadn't tried a low sugar recipe before but I hated to drown my precious peaches in so much sugar and hide their bright, fresh flavor with too much sweetness.  Here's the exact kind I used - which is available from Amazon and delivered to your door!  How easy is that?




I can't wait to make some homemade Buttermilk Biscuits to go with these preserves.  Like these!




Also, am hoping to have a few jars to use as Christmas gifts this year!  It's really perfect and a beautiful example of what fresh from the garden is all about.  My peaches were not sprayed or sprinkled with anything.  They are beautiful and don't have many blemishes.  The only thing tending to them this year was our beloved honey bees, and they have outdone themselves!

I still have a big bowl of peaches yet to process and am hoping to can some and maybe to make a cobbler yet this weekend.  Before I go, here's a link to my small batch - canning peaches post, in case you need some inspiration.



Enjoy!




Gina


Monday, July 24, 2017

Super Easy - Crockpot Granola - Uses Less Dishes Than Traditional Granola


*Because I hate scrolling down for the recipe, my recipes are AT THE TOP - comments are at the BOTTOM below!  :))

*I love sharing recipes at Weekend Potluck.  This week is Weekend Potluck #284.  Come find ME and lots of other fantastic recipes HERE

Super Easy Crockpot Granola

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)  (I only had about 2/3 cup) (nuts could be omitted all together)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive oil or melted coconut oil) (I used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup liquid sweetener, such as maple syrup, honey, agave syrup)  (I used maple syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • Add-ins for after cooking (dried fruit such as dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins, apricots, apples)
Super Easy Instructions:
  1. Spray or lightly oil the sides and bottom of crockpot.
  2. In a small bowl/mug, mix the liquid sweetener (maple syrup), liquid oil (melted coconut oil or olive oil), and vanilla- stir well.
  3. To the crockpot, add oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and sprinkle over the brown sugar.  Stir well.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over the oat mixture in the crockpot.  
  5. Stir well to combine.
  6. Place lid on the crockpot- with the lid cracked allowing a very small gap for moisture to escape - KEY - MAKE SURE OF A SMALL GAP
  7. Cook on high 2 1/2 hours - stirring occasionally (every 30 minutes to one hour), or until granola is lightly brown and smelling wonderful.
  8. Cool completely before placing away for storage.  I use a gallon, glass jar, but a ziploc back will work, or other storage vessel (cookie tin, glass or plastic sealing bowl).
  9. Mix any dried fruits after the granola is cold!
Serving options:

Serve over yogurt, apple sauce, peaches, or with milk and fruit as for cold cereal.  




Super Easy Crockpot Granola

I love having granola around for easy breakfasts, quick suppers as a bowl of cereal, or just for snacking!  

What I dread about granola are the DISHES!  Ugh.  I typically use measuring cups and spoons, a pot for heating the sugar/oil mixture, a large bowl for stirring all together, and then a cookie sheet for baking in the oven.  EEk! I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of a bunch of dishes!

Plus, this weekend in mid Missouri, the temperature on Saturday was 102 degrees and my AC was having issues. Baking granola in the oven? No way!  Need I say more?

Solution: I scanned Pinterest and found basic instructions for making granola in my crockpot.  I knew it would work. But, I assumed I would still have to heat the liquid in a pot, mix the ingredients in a huge bowl, bake it in the crockpot, still making all of those dishes.   However, I was willing to sacrifice my time at the sink for not having to turn on the oven and so we could have this awesome homemade treat in our pantry.

Wrong!

I didn't need all of those dishes after all.  You mix and bake this granola in the crockpot.  It was dreamy easy!  This is what I used.:
  • 1 cup measuring cup (I just filled it half full for measuring the 1/2 cup portions of oil and maple syrup.)
  • 1 measuring spoon (Tablespoon/teaspoon all-in-one)
  • 1 mug for mixing the liquids
  • 1 crockpot with lid for cooking
  • 1 spoon for stirring

Probably you could mix the liquids in the crockpot and then add the dry ingredients avoiding the small bowl/mug for liquids.  I haven't tried that, but might do that next time.  

Talk about a time saver!!  

I also loved that this recipe didn't have to be hovered over.  In fact, we left home for a couple of hours so I reduced the temperature to low and when we got home it was all done.  In a crockpot, nothing is going to burn in the span of an extra 30 minutes or an hour, so I wasn't worried about it.  

That wonderful aroma of granola coming in the kitchen was so amazing!

Make some crockpot granola for your family!  It is easy, you know what's in it, and its delicious!  Talk about a win!

Enjoy!



Gina








Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tis the season... Zucchini Season! 7 Superb & Random Zucchini Recipes




It's that time again!  Not black Friday, not Christmas, nor your birthday!  It's Zucchini season!

You know what that means?  Those dark green beauties start popping out on super hot days, growing at a fairy tale rate until they are huge blimps in the garden, and people are handing them out everywhere!  You find them on your door step, hanging in bags on your front door, and even slid underneath your desk by zucchini fairies who leave them like secret gifts by unknown admirers LOL.

Like the ever elusive valentine, zucchini are given secretly and offered up with well wishes.  They are a symbol of prolific and healthy gardens, and given by folks who have too many and no idea what else to do with them.

If you find yourself the keeper of a prolific zucchini garden, or if you find some left at your door by a secret admirer, here are a couple of random and superb zucchini recipes to use up these precious gifts of summer!

Sharing this recipe at Weekend Potluck!  Come find ME and other great recipes this week HERE!

Enjoy!




  • Zucchini Pasta - A way to enjoy gluten free "noodles" and still enjoy that homemade manara.  I use a vegetable peeler to make wide zucchini "noodles".  They are delish!  This meal reminds me of cabbage rolls!

  • Zucchini Chocolate Cake - Moist and delicious, my mom made this cake for us often in the summer.  Topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, it makes a fabulous potluck dish or family dessert.




  • Zucchini "Pineapple".  This is a canning recipe and is a way to extend zucchini season into the cooler days ahead.



  • Zucchini Jam  This recipe is amazing!  I was a sceptic.  It uses jello (as the pectin), crushed pineapple, and zucchini.  I loved it topped on toast or fresh homemade bread!  I'm going to try adding some jalapeno next time for a spread fit for cream cheese dipping happiness!




  • One-Pot Garden Pasta - I added zucchini and all other sorts of vegetables to make a great one-pot meal!  Creamy and dreamy, pasta and veges make a great easy meal!


  • Zucchini Cobbler - (no picture yet) Tastes JUST LIKE apple cobbler.  I promise.  You cannot tell a single bit of difference.  This is crazy good.

Enjoy!


Gina

Friday, July 7, 2017

Well, Kiss my GRITS! Southern Cheese Grits!




Keeping Recipes at the top!  My message is now at the bottom.

Also - I'm sharing this recipe at Sweet Little Bluebird - Weekend Potluck.  Find me and some other amazing recipes HERE!

Here's how I make Southern Buttered Cheese Grits AT HOME MY WAY:


Southern Buttered Cheese Grits

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Quick Grits (I used Quaker brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or a tad more than that)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter/margarine
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated SHARP cheddar
Instructions:

Combine the milk, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Be careful!  Remember, that milk will scorch so stir often and don't cook on complete high.

Add grits and stir.  Stir occasionally until back to boiling.  Cover.  Time and cook for 5 minutes while covered, stirring often - lowering the temperature almost off so that they don't boil over or scorch.  

After cooking 5 minutes, covered, remove from the hot burner.  They should be creamy at this point.  Add the butter/margarine and grated SHARP cheddar cheese.  Stir and cover until cheese and butter are all melted and mixed in.

Let sit a few minutes.  I salted mine a little at the table but they are DIVINE!

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Hello y'all!

I visited my sisters in Destin a few weeks ago.  They live in paradise!  We are, by the way, Gina (me), Selena, and Sabrina!  How do you like that?  Truth, I tell ya!  (Our dad was, "Gene".)  It was a great trip and was one of the things, at 50 years old, that I decided I wasn't waiting for any longer!  The fact is that I had only met one of my sisters (Selena) twice, and the other sister (Sabrina), I had never met.  We have the same dad and different moms.  My mom moved my brother and I to mid Missouri from central Florida.  My sisters' mom moved them from central Florida to the Destin area.  By proximity, we were too many miles apart and didn't connect until.... FACEBOOK happened.




Yes - we all agreed their mom was the smarter mom in the whole moving situation LOL!  Destin is completely beautiful and we had a marvelous visit.  Quite more like paradise (to me) than mid Missouri, I might add.  I am in the middle in this picture.

While I was there, I was treated to a great lunch at Lulu's Restaurant.  The owner is Lucy Buffet and she is Jimmy Buffet's sister.  Lulu's is fun, bright, and everything a coastal restaurant should be.  The food is southern, delicious, and affordable!  

I was super impressed when all four of the kids at our table ordered cheese grits instead of french fries with their burgers.  Got to love some southern kids!  After my own heart, they are!




Last night I took my own turn at making cheese grits.  I knew that in order to get back to my southern self, I needed to master the cooking of the grits!  

I nailed it!  These are fantastic!  Now, my mom says that grits never have milk in them.  I agree..., BUT... even mac & cheese has milk, so I checked a few recipes online and all of the southern bloggers included milk in their cheese grits.  I decided to include some milk in my cheese grits.  I wanted creamy & cheesy!!!

I will be making these often.  They are buttered, creamy, cheesy, and just perfect!  They are an almost exact replica of the cheese grits I grew up eating.  We ate buttered grits for breakfast at home in central Florida, but at school?  We had cheese grits every single time we had that little fish square.  YUMMY in my TUMMY!  You wouldn't catch mid Missouri kids eating cheese grits with their fish sticks, but in central Florida, we wouldn't have it any other way!

Eat them with hamburgers, bacon, ham, fish, shrimp, seafood, breakfast, or just with toast.  Just make some and you will be happy and sassy as this southern girl with her sisters!





  Gina







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