Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apple Pie in a Jar

I really like this recipe for camping.  I first came across the idea at Recipelion and crossed it with my old favorite apple pie recipe.  Just bring your cast iron skillet camping and either a pre made pie crust of some granola crumbles.  The skillet idea could even work at home for a quick and easy dessert.

4 cups white sugar (a combo of white and brown would be good too)
1 cup corn starch or tapioca
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg (optional)
4 teaspoons Lemon Juice
10 cups Water
28 cups sliced Granny Smith apples
(2 small apples per cup or 1 pound per cup, I used 2 bags of small apples)

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stock pot. Fill pot with hot water. Sterilize 7 1 quart canning jars, 7 lids and 7 rings by placing on rack, jars upright. Bring water to a boil. Boil 10 minutes. Remove with a holder and allow jars to air-dry. Save water for

Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and water in a large saucepan. Place over high heat and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Make sure you cook out all of the corn starch taste.

Tightly pack apples into sterilized jars. Make sure you leave a space at the top of the jar. Slowly pour syrup over apples, covering them completely. This step is a slow process as it takes time for the thick syrup to seep into the packed jars. Gently tap jars on countertop to allow air bubbles to rise. Screw lids on jars.

Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Add more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes (cold packed apples should be done for no less than this).

Remove jars from pot and place cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cook, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid doesn't move up or down at all). Sealed jars can be stored for up to a year.

*Working note: Very tart apples may require a larger amount of sugar and very juicy ones may call for a larger amount of tapioca or cornstarch.

**Apples are not cooked though this process. Final product still needs full cooking to soften apples.

***Add jar's contents to your favorite fresh or frozen 9" pie crust recipe. Bake 425 for 15 minutes. Lower temp to 375 and bake for 35 more minutes.

****To make Foil Apple Cobbler take a sheet of foil and spray with nonstick spray. Place several spoon fulls of apple filling. Add granola. Toss in some carmel for fun. Close and roast for 20-30 minutes.

This post has been linked to:

Black Bean and Corn Salad

2 cups dried or 4 cups reconstituted Black Beans
4 cups Tomatoes (Plum, diced)
1 small Red Onion (diced small)
2 cups Corn (frozen is OK)
1 Jalapeno (seeds removed, finely diced)
1 clove Garlic (finely diced)
1-1/2 teaspoons Cumin
2 teaspoons Hot Sauce
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro
1 Tablespoons fresh Parsley
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Tablespoons Lime Juice

Soak dried beans overnight.  Next day rinse beans and refill pot of water with 2 inches of water above beans.  Simmer slow until beans are soft.

Mix cooled black beans with all ingredients and mix well.  Chill to blend flavors.

I will be sharing this recipe at Gluten Free Wednesdays over at Gluten Free Homemaker's Blog.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of April 26th, 2010

We have all be suffering with allergies this season pretty badly.  My goal is to seek out local honey and incorporate it into each meal some way.  In yogurt, on fresh bread, in marinade.

Home Made Tortilla's
Served with Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese & Sour Cream
Home Made Refried Beans

Marinaded Grilled Steak
Black Bean Salad
Steamed Broccoli
Fresh Baked Bread


Baked Chicken
Home Made Rice-a-Roni
Cole Slaw

Sausage and Bean Stew

Green Beans
Garden Salad with Home Made Ranch

Fresh Rolls
Caesar salad

Have you watched Jamie Oliver's food revolution?  He is challenging America to eat meals that start with fresh whole foods.  Foods that do not have long ingredient labels full of junk.  Ever since my illness that is exactly my mission for my house so I was excited to view his mission.  I strongly felt that the junk we eat was killing us.  I think fresh whole foods are healing in nature and was provided to us by god for that purpose.  That is why i prepare my own fresh ingredient convenience foods.  Why I quick prep and freeze some items like mashed potatoes.  My children do not get offered convenience junk snack foods.  They get offered almonds, fruit, veggies and dairy snacks.  Soda's are not purchased here.  Tea, water, milk and whole sugar free juice only.

Jamie is starting in the schools which I happen to think is a brilliant idea.  You should see the disgusting food they serve my child at school.  He eats breakfast AND lunch there.  He insists on eating breakfast there as it is a social time for him to chat freely with his friends.  Slowly but surely he started to gain weight.  He is up 20 pounds since we moved here and I had no clue what changed.  After a few visits to lunch, I made a quick observation. Our old school district (before this last move) had better food choices and I was very disappointed to see how much the quality had dropped in moving.  I could fully pack for him, I'm considering that option.  He really likes getting the tray like everybody else.  So I sought out to educate my child on "healthy" food options.  He no longer chooses the chocolate milk.  Only 1% white for him.  I actually walked him though the line and pointed out his "good" choices.  He is a kid, I know he is not necessarily going to listen to all of my instructions.  But I am proud to say that he at least still chooses the proper milk.

Did you see Jamie ask the children the names of the various veggies?  I am also proud to boast that my child knew the answers to the vegetable questions he proposed.  He knows beets start off with that red stalk and would have been able to identify those.  He would even get the veggies he hates correct (eggplant, cauliflower).  Does that mean he eats his veggies without issue?  Absolutely NOT!  In fact, I have to SNEAK his cauliflower into his mashed potatoes :-D. I'm working on it.  This year we started our own organic vegetable garden.  We started the seeds ourself and the children had the chance to watch the whole process.  I hope with the children's involvement they will learn to eat their vegetables easier.

The food plan I follow for my own children at home is based on the food pyramid guidelines which includes 2 milks a day, 2 servings of meat, 3 or more veggies, 2 ore more fruits, and 6 grains.  They are offered a Milk, Fruit and Grain for breakfast (for example: Fruit and Yogurt Parfait with Granola). For snack they are offered another fruit or vegetable and grain (Whole grain bread or bagels, Nuts, granola, pretzels, tortilla chips with dip or spread).  Main meals are meat, vegetable, milk and grain.

You should seriously head on over to Jamie's web page and sign his petition. Print

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Make your own Barbie Birthday Cake

My daughter was turning 5 this month.  She never had a "real" birthday party.  You know like the HUGE 1st birthday parties most kids receive.  Our lives were in turmoil from the moment I found out we were pregnant.  Relocations (twice), my illness and a complete and total loss of income for our household for a few months all weighed on our ability to celebrate her life.  This year was the year I was going to finally give her the "big" party she deserved.  

She and I are both Gluten Free.  And I did not want to make it obvious at her party that she needed a "special" cake ~ translation "odd".  My crazy mind I know.  So I set out to figure out how to make her a very special cake.  You know the cake that was in front of her made the cake the guests were going to eat look lesser in comparison.

First I had to tackle making a good cake.  I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow cake mix.  Now I happen to think this cake mix is awful!  Awful was not going to do for my special girls birthday.  But if my failure to make good Gluten Free bread was any indicator, I was in big trouble.  But then I found a recipe that enhanced the boxed mix and made it more palatable.  The blog is called "A Gluten Free Guide" and here is the link to the recipe. I first baked a regular cake to try it out.  You know what, it IS GOOD! Moist, not crumbly, the Jello pudding definitely adds a nice texture.  Sorta smooths over the grittiness I noticed upon first trying BC cake mixes.  I have included the recipe below for your convenience (and mine).  I plan on making this recipe for the devils food mix too using chocolate pudding and maybe sour cream instead of OJ.  

Second, how in the world do you do it anyway?  I found this link with great step by step instruction.

Finally, following the directions I viewed, I baked THREE (3) 8" round cakes and 1 rounded bottom pyrex bowl about 2/3's full of batter.  Now note the instructions on the video say TWO (2) 8" round cakes.  Only 2 cakes for today's super tall barbies and princesses is not enough hight. You will find yourself in a state of panic with not enough cake.  You will need 3 round cakes.

Once cakes are baked and cooled, take a small juice glass and cut a circle out of the middle of all cakes. 

Stack your cakes in this order (round, round, round, circle ~ smaller circumference up) and Crumb coat your cake with frosting. Chill.

Wrap Barbie's legs in Plastic wrap up to her waste (in our case Aurora from Disney Princess line).

Insert Barbie into the cake.

Apply final Frosting and smooth out with cut out strips of paper.  

I used the canned frosting with the piping tips to decorate the waste and bottom of the dress with the star tip.

Enhanced Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix Recipe

1 Box of yellow Cake Mix
1  3.8 ounce box of Jello Pudding (vanilla)
1/3 cup Sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup Oil
3/4 cup Orange Juice
1 T Vanilla Extract

Combine ingredients. 

Pour in equal amounts into greased 8" cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 41 to 46 minutes.

I had to make two boxes for this Barbie Cake.  


Make your own Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

So for Earth day and as a follow up to our camping week end with the cub scouts we decided to make our own Upside Down Tomato Planter.  A friend showed me this link and I decided to give it a try.

The Materials List:

Empty 2 Liter Bottle
Eye Bolt with Washer
Duct Tape
Drill or Dremmel
Tomato Plant
Wax Paper

I prepped the bottles by pre-drilling the holes both on the side for access and plant insert and on the very bottom center just wide tough to place the eye bolt though.  

(for more details see link above)

At our meeting we had the boys insert the eye bolts and explained what the bolt would do (hang the plant)

Next we wrapped the tomato plant with wax paper leaving 3/4's of the root ball exposed.  We explained that the purpose of this was to not damage the leaves while wiggling the plant though the small opening of the soda bottle and to block up the hole a bit while upside down so the dirt don't slowly fall out.

The plant was then carefully inserted in the side hole and wiggled though the bottom bottle opening upside down.  The exposed wax paper was ripped off around the bottle leaving the side in tact.

Next we went outside to the garden and allowed the boys to add the dirt to the planter.  We used Moisture Control soil purchased at our garden center.   This soil has moisture beads that helps soil stay moist in rough conditions.  

Final stop was the duct tape.  The purpose of the tape from what I read is to not expose the plant roots to the sun.  We used Camo tape.  Taping was easier in strips than to attempt one long strip.  It was probably a better idea to do the tape before the plant but we figured being able to see the plant while insert was a better idea.  

Remind boys to be responsible and water plan EVERY DAY until water drips out the bottom.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Convenient Spanish Rice

Have you seen this idea?  I found it in the Kraft Foods Food & Family magazine.  The concept is new to me but I just LOVE it.  I like to make my rice ahead and freeze it.  Once its defrosted.  I can add the various ingredients and go.

2 cups Cooked Rice
1/2 cup Shredded Cheese
1/4 cup Salsa
2 Tablespoons Sour Cream

Defrost frozen rice in Microwave for 3 minutes.
Stir in Shredded Cheese until melted.
Stir in Salsa and Sour Cream until incorporated well

Top with Cilantro! Print

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spinach Casserole

3 Packages of 10 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
24 ounce Cottage Cheese
3 eggs Beaten
4 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour (I'm using Tom Sawyer brand)
2 cups Shredded Cheese

Melt butter.  Blend in flour.
Add beaten eggs and cottage cheese.
Fold in spinach and shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered at 325 degrees in greased dish for 1 hour.

This recipe freezes well and I like to slice portions and freeze for quick lunches. Print

Menu Plan Monday: Week of April 12th, 2010

Spinach Casserole

Grilled Hamburgers, French Fries


Grilled Steak, Mashed Potatoes

Friday: *Camping*
Campfire Hot Dogs

Saturday: *Camping*
B: Cast Iron Skillet Eggs; Potato Foil Packets; Coffee
L: Marinaded Chicken

* Hamburger Foil Packets; Potato Foil Packets
* Sandwich Baggies of crushed Doritos, lettuce, tomato, cheese
* Foil Apple Cobbler (spray foil, add apples, top with granola)

Cast Iron Skillet Eggs; Potato Foil Packets; Coffee
Grilled Pork Loin

Camp Snacks:
Almond Packs
Granola Bars

We are going camping this weekend.  In preparation for this I am going to pre-bake potatoes.  Then chill in the refrigerator.  Once cold I will slice the potatoes, add butter and onion and place them back into a foil pocket.  These could be baked over a fire for easy cooked side dish.  I am also going to bring my cast iron skillet and cooke eggs for breakfast

I will also make 5 one pound portions of taco meat for my freezer stash. Print

Lemon Meringue Pie

Post two in my pursuit to replace the wonderful pies found in our local restaurant.  So OK, this recipe is not exact.  It does not require you to cook the lemon to make a Lemon Curd as traditionally found in Lemon Meringue Pie.  But I'm in in love with this recipe.  It is so super easy to make.  You can easily whip this up afternoon of a dinner date and appear like the best cook ever.  :-).  Thanks Christy at Southern Plate for this wonderful recipe.

1 box of Pamela's GF Lemon Shortbread Cookies (processed to a crumb)

3 - 4 tablespoons melted Butter
   *please, use any pre made crust or cookie to suite your needs*

14 ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk (please look, our market sells two sizes)

1/2 cup Lemon Juice
2 egg yolks

3 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

Combine cookie crumbs with butter in pie plate.  Mix and press all around to form crust.

Mix all filling ingredients with mixer until well blended.  Pour into crust.

Whip egg whites until foamy.  Add sugar.  Continue beating on high speed until soft peaks form.  Soft peaks are formed when you pull the beaters out of the mix and a the resulting peak does not stand straight but rather bends a bit.  

Spread whipped egg mixture on top to cover the filling touching all edges of crust.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until top is golden.  Allow to cool completely and refrigerate a bit before serving.

This recipe does not keep overnight well.  It will form a sugary syrup at the bottom of the crust overnight.  That said, it is still my favorite Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe.

Please note.  I modified the original recipe to suite my Gluten Free lifestyle (crust).  Everything else remained the same.


Strawberry Pie

My favorite restaurant in town is closing.  The only restaurant that made me feel like I lived near civilization.  The restaurant that has THE BEST desserts in town.  Maybe in the south.  I immediately thought to myself, "I must find a way to make these great desserts myself".  I started my search with my favorite Southern Chef's web site.   We are Gluten Free so I tweaked it a bit.  I liked the idea of using jello as it resembles the type of pie this restaurant serves.  I have seen strawberry pies use pureed fresh strawberries to make a jam and I would like to try that eventually.  For now, though, I am going to follow my desire to find a duplicate of the pie from this restaurant.

1 bag of GF Mi-del Pecan Cookies (pureed in food processor)
3 to 4 Tablespoons melted Butter
   ***any cookie or pre-made cookie crust will work***

3/4 cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Strawberry Gelatin Mix
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 cup Water
1 pint Fresh Strawberries (halved and quartered)

Combine cookie crumbs and butter.  Press all around pie plate to cover.
Bake in oven for 7 minutes.
Wash and hull strawberries.  Half and quarter (I like both) and add to pie crust.

  • Combine sugar, gelatin and cornstarch, mix.  Stir to combine.
  • Add water.  Combine well.  Add to saucepan and Cook until thick and clear, over medium heat.
  • Stir constantly.
  • Set aside to cool slightly.  Not too much or it will JELL on you and not cover strawberries underneath.  What Im looking for is for the jell to fill all the empty spaces around each strawberry without cooking them.
  • Pour strawberry jell over fresh strawberries.  Chill in fridge.

Other great Strawberry recipes:

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