Eat New Round 2

Well my family survived being guinea pigs for a week!  If they are honest, I think they might say they actually enjoyed it!

In my last post, “Eat New Challenge,” I detailed recipes that we were going to try for supper last week, along with providing links to the recipes.

What were the results?  Well, since you asked….

Sunday – The copy cat recipes for KFC Extra Crispy Chicken and Cheddar Bay Biscuits were tasty as was the jalapeno corn dip.

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Sunday is also the day I prepared the Vanilla Bean Cream Pie.  Let me just tell you, this is THE best pie I have tasted in a very, very, very looooonnnnggggg time. Everyone wanted a second piece and was asking for another pie to be made!  So it is definitely a keeper!

Monday – Corndogs – these were good, and I don’t like hotdogs much.  I used white coarse ground cornmeal, instead of the yellow specified in the recipe, because it’s what I had and what I use.  I didn’t want to buy something new for just this single use.  I found the procedure easy and using a glass to batter the hotdogs, was complete genius!

Tuesday – The Crockpot Carnitas were one of my favorites for the week.  Super easy and super tasty.  No complaints in this house at all.  I decided to serve it with some Mexican fried rice.  The recipe was pretty straight forward and was easier than I anticipated.  You can find that recipe here.

Wednesday – The Cuban Beef tied with the Carnitas this week for me, for being the best.  It had a few more steps than I was prepared for, especially when preparing a side dish that needed a little babysitting, but it was amazing.  And, surprisingly, this was my kids’ favorite dish of the week, beating out corndogs!  Can you believe it??  The Avocado fries were not as tasteful as I hoped for.  I believe they have great potential, but I couldn’t put my finger on what ingredient I would want to add to give it a kick.  Some may find them excellent, but for my family, we will probably pass next time.  A good result that did come from making these, is learning the flour, then egg, then panko breading procedure.  I am planning on trying this to create baked onion rings!

Thursday – Tuscan Tortellini Soup.  Delicious, easy to make, and best of all, my kids devoured kale like there was no tomorrow!  Next time this graces my table, it will be accompanied by some crusty garlic bread and tossed salad.

Friday and Saturday are our unpredictable days and so meals are always prepared with our pantry/freezer staples.

One thing I learned in trying new things is it is hard to plan side dishes that compliment the meal (e.g. Thursday).  I think this is something I may develop a better skill for as we continue our “Eat New Challenge.”  I don’t have really picky eaters, but even so, I also learned this past week that it’s even easier to have them try something new when my husband and I are joining in!

Although the week has already begun, I want to share with you what’s for supper….

Sunday:  White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

Monday – White Bean Soup with Bacon

Tuesday – LEFTOVERS 🙂 Easy peasy

Wednesday – Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Thursday – Sweet & Sour Pork Chops

This week’s dessert is Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes!

I’m really looking forward to the soup tonight.  It’s 64 degrees here and breezy, so it’ll be the perfect meal on this fall-like day  Plus it has bacon, it’s hard to go wrong when bacon is involved!

What about you?  Up for trying something new?  Join me in the “Eat New Challenge!”  Comment below with a new recipe you’re trying, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for dropping by ~Kim~

Anyone Want Waffles?

“YES!!!”  was the answer I received to this question, from all three boys, almost in unison.

We had some milder temps here yesterday, accompanied by some freezing rain.  The result?  Our schools were on a two-hour delay.  That means the bus doesn’t pick the kids up until 9!  Just enough time to prepare them a tastier breakfast than the normal cereal, yogurt or oatmeal.

I don’t know about you but I love cooking with buttermilk.  Pancakes, bread, biscuits, and even cake, all taste amazing with buttermilk as an ingredient! 

One thing that I think everyone should have in their recipe stash, is a tasty take on buttermilk waffles.  So to help you with that, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to share my recipe with you.

Buttermilk Waffles

Buttermilk waffles

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick of butter, melted (or 1/2 oil, in a pinch)
  • 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon of packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • optional ingredients – 3/4 tsp vanilla or maple extract, 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Beat eggs, then add the remainder of the ingredients.  Stir until it’s just smooth.  Don’t over do it! 

Pour prepared batter onto a preheated waffle iron.  If you would like to (and who wouldn’t) sprinkle some mini chocolate chips onto the batter before closing the iron, or even some chopped nuts.  Or blueberries….

Blueberry Waffles

Yum!

I have a 6 inch Belgian waffle iron.  A single batch of this recipe makes approximately four for us.  I normally make a double or triple batch.  Then the kids reheat the leftovers in the toaster to have for breakfast throughout the week!

Buttermilk Waffle

If you’ve never make a recipe with buttermilk, I think you should give it a try.  It definitely adds to the flavor and texture of whatever you make.  A great benefit of buttermilk is even after it is opened, it still keeps for a good while.  Just close that lid up tight! 

Are you looking for more tasty sweet breakfast treats?  Check out these past posts:

Bananas for Breakfast

Fancy Banana Bread

Do you have a post you made about a great breakfast treat?  Post a link in the comments!

If you don’t already, follow me by email by entering your email address on the side of the page.  If you’d rather, jump on over and like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for stopping by ~Kim~

 

Goals? Let’s Get Real…

So hopefully you caught last week’s post about what goals I sort of reached last year.  (In case you missed it, check it out here!)

I wasn’t as successful last year as I had hoped.  It seems from reading other’s blogs, this can be common.  It’s a new year, it’s exciting, and goals are set with all good intentions of follow-through, but in the end normal life gets in the way.  I thought I set fairly realistic goals for 2013.  Honestly, they pretty much were, my inner procrastinator, although I made great improvements, still found a way to mess things up.  Also, the goals I set in 2013, will continue.  A lot of them were improvements that needed to be made to my life/family and will be an on-going process.

That being said, on to 2014.  It is 2014, you know?  So let’s break it down…….

HOME

Making things homey – We have lived in our home, since it was built in 2002.  Which, although seems like yesterday, it was actually 12 years ago.  Wow, ok.  So I guess it’s time to decorate?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have bare walls, but there is no method to the madness. You have no idea how haphazard my house feels.  I have ideas. Boy, do I! But starting has always been my problem.  Especially knowing where to start.

So this is my plan.

I intend to concentrate on one room a month.  I am aware that some parts of the project may not get completed within the month, like if I need someone else’s help (ie hubby).  But for the most part, I should be able to arrange, organize, paint, decorate, etc. a room each month until my house is “finished.”  Because both my office and the boys’ bedroom was on my list for last year, they are first on the list, starting off with the office.  If all goes well, then I will be able to share before and after pictures with you, once each room is completed.  I’m really excited about this goal!

SELF

As you may know, I had a sweet baby girl last March.  With my first three kids I did a pretty good job of getting back into some sort of workout routine.  This time, not so much.  Last week was the first week that I worked out consistently since before I was pregnant. ~sigh~  Mainly because I just didn’t make myself do it, and because of my affinity for food.  Oh, and I hate exercise. I shouldn’t say “hate,” but there is an astounding amount of things I’d rather do…watching paint dry, for instance. Of course I know I’d feel better, have more energy, that it’s a healthy choice, but unlike many, I’m not so much worried about my weight, as fitting into my clothes.  Clothes are expensive, exercise is free.  So it’s a lot cheaper to get back in shape and fit into the ones I already have!

No measurements have been taken, I’ll know I succeeded when I can finally put on my favorite pair of jeans and not have to use the jaws of life to get them off.

I’m glad that I’ve already started my journey to a healthier self. My two older boys even asked that I wake them up early on Saturday to exercise with me! (That reminds me that our actions are a very effective way to teach. Practice what you preach!)

Alright, so just because I am only now sharing my goals with you, doesn’t mean I haven’t begun. As I mentioned, the first room up, is the office. I have a picture in my head of what my it will look like. I have enlisted my amazing husband to build shelves on one wall. I have paint to buy and a frame for a vintage print I purchased. It’s going to look totally different, I can’t wait!!

So this year, two goals. Big goals, though. I feel more confident with what I have chosen for this year. Excited too!!
What about you? Did you set any goals for 2014? Do share!

Who I Am: September Edition

Summer is coming to an end.  It’s a bittersweet time of the year.  Summer is filled with so many fun activities, that at times it’s hard to see it go, but where one season ends, another begins.  Soon we will be greeted by brisk fall air and beautiful trees putting on their colorful display.

In our house, the end of the summer usually means canning season.  Which is why I am sharing this hobby with you this month!

Canning was introduced to me by my mother-in-law about 12 years ago.  Only later did I learn that both of my Grandma’s did it!  Which I found very cool!

What is canning you may wonder?  Dictionary.reference.com defines it as, “the act, process, or business of preserving cooked food by sealing in cans or jars.”  (For specific methods and guidelines, go here.)

Before I tell you why I do this, let me tell you why I don’t.  I don’t do it to save money.  At all.  There is far too much time invested in the finished product.

So, if it takes so much time, why do it?  I love it.  But if that isn’t reason enough…..

Canning lets me preserve what we grew in our garden.  What we took care of from seed to harvest, all summer.

My family appreciates it.  Let me tell you how awesome it feels to be able to use this as a reason!  Not only do they like the finished product and have actually told me, but they also like lending a hand in the process!  Anything from breaking beans, cleaning carrots, running apples through the food mill, etc.  I’m thankful that they’re thankful.  It makes your time feel well-spent.  Plus it’s a hobby, so it’s definitely a win-win.

It gives me a deep feeling of connection to the past knowing that generations of women before me did the same thing I was just doing hours ago.  Especially this year, with a bountiful harvest of nearly everything, it reminded me of how fortunate we are.  We, as a family, grow this food, because it is a way we enjoy spending time together.  I can it because I enjoy it.  It’s a hobby.  Could you imagine living, as our ancestors did, when getting through the winter depended on how much food was grown in your family garden?  Knowing in years of draught or extreme weather conditions, that food would have to be rationed to make sure there was enough to put meals on the table until the next year?  The worries I have dull in comparison.  Definitely another reason to be grateful!

I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with many more reasons, but for me, the fact that I enjoy it, is enough.

So what do I can?  Everything from jams and jellies, to salsa, spaghetti sauce, to green beans and carrots.  I did get to try something new this year, and that was canning peaches and nectarines.  Let me just explain that I am NOT a fan of either.  The rest of the family is, though.

With the goal of making my hubby and kiddos a treat, to the market I went.  I came home with a half of a bushel each of peaches and nectarines.

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Ok, so I will give it to the peaches, they are pretty photogenic!  Now to try out some recipes.

I made some Peach Amaretto Jam.  It smells amazing!  And good news?  Tastes just as good!

I also tried my hand at Nectarine Jam.  It’s amazing how it can go from this

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To this

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Tasty and pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also tried canning them both in a very light syrup, which was recommended to preserve texture, otherwise I would have used just water.  I hope they taste as good as they look!

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If you can, I’d love to hear what you’ve done this year!  Just leave a comment please!

Here are past months’ editions, in case you missed out:

Who I Am:  February Edition

Who I Am:  March Edition

Who I Am:  April Edition

Who I Am:  May Edition

Who I Am:  June Edition

Who I Am:  July Edition

Who I Am:  August Edition

There are only a few months left in this series, so if there is anything you’d like to learn about me, please let me know!  I just may use it for an upcoming edition!

Thanks for stopping by!    ~Kim

Let Me Share….

Long time, no post.  With the exception of the Who I Am for August, I have been missing from the blog world!  Don’t think it has been because I have forgotten all of you lovely folks!  It’s just, well, life happened.  We were able to squeeze in a family vacation before school started, I’ve been preserving garden harvest, the kids started school, etc……

Instead of telling you a step by step narrative of what my life has been, I wanted to try something fun, and well, easier 😉  Over the last month or so I have been reminded of a lot and learned some new things that I want to share, so here it goes….in no particular order…..

  1. Raccoons are smart little creatures.  They like the taste of chicken, my chickens to be exact.  I don’t like raccoons.
  2. Watching kids play with a broken 15 foot piece of clothes line, like it’s a jump rope, is funny.
  3. I miss my clothesline.
  4. You can sometimes find dependable people are ones you may least expect.
  5. My kids are awesome.
  6. Some people will let you down.  Some people will let your kids down.  I don’t want to be that person.
  7. Much wisdom can be gained while picking berries with someone 30 years your senior.
  8. Blackberries taste better when you pick them.
  9. Sending your kids off to school after summer break doesn’t get easier.  Ever.
  10. Never leave for a family vacation without extra blankets, especially if 3 boys share one bed.
  11. The days spent canning are well spent, especially when your son explains how much better food tastes if it’s homegrown.
  12. Holding your tongue can be hard sometimes.  Really hard.  But it’s often the best thing to do.
  13. It’s hard not to judge those that judge you.
  14. My youngest son hates school in the morning, but thinks it’s “awesome” by afternoon.  I wonder his feelings on mornings? 😉
  15. My husband does a lot of things to help me.  A lot.  I see it everyday, but I don’t always get the opportunity to thank him (I need to do better).
  16. My husband is amazing
  17. I like how my house looks when it’s decorated for Independence Day, that’s why it still is.
  18. My baby is five months old.  FIVE MONTHS???? When did that happen??!!??
  19. Being patient, especially with those you love, results in a better outcome than the alternative.
  20. Your children notice how you treat others.
  21. Children possess more wisdom than most adults are willing to give them credit for; listen to them, you may learn something.
  22. Kindness is awesome, remembered, and often reciprocated.
  23. Don’t be disappointed in “unanswered” prayers.  The Lord sees all, knows all, and although His answer to your prayer may be different from what you expected, it will be ok.
  24. Putting an end to procrastination is difficult.
  25. I have missed blogging.  Way more than I realized until I sat down to write this post!

There you have it!  I could go on, but 25 seems like a nice number.  It’s funny, sometimes, how one little thing can remind you of something you’ve known all along to be true.  It can open your eyes and remind you to be thankful, kind, understanding, etc.

Do you have any tidbits you’d like to share from your life experiences?  Or stories that go along with what I’ve shared?  I would love to hear them, just post a comment below!

Stop over and follow me on FacebookTwitter, and/or sign up for emails over to the left side of the screen!

Thanks for stopping by!       ~Kim

Nuts for Zucchini Bread

Zucchini again?  Well, yes.  In my area the weather has provided us with a bumper crop of zucchini.  So far, I have shredded and froze 24 pints to use for making bread through the winter.  I have also made 9 pints of zucchini relish!

So as promised, I am here to share with you a recipe for zucchini nut bread.  This is my family’s favorite version of this recipe.  It is moist and has just the right amount of flavor!

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Moist Zucchini Nut Bread

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (or canola)

2 cups shredded raw zucchini, well-drained (seeds removed)

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Hint:  I shred my zucchini in the food processor.  It stays dry and doesn’t need to be drained this way!

Mix the eggs, sugar & oil thoroughly.  Add the zucchini.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add flour to sugar mixture, reserving about a 1/2 of a cup in the bowl.  Mix.  Then stir in the vanilla.  Add the chopped nuts into the reserved flour mixture.  Toss to coat, then add to batter and mix until blended.  Don’t over-mix, as it will cause your bread to fall.

Pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake at 325° for about 50 to 60 minutes.  A toothpick inserted will come out clean when it is done!  Let it cool before slicing.  It can be left plain or topped with your favorite glaze or cream cheese icing!

If you like this recipe and would like to try another similar one, try my Fancy Banana Bread.  If you’re like me and have a plethora of zucchini to deal with, then you might also be interested in my take on Fried Zucchini!

How is your garden harvest looking this year?

Keep up with all my latest recipes and tips.  All you need to do is follow Creating My Niche on FacebookTwitter, or by email (just click “Enter Email” to your left)!

Thanks for stopping by!

Fried Zucchini – Making the Summer-time Treat Easier

Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow. It can be baked, fried, grilled, used in breads, cookies and muffins, it can be pickled, or eaten raw.  All of these uses plus it being so easy to grow, means it’s a must-have in our garden every year!

At my house we enjoy fried zucchini and bread above the rest.  For fried zucchini I used to slice it thin, dip in egg, and breading, then fry until crisp. This was so incredibly time-consuming! Plus, since I’m the one preparing it, I was the last to sit down, which meant I ate cold, soggy, fried zucchini. Good, but not as good as hot and crispy!  I didn’t want to give up my seasonal favorite, so I had to think of something!

My solution produces fried zucchini, all finished cooking at the same time. Crisp, hot, and best of all tasty!!  Here is what I came up with….

Easier Fried Zucchini

1 medium-sized zucchini
2 small eggs
Flour
Corn meal
Salt and pepper
Oil

Cut the zucchini into 1/2 slices, then cut each slice into 4 pie-shaped pieces. Put in a large bowl.

Beat the two eggs with a splash of water and stir into the zucchini, until well coated.

Mix equal parts flour and cornmeal, then add to zucchini and toss to coat. (Start with about 1/4 cup each, as you can always mix up more.)

Fry zucchini (including any bits if breading that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl) in canola (or vegetable oil), seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp and well browned. Enjoy!

What is your favorite way to enjoy zucchini?

Watch for my upcoming post featuring zucchini bread!