Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lunch Box Lunches - Bento


Lunch box lunches...really I like to think of them as lunches with a smile. 


The first week of school I thought don't kids get tired of the same thing over and over? Doesn't opening up their lunch to see the same thing day in and day out get old?  Although Hunter really likes sandwiches, I try to change the idea up. You will still see lots of sandwiches and strawberries, as those two are things he loves to eat. I try and ask him what he would like in his lunch, but he tells me whatever you want mom. Then after school all ask him what do you like best about your lunch today Hunter his response that you made it.  I don't think of a plan ahead of time, I really just walk into the kitchen then see what ideas come to me. Making the lunch takes me around 15 minutes from start to finish.  I did go on Amazon to order a couple lunch box accessories to be able to make it more creative. Now every morning he likes me to show him what his lunch is going to be for the day.




There are so many different lunch box containers out there but I went with the LunchBlox Kids for Flat Lunch. I liked that is was plastic, easy to open, and gave me options on size, plus the whole bottom is an ice pack that the containers snap into. I didn't want to end up with one I need a specially lunch box for and one that was way over priced. I was able to get two of the LunchBlox Kids for Flat Lunch for $16 which was cheaper the some of the other brands out there. The last thing I wanted to do was pay $30 for something that could leak or my child wouldn't like. I would really like to get the LunchBlox Entree Kit because that one gives to options with smaller ice packs. 



 So far I have put peanut butter and ranch in the containers, haven't had any problems with leaking. I have also done a bagel and cream cheese, and cheese and ham on a stick.


 

My sons kindergarden class gets a word for the week, so I try to either use that word or another word useing these cookie letters I found at Trader Joe's


On this day I decided to do half a sandwich and cheese with salmi on sticks. My children love Snack Mix by CHEEZ-IT so I tend to use that a bunch.


I recently discovered Mint Oreos and my kids love mint chip ice cream so these have been a huge hit. The white things are yogurt covered raisins. 



Below are a couple items I ordered off amazon. 











Saturday, September 27, 2014

Homemade Dill Pickles



 My Boston Pickling Cucumbers grew like crazy. I could barely keep up with them. So far I have made about 15 jars of pickles. This recipe is so yummy and easy.  My mom came for a visit, when she left she said her month was watering for these pickles. I mailed her out 2 jars to enjoy. Its hard to just eat one, so plan on going back to the fridge a couple times. 


I got the recipe from www.thekitchn.com, but I changed it up at little. I like my pickles with more garlic and spice. Its really easy to play with this recipe being that it makes 2 jars you can make the original in on jar and your experimental one in the other. 



How to Make Dill Pickles

Makes 2 pint jars

What You Need

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds Kirby or Persian cucumbers I used Boston Pickling Cucumbers
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed I used 5-6 garlic cloves depending on size
2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional   I use 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cider vinegar  I used 1 1/4 cup cider vinegar 
1 cup water I used 1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt or kosher salt
Equipment
Chefs knife
Cutting board
2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids
Large pot, if canning

Instructions

  1. Prepare the jars: If you are planning to can your pickles for long-term storage, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize the jars and their lids. If you are planning to make refrigerator pickles, simply washing the jars and lids is fine.
  2. Prepare the cucumbers: Wash and dry the cucumbers. Trim away the blossom end of the cucumber, which contains enzymes that can lead to limp pickles. Leave the pickles whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins, as preferred.
  3. Add the spices to the jars: Divide the garlic, dill seed, and red pepper flakes (if using) between the pint jars: 2 smashed cloves, 1 teaspoon dill seed, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes per jar.
  4. Pack the pickles into the jars: Pack the pickles into the jars. Trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
  5. Bring the pickling brine to a boil: Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top. You may not use all the brine.
  6. Remove air bubbles: Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
  7. Tighten the lids: Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight. 
  8. Optional — Process the pickles for longer storage: For longer storage, place the jars in a boiling pot of water. When the water comes back to a boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down; if they do not, refrigerate those pickles and eat them first.
  9. Cool and refrigerate: Let the jars cool to room temperature. If you processed the jars, they can be stored on the shelf. If unprocessed, store the pickles in the fridge. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.Canned pickles will keep for at least a year on the shelf and for several weeks in the refrigerator once opened; refrigerator pickles will keep for several weeks.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Concord Grape Jelly

What to do with 25lbs of concord grapes? I thought about doing a syrup, jelly or a pie that I saw on Martha Stewart.  I also searched on Pinterest  for ideas too. I ended going with jam. I found two videos which I like Martha Stewart's  and YouTube


I used 4lb. of concord grapes for each batch of jelly I made.  The first thing I did was wash all the concord grapes. I dumped them in a water bath and rinsed them. 


Once the grapes were washed, I placed them in a bowl. Then I pulled the stems off and placed the grapes in another bowl. You could also place them in a pot. 


 After I mashed them I placed the grapes in a large pot I added 1 cup of water and brought it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling turn to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes, stir every now and then.   



After it simmered for 10 minutes, then I strained with a Jelly Strainer Bag. I used a ladle to put the grapes and liquid through the bag while I had a bowl under. 


I let my drip through for about 6 hours. I used a milk crate and carabiner clip to rig my bag up to drip. Using 4lb. of grapes I got 4 cups of grape juice. 


To pass time Hailey and I went to get pedicures done.


6 hours later I made sure to setup everything I needed before this next part because you need to work quick. I had already sterilized my jars but I put a pot of hot water on the stove and boiled it with my jars in it to warm them up being I was going to place hot liquid in them .  I left them in the hot water boiling until the last minute before I needed them. 


 Pour the 4 cups of grape juice and 5 cups of sugar into a large sauce pan or pot.  




Stir in 5 cups of sugar in and let it boil. The sugar really seemed to vary for every recipe depending on the sweetness you wanted to get. Martha Stewarts recipe use 7 cups but 5 was sweet enough for me.  My husband (sugar conscious and all) was trying to talk me into making him a batch with even less sugar. Once boiling add in your pectin. Let boil for 1 minute. 


During this one minute I pulled my jars out of the hot water and place them on a cookie sheet. 


Now I skimmed the foam off the liquid this step I had to move quick because the jam was already getting thick. 


Using a canning funnel to keep the edges of the jar clean I poured in the liquid. I left about 1/2 inch of room at the top. 


Spooned off the air bubbles off the top on the jars, wiped the edges and put the lids on.


I wanted my jelly to last longer, so I processed it by boiling the sealed jars in water.


I boiled for 10 minutes then pulled them out to cool and set. I let them sit and tried not to move them around.  They make a cricket sound which is the lid popping in when they are cooling. If the lid pops then I know they are processed, which makes the shelf life a year. 


The Concord Grape Jam is so yummy. I really enjoy it on a slice of sourdough bread. 

YOU WILL NEED:

DIRECTIONS:


PREPARE YOUR JUICE (YIELDS ABOUT 4-1/2 CUPS OF GRAPE JUICE)
  1. You will need: 4lbs grapes and 1 cup water
  2. Wash grapes and remove from stem. Crush using a potato masher.
  3. Place crushed grapes in a saucepan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Strain mixture through dampened jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth to extract juice. Let juice drip, undisturbed, for 4 to 6 hours.

    Note: Squeezing jelly bag may cause jelly to be cloudy.

PRE-HEAT YOUR EMPTY JARS

  1. Fill pot water add jars and boil.

MAKE YOUR JELLY

  1. Place juice and sugar in an large sauce pan or pot. Stir in sugar then gradually stir in while bring to a boil. 
  2.  Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, then add your  Ball® brand RealFruit®Classic Pectin and stir. 
  3. Let boil for 1 minute and remove your jars from the hot water.
  4.  Remove the foam from the top the grape jelly liquid.
  5. Fill jars with the grape jelly liquid leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the top. After filling spoon out the air bubbles.
  6.  Wipe the edges and seal your jars. 

PRESERVE YOUR JELLY

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. 
  2. Place jars of jelly in the boiling water and let boil for 10 minutes. Make sure its boiling, do not start the 10 minutes until it is boiling with the jars int he pot. 
  3. Pull jars out and let them cool. You should here a cricket sound when the lid pops down. If the lid pops in then its processed and ready for self life.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Concord Grapes - Gardening



One of the first things I did when moving to Boise was to get my garden up and going. The house already had two garden boxes. The only plant alive was a Concord Grape vine that was laying on its side in one of the boxes.   They weren't maintained at all, they were literally growing in a giant pile. The person before actually had tried to support them to stand up with a tomato cage, which had fallen over.  We had to cut the tomato cage out and figure out how we would support the existing vine.



 Brandon helped me build a new support system for it. We had to do this very careful as we didn't want to hurt the plant. Brandon started spreading the plant out and pounding 1x1 steaks into the ground.  Then we lifted the plant up as much as we could and put another 1x1 steak connecting the two vertical steaks.  We started in the center of the plant and built outward until the entire plant was supported.  I also had to trim some up of the concord grape plant up to thin it up.



The concord grapes started growing like crazy. They were so tiny to start then quickly grew to be a little bigger than a marble.




The concord grapes stayed green until last last day in August. Then all of a sudden they changed colors. The taste also improved from tart to sweet. It was a little weird when you first bite into them. It was sweet like Welches Grape juice when your teeth broke through the skin. The skin separated very easy from the meat on the fruit which was green. When you bite into the green part that wrapped the seed it was more tart, not at all sweet but still yummy. It tripped me out because I was questioning myself if they were ready or not. I read online that around 3 weeks from the time they change colors you want to pick them.  You want them to be a dark purple color, almost black.  But really you pick depending on the taste.


Here is a picture before I harvested the grapes. 


Harvest day for the concord grapes the first day we got 10lbs. I waited a week to harvest the rest of the grapes which was 15lbs. So from one grape plant I got 25lbs. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Painting for Painting and Vino


This was just the beginning of  showing me the love I have for painting. Joy and I deicide to give this a try and wow did I love it. I wasn't really to concerned at first what I was going to do with all the paintings but it was was such a outlet. 


Meggan, Judi and I did the inside of a barrel wave. I did love how Meggan did a tower instead of trees. 



Kaise and I, I  remember being so nervous to do this one. I loved this one and was hoping it would turn out well. 




The Elephant I am so in love with the way this one turned out.  



Grapefruit, Orange and Lemon paint with Kaise. We actual ran into my friend Carrie who was there with her mother and managed to get a seat next to them. 


This one was probably my hardest one I did. I actually messed it up but managed to pull it together. My mess up was most likely caused from drinking to much.  



This was my last one with Carrie and it came out great. The class for this one did not have the best instructor, she was all over the place. I don't think much people knew what to do. I felt bad for the people that went for the first time. Carrie and I decided to try to do it on our own and follow the picture. Thankfully it worked out for us. 


When I was watching a episode of RHOBH, I saw a collage of paintings and knew at that point I would do this with mine. So here they are in our breakfast room. 


I picked up this frame at Hobby Lobby on sale for $13 bucks. I used spray painted it blue then used it to frame my elephant painting.   For a little while I thought about framing them all but haven't yet made up my my mind on them. 

Now to find a place her in Boise to do some painting. 

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