Monday, August 6, 2012

Bruschetta from the Garden

For our last Girl Scout meeting I was in charge of bringing Veggies. 
All of the sweet treats had already been signed up for.
I was planning on bringing some baby carrots and ranch, but I REALLY wanted to find a way to use my fresh garden yields. 

I decided to trick them! 
bwa ha ha ha ha
I made some super fresh bruchetta. 
I was able to make a dent in our tomatoes as well as some basil. 
First things first-washed the ingredients...

next came figuring out the most efficient way to finely dice that many tomatoes....
First, I tried like my mom showed me, but that wasn't making them small enough AND it was taking too long.

So I decided to thinly slice the entire tomato. Then stack the slices and dice from there. This worked perfectly form me. 

there we go...
Time to chiffonade the basil (to avoid bruising the delicate leaves)

First you roll it up.

Then slice...

Then it was GARLIC time! Yay! 
I don't know about you, but I LOVE garlic. I add it to everything savory. If I find a really good recipe and don't see garlic on the ingredients list, I just assume they forgot to put it because garlic is so essential (I figure, the author of said recipe must have been applying the rule that "the garlic is silent:") 

This looks like a fair amount to me....

Next it was time to add a little EVOO (not much)

Then some Balsamic vinegar and a little lemon juice. 
Just a splash of each

add a little salt and pepper, mix well, and let it sit over night. 
I made S&P adjustments the next day. 


One thing I did do the next day was dump a lot of the excess liquid.

I bought some little garlic crustini toasts from Publix (literally they do all the work and it was only like $2)
This disappeared so fast! Not just by the adults, but the kids were tearin it up as well. 

Hope you try it, and like it! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tales from the cupcake crypt

 In an effort to finally get ahead of the curve I decided to make cupcakes for my daughter's Friday class party on Wednesday night. This is because Thursday night I was going to be at school.  I have no idea how this happened, but for the first time in a long time my pantry was barren of any cake mix. Not to fret, I decided to look up any easy peasy cupcake mix from scratch. I found a simple recipe, and decided while I was already making cupcakes from scratch I should go ahead and take it one step further. Yes, I was going to make Red, White & Blue cupcakes!

None of this proved easy, and the cupcakes came out dry and untasty. Long story short, I picked up some mix Thursday night, and in a short amount of time later there I had 24 cupcakes ready for half the kids to only eat the icing off of (because no matter how good the cake is, some kids are only going to eat the icing >.<

I did take progress pictures for the original cupcakes (in case it worked) so that I could write about it here. Little did I know I would be writing about it in a whole different light. 

I had seen on Pinterest where people put their colored cake mix into an icing bag-like for those cute rainbow cakes, etc. Oh my gosh, first I tried a skewer to mix the dye in, then a spoon, 
, but that didn't work either.
Plan B: dump mix back into a bowl, and mix from there to reach desired color
Then I decided to do that with the blue as well: 

I then put them all back into the icing bags (new ones, good thing my husband found these really inexpensive ones on ebay) 

I do see how, once they are the right color, using the bags is really helpful. I recommend it and will be using this technique should I ever re-attempt this type of endeavour. 
Also, my kid was pretty stoked about the cupcakes. haha. I figured at this point the whole thing may be a wash, so I let her help out. Also, my hands and face had been spattered with so much food dye (the red had a clog...go figure) that I was out of 'em.
(pardon the nakey-ness) 

Here goes the red down for the base:
Here goes the white down for the middle: 
and blue on top: 
I cooked them for about twenty minutes, and here's the result: 
I think a little icing on the top may have made their appearance much more presentable because on the inside they looked pretty cool: 
The taste though was just not worth it. They were dry and flavorless. I should mention that because the batter tasted like flour, I added a bit of orange extract (also, not a good idea). 
All I had to show from this adventure was a face spattered with red dye and this: 

Yes, you read that right, Thank Goodness for Cake Mix!
a Buck eighty-five and WORTH IT! 
So at around nine o'clock I started baking cupcakes the kids would actually eat
BUT, karma was not done yet. 
I was at Target the other day and picked up some really cute cupcake liners. There were supposed to be 25 to a pack (for just $1 each)-perfect! Luckily I bought two packs because: 

Yup, the pack ONLY contained 20! So after rechecking EVERY SINGLE cupcake liner twice to make sure they weren't doubled up (and practicing my impression of a pissed off sailor), I opened up the second pack and borrowed 4 liners. 

Ta-da! Then I let them cool for twenty minutes and ate a quick (albeit late) dinner. 
A quick frosting and sprinkling later, they were packed and ready. 
So the moral of the story is NEVER let yourself run out of cake mix! Ever! 
Lesson learned because I didn't just buy this mix, I bought three and a frosting for each as well. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Garden Update

So today is my last full day at my job. I am so excited to start my new one this upcoming Monday! I stayed up last night trying to make from scratch cupcakes for my very first time....not just that but red, white and blue cupcakes from scratch. This did not work out, and I will be posting the results later...

One small downside is my new job will begin thirty minutes earlier than my current one, so in order to play with my garden in the morning, I will have to get up LOTS earlier....which may or may not happen every single day. So, here's some shots I was able to get over the past couple of days:
look a there, a mater buried in the bush! 

The tomatoes seems to be coming along now and there is very little blossom end rot since we returned. 

These heirloom tomatoes are just gorgeous. We haven't had rain in quite sometime around here, and combined with a high bird population it forces us to bring the maters in to finish ripening. Caprice salad here we come, yum! 
We have harvested a fair amount of Tomatillos so far too. Salsa Verde, we're on our way! 

The eggplants have turned into booty kickers too. One plant (pictured) literally has a dozen eggplants on it. 
Just this morning my White Eggplant finally became visible-pics to come...

I had said I would post pics of the serranos and jalepenos, but I didn't say it would be pretty. I took this picture during the heat of the day when the plants look all puny and wore out. Not to worry, these serranos are all nice and healthy and have just the right amount of heat.

The watermelons (sugar babies) are really starting to come along. Its almost panty hose time! woot woot!

The pickles are still sticking to one per plant (even though others have been pollinated), and some of them are looking gnarly as crap. They should be ready to harvest soon.

Finally, the herb bed is doing not that bad for how little sun it gets. I hope to have a real herb bed at the next place we live. Along with an entire raised bed just for strawberries
-clears throat-you know who, I'm talking to you ;)

Thanks to the long weekend we just had, I was finally able to put away the last of the carrots harvested from the winter garden. Since canning is SO involved, and freezing is far less, I opted for freezing them. I boiled them for three minutes and then immediately "shocked" them (threw them into a bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking process). I divided them up into "ready to eat" for our size family servings. The bigger carrots were sliced, and the baby carrots were put together for use in a stew or pot roast.

Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to my little garden guardian. He keeps the garden safe while I'm at work-although he is busted for sleeping on the job more often than not. But I love the little fella.

Hope you enjoyed my little garden update, and as a very wise man once said:
"Life's a garden, dig it!" -Joe Dirt