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Gadget by The Blog Doctor.
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2009/01/random-rotating-post-gadget-with.html#ixzz1e5vH9P4O

Monday, August 17, 2015

SRC Reveal Day: Cornbread


 Yes, you read that right. I made cornbread for my Secret Recipe Club assignment. You see, I have NEVER, okay, only one other time, have I made a good cornbread from scratch. They are always way too dry, not much flavor and so I always resort back to the Jiffy box mixes. I know, I know!


This month,  I was assigned Angels Homestead. April is a wife, mom of 5 and grandma of 2. She loves homesteading, cooking and sharing these things with others. I love this sentence from her "About Me" page: 



I want to bring back a simpler way of life, where families sit down together to a home cooked meal and talk every day, growing as much of that food as possible with our own hands, and the old-fashioned art of canning that food too. In today's fast-paced world that's not easy, but with a little effort, it IS possible, and so worth it. - See more at: http://angelshomestead.blogspot.com/p/about.html#sthash.Y58olLlQ.dpuf

I love that! Simple is something that is a rarity these days. I enjoyed browsing through her different pages and of course trying to pick out a recipe. I had a few pinned, such has her White Castle Sliders, Southern Buttermilk Biscuits, and Southern Fried Chicken. But I ultimately settled on her Moist Buttermilk cornbread. I was making my Veggie Chili and decided to give it another shot at homemade corn bread. I'm glad I did. It was a winner in my book. I made this in an 8x8 pan, but next time I think I'll do muffins. 

I realized I didn't have cornmeal, but corn flour. I did a quick search to see if they were interchangeable (there was actually alot of confusion out there depending on where people were from as to what corn flour is). In the case of mine, yes, it is interchangeable as it is basically cornmeal that is a very fine, flour texture. It creates a lighter, fluffier, less dense cornbread. Here is an interesting link that explains the difference and how to use. I actually liked the result using the corn flour and may continue using it. 
Moist Buttermilk Cornbread
COURTESY OF ANGELS HOMESTEAD

1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a small 6" cast iron skillet or an 8" regular baking pan (I used an 8" pan). Place in the oven as it preheats.

2. Melt butter and allow to cool slightly. Add eggs and buttermilk and and beat until well blended. Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. Whisk until blended.

3. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until well blended and a few lumps remain. 

4. Carefully remove pan from oven and pour the batter in to the pan.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Enjoy with butter and honey! Thank you again April for a successful homemade cornbread recipe. 



With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recipe: BLT+A+C=Perfection


 Who doesn't love a BLT Sandwich. I remember eating them on soft white bread when I was growing up, and I may or may not have eliminated the tomato. Today I made a kicked up version of the classic BLT. Made on a Potato Hamburger Bun and the addition of sliced avocado and melted cheese just makes it that much better, and yes, I kept the tomato. 

I love recipes that remind me of childhood, and I really love giving those recipes a new and sometimes healthier twist. There's just nothing like it. 

Ingredients:

Thick cut bacon, cooked till crisp, drained on paper towels
Tomato
Iceberg lettuce
Sliced avocado
Sliced Cheese of choice
Mayonnaise
Potato Hamburger buns

Instructions

Place cheese on buns and place under broiler to melt. Spread mayonnaise on each side of bun. Layer remaining ingredients on bun and enjoy thoroughly. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A New Mixer

I have had my Kitchenaid Mixer for over 15 years. It's been a good friend, has never broken down and I've loved it dearly. Over the last few years I started thinking about getting a larger capacity mixer. Bigger batches just didn't work as well in my mixer. A few weeks ago my hubby showed me a mixer in Costco and said he'd like to buy it for me if I wanted it. It was different, looked nothing like my Kitchenaid (and I'm kind of one to get stuck in a rut with the familiar). However, it was larger, I liked many of the features and so decided to give it a try. I think I'm sold! I have made several recipes in it because I wanted to test out a variety of things to make sure I liked how it worked. I think it'll be a good friend. I will pass on my Kitchenaid to my oldest daughter if she doesn't get one for a wedding present.

The Bosch Universal Plus Mixer has a 6 1/2 quart capacity which I love and functions at 800w. It's pretty powerful. Check out the above link for all the specs. My Costco version was quite a bit less money and also came with the shredder/slicer discs. This mixer has several attachments that are available to purchase and I may eventually purchase a few of them. 

My favorite feature other than the larger capacity, is the open top which makes it so easy to add ingredients. However I don't recommend laying a spatula or wooden spoon  across the top because that seems so convenient. It will inevitably fall inside and go flying along with contents of the mixer. I speak from experience, but don't tell my husband. The open top makes adding ingredients easier and with less mess (if you're a messy baker/cook like I am). There is a splash shield and lid which is also great. 

I would say my only qualm is it's a little loud, but not obnoxiously so, and it mixes so quickly I don't feel like it's a feature that would cause me to not own it. 
I'm sure I've said many times how much I LOVE Costco. They are just one of my favorite stores. Here is what came with my kit. 
It has a unique streamline look that took a bit to get used to. I guess it's just more "modern" looking than the Kitchenaid, though it's actually been around for a really long time. 

One of the features I liked was the splash guard and lid. At least that's what I call it. Everything tucks neatly inside. When the lid and guard are used, flour doesn't go flying everywhere...Hallelujah!
I love, love, love the open top of this mixer. Okay, I know I've said that in every paragraph, but I really do!  It makes it so easy to add ingredients (yes, I've said that too, have you gotten the point yet) and everything is well distributed when mixing. It's a little tricky for smaller batches because the bowl is so much bigger and wider, but I think it just takes getting used to. 


Making Peanut Butter Cookies. Now, it could be that because my Kitchen Aid was 15+ years old it was starting to slow down, but I'm pretty impressed with the speed of this mixer. 
Also tried out a coffee cake recipe. And a bread recipe. Today I made my Energy Bites. Because of the wider base, I feel like ingredients are more evenly incorporated, whereas the KitchenAid often had stuff on the bottom that didn't get mixed in properly.

So all in all, I am very satisfied and pleased with this mixer. I kinda miss the look of the KitchenAid, but I am definitely loving this one. I have another bread recipe I'm going to try later this week or next week. We'll see how it turns out.



With Joy UNquenchable,

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Toxic Life


A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Oscar Health Insurance and the way their company concentrates on taking the stress out of healthcare. They got me thinking about writing a post on detoxing our bodies for their detox life project. 

Oscar uses technology with their New York and New Jersey based health insurance to help members stay healthy. They have tools and services on their mobile app that help members easily keep track of their healthcare without added stress. They have a Doctor on Call tool that allows members to speak directly with their doctor, eliminating the need to actually go to the doctors for any general health questions.

I'm going to take a guess that when you hear the words "toxic" and "detox", they conjure up words in your mind like; chemicals, preservatives, poison, skulls and crossbones, cleansing, treatment centers and many more. You might think of the articles you see on facebook or on the news warning of foods to avoid, do this or that cleanse, etc..More and more we are hearing and reading about the importance of avoiding things that are toxic to our bodies, skin, health and changing the way we eat, the way we view food and health and even "detoxing" our bodies on a regular basis. 

I am 100% for all of that. I believe our health is so important, I believe that we need to take care of our bodies and be intentional with what we put in to them. Our own family has been on a journey to healthier eating and living over the last 8-10 years. It hasn't been easy and we aren't perfect but it's a journey and one we plan to continue.  


"Take care of your body, it's the only place you have to live"

Does it seem daunting to make changes? Take baby steps if you need to, just make some changes. They'll begin to add up. Here are some tips that have helped me in this area:

  •  Take time to really learn and become informed about the ingredients in your food. 
  • Try to incorporate one new healthy choice every few weeks or every month, such as a smoothie a day, more salads, walking at least 10 minutes every day, avoiding soda, take a healthy cooking class, join an exercise class or buy a dvd. 
  • Decide to eliminate all foods with certain ingredients, like HCFS and find an acceptable substitute. I started with Ketchup.
  • Try to buy organic or local when possible. I try to incorporate the dirty dozen as well as organic milk and organic or at least grass fed meat when possible. Just do your research.
  • Search the internet for new recipes, blogs, FB pages to follow that will help with your journey to health. Check out the From My Kitchen tab for some great recipes. Like this healthy Quinoa Salad or this Avocado Corn Salad.
  • Find a way to incorporate exercise in to your daily routine. Do you normally take the elevator, take the stairs instead. Park a little further away from the doors. Find a friend to exercise with you. 

 Your physical body isn't the only area that suffers from toxins and is in need of a serious detox from time to time. I believe that our emotional, mental and spiritual health is equally important and is often in need of detoxing. If we neglect these areas, they will ultimately affect our physical health. Weight gain, stress on the heart, premature aging have all been linked not only to our physical health, but to our mental, emotional and spiritual health as well. We are surrounded by "toxic" news, "toxic" people, "toxic" thoughts, "toxic" environments. Have you ever considered this? Stop and think about those areas and how they affect you. It goes without saying that you can't eliminate every "toxic" situation or person from your life, BUT you can make some changes that will improve your own well-being, perspective and health. Maybe you have chaos in your home or workplace. Maybe you realize the friends you surround yourself are not a good influence. Maybe your FB news feed is filled with negativity. Maybe you daily look in the mirror and abuse yourself with your words. Maybe you have allowed your past to define you. Maybe you are holding on to sadness, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness. Maybe you are a chronic "Eeyore", you worry about everything and think the worst. Do you see how these things are counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle? 

I DO NOT like going to the doctors. I want to stay as healthy as possible so that I can continue to enjoy this beautiful life I've been given.
Here are some ideas to begin detoxing your life. These are things I incorporate or that others I know incorporate:


  • Pray/talk to God
  • Worship
  • Listen to music that calms, builds you up, speaks to you.
  • Keep the clutter in your home/office to a minimum, know where things are so you aren't frantically trying to find them. Have a system of organization that works for you.
  • Take a walk to clear your head so you can think clearly.
  • Take a yoga class
  • Read the Bible
  • Read books that encourage you, take you out of your comfort zone and inspire you.
  • Laugh daily.
  • Read quotes. See my Pinterest board of quotes I've saved.
  • Listen to Podcasts. 
  • Go to the Mall (my friend shared this...it made me laugh..retail therapy I guess..lol)
  • Attend a 12 step program
  • Sit and soak in the beauty all around you.
  • Know the friendships that bring you down and place boundaries on those.
  • If you are easily drawn in to other peoples drama, hide those people on FB, surround yourself with those who are positive. 
  • If your job is causing too much stress, be willing to find a new one if you can't do something to fix the current situation. 
  • Check out my 31 Days tab for some encouragement (I only posted for 24ish days)
  • Take pictures...this relaxes me. 
  • Let go of bitterness and anger. 
  • Choose to forgive.
  • Watch funny movies or You Tube videos.
I hope these give you just a few ideas and at least make you consider the importance of detoxing your life. 



With Joy UNquenchable,

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blackberries, Blackberries, Blackberries....oh and Ice Cream

I have picked a lot of blackberries lately. They are in abundance here in the Pacific Northwest. I laugh when I walk in the grocery stores and see the price to purchase them. I cannot fathom spending money on a fruit that grows wild right at our doorsteps. Yes, you have to be careful since many people spray them to get rid of the nuisance, but I find the right places and simply pick them for free! Yesterday I made quite a few jars of freezer jam and Tuesday night I made a yummy Blackberry Crumble with homemade super easy Ice Cream. 

You'll have to excuse the pictures with this post...the original pictures disappeared in to thin air somewhere between the card and the computer...it was weird..so these aren't the best because the crumble was a day old but oh well. You'll get the idea. 

The ice cream is the one I'm sure you've seen floating around the internet...only 3 ingredients and you don't need an ice cream maker. It has been so hot here and there is major road construction on the way home so I knew ice cream would not survive the usually short trip from the store to home and there was NO WAY I was making another trip to town later after the workers were done for the day, so this recipe made sense. It did take awhile to set up so you need to be prepared to give it 5-6 hours, but it is totally worth it. The initial prep work is quick and it is so good!

The Blackberry Crumble recipe came from Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer. I swapped out the blueberry flavored almonds for walnuts. Here's the link for her recipe, though I will post it here as well. If you haven't visited her blog, please do, I am always encouraged, inspired and come away wanting to make the 4 hour drive from my house to hers to visit and be a fly on the wall...lol. She has a recipe for the ice cream I made as well, though I grabbed it from a different site. I rarely use a cookbook anymore, but mostly find my recipes online.


Blackberry Crumble

Crust: 

6 Tbs. Melted Butter
1 c. All purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Berry Mixture:

6 c. fresh blackberries
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

Instructions:

1. In a bowl combine all crust ingredients, mixing with a spoon. It will be "lumpy".

2. Combine ingredients for berry mixture and place in a greased 8x8 pan (or whatever pan you have available). 

3. Sprinkle crumb mixture on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and top starts to brown. 

4. Cool for about 15 minutes. Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream.

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. vanilla
beans from one vanilla pod (optional)
Here's a link to other flavors 

Instructions:

1. In a bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine heavy whipping cream and beat at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

3. Fold in to sweetened condensed milk.

4. Pour into a loaf pan and place in the freezer for 5-6 hours. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

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