Pumpkins! Puree!

pumpkin1We may not celebrate Halloween, but I do love pumpkins. I like to decorate the house for fall with them and then use them to make puree. I think fresh pumpkin tastes much better than canned…and it isn’t hard to make. I think once you try making and using fresh puree, it’ll be hard to go back to canned.

First you need a sugar pumpkin…or two. They are the smaller, darker orange pumpkins. You can use the bigger carving pumpkins, but they are more stringy instead of meaty. I’ve used carving pumpkins to make pumpkin bread and it tasted just fine but if you want to make a pie it is better to use a sugar pumpkin. A 4 pound pumpkin will give you about 1 1/2 cups of puree.

Wash your pumpkin, cut the top off and cut your pumpkin in half, then clean the guts and seeds out. Save the seeds as they make a yummy snack too! I choose to bake the pumpkin instead of boiling it. I think it retains more flavor and nutritional value. They contain Vitamin A & B and potassium. Pumpkins are also a source of protein, dietary fiber and Vitamin E.

So bake it cut side down in a 375F oven with about a cup of water for about 1 1/2 hours or until soft. Cool, then scoop the pumpkin from the skin and mash it by hand or use a food processor.

Because pumpkins are 90 percent water, the puree will be watery. You will want to drain it in cheese cloth overnight before you use/store it. It can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days or frozen for up to six months (but I used some that was in longer and it was fine).  I like to freeze mine in one cup portions so that I can easily take out just what I need for a recipe.

There you have it.  Don’t waste the pumpkins, use them!  Pumpkin puree in the freezer will give you yummy pumpkin treats all winter.  Let me know how you use your pumpkins in the comments below.

Luke 10:2 – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

 

 

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Homemade Snack Bars

It is getting colder quick. Today’s high here in Northern Indiana was only 38F/3C. Brrr.  Tomorrows high will be a bit warmer at 45F/7C.

bars1Since I’ve been changing the way I eat to help control my pain, I have worked to eliminate processed sugar. I’m not a sweet snack person but more of a salty snack person. Eliminating processed sugar was a bummer, but not really that hard. Eliminating chip and crackers?  Tough.  But I do like sweets once in a while and when I came across LÄRABARs, they were perfect.

I was looking at them the other day and I thought “Hmmm…dates and nuts. Bet I can make that.” I happen to have dates and cashews…so that’s what I set out to do.

I had no idea what amounts to use, so I winged it.  I tossed a few handfuls of cashews into the food processor and spun them around some.  Then I added pitted dates until I guessed they looked like the right consistency.

bars2Once it looked right, I spread the date and nut mixture onto some plastic. It is a plastic zip freezer bag that I cut open and use when making tortillas or sticky things like date and nut snacks. I shaped it into a rectangle-ish shape and cut it into bars. I guess they were just under a half-inch thick. I ended up with 16.

I had some snack sized zip bags that I thought would work well, but the bars being sticky wouldn’t be easy to get in or out. So I wrapped each piece with wax paper before I put them into the zip bags.  And being frugal…I’ll just wash and reuse the snack bags.  Yes I will!

bars3How cool is that? Of course I had to taste test one, so I actually packaged up 15. I tossed all the snack bags into a gallon zip bag and put that into the refrigerator.

The whole process…including pitting the dates and stopping to sample one of the bars…took maybe an hour.  Wrapping and bagging the bars took the longest.  I don’t know if I saved any money, but it was nice to make my own snack.  I’m hoping to test out some different flavors with other nuts and dried fruit.

Have you tried making a homemade version of your favorite treat?  Leave a comment below and let me know.  If you have a link to a blog post or a recipe, I’d love to check it out!

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Coffee Recipes

coffeecupsun

Enjoying my morning hot coffee with the sun streaming in the window.

I have to say first off, I’m not a fan of iced coffee. Blech. I don’t mind coffee flavor in some things (like my favorite hard to find Coffee Crisp candy bars) but in my mind when coffee is cold, you either heat it up or get a fresh, hot cup. I thought I was just old school.

 

I was going through some cookbooks looking for a certain recipe and as I was flipping through one of my older cookbooks (1977) I came across a few coffee recipes including one for iced coffee. Wow. It was a thing back then too! I thought I’d share the recipes so I could save you from spending your hard earned cash on expensive cold coffee shop coffee.  I’m sure the recipes would work just as well with your favorite dairy free milks too.  Enjoy!

Iced Coffee: For each glass of iced coffee desired, brew coffee using two level tablespoons coffee and ¾ measuring cup (6 fl. oz.) cold water. Use more or less to suit your taste. Pour hot coffee over ice cubes in tall glasses. Serve immediately with cream and sugar.

Coffee Ice Cubes: Pour about 3 cups of brewed coffee into ice cube trays. Freeze until firm, at least 5 hours. If used with cold coffee, makes enough cubes for eight 12-ounce glasses; with hot coffee, enough for five 12-ounce glasses.

Coffee Frosted: Combine two cups of chilled brewed coffee with 1 pint of vanilla, coffee or chocolate flavored ice cream in a bowl and beat until blended and thick. Serve immediately over Coffee Ice Cubes in tall glasses. Makes 3 2/3 cups or 3-4 servings.

So, do you enjoy cold or iced coffee?  How do you like your coffee best?  You can let me know in the comments below or with a link to your blog post.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Recipe: My Granola

OK…I really don’t have a real recipe.

I typically use whatever I have and just mix it together. But I do have a ratio I go by.  I have found that 8 cups dry ingredients to about 1 cup wet ingredients works the best. But you can play around with the ratio and find what works the best for you.

For dry ingredients I usually start with at least 3-4 cups of rolled oats. Don’t use quick or instant oats…they don’t work well for granola. From there you can add dry ingredients like your favorite chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.; favorite seeds like sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, ground flax etc.; coconut (I use unsweetened); wheat germ etc., you could even add cereal like rice krispies if you like. Add more oats if needed.  For wet ingredients I like to use honey, maple syrup and/or molasses with a teaspoon of vanilla (or your could use almond extract), and a generous pinch of salt. You can add a 1/4-1/2 tsp. of your favorite spices like cinnamon (it is easy to over spice, so less is more to start!)  1/4 cup of your one cup of  wet ingredients should include your favorite oil (or you could use butter if you like). Coconut oil is my favorite for granola.

Mix together all your ingredients and bake on a large cookie sheet or other baking pan. I use a big roasting pan. The lower oven temperatures work the best…about 250-300F. Bake about an 1 hour until granola is lightly browned, mixing every 10-15 minutes or so.  Let it sit for a while in the oven to cool.

Once your granola is cooled you can add about 2 cups of your favorite dried fruit like raisins, apples, cranberries, etc. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks…if it lasts that long!

Do you make your own homemade granola?  If you do, I’d love to hear how you make yours.  And if you’re trying it out for the first time, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

Frugal Friday: Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

15-06-26liquidsoap1One of my favorite bar soaps is a goats milk soap I get from a local store.  When they get down to a sliver, instead of throwing them away I’ve been saving in a zip bag.  There are also a few Ivory soap bar slivers in the bag as well.  Now I’m making a very easy and frugal liquid hand soap.  You don’t have to wait until you have a bag of soap slivers saved up, you can buy your favorite bar soap to shred to make the liquid soap.  Castile is one of the more popular soaps to use, however Dove is one of the few bar soaps that doesn’t really work well with this recipe.

15-06-26liquidsoap2The basic recipe I’m using is 8 ounces of bar soap to 1 gallon of water.  I made mine today with 4 ounces of shredded bar soap and 2 quarts of water.  There are lots of recipes out there and the amounts are generally the same.

The instructions are simple.  Bring your water to a boil.  Shred your soap, remove water from heat and add soap.  Stir until all the soap is melted.  Let cool 12-24 hours.  Once the soap is all melted in the water you can add lotion, vitamin E, coconut oil, essential oil…what ever you like.  I added a tbsp. of coconut oil.  I like to wait until the soap mixtu15-06-26liquidsoap3re is cooled some before adding anything like that because I want to preserve all as much of the health benefits of the ingredients as I can.  Some people also like to add glycerine to the mixture (2 tbsp. per gallon.) That’s up to you, it works just fine without it.   Once the soap is completely cooled it should gel.  Just mix it with a whisk or use a blender to loosen it up enough to pour.  Pour into your waiting recycled pump dispensers and the soap is ready to use.  Use a pretty soap dispenser and homemade label and you have a great gift!

Have you tried making your own liqu15-06-26liquidsoap4id soap?  What is your favorite bar soap to use?

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Favorite Finds Friday

Here are a few of the most interesting, fun, practical, weird, frivolous, informative, creative, yummy, etc. finds I have found on the internet this week.  Let me know what you think!

woven-rag-rug-1Woven Rag Rug from Craft Passion

I’ve always been interested in rag rugs, but never had the patience to sit down and try to make one.  Which is funny because I do have the patience to sit and crochet a big afghan.  This project is a great way to recycle those old sheets into something useful other than rags.  It doesn’t look too hard and the finished product is really nice.  I’d love a couple of these for my kitchen!

Hidden-sources-of-BPA-and-why-alternatives-may-be-worseHidden Sources of BPA (And Why You Should Care) from Wellness Mama

A couple years ago Hubby and I made a concerted effort to remove sources of BPA in our home.  We’ve done a lot since then, replacing a lot of plastic with glass and metal.  That was actually the easy part.  There is a lot more BPA (and other junk) in our lives than we realize, like canned goods.  It is really hard to find canned good that don’t use it, it’s almost easier just to avoid buying canned goods when possible.

CreamOfMushroom-800x533Homemade Cream of Something Soup by Once A Month Meals

I find that so many recipes today start with a can of “cream of (fill in the blank) soup”.  Convenient, yes.  For most people.  But not so convenient if you need or want to avoid some of the ingredients they contain (especially dairy for me), if you are concerned about BPA inside the cans, or if you plain just run out.  This recipe for Homemade Cream of Something Soup is actually quite handy to have on hand for everyone and even has instructions for freezing.  I made a tuna casserole with this and it was great!

hot-process-soap-recipe-2Homemade Hot Process Soap Recipe in a Crock Pot by The Prairie Homestead

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making soap.  She mentions a fear of the lye, and that has always been why I hesitated.  I even have the lye, I just haven’t been brave enough to actually try it.  This article has given me a little encouragement in the direction of trying it, and maybe this weekend while the guys are fishing I can muster up enough courage to do it.

That’s all my finds for this week.  More next time! If you come across something you think I might be interested in (or maybe you posted it yourself), leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.

Colossians 3:23 – And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

 

My Biscuit Recipe

I make biscuits quite often.  Hubby loves them and they are really easy and really quick.  This recipe is good as rolled biscuits, drop biscuits, add a little sugar and they are good for shortcakes.  I’ve used them as biscuit topping for casseroles.  I haven’t perfected wheat biscuits yet, but when I do I’ll let you know.

This recipe comes from my grandmother’s cookbook.  I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but I keep coming back to this one.   One thing I want to point out is that I usually use almond milk instead of cows milk (since I can’t have dairy anymore).  I do use lard instead of shortening, but you can use what you like…even butter works.  You’ll want your lard/shortening/butter cold when mixing it into the flour.  And when mixing, be careful not to work the dough too much or you’ll get hockey pucks instead of biscuits.  You want it to just come together.

biscuits1

They are very nice rolled out, but you can just cut them with a pizza cutter too!
biscuits2

They rise up well and come out good and flaky.  You can brush on melted butter if you like.  I like (but I’m not supposed to have dairy…*sigh*).  You can even add some garlic to the butter if you like.  I like that too.
biscuits3

Here the recipe:

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup milk

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Rub shortening in with finger tips. Add milk slowly and mix to a soft dough. Roll out on a slightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter. Bake in quick oven (450F) 10-15 minutes. Yield: 12 biscuits