Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food Preserving {Roasted Plum Tomatoes}

I have been in food-mode lately. Well, let's be honest, I am pretty much always in food-mode. 

On week nights, I constantly struggle with my desire to cook a gourmet meal, and my lack of time to adequately do so. I need to complete meals from start to finish in about 1/3 of the time that it currently takes. I need to plan for easier meals during the week, so I can get all of my other crap done timely. Therefore, I am dabbling into thoughtfully preserving more. 

I know, people have been preserving forever and I am just getting started. But I'm only 26, so leave me alone. 

I follow Marisa's blog over at Food in Jars on a regular basis. I have merely tested the waters on canning, but I have gone full force into the other preserving methods she talks about, primarily freezing.

I am freezing everything these days. More importantly, I am trying to freeze foods in the serving sizes that we would actually use on recipes we frequently make:
  • Chopping and freezing our red peppers that we plucked from the garden in little baggies and I can saute them up for our quesadillas/fajitas.
  • Making eggplant cutlets and freezing in baggies, two ways. Large freezer baggies are for dinner sized portions of eggplant parm and smaller bags are for my husband to take to lunch.
  • We eat homemade pizzas probably once a month. I generally don't like sauce on my pizza, but husband does. So instead of letting the sauce go bad in the fridge until its time to make another pizza, I froze it in small tupperware containers (just enough for me to make him another 2 pizzas). 
I love love love tomatoes. We haven't really had an amazing tomato year, but when I saw this recipe for Slow Roasted Tomato Dip. I knew that I had to acquire some romas and make it, STAT.

Of course, before I could start with that recipe, I had to make her Slow Roasted Tomatoes. 

I went to the farmers market last week and got some gorgeous plum/roma tomatoes and followed her recipe to a T.

Here is roasting them after 5 hours at 200F. 

Here are these little gems after 12 hours in the oven. Don't they look amazing???!?!? In Marisa's recipe, she says they are so good that they barely last through the night. She was 100% correct. These little concentrated tomato bites were truly irresistible.

 As she does in her recipe, I put them roasted tomatoes onto a cookie sheet in the over to freeze. After that, I froze them in half-pint jars, in 2 cup increments (according to her recipe for the dip). 

Then I just had to make a batch of her dip for a BBQ we were having. I followed her recipe pretty closely. I did increase the amount of goat cheese in the dip to 1/2 cup, and in retrospect, I should have decreased the amount of garlic I used. I think that the recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic, which I did use. However, my cloves could have been twice the size of hers. 

You know what else would be good? If I had roasted garlic on hand (freshly roasted or frozen). That would have been amazing in this dip. I love the depth of flavor and creaminess that roasted garlic adds.

Using my immersion blender, I busted up the tomatoes, then added the chevre, sour cream, garlic, and basil leaves plucked from the garden.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the finished product. It was devoured before I even got the chance. Trust me, it was amazing. I served it with red pepper strips and pretzels. 

MMMMmmm you know what it would be good with? Homemade sourdough pretzels!! Next time we have those, I will make another batch of this dip. 

Ok now I'm hungry. Hope you enjoyed. Check out my Bucket List and my Finished Projects.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Sweet Charli Bed Set {Wrap Up}

I am so excited to show you the fully completed project that I've been working on for my Goddaughter Charli. 

Excuse this post, as it is going to be a very self-indulgent-glamor-shot-heavy-post.

When my girlfriend Tricia first asked us (Husband and I) to be her daughter's Godparents, we were thrilled. Neither of us has ever been such a thing, and we don't have little ones of our own yet (we're only 26, mind you). As a crafter, the first things that crossed my mind were, "OMG what am I going to make Charli? It needs to be awesome."

I asked Tricia if she has picked out a bed set for Charli for once she is out of the crib. She said no. I said amazinngggg. I planned to make her a Twin Quilt, with a matching Pillowcase, and Pillow Sham.  I wanted her to have a totally completed bed set. 

Now I love quilts. I love everything about them. Except... that it is so difficult to find matching pillowcases! Making Charli a full set for her bed was the perfect solution. 

See all of the My Sweet Charli related posts by typing "Charli" into my search bar. Because I am UBER slow at completing things, there were probably 15 posts in total over the past 8 months.

First, I had some clean up work to do. I don't have a serger, and am not really interested in having ANOTHER piece of machinery around here. But I did want to secure the inside seams of both pillows just so that they don't unravel in the wash. 

I decided to zig-zag stitch around all of the seams. As you can see, it looks a lot more secure. 



I also wanted to totally clean up the quilt. It has been laying around for months now and it really needed to be de-linted. I also wanted to give it the once over for threads, etc. 

Now it's time for some Glamor Shots. I am actually really proud of this project. It turned out exactly as I had planned, with pretty much zero failures. That doesn't happen often. 

I really love how everything came together. I like how the fabrics from the pillow cases come directly from the quilt fabrics. MAN are they soft too!! I was worried that the pillow case wouldn't be as soft because its not 9,000 thread count egyptian cotton. Not to worry, these Tula Pink fabrics are equally luxurious.

I loved this quilt so much. I am going to be sad to see it go, despite the fact that it is going to a good home. I can't decide which prin tis my favorite, they are all so lovely.

I can't remember if I showed you the back. I did the back entirely in the print below. I just love it. The front is definitely girl, with the reds, pinks, purples, etc. But just in case our little Charli or her mama get sick of pink, she has the green side to flip to. 

I quilted this quilt with straight lines. It is by far the easiest to do for me with this sized quilt. I have no idea what the finished dimensions are, but it is a large twin quilt. 

A few final shots of the quilt. I love how the pattern is definitely geometric. Rectangles and straight lines. But then the fabrics are so pretty and girly. I hope Charli likes it. I know her mama will, the colors are so up her alley.

This Twin Bed Set is off to Germany to live with its new family, complete with a little note for Charli ...

This is another project completed and off My Bucket List. Check out the My Finished Projects page for all of the projects I have completed to date. 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Food Preserving {Eggplant Cutlets}

Given that this is the first year we've ever had a real vegetable patch to call our own, this is one of the first times we've had to consider how to preserve our precious crop.

Our most abundant crop to date has been the eggplant. We are growing the Black Beauty variety, and they are big and gorgeous. We could have eaten all of the eggplant, if that was the only thing we planned to eat for the next two weeks. Obviously, that is not something we wanted to do. Remember, I am a rationer after all.
My husband loves Eggplant Parmesan. It is probably his favorite dish ever. I can't say that it is my favorite (I'd much rather have a big juicy ribeye), but I definitely love it. 

We thought that the best way to preserve the amazing eggplant plucked from our garden was to make cutlets and freeze the cutlets after they were cooked/fried. 

We have been following a VERY GOOD America's Test Kitchen recipe for eggplant cutlets. The recipe actually calls for white bread pulsed in a food processor rather than any breadcrumbs at all. It is phenomenal.

It was definitely a cook-two-eat-four type of situation for a while there. It was almost like we had never seen food before.

Needless to say, we were sad to Put These Babies in the Corner of our freezer, but it will make meal planning/weekly cooking easier for me, and we can enjoy the eggplant all fall. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Garden Update {First Eggplants & Peppers}

I thought you'd all enjoy a little garden update. 

We just harvested some of our Black Beauty Eggplant! Naturally, I took some glamor shots.....


Don't they look amazing!!! We are very excited, and have grand plans of drinking lots of wine and making batches of eggplant cutlets to freeze. 

We also harvested some Red Marconi Peppers. I have never had these peppers before, but they are supposed to be sweet. We couldn't find Red Bell Pepper seeds ANYWHERE so there were a suggestion. Not sure what we will do with them yet, Husband suggested that I figure it out soon though. Red Bell Peppers are good in stir fries, quesadillas, and fajitas, right? Maybe I'll just chop them into their appropriate size for the dish and freeze them. 

This one was especially perfect! 

Hope you enjoyed.


Monday, August 6, 2012

My Sweet Charli {Ruffled Euro Sham}

It has been a while since I have been crafting! 

It was actually just our One Year Anniversary of buying our first home! That mini-milestone kind of made me a bit stir crazy, wishing I had gotten a ton more accomplished in the home over the last year. I went on a massive Craig's List furniture shopping spree, and much furniture re-arranging has taken place recently. 

Anyway. Back at the crafting and it feels soooooo good. 

I finally finished the Pillow Sham that I had in mind for the My Sweet Charli series.

I have many posts on that here, here, and here.

I just 'bought' a Bernina Ruffler Foot with some credit I earned at the sewing shop where I bookkeep. So I decided that I wanted to use it in this project, and make a Ruffled Pillow Sham. Never having made a pillow sham in the past, I figured that I would search for a tutorial.

I came across this tutorial from Living With Punks blog. It was a great tutorial and I pretty much followed all of the instructions. I haven't followed her blog before, but Susan did a really great job on this tutorial, and if you check out her blog it looks like there are a bunch of goodies to check out.

As per her instructions, cut and press a very long strip of fabric for the ruffle.

OK then I got to USE the actual RUFFLER! I didn't test out the ruffler before hand, but I did follow several YouTube tutorials while I was using it and it was VERY EASY and VERY AWESOMEEEE!! GET ONE GET ONE GET ONE. 

Here are some more action shots.

Here are pictures of the closure, very simple.

Then I had to sew all of it together, right sides in. I rarely pin because I am far too lazy, I would rather just go/sew slowly. But because this was a first-time ruffling project, I wanted it to be perfect. So I used about 75 pins!

I backstitched around the enclosure and around the corners for added security! 

Finished project, all sewed together!! I was a little nervous for the final review, as if I would have royally screwed something up and I wouldn't figure it out until I flipped the whole pillow right-side-in.

Check out my Finished Projects page for a link to all of the projects I've knocked off my bucket list.