Monday, August 25, 2014

5 Simple Steps to Freezing Corn

Where has the summer gone?  I can't believe that I am back to work and Labor Day is just around the corner.  With the close of summer, many people are canning, preserving, and freezing the produce of summer.  Slowly but surely, I am learning different ways to preserve summer's bounty and while it is tons of work, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I am done.  And both my husband and I love being able to eat our own fruits and vegetables all through the winter.  While we don't have a garden, we do get most of our produce from local stands or the farmer's market, so it is usually all locally grown.
The first thing I learned to freeze was corn, as it is a simple process and something both my husband and I really really enjoy.  Corn is a staple at our meals, appearing at least once a week.
Freezing corn is a simple process.  My husband likes to find a roadside stand with the peaches and cream corn or "super" sweet corn, because that is what he likes best and we feel that it retains a great flavor, even after being frozen for months.  Starting with a good sweet corn is important, because then we don't have to add anything at all to our corn, not even butter!  This year we got 5 (baker's) dozen which yielded around 70 cups of corn.

Step 1 Shuck the corn - easy enough.  Try to get off as much of the "hair" as possible.

Step 2 Blanch the corn by boiling it in water for 5 minutes.  Blanching destroys the enzymes in the corn that would cause it to lose its color, taste, and texture.

Step 3 Immediately place corn in ice cold water.  This stops the cooking process

Step 4 Cut the corn off the cob either using a sharp knife or with a mandolin or a corn peeler tool like this one (which is what we use - so easy!).  You want to cut about 2/3 of the kernel off, but don't cut into the cob.  I cut my corn in a cake pan to make it easier and less messy.

Step 5 Measure your corn into Ziploc freezer bags.  For the two of us, I usually put in two cups of corn into a quart Ziploc bag.  Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag.  Then wiggle the corn around so that it lays flat and place in the freezer.  Once it's frozen, then you can stand the corn upright, like a book, which makes for easy storing and grabbing.

I hope you enjoy making your own corn.  I know you'll enjoy the fresh taste of summer in the middle of winter.

If you have any questions, let me know!

Linking up at some of these great parties!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Smore Bars

Ahhh Summertime, how quickly it goes!  A few blinks and my short time off from work goes by in an instant.  We have had a ton of fun this summer, but it's back to work I go.  As you read this, I will be sitting in my in-service meetings.  While I enjoy the fresh start and the excitement of a new school year, I'm not sure I'm ready to transition back to the grind of working everyday.  I sure do love my summers!

This sweet treat today is a great one to bring back memories of summer - camping, hiking, bonfires, and of course, s'mores!  I was lucky enough to be able to go camping three times with my husband this summer (and with both sets of our parents as well, one time each, and one time with my friends).  Of course, every time we go camping, we make s'mores!
I have a coworker who has a major sweet tooth, and I love making treats to bring with me when I have to travel to the office every month.  For a long time, he has been requesting a Hershey cookie with graham crackers.  I hadn't heard of such a thing, but of course, was able to find something on Pinterest!  I made these s'more bars to celebrate the end of summer (or if you happen to read this in the middle of winter, it can be a sweet reminder of summer!).  

S'more Bars
Recipe Adapted from: I Heart Naptime

  • Crust:
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • Dough
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • Topping
    • 1 Hershey bar - break each little bar into pieces
    • 1 Graham cracker - break into pieces
    • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. 
Make the crust by combining the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl using a fork.  You will need about 8 crackers (full sheets) to create the crust.  Once the crust has been made, line a 9x13 pan with foil and press the crust into the pan.  
Next cream the butter and sugar together, then add in eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add in the baking powder and salt, then mix in the flour.  Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.
Once the dough is made, flour your hands and press the dough on top of the crust and flatten it out.
Then add the topping of graham cracker pieces, broken chocolate, and left over mini marshmallows. 
Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Test middle with a tooth pick.  Dough will be soft, but toothpick should come out clean. 
Allow bars to cool completely before cutting.  Then enjoy with ice cream or a tall glass of milk!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#100 Happy Days (vol. 4)

Here's an update on my 100 happy days.  Since I don't have a fancy phone (I have a dumb phone, lol), it's hard for me to always remember to grab a picture everyday, but I do what I can.  
Have a wonderful day and make sure to look for the happy moments in each day!

Day 38 (7/24) - Another great night at Volleyball in the valley.  My serving was spot on again and I served 10 in a row in both the first and the last game!

Day 39 - Woot!  Productive day!  I have happy moments to share today, cause I have two mega happy moments.  1 - I did my first big vinyl project and labeled my Tupperware.  2 - I ran 4 miles!!!  In 40 minutes!!!!  This is a huge deal for me!  Personal best for both distance and length of time being able to run.  

Day 40 - Went to see Legally Blonde the musical at the local theater with my nice neighbor while M was working

Day 41 - Bonfire and popcorn with my husband - love relaxing evenings!

Day 42 - Still loving my flowers :) 

Day 43 Finally Finally Finally got the insurance straightened out for allergy shots! (8+ months in the making!)

Day 44 (7/30) - First corn on the cob for the season - yum!

Day 45 - Very impressed with myself and these cookies!

Day 46 (8/1) - Got to see family and celebrate at the Grooms Dinner

Day 47 - My little brother got married!!!!

Day 48 - I am so honored to be a godmother for the first time - sweet little Max!

Day 49 - I have a car... with a working air conditioning!

Day 50 (Halfway to 100!) (8/5)  Our power is back on (after being out since 4 pm yesterday!) And since I had to clear out the fridge, it got a good cleaning.

Day 51 - A daytrip to Noah's Ark with family topped off by some amazing pizza at MooseJaw.  So Thankful the weather stayed nice and I didn't get too cold!

Day 52 - Enjoyed playing volleyball with a super big group!

Day 53 - Saw the Beach Boys in concert!

Day 54 - Matt's cousin got Married!

Day 55 - My parents joined us in Lanesboro for biking

Day 56 - More biking - we got in 37.5 miles and stayed dry!

Day 57 - Rollerblading to round out our active camping trip

Day 58 (8/13) - Enjoyed the sunshine of my lunch walk on my first day back to work.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Crockpot honey chicken and Quinoa

Whew!  My brother is married and I become a godmother - what a weekend!  So much fun and so much celebrating!  It was a wonderful time and everything went smoothly - more on that later this week :)
After such a long and busy weekend, the last thing I want to do (especially in a warm kitchen) is spend hours cooking or have the oven on heating up the house.  Today, I'm all about relaxing (and tending my dancing feet, lol).  Enter a crock-pot dinner.  I love love love the simplicity of crock-pot dinners.  They come together in minutes, cook during the day (but don't heat up the house!), and are ready whenever my husband gets home from work.  Adding in the new super-food of Quinoa is a bonus too :)

PS - this was my first time trying quinoa.  It's pretty plain tasting and has a bit of a nutty flavor, but a different kind of an aftertaste.  I think a smaller potion than pictured here, or with some kind of sauce would be a bit better (but that might defeat the healthy benefits of the quinoa.  Have you cooked with quinoa before?  What's your favorite recipe?  Any suggestions for me?

Honey Chicken with Quinoa
Recipe adapted from: I <3 Naptime

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (ok if frozen)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or rice

Put chicken breast in the bottom of the crock-pot.  Combine the soy sauce, honey, olive oil, onion powder, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir until well combined.  Pour mixture over chicken.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Chicken should easily fall apart.
Cook quinoa in boiling water or cook rice according to directions.
When chicken is done, serve chicken over quinoa

<--- click the magic button for nutrition info and a printer friendly version!

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