Monday, 30 June 2014

Strawberry Jam

It's been a lovely season for strawberries in the Fraser Valley and I've been making everything I can think of with the strawberries we picked at Krause Berry Farms, today was Strawberry Jam. 

I invited some dear friends, Sue & Amanda to join me in jam making - it's always so much more fun to do things like this with other people! All three of us have twins around a similar age, so they all played wonderfully in the rec room while we worked hard in the kitchen.

Every time I make jam I'm always surprised that it's not as hard as it seems. Sure there's some prep work to be done and you need to have all the tools ready and sanitized, but once I get going it really only takes me 1/2 hour to make a batch. So for anyone else overwhelmed by the idea of making jam - it's really not that hard, just give it a try for delicious jam. The best part is that you know exactly what's in it and it always tastes better homemade!

Strawberries from Krause Berry Farms

Mashed Strawberries

We cooked the Strawberries, lemon juice & Pectin, then added the sugar (I used 1 less cup of sugar) and boiled again.

Poured the jam into jars, put the lids on, and "canned" them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Finished product (always happy to hear those lids popping!)

Who can resist a warm loaf of homemade bread with freshly made jam!


Hope this inspires you to pick some fresh berries or fruit and make your own homemade jam!


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Cajun Hobo Packets (Foil Dinners)

Some of the most tasty camping meals I've had are Hobo Packets or Foil Dinners - all the ingredients deliciously roasted in foil. Not only is it really good, it's easy to make individual servings and simple to clean up, making it a great meal for camping.

I've been trying to make different combinations and this has to be my favourite so far!

Cajun Hobo Packs (per person)

1 Corn on the Cob
3-4 Baby Red Potatoes, halved
Onion Wedge (about 1/4) 
1-2 cloves Garlic
1-2 Sausages (any savory ones you like), cut in 1/2
Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tbsp Butter

Spray one side of a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Add ingredients in the centre and top with seasoning and butter. Fold edges together and seal the packet to keep the steam and juices in. Use a second sheet to wrap tightly over the packet if using open coals. Place on BBQ or coals for 10-20 minutes (depending on the heat of the flame and the size of the packet). Remove from heat. Poke a fork in to let out steam and let the packet sit for 5 minutes before opening. Unwrap and enjoy!

Happy Camping!


Friday, 27 June 2014

Pancake Mix

Pancake mix is a great way to save some time or prepare food for camping or larger gatherings. Lady and Bug love pancakes and I make them at least one day a week, so I've started making a mix in large quantities to speed up the process. It's also a huge help when we go camping, just have to take along a few wet ingredients and we have a quick and delicious breakfast.

Pancake Mix

8 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Baking Powder
2 tsp Salt
3 1/3 cups Powdered Milk

To make Pancakes for 4-6 people (about 16 pancakes):

 2 cups Water
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Cooking Oil
2.5 cups Pancake Mix

In a bowl, mix water, eggs and oil. Add to pancake mix and stir until moistened, but still lumpy. Add additional water to thin batter as necessary.

Heat and grease a griddle or skillet. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot, greased pan and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side. Serve with butter and syrup or berries as desired.

For camping I store my pancake mix in a plastic sealable bag and write the instructions on it.

Now I'm ready for our next camping trip and Saturday morning!


Thursday, 26 June 2014

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Today we went to one of our local U-Pick berry places, Krause Berry Farms in Aldergrove, BC to pick Strawberries. The beautiful berries inspired me to make a strawberry version of an cheesecake recipe that my mom used to make.

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

2 cups Graham Crumbs (crushed graham crackers)
1/2 cup Butter, melted

2 - pkg Cream Cheese
1 cup Icing Sugar
1 pkg Dream Whip
1/4 cup Whipping Cream

5 cups Fresh Strawberries, Sliced and 1 cup mashed
3/4 cup Water
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/8 tsp Salt

In a bowl, Mix the graham crumbs and melted butter. Spread in a greased 9 x 13" pan and let set in the fridge.

Mix cream cheese, icing sugar, dream whip and whipping cream together with a beater until fluffy. Spread very carefully and evenly over the crumb layer. Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before adding the topping.

While the bottom layers are cooling, mash 1 cup of berries. Add mashed berries with water, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil until the sauce becomes translucent. Add remaining fresh sliced berries. Let cool before pouring over cream cheese layer.

Cool whole dessert for at least an hour (overnight is even better) before cutting and serving.



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Campbell's Gold Honey Farm & Meadery

Earlier this spring I made a list of 100+ things to do with kids in my local area and we are slowly working our way through the list. 

Today we tried something new along with a group of friends - we went Campbell's Gold Honey Farm & Meadery in Abbotsford, BC.

What a great experience, so I thought I'd share for others out there who might be curious or just looking for a fun thing to do! 

Judy and Mike from Campbell's Gold, taught us about the different bees in the hive and what each one does. 

They answered the million questions of the mostly preschool aged group and even (mostly) kept the attention of 13 kids under 7 - amazing!

We built hives... 

...Tasted honey...


...visited the hives...

...and stuck our fingers in the honeycomb...


...searched for the queen...

(The queen has a green dot! Can you see it?)

...and did our bee dance with the "queen bee".

Lady and Bug had a great time learning about bees and found out that they don't really like honey, but had fun anyway! 

The $8 entrance fee for each person over 3 yrs seemed a bit pricy, but we each got a little honeybear full of their alfalfa honey (about a $4 value), so overall, not so bad. They do tours for groups of 5 or more if you book ahead. We also got information about a free family fun day in August that I think we might try to check out!

They also have many other honey and bee related products including Mead and other honey wine, which Daddy Ladybug and I are going to have to go back and try! 


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Corn Tortillas

My mom made these lovely tortillas for our taco nights growing up. I loved them and just made them for my family this week instead of my usual flour ones, a nice change and they were a hit!

2 cups Flour
1 cup Cornmeal
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
2 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat together until smooth. Spread thinly in a circle on a hot frying pan (hot pan is important or it will stick badly!). Turn over when the edges start to curl and turns golden brown, but soft.

I find these easier to make than the flour tortillas, so if I'm whipping up a quick taco meal, I make these. They are great with Salsa Chicken Tacos or Salsa Verde Tacos. Make your own Taco Seasoning too!

Happy Taco Tuesday!


Sunday, 22 June 2014

My First Harvest

Just thought I'd share a little garden/yard update for those following along on my gardening journey. 

I worked really hard this spring to create something nice in the backyard from our basic builders "slap some dying turf on top of building waste and call it a yard". I hauled in soil and built a garden box and shed (that's enough work for one spring!). All that hard work is finally paying off...the neighbours are even noticing! I'm dying to put in flower beds, but I think I may have maxed out my creativity and energy for this year.

See My First Garden for the before pictures!

The garden is growing!

Today I harvested my very first bunch of veggies!

Lettuce, radishes, yukon gold potatoes and thai basil. Strawberries are pretty much decimated by slugs (must figure that one out for next year!) and the peas are almost ready!!! Gardening is a pretty exciting activity for a results oriented person like me!

And look, the lawn is looking amazing after all that work.

Now for a nice cold drink and a lawn chair!


Friday, 20 June 2014

Strawberry Sangria


This has probably been a tough week for many of my friends with teachers striking and all the juggling that has had to happen - so here's a little treat for all of you parents who've stressed this week with what to do with your kids & the teachers walking the picket lines out there! (and the rest of us too)

Strawberry Sangria

6 Strawberries, sliced
1 Tbsp Sugar
4 oz Rose Wine
1 oz Peach Liqueur
Lemon Lime or Club Soda

In a wine glass, muddle strawberries and sugar. Add wine, liqueur. Mix well and add ice and soda as desired.

Now put your feet up and enjoy this perfect summer Friday afternoon drink!


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Summer Borscht

The garden is growing and it inspired me to make a traditional Mennonite summer soup, usually called Zumma Borscht or Weed Soup. It looks terrible, but it tastes amazing - smokey, salty, sour & creamy. It is traditionally made with Sorrel, but if you try to find it in the store, you'll probably have a hard time. So unless you happen to grow sorrel in your garden or have a local farmer's market that carries it, you'll have to opt for the more modern greens like chard, beet greens, kale or spinach. I personally like the red of the chard, so that's my pick!

Summer Borscht

1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups smoked farmer sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cup water
1 Tbsp Salt
2 cup cubed potatoes
2 cups greens (Sorrel is traditional, but chard, beet greens, kale, spinach all work great)
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Vinegar
1 cup half & half or light cream
1/2 cup sour cream

Cook onion and sausage in the oil until onion starts to brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add water, salt & potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes then add greens, dill, parsley, bay and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add creams, stir well and serve with more sour cream and fresh dill if desired.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Strawberry Tiramisu

It's strawberry season and time to dig out all those fabulous strawberry recipes! 

I decided to make a Tiramisu with a layer of strawberries and a few adjustments (I'm not a fan of the raw eggs), something I made for Daddy Ladybug for a Valentines Day dessert ages ago when we were dating.

Strawberry Tiramisu

2-3 cups fresh Strawberries
2 cups Mascarpone Cheese
2 cups Whipping Cream
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
3 Tbsp Coffee Liqueur
Ladyfingers (enough for 2 layers in your desired dish), I used 36
3 cups Hot Water
4 tsp Instant Espresso Powder
Cocoa Powder (for garnish)

In a shallow bowl, combine hot water and espresso powder, allow to cool while assembling the other layers. Slice strawberries, leaving a few unsliced for garnish, set aside. In a large bowl, whip cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee liqueur until it forms soft peaks. Add mascarpone and mix well, set aside. 

Now to assemble: Dip Ladyfingers (both sides) in coffee mixture and create a layer on the bottom of your serving dish. Top with 1/2 cheese & cream mixture and spread evenly. Add a layer of sliced strawberries, another layer of dipped Ladyfingers and the remaining layer of cheesy and cream. Dust top with cocoa powder and garnish with strawberries.

Let cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.

Delicious light and fresh dessert, perfect for entertaining or celebrating something special.


Monday, 16 June 2014

Cowboy Cookies

My mom used to make 2 batches of these every week and we would sneak down to the basement freezer and empty the bucket of cookies...usually leaving the empty bucket behind for her to find later. It's a family favourite!

Cowboy Cookies

1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Margarine
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 & 1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 cups Oatmeal
1 cup Chocolate Chips

Cream margarine and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and mix again. Spoon onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 10 minutes. Makes about 48 cookies.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

I'm so tired of buying instant oatmeal and using 2-3 packs per person just to make a meal, plus, I really like to know what's in things I serve. So I'm making my own and thought I'd share for anyone else who's tired of going through an entire box of instant oatmeal in 1 sitting.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes

I seem to always want a baked potato with my steak, but we only have steak when it's nice outside. Unfortunately, I hate heating my house up with the oven to bake them and putting them on the grill for so long seems ridiculous to me, so I have started to make my baked potatoes in the slow cooker. 

I know, not an original idea, but I just discovered this concept! They are perfectly done, without heating up the house and ready to either stuff with delicious goodness for twice baked potatoes or serve with our steaks. A great use for that slow cooker in the summer!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Browned Butter Banana Bars & Frosting

I make at least one batch of banana muffins every week, so this week I decided to try something new, inspired by a recipe I saw on a friend's Facebook post. Why not just make it with browned butter instead of plain old regular butter! Well, now I'm smitten with browned butter, so I decided to try making one of my favourite banana bread recipes as a bar and use brown butter instead. It was so delicious I had to share!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Peach Strawberry Yogurtsicles

Creamy peach yogurt & fresh local strawberries, it doesn't get any better on a warm day.