Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Beutiful Little Christmas Review

I just finished reading Creating a Beautiful Christmas by Terri Ahlm. Terri is the blogger behind It's a beautiful little life. This was a fun quick read to get ready for holiday season. It was perfect for me. I love Holidays, therefore I want to do it all. I want to jam pack as much outings, traditions food and gathering together as I can. Some times I need little reminders to take a step back, relax and yes even scale back.
I love how the book was broken up into sections like Décor, Dress, Food, Entertaining, Gift giving, and more. It even helps address some of those awkward family moments like being alone, divorce and death.
Teri give lots of real examples on both sides of the spectrum. Ways to deal with family members asking awkward personal questions. She gives homemade, inexpensive and thought out gift idea's. She shows little details and adds finishing touches we tend to over look to make things more complete and thorough.
My favorite is the entertaining section. She talks about the importance of the right amount of preparation. Not over the top prep, but not winging it either. Also lots of ideas of things we forget to take care of. The best way to plan the meal with lots of yummy recipes. I already have a few picked out I am ready to try out on my family.
A lot of this book is about how Christmas is what you make it. So make the most of it in your way. Stop doing what everyone else expects and do what works for you. It's ok to scale back, or start new traditions. Stop having unrealistic expectations. For example I know my husband will not hang lights on our house. It is not exactly his cup of tea. Instead of arguing and holding that against him I can either learn to live with out or come up with an alternative my self. Maybe some light up thing in the yard, or how about just lights around the door with green and red light bulbs by the garage? I love the realistic views about not setting yourself and your loved one's up for failure.
The last chapter has great tips on how to not forget yourself in the mean time. I love the idea of a comfort kit. (You'll have to read it to know what I'm talking about ;)
If you want a fun, go to book to prep for the holidays, this is the one. It has so much wrapped up into one package. The food, décor, style and "how to deal with your family" self help book in one! Click the picture below with a link to purchase this ebook of your own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Canning Chicken Broth

I have never purchased a can of chicken broth in my life. Why? Simply, because my mom taught me how to make my own. Only it kind of makes itself.
Whenever chicken goes on sale I buy a lot of it. I freeze half of it in 2 to 4 breasts increments. The other half I boil. I boil them till cooked, then I shred and/or dice them. I then freeze the cooked chicken in freezer bags. That way it's ready to go for quick meals.
The broth left over is the chicken stock that I preserve. If it's a little from just doing a few breasts I freeze it, usually in ziplock bags. Sometimes I use leftover plastic containers like sour cream or yogurt containers.
If I have a ton of chicken stock I can it. I pour it into hot quart size jars and seal them. Process the filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts. Most recipes will have you add other things and have you filter the broth, but I don't. I leave it just like that, even with a little floaties.
Then after they cool I label them. This time, as usual, Yesenia wanted to help label them. She asked what it was, when I told her she said, "I don't know how to draw a chicken, so I'll just draw a chicken nugget." She drew dinosaur chicken nuggets.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jam With Frozen Berries

We opened our last jar of homemade jam a few weeks ago, and I knew we needed more ASAP! We love homemade jam both freezer jam or canned. It tastes way better and is cheaper too. Only I couldn't find any good deals on fresh berries, however Smiths had a sale on frozen berries. I decided it was worth the try, only finding a recipe with frozen berries was harder than I thought. So I made my own basing it off the insert in the pectin. It turned out amazing!! My whole family loved it! Here it is, enjoy.

Triple Berry Jam
Start out by filling your water canner half to 3/4 full of water. Then bring it to a simmer.
I also like to put the jars I am about to use in the dishwasher before hand, so they are sterile and hot when it's time to can them.
This is the bag I got at my local Smith's (or Kroger) for around $8.99, if I remember right. It is a 46 oz bag of the triple berry medley. It was blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. First I thawed it a bit. I just let it sit in a bowl in the sink for a few hours. Then I went to mash them. Only the blueberries didn't like getting mashed. I decided to use my magic bullet and pulsed it a bit, cup by cup. I don't have a food processer, but it still worked out very well. Keep in mind jam is suppose to have fruit chunks in it so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Bring the fruit and 1 box of pectin to a full rolling boil. Which means it doesn't stop bubbling even if you are stirring it.  Then add 7 cups of sugar all at once. Make sure this is pre measured in a separate bowl, so you can stir it all in at once. Bring it back to a full rolling boil, and let it boil 1 minute.

 Before I pour it in hot jars I check to see if it's set. I like to take a container out of the freezer and put a little jam on it. If it's not runny to the touch and feels heavy and sticky, like it's set, then it's good to go. If not I give it more time to boil or add another box of pectin. Both times I made this I never had a problem, it set better than my strawberry did.
Then pour them into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rim and threads with a clean wet cloth. Put on the new canning lid and screw the band on tightly. Usually I keep the new lids in a small pan of boiling water to sanitize it before screwing it on, but honestly lately I haven't.
 Then I put them in a water bath of already boiling water for 15 minutes. When I take them out I turn them upside down till they seal. Once they are sealed my kids love to help label them.
This jam came out really well. It make 3 jelly sized jars and 3 1/2 pints. My kids loved it! I also tried a strawberry one with frozen strawberries and it didn't set as well. When it comes out runnier we use it to replace syrup. We spread it on pancakes, waffles or French toast.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Instagram Insta-recap

Since I haven't re-caped in a few weeks here are my favorite Instagram recaps for the past 2 weeks.
Lately at church each week one of my children has some weird mis-match moment. You'll have to check out my actual Instagram to see my sons socks. This one was Yesenia, stripes, florals, and mint green leggings.
We celebrated the 4 year anniversary since my grandma's passing. Can't believe how much our family has grown since then. Can't have a Halloween or fall season with out thinking of her. She loved the kids costumes and all the colors changing!

 Last but not least, my husbands last minute provision. We hate when we get shopping carts or high chairs with broken straps. Luckily she was wearing overalls and dad found a way to strap her in anyway!
Come check out other's Instagrams recaps, or link up your own at Tawny's Tidbits.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dulce De Leche in the Crockpot

Growing up when my mom wanted to make dulce de leche she would put a can of sweetened condensed milk in the pressure cooker. I wanted to make some, but I don't have a pressure cooker. So I decided to try a crock pot recipe. I know some people try this for caramel. If your not picky then your fine, but keep in mind this is not caramel, it's dulce de leche.
What's the difference you ask? Dulce de leche is milk based, it literally translates to sweet milk. Caramel is sugar based. It's cooked sugar and water to a certain precise point. The word caramel is of French origin meaning "burnt sugar."
All I did was put 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in my crock pot on low for 8 hours. Take of the paper around the cans and make sure the cans are submerged and stay submerged through the process. They usually turn the last hour or so. I left one can in approximately 30 minutes longer than the other and it was a little thicker. The cans will look a little rusty too, no worries they will come out fine. It did leave a slight ring in the bottom of my crock pot. I read on someone else's blog that they put a towel under the cans to prevent the rust transfer to the crock pot.
Here are some pictures.

I used it to dip apples. It wasn't as firm as caramel, but it was quicker and still very yummy!