Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spiced Bing Cherry Jam

 This was my most requested jelly or jam recipe I made last year. I had to make 3 batches to keep up with all the requests. I can't wait for the cherry season so I can make it again. My best piece of advice -- invest in a cherry pitter!

Spiced Bing Cherry Jam

4 c pitted Bing cherries
1 (2 oz.) pkg. powdered pectin
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c almond liquer (amaretto)
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/8 t nutmet
4 1/2 c sugar (this seemed like a lot. I used slightly less than 4 cups)

Place pitted cherries into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Pour chopped cherries into a heavy 8 quart saucepan along with pectin, lemon juice, almond liqueur, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Bring to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar and return to a full boil. Reduce heat to a slow boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace and seal with canning lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer's instructions.

Makes 5-6 half-pints.

Linking to
Eat At Home Cooks

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meal Plan Monday 4/26

Late, but at least I have a menu such as it is!

Monday - DH volunteered to pick up dinner. I had 6 hours of school work to do that night and he was so sweet to make life just a little bit easier for me.

Tuesday - We ate Arby's on the run between a doctor's appointment and Family Science Night at the kids' elementary school - which was a blast by the way!

Wednesday - YEAH we get to eat at home tonight!
Lemon Chicken
Broccoli Casserole
Baked Apples
Sugar Cookie Bars - these look SOOOOO good! I can't wait to try them.

Baked Potato Bar
Salad with homemade ranch dressing - I am trying this recipe at My Homemade Happiness.

BUNCO for me, dh and kids on their own

Saturday - My birthday!!!
Hopefully we will make it to the Japanese steakhouse for dinner.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Layered Italian Spread

I made this to take to my Book Club meeting last night. It is an old favorite I had not made in a while. Those ladies just about licked the plate clean so I thought I would share it with you. I did not get a chance to take a picture, below is the picture from the Kraft Foods website where I originally found the recipe.
Layered Italian Spread
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c Paremesan cheese
1/2 c pesto (homemade is best, but the Classico brand is good, just drain some of the oil)
1/2 c roasted red pepper, chopped
1 c Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Spread cream cheese in bottom of a pie plate or other rimmed baking dish.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with pesto.
Sprinkle roasted red peppers over pesto and top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes or until bubbly and the mozzarella is melted.
Serve with assorted crackers and wait for the compliments and requests for the recipe.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My New Project - The Office....

I can't believe I am showing these pictures. This is our office/craft room and it is a mess. This room gets a great deal of use. The main computer is here. Any lesson planning and grading I do at home is done here. Household paperwork and bills are kept in this roorm. All crafting is done here as well, and we do ALOT of crafting. Boo Boo is the crafting queen and always has a project in the making. Let me also say that Boo Boo is a slob in training. Somewhere along the way in her 6 1/2 years of life I have failed to teach her how to pick up after herself. I try, I really do, but she just doesn't get it. She will be my helper throughout this process, no matter how long it takes. The rest of my house is organized and relatively clutter free, mostly because it all ends up in here. If it doesn't have a place, just put it in the office. My quest for this weekend and probably much of next is to get this place in shape.

View from the door. Please note all the furniture in this room.... More than would fit in most studio apartements.

View from the computer desk. Oh, I have soooo much work to do.

View from the closet - Closet you say, well that is another post entirely.

I will keep you updated with my progress.....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jute Vase

You've seen these all over the internet. They are lovely and oh, so easy to make. I needed a quick gift to go with a gift card to make it more personal and I made this in about 10 minutes in just a few steps.

1. Find a vase you don't need anymore - you know the ones, the ones that come with all those flowers your husband has delivered for every special occasion... or you can visit the thrift store and pick up one those lucky women are giving away....

2. Just wrap the jute around the vase, gluing as you go. I found hot glue to be a pain, leaving all those strings everywhere. I had great success with Beacon's 3 in 1 craft glue.

3. Dig through your ribbon stash and attach a few to the top.

That's it. Everyone loved it. Now, if I can just get my husband to send me more flowers....

Linking up to these great parties
Fireflies and Jellybean's Strut Your Stuff
Tatertot's and Jello's Weekend Wrap Up
Somewhat Simple's Strut Your Stuff Thursday
My Backyard Eden's Make It Yours Day

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meal Plan Monday 4/18

Our meal plan went very well last week. DH has a couple of catering jobs I did not know about when I planned my menus, so I changed a couple of things, but we did eat at home every night, which was my goal.

This week's menu -

Shrimp, Bacon and Basil Pasta - I am using chicken broth instead of wine in this. DH and the kids don't like the taste of anything cooked in wine.
French Bread

Crunchy Garlic Chicken - I wll be using cornflakes instead of Total cereal in this, 'cause that's what I have in the pantry
Green Beans and New Potatoes
Zucchini Cakes

Late Dr's appt - will pick something up on the way home.

Rotisserie Style Crockpot Chicken Breasts - I will take the skin and bones, put them back in the crockpot, cook for a couple of hours and then freeze the broth. It is spicy and makes the BEST couscous!
Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Wraps or Quesadillas
Avocado Dressing
Tortilla Chips

Meatball Subs - frozen meatballs in crockpot with a jar of spaghetti sauce, serve with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on buns

We have lacrosse and a birthday party, so we might just eat out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

This is my go to company meal as it doesn't get much more southern than Shrimp and Grits.  This recipe always gets rave reviews and recipe requests.  There are a million versions of this dish, this just happens to be our very favorite. Hope you enjoy and don't forget to serve this with plenty of sweet tea!

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4
from Southern Living Magazine 2001

2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp
2 t Cajun seasoning
1 t dried Italian seasoning
1 t paprika
1/2 c butter
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 c chicken broth, divided
2 t Worchestershire sauce
1 t hot sauce
2 t all purpose flour
Hot cooked grits (my recipe below)

Combine Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning and paprika; toss together seasoning mixture and shrimp. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add shrimp, 3/4 c broth, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce; cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon, reserving broth mixture in skillet.

Whisk together remaining 1/4 c broth and flour until blended; whisk flour mixture into broth mixture in skillet, and cook, whisking constantly 2 - 3 minutes or unitl thickened. Add shrimp and cook 1 - 2 minutes. Serve immediatly over grits.

The Best Grits
Cook quick cook grits according to package directions, but DO NOT use water. Use 1/2 milk and 1/2 chicken broth. When done, add cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Serve with shrimp.

Meal Plan Monday 4/11

After a week of for Spring Break, I am back to making my menu. With the great weather, we are pulling out some of our favorite warm weather menus.

SundayPasta and Marinara Sauce with Grilled Italian Sausage
Roasted Asparagus, Zucchini and Mushrooms

Shrimp and Grits

Natalie's Beans
Avocado Ranch Dressing
Tortilla Chips

WednesdayHamburger Steaks
Green Beans and Red Potatoes
Zucchini Cakes

ThusdayFrench Dip Sandwiches (Put one chuck roast in the crockpot with 1-2 t yellow mustard and 1/2 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Cook all day and serve on rolls or buns. YUM!)

Friends over for Drinks on the Back Porch after dinner

SaturdayMight eat out with the Lacrosse team after our games. If not, we will certainly grill something.

Freezer Cooking Wrap Up - April

I did not finish my entire list, mostly because the weather has just been too beautiful to stay inside and cook! What I did accomplish has been delicious and we will enjoy eating from it this month.
Finished -
Natalie's Beans

Banana Bread

Squash Casserole

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kentucky Sugar Cookies

To be completed SOON -

chopping up the ham I got on sale

Everything else, can wait until the weekend or not at all, I'm nothing if not flexible!

Spring Break Comes to an End....

Well, it is back to school tomorrow and before I head off to meal plan and make sure we all have something to wear tomorrow I wanted to recap our week. We accomplished several goals on our original list and many, many more things as well. Some things just didn't happen, mostly because something more fun came along!

Cooking Plans -
  • We made Rice Krispy treats and peanut butter cookies
  • We made dinner several nights, but were invited to two GREAT parties so I got off the hook a few nights!
  • I did not finish my Freezer Cooking plans, but will do it slowly over the next week.
  • The Strawberry Jalapeno Jam is on hold until next weekend. I had gardening to do!
Gardening Plans -
  • The broccoli got planted as did some strawberries, but not the ones from Burpee, they still haven't arrived. Neither have the potatoes.
  • The shady tolerant flower seeds are going in the ground right after dinner tonight, if not before.
  • The rosemany is planted and thriving.
Crafting Plans -
  • Pillows for the dog are complete and well loved
  • I made a cover for my Nook with the extra fleece (picture later this week)
  • We made a fantastic arts and craft caddy
  • My daughter made wedding cake pin cushions that are adorable!
  • We made 4 embellished t-shirts (I will be showing these off soon)
  • I made a jute covered vase for a gift (picture coming)
  • We colored and colored and colored!
  • My spring wreath is in progress and I hope to finish it very soon.
  • I learned how to make fabric and crochet yo yos!
  • We also purchased or found materials for at least 5 more projects
  • We added about 50 new craft blogs to our list of favorites!
And our big adventure.... We went to the zoo!!!

It has been a great break and I am really sad to see it end, but only 35 more days of school and then we can do these fun things for 8 weeks!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

I am joining in the Ultimate Blog Party at 5 Minutes for Mom. Thanks for stopping by! To find some great new blogs jump over there and spend afew hours going though all the great links!

I am Jenny. I am married to a great guy and have two fantastic kids. Bubba is almost 11 and loves reading, lacrosse and XBox. Boo Boo is 6 and loves to play outside and craft. We have 2 dogs, an English Bulldog named Rosie and a French Bulldog named Rhett. I teach Human Geography and European History at a local high school and we own a family BBQ restaurant in a large city several miles from where we live. We lead a very simple life, enjoying our family and friends on our back porch.

I have 2 blogs that showcase the two hobbies I love the most - reading and cooking.

Books, Just Books is where I blog about the books I have read and keep up with all the reading challenges I

Love Being in My Southern Kitchen is where I share all my favorite recipes, gardening successes, and any crafting I can fit into my busy day.

Here are a few favorite postings to make you feel welcome!
Spinach Pesto Ravioli

I love all the prizes available during the Block Party at 5 Minutes for Mom. If I am lucky enough to win one (crossing fingers) I would love any of the following - 4, 6, 7, 11, 20, 23, 31, 37, 49, 52, 55, 70, 71, 73, 74, 76, 84, 87, 88, 94, 95, or 107.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Break Craft #3 - Double Layer Cake Pin Cushion

Boo Boo saw these pin cushions at Blessings Overflowing and The DIY Dish,. We had all the necessary materials and she made one in just about 15 minutes. We are off to Hobby Lobby tomorrow to get some color specific felt and make one for Gram.

Looks good enough to eat!
Linked to Somewhat Simple's Strut Your Stuff Thursday.

Spring Break Crafts #2 Arts and Crafts Caddy

It took all of 5 minutes to put together this great craft caddy for Boo Boo. I purchased the tray and a variety of bowls and cups from Target. We simply hot glued them down and filled it with her favorite arts and craft supplies. The tray has a non-slip finish and some of the cups want to pop off. I think I am going to go back and try superglue.

This has been used every single day this week for a zillion different projects. Money and time well spent.

Linked to Somewhat Simple's Strut Your Stuff Thursday.
The Finer Things in Life's Finer Things Friday.
Tatertots and Jello's Weekend Wrap Up.
We are That Family's Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Break Crafts #1

Craft #1
Boo Boo decided she wanted to craft all Spring Break, so we scoured some of my favorite craft blogs - Somewhat Simple, Simply Designing, Fireflies and Jellybeans, and many others. From there we came up with a hundred ideas and I trimmed them down to about 10. One was to make pillows for our dog, Rhett. He loves to sleep with his head on a pillow and was using my decorative family room pillows to do so. While, I love this adorable puppy, I do not love his slobber and hair on my pillows. Using fleece and cotton pearlized thread we created pillow covers for 2 travel pillows that can be taken off and washed.
I think he just might like them!

Spring Break Oh Ten!

This week is Spring Break and we decided not to go anywhere so it is a week full of cooking, gardening, crafting, playing and sleeping over (and a few doctor's appts sprinkled in). We are even planning a trip to the zoo before heading back to school on Monday.

Our cooking plans -
  1. Finish my freezer cooking plans that got derailed by a BEAUTIFUL weekend.
  2. Coconut Cupcakes and Rice Krispy Treats
  3. Jalapeno Strawberry Jam (have you see the price of strawberries? You can't NOT make jam right now)
  4. Dinner each night

Our gardening plans -

  1. Plant shade tolerant cutting flower seeds in our shady bed
  2. Plant broccoli
  3. Plant strawberries and potatoes if they arrive from Burpee this week
  4. Plant rosemary bush

Our crafting plans -

  1. a spring wreath for the door
  2. pillow covers for the dog's pillows (yes, he is spoiled and has his own pillows)
  3. embellish several t-shirts for Boo Boo (ribbon, felt, applique, etc)
  4. maybe some scrapbooking thrown in
  5. lots of coloring and painting for Boo Boo (we LOVE these coloring pages)
Pictures to follow as we accomplish our fun plans!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Kitchen Goal - Enlarge my garden and utilize it.

One of my Kitchen Goals for 2010 was to expand my vegetable garden. My dh helped me accomplish this goal this weekend when he added 3 raised beds to my original 3, effectively more than doubling my garden space. My soil arrives on Saturday so the planting can really begin!

Garden Before Addition -

After Additon -

There are 3 new beds, the farthest one will be my potato bed. I have ordered Kennebec and Red Pontiacs to plant. I am going to use the technique described here to get the most out of my space. The middle new section is reserved for my strawberries. I ordered 25 Day Neutral plants that should produce spring, summer and fall. My hope is to have strawberries this summer. The other new section will be a mix of tomatoes, peppers and squash. Two of the original beds have been planted with peas, lettuce, spinach and onions. The third will hold my herbs and more peppers and tomatoes. We also puchased 5 blueberry bushes. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Meal Plan - 3/29/2010

Our meal plan for this week -

Monday - Chicken Pot Pie (this time I made my own cream of chicken soup, much better!)
Tuesday - Lemon Pepper Salmon, Couscous, Roasted Asparagus, Cheddar Biscuits
Wednesday - Chicken Enchiladas
Thursday - Baked Potato Bar (do my baked potatoes in the crockpot), Fruit Salad
Friday - Plantation Chicken Breasts, Roasted Red and Sweet Potatoes, Collard Greens, Coconut Cupcakes

Freezer Cooking Day - April

Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom are hosting their monthly Freezer Cooking Day. Since our Spring Break begins tomorrow, I am all up for participating. Here is my list -

1. Chop and portion a boneless ham I got on sale this week.
I will use chopped ham for our Baked Potato Nights, in Potato Cheese Soup, Omlets, and

2. Natalie's Beans
I had a friend that attended law school in Texas. She brought this recipe back with her and it
is a family favorite now. Great with all our Mexican dishes.

3. Squash Casserole
A southern standard

4. Pancakes

5. Blueberry Muffins

6. Banana Bread

7. Chocolate Chip and Kentucky Sugar Cookie Dough

8. Smoothie Mixes
I saw this idea at A Slob Comes Clean and I think I will try it out. My son has a protein shake
every morning for breakfast and I think this might just make it easier and quicker to make. I
am going to put individual portions in Ziploc bags and see how it works. Hopefully it will be so
easy, he can make his own shake in the morning....

9. Whole Chicken and Broth
I will cook a whole chicken, shredd the meat and freeze in meal size portions for enchiladas
and chicken pot pie. I will cook the bones in the broth for a couple of hours, then freeze in 2 c