Monday, October 30, 2017

Freezing Fresh Carrots

In the fall, I take a little time out of my regular schedule to prepare and freeze vegetables to use later in the winter. Today, I am working with carrots. I have grown quite a few in my garden and also purchased some at my local farmer's market. Since we are a family that loves roasted carrots,I try to stock up on the fresh ones and freeze them so I have them on hand whenever needed. It is really a simple process. Today,I am preparing a small batch ,but will prepare many more over the course of the next few weeks.

You will need:

Vegetable peeler
freezer bags
boiling water
Bowl with ice water

   As you can see, this is a dirty bunch of carrots. Cut off a small piece from each end,then peel each carrot.After peeling,wash them,then slice into the desired size.

Nice and clean.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully drop in a bunch of the carrots for one minute. Immediately remove them with a strainer and place in a bowl of ice water(this will halt the cooking process). Remove them from the ice water and place in a colander to drain.

I like to blanch each color separately because the darker ones tend to bleed as you can see here. I now have purple water.I start with the lightest color and end with the darkest.
Once they have drained, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze them for about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and  place them in freezer bags that have been labeled and dated.

As you can see, the carrots retained their vibrant colors.They are now ready to freeze until needed. This is really an easy way to make sure you are eating fresh food all year long. Enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Herb Butter


 It may only be the end of October, but now is a great time to start preparing for the holidays. If you visit local farmer's markets or have a garden of your own, you may have noticed that they are filled with vegetables and beautiful herbs. I like to make and freeze herb butter now to use later on my Thanksgiving turkey as well as for other holiday and winter meals. It is easy to make,and will save you some time,as well as money since the price of herbs tends to increase closer to the holidays. Feel free to use whatever herbs you prefer,or even combine a few of your favorites. I like to use parsley,rosemary,thyme and sage.Sometimes I throw in minced garlic,salt,pepper and/or lemon zest as well. Not only can you use the butter in or on your turkey, it is a great shortcut for your stuffing,mashed potatoes or even a roast chicken.Store the butter in your freezer and thaw in the refrigerator a day before you need it. You can also let it sit on your counter for a few hours before using. Please keep in mind these are approximate can adjust them according to your own taste.

1/2 c. of fresh herbs(parsley,rosemary,thyme,basil,sage,chives,dill)
1 stick of unsalted butter

The first butter I made was rosemary because I have numerous  plants in my garden. It is one of my favorite herbs.

Chop the herbs. Place in a small bowl along with one stick of softened butter. Mix until the herbs are incorporated well throughout the butter.

-Wrap well in plastic or store in ramekins or mini storage containers ,then cover or seal with plastic wrap.

Once I roll the butter in the plastic, I like to use a Sharpie to label each one.
When they are all wrapped, they are ready to freeze. One less thing to worry about come holiday time! Check that off your To-Do list!
   Stop by often as I will be sharing more tips to make your holidays a bit easier! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Carrot Soup

While everyone has pumpkin on the brain ,I am thinking about carrots! The farmer's markets are overflowing with beautiful produce right now....everything from tomatoes to carrots. I purchased a bunch of carrots this past Sunday and had quite a few in my garden, so I decided it was time to make some soup. I made a large pot and then froze it so we will have a quick lunch or dinner option throughout the cooler months. Once the soup cools, it can be stored in mason jars, freezer bags or any other air tight container and frozen.When you need it, pull it out,heat it up and enjoy.

1 large onion,chopped
2 cloves of garlic,chopped
4 lbs. of carrots,chopped (approx 1 inch pieces)
8 c. chicken stock
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 c. sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

     In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until tender,approximately 5-7 minutes.Add carrots,stock and rosemary. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer approximately 45 minutes to one hour.Remove from the heat when carrots are tender and set aside to cool.Add the sour cream and stir well. Puree the soup in a few batches using either a food processor or blender, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup can also be served on tasting vessels as shown in the picture above. It is a delicious addition to any meal or party.

The soup will be thick. You can thin it with a bit more stock when you plan to eat it. Divide the soup into freezer containers,seal well and freeze.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Graduations and Summertime!

Today I am sharing the last of of the graduation and summer cookies.In the picture above, I made ten platters for a high school graduation! Congrats to this young man for all of his achievements!
I also put together 200 cookies for another graduation party.This family was celebrating multiple graduations at the same time. Lots of cookies for a lot of people!
  After all of the graduations were over, the cookie theme turned to birthdays. I made these minecraft cupcakes and a cookies platter to celebrate the eighth birthday of my friend's twin boys.

The last of the celebrations was a dual themed party for a brother and sister. The theme was Mermaids and Sailors. Isn't that such a cute idea? Loved making these.
Everyone enjoyed their treats,and I enjoyed making them. Now I will be taking a little break for the summer and spending time with my family. I will be posting some new summer recipes as well as updates on our garden. We seem to be  doing well so far with all the rain we've had. I also have some new projects in the works that I will be announcing in the very near future. Stay tuned!
  Have a great week!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Springtime Celebrations

 Springtime is always a fun,busy time. Here are a few of the goodies I made for friends for Easter,Communions,Baptisms and  a few birthday parties..

   Here is a special carton of egg cookies.So cute.
I made many.many of these jellybeans.
Quite a few of these were made. The peep cookies are always a fun addition to the platters.
The next platter was for a special little guy who loves art. I was pleased with this one!
 These Disney themed Oreos went all the way to Orlando for Easter.
 This nice assortment of linzer tarts and madelines went to a fun gathering.

 This platter was sent to school with one of my boys for Teacher Appreciation Day.

The next two platters were for Communion celebrations.

I also made many cookie favors for Communion parties.

The favors below were made for a beautiful baby girl's baptism.
This platter of crowns was made to celebrate the 60th birthday of a mom who refers to herself as a princess!

This assortment was made for a Star Wars themed party for a young boy. Not bad for someone who has never watched any of the Star Wars movies. Oh well, not a sci-fi/fantasy fan,what can I say? I will be back tomorrow with the last set of cookie creations for graduations and summer fun!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sweets for the Bride

I 'm back! I have been experiencing many computer related issues and was unable to post anything to the blog. Not sure how I managed to get things to work again,but I did! I wanted to catch up on all the cookies that have been made since February.Lots of pictures to go through,so let's get started.Today will be the bridal edition.
  Over the past few months I've made cookies and assorted treats for a variety of celebrations. Many lovely ladies were celebrating engagements,bridal showers and weddings. Here are some of my favorite creations from those celebrations.
   For this shower ,the bride to be requested chocolate covered strawberries as well as calendar "save the date" cookies.

 The next bride wanted her guests to receieve a glitzy letter "M"
 I really enjoyed making the cupcakes for this beach themed bridal shower.
 This shower was travel-themed,and they requested vintage suitcase cookies.
 The next two brides wanted simple wedding dresses,one with Tiffany inspired colors,the other requested pink details.

 I think this was my favorite.The bride to be and her family love horses and racing, and the wedding will be in Saratoga,hence the wedding dresses and race horses. Fun!
 This bride wanted every guest to have an engagement ring cookie presented in a small ring box for her guests. Cute idea!
Wishing all of the lovely ladies happiness as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
  I will be back tomorrow with more cookie creations! Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cookie Decorating Class

A few weeks ago, I held a cookie decorating class at a local church. The day before the scheduled class,we had a blizzard. It was windy,cold and messy outside. I have to thank all the ladies who braved the slick roads and slush to come and have a fun evening together. They were a fun group of ladies and youngsters,and we all enjoyed our evening. A special thank you to  my friend Mary, who captured the event on film(is that even a thing anymore)?
    Due to the storm, the cute Valentine placemats I  ordered didn't arrive on time, so we used parchment paper instead.

We worked on the basics of cookie decorating, filling a pastry bag,how much pressure to put on the bag while decorating, outlining and flooding cookies.

   Once they felt comfortable, we moved on to adding flowers to the cookies.

The ladies were clearly having a fun evening.

At the end of the night, they showed off their creations, packed them up and took them home to enjoy.

Some of them even wore a little bit of the icing! A fun night for all. Looking forward to some spring classes.