Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Easy Champagne Cupcake

I found this recipe on Betty Crocker's web site and it turned out amazing. Best part it is really simple....since I needed to make several different kinds of cupcakes for an upcoming bridal shower. I used a 4.99 bottle of strawberry champagne. I bet it would also taste amazing as a cake. Something to try for next week :)

1 box of white cake mix
3 egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup champagne

Mix together cake mix and champagne. Then use a mixer to mix in the veggie oil and egg whites. Put in lined cupcake pan and bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes (until done).

Frost however you'd like. I haven't gotten to this part yet :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I am not a big one on following recipes to a T. Usually I do my research, find a few that sound good and combine. I did that this week with chicken pot pie. It was good. But now I can't wait to make it again and tweak it so that it is fabulous!

High Life Lounge has the best chicken pot pie and that is what I was trying to recreate. I sauted my chicken in chicken broth with celery and onion. I added basil, parsley and Italian spices while it cooked. I used a bag of mixed veggies (the kind that has the lima beans). I mixed that with a can of cream of chicken soup. Once the chicken was done, I added about a 1/4 cup milk and 2 T of flour, mixed it with the veggie and soup and put into a deep baking dish. Then I took buttermilk biscuits (the kind from a tube), mashed them all togehter and rolled out a crust, and put it on top of the chicke and veggies. I baked it at 400 until it looked done.

The final outcome was good, but a little runny. Next time I will experiment with making a roux from milk and the chicken broth to make it thicker. I debated about putting in another can of soup next time, but my goal is to always try to keep it low calorie. Skim milk with some flour (and more spices) sounds way healthier!

Monday, July 18, 2011


One of my favorite stores is AllSpice, the new(er) spice store in the East Village (it is located where the Village Bean used to be). I always spend way too much money there but the spices are good/strong and reasonably priced. I also like the fact they have rubs and different combos of spice blends. I bought the blackened spice the last time and used it last week to season grilled chicken. I then added it to a salad. It was fabulous. Our other favorite blend is bourbon pepper. It is great on steak!

Make sure to check them out the next time you are in the East Village:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Trip to the Market

One of my new favorite places to go is Graziano's Market, which is an institution on the south. That I didn't know exsisted until recently. So yesterday over lunch my co-worker Denise and I decided to make the 1.3 mile trek across the river to do some shopping. Denise had never been there before.

We had a lovely time at Graziano's. If you have never been there, I would highly recommend. It's Italian and they only carry Italian food but they have a great selection. And in many cases, the prices are much better than in the chain grocery stores. The sausage is also fabulous. They have several different kinds. I have now tasted them all; I don't have a favorite as all of them are wonderful. They also taste great smoked!

Anyways, after we were done shopping and browsing we walked outside to find it dark and overcast. Several seconds later we feel raindrops and then, bam, downpour. So we run across the street to the gas station and call into work for a coworker to come get us. She said once it let up, she'd drive over. So while we were waiting, we watch this gray sedan pull up. Out steps my boyfriend's dad and his sister.

Talk about a small once the rain let up, we ran back across the street and hitched a ride back to work with him. (Thanks Dick for the ride!)

Next time we decide to walk to the market (which I know we will), we better check the rain forecast first.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Garden Update

Well, the hail a few weeks ago took a toll on a few garden items... and the rain did some more damage as roots started to rot. The hot dry weather the last few weeks has been helpful (except for the peas) in making the garden grow. Though, the downfall to that is I have to water the plants everyday. We have gotten some peas already and today I picked our first two green beans. The green beans took the hail the hardest, stripping the plant of its leaves and bending its stems over. Slowly, they have recovered and I feel I will get some this year, but it will just be a little later than normal. The hail also killed the spinach and the rain keeps rotting my cucumbers so the verdict is still out on that one. The onions aren't fairing so well either. But the squash and zucchini have a ton of flowers on them and I've seen a few green tomatoes popping up. And the peppers and popcorn are growing daily.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cupcake Decorating 101

So I've been fascinated with cupcakes and cupcake decoration. I've been studying different cupcake recipes, printing out ones I want. I even made Irish Stout Chocolate cupcakes for Father's Day.

I went to Hobby Lobby last night and got some cupcake decorating tools. I practiced tonight (using boxed cake mix and a container of frosting). For a first attempt it went quite well. It just amazed me how much more frosting is used compared to spreading it on with a knife.

I am hosting a bridal shower in August and I plan on making a varietyof cupcakes (all from scratch) and decorating them in the bride's colors.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wow. Almost 6,000 calories

Passed down from generation to generation family recipes are not healthy for you!!!! Jeremy had a food day at work this week and it was a picnic-themed food day so I told I would make macaroni salad for him. I found the recipe in the Manning quasicentennial cookbook and there it was. So we went to the store for ingredients.

I am usually a pretty healthy shopper, and I always buy the low-calorie/low-fat/free-free when available… But I know these lower versions can skew a recipe and since I had never done substitutions before I went with real mayo (Jeremy was almost out of his). I had never looked at the back of the jar of real mayo before (I always ALWAYS buy light). 100 calories for 1 TBSP. The recipe called for two cups!!!! According to the Internet the sweetened condensed milk (14 oz can) contains 1300 calories.

One bite of this macaroni salad is probably my daily calorie limit for the meal. BUT it is soo worth it J Next time though, when it is just for family, I plan on using the lower fat/calorie ingredients to see if it changes the taste. Because if it doesn’t, I will at least try to make it a bit healthier!

A great tool to figure out calories is You enter in all the ingredients and figure out the nutrition content. This recipe feeds a lot…as it should since it is almost 6,000 calories. Anyways, for those who are interested, here is the recipe:

1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 cups mayo
1 lb cooked macaroni noodles
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced peppers

Cook macaroni according to package (make sure to not overcook). Once it is finished cooking, remove from heat and drain with cold water. Combine sugar, mayo, vinegar, sweetened condensed milk in a separate bowl. Whisk. Put veggies into pasta. Once pasta is cool to touch, mix in sugar/mayo/vinegar/sweetened condensed milk mixture and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight. (It does not taste good until the next day!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Canning Bing Cherries

(my little kitchen helper... canning at six years old already)

As a child one of my favorite canned items were my grandma's bing cherries. I still envision their sweetness so I decided to try my hand at canning them. I was a little worried after the plums didn't go quite as well as I hoped.

I bought approximately 10 pounds of bing cherries from Fareway and I pitted them all by hand.

Since my grandma is no longer here, I was not able to ask her what she did as I wanted my canned bing cherries to taste just like hers. I decided on raw packing it, which means I put the cherries in the jar and poured the syrup on and canned them in a water bath.

I went with this method since cooking the fruit prior would probably just turn it to mush (like with the plums). So I made a light syrup and packed the cherries into pint jars. I made 12 pint jars and it took 2 batches and made the kitchen steamier than normal all morning.

The jars have sat for over a week now so my goal is to open one of them at our BBQ tonight to try the sweet deliciousness! I'll post next week on how that went.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Picking Strawberries

This was not the year for strawberries. Last week Maddie, Abby and I headed out to Adel to Berry Fresh Farms to pick fresh strawberries. We had fun and the girls got to eat lots of fresh strawberries while we were out there. I bought about 9 pounds of fruit. My goal was to make fresh strawberry pie and freeze some for pies later.

We picked on Wednesday and by the weekend most of the strawberries were starting to go bad...growing mold or getting squishy. I think it was just a bad year for strawberries unfortunately. Too much rain!!!! I was able to make some fresh syrup to pour over lemon cake and Irish stout chocolate cupcakes for father's day. And I froze some too but I don't think the berries will be the quality I need for pies.

Berry Fresh Farms was amazing and I would highly recommend them. The ladies that helped us were super nice and helpful. Their Web site is They also have raspberries, which will be ready sometime in July. I am hoping we can make a trip back to pick some fresh raspberries. (and I hope the rain doesn't hinder this fruit crop this year!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Irish Stout Cupcakes

In honor of Father's Day I made Irish Stout cupcakes with the Irish stout beer my boyfriend had made a few months back. I googled a recipe (he had gotten the idea from a local cupcake shop) and found one that looked delicious. They turned out delicious even though I forgot the sour cream. (oops). I'm not a big chocolate fan but any beer fan likes the idea of eating beer in their dessert.

Funny enough, I didn't even save the recipe to make again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Canning Plums

I canned plums tonight and it was a learning experience (to say the least). I had never canned plums before nor do I remember mom or grandma canning them. So I did my research and used one of the canning books I have.

What did I learn? You should peel plums before canning them. I also learned that you should only can very firm plums as a little mushiness turns into a lot mushiness when you boil them.

I was a little disappointed that I only ended up with 3 pints.... I didn't want to do a huge batch as I wasn't sure how it would work. But I was hoping for 5 or 6 jars. Not sure if I'll make more but I did learn a few things for the future.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hail Damage

Well, as crazy Iowa weather goes, we had hail the last few days. I was worried about my car and didn't even give thought to what it did to my garden. So last night Abby and I went to check on it. I stood there stunned...I think I muttered a few 'oh no's' etc. It hadn't even crossed my mind that there might be hail damage to the garden. Abby just looked at me and gave me a great big hug around the waist and said, "It'll be OK Jenny."

And I beleive her, except for maybe my one cucumber plant and a few beans...I think everything else will spring back eventually. Luckily enough, we did not get the hail that others got last night (this hail was from Thursday morning).

I've included a picture of the hail from my front door and a picture of my flattened carrotts. Hopefully it dries up soon enough so that I can get back into the garden to really assess the damage.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fresh Rhubarb

My mom has the most amazing rhubarb patch. It's been in her garden ever since I was a small child...and it was probably there long before me! This year was a good year for rhubarb (it got hailed on last year so the crop was small). I've been blessed with stock after stock of rhubarb. This year I am freezing most of it. It freezes well so that this winter, especially for the holidays, I can make pies with the rhubarb.

My coworker gave me a great rhubarb bread recipe. I can seriously eat a loaf in a whole sitting, it is that yummy. The recipe is below. I also found a recip online for strawberry rhubarb muffins. They turned out disappointing. I would like to find a recipe for muffins yet. If I had some free time (which I don't right now) I would expirement with recipes but for now, for the lack of hours in the day, I'll stick with the tried and true ones! Or the new ones I get to try first, before I bake them.

Rhubarb Bread
1.5 cups brown sugar
1 tsp soda
1 egg
2/3 cup oil
2 cup raw rhubarb
½ cup nuts
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2.5 cup flour
1 T soft butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon

Mix together brown sugar, egg, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Sift together and add flour, salt and soda. Fold in rhubarb and nuts. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Top with mixture of sugar, soft butter and cinnamon. Bake 350 for 60 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scrambled Egg Muffins

I love breakfast for dinner so that is what I had last night. I tried a new recipe last night: scrambled egg muffins. I had been wanting to try to make this for a while now as I had seen pictures posted online somewhere. I didn't follow a recipe but made it up as I went, using what I had in the hosue.

Scrambled Egg Muffins
3 eggs
3 egg whites
1/4 cup water (I was out of milk)
1/4 cup cheese, divided
1/2 can (small one) mushrooms
3 T salsa
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup chopped green peppers
1/4 cup ham

Preheat oven to 300. Sautee the onion, peppers and mushrooms. In a mixing bowl add eggs and water. Mix. Add salsa, onion, peppers, mushroom, ham and half the cheese. Mix.

My muffin pan held eight though I feel the mixture would have worked to make six. I lined it with cupcake paper. I poured the mixture evenly between. The mixture doesn't rise so you can fill it to the top.

Bake for about 15 minutes. When the muffins are no longer soggy, sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly on top. Bake for about another 5-7 minutes or until the muffins are firm.

I did notice that as the cupcake paper cooled, it bcame soggy so once they were cooled, I removed the paper, put them in a baggy and popped them in the freezer for future use. Next time I will use aluminum cupcake liners. And I can't wait to try other meats (bacon, sausage) and veggies.

Best part is, each muffin is only 62 calories!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brand New Blog

I've blogged in the past and enjoyed it. I read other people's blogs, and I miss having my own. So I've decided to start a blog again and this time my blog has a

I am into eating healthly which includes a diet of fresh food. We started a garden this year to raise our own produce, and I've taken up canning, and plan to preserve much of the food we grow this summer.

So my blog is going to be about that journey.

I hope you enjoy ~

Our garden before planting!