Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mr. Domestic!

Recently, my dearest husband decided he wanted salsa, not fresh salsa like we had been making, but homemade (canned) salsa.  Salsa he can eat on for quite awhile.  Well, he has proven to be quite the canner!  You see, I have never canned a day in my life and did not know the first thing about canning, so he offered to make and can the salsa himself.  Which I let him do as any good wife would, right?

He spoke to his favorite salsa maker and got her recipe and then called her several times during the process.  It was so great to sit back and watch him.  I am very proud of him!  I bought him lots of tomatoes at the Farmer's Market and onions and jalapenos.  The only other thing we needed to purchase was canning jars.  So, without further ado . . . here he is . . . Mr. Domestic

Showing me how to check the tomatoes.
Peeling and dicing the tomatoes.

Making sure it is spicy enough.

Sterilizing the jars.

Tightening the lids as only a gladiator can.

And finally, sealing the jars.

I just love a man who can build a kitchen and then can in said kitchen!  I am very blessed.  And if you are wondering, his salsa has gotten rave reviews and there are only 6 jars left!

Please stop by Foodbuzz and vote for me here.  I hope to make it to round two of their food blogger competition.  The winner (after 10 rounds) receives $10,000 and  will be featured in a special section on Foodbuzz for an entire year!  Thank you for voting. 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog Entry #1

Here is my first entry in the Project Food Blog contest.  Running true to form I waited until the last minute to enter.  I would like to say there is a good reason for this, but really there isn’t, I actually do my best work when I am under pressure, also this way my post is fresh in your mind when it comes time to vote on Monday!!  Sneaky aren’t I!

Well, there are so many good entries already, it is a tough competition, so I am just going to cut to the chase and tell you who I am and why I blog and let you decide for yourself, if I have what it takes.

As for who I am, I am a thirty-something mom of three (well, four if you count our wonderful exchange student who is living with us for the school year) who lives literally in the middle of no where.  As in 2 1/2 hours minimum away from a Wal-mart in any direction, midlle of no where.   I miss large grocery stores and restaurants.  I love to cook and bake for my family and friends.  In our neck of the woods I am considered talented in both areas, which is good since we don’t have many options for eating out.  I am best known for my caramel rolls (or crack rollls as some affectionately call them) and cupcakes.  And in our family I make the birthday cakes for the grandparents as a special request.  I love trying new things and therefore I am addicted to cookbooks and cooking magazines.  My favorite website for new recipes is Tasty Kitchen.  I love Tasty Kitchen!  It hasn’t steered me wrong yet.  Although as much as I love new recipes and trying new things, I can’t leave them as is, I am always adding new things, making them my own and I encourage that with whatever recipes I share on my site. I always got in trouble in Mom’s kitchen, because I would often add something to the pot when Mom wasn’t looking!

I started my blog as an outlet for my dream of having a bakehouse, thus the name Gracie B’s Bakehouse.  I am still forming my blog and creating it to be more of what I was hoping for.  So, I am using this contest to help me become better at blogging about food.  Recently, I spoke to someone about making my dream a reality.  It may or may not happen but in our discussion I shared another passion of mine, that has been on the back burner for quite some time, with raising a family and all, and a suggestion was made as how to incorperate it into a bakehouse.  Now, I have decided to act on the suggestion and I am adding it to my blog.  In the near future I am going to share the first chapter in a story I have been dreaming about for some time.  You may ask,'how does that relate to food?'  Well, the heroine of the story deals with some horrible heartaches in the beginning of the story and to deal with it she opens a bakery and finds healing through that and other things that happen along the way.  Wouldn’t you like to know what happens?  I do!


Do I have what it takes to be the next food blog star?

I have always been terrible about selling myself.  That is just who I am.  But I know that I could rise to the challenge that this would present.  It combines what I am best at:  cooking, baking and writing.  What sets me a part from other bloggers is the fact that I do live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have as many options as others do when it comes to choices at the grocery store.  Therefore what I create is accessible for everyone no matter where they live.   Also, as a coordinator and host mom to exchange students I like to highlight authentic meals from foreign countries.  Last year we opened our home to students from Thailand and Spain and they shared their favorite dishes from home with our family and their friends.  This year we have young friends from Taiwan, Thailand, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Chile, Italy, and Spain.  I hope to share more with my viewers about our authentic meals.  But what I love most about these meals is that  the students themselves are the ones cooking and creating and I am just there to help out with a little kitchen guidance. 


To sum it all up, I love writing and I love being in the kitchen.  Also, I love sharing my kitchen with others, to learn from them and to teach them something I know.  It is the one place I am comfortable and I know that what I have to share through my posts is different than most other blogs:  my version of restaurant favorites, my fiction, and authentic meals made by students who want to share their world with us are just a few of the reasons I could be the next Food Blog Star!  And don't forget to vote starting tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A future baker in our midst

June brought the annual BizKidz business camp for students that are in Middle School.  It is a week long course on creating your own business.  There is always a variety of businesses represented.  They learn so many things about starting a business including start up costs, profits, loss and so on. On the last day of the camp they open up for business and sell their wares. Chewy participated this year and had his own sweet shop.  He was a baking fool for a few days and this mom did a great job (in my opinion) :) of letting him do almost everything.  I was there to help when needed, but he really did the majority of the work.  His brother, sister, and dad even helped with the packaging.  It was a family business and of course it fell on one of my busiest weeks of the summer, so everyone was needed at some point, but we managed not to go crazy.

I showed him a few of my favorite blogs & these were the things he chose to do:






Did you recognize Bakerella's Super Dad cake pops or her burger and fries?

He also made my famous (around here, anyways) cupcakes.  His shop was a great success and he plans on doing it again next year, only this time it won't be sweets.  Also, his sister will be joining in the fun and I hope and pray that it doesn't fall on the same hectic week it did this year because she is also planning to do something food related.  I can't imagine where they get that from . . . wink wink.  Here are some more pics from his day of sales.



Hammy's Birthday Party

 
My youngest turned seven the end of July.  But, because I was so busy placing exchange students and the kids had VBS & I was there too, we decided to wait on the party.  And life being crazy like it is, we had to do it at the last moment.  That was okay.  He was able to help with his birthday cake and that was what mattered to him.  He wanted a dinosaur theme and that is what he got.

He drew his favorite T-Rex and I drew the rest.  Leandra, our exchange student from Switzerland was a huge help when it came time to trace and create with chocolate.  If you are interested in my post on creating with candy melts, visit this post.
I used an incredible chocolate cake recipe from Tasty Kitchen.  It is now my go-to chocolate recipe and a favorite for my kiddos!  I frosted it with a vanilla buttercream and you didn't need a very big piece.  It was a very rich cake. Happy Birthday, Hammy!  Thanks for being such a great boy!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Version of Strawberry Shortcake

This dessert is a favorite in our household and I have won over many guests with it.  Most recently I made it for the local foreign exchange students as part of their going away dinner.  Their only request was fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and green bean casserole.  I chose the dessert.  In fact as I type this, I think it is time to make it again!

We always use fresh strawberries, sliced and sprinkled with sugar and left to sit while I bake the shortbread.  We also use fresh homemade whipped cream.  Following is the recipe I use for shortbread.  I hope you enjoy our version, we love it.


SHORTBREAD

1 cup softened butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Beat butter until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand.  Batter can be crumbly, that is okay. On a lightly floured counter form into a disc and roll out, if dough does not cooperate, you may want to chill it for a short time (1/2 hr).  Once it is rolled to desired thickness, cut out with round or scalloped cookie cutters of preferred size, two cookies will be used for each serving.  You can chill cut-out cookies on baking sheet for 10 -15 minutes to hold their shape better, but that is optional.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Once shortbread is cool you may assemble the strawberry shortcake stacks.

***  In the past, I have just made one big shortbread cookie and cut it into squares or wedges, but I think the cutouts would provide better results as well as prettier than wedges!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Home is . . . Crab Apple Blossoms

This a quick post, because I have missed participating in Sandy's Home is . . . party the last couple of weeks.  Today's  party is about flowers.  At the moment these are the only blossoms in my yard, although I hope to change that once the danger of frost is gone.  I do get to view this tree from one of my kitchen windows and I love the color I see.  I wait every year for this vibrant pink to appear for a few weeks. My oldest son brought in several branches of crab apple flowers to brighten my table, but we discovered they are not meant for such a use.  They have shed most of their blooms already. 

My husband's grandparents lilac bushes are finally in bloom, so I am heading over to see them tomorrow and bring home lilac blossoms to fill my home.  I am so excited.

Our yard is a blank canvas.  I would love to know what your favorite flowers and shrubs are, please share them.

It has been a busy week, I learned how to mend fence thanks to my wonderful in-laws.  And, I look forward to a few more days of work.  I am very thankful for my stand mixer, I can't imagine stirring after pounding staples all day!   Tomorrow I am going to post a coconut cake I have been dying to try.      

Sunday, May 2, 2010

On the Grill: Maui Grilled Chicken



This is another one of those restaurant recipes. There was a bar and grill that we went to occasionally when we lived in the KC area and when we went I always ordered the same thing - Maui Chicken. This is my version. I will also include how I make asparagus. My children love asparagus! I always serve the chicken with Uncle Ben's wild rice. Dave usually does the grilling, because does such a superb job with it. I am one lucky lady!!!

Maui Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lawry's Mesquite Marinade
4-6 slices of cheddar cheese
15 1/4 oz can of pineapple slices
BBQ sauce

Marinate chicken in the mesquite marinade for at least 30 min. You may marinate longer if you would like. Grill over medium heat until cooked through. Add cheddar slices the last couple of minutes of grilling. Grill pineapple slices, a couple minutes on each side. Place on top of cheddar. Serve with a side of BBQ sauce.

Enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus

Rinse and trim asparagus. Put asparagus in a pot and just cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and blanch for about 2 minutes or until bright green. Rinse several times with cold water. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper. I prefer kosher salt for this. Make sure all are coated with oil. Grill over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Enjoy!!

This is a repost, I am linking up to Our Homeschool Home's On the Grill party, please head on over and check out what people are grilling in their backyards!