Monday, May 27, 2013

Campfire Fajitas

Camping season is upon us - a few quick, easy to prepare ahead meals are essential for the family cook to enjoy the trip. Here is one that we enjoyed on our first outing this year.

We prepped the food the night before. We were only staying one night this time around. When that is the case, I've learned to prepare the meal at home in my own kitchen and then take the food in a thermos. By the time we leave after James gets home from work, we get to camp right at dinner time. Everyone is hungry and the food is hot so we can eat right away. It works out nicely and really cuts down on the complaining from hungry children.

We have a couple of thermoses I use just for this purpose.

This one holds about 6 cups of food which is plenty big for this fajita recipe or taco filling or sloppy joes, etc. It is supposed to keep hot foods hot for up to 6 hours. We have only tested it for 2-3 hours, but it has worked great!

You can also use a little hard sided cooler like this one. If doing so, I wrap the food in foil packets and tuck them inside. I have taken foil (hobo) dinners in this thermos after baking them about halfway in the oven. The thermos acts like a crockpot and continues to slow cook the meals while we drive. We will open them up and they are still piping hot 5-6 hours later. We can do an entire day trip without needing to pack any cooking equipment - it is great!

Campfire Fajitas

1 lb boneless chicken breast
2 large peppers, any color
1 med onion
4-5 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp lime juice

Flour tortillas
sour cream 
shredded cheese

At home: Slice chicken into strips and place in ziplock bag. Add garlic, vegetable oil, spices, liquid smoke, and lime juice. Allow to marinate while getting to the campsite. (You could even do this step way ahead and place the bag in the freezer. Then it could just thaw in the cooler until you need it.) Slice peppers and onions (being sure to remove the seeds from the peppers) and place in a second ziplock bag.

At camp: Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook in a large frying pan over an open fire or camp stove. When the chicken is nearly done, add the peppers and onions and cook until the onions become translucent. Combine everything in a flour tortilla and top with your choice of toppings.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Garden Harvest

Emma helped me pick our first harvest last week - onions! They are volunteers and have grown so tall they are getting seed heads on top. We pulled up about 10 and left a few other smaller ones still in the garden. We really just planted the garden last week so it seems strange to be able to harvest the same day we were planting.

We washed those onions and chopped them up. Some we froze to save for salsa making day when the tomatoes and peppers are ready and some we used to make my grandmother's recipe for potato salad. 

I call it a recipe, but there really isn't a recipe. My grandmother died when I was only 9 years old, but her salad still makes it to family get togethers. My aunts shared the directions with me. Mix together cooked potatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs, chopped dill pickles, and chopped onion. Add mayonnaise and a little mustard for the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Decorate the top with additional sliced eggs and a sprinkle of paprika, if desired. 

Knowing that my grandmother lived on a small family farm and always planted a garden, I'm sure she used some funky shaped onions in this salad over the years. When you grow your own food, you don't care what shape it is, you just enjoy it!

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Kitchen Reveal

Many of you have been asking to see pictures - After 8 weeks in the basement and a couple of other months working on the addition prior to being kicked out of the existing kitchen, here it is.

Before photos

After photos

A couple of favorite things

I have two large drawers specifically built to hold my flours for baking - no more opening buckets everyday.

I also love this hutch that was built in by the eating area. It adds an element of charm that I just love!

We hosted our first dinner party last night in the new space. All the large walkways and open feel really worked well which is what we were hoping for - We're still trying to figure out just where to put everything to make it efficient, but it is feeling more like  home every day. We also need to add the little things like curtains, photos, platters etc. that just fill in the finishing touches. It is always a work in progress at our house. Life has to happen every day which gets in the way of a lot of little things that really aren't as important - I have to remind myself of that so I stay focused on what really does matter.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Turkey Apple Croissant Sandwiches

My younger brother got married a few weeks ago. We are all so excited for him! I was responsible for making sandwiches for the Bridal Shower Luncheon. I decided to make these fancy croissant sandwiches - one of my friends shared the recipe with me a couple of years ago. Set up your counter or table in an assembly line to speed up the process if you are making quite a few like I did. 

They look so festive on the platter. They would be excellent for any girl's luncheon or shower. The cream cheese spread is also delicoius on a tortilla or bagel. Enjoy!

Turkey Apple Croissant Sandwich

Cream Cheese Spread:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ C. powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ C. orange juice
Cream all ingredients together until mixture becomes very spreadable.  Any of the amounts may be adjusted to taste or consistency preference.

Slice open croissant and spread with cream cheese spread (above).  Add the following to make a sandwich:

2-3 slices of turkey
4-5 apples slices (skins on)
Provolone or Swiss cheese slice
Green leaf or Romaine lettuce
Red onions, thin slices
Red pepper, thin slices
Salt and pepper to taste, if desired

Note: Golden delicious apples work well because they don't brown quickly so look nice even if you have to prepare the sandwiches early.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Upcoming Free Class

I have been asked to present some classes at a local preparedness store one day each month. Food 2 Store is located on Fariview just west of Eagle Rd (by Seagull Book.) These classes are free to the public so tell your friends and family - it would be fun to have a large group there! (Disclaimer: I don't work for the store. I teach classes on a volunteer basis only.)

Wednesday May 15, 2013 at 1 pm
Taught by Tammy Price

Berry season is here! Low sugar jams, jellies, and pie fillings couldn't be easier! Ultra Sperse has got to be one of the best kept secrets out there for the home canner. This class will cover making instant freezer jam as well as tips for using Ultra Sperse in other canned or frozen items such as sweet and sour sauce, orange chicken glaze, salsa, fruit syrups, etc.

Ultra Sperse can be used with whatever sweetener you prefer or you can choose no sweetener at all. It is a gluten free product so is helpful for anyone on a special diet. Come on out and learn about this amazing product that will make dinner prep so much easier!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Super Simple Garlic Bread

I have discovered a new favorite way for making garlic bread! As the kitchen remodel continued into the 7th week, we were growing tired of just buttering sliced bread to eat with the pasta dishes I had tucked away in the freezer. I got creative yet again with my electric pancake griddle. I am still using the bathroom counter as my cooking space - notice the taps in the background. It is quite tricky to balance the long griddle on my tiny bathroom counter without it falling into the sink.

I sliced the loaf of French bread in half the long way. (The kids had eaten a few slices off the end already which is why it is not a full loaf.) I buttered it up and sprinkled on a little garlic powder. Then I flipped it over onto the hot griddle and let it toast until it was golden brown. The verdict - perfectly toasted garlic bread that we devoured. It worked out so well that I know I will use this method many more times. It allows us nicely toasted garlic bread without heating up the entire oven and kitchen. 

If you don't have one of these electric griddles, watch for one to go on sale. I see these large ones for less than $20 at least a couple times a year. We use them for pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, garlic bread and biscuits. I know you can also bake griddle cookies on them. (It's been awhile, but I do remember doing it once. I'll have to look up a recipe and try it again.)

The kitchen is to be completed by Friday of this week - we can't wait!