Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Lemonade: Is it Better?

67.  make lemonade from scratch (7/29/13)

As a kid, I can remember my mother bringing out a bottle of Minute Maid lemon juice at dinner time, to put on broccoli with a little butter.  I'd read the back of it, and there would always be a recipe for lemonade.  Always intrigued me, but I never did it.

Brian and I love fresh lemonade, but the closest thing we come to is Newman's Own.  And let's face it, Newman's Own extra virgin lemonade is pretty awesome stuff.  Still, I thought that someday, someday I'd like to make my own.

Well, tonight was the night.  I had purchased 12 lemons at the grocery store last week for that purpose last week, and I just wasn't going to let $6.00 worth of lemons go bad!

The Lemons.
I've always thought that cobalt blue and yellow are a cheery combination.  As is navy blue and yellow.

The Helpers
These two are always willing to lend a hand in the kitchen.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in hand, we moved to turn these into drink!

They were a little harder to juice than I realized....but we got the job done.  While we were juicing, the simple syrup boiled on the stove.  After that cooled for a bit, we mixed it with the lemon juice.

It's important to note:  this just makes lemonade base.  If you drink this straight, you'll pucker for sure.   Equal parts base and water is key.  I made sure to tell Hubby that before he just grabbed the pitcher in the fridge and helped himself to a cold cup of base.  (bleeecchhhh)

First Tall Glass
One sip and it told me two things:  1, it needed more sugar.  and 2.  sooooo fresh!

Look at's pale and not at all yellow.  That tells you how much artificial coloring is added to lemonade mixes.  I'm not afraid of some artificial certainly has its place.  But lemonade mix just doesn't taste like this.  Hubby said it tasted like summer.  And it does!

So....was it worth it to make my own?  I'd say yes.  I certainly won't be doing it like this all the time.  But it makes for a happy treat.  And now, I want to make limeade.  I love fresh limes!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Woman of my Word

I said last week that we'd make meatballs, and I keep my word.  Last night:  meatballs.  :)  I originally wanted to make these on Sunday but we as a family (read:  Crafty Mama)  tend(s) to overcram Sundays.  So last night after dinner, it was meatball city!

No recipes...just flying by the seat of our pants.  A package of ground pork, a package of ground beef.  And I got really daring and didn't measure ingredients.  Sometimes it's best that way.  Some bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, two eggs, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Brian rolled them and fried them in vegetable oil while I worked on feeding kids and doing dishes.  (We make a good team that way.)    He used his induction cooker to better control the temperature, which seems like it was a good idea.  Next time Brian wants to make them like his mom made them growing up:  added to sauce and simmering in a crockpot for several hours.  I've had Mom G's meatballs, they are pretty good!

All in all, I'd say the process only took about an hour, give or take.  I wish I had taken a photo of the meatball assembly line, but alas, I did not so you will have to imagine it.    Now there are several bags of (hopefully) good-quality meatballs in my freezer, and one bag to go with cheese tortellini and leftover marinara tonight.  Looking forward to it!

Pork n Pears

Another great recipe from America's Test Kitchen in their cookbook "Simply the Best." Yep....that's the spotlight cookbook this week. This is a great cookbook for weeknight cooking: nothing too complicated and not a ton of ingredients. This recipe features boneless chops, pears, balsamic, a little sugar, blue cheese crumbles, butter.....a delightful combination if you ask me.
I'm trying to get better at starting to cook when I get home from work, so we're not eating dinner at 8pm. :) Today I was successful, but man is it hard to follow directions and cook, as well as pour drinks for the kids and answer for the second time today why we're not going to "that frozen yogurt place that I really love.. (Because we went twice in a span of two days, kiddos. And although it's delicious, it gets expensive quickly and will feel less like a treat if we go every day!)

So only Brian and I partook in the pork chops and pears. And as great as they were, it was only until we were finished eating that I realized that the blue cheese was still in the fridge. Yep, the very same blue cheese that took me forever to find at the market the other day. Ah well, looks like blue cheese is on the menu somewhere next week. Great, because I love the stuff!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tex-Mex Tonight

We found ourselves with a plethora of fresh cilantro after a party on tex-mex on Sunday!  Had a great recipe for pork tacos with fresh mango salsa out of an America's Test Kitchen cookbook.   It used ground pork instead of tenderloin, and canned Chipotle in adobo sauce.   Rounded out with rice and beans, fresh guacamole ( that I "wing" instead of using a recipe now) and you've gor a great meal.  And plenty of leftovers, whixh is always my favorite.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chicken n' Muffins

Chicken n muffins....not meant to be eaten together but that's what was made on Sunday.  It was also the first case of "Trashed Kitchen" in this house!!  And I'm sure we'll do it again and again.

The chicken was "Peruvian Grilled Chicken" from Epicurious, and man, so flavorful!  Brian quartered a whole chicken, and I made up the marinade.  It consisted of soy sauce, lime juice, paprika, cumin, oregano, and garlic.  Lots of garlic.  Absolutely fantastic, and a different flavor combination than what we're used to.

Brian had gotten unsweetened flaked coconut at the grocery store to make a banana bread recipe that he found on Pinterest.  I was running low on sugar though, and it also requires rum.  (Sounds pretty good, huh?)  No rum in the house, so instead I made the blueberry-coconut muffins on the back of the bag.  Brian adores anything coconut, so it works out well.  Plus, it's nice to have some muffins for mid-morning coffee at work.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nutty Salmon

This was possibly the best salmon I have ever had.

Pecan Crusted Salmon, courtesy of Taste of Homes "Busy Families Cookbook."

I want to make this one again and soon!

Friday, July 12, 2013


I've thought about meatballs a lot this past week.  It's kind of a strange subject to spend more than a few minutes thinking about, but I have.

What stemmed it was Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner one night.  The meatballs were frozen, from the grocery store.  I've bought them many times, different brands from time to time and we've been eating them for a few years.  Well, whatever brand these are, they stink.  They don't taste good and I think that they must have a higher fat content than whatever I was buying before (since we've moved I've shopped at different stores, so I have no idea) and I don't feel so good after eating them.  But do I stop eating them?  No. 

After that meal I started to remember how my mother used to make meatballs.  She'd take an afternoon and make enough to freeze.  Then we'd open a ziploc bag of meatballs on spaghetti night and that would be dinner.  When I started cooking for myself and later, my husband, I did it the same way.  And I stopped for the same reasons that she did, it's time consuming.  It's so much easier to buy a bag of frozen meatballs and be done with it. 

Well, today one of my residents brought down a plate of four meatballs, sauce, cheese and fresh italian bread.  I had planned on going out to grab a bite to eat, but was grateful for the plate of food.  (This is one of the nicest things about working in elderly housing, by the way.)  I brought the plate into the community room with a book, and proceeded to eat.  and WHOA!  These meatballs are incredible.  They're obviously homemade, and so was the sauce.  And the bread is so fresh, it must've been bought today.

So that settles it for me.  No more frozen meatballs for this family, at least not as a staple.  Some things are worth making, and meatballs are going on that list.  I'm looking forward to getting some good quality hamburger and cranking out some meatballs for my very own freezer.  Sauce is another story.....someday I'd like to make my own but for now I'm good with jarred Newman's Own.  :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Honey-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Tonight's pork recipe is courtesy of the Food Network.   It was a delightful, tangy glaze of balsamic vinegar (which I almost forgot to add) honey, four cloves of garlic, olive oil, rosemary and a little dijon mustard.  Served with couscous and salad, but the boys had theirs with bread and applesauce.  Will wolfed his serving down, and Sean even tasted it before he politely told us that he didn't like it.  Who are these kids?  No tears, and eating everything??  :)

I also like recipes that start by browning on the stove and finishing in the oven.  The browning, and then the finish by roasting, makes for a nice, moist meat.  I'd definitely make this again.