Monthly Archives: May 2010

Preserving Fresh Strawberries & Cherries

This weekend we picked strawberries and cherries at  local orchards. I always pick enough fresh fruit to preserve some for the off season months. Some of the fruit will be frozen and some will be canned. Of course we eat a good amount of fresh fruit too!

To make your fresh fruit last longer, do not wash it until you are ready to eat it. For cherries, pick them with the stem on to make them last longer. Always pick ripe yet firm berries and cherries.

Cherries Image

If you don’t own a cherry pitter, try using a large paper clip or safety pin. The frugal in me decided not to buy a cherry pitter for the one time a year that I buy cherries. I found that using the rounded end of a safety pin worked very well.

cherry pitting

Freezing fruit is very easy. Wash and de-stem the fruit. Place a single layer of fruit on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. This step is called flash freezing and it is done so the fruit doesn’t stick together. Freeze fruit that is ripe, but not mushy.

Freezing Strawberries

When the fruit is frozen through, remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible. I have a hand held vacuum sealer that I use, but it is not necessary. The fruit will last for several months. Since they are not all stuck together, you can take a small amount out at a time.

This year I am going to try canning Strawberry Butter. It is basically just strawberry puree and sugar. Strawberry Butter requires less sugar than jam which will be healthier for my boys! They love jam but I dislike the amount of sugar that it requires. Canning is perfect for fruit that is a bit mushy and very ripe.

Other fruits I have planned for the summer: Blackberries, Peaches, Blueberries and Apples (and most likely in that order!). Picking your own fruit is a lot of work, but it is a family fun event that we look forward to each summer.

May 30, 2010

Ask a Wife of a Veteran

Why is this holiday important? What does it mean? I think we often take for granted the freedom we experience everyday. This site wouldn’t exist in some parts of the world. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have if I didn’t live in America. My family has benefited from the military and we are very grateful for what we have experienced and learned. My husband served in the Navy and it was during his service time that afforded him the opportunity to obtain a Bachelors degree and a Masters Degree. The skills and valor he gained while serving in the Navy led him to his current employment position. I also think that the foundation for our family grew out of the time when we were apart and forced to communicate in writing and on short phone calls. It made me realize the importance of people in my life and not taking them for granted.

I just want to say I appreciate the sacrifices the soldiers make for our country. I also know the amount of sacrifice every person who knows and loves that soldier makes. I remind you to take a break from your celebration at 3:00 PM on Monday and thank a soldier.

Here is a poem that reminds us to remember. It was buried among the dead during Word War I. It was written as a result of a soldier witnessing the death of his friend during battle. The symbol of the poppy flower resulted from this poem and is often sold by Veterans to raise funds.

The title piece of In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, 1919, Written by:John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

May 22, 2010

Curried Pork in a Cream Sauce Slow Cooker Recipe

I love curry and I can’t wait to try this easy recipe! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

I ruined a beautiful pork loin roast recently. I cooked it too long in not enough liquid and dried it out. Mistakes happen, I guess. But, I was not about to waste that roast, dry or not. So, I began looking for recipes that would tenderize the already-cooked meat and perk up the flavor. I found a curry cream sauce recipe that would do the trick, but it was full of fat and calories. I lightened it up by using 98% fat free cream of chicken soup and reduced calorie mayonnaise (the kind that’s made with olive oil).

About 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, legs, or thighs can be substituted for the pork. The chicken parts needn’t be sliced. I would recommend using leftover chicken or pork; this saves the step of browning the meat before it goes into the slow cooker for this recipe.

Curry is a strong, unique flavor, and usually folks either like it or they don’t. Start with 1 T. of curry and add more if you like a more intense flavor. You can always add spice to the dish, but you can’t remove it! Give Pork in Curried Cream Sauce a try and see if your family enjoys this unusual dish alongside fresh spring asparagus and couscous.


Pork in Curried Cream Sauce

3-4 c. cooked pork loin, sliced
1 (10 ¾-oz) can low-fat cream of chicken soup
½ c. reduced calorie mayonnaise
½ c. chicken stock
1-2 T. curry powder
dash of salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed and crisp steamed
couscous (or rice)

Combine soup, mayonnaise, stock, curry powder, salt & pepper. Fold in pork and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 5 hours or high 3 hours. Serve pork in curried cream sauce over asparagus and couscous and top with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

May 21, 2010

Sizzling Sirloin Kabobs Recipe

Sirloin Kabobs Image

Last week I attended a webinar put together by Beef It’s What’s for Dinner and Chef Dave Zino. They have launched a new Interactive Meat Case on their website to help people choose the right cut of beef. Many of the same cuts of beef go by different names in different areas. If you are unfamiliar with a cut that a recipe calls for, check out the Interactive Meat Case to learn more! Plus there are some yummy recipes available.

Chef Dave has shared a recipe with us that is perfect for summer grilling! This recipe can be very inexpensive if you have a garden this year as it calls for several fresh herbs and vegetables.

Sizzling Sirloin Kabobs on a Bed of Orzo

Total Recipe Time: 35 to 40 minutes

1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
2 green, red and/or yellow bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon prepared Italian dressing
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Soak eight 8-inch bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes.
2. Cut beef steak into 1-1/4-inch pieces. Toss beef and bell peppers with 1 tablespoon basil, dressing and garlic in large bowl. Alternately thread beef and peppers onto skewers.
3. Toss Orzo ingredients in medium bowl; keep warm.
4. Place kabobs on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, about 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 9 to 10 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve with orzo.

Makes 4 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 51 mg cholesterol; 163 mg sodium; 38 g carbohydrate; 2.9 g fiber; 34 g protein; 10.5 mg niacin; 0.8 mg vitamin B6; 1.5 mcg vitamin B12; 4.1 mg iron; 31.4 mcg selenium; 5.8 mg zinc; 105.1 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium, zinc and choline; and a good source of fiber.

Affordable Wedding Gift Ideas

As wedding season rolls around, you may find yourself scrambling for an affordable wedding gift. I have been to several weddings in my life, and I always make sure to bring some type of gift, no matter where I am money wise. There are plenty of thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank. We wanted to put a list together of some ideas for you to find the perfect gift for the new Mr. and Mrs. that you can afford, and they will love!  Below you will find some ideas on affordable wedding gifts.

Invited to a wedding and a little strapped for cash? Here are some great wedding gift ideas that are affordable and the bride and groom will lo

Affordable Wedding Gift Ideas

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May 5, 2010

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips

Happy Cinco de Mayo! As many of you know, I was raised in California. Besides my family and friends, the one thing I really miss is good Mexican food! Just before my husband and I moved to Virginia we lived a few blocks from a hole-in-the-wall Mexican Restaurant. They had the best homemade chips! I would sometimes stop just for the chips. They would make the chips when you ordered so they were hot and fresh.

Homemade tortilla chips are easy to make. They are not healthy due to the frying so I do not make them often! At Harris Teeter last week I ended up with FREE corn tortillas. I made tortilla chips tonight and I thought I would share with you! And I will warn you again, this is totally not a  healthy recipe but something that is a yummy treat every once in awhile!

Use a Pizza Cutter to cut the tortilla into triangles.

Frying tortilla chips

Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Ad the tortilla pieces in the hot oil. Cook for a minute or two. I flip mine half way through cooking.

Tortilla Chips

Drain on a paper towel when done and sprinkle with season salt. I like mine just barely crispy. Cook a bit longer for a sharp crisp. Enjoy with salsa or plain!