Tag Archives: Recipes/Cooking

And… Exhale

After Christmas there is always this sense of a sort of exhale for me.  All the hustle and bustle is over and I can finally release the breath that I feel like I’ve been holding in through it all.  It’s really quite a relief actually, seeing as I usually rather enjoy breathing, in general.  😉

I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts how much I hate busyness and unfortunately sometimes even the fun kind wears on me.  The past few Christmases have been so different and also difficult for me.  I hope one day everything will be back to normal, but perhaps this is just how it’s going to be from now on.  Maybe once you experience the death of a close loved one and/or other multiple major life changes, the holidays never really go “back to normal” again.  Or maybe it just takes time.  I did have a nice Christmas though, for the most part, and I hope you all did too.

I’d have to say that the best thing about mine was having my punk nephew home from California.  I only get to see him every few years, so it was really nice to have him here for Christmas this year.  On the first day that I got to spend with him we all went out to see the movie The Hobbit.  I am a huge fan of Tolkien and I really enjoyed seeing a beloved story of mine brought to life on the big screen.  I also thought it was very well done and I look forward to the next installment.

The next day, my nephew and his girlfriend came over and we all made candy together.  My mom happened to snap this photo while we were working on making our Christmas mice.100_3816Maraschino cherries dipped in white chocolate = yummy little mice!


Yeah, they may be all smiles in that photo there, but on Christmas Eve when he brought over a new game for all of us to play, things got a bit heated.  Taboo…DSCF0112aWe always play games after eating and opening gifts on Christmas Eve, and Taboo was tons of fun!  I had never played it before, but I think I was pretty good at it.  Well… except for the whole not being allowed to talk with my hands part of the rules.  That was a bit tricky.  Yes, I’m one those people who talks with my hands.  Hey, I’m often overly expressive, what can I say?!  😉


Another thing I enjoyed this Christmas was the new recipe I tried out.  It’s called Christmas Crack and omyfreakinggosh is it ever delicious!  And addicting.  Hence its being called “crack.”  DSCN6265This will definitely be a regular treat that I will be making around the holidays from now on.

Edit note:  I would love to share this amazing recipe with you all, but I’m afraid you’ll have to find your own drug dealer for this one, as I’ve just recently been made aware that this particular recipe is in fact Top Secret and was only shared with me in the strictest of confidence.  Oops!  My sincere apologies to the dear friend who shared it with me as I didn’t realize that before I posted it here earlier.  There are many other variations of this recipe out there on the Internet free for the taking, none as delicious as this one mind you, but you’ll just have to make due.  I know, I’m such a tease.  😉


Well, I don’t know about you, but between doing crack and devouring poor unsuspecting mice, I had waaaay too many goodies over the holidays.  Oof, time for a diet!

And speaking of needing to go on a diet, look at the picture I took of my cute, chubby little kitten.  DSCF0089aShe is usually a timid little thing whenever there’s company over, but she was celebrating like a pro with the rest of us on Christmas Eve.  She kinda has a thing for wrapping paper and she wasn’t giving this piece up for anything ~ not even for a nap.


And look what we subjected my daughter’s poor dog, Teddy to…DSCF0024aHaha oh how he detests wearing his Santa hat, but he just looks too darn cute in it to not make him suffer in it, at least for a little while.  😉

Besides, we’re all subjected to a bit of suffering over the holidays.

And… exhale.


Now it’s time to get busy contemplating all of those New Year’s resolutions…

Strawberry Pie Fiasco

I swear this pie is absolutely delicious despite how it looks.


In my humble opinion, this is the yummiest recipe for strawberry pie on the entire planet.  I’ve used it many times over the years ~ even though this time I slightly failed at it.  😉   It’s from a very old flyer from Berry Hill Farm where I usually get my strawberries…Of course I realize at this angle you can’t see/read the full recipe, but don’t worry… if you’re brave enough to want to try it after reading this post, I will certainly share it with you.  😉


These lovelies are not from Berry Hill however, because they had a very short season this year and I was not able to get any from them, but theirs are just as luscious.  These are some of my left over strawberries from canning the other day…~

I am a big lazy cheater (pooped out from all of my heavy labor canning) and bought a ready made crust ~ don’t judge me.  This shortbread crust goes perfectly with this recipe.  Look there’s even a photo of a strawberry pie on the packaging to prove it.  😉~

The first step of this recipe is to make a glaze.  After hurting my weak girlie hands again using my sis’s dumb potato masher, I mixed the mashed strawberries with water, sugar, and cornstarch, and stirred constantly (and forever) over medium heat bringing it all to a boil.  And then set it aside to cool.~

Next I whipped some cream cheese to soften it and spread it in the bottom of my lazy cheater’s pie crust.~

Then I started filling the rest of the crust up with berries.  The recipe calls for whole strawberries, but I halve mine because it’s easier to eat and to cut with my fork.  🙂  I arranged them somewhat haphazardly I know…~

Once the glaze cooled a bit I poured it over the top.~

But it wasn’t cooled enough and I filled the crust too high with strawberries so it made quite a mess and started leaking out onto the edges of the crust.  Whoops!But it was yummy as I swiped the excess up with my finger!  I totally grossed out my daughter by “double swiping” but I had to because it was leaking all over.  😉


It’s supposed to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours, but we wanted to eat it sooo bad that we just couldn’t wait that long.~

And when you cut into a pie before it’s set… messy things happen.~

Oh well, cover it up with a bunch of whipped cream and no one will be able to tell the difference.  😉   It tasted amazing even if it was a mess!


Doing the Can-Can ~ Making Jam-Jam

Earlier this spring while we were busy at work building my garden box, my sis and I talked about canning some strawberry rhubarb jam once the season rolled around.  She is the one who taught me how to can so many years ago and it had been such a long time since we canned together.  So we asked our mom if we could use her kitchen for the production (and believe me, if you’ve ever canned… you know it is indeed quite a “production”) and she agreed.  Moms and big sisters are the best ~ especially mine!  ♥

As the rhubarb in my sis’s yard ripened, we waited anxiously for email updates from Berry Hill Farm where we usually get our berries, to hear when their strawberries would be ready for picking.  On the day the email arrived we quickly decided on which day we would have our canning adventures.  I say “quickly” because sometimes the season is short and the window of opportunity can easily pass you by.  And it did.  😦  Even though we made our plan to get our strawberries on the 4th day after the berries would be ready, we received another email from the farm saying they were pretty much all done.  What?!  Talk about disappointment.

But we would not be thwarted.  We decided to call around and found strawberries elsewhere.  Cheaper and organic!  Although that’s a great thing, that’s not to say we won’t try again next year to still get them from Berry Hill because even though their strawberries aren’t organic, they are local and family owned, and that’s what we want to support.  I’ve been going to Berry Hill for my strawberries for over 10 years and I’m not about to stop now.

Our canning day arrived with a boom.  Boom meaning… a thunderstorm.  What a wonderful way to wake up (or go to sleep for that matter ~ thunderstorms are one of my favorite things ♥) and I swear even my coffee tasted better while I was sipping it and listening to the thunder.  😉

But it presented a bit of a problem when it came time to leave my apartment and head over to my mom’s.  I left while there was a slight break in the rain, but just as I was getting onto the freeway it started to hail.  And hard.  Driving 60 mph in the hail = yikes!   Luckily when it really started pounding against my windshield I came upon an overpass, so I pulled over for a little while underneath it and waited until the hail stopped.

I was about halfway to my mom’s when she called to tell me that her power was out.  Power out?  Wait, how are we going to can?  She said she had called the power company and they told her it was expected to be out for the next 3 hours.  Ugh.  Canning takes a long time, so 3 hours is a huge delay.  But what can ya do?  Just gotta go with the flow I guess.  Yep, that’s about the only option.  I can’t control the weather, and although I’m pretty talented… I definitely can’t repair power lines.  It’d be pretty bad-ass if I could though wouldn’t it?   😉

But even though it felt a bit like the universe was conspiring against us, we did eventually do the can-can and made some jam-jam…


First off, we filled up my mom’s dishwasher.  This is the fastest and easiest way I know of to clean all of the jars and keep them piping hot until we’re ready to fill them up with the “good stuff.”  This is not exactly sterilizing them as is recommended for canning, but it has always worked fine for me to do it this way.~

Feast your eyes on these beautiful red ripened strawberries!  Too many of them to count ended up in our tummies along the way because they were simply too delicious to resist!~

My sis was out battling the thunderstorm and picking rhubarb out of her yard before she met me over at my mom’s.  What a trooper.~

And she was in charge of chopping up the rhubarb too…~

I was in charge of preparing the strawberries (and eating them ;)).  Except I was doing it wrong.  I was wasting way too much of the berry by just haphazardly chopping their heads off.  I have strawberry corer thingy, but I forgot it at home, and because we were already three hours behind and had TWELVE pounds of strawberries to do, I guess I was just being hasty.But after my sis pointed it out and made me feel guilty by showing me the error of my ways, I was much more careful (and slower) and did the rest properly.~

Then I had to mash them all up.  But my sis’s potato masher totally sucked and my mom didn’t have one, so it wasn’t very fun and I more than kinda hurt my girlie hands.~

After I finished wrestling with my sis’s potato masher and she finished chopping up all the rhubarb, we dumped it all into a pan, and then added some lemon juice… some pectin,and some sparkly sugar.~

And speaking of sugar, here’s our huge 10 pound bag of sugar…which still wasn’t even enough sugar for all the jam we were planning to make.


After bringing the jam to a boil for 1 minute, it was time to ladle it into the jars, which was my job…and my sis’s job was to put on the lids…~

Then it was time to give them a nice hot bath.~

Give me 10 minutes on the clock please (for some reason I just heard the voice of Richard Dawson from the Family Feud as I typed that).~

Ding!  Time’s up!~

Now to let them cool…~

After all was said and done, we had 50 jars!!!We put our jam in all different various sized jars from 4oz to 8oz.  I like the little 4oz size for gift giving.  🙂


My sis found a recipe for rhubarb orange jam that she wanted to try too, so we made some of that in addition to the strawberry rhubarb.  It tastes amazing and has definitely become one of my new favorites!

It was storming all day which was perfect for canning, but not so good for taking photos.  Between the darkness of the skies and the dim lighting in my mom’s kitchen, I had to use the flash on the camera, so I’m not real crazy about how they turned out.  :/


Except this last one ~ it finished storming as we were finishing our canning and we had a beautiful sunset to end our day with…~

Even after canning 50 jars of jam, and eating tons along the way, we still had left-over strawberries.  I’m using some to make a strawberry pie and my sis is freezing some to use later for her delicious smoothies.  I love strawberry season!