Monday, September 1, 2014

Runza Recipe - Pocket Sandwich Comfort Food

We all love a little comfort food, especially on a chilly night! Fall is right around the corner and this is one of my very favorite recipes when we're tucked in for a cozy evening.

I had never tasted anything like this until Baby Brother was born and a sweet friend brought us a whole pile of runzas. As soon as we tasted them we were hooked and I've made them countless times since then.

What's a runza, you ask? I had no idea either, but it turns out they are pocket sandwiches stuffed with meat, cabbage, spices, and cheesy goodness. When she told me I thought "Oh. Cabbage. I don't think I like cabbage..." But I can tell you now, I totally do! At least when it's all wrapped up in a soft and savory bun.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it makes 24 pocket sandwiches, which lasts our family of four several meals! We usually put any leftover in the freezer and pull them out for quick lunches. Although last time we ate them all too fast. Oops.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Octopus Birthday Crown {free pattern}

Baby Brother turned one a couple weeks ago (and yes, he's totally still a baby). I still can't believe it. We marked his big day with a simple, low-key celebration of his first year in the big, wide world. A trip to the zoo, pancakes, and all the cheese and blueberries his little heart desired. He also got a special birthday crown (similar to the dinosaur crown I made for Big Brother's birthday) but this time the theme was... octopuses! Octopi? No. We're going with octopuses.

It was the first thing my tired brain thought of that I could make with the felt colors I had on hand. And so and octopus crown it was.

Here's how it went down: at 10pm on Birth Eve (as per usual) I sit down and I say to myself "what is the most complicated animal I could pick with the most small parts to have to sew down?" Answer = octopus. Duh. That's called a "midnight win," right there. And so I spent the night sewing down 14 little octopus legs. 14. Because my octopuses have seven legs each. Double win.

But really I love doing this kind of crown because they are pretty easy to make and the designs are SO flexible. You can really make any kind of crown you can imagine (or at least cut out of felt).

Here's all you need to make your own octopus birthday crown:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DIY Sprinkler Arch

We still have a few steamy days headed our way before summer is over, and this DIY sprinkler arch is a great way to stay cool in your own backyard!

We've had a lot of fun hooking this up to our hose when things get too hot. And when we're done playing we can set it over our garden beds to water the garden! That's a freebie. That's also how Husband talked me into the idea.

It's a pretty quick and easy project to put together. We did it in an evening while the boys played in the wading pool and ran (or crawled) circles around us. So you can definitely squeeze it in before the next heat wave!

It's also great because you don't need a workshop full of tools to pull it off - just one small tool and a few pieces from the hardware store!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Freezing & Canning from the Garden

We love summer. Love it. We've been spending as much time as we can outside enjoying the heat and sunshine. Taking walks, going to the park, working in the garden. It's summer at its finest around here.

These stubby carrots are Big Brother's favorite thing in the garden. He was so surprised the first time we pulled some!

This is the first summer we've actually had a big garden that's actually been giving us some food (yay!), which also means it's our first summer trying to figure out how to preserve all this stuff for winter. It's extra time in the kitchen now that hopefully will pay-off big time later.

And yes. We've been totally neglecting the blog. But we'll get it all perked up again when we're stuck inside this winter. For now we spend our days like this:

And this:

But I did want to hop in today and share some of the things we've been preserving this week. Just in case you guys are in the same boat and looking for new ideas! And, seriously, if you have any new non-pickle things to do with cucumber please tell me. So many cucumbers. Here's the lowdown from the kitchen:

We're freezing the extra zucchini. I ran them through the grater attachment on our kitchenaid and scooped 3 cups into each quart size bag. Then flattened them out and stuck them in the freezer. Boom. Done. Easiest thing so far.

My dad gave me some rhubarb that I used to make this rhubarb vanilla bean jelly. I'll tell you right now, I don't know what I'm doing. This is not bright pink like the recipe picture and it also didn't set up right so it's kind of runny. I should also tell you I haven't tasted it yet. I should probably do that....

We used some of our many cucumber to make sweet pickle relish. It's a nice way to mix up the pickle monotony (plus I'm the only one who eats pickles so we don't need that many).

And last but not least, we're freezing corn from my grandpa's farm. My mom taught me how to do it and it's been working great, so I'll share the steps for you guys.

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Throw some corn in. Let it boil about 3 - 5 minutes (I just did 3).

Move the corn to a bowl of ice water.

Once it's cooled down let it drain a little while in a colander.

Then use a knife to cut the kernels off each ear. I like to hold the ear over a large baking dish while I cut. The deep edges help catch all the corn.

Before you toss the ear, flip your knife over and run the dull side down each ear. This will get out any left over juice or bits of corn.

Not a great picture, but you can see the ear on the left has had the kernels cut off, and the ear on the right has also been done with the back of the knife. There's quite a bit more that comes out in that step.

Keep going until you have a nice pile of empty ears.

And a nice full pan like this:

Then divide 3 cups of corn into each quart size bag (we ended up with 5 bags), lay them flat, and freeze them. Pull them out in January when you're dreaming of summer. If you can wait that long.

We still have lots of cucumbers to put up and I'm hoping to have enough tomatoes for salsa and pizza sauce. We'll see! While we wait, let's admire the garden boys one more time.

What are you guys preserving this summer? Feel free to share your favorite recipes or tips!