Saturday, July 30, 2011

Freezer Jam

Last month Rob and I did a marathon day of freezer jam. My nephew, Jack, happened to be over during this process and he was so impressed he told Rob and I we should open a jelly factory! Now there is an idea. Probably not likely but we sure did have our system down pat.

I have been making freezer jam for the past 5 summers! I have done it solo, with a girlfriend, and now with Rob. By far Rob has been my favorite jelly making co-helper! He brought home 34 quarts of strawberries this year. We spent five hours in the kitchen and went through six 5lb bags of sugar! I am guessing he will never bring home that many strawberries again for jelly. But... I am hoping he will bring some home and will still help me next summer. 

The Sticky Mess in full Swing!



Finished product... A labor of LOVE!!!



Ava LOVES our jelly and is a bit of a jelly snob because she will eat nothing but home made jelly! Who can blame her really? It is after-all that darn good! We were able to give some of this away to friends and family due to the surplus of sticky goodness which is always fun to do. I grew up on home made jelly and I love that Ava is too!

I found Ava entertaining herself while Rob and I were in the thick of this project.



Ta-DAH!!! 
(Hat, Scarf, Dress, and garden gloves... An interesting combo Ava!)




ingredients:
strawberries (crushed)
sugar
Sur-Gel
water
 
directions: 
I follow them to a tee right off this package!
notes:
Rob and I used our blender to puree the strawberries after we washed and removed the stems. We measured two cups of berries and then added four cups sugar and stirred. Then we boiled 3/4c of water with one package of sure-jell. You add this sure-jell to the sugar and stir in with the berry/sugar mix. Then pour into containers that are freezer safe and allow for it to set up. Eat and Enjoy!!!

Crock-Pot Ravioli Casserole


Crock-pot Ravioli Casserole:

ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt/pepper
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed (I used fresh spinach)
16 oz. bow-tie pasta, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded


directions:
Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low.  Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crock-pot to high.  I added the frozen spinach, pasta, Parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella and I mixed it all up really well.  Then I added the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top.

notes: 
You could use as many fresh ingredients as you wanted like fresh spinach. I used frozen and it tasted just fine. This is a great way to add veggies to your carbs!

Home Made Pizza Rolls

I was introduced to a site called Pinterest and it is really a fun site to surf. I have been busy recipe hunting and have now made, tried, and loved a handful. I made these pizza rolls not to long ago for Rob and I and we both really liked them. You can make them with several variations based on all of the pizza toppings you love. I made ours with peperoni, green pepper, and portabella mushrooms. Delish!

Home Made Pizza Rolls:

ingredients:
2 cans refrigerated pizza crust
garlic salt
Italian Seasoning
1 cup sliced and chopped pepperoni
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Kraft Pizza Blend &Mozzarella.)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Pasta Sauce for dipping

directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Dust a  large cutting board or piece of wax paper with flour and roll out each pizza crust.
  • Season each crust with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.
  • Top with  cheese and meat
  • Starting with a short end, roll crust into a tight log
  • Slice into 1″ sections
  • Place on lightly greased pan and bake for 10-12 mins.
  • Serve with your favorite Pasta Sauce for dipping
notes:
After I cut my 1" sections from my pizza log I had to hand tighten them and that seemed to work just fine. Don't be afraid to really season your dough with the Italian Seasoning and garlic salt. I could have used a little more than I did. You can season your crust with what ever seasonings you wish along with using what ever pizza toppings you love. The combinations for home made Pizza Rolls is endless.
  
Here's my dough rolled out and covered with our toppings.



Pizza Rolls cut into 1" sections.



Plated and Served... YUM!


Friday, July 29, 2011

A night with the Lynema's

Aunt Dawn and Uncle Keith became Grandparents in January and asked Rob if he could make them a custom gate for their staircase similar to the gate my dad made for us. Of coarse, Rob said he would. He finished the gate this summer to keep their grand-kids safe now that they are reaching the rolling stage. So we set up a Sunday date and had lovely visit, a gate insulation, and pizza. Thanks for having us over Aunt Dee and Uncle Key!

Here is Rob's Gate... It looks GREAT!



 It's no secret that Ava loves her Uncle Keith whom she calls Uncle Key. They really do share a special connection which is truly warming to see in person. The first thing Ava said as she entered their home is, "Where's Uncle Key?" There is something about Uncle Keith that reminds me of my own father which is probably why Ava loves him so. They played together, snuggled each other, and made piano music together!

Here is a great picture of them!



Ava also met Cohan & Cohan met Ava!



I am pretty sure they liked each other!



The Music Man & Little Lady!



Ava was so happy to sing with Uncle Keith!



A little concert... Love the high-5 at the end!


video


Ava also spent some time re-arranging Aunt Dawn's Kitchen Decor. 


 
Thanks for being so laid back Aunt Dee!
You can see Ava kissing one of her Glass Cats.




I missed several moments of Ava trying her best to make Aunt Dawn's real cat, Carly Sue, a fan of hers. All in all the poor cat had no choice because Ava stalked her around the condo! She really loves this cat. Next time I will try to get them together on film. There was only one tiny incident where Carly Sue had enough of Ava and pawed at her hand asking Ava to give her some breathing room. Ava was so upset that Carly Sue "bit" her big finger (her thumb). Ava eventually realized that she was in Carly's space and Carly needed some more space so she said excuse me Ava with her paw. Ava said she was sorry for getting to close to Carly. A good lesson learned between toddler and feline. Here's hoping Carly Sue will come out of hiding when she sees Ava again! I am pretty sure Ava still thinks they are wonderful pals.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pickled CUCS!

Robs garden is over flowing with cucumbers this season. There are so many that we can't keep up with crop to be honest. So last weekend we tackled our first batch of pickled cucumbers! We used bread and butter seasoning that came in a packet and they turned out fabulous. We had enough cucumbers to can five quart jars and a single jar of the left over juice. We are looking forward to our next batch in a different flavor.

All of the goods needed to make canned pickles.



We used the hot bath technique. However next time we may just pour the hot water over the jars instead of submerging them in the boiling water to keep them a little more crisp.



Ten minutes of boiling, Six pops, and you have Pickles!



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Splash Pad Fun

My Best Friend Kris and I decided to take our girls to the splash pad in Allendale on a recent Saturday afternoon. We always have so much fun together and I love that our girls are growing up together. Emmie is the same age that Elise would be. If she were still here I can only imagine the fun they would be having and the trouble they would find. In her abscess, I am ever so thankful that Ava looks up to Emmie and Emmie takes such great care of Ava. Elise must look down on them from Heaven and smile, joyfully!

Ava following Emmie on the splash pad...


I love this picture of them standing side by side... pals!


Emmerson Reese... (Elise would be so grown up!)


Ava being Ava!


Leave it to Ava to play in the mud...


After our play date we went to Family Fare and Ava crashed!
(I couldn't resist this picture of her zonked out in the cart.)


I'm looking forward to many for fun times spent with Ava, Kris, and Emmie. Watching them grow up together is a joy. Like Sisters til' the end!!!

July Vacation 2011

Rob, Ava, and I had the week of July 4th off which is unusual so we took full advantage of this time off. We went to our cabin in Baldwin, Cherry Festival in Travers City, and to a cottage at Nichols Lake.

We had our friends the Huyser's with us along with my brother, Mark, and Rob's friends Grant and John. A mish-mash of people but a great crew all the same. The boys got a lot of work done while they were there for the week. The cabin was power washed, the deck and decorative fence were power washed, lawn cut, drain tiles placed, and the cabin (under the vinyl siding) was painted along with the porch. It looks like a million bucks!

Here is my favorite picture of Ava at the cabin holding Ladder Balls.


In between all of the work we had lots of good eats, bomb fires, smores, golf cart rides, kiddy pool time, kid movies, I read and tried out two new breakfast recipes. We went to a friends cottage on Big Star Lake and took the kids swimming, on boat rides, and tubing. Ava had a blast and yes she did have a tube ride! She did great and was such a big girl!

On Rob's Birthday, July 5th, we headed into Travers City for Cherry Festival. It was about 100 degrees in the shade but the Huyser's and Kolkman's managed to make the best of it! We wondered around all the food booths and took the kids on a few rides. Ava road her first Ferris Wheel and went on the carousel. Two rides and fourteen dollars later we didn't stay there long. We wondered the main street and went into a hanful to shops. I did a little wine tasting and bought a few cherry goods. I love chocolate covered cherries! Minus the heat it was a fun trip. We are thinking about heading there in the fall for an adult weekend and doing all the touristy stuff with friends.

On Wednesday July 6, Ava and I headed to Nichols Lake to spend some time with my family and Rob stayed at the cabin to finish all of his cabin projects. The next time I am there I will take a picture of the new paint job and all of his hard work!

Ava and I had a great time at the cottage with my mom, Christina, Jack, and Emma. It was the perfect cottage week and lots of fun was had by all! Here are a few pictures of our fun times.

Nichols Lake Log Cabin

 
Ava Splashing..


Ava Swimming...


Ava and Momma!


Me being a kid with Emma and her cousin, Nicholas on the water trampoline!


Ava taking great care of her Grandma. Gram is a good sport!


Jack reading to Ava


Ava and the wood duck she fell in love with and took home with her!
(She has expensive taste... this duck is #581 out of 2,900 from the Loon Lake Decoy Co.)


Ava and Emma...


I told them to make a funny face and this is what they gave me...


Ava trying to copy her cousin...


Two Goof-Balls!


Aunt-E. & Jack... He promises to NEVER outgrow me!


Aunt Nina, Jack, and Emma...


Christina and me...


Grandma and Emma...


It was a great week full of everything that makes summer... SUMMER! Fun times with family is all that it's about.