Domestic Accomplishments

Just another WordPress.com site

Processing Dried Herbs for Cooking

There is something refreshing about homegrown organic herbs.  Is it their enhanced aroma and taste? Or their amazing color and freshness? (see photo below: store bought w/ unknown origin on the left vs. my homegrown organic on right).

Maybe it’s all those things plus the fact you did it yourself… and it was easy!

In my last posted I showed you how to dry your herbs... now it’s time for us to process them for cooking.

What you will need:

A mortar and pestle

Labeled Jar for Storage

Dried Herbs

Discard plate for stems

 

Step 1:

Gently separate stems from the dried cluster

Step 2:

Remove leaves from stem and drop them into the mortar bowl. Discard stem.

Step 3: 

Use Pestle to crunch up the dried leaves. I start by gently mashing down on the leaves in the mortar. Then once they are smaller, I rotate the pestle around in circles until my desired leaf size is achieved.

Step 4: 

Put into labeled storage jar.

Step 5:

“Rinse and repeat” until you have process all your dried herbs.

I know what you are thinking, “Wow! That’s so easy… I can totally do that!”. Yes, you can!

Shoot, it you don’t have herbs growing in your backyard, you could always use this process on store bought fresh herbs… what a great way to keep from wasting what you couldn’t use. Hang them up in the window before trashing them next time!

DIY Dried Herbs

I recently harvested some herbs from the garden in my backyard.

Since Processing herbs to air dry is really easy,  I figured I would share for those that have never done it and want too!

Keep in mind air drying can be tricky in humid areas, and can result in molded herbs… I live in North Texas and can air dry just fine. I would suggest knowing your climate for best results.

Step 1:  Make the Cut

Holding your snips (or scissors) at a diagonal, cut the stem just above new growth.

This allows your plant to continue producing more herbs… and you to have future harvests! This is actually a very healthy and happy process for your plant.

Find the new growth toward the bottom of the stem and cut at a diagonal

This picture shows where I snipped off  my harvest just above the new growth… allowing plant to continue growing! 

Step 2: A Nice Cool Bath

Wash your cut herbs with cold water. I use a very mild soap bath to soak them in first (for about 30 minutes), then rinse in fresh clean water.

This bath will kill off any bugs hanging around and help remove animal accidents that you may not have noticed. Nature can be gross… the dried herbs you cook with shouldn’t be.

I harvested a bath tub full of herbs this time around… but normally I would wash them in the kitchen sink. 

Step 3: Be Picky

Go stem by stem and pinch/cut off the bad leaves.

Look for and remove leaves that have been eaten by bugs, have mold spots or other imperfections that make the leaf seem “not right”. When in doubt, go with your instinct. If it doesn’t seem right, and you wouldn’t want to eat it… don’t! Pop it off and throw it out.

Tip: Don’t compost moldy or diseased leaves. It is best to throw those leaves away or burn them. You don’t want to breed disease in your compost, leaving you with “sick” fertilizer.

Mold on leaf

Pinch’d off  moldy leaves to throw away… Rest of stem is ready to set aside on drying towel. 

Step 4: Air ‘em Out

Lay your pruned stems out on a dry towel for 30 minutes to an hour. Letting the leaves dry from the bath.

This will help keep them from molding.

Step 5: Tie ‘em up

If you are working with more than one type of herb, keep the herbs in their specific groups. Meaning- oregano should hang in ‘oregano only’ clusters. Once the herbs dry they are hard to separate  Splitting them in this way now, will make it easier for you later.

Tie the bunches with cotton string. They can be big or small bunches depending on your window space and the herb stem size.

Just remember not to oversize the cluster in order to reduce the amount of molding that can happen in the center of the bunch if it doesn’t receive enough air flow.

Important Tip: Tie a slip knot around your herbs… because as they dry the herbs will shrink in size and the string will loosen. With a slip knot, you can tighten the string to fit the cluster as it shrinks.

Step 5:  Hang ‘em Up

I like to pick a sunny window, because the heat helps create a dry environment for the herbs.

I remove the curtains from the window and use the existing curtain rod to hang my herbs from… it’s an easy trick.

my kitchen window makes a good home for smaller herb clusters

And  a larger window works for the long stemmed basil clusters

Step 6: Dried Out

Leave the herbs alone for a few weeks.

Once they are nice and dry/brittle to the touch… they are ready to be gently removed and crunched up into little spice jars for cooking.

It’s that simple! You can totally handle drying your own herbs. Haven’t started an herb garden yet? Try it out on some cilantro from the grocery store!

Let me know if you have any questions about the drying process! Good Luck!

Battlefield Love

Let’s set up a scene, one you have seen in just about every war movie:

There is a squad of men crossing a field, when suddenly they are taken by surprise and ambushed by the enemy. In an instant they are running through a field of bombs blasting fresh earth in their faces and bullets swarming the air like angry bees… one soldier is wounded, he falls. He is not killed, just badly hurt and can’t continue crossing to safety. One of his fellow soldiers drops to his knees and puts his bare hands over the gushing wound as he calls to another to run for help. He doesn’t leave the fallen soldiers’ side even while bombs, bullets and fear threaten his own life. He stays to save his brother.

The beauty of this heroic act  is a scene we can watch over and over again in films. It is the ultimate example of determined, leave no man behind, dedicated love.

I see the gift of this love reflected in my husband’s relationships. Sure, men aren’t perfect… but as boys they grow up playing out this exact scene on the playground. They learn what it means to stand by your friend through thick and thin.

I wish I had “battlefield love” in my relationships with women. The culture I have experienced with women, is that we are more likely to shoot a bullet in another women to stop her from being a threat, than stand by her when she falls. When will we stop looking at each other as an enemy, and start seeing a sister who is hurting? How do we build a leave no man behind determination in our relationships?

We open up with each other truthfully and determine to be vulnerable.  None of that “Oh, everything is good… just staying busy” rubbish… I am talking, telling the truth when we are hurting. “I am in a low place right now… the pressure of balancing work and kids is overwhelming me”.  Her truth doesn’t mean we judge her parenting ability or work ethic… It means we embrace her honesty. We lift her up and give her strength in anyway we can. Be it through prayer, encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, or even just an extra set of wheels to help ease a busy week of shuttling kids around. Whatever we can do, we step in and share our blessing of love.

We are all going to take turns being the wounded, but sometimes we might accidentally fall to our knees as a hero.

It’s time to stop leaving our sisters behind on the battlefield. It’s time to stand by the one who has fallen, and hold our hands over her wound to stop the bleeding so God can come in and heal her.

Vulnerability, it’s a dirty word

My instinct was never to guard my heart, if it was, I wouldn’t have learned to associate the word vulnerable with pain.

I was a “wild” child that loved life. Looking back, vulnerable was my national anthem. I sang without fear, danced without shame and laughed until my stomach muscles ached. Over the years, I was corrected. I learned from others that my voice doesn’t carry a pretty tune. My dancing lacks rhythm, and that it’s rude to laugh at farts. I was taught that my uniqueness, my quirks where bad/ inappropriate. I learned to blend in and act right

All my hard work to be right left me isolated and insecure.

I recently faced a hard question: Is that really the best my life can offer?

I am taking back my vulnerability. It is the gift that makes me real. It is the magical part of me that allows me to build friendships, laugh freely and breathe deep.

I am going to be open, and honest even about the ugly stuff. The ugly stuff  is what gives me depth.

I place the fears I built to “protect” myself into my God’s hands and I pray for strength and patience. I will be hurt by others fighting their own vulnerability… but once we break free, it will have been well worth the wait.

Honduran Tacos (g-free)

While in Honduras, I met a new gluten free food favorite… the Honduran Taco.

It reminds me of corn tortilla flautas… only with a different name I guess? I could be wrong about the specifics… but I am right about one thing… they taste great!

Delicious Honduran Tacos (G-free)

Ingredients:

Cooked and sliced grass fed beef (amount depends on how many you wish to make, a little bit goes a long way.)

Or Chicken (Sub in Cooked & Shredded Chicken in place of beef if you like, or veggies)

Shredded Cheese

Corn Tortillas (Mission Brand are gluten free)

Salsa

Additional:

Skillet (I use a wok)

Cooking Oil (Olive or vegetable)

Thongs

Toothpicks

Paper towels

Oven safe dish (I use a rectangular pyrex)

Step 1:

Preheat Oil in Skillet, on a medium heat. I use setting 5 on my electric stove. I also cook in a wok to avoid some of the hot oil shooting all over the kitchen while cooking. While waiting on your oil to heat up. Slice the precooked beef into quarter inch sized pieces.  (When cooking the beef, you want to leave it a little pink, since it is going to be cooked again) Here is a great tip for pan cooking beef.

Step 2:

Once the oil is evenly heated, gently slide one tortilla at a time into the skillet. Using thongs to flip the tortilla, allow the tortilla to “puff” up on both sides. You aren’t cooking the tortilla here, you are just softening it up so you can roll them easily… and this process will make the tortilla nice a crispy later! Carefully remove from skillet with thongs and place on a paper towel. (I like to “dab” both sides of the tortilla with a paper towel to absorb excess oil).

Step 3:

Make a line of meat and cheese (and salsa for flavor). Don’t go to heavy on stuffing the taco, less is more. If the taco is too full it will be hard to roll up. Once you have finished filling the taco, roll it  and place a couple toothpicks in it to hold it together. Put the rolled taco into a oven safe dish, and set to the side. Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Step 4:

I am sorry, I failed to take a picture of this part. Once you have filled all your tacos, pinned them and placed them in your dish (imagine what enchiladas look like, only have toothpicks sticking out of them)…

Place the dish in the oven for roughly 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. This process will bake the tortillas into a nice crisp shell! Once cheese is melted, remove from oven, take out the tooth picks and serve while they are still warm!

These taste great with guacamole, salsa and/or sour cream… or my personal favorite Honduran Mantequilla Crema.

Give the recipe a try, and if you have any questions please let me know! Have fun!

Easy Gluten Free Beanie Weenies!

I love beanie weenies. They were one of the core foods in my diet at a child… Beanie Weenies, Ramen Noodles and Popcorn.

I had my “little” cousins coming over for a slumber party and I was wondering what I could serve them that would keep my house gluten free, and be easy/tasty. I decided on beanie weenies since they are a pretty universal kid favorite. Turns out, they had never eaten beanie weenies before! These preteens had no idea how their life was about to change!

My aunts asked me later what my recipe was, because they were being asked to make some at home… all I could do was laugh and pretend to be appalled by their parenting… who would let their children miss out on such goodness?! Well, here is the recipe I shared with them, and I am sharing it with you so your kids don’t miss out too!

Easy Gluten Free Beanie Weenies (a kid favorite)

Ingredients:

(yeilds 1 1/2 serving… multiply recipe to fit your needs)

1 can of pinto beans

3 Beddar with Cheddar Johnsonville Dogs (there are other g-free brand hot dogs, I just really like the way these taste in this recipe)

Hefty squirt of ketchup

1 flattened off tablespoon of brown sugar

Step 1:

Drain can of beans and put in a microwave safe dish

Step 2:

Slice 3 cold cheddar dogs and add them to the bean dish

Step 3: 

Cover the top of beans and weenie slices with ketchup, stir in brown sugar

Step 4: 

Pop into the microwave (covered with paper towel or plate… ketchup might splatter). Heat 1 to 2 minutes at a time stirring in between until hot. Then serve while warm!

Side note: The slumber party turned out to be a total success!

Gluten Free Pupusas!

Some people bring home gifts and trinkets when they travel… others find fun new recipe ideas… I happen to belong to the second group. I love to come home with new recipes! It’s fun to serve my friends and family traditional foods from the countries I have visited, so they too can taste the adventure!

I had my first Pupusa in the Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. It was a pork and cheese… and it was wonderful!

Having celiac makes traveling difficult. I was having bad luck staying g-free on this trip and decided to keep from getting sick by sticking to a simple diet of refried beans, kind bars and (when available) rice… After two weeks of this simplicity the warm filling goodness of the pupusa was just what I needed. In fact, it tasted heaven sent.

I have been thinking about it since I got back home… so I found a recipe and figured I would give it a shot, with the ingredients I had in the house (chicken,cheese and homemade salsa)… Below is my variation of food.com’s Pupusa Recipe.

Gluten Free Chicken Pupusas

(recipe yeilds 5 to 6 pupusas)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups masa harina (Maseca Masa- is the gluten free corn flour that I use… the original recipe calls for less flour but mine was too sticky so I had to add a 1/2 cup more)

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Bag of Shredded Cheese (or the fillng of your choice)

1 Shredded Cooked Chicken Breast

Salsa

Additional Tools:

Mixing Bowl

Whisk (or fork)

Ziplock Bag (cut down the sides)

Spatula

Skillet (tip: for best cooking temp. preheat skillet to a low/medium heat before cooking- I used setting 5 on my electric stove)

Spray Olive Oil (or other non-stick spray)

Step 1: 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients- masa harina, cumin, and salt. Once nicely blended slowly add warm water to the mix. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add more flour if necessary, and if it is too dry/crumbly, slowly add small tablespoons of  more water at a time.

Step 2:

Take about half a cup of dough and roll it into a ball so that the dough is good and “bonded”, then gently flatten between hands. Now place it between two sheets of plastic (I use a ziplock bag split down the sides) and flatten pupusa dough into a roughly 6 to 7 inch circle, that is at least 1/4 inch thick. (The exact size doesn’t have to be prefect, but you don’t want the pupusa to be too thin or it might break open while cooking).

Step 3:

Here is where I did mine a little different. I was having trouble making the traditional round pupusa shape… so I made a hybrid… I filled one half of the pupusa with cheese, shredded cooked chicken and salsa then folded the other half on top and gently press together the ends to make a “sealed” pupusa.

Step 4: 

In a preheated skillet (medium heat- I use setting 5 on my electric stove). Evenly coat the skillet with spray on olive oil, then add the pupusa. Don’t get in a rush on this part, because the pupusa is thick, rushing will leave the cold in the center and burnt outside.  Be patient and take your time. Let it cook to a golden brown on one side before flipping and cooking the other. I gently (very gently) flatten the pupusa with my spatula as I am cooking it.

Step 5:

Once both sides are a nice golden brown remove from heat and serve warm! This is a fun team recipe… once person making the pupusas and another once doing the cooking.

I hope you enjoy this delicious and super easy gluten free recipe! Let me know how yours turned out, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Gluten Free Thin Mint “Oreos”

Cody loves Mint and Chocolate.

Since he doesn’t eat gluten (so he can be safe around me), I always feel guilty when we pass the Girl Scout’s and their Thin Mints, or Oreo’s new Mint covered Oreos. I remind him he can have them if he would like but he doesn’t waver. We just walk on.

The other day we came across MI-DEL’s Gluten Free Chocolate Sandwich Cookies at the grocery store (my local Tom Thumb), and I remembered that we had some Guittard Mint Chips left over from Christmas. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make Cody some Mint Chocolaty Treats!!

Cody was really excited and decided to lead this culinary project!

I was going to dip the cookies into the mint chips, but he had a really creative idea. He split the cookies in half and put the melted mint on top of the cream filling.

Cody stuck them in the fridge for a few minutes to harden and bam… they came out looking and tasting fantastic! Most importantly, they satisfy that Mint Chocolate Cookie craving!

Gluten Free Thin Mint “Oreo” Cookies

What you need to make these cookies:

1 package of Mi-Del Gluten Free Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (we made half a package, because I ate a few)

1/4 cup Guittard Green Mint Chips (give or take depending on how many cookies you make… it is easy to melt more as needed)

A Glass Microwave safe Pyrex or Glass bowl

Spoon (metal, not plastic)

Step 1: Melt Mint Chips in Pyrex or Glass bowl in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Check at 1 minute, it won’t look like the chips are melted but once you stir them they should start “smoothing out”. Once the chips stir smooth and are all melted they are done.

Step 2: Remove tops from the cookies and with your spoon apply the melted mint. Cody did this cookie by cookie, if you wanted to be more efficient you could remove all the tops at once before melting the chips, then reapply the tops after you have added the mint.

 Step 3: If you haven’t already, put the top back on the cookie.

Step 4: Put the finished cookies into the freezer or refrigerator for 3-5 minutes.

Step 5: Serve!!! You can eat them cold or at room temperature. Whatever is your favorite!
As I said before, Cody loves mint and chocolate so that is why we made this combo… but you could melt dark, milk or white chocolate chips to get a whole different type of cookie… No longer will you need to pass the newest Oreo creation and think “I so would have bought those, too bad now I will never know how good it is”… just get your g-free oreos and hit up the baking goods aisle!!

Did you get inspired and make something amazing?! Let me know! I would love to try it!

DIY Embroidery Baby Gift

My brother’s lovely lady Alyson is expecting their second son early this spring and I am ecstatic! This news also gave me a great opportunity to have fun creating them a Christmas gift this year!

Using one of my favorite Etsy works “The Giant Suburban Bear Monster” by artist Matte Stephens as my inspiration I created these onesies:

You will need (to make 2 onesies like the picture above):

2 Baby Onesies (you pick the size you need, I used 0-3months)

2 6×6 pieces of muslin (any size/type of fabric will do as long as you have room around the image to set the embroidery hoop properly)

2 Images (computer print outs or hand drawings/sketches)

1 Sheet of Tracing Paper

1 Sheet of Black Graphite Paper

1 Pencil

1 Pen

Embroidery Floss

Embroidery Needle

Embroidery Hoop

Sewing Pins

Sewing Machine with Thread.

Scissors

Step 1: Sketch the drawings onto some scratch paper. (I did mine by hand while looking at my reference art, I modified the art to best fit the embroidery work I was going to do).

Step 2: Use a sheet of tracing paper and a pencil to trace the sketches from step 1. (I use pencil on the tracing paper so that I can use pen when I trace it onto the fabric. This allows me to see where I have traced without needing to lift up the graphite paper and potentially mess up the transfer).

Step 3: Using black graphite paper and a pen, I transferred the tracing paper image onto a large square of muslin. (Put image into middle of fabric so there is room for the embroidery ring to pull image tight… it is also important to tape down your image while transferring so it doesn’t move).

Step 4: Embroider!

Step 5: Pin the finished embroidery image onto the onesie.

Step 6: Sew around the image.

Step 7: Using your scissors, cut off the extra fabric.

And your done! The finished onesies should look something like this:

These make a great gift, but would also be fun for a Mom who wants to have cute clothes at a great price. A package of 5 onesies at Target cost me $10. I probably could have found a better deal, but I wasn’t in the shopping mood. The embroidery floss, muslin and sewing machine thread are really inexpensive if you plan on doing multiple projects.

Don’t know much about embroidery? That is okay! I didn’t either! http://www.sublimestitching.com/ is the perfect place to get started!

I hope this inspires some more cute baby clothes, and if it does, please share them with me! I can’t wait to see what you create!

How Udi’s Saved Christmas… or at least the Christmas party…

It was a long Pre-Christmas Day… full of shopping and wrapping. Last minute gifts and neighbors merrily chit chatting. When all of a sudden to my suprise, I noticed the time 30 minutes till 5. I was due at a small Christmas party at 6, a 20 minute drive away, and I had not yet showered or prepared my promised Christmas dessert dish. With not a minute to spare I jumped to a cook book and started to panic for I had run out of time to prepare intricate gluten free treats for this festive affair.

Just at that moment, a Christmas miracle graced my kitchen, I looked in the cabinet and saw my Udi’s cookie collection. I will not admit why I have so many packages of cookies on hand… but I will say it served me well, for my last minute Christmassy plan:

GLUTEN FREE DOUBLE MINT DARK CHOCOLATE BROWNIE BITES:

1 package Udi’s Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites

1/4 Cup Guittard Green Mint Chips

1 Peppermint Candy Cane (we use Bob’s Candy Canes)

A Glass Microwave safe Pyrex or bowl

Spoon

A Hammer

Step 1: Melt the mint chips in the microwave for 1 minute. When you take them out of the microwave they will still be in “chip form”.  Stir them until they are smooth.

Step 2: While chips are melting in the microwave, you have 1 minute of “hammer time” with the peppermint stick turning it into little peppermint confetti.

Step 3: Once the mint chips are smooth and creamy, spoon them onto the brownie bites. I put a “dollop” on each, then I came back through using the bottom of my spoon and smoothed out the tops.

Step 4: Sprinkle on the candy cane pieces and poof… like adorable Christmas magic… they are all done!

Whole process took less than 5-10 minutes… and that may be stretching it.

So fast in fact… I was quickly able to start the next set of cookies…

SANTA’S GLUTEN FREE THUMB PRINT COOKIES:

1 package of Udi’s Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (I only used 6, since it was a small party)

1/4 Cup Guittard Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar  (I used Walmart’s Gluten Free Powered Sugar)

A Glass Microwave safe Pyrex or bowl

Spoon

Step 1: Lay out the oatmeal raisin cookies on a plate (not what you intend to serve them on, or in my case, carry them in because the powered sugar can get a little messy) 

Step 2: Melt the 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds. Once the minute is up, stir the chips until they are smooth. They need to be just a little runny so it’s easier to drip them onto the cookie.

Step 3: Put a “dollop” of dark chocolate onto each cookie.

Step 4: Sprinkle the tops with Powered Sugar. After the cookie has been “sugared” turn it upside down and lightly shake/tap it to remove extra sugar.

That’s it… they are done. How easy was that?! This may have been my favorite cookie, since I am a sucker for oatmeal raisin.

The final cookies where fun and my Husband’s favorite…

GLUTEN FREE SNICKER-DOODLE SNOWMEN COOKIES:

1 Package of Udi’s Snickerdoodle Cookies (I only used 6 cookies, so my recipe reflects that amount)

Red Hots (2 per cookie… I am not sure what brand we used, but Betty Crocker makes Gluten Free Red Hots)

Plain Almonds (1 per cookie, I get mine in the bulk section of Whole Foods)

Betty Crocker Cupcake Gem Pearls (4 per cookie)

2 Tablespoons Land O Lakes Cinnamon Sugar Butter

2 or more Tablespoons Powdered Sugar (I use Walmart’s store brand, it’s labeled Gluten free on the back) 

Bowl

Step 1: Make impromptu icing with the Cinnamon Sugar Butter and Powered Sugar. Hand mix it in a bowl.

Step 2: Spread the icing over the top of the cookie and add the face, using the red hots, almond and pearl sprinkles. There are no more steps… it’s that easy… and they are done.

However if you don’t want to make faces, or don’t have all the supplies on hand like I did… they look cute with just an almond in the center. Use the icing as a sugary glue.

I made all 3 sets of decorated cookies in less than 30 minutes. I was in the shower and made it to the Christmas Party on time and stress free!

The Cookies were a hit! Everybody oohh’d and awh’d over them. It made me feel good to provide a deliciously soft and adorably decorated cookie that no one suspected of being gluten free! Plus, I think there is something special about eating a fancy cookie. It just makes Christmas a little more special.

Wondering how much you need to make? Our party was 6 people and I prepared 9 brownie bites, 6 oatmeal raisin cookies and 6 snickerdoodle cookies. We had more than enough cookies.

This is a great way to celebrate with fun cookies if gluten free baking has got you down, or you are in a hurry after work.

It’s also a good way for family members who want to suprise their gluten free guests with a safe treat! Just remember to keep the area you prepare the cookies in clean and gluten free, and serve the cookies on their own gluten free plate. If you have any questions on how make a safe gluten free zone for your celiac/intolerent guest let me know! I am more than happy to answer your questions!

Merry Christmas folks!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.