Aprons for Little Ones

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I don’t do a lot of sewing but I’ve been having a great time making these colorful aprons for little ones. There are so many great designs and colors that make shopping for fabric great fun as well. I have gifted several aprons and sold some. Great for budding artists or beginning chefs!  I even found colorful little whisks and spatulas to put in the pockets. The best part has been getting pictures of children wearing them.

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When I get more pictures of smiling faces I will add them to this post.

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Rhubarb, Strawberry, Apple Crisp

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After making three batches of strawberry jam I had strawberries left and I decided to make a crisp with berries, rhubarb and apples. One of my dad’s and my daughter’s favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb so I know they have both loved this dessert.  Easy to make and great served warm with some ice cream or fresh whipping cream.

Ingredients:

3 cups diced rhubarb

2 cups strawberries hulled and halved

1 cup peeled and diced apple

1 cup granulated sugar

3 T flour

zest of one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup melted butter

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl combine fruit, granulated sugar, lemon zest and 3 T flour. Toss to combine and pour into an 8×10 baking dish.

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In the same bowl you tossed the fruit around in add the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and butter for the crisp and mix to combine.

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Using your hands crumble the crisp ingredients over the fruit.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the crisp should be a golden brown.

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No pictures of us enjoying this dessert. Shortly after it came out of the oven I covered it with foil, wrapped it in a bath towel and took it to a friend’s house for dessert. It was amazing if I do say so myself. My Dad and daughter would have been in dessert heaven. I whipped up some fresh cream and brought it along to top the crisp.

NOTE:  I learned a simple and time saving tip for whipping cream from one of my many food magazines.   If you have an immersion blender put the heavy cream and a little granulated sugar into a quart jar and after a few spins of the immersion blender you have perfect whipped cream. No cream splatter on the counter and easy to store in the fridge or transport to serve with dessert.

 

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic

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One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan.  Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar.  With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick.  The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.”  They are right. It’s a perfect addition.

Ingredients:

5 cups “smashed” strawberries

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon

OR

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar

1 pkg fruit pectin

7 cups granulated sugar

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I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.

Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.

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Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle.  Gradually stir in the pectin.

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Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.

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Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.

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Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

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I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess.   I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars.  After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.

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We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.

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NOTE:  One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups.  And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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I almost always prefer green salsas to red ones.  Unless the green salsa is very hot and the red is not. In New Mexico they use the term “Christmas” when both red and green chilies are used in a dish…or, if you can’t choose your salsa, just tell them you want Christmas.

I like this mild salsa made with tomatillos. Tomatillos look like green tomatoes with a papery covering.  Apparently ripe tomatillos are red or purple but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ripe one. When you choose them in the grocery they should be firm but not hard and the papery husks should be open but intact. They have a hint of citrus flavor and, like tomatoes, they add acid to a dish.  This salsa is very easy to make.

Salsa Ingredients:

6-7 tomatillos

2 jalapeños (seeded or not)

2 poblano peppers

3-4 garlic cloves whole

1 fresh lime

1 small onion rough chopped

Salt to taste

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Wash the peppers and tomatillos, halve them and spread them out on a baking sheet along with the whole garlic cloves.

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Roast then under the broiler until they are nicely charred.

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Add the roasted vegetables along with their juices and the chopped onion into your food processor. Pulse until smooth.  Juice the lime and stir in along with salt to taste.

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This roasted tomatillo salsa is great with warm corn chips.

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Or on your fish taco. Spicy baked cod, queso fresco (mild Mexican farmers cheese), slaw and salsa.

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Or to spice up breakfast.  Potatoes fried with onions and peppers, over easy eggs, crispy bacon and tomatillo salsa.

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I love cilantro and, if I had had cilantro on hand, I would have added it to this salsa. Also, I seeded my jalapeños but if you prefer more heat leave the seeds. Whatever modifications you make I hope you enjoy changing up your usual red for a little of the green or opting for Christmas.

Super Laundry Sauce

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Looks good enough to eat but it’s definitely not edible. It’s sauce for doing your laundry. It’s an excellent stain remover. It’s easy to make. And it’s economical. Very economical!  You can do 128 loads of laundry for less than $2.00.  I like a bargain as much as the next person but the real reason I keep making this is because it works so well.

Ingredients:

1 bar Fels Naptha

3 cups boiling water

1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax Powder

1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

2 wide mouth quart jars

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You’ll find all of these ingredients in the laundry section in the grocery store.

Cut the bar of Fels Naptha in half and then chop each half into little pieces.

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Put half the chopped up Fels Naptha in one jar, half in the other. Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water in each jar, cover, and let them sit until the next morning.

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The next morning you can turn the jar upside down and the Fels Naptha and water will have gelled. Use a butter knife to score the gel.

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Add one half cup of the 20 Mule Team Borax to each jar. Add one half cup of the Arm and Hammer Washing Soda to each jar. Put the tea kettle on and add boiling water just up to the shoulder of each jar. Leave about an inch and a half of headspace.

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Using an immersion blender blend the mixture until it looks like mayonnaise.  Or if your mason jar will fit the base of your blender whip until smooth and creamy. If you don’t own an immersion blender or a regular blender scrape the contents into a deep bowl and whip with a hand mixer. Once it’s whipped use a rubber spatula to work it back into the jar.

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One tablespoon is all you need to wash a large load of laundry. Great for front loaders and high efficiency machines because it is low sudsing.

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If you have a stain rinse the area with cold water and use some of the laundry sauce to pretreat. Everyone I know that’s made this sauce loves it!

I originally found this recipe on a site called Budget101.com.