Another Autumn puzzle framed and hanging in the dining room. : )
It's official. It's Autumn. It's cool. It's cozy. It's time to bake. It's time for hot comfort food. It's time for fire nights. It's time to decorate. It's time to plan. It's time to clean. It's time to organize things. And I'm ready. I hope you can grab a cup of coffee or tea and read my second post for the month of September! : )
Ever since we had our first cool snap, my mind has been going in all directions. I, all of sudden, want to do everything. And I have to admit I'm kind of driving myself crazy because I can't seem to do everything I want to do. So..........I have to step back, take a breath, and make my lists. And then prioritize those lists and then jump in. I'm not taking my own advice in that, right now, I'm looking at the big picture and it seems overwhelming instead of breaking all these things I want to get done down into do-able jobs. So, after I'm finished with this post, that's exactly what I'm going to do!!!! : )
I have been getting into the kitchen which feels good again. Not that I took the whole summer off or anything like that, but in the summer I tend to plan cold, quick meals that go better with the heat. Now I am cooking and baking and getting to my mixes for the pantry. I do have a few recipes to share with you (most with photos - one not - sorry). I don't have as many as I thought I would but it's a start. : )
Because no one in our family went to the State Fair this year, we decided to have "Fair Food Night" in our backyard with "Fire Night" combined. We did this last year (because the Fair was cancelled) so we thought we'd do it again. Here was our menu:
This went outside where we were serving everything and then we just picked something off the list, made it, and ate it! The cheese curds I bought frozen and then we just deep-fried them outside (what is fair food without deep-frying?). We never did get to the hot sugar donuts. I made the onion strings (recipe below) and we deep-fried those as well (really good). We cooked the hot dogs on a camp stove. We never got around to the corn dogs either. And then I made my homemade chocolate chip cookie dough and baked them towards the end of the evening so we could have them fresh from the oven (with lots of milk). : ) The only thing that isn't on this menu is Fried Green Tomatoes which our daughter-in-law brought for all of us to try (yes, we deep-fried those too!). My goodness they were good so we'll have to remember that for next year. It was a lot of fun. We just made one thing at a time, went and sat by the fire to enjoy it and then went on to the next and played a trivia game in between eating. : )
Our camper was the cooking and serving spot.
We were out until midnight!
Our next planned "event" is outdoor movie night. We purchased a movie projector that plays DVD's and we already have a screen, so we're looking forward to that as well. The menu for that night is Walking Tacos with sodas, the old-fashioned theatre candy you can buy at the Dollar Tree, and popcorn, of course. : ) We'll also have the hot sugar donuts that we didn't get around to on Fair Night.
I encourage you to plan fun things with your family this fall. Good memories.
Here is the recipe for the onion strings - (I believe this is from the Pioneer Woman)
ONION STRINGS (no photo)
1 whole large onion
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 quart (to 2 quarts) canola oil
black pepper to taste
Slice the onion very thin and place in baking dish. Cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil to 375 degrees.
Grab a handful of onions and put them into the flour mixture. Tap to shake off excess. Put them into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as they are golden brown. I put them on a paper-towel-lined plate to soak up any grease. Repeat with other onions until they are all fried up. SO good. : )
Saturday nights around here are usually our Asian-inspired nights. I think it all started when we used to get Chinese take-out on Saturday nights, but now I would much rather cook the meals myself. I have a wonderful chicken wing recipe (which, I'm sure, is basically how everyone does it - but just in case...).
SHANGHAII CHICKEN WINGS
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce (I use the low-sodium)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
Mix these ingredients together and pour into a ziploc bag. Add your chicken wings and marinate overnight. When ready to bake, drain wings (discard liquid), and place them on a rack over a 9 x 13 baking sheet covered with foil on the bottom to catch the drips. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Oh yummy. Hope you can give these a try.
The next Asian-inspired meal was this:
Mix this sauce in a medium bowl and set aside:
4 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil on medium high heat. Stir in one bunch of green onions (I think I used about 6) and 4 cloves of garlic (minced) and cook for 1 minute. Stir in 1 lb. of shrimp that has already been cooked, peeled, and tails removed and stir so shrimp is covered in the oil. Stir in the above sauce mix and cook and stir until bubbly and thickened. Serve over rice. Again, SO good! : )
It's SO very important, when cooking, to prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time - especially with Asian food because it's mostly just adding one ingredient after another and stir-frying - it won't wait for you to get the next ingredient ready. The prep work is actually enjoyable. It helps you to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking. The reward for your work is a great meal!!!! : )
On Tuesdays around here it's Mexican night - not just Taco Tuesday anymore. I tried a new recipe that I've had in my "to try" box and last Tuesday was the night! It is also meatless which we don't do very often so it was a nice change. Here it goes:
BLACK BEAN AND SWEET POTATO ENCHILADAS
1 cup cooked rice (I used white)
1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups salsa or enchilada sauce (I used salsa, now I'm looking forward to the enchilada sauce)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
12 soft tortilla shells
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the sweet potato w/olive oil, salt and pepper and put on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add the red pepper and red onion - toss well and bake for 15 minutes more. Put this mixture into a large bowl and add cooked rice, black beans and 1 cup salsa. Mix well.
Prepare a large casserole or baking dish by pouring in 1 cup salsa or enchilada sauce on bottom and spread evenly. Put about 1/3 cup of filling onto each tortilla and sprinkle w/cheese and roll them up. Place seam side down and top with remaining salsa and cheese.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or till heated through.
I served these with sour cream and sliced green onions. Tortilla chips and salsa on the side.
Yes. They were great. : )
Now, for my last recipe, it's cookie time!!!!! I just took a photo of the recipe instead of writing it all out, so I hope you can read it. If not, just let me know.
These tasted like fall. Not only pumpkin, but molasses as well. Best of both worlds!!!!! : )
Soft and chewy. You have to sneak one right after they come out of the oven. Make sure you have your cup of coffee too. And if you want to make your house smell good.............these are it.
That is it for recipes this time. I'm continuing to try new recipes and then make sure I keep on making the old tried and true as well. Hopefully the next time I post I will have even more for you. : )
One new thing I did in our home is transition a tiny bedroom into a pantry. I had been going into this bedroom and just thinking that it was such a wasted space. It had my "office" space in one small corner but then it was just a bed and a small dresser with a few shelves. SO, we took the bed out and now it's a pantry. Not a pantry that holds food but a pantry that holds all my appliances and other things that my tiny kitchen wouldn't hold and those things that I was tired of going up and down the stairs to get. It's just right down the hall from the kitchen so it's easy peasy to get to things. Here are a few photos:
I feel it's a very workable space now. Everything in cabinets and drawers - out of the way, yet easily accessible. The Keurig is fun in here - it feels like a B & B where I can sip coffee in my mother-in-law's rocker and peruse a cookbook. I'm so happy with the way it came out - no wasted space anymore. With a small home I feel I need every room to work for us. We don't have the luxury of too much space so it does need to work.
Along with the rest of you, I've been trying to put little bits of fall touches in the home. Some old and familiar - some new for a change. But it comes with the changing of the seasons - I feel it's an important thing to do in our homes - I'll share a bit of home with you:
a little dollar store find
fake flowers but pretty nonetheless
a photo of a past pumpkin carving party
a bit of cute
in the living room
over the couch
an added touch
my favorite spot to sit and write
above the sink in the kitchen
I've just started outdoors, so I'm not ready to show photos of that yet. The scarecrows have to go up, buy a few mums and pumpkins, maybe a couple of signs......... : )
The YouTube channel I am now hooked on is called "Whippoorwill Holler" with Miss Lori and Mr. Brown. You just have to tune in and watch. They are just simple folk, wonderful people, and it's just a joy to watch and listen to.
The book I'm now reading is:
like I've said before, I work like crazy in the morning when I have energy, we have lunch at noon, and then I treat myself to reading for about a half an hour. I received this book as one of my birthday books and I'm about half way done. Good so far!!!
I'm pretty sure that's about it for this post!!! Thank you SO much for taking the time and visiting me. I appreciate it when you do. I hope this is finding all of you doing okay and staying well and planning on enjoying this time of year. We all know that the holidays are right around the corner and I'm getting excited for that too. I hope you all, as homemakers, remember to keep your home bright. To celebrate in ways that you may not have thought of before. Make your home enjoyable. Let's get back to living after feeling like we've been on hold for so long. Remember the old ways and bring them back - simple living, good food, laughter. Let that be enough and enjoy the life God has given us. We are blessed in SO many ways - let's begin to count the blessings! : )
God bless you all and I'll see you next month!