Making Your Own Soda

 

Homemade Summertime Refreshment

 

 

Last Christmas, my husband asked for a Soda Stream so he could cut down on the sugary soda and make his own sparkling flavored waters. I thought this was a great idea and searched the internet for recipes for homemade soda syrups.  Turns out there are so many great combinations and they follow a basic recipe of a simple syrup and fruit and herbs.

 

To make a simple syrup, combine one cup of water to a half cup of sugar. To flavor your simple syrup, throw in about 3-4 cups of fresh fruit and fresh herbs and bring to a boil. Mash up your fruit with a potato masher to release the juices and flavors. Simmer for a half hour. Strain the fruit and herbs with a fine mesh sieve, mashing the fruit into the sides to further bring out the flavor. Store the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

When your want to make your soda, add 3-4 ounces of your syrup to your sparkling water.

 

For my first attempt, I made a Ginger Peach Combo

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It was delicious, so I tried a Grapefruit and Mint Combo. (Not so delicious.) But there are so many flavor combinations to try, I’m ready to experiment.

 

Like…

Strawberry Basil

Cherry Vanilla

Blueberry Sage

Pineapple Mint

I think you’re only limited by your imagination! And these sodas are especially good if your kids, like mine, drink too much commercial sodas. These are all natural and you can control the amount of sugar. And these soda syrups would make really pretty hostess gifts. You don’t need a soda stream-you can just add it to plain sparkling water from the grocery store.

 

If you try this, I’d love to hear how yours came out!

 

Peace,

K

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Valentine’s Projects Galore

The very first moment I beheld him, my heart was irrevocably gone.–jane austen

Oh my gosh! No quote could ever be more true to me! I do not pretend to not know how blessed I am to have three (3!) “hims” in my life…my husband, and my two boys.

Most days I take this all for granted. Don’t we all sometimes?

But with Valentine’s Day approaching and being the crafty little crafter I wish to be, I’ve been perusing the internet for heart themed ideas. There is no shortage, let me tell you, and it can become very overwhelming.

So I put together some projects and links that look interesting, fun and tasty.

But first off, a little something from the lyrical genius of Bruce Springsteen that will get you in the mood. This song is beautiful, the words ever so true if you want a long and lasting relationship.

Now that you’re in the mood, how about some food? (Rhyming unintentional).

In my household, pizza is ALWAYS welcome!

Noreen from Picture the Recipe came up with this very cute heart-shaped pizza.

Valentiness-Day-Heart-Pizza-small


Cupcakes, pies and cookies are always welcome too!

Style Motivation has a bunch of recipes with beautiful pictures, but I like this one best!

20-Hart-Shaped-Food-Recipes-for-Sweet-Valentine-12Wouldn’t those be lovely to receive?


Ok…we need a pretty tablesetting…

Lemon Tree Creations came up with a tablescape I would definitely mimic.

Mason Jars Vintage Valentines? I'm in!

                    Mason Jars and Vintage Valentines? I’m in!


Printables! How could I forget the printables? There are so many wonderful graphic artists out there on the web that sometimes offer their printables for free! Yay!

Tatertots and Jello is one of my favorite blogs and this link will hook you up to some very cute projects and FREE  printables.

Like this one

from funky polkadot giraffe.

     from funky polkadot giraffe.


So now we have food, desserts, tablescape…what are we missing?  Hmmmm…..

VALENTINES!

(duh, me!)

Whipperberry came up with these very cute homemade Valentines that I think I will try.

Melted Crayon Hearts

       Melted Crayon Hearts


I hope I have left you with some Heart-sy Valentine-y ideas to try this year.

And if all else fails, Hallmark cards work for me!

Right, Babe?

(My husband knows from past experience what happens if I don’t get a Valentine’s card.)

Me without a Valentine's card...

Me without a Valentine’s card…

Love and Peace,

Kathy

There Truly IS Comfort in Food!

 

 

This has been a very rough winter all over the country, (except maybe San Diego where is seems to always be 80 degrees and sunny, but who could afford to live there, anyway?)

When you are holed up in your house with kids that want to run around outside but can’t because of the Artic wind chill, what do you do but cook satisfying, warm, delicious food?

Spring WILL come, summer too, and we can save the fat and calories for then…Then we will make grilled vegetables, fruit salads, and light and easy suppers.

For now, our bodies (at least mine) are craving thick, hearty soups and stews, macaroni and cheese, creamy pastas, etc.

I thought I would share a wonderful recipe that is so delicious it has to be distributed amongst the many, many followers of this blog.

(All seven of you, are you ready?)

chicken and dumplings

This recipe is tweaked by me, but I cannot take the credit for it.  Instead it is the genius of someone named Mrs. Hering and dates back to 1890 and Marshall Field’s department store in the beautiful, wonderful city of Chicago.

The actual recipe is Mrs. Hering’s Famous Chicken Potpie

I found it in the magnificent “The Marshall Field’s Cookbook” which is chock full of outstanding recipes.  Seriously, run out and buy it now!  You can find it here.

Now I don’t do well with pie crust, so that is where I changed the recipe a little.

Ingredients

1 (3 1/2-pound) frying chicken

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1 small onion, halved

2 teaspoons of salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, diced

3 carrots, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup dry sherry

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

Combine chicken, carrot, celery, onion, and salt in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover and bring to boil over high heat.  Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.  Move the chicken to a plate and allow to cool.  Boil the broth for 20 minutes to concentrate.  Strain the broth and throw away the vegetables.  Pull the chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces.

Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the butter.  When melted, add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook for 10 minutes until the onion and vegetables are soft.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk and 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth.  Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring often for 10 minutes.  Add the chicken meat, thyme, sherry, peas, parsley, salt, and pepper and stir well.

At this point, I add dumplings!  I know it’s supposed to be a chicken pot-pie but the dumplings work very well, also! 

Serve in warmed bowls and watch it disappear.

My kids and husband INHALE this and it’s perfect for a cold, snowy day.

And, if you don’t have the ingredients and can’t plow your way through 3 feet of snow, here’s another good idea for you…

Pancakes

 

Dearest Mrs. Hering and Marshall Field’s,

Thank you for your genius and I hope many get as much culinary pleasure out of this recipe and I do! (please don’t be mad I shared your recipe.)

Peace,

K

A Recipe I’ll Share…

 

Summertime is in full bloom and I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes that is both healthy and extremely easy to prepare.

Gazpacho a la Kathy

This is a combination of several gazpacho recipes that I have tried over the years and I love to have it on hand on hot, summer evenings.  It’s cool, refreshing and full of summer vegetables.  I would imagine it’s low in calories and pretty good for you, too.

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra Virgin (no simple virgins here) Olive Oil
  • Garlic Croutons
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 2-4 Cloves of Garlic (Depending on how garlicky you like your food).
  • 1 lime
  • 3-4 Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Vegetable Juice
  • 1 semi-ripe Avocado 

 

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In a food processor, add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of your croutons.

Slowly drizzle in your olive oil till it makes the croutons a pasty consistency.  I didn’t specify exact measurements because the amount of olive oil added depends on the amount of croutons, but here’s a picture to give you an idea of what it should look like…

005

 

Your next step is to enlist the help of little hands to shred the cucumber like this…

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Chop up your green pepper into leetle pieces…

003

 

…and throw the crouton paste, shredded cucumber and green pepper in a big bowl.

Next, cut your onion and tomatoes into quarters and place them into the bowl of your food processor along with the amount of garlic you want and pulse a few times until they are chopped up real nice.

At this point, add the juice of one lime, 3-4 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce, a handful of the cilantro and pulse until it looks like this…

007

 

Place that mixture in the bowl with the croutons, green pepper and cucumbers and mix it up real good.

The consistency at this point reminds me too much of salsa, so add the vegetable juice until it resembles a nice, chunky soup.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cut up the avocado and add to the soup.

Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight to let the flavors mix.  I usually end up adding more vegetable juice after a couple hours because it tends to thicken up again.

Serve instead of a salad, and crunchy French bread on the side goes well.

Let me know if your tried it and what you think!

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                     Enjoy!

 

Peace,

K