Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

Love these potted pumpkin pies found at the super cool blog, inchmark.

I’ll be spending my weekend with a kangaroo and the karate kid! Happy Halloween!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Megasimple Money Saving Tips {1-3}

I haven’t written about saving money since there are blogs out there dedicated to the topic, but I’m going to share some megasimple money saving ideas, tips resources and recipes that can add up to considerable savings. 

Tip {1} Follow money saving blogs.  Two of my favorites are and

Tip {2} Have a money saving plan.  We took the Dave Ramsey course and it gave us direction and helped us develop a budget and a “get out of debt” plan.

Tip {3} Eat in.  This is a tough one for us and our goal is to eat in “more”. I did figure out that the megasimple breakfast I posted about on Monday calculated out to cost .74 cents/serving. That’s motivating to me to know how much cheaper that breakfast was than what I would have ordered in a restaurant.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stella Leona Hot Chocolate

I enjoyed a cup of Stella Leona hot chocolate on my porch swing the other morning. This isn’t your childhood made from powder and water hot chocolate and you won’t find any dehydrated marshmallows in it.  It’s the real deal, made with milk and real chocolate shavings.  It’s really smooth and creamy and it will turn you into a hot chocolate snob because you just won’t be able to drink Swiss Miss ever again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three Ingredient Breakfast

I love a megasimple three ingredient meal.  I saw this over at tasty kitchen and had to try it.  The avocado and runny yolk compliment each other really well.  Start with a plain piece of wheat toast.  Add three slices of avocado and put a poached egg on top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This weekend we had a discussion among friends about salt and whether it is a seasoning or not. In a weak attempt to get Kent to appreciate my sodium habit I tried to draw a photography parallel.  I said, “Salt is like Photoshop. It enhances all that is already there.”  It’s so true, but it didn’t work. He’s still the salt nazi.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Random Friday

Love this commission project by artist Paul Ferney!


Halloween Drinks by Martha.

Pumpkin Carving and decorating ideas by Martha.

Cake Pops
by Bakerella.

You haven’t tried ice cream until you’ve tried Jeni’s Ice cream.

Picture from Jeni’s Website.

This ice cream is like non other and has recently been named, by The Food Network, as one of America’s best! The flavors are unique and this ice cream is more about the flavor than the sweetness.  The portion sizes are perfect; not to big and not too small.  The customer service is exceptional and they give out tiny spoon sized samples of anything you want to try.  They actually encourage you to try before you buy.

Jeni’s is produced in small batches and is a family owned and operated company that puts stock in using local “fresh ingredients found in the Ohio Countryside” as well as “responsibly raised exotics from around the world” per Jeni’s website.  It’s produced from raw fresh ingredients with a local conscious in mind. That makes me like it even more. 

Visit Jeni’s blog for more about this awesome company!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekend Recap

We went away to a much needed retreat in Pennsylvania this weekend.  It was so relaxing. This was my favorite view.
 IMG_3132 This was a prayer labyrinth perched on top of a hill overlooking my favorite view.
IMG_3052 IMG_3090
We got lost on this hike. Really lost for over two hours and yes, we had a trail map.  It. didn’t. help.  But that was ok because the hike was beautiful. It was good exercise and we cracked up laughing at texts being sent to us from people sitting in a cozy dining hall enjoying lunch. Texts like…”Do you have a trumpet?”  and “Whip out your ipad and use it as a flashlight.”IMG_3205 
We made a pit stop on our way home and hung out with these boys.  No better way to end a weekend! Then we came home and there were mice in our house which totally shot my nerves and now I need another retreat!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Friday

Did know it’s Sweetest day Saturday? Check out these sweets.

I LOVE this megasimple wedding.

Check out All My Wedding Faves.

Possibly the best blog giveaway of all time. 

Other ways to use canning jars.

This video found at NieNie.

Have a wonderful fall weekend! See you back here Monday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photography Lesson {1}

Remember I posted here that I was going to start learning how to use my camera?  I had my first lesson in Goll Woods today. Kent said I looked like a tourist the way I was carrying my camera with the strap around my neck. I still left it around my neck which made him laugh.  You know why I left it there?  I left it there because If it wasn’t around my neck he’d be watching it like a hawk to see if I’d drop it.IMG_3016
IMG_3020 IMG_3036 
I used a 300mm lens to take these close up shots. While taking these shots Kent kept talking about aperture, shutter speech and ISO.  I reminded him that I can’t compute their relationships and how they all work together.  My brain doesn’t work that way.  The second I look through the lens all I’m thinking about his how jiggley and unsteady I am.  The focus point bouncing all over the leaves totally distracts me.  Then I told him he’s going to need to describe these three big photography concepts in pictures so I can memorize them.  IMG_3045 
We started our run in Goll Woods and Kent started spouting all this stuff about aperture, shutter speed and ISO again.  I had to tell him that all I heard was WAAH, WAAH, WAAAH, WAAAH, WAAAH…WAAH! You know, like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons.  A Photography lesson and exercise are two tasks that cannot be multitasked by me. I am way to focused on survival to learn anything while running.

More photography posts to come where I’ll actually share something I’ve learned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Using Pesto – Recipe {4}

Using pesto doesn’t get more megasimple than this 10 minute meal.  It’s fast, simple, tasty, cheap and a great way to use up some of the lingering tomatoes from our garden. 
IMG_8847 IMG_8843
Directions: Top tortillas with your favorite ingredients or whatever is in your fridge and bake at 350 for 6-7 minutes.  We typically broil for a couple additional minutes to crisp up the tortillas and brown the cheese. If using fresh basil add after the pizzas come out of the oven.  Adding basil after baking keeps it from turning dark and wilted. Quarter each tortilla with a pizza cutter and enjoy.

Tonight we made…

Pizza 1: Pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
Pizza 2: Olive oil, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
Pizza 3. Wing sauce, shredded chicken, Mexican blend cheese and tomatoes.
Pizza 4: Pesto, shredded chicken, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pecan Pie

Picture from

I’m still on a fall flavors kick and I made this pie over the weekend.  I followed this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, but made two changes.  1. I used a premade frozen crust because it’s even more megasimple that way.  2. I used Orange Glazed Pecans from Stella Leona instead of regular pecans. It was really good and got rave reviews from my family.  I’d definitely make it again.  It was a little runny and didn’t set up as well as I’d hoped. I’m thinking next time…less karo and more pecans, but without a doubt this recipe is a keeper!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Using Pesto – Recipe {3}

Using pesto doesn’t get anymore megasimple than this!  This is just store bought hummus with pesto in the middle and pretzel chips for dipping. I took this to a cookout and it was gone in no time!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

There was a shortage of pumpkin last year which results in a shortage of canned pumpkin early this fall.  I’m a little late on this post as the stores are stocked again, but I wanted to give this a try nonetheless.IMG_8635
You want to use pie pumpkins to make puree.  The pumpkins grown for jack-o-lanterns can be stringy and not as sweet.  I found these sugar pie pumpkins at The Green Grocer in the North Market.
IMG_8637 1. De-stem and cut the pumpkins in half from stem to bottom.
2. Scoop out the stringy parts and the seeds.
3. Place open side face down in a roasting pan.
4. Add  2c. of water.
5. Bake at 375 for 1 hr and 15 minutes or until flesh is soft.
6. Scoop out flesh, remove skin and puree in a food processor or smash with a fork.
7. Freeze in freezer bags or containers.

Pumpkin Puree Scoop

Soooooo…the jury is still out on whether I would do this again or not.  I definitely need to see how it tastes when I use the puree to cook with.  I need to do some pumpkin research too.  Although the pumpkins weren’t labeled in the grocery, it seems as though I had two different varieties.  Notice how one roasted up with a hard shell in tact and the other skin shredded when I scooped out the flesh.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the purees were slightly different in color and one was stringier than the other.  These two pumpkins yielded about 2.5 to 3 cups of puree.  IMG_8652
Whoops.  I just noticed too that the smaller amount actually came from the smaller pumpkin that had the shell left.  The smaller pumpkin puree color and smell seemed more like what comes out of the can.  The larger pile came from the larger pumpkin with the shredded skins and was stringier and lighter in color.

Right now, I’m kind of thinking that canned pumpkin will do. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Canned Pizza Sauce and a Deep Dish Pizza Pie POST EDIT!

It was brought to my attention by a very expert canner that my method of self sealing or “Open Kettle Canning” is an outdated canning method.  The current modern recommendation for canned products containing tomatoes is to hot water bathe the jars for 45 minutes. I’d hate to steer any canners in the wrong direction and time saving shouldn’t be a substitute for health safety.  I’ve edited this post to include modern methods. 

The following  Q and A was taken from the Ball Canning site…

“Is it safe to pack fully cooked food into jars, adjust the caps and store it without additional heat processing?”

“The method of canning you described is referred to as the open kettle method. Open kettle canning is not a safe method to use. This method results in a high rate of food spoilage. Although the food is hot and may be fully cooked, it is difficult to reach and maintain the temperatures necessary to destroy spoilage microorganisms. If spoilage microorganisms are not destroyed, the food can spoil even though the cap is tightly closed.”

Go here to watch a tutorial on the Step by Step FreshPreserving of high Acid Foods!

I came home late from work one night last week and Kent was canning pizza sauce.  It was the perfect way to use up some tomatoes from our garden. IMG_8610Recipe:

    • 75 -84 tomatoes
    • 3 large onions, minced
    • 12 garlic cloves, minced
    • 9 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 3 teaspoons cracked pepper
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 6 tablespoons parsley, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons oregano
    • 3 tablespoons basil
    • 3 teaspoons rosemary
    • 3 teaspoons celery seeds
    • 6 teaspoons salt

1. Use a victorio strainer to peel and deseed the tomatoes into a sauce.
2. Mince the onions and garlic (we use minced garlic from a jar).
3. Put the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and garlic until transparent.
4. Combine all ingredients, bring to a rolling boil and cook down until it gets thick. (approximately 3-4 hours).
5. Stir every 15 minutes to prevent burning.
6. Ladle in hot jars, place lids and caps.
7. Hot water bathe for 45 minutes.

Saturday, we made a deep dish pizza pie to try out the sauce. We used what we had on hand; green peppers, onions and sausage. It was awesome.  We used a deep pie dish and it worked really well for this pizza.  I’ve been spoiled by Kent’s pizza making skills and really prefer homemade over takeout.  Tasty and so much cheaper than delivery too! 
IMG_8626IMG_8627This is a deep dish pizza crust recipe that Kent got from our friend Julie who got it from America’s Test Kitchen. 

Recipe Makes 2 Crusts (we freeze 1/2 the dough for later use)

   2 tablespoons olive oil
   3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk warmed to 110 degrees
   2 teaspoons sugar
   2 1/3 cups flour
   1 package yeast
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   3 tablespoons olive oil
   1 1/3 cups pizza sauce   3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off.
2. Coat each of two 9 inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
3. Mix milk, sugar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in measuring cup.
4. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
5. On low, slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes.
6. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
7. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and roll each half into ball.
8. Roll each ball and shape into 9 1/2 inch rounds and press into oiled pan.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes.
10. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Remove plastic wrap from dough and ladle 2/3 cup pizza sauce on each crust.
12. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 cups cheese. Top with toppings of your choice. Bake until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
13. Let pizza rest for 1 minute the transfer to a cutting board and slice and serve.