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Hi Nerds.

I’m bad at blogging these days, but I see that you are all somehow managing to survive without me.

I’ve been very busy these days on the homestead.

You see, it is harvest time at said homestead.

It is the time of year where I get dirt underneath my nails so that I can procure the crops from the past growing season.

It is hard manual labor. But, I somehow manage to get it done.

Before I share with you the backbreaking details, take a look at my crops in their full glory.

Are you impressed?

The gloriously large basil plant.

Now you understand, right?

Why I can’t be with you online everyday?

Do you think this basil is going to harvest itself?

Will it transport itself from the ground to my kitchen counter?

No.

No, it won’t.

We recently added this high tech, super efficient harvest irrigation system.

It works so amazingly well for prepping the basil for the preservation process.

After the mounds of summer basil are cleaned for their storage through the winter months, I chopped them into the smallest bits.

And then I used my customized storage system for the final steps of the harvest.

Some people may call this apparatus an ice cube tray, but I call it the herbage preserver.

I fill each section with a portion of that chopped up basil, and I pop the herbage preserver into the freezer.

After a few hours, that basil is as frozen as can be.

So, I pop it out of the freezer and out of the tray.

Pretty fun, right?

I’m left with perfect teaspoon sized additions of fresh basil for my winter meals.

I bought my basil plans for $1.99 at the beginning of the summer. I know have enough pesto and basil to EASILY last through the winter.

Pretty clever, right?

My mama is a smart lady for she taught me the proper way to harvest my herby-herbs.

Up next?

Parsley, MORE basil, thyme, and oregano.

If you have an herb garden, don’t just let them wither and die. SAVE THEM!

I much prefer the freezing method to the drying method. When added to a dish in the frozen form, it maintains a brighter and fresher (is that a word?) flavor.

Have a great day!

I’m off to do more back breaking labor in the Wise family fields.

XO,
Leah

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Every now and then, I feel like sharing with you something that will forever change your life.

Because life is lovely right now, I feel as if I must share this Chocolate Caramel Apple treat with ya.

It will Change. Your. Life.

Forever.

Like every great recipe in my repertoire, this one comes from my mama.

I’ve been making them for years, and I always make some to share with my co-workers.

It may be the only reason I still have a job.

OK, OK. It likely is the only reason I still have a job.

So, here is what you’ll need:

I highly recommend green apples. I like the sharp tart contrast to the extreme sweetness that the candy coating provides.

However, I’m not the boss of you.

Wouldn’t life be lovely if I was though?

Yes, I think it would be.

Thankfully for you, I am not. So, you can use whatever apples you like.

You’ll also need caramels, nuts (I used peanuts, but again… use whatever you want-pecans or walnuts or almonds would be lovely), semi-sweet chocolate, and some candy coating.

For my candy coating, I’ll be using a mixture of toffee chips and Snickers.

So, yeah.

If you have any imagination at all, you know that this recipe has serious potential for containing life changing powers.

I’d like to warn you before you start, this recipe is a bit time intensive.

But you will not regret it.

And your friends will worship you.

And your family will never ask for anything else from you ever again.

For when you serve them these apples, they will know your purpose on this earth.

Making delicious delectable bites.

OK, I may be exaggerating.

But, not by much.

Unwrap your caramels.

If you have children, you should make them do this part as penance for eventually eating said apples.

Admire your massive pile of wrappers.

I used two bags of caramels for 24 apples.

I inadvertently purchased the bags from the candy aisle. During the fall, it is imperative that you purchase the caramels from the seasonal aisle or near the apples. Those bags of caramels have the sticks included in them.

I opened my caramels, realized I had no sticks to put into my apples, and then decided these apples would probably taste best without the sticks.

For each bag of caramels, add 2 tablespoons of water.

2 bags x 2 T. per bag= 4 T. of water

No, believe it or not… I was not a math major.

Put those caramels on the stove over medium low heat.

In the meantime, take your peanuts and  put them into a food processor.

Now, grind ’em up.

With your freakishly shaped hand.

That button looks a lot harder to push in this photo than it is in real life.

It is quite simple actually.

At this point, you should probably start stirring your caramel.

Until it becomes smooth.

Ideally, you would now use your sticks to help you maneuver your apples through the caramel coating stage.

Unless you are a ding-a-ling like me, and forgot those darn sticks.

I took a walk on the wild side and just used my hands.

When it got a little dicey, I used a spoon and some tongs to help me out.

However, sticks in the actual apple is the best method.

And into your chopped nuts for a nutty bath.

I highly recommend using parchment paper on your pan. It makes this whole process bearable.

And when your significant other has to clean up all of your mess, he or she will appreciate your parchment paper thoughtfulness.

If you are the cook in your household, I also highly recommend that your significant other becomes your personal dishwasher.

In our house, I do all of the cooking.

Brad has made his specialty, The Return Home (this is a mixture of chicken and eggs- get it?) once or twice. It isn’t too delicious. So, I try to stick to the making of the food.

However, I married well. And this man takes every dish, spoon, spatula, and pan I get messy and washes them all.

That, my friends, is what you call a marriage made in heaven.

I like to cook, and hate to clean.

He likes to clean, and hates to cook.

We both love to eat.

Have I said lately that I haven chosen well in the spouse department?

Or maybe he has chosen well?

Yes, I think that is it.

Anywho, I digress.

One might think that this is a perfect stopping point.

But I think there must be a way to take this up a notch.

Hmmmm… chocolate. Yes. Chocolate.

If ever in doubt, chocolate.

I don’t have a double boiler.

So, I rig one up by using a medium sized pot filled with approximately two inches of water.

Then, I put a metal bowl filled with my chocolate on top.

The indirect heat will get your chocolate to the perfect consistency.

Put the heat at medium. Once your chocolate is thoroughly melted, turn the heat down to low.

Stir the chocolate frequently as it is melting.

Once the chocolate is melted and the heat is turned down very low, we should prepare the final glorious topping.

Again, you have the opportunity to turn this apple into whatever you like by using any candy bar you like.

Go ahead! Pick your favorite.

I’m using a mixture of Snickers and Heath toffee topping.

I froze the Snickers bars prior to chopping them up so that they would grind down pretty finely.

Have I mentioned how much I love this little kitchen tool?

I’m telling ya… best $50 I have spent in a long time on a small kitchen appliance.

Add those ground candy bars (I used 12 mini bars) to your 2 bags of toffee chips (these are made by Heath and are right next to the chocolate chips in the grocery store).

Now, this is where it gets messy.

Unless you are making a proper caramel apple with a stick in it. Then it isn’t so bad.

I donned my famous kitchen glove for this step.

Slather that apple all the way around with chocolate.

The chocolate is a little too thick to just dip the apple into it.

So, I prefer the spatula method of application.

Then, sweet sassy molassey… dip it in the candy.

Mama Mia.

Oy vey.

Holy Mother.

Oh Dear Gussie.

Pop them on a pan and then throw them in the fridge for the chocolate to set for 10-15 minutes.

For the apples that I’m delivering to friends and coworkers, I use a little plastic cling wrap tied with a bow.

Cute, right?

You know that I could not wrap all of these bad boys up without helping myself to one first.

These apples, whether on a stick or not, are not designed to be picked up and eaten.

You really need a sharp knife to get into this guy.

I better show you my preferred method.

Slice right down the side of one of those apples. You want a good old healthy hunk of apple and candy.

Oh dear.

Now that it’s cut, I suppose I should take a bite.

OK, twist my arm.

I will.

Dee-lish!

And healthy!

It is true.

Apples are very good for you.

And both caramel and chocolate contain dairy.

And then the nuts are a protein.

This is practically a three course healthy dinner.

You are welcome.

Enjoy my dear friends!

Oh, and for my favorite Tuesday night girls- I saved some for you.

XO,

Leah

I made chili.

And while making chili, for some reason I found myself thinking about the movie The Favor.

Remember that classic hit starring Brad Pitt?

It is a fine piece of cinema.

When I was in 9th grade, I watched this movie basically on a loop with my friend Jill.

Jill loved the movie because she loved Brad Pitt.

Let’s be honest.

Who didn’t?

In the early nineties when he splashed onto the scene, he stole hearts of women everywhere.

Including mine.

He is a beautiful man.

Jill loved The Favor because there is a line in it where Brad says “Just Chill”.

She was convinced he was saying “Just Jill”.

I think we wore out that section of the VHS tape.

And lucky for you, I found this clip to share.

I told ya.

Cinematic masterpiece.

Believe it or not, it gets better when the lumberjack Tom enters the scene.

So, today in honor of Brad Pitt, I give you Just Chill Chili.

It is also in honor of the start of football season.

And the start of sleeping with the windows open season.

And the start of slippers in the morning season.

This is the easiest chili.

It is done in a crock pot.

The crock pot is God’s gift to the busy home cook, non?

I made this on a Sunday, but other times I have prepped everything and loaded up the crock pot the night before a work day. I stick it in the fridge, and then before leaving for work- pop it on the counter and turn it on.

Here is what you’ll need for 4 people (or 2 very hungry people):

1 lb ground sirloin (go for the lower fat stuff here, you can get away with it)

1 14 oz can chili beans

1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 onion

1 large green pepper (or 2 small)

1-2 jalapenos (depending on how hot ya like it)

2-3 cloves of garlic

chili powder

cayenne pepper powder

cumin

salt and pepper

Brown your beef.

And chop up your onion, green pepper, jalapeno/hot pepper, and garlic.

Dump that into your crock pot.

Now, for our chili beans.

Beans, Beans… the magical fruit.

The more you eat…

Well, you know the rest.

Add in your crushed and diced tomatoes.

Lets spice it up!

2-3 Tablespoons (my handful below is about a tablespoon).

Cumin. Mmmm. Smoky. Savory.

Lets do 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Ready for some heat?

How about some cayenne red pepper?

Yes, please!

About a teaspoon. It adds a little heat, but it is not overwhelming.

Finally, salt and pepper.

About 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and one teaspoon of pepper.

Stir it up, little darling.

Put a lid on it.

Put it on low for 8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

If you have a super sonic crock pot like me, you may need to add in extra liquid.

I think my crock pot gets hotter than the average crock pot, so if I were making this on a week day I would add in a beer or 12 oz or water. That way, some of the liquid can cook down throughout the day.

There ya have it.

Just Chill Chili.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you what the main man and I always eat with our chili.

I first experienced this treasured treat when my mother-in-law made it for us.

Cheesy bread.

Oh, cheesy bread.

Cheesy bread unlike any cheesy bread you  have ever had.

And like everything else I make, this one is pretty simple too!

Here is what you’ll need:

A loaf of french bread

A stick of softened butter- did I mention this bread is extremely healthy?

One jar of Old English cheese- this is usually found near the processed, non-cheese cheese (think Velveeta) section

Put your butter and the cheese in a bowl.

Look at that cheese.

Doesn’t it just look like it is good for you?

It tastes good.

Promise.

Use a fork and start mashing the butter and cheese together.

Keep mashing and mixing until it is combined.

Now for the bread.

Slice it in half like this:

Slather it with your sauce.

Mmm hmm.

That’s right.

Just like that.

And put it back together again.

Now cut it in half again like this:

And now slather that with the cheese sauce.

Oh yes, you heard me right.

And put it back together again.

You may think that it can’t get any better than this.

But you are wrong.

Cause here we go.

Lets slice the bread:

You know what I think this bread needs?

Yep, you guessed it.

More cheese.

Pick up the first slice.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Slather away.

Both sides, if you please.

Keep on going through all of the slices.

And then put the loaf all back together again.

Carefully transfer it to some foil.

Wrap it up, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

While that is cooking, serve up your chili.

I like mine topped with some cheddar, sour cream, green onion, and avacado.

Pull that bread out of the oven.

Take a moment to marvel at your masterpiece.

Ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

Throw some of that bread on your chili, near your chili, in your mouth, on a plate… wherever!

Yum-Yum-Dang-Diggity.

Just Chill.

And eat chili.

And maybe think a little bit about B. Pitt.

Yep, he’s still got it.

Happy Monday!

XO,

Leah

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