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DIY: How To {Dry Cranberries}

Its fall!  I love it for a few reasons, one the weathers cooling down, two my favorite seasonal fruits and veggies are lining the shelves and three CRANBERRIES are making their appearance! 

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Plus I love the fact that they are from Jersey so I know they are a local buy!  That makes me double happy.

Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants and also a high fiber source.  Its a win-win with these beauties! 

I love cranberry everything. Cranberry Kombucha, Cranberry Scones, Cranberry Bread, Cranberry Sauce  so I figured this year I would try and dry my own cranberries.  I also make an awesome Cranberry & Orange Shortbread cookie (Shhh!)  🙂

Here’s what I did:

Cranberries were on sale at the farmers market the other day 3 bags for $5.  That’s about as cheap as I am going to get them around these parts. 

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I brought a pot of water to a rapid boil. 

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Dumped in the bag of cranberries.

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Waited a minute or two.  Its funny because you can hear the skins popping!  Its similar to corn popping ~ but better because it’s cranberries.

Scooped them out of the water after a minute or two, dried them on a sheet lined with paper towels.

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Popped them in the dehydrater.  Now we wait! Easy Peazy Right?!

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From what I’ve read it could take up to a day to dry completely, and it you do not follow the water step it will take even longer.  So don’t skip the boil step.

I can’t wait to to see if they come out as amazing as I am hoping they do!  I hope they do they will make a great addition to my overnight oats, trail mixes, and cereal toppers.  Really the list is endless!  Apple slices are next on my list….now to find a mandoline?

What other kinds of fruits or veggies do you like to dry and keep for a rainy day?

Do you use a mandoline?  Any types you suggest? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flavoring Kombucha ~ Second Ferment Part 2

In this second part of my Kombucha series, we will talk about flavoring your Kombucha and getting the famous “fizz” into your drink.   This is known as the Second Fermentation Stage (anaerobic w/o air fermentation).

After the first 7-10 day brewing period (or longer in colder climates) you are ready to bottle up your kombucha.  I find that I start taste-testing everyday after day 10.  My air conditioning is on in the house so it usually takes about 10 days or so to get the right flavor for me.  It’s all about personal preference.

If you live in a warmer climate your booch might be ready after 7 days or be ready in as little as 5 days.  It is just trial and error.  If you taste it and it’s still too sweet for your liking just let it go for another day or so and taste it again.

Now it’s time to prep your bottles.  You need to have bottles that are preferably glass and air tight.  You can order glass bottles from a number of home brewing websites, but I have  just started out with some of my empty GT bottles in addition to some empty Snapple bottles that were gifted to me from my BF.  I ran them through the dish washer cycle and sterilized them with 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar.

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Since I use a glass sun-tea jar my container has a tap at the bottom which allows for extremely easy bottling.  If you don’t use a container with a tap you will likely have to use a siphon or a ladle and funnel to bottle up your kombucha.  It’s really just preference, I like the easy method and you can usually pick up a glass sun tea jar for pretty cheap at any big box chain.

Before I start filling my jars, I remove 2 cups of tea and set it aside.  This will be used to start your next batch of kombucha know as starter tea.

I also wash my hands carefully using plain soap (no antibacterial) and rubbing a little vinegar over them.  At this point you can  remove the mother scoby to a clean plate/bowl and cover with some of the kombucha tea (just to keep it moist while bottling up the rest).

Now let’s get to the  flavoring of your kombucha.

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The first batch of kombucha I flavored I used Concord Grape Juice.  It was an easy flavoring to use and it tastes great. You can use any type of juice really  just add 2-3 TBSP of juice to each bottle first before you start to fill with the Kombucha tea.

Start filling your jars.  Fill them almost to the top.  The more space or air you leave at the top the longer it takes to carbonate.  I find that leaving about 1″ works well.  Seal with the lid and store in a dark place or on the counter covered again with a linen towel.

Finish filling all your jars and sealing all your jars.  At this point you will need to let them sit in a dark place for another 5 days.

This is known as the “Second Ferment”.  Be careful at this stage, I’ve read where some Kombucha’s have exploded after a few days because of rapid fermentation.

If your kombucha becomes super “fizzy” really fast, you can either refrigerate them (this slows the fermentation down a bit) or “burp” your bottles each day or every other day.

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To burp your bottles all you do is open the lid and release the pressure, then close them back up.  Easy as pie.

Another fine tip I’ve come across is to store your kombucha bottles in a box so that if one does explode the mess is not as much to clean up because it will be contained in the box.  I have yet to have one explode.  (knock on wood)  🙂

And that’s it!  You can start drinking your kombucha right away or let it sit for 2-3 more days until they become carbonated.

Once bottled, you start your brewing process over again.  Check out “How to Brew Your Own Kombucha” if you missed the first part of this series.

Here are some flavorings that I am planning on trying in the next few batches.  So far I have flavored my Kombucha with Concord Grape Juice, Lemon & Ginger (this is my favorite so far) and Cranberry & Ginger.  But here are a few other flavor combinations to try.

suggested Flavorings:             Add to each 12-16 ounce bottle

  • Concord Grape:  Add 2-3 TBSP of Concord Grape Juice
  • Lemon Ginger:  Add a few strips of lemon zest & 2 tsp fresh ginger slices
  • Cranberry Ginger:  Add 2-3 TBSP Cranberry Juice & 2 tsp fresh ginger slices
  • Triple Berry:  2-3 pieces mixed berries (blackberries, strawberry or blueberry)
  • Apricot:  2-3 TBSP Apricot juice or 1 dried apricot cut in pieces
  • Peppermint:  2 teaspoons of chopped fresh mint
  • Cherry:  1 TBSP chopped dried/fresh cherries

Lastly I want to congratulate Leslee S. for winning the Food Should Taste Good Giveaway!

Thanks to all who entered!

I really appreciate the support & love!

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How to Brew Your Own Kombucha ~ Part 1

About a month and a half ago I had a dear old friend from high school gift me a SCOBY  and give me step by step lessons on brewing my own Kombucha.

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If you remember back when I attended the Blend Retreat, Kombucha was completely foreign to me and I didn’t know what I was getting into when I came home and started researching and tasting this amazing health elixir.

I bought my first GT’s Kombucha ~ I think it was Gingerberry and a plain tea flavor from Whole Foods almost immediatly following the weekend I got back.  I was instantly hooked; but at $4 a bottle it could break the bank rather quickly.

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I was elated at the opportunity to get first hand instructions and a gifted SCOBY from an old high school classmate.  We connected via Facebook and made arrangements to make the swap and I was suddenly off on my own home-brewing experience.

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Kombucha is a naturally carbonated, raw, fermented and probiotic tea that made its way into American households during the health crazed 1970’s.  It’s been a homebrewing sensation ever since, but has gained popularity in the last decade because of its numerious health benefits.

Claimed health benefits such as improved digestion, increased immune systems and potentially a cancer preventative.  Kombucha is rich in amino acids, probiotics, antioxidants, glucuronic acid, has trace minerals and a ton of B vitamins.  These are just claims, so drinking it may not be of any benefit to you, but it won’t hurt you either.

When my friend gifted me said kombucha “mother” and gave me the quick run down of “how-to’s” I was so nervous and completely overwhelmed.  I followed up with her at least 3 more times during the whole initial process.

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But my anixitey was completely over-rated (like everything else I stress over).  I am now on my fourth batch of home-brewed Kombucha and have already gifted one of my own SCOBY’s.

So if you are thinking that home-brewing your own Kombucha is something to fear, it is NOT!.  It is so easy, and once you have one batch under your belt, the sky is the limit.

Here are the basic directions for brewing your own Kombucha:

  • 1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) gifted or purchased from a reputable supplier
  • 1 quart of filtered water plus 3 more quarts filter water
  • 4 tea bags (Green, Black or Jasmine ~ either organic or highly processed like Lipton)
  • 1 cup of refined white sugar
  • 2 cups of starter tea
  • 1 gallon glass container
  • 1 cloth kitchen towel or cheesecloth
  • 2 rubberbands
  1. WASH YOUR HANDS WITHOUT ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP.  Make sure to wash your hands with soap that does not contain any antibacterial properties as this will harm/compromise your SCOBY when handled.  If you do not have this type of soap wash your hands and then sterilize your hands with apple cidar vinegar.
  2. Take 1 quart of filtered water (if you do not have filtered water, make sure to boil it for 5 minutes to purify the water of contaminates like chlorine which will also compromise your SCOBY) bring it to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add 4 tea bags (1 tea bag per cup of water) and turn off the heat.  Let steep for flavor as long as desired.  ( I like my tea strong so I leave the tea bags in the water until it reaches room temp and then I remove them).
  4. Add 1 cup of refined white sugar or organic cane sugar.
  5. Cover and let sit until the sweetened tea reaches room temp.
  6. Add the 2 cups of starter tea, the newley brewed sweetened tea and the remaining 3 quarts of filtered water to your glass brewing vessel.
  7. Carefully place the SCOBY on top of the tea.
  8. Cover with the kitchen towel and secure with the rubber bands.

At this point you can let your kombucha sit covered and away from sunlight for approximately 7-10 days.

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After about 10 days you can check for flavor by inserting a drinking straw into the top of the removing a small amount of tea by holding your finger over the end.  Don’t reuse the straw if checking more than once to ensure that your batch of kombucha does not get contaiminated.

If you like your kombucha a little more tart, let it sit for a few more days.  Your kombucha will continue to ferment so the shorter the brew time the sweeter the tea and the longer the brew time the more tart or vinegary it will taste.  Taste is completely personal…..I have let one of my batches brew for as long as 17 days.

When it reaches the right flavor that suits  your taste buds ~ you are ready to bottle it up.  I brew my Kombucha in a glass Suntea jar with a spigot.  Makes for easy bottling and easy tasting w/o contamination!

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What I Ate Wednesday {WIAW} #10

wednes·day /ˈwenzdā/Noun
The day of the week before Thursday and following Tuesday.

Wednesday is in the middle of the common Western five-day workweek that starts on Monday and finishes on Friday OR if you’re a blogger it’s the day of the week where you share your eats with the rest of the blogosphere.  Thanks Jenn! She’s our gracious host!

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Breakfast: Using up the fresh tortilla chips by making Lighter Chilaquiles all week {recipe}.  My chips are now gone, sadly.

Chilaquiles

Mid-Morning Snack: plantains cooked in Coconut Oil with Cinnamon Almond Butter

Plantains w/Cinnamon Almond Butter

Lunch: Made a double batch of these zucchini fritters over the weekend and can’t get enough; they’ve been on my plate for lunches and dinners all week {recipe}.

Zucchini Fritters

Afternoon Snack:  Daily Chobani Fix w/Blend Swag from Bob’s Red Mill

Chobani

Dinner:  Grilled Cheese w/fresh spinach and avocado.  My shredded cheese didn’t quite melt enough so I popped it in the microwave for a minute.  Ooooyie ~ Goooyie! Perfect! 

Grilled Cheese

Mmmmm…..and a Gingerberry GT Kombucha while sitting at the pool watching my son dive! 

BREAKING NEWS***  I’m so excited, after work tonight I’m heading to a friend’s house and she is gifting me a SCOBY.  This time tomorrow I will officially be home brewing my own Kombucha!  I’m so excited about this (like pissing my pants ~ excited!!!!)  Seriously.

GT Kombucha

Look for my blog posts over the next few weeks about how I did on my first batch!

Memorial Day Recap|Recipe|P90X

Memorial Day was freezing in my neck of the woods, not your typical holiday weekend that is suppose to be the unoffical start of summer.  It was more like a cold day at the beginning of March and not the second to the last weekend of May.  However, the sun was shining most of the weekend and I made the most of it as best I could. 

Took a ride on the BF’s Harley to a nearby park

BF & I Newlin Grist Mill, Pa

BF & I
Newlin Grist Mill, Pa

Had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.

Kebobs w/Grilled Veggies & Smashed Potatoes

Kebobs w/Grilled Veggies & Smashed Potatoes

Made a trip to the local Whole Foods market for my first Kombucha drink.

Cranberry Kombucha

Cranberry Kombucha

The rest of the weekend I did a ton of self-reflection about my trip to Blend Retreat in Utah.  The women that I met are fearless, uplifting, driven and frankly they just motivated the heck out of me.  Most were at least half my age if not 10-15 years younger; but they still had a profound impact on me and in what direction I want to set my future goals.

I have this unequivocal feeling that I just can’t seem to shake.  I can be better; I can have more satisfaction in life; I can be happier. 

I have been working on doing things more for myself.  I have always been a pleaser.  The one that takes care of others first, putting my self second or even last, if you will.  But the past few years have been different.  I’m doing things that make me happy now too.   I’m starting to stand up for what I want, finding things that I enjoy doing and make me happy.  It feels good.  It makes ME  feel good. 

Anyway, after returning from Blend, I am back on track with my fitness routine and goals.  I have been sidetracked for sometime since completing my first round of P90X, and I miss the feeling of strength, the look of defined muscles and the tightness of a hard working body.  So this weekend I started Round 2 of Round 2 of P90X. 

P90X Results Day 90 Round 1

P90X Results Day 90
Round 1

I need to get my X body back ~ no, I WILL get my X body back!  I will also try to get more fitness related posts about my P90X journey on this blog.  Not only to remain accountable but to show you (my readers) that at any age or fitness level P90X is an achievable goal. 

So I officially started yesterday with day 1 ~ Chest/Back.  Working my upper body is one of my new favorite things.  My legs have always been strong but I’ve never had any upper body strength.  So I love getting a good burn from the upper body P90X workouts. 

I took it easy with yesterdays Chest/Back DVD made it through but didn’t do a ton of push-ups.  Paced myself with 10-15 of each move except for Dive Bombers and Decline Push-ups.  I skip those completely.  Even at my best at the end of Round 1 I was only able to do like 3 dive bombers and only 1 decline.  But I will be patient and it will come back in time. 

Dive Bomber Push-ups & Yoga to stretch out

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I also paced my pullups.  Only doing about 8-10 reps of each style.  Still nurturing my shoulder injury and the wide front pullups were the most uncomfortable.  But still managed to get in 6-8 reps each round.  I am also starting out this round with my 8lb weights.  So my set will include 8-10-12 lb to start, but I’m hoping to increase fairly soon to 10-12-15lbs. 

The rest of the weeks schedule looks like this ~ I will be following the Classic Schedule and adding Ab Ripper X during the second week.

  • Tuesday (today) Plyometrics
  • Wednesday Shoulders/Arms
  • Thursday Yoga X
  • Friday Legs/Back
  • Saturday Kenpo
  • Sunday (rest day)

So finally moving on to the recipe that sparked a ton of envy on my Instagram page  this weekend. 

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup of cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of almond milk ( I used unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries
  • splash of maple syrup
  • top with almonds and chia seeds

Place the quinoa, cinnamon, almond milk and blueberries in a microwave safe dish and heat through until hot.  1-2 minutes.  Add the maple syrup and stir until combined.  Top with almonds and chia seeds.

What did you do fun this holiday weekend?

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