Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Guacamole

guacamole - via Instagram
I used to be vehemently opposed to guacamole, even refusing to eat the part of my enchilada that touched the side of guac on my plate at a Mexican restaurant. 

Until... I tasted my mother in law's guacamole last summer!  It is delicious, and, I have since learned, very easy to make.

Easy Guacamole

Scoop out the inside of an avocado (or two or three...) and mash in a bowl.
Add green salsa (salsa verde) to taste... I added a few tablespoons per avocado, I think.
That's it!  Easy peasy.
You can also feel free to add other things (a few shakes of Aleppo pepper, diced red onion, etc.), but I really like it just as it is.
Serve with your favorite Mexican foods!  I love it on quesadillas or with blue corn chips.

Enjoy!

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Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tatertots & Jello

Friday, April 27, 2012

Putting My Slow Cooker to Work

homemade chicken stock - via instagram
I've been putting my slow cooker to work a lot lately!  I love eating homemade, real food, but with two babies under two, I can't spend all day in the kitchen.  Here are three new ways I'm using my slow cooker to help me get more done in less time:
straining homemade yogurt to make Greek yogurt via instagram

1-  Making yogurt. I can't believe I never realized how easy it is to make homemade yogurt using just a Crock Pot (no thermometers, huge coolers, etc.).  I put 1/2 gallon of milk (I used whole, but 2% or 1% also work) into my slow cooker.  I cooked it on low for 2 1/2 hours, then unplugged the slow cooker and let it sit for 3 hours.  After that, I took out 2 cups of the warm milk and combined it with 1 small container of store-bought yogurt (must contain live cultures).  I put everything back in, stirred, and put the lid back on.  Then I wrapped my whole slow cooker in large beach towel and let it sit overnight (8 hours).  After 8 hours - voila! homemade yogurt!  I strained half of the yogurt (using a coffee filter) and made Greek yogurt.  It is unbelievably thick and creamy - so much better than anything store-bought, not to mention it is waaay cheaper!

2- Making chicken stock (pictured at the top of this post).  I normally do this on the stovetop, but at the recommendation of my sister-in-law, I tried it this way.  After cooking a chicken in my slow cooker, I put all of the skin/bones/etc. back in (along with leftover cooking juices) and added about 1/2 gallon of water.  I just let that heat on low for 10 hours!  After 10 hours, I strained the broth and put it in a quart canning jar.  I put all of the bones/etc. back into the Crock Pot and repeated the process... two more times!  This would, of course, work with any other bones like venison, turkey, duck, etc. (I've been wanting to use a duck carcass I have had in the freezer for some time.)  This is the best chicken stock I have ever made.  As you can see in the photo, it is dark and flavorful (my previous attempts have been very light and watery tasting).  Because you're using bones you would have discarded, this stock is free to make, plus it doesn't have all the additives that commercial stock does.
cooked black beans via instagram

3- Cooking dry beans.  I'll admit, I have been crazy-scared (slash lazy) about cooking beans.  I always buy them canned, but I have wanted to try cooking them myself.  The slow cooker method seemed like the easiest method, so I tried it last night.  Just rinse and sort (i.e. make sure there aren't any rocks mixed in) your beans, then cover them with cool water in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours, then season, portion into containers, and freeze for later use!  The beans are tender and have less-sodium than canned beans (you control how much salt to add).  I think they are cheaper too, but I haven't done all the math on that yet.

What are some ways you have been putting your slow cooker to good use lately?

Linking to:
Life As Mom

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Girls Day

Last weekend, Cordelia and I got to take a trip with "Grammy" (Tad's mom), Angela, and cousin Haley up to Northern VA for our annual girls shopping trip to IKEA!  This is now the third year in a row that we've gone to IKEA in the springtime.  We were thrilled to be able to meet up with Tad's Grandma and Aunt Kim for lunch and to celebrate Aunt Kim's birthday!  They, of course, loved meeting baby Cordelia!




We had a great time at IKEA too, even though we broke down on the way home and had to get towed/rescued!  So thankful for sweet Girls Days like these!!

Plantable Seed Paper

Today I'm over at She {hearts} It sharing about plantable seed paper stationery from Botanical Paperworks!  Read my plantable seed paper review here, and enter to win the giveaway (ARV $55)!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Instagram

Feathers in Our Nest is now on Instagram. (Follow @feathersinournest)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cordelia's Two Months Old!



Today our sweet Cordelia Mae turned two months old!  Tad said he doesn't feel like it's been two months since she was born, but I feel like that was a really long time ago. 

We took her to her well-baby visit at the doctor's today.  She is looking great and is very healthy!

Here are some milestones this month:
-weighs 12 lbs., 6 oz.
-measures 24 in. long
-smiles at us
-coos a little bit when we talk to her
-moves her head to follow our voices
-on her tummy, she will raise her head to a 45 degree angle
-has tried to roll over but hasn't made it yet
-enjoys baths for the most part
-loves to be worn in a baby wrap
-loves her big sister Vera
-sleeps 7.5-8 hours at night, plus several long naps each day
-nurses about 10 times a day
-has used a bottle once and did well (pumped breast milk)
-seems like she has been trying to find her thumb but hasn't quite figured it out yet

We are so blessed to have such a sweet, happy baby!

Delightful


Nothing is more delightful than having my both girls sitting in my lap at once!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Link Love: Strawberry Edition

To conclude our "Strawberry Week," I thought I'd share some links to a few fun strawberry recipes I'd like to try soon!












Source: google.com via Aliesha on Pinterest



Is your mouth watering yet?  Happy strawberry picking!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homemade Strawberry Jam

I guess I should have dubbed this "Strawberry Week" at Feathers in Our Nest!

My mom (Mrs. B.) is here with us today for a special guest post!  She is sharing how to make homemade strawberry freezer jam.  I can personally attest that this recipe is awesome and everyone always raves about how delicious it is.  Hope you enjoy it!
Strawberry Freezer Jam

Wash and dry all jars/lids or containers you will be using to put jam into.
Wash all strawberries (while caps are still on so they don't get mushy).

Cut caps and any bad spots off of strawberries.
Put strawberries into a bowl and mash them...do not puree them...just mash them thoroughly...there should still be bits of fruit in the juicy mixture. (I use a metal potato masher.)

Measure 4 cups of mashed strawberries into a bowl.
In a large pot, measure 3 cups of sugar (be very accurate in this measuring as too much or too little sugar will affect your outcome negatively).

Add one package of low-sugar Sure-Jell. 
Mix these together.
Add one cup of water to sugar mixture. 
Mix thoroughly and put on medium to med. high heat. 
Bring to boil.   After it begins to boil, let it boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and add 4 cups of mashed strawberries.  
Mix thoroughly for one whole minute.
Using a ladle, put jam into jars, leaving 1/2 inch at the top for expansion when it freezes.
Wipe off top and sides of jar if any jam is there.  Put lids on.
Let sit out at room temperature for 24 hours.  Freeze for up to a year.  Or if refrigerated, it keeps for three weeks.
Stand back and feel thankful for some yummy jam for future meals!!

Thanks, Mom/Mrs. B for sharing this wonderful recipe with us today!
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