Thursday, January 29, 2009

Veggie Stroganoff

Hi all. Jason here. This is my first post to the New Leaf Creations' blog, and I figured I would start with one of our favorite recipes: veggie stroganoff. I made it for lunch for Jess and I yesterday. It's way easy to make and is very good. The original recipe is courtesy of Kraft foods.
1/2 Large onion (or 1 small one)
1/2 Lb. of mini carrots
1 Green Pepper
3 cups water
2 bouillon cubes
8 cups wide egg noodles
8oz sliced mushrooms
8oz sour cream

Chop the onions into slices
Chop the mini carrots and green peppers into small pieces
Chop the mushrooms into small pieces
Put some EVOO in a large skillet
Add the onions and cook over high heat until they brown
Add the water, bouillon, carrots, green peppers, and noodles
Over high heat, bring to a boil
Cover and reduce heat to medium high
Cook for 13 minutes or until water is mostly gone
Remove the lid and stir in the mushrooms
Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat
Stir in the sour cream
Cook for 2 more minutes over medium heat
Remove from heat and serve

This recipe also works well with meat if you like. Before Jess stopped eating red meat, we would chop up a pound of steak (whatever was on sale at Meijer) and cook it until it was brown with the onions.

Hope you all enjoy the veggie stroganoff. It was fun for me to share it with you (and fun for us to eat).

Lots of Love

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuna for the Jays and the Cat

Hey all! This past week has been lots of fun! Jason and I have been trying new recipes, enjoying hearing responses to our blog, and experience life the best we know how - by being crazy!

Today, we have a great recipe for you all courtesy of Campbell's Soup. We like this recipe in part because it allows us to give our baby, Preston, tuna water. Recently, I heard that cats typically are not hydrated enough. I don't know if that's true for Preston - he drinks from his own pet fountain and the bathroom sink and any glass we have laying around. He begs for water and drinks it a lot! But giving him a bit of tuna water reassures us that he's getting that extra bit of hydration.

The first picture of Preston is him begging for tuna. Actually, at that moment, he's begging for whatever I'm using the can opener for, and he generally doesn't care whether it's tuna or not. He just cares that we give him whatever it is we're opening, although he's probably way excited when he realizes we are opening tuna! So that's Preston's begging face. He also accompanies that with showing off his belly and rubbing on our legs.

This recipe is great for humans as well as for Preston because it's easy and quick to make. There's little mess and it doesn't take long to make so you can cook it after work. It's also great to make over the weekend, like on a Sunday night, pop in the fridge, and eat from all week.

First, cook egg noodles as directed on the package. I would say we cook a little more than a pound, but you decide how much or how little you like. Stir the noodles, a can of Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup frozen peas (I use more, though, because greens are good for you!), and 2 cans tuna (drained) in a 1.5 qt. casserole. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Stir; sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese on top. Bake until cheese melts.

I usually don't add the cheese until the very end, and I don't usually bake it again. The cheese melts in anyway from the heat, but I agree with Rachael Ray in that you should cook everything the way you like. I never use scallions in a recipe - I'll either substitute something else or just skip them since I don't care for them. You work the recipe how it'll work for you.
So after Preston begs and receives tuna, he usually cleans himself and lays down for a good, long nap. This is the nap he took after eating tuna water on Sunday night. How cute is he?!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Entering into the Unknown

Hi all! I was going to post a recipe for a new soup Jason and I tried yesterday. We both thought it tasted great and while I suffered no ill side effects, it made Jason incredibly ill all night. There's proof that Jason and I test each thing we're going to do before bringing to to you!

I made a banana cake tonight (that has to be refrigerated overnight), but if all goes as planned, that might be tomorrow's recipe.

So in lieu of a regular post, I figured I'd enlighten you all on a few things Jason and I are currently working on.

Jason and I both working on strengthening our relationship by reading and participating in "The Love Dare." A movie has come out that is based on the book, "Fireproof," which is how I first heard about the book. I have yet to see the movie, but Kirk Cameron, devout Christian and actor on Fireproof, was on Dr. Phil and that's how I heard about it. We're on day three so far which is that we can't say anything negative to one another and we have to each buy the other something that says, "I was thinking about you today." We each have until tomorrow night to fulfill the dare! The book has been awesome so far, and I think Jason and I are both enjoying the experience.

Jason has recently started to cross stitch! He's working on a piece for someone for Christmas, and he's doing very well! He's interested in trying a sampler soon, and he wants to eventually be able to count cross stitch. There are some amazing kits out there, but I think eventually he'll probably want to design his own creations. Jason has plans to cross stitch designs for wall hangings and onesies for babies.

I've been working on knitting! Before this year, I had never knit. I took a class and learned though, and I'm so glad I did! I'm currently working on a scarf for my mom and dad for Christmas (if you can't tell, practically everyone is getting homemade gifts this year so we're starting now to ensure we have enough time!). I'm making my dad's scarf out of Lion Brand Wool Ease yarn, and I'm making my mom's out of Sensations Angel Hair yarn. The yarn is gorgeous, as you can see in the picture, but it is quite difficult to use. I have a lot of split stitches, but because of the way the yarn is crafted, you can't tell at all. It's very strange yarn, but I love it so much and will be very anxious to make a scarf for myself out of this yarn later this year when I'm done with everyone else's items.

I also dabble in other crafts, including wreaths, jewelry, ornaments, etc. As I make items, I'll post them on here if they were successful. If an item was not successful, I'll at least have an antecdote to share with you all!

Through my mom, a generous neighbor of hers, and myself, I typically have several lifestyle and cooking magazines each month. I'm working on my recipe card collection, and each month, Jason and I try several new recipes. I grew up in a household where there were seven (or so) meals my mother made and that was it. There wasn't a lot of variety, and a lot of the food wasn't really homemade. My mom would make hot dogs and Kraft mac and cheese, and that would be a meal. Jason and I have thrown some recipes away after making the food (like last night's recipe) and have modified some. As we make our regular staples (veggie stroganoff, for example) and new dishes (banana split cake, for example), we'll be sharing our faves with you.

As we live our lives, we'll share with you what new experiences we have and what new ideas we come across. We're excited to finally have a forum to share our ideas with everyone, and we certainly hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy sharing them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Maple Caramel Sauce

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup pure maple syrup

In medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Adjust heat to medium. Boil for 2 minutes. Add maple syrup and boil, stirring frequently for 2 - 4 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Pour into heatproof jars.

Jason and I made this sauce all from organic ingredients. It's quick, simple, and makes three jars. The cost comes out to about $4 per jar so it makes for a really great gift. The sauce can be used on ice cream, pancakes, anything that could be "sauced!" The sauce should be heated before using. The sauce is good for two months after it's been made, and Jason and I wrote the expiration dates on small labels and affixed the labels to the bottoms of the jars so the gift recipients would know until which date the sauce could be used.

Jason and I used Ball half-pint (8 oz.) canning jars. We purchased 12 for about $7 from Ace Hardware. The jars' lids also created a semi-seal since the sauce was still rather hot when we poured the sauce into the containers. We also used a funnel to pour the sauce into the jars. A funnel can be purchased for around $1 and is also useful for other things, like pouring leftover pasta sauce back into jars and so on. We've found loads of uses for our funnel.

While the jar in the picture has no adornments, feel free to add a make a label and tie it around the jar to indicate what the sauce could be used for and directions for using. You could also add a wooden honey dipper to the gift for an easy way to use the sauce once heated.

I gave a jar to Jason's brother and sister-in-law as a gift when we visited them, and I also made a jar for my dad's birthday. I kept one jar for Jason and I, and yesterday, I used some sauce on ice cream. I scooped some of the sauce, which was quite hard, into a ramekin and heated it for 30 seconds. I would not recommend heating it for that many seconds, though! It was burning hot. I would recommend stirring it before serving it after it's been heated. One really cool thing I experienced was that when I put it on the ice cream, it formed a sort of hard shell, like some of the Hershey's ice cream sauces do. It was really yummy though and tasted very gourmet.

New Leaf Creations

Hello everyone! I've been talking about getting this blog started for months, and it's finally up. Over the next month or so, Jason and I will be working to develop the blog. We hope to post something every day so check back! We'll post recipes, books we like, crafts, and other things we haven't thought of yet!

We hope all of you enjoy the blog and inspire you to do something different and new in your life.