Monday, December 2, 2013

Sweet Mustard Roast

I invented a Wildtree freezer meal this week after looking over countless roast recipes on the internet.  I wanted to create a recipe using the Wildtree Apple Balsamic Vinegar.

Sweet Mustard Beef Roast
Recipe by: me :)

2-3 pounds beef or pork roast
1/3 cup dijon mustard
2 TBSP. Wildtree Apple Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. Wildtree Garlic Galore
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp. California Garlic & Pepper Blend

Put all ingredients in a freezer bag and label.

When ready to prepare, empty contents of freezer bag into crockpot.  Add 1 1/2 cups water in crockpot.  Heat on high in crockpot for 4 hours.

Remove roast.

Put drippings from crockpot into a glass dish and remove fat from top.  Put drippings into saucepan and heat on high.  Put 1 TBSP of corn starch in small bowl with 1 tsp. of water.  Add into saucepan once drippings start to boil.  Stir until thicken to make gravy.  Add salt and pepper if desired.

I served the meal with roasted potatoes and broccoli.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thai Sesame Sun Butter Asian Slaw

I did a Wildtree event 2 weeks ago and one of the dishes I brought was a total hit.  Since then, I have been getting many requests for the recipe.  Here it is straight from the Wildtree website!

Thai Sesame Sun Butter Asian Slaw
Submitted By: Tara from West Greenwich, RI
Number of Servings: 6

4 cups coleslaw mix
1/4 cup peeled sunflower seeds
1/4 cups sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup Wildtree Thai Sesame Sun Butter
1 teaspoon lime juice

Method of Preparation:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Let
sit for at least half and hour to develop flavors.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 150
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Carbohydrates: 15g
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 32g

As always, thanks for coming by and reading!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Garlic Bread using Wildtree Scampi Blend

Tonight I made spaghetti for the family and I decided to make some garlic bread to go with it.  My go-to Wildtree blend to make garlic bread is the Scampi Blend.  I have tried the Garlic Galore and the Garlic & Herb blends but the Scampi by far make the best garlic bread.

I didn't make the bread from scratch but went to my local grocery store and found a loaf of French Bread for $1.99.  What was strange is that that they had both their usual bread plus an "all-natural" version for the same price.  The "all-natural" version stated "no artificial preservatives or ingredients".  Seems like a no-brainer for me!

Preheat your oven to "broil". I cut the bread in two and cut through the middle and spread it out.

I then mixed 8 TBSP. of softened butter with approx. 2 TBSP. of Wildtree Scampi Blend.  

 I used that spreader from Pampered Chef that I bought eons ago and always forget to use.
After I mixed it, it looked something like this:
I spread that whole mess all over the bread and put it into the oven.
I timed it and it took about 5 good minutes to get the bread all golden brown and crusty-like on top.
Cut it into pieces and serve!
Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spaghetti Squash is not as gross as I thought it would be.

I am not a big fan of squash.  Around this time all the fall squashes start appearing.

Acorn, butternut, pumpkin.  You get the picture.  They just don't excite me.

My friend Teresa and I were talking about squash last week and she said that she just adds a bunch of maple syrup or sugar on them and they are not half bad!  That made me laugh.  I was thinking that I would do just that but then why don't I just eat the maple syrup and skip the squash?

I then found out from someone that the spaghetti squash tastes like it's cousin summer squash.  Hey!  I can handle summer squash!  I bet I can handle the spaghetti squash version.

Just a note:  I hear all this stuff about how you can cook a spaghetti squash, throw some marinara sauce and parmesan on it and you can fool the kids.  They will think it's real spaghetti and you have pulled a double secret maneuver on them.  I will tell you that there is no way that it would work with my kids. So unless you want your kids to hate you for life when they find this out, don't do it!  In fact, I broke the parental silence on spaghetti squash to J1 and she thought that it was really evil for parents to do this to their kids.  LOL!

First I cut the squash.  This wasn't as easy as it looks, folks.
1 half + 1 half= 2 halves
You then scoop out all the seeds and innards out.

Nice and clean looking squash
Can I just tell you that the above picture is a killer for someone with OCD?  Throw that crap in the compost bin ASAP!

Then you flip the sucker over and cook it in a 350 oven for about 30-40 minutes.  Some recipes call for brushing with oil and spices but I was going to add all that good stuff later so I just cooked it.

After 30 minutes, it came out of the oven, and with a fork scrape all that stringy, spaghetti looking stuff out.

This is what you end up with.  You could eat this if you wanted to but I wanted to make it extra tasty.
 I sauteed it with some garlic grapeseed oil and Wildtree's Rancher Steak Rub.  Got it cooked through.  Wasn't sure what I was doing but it looked good so I declared it was done.
Here is the finished product in the pretty dish.
Here is it with my delicious marinated chicken breast.  I enjoyed the spaghetti squash and will make it again soon.
My advice is to break out of your comfort zone and try spaghetti squash.  What is the worst that can happen?  You hate it and feed it to your dog.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stories from the trail, part 4

This is the fourth installment of my series of my hike along the Appalachian Trail.  Scroll down to see what you have missed.

I can't say it was from being tired or not being too smart, however my map reading skills really did stink on this trip.  It made me nervous to think I was responsible to getting one other human being and 2 dogs to Big Meadows campground safely.

At times I felt confident in telling Cindy "it's really just a couple of more miles" but then I realized that my estimates of the distances on this pathetic park service map were way off.   

My new mantra became "think of all of those calories we are burning!"

We proceeded on the AT and got to a point where we crossed Skyline Drive to finish up our last bit to Big Meadows.  This is when I asserted "a couple of miles more!" for the last time.  It started to sprinkle as we started past the road but hey! we were almost done.

What started off as a few sprinkles soon became a downpour.  It was raining so hard that it became unbearable to look up to see where one was going.  Once again, Belle looked like she was being punished for something with her head hung down and her slow canter.  I know how she felt; I felt like I was being punished for something too.  I didn't even want to look back at Cindy at this point.  I was scared what she might be thinking.  Had she lost her faith in me or maybe she didn't have it to begin with?

What was even worse was that we were again making one of these slow, low-graded uphill climbs. In the rain.  Hungry.  Tired.  I now know why hikers use those hiking poles.  I used to think they were used by really old people or people hiking Mt. Everest but I now know how helpful they would be right now.

I didn't dare say to Cindy "only a couple of miles more".  At one point I just broke down and said "I DON'T KNOW WHERE THE HELL WE ARE AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S A COUPLE OF MILES MORE!!!!"

I know.  Not in control.

All I can remember looking back is that I took my backpack off once more,  took a deep breath, put my backpack back on and trudged forward with positive thinking that we would GET THIS DONE!

It stopped raining and we started to hear noises and voices from afar.


We made it to Big Meadows Campground!

We dropped off a few items at Cindy's car that we had previously parked at the campground before we started our trip and headed to the ranger station to get our tent site.

There was a line at the ranger station which should have been our first clue that this was not going to be a secluded campground like Lewis Mountain.  We were given tent site #4 by the ranger and we went to set up our tents.

Cindy wanted to make something warm to eat so I got out my handy, dandy waterproof matches.  Guess what?  They wouldn't light. Every. Last. One.

We ended up going to the Visitor's Center where I ate a pork BBQ sandwich which ended up not letting me forget I ate it for the rest of the evening.(I don't want to go there.  Moral:  Don't eat takeout food if you normally don't eat it no matter how hungry you are.)

Cindy was dying to get clean and take a shower but I refused to pay for a shower and really didn't care who I ran into and what I smelled like.  At that point, 2 guys in the early 20s at tent site #3 came over to say "hi" to me.

"We were so happy to see you have dogs!  We are from Cleveland and we are not used to seeing all these bear warning signs when we camp.  At least your dogs will let you know if a bear is around", one of them exclaimed.

"Well, we saw bear scat all of the AT", I confidently replied even though I felt like an AT fraud stating this.

The taller guy with glasses then said "We keep on hearing that they are all over here".  

"You never can trust what people say", I said.  "Some mountain rednecks were trying to freak us out yesterday by telling us that there were rattlers all over the rocks".

This is when they both got real animated.  "OH, WE SAW THEM!  We have photos!  Do you want to see them?  It had a triangular head and everything", the shorter guy said thrusting his iPhone at me.  

"No!  That's okay", I wanted to remain in my own ignorant bubble which didn't include reptiles or bears.

"Let us know if you need anything", they said scurring off.

It became really apparent that Big Meadows was the social spot of the Shenandoah.  I looked up and a bald headed guy sitting on a picnic table yelled over "Don't mind my pitbull.  She is real friendly and wouldn't hurt a fly". 

"No problem! Have nice evening!", I yelled back.

Five minutes later came the old guy on the bicycle who apologized for walking through my campsite but it was the only way to get to his tent campsite.

"No problem", I told him.

Finally, there came the boy of 8 and his sister about 5 that I affectionately named "the latchkey kids".

"Ma'am?  Do you need any help building your fire?  I am a boy scout and I can help".

Ah, how cute!  For 10 minutes.  After 30 minutes of wanting to "help" me, I was starting to crack.  If I wanted to babysit I would have brought my own kids camping.   

"Hey! I hear your Mom calling you!", I told them and they hurried on back to tent campsite #2.  

Don't hate me.  You would have done it too.

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stories from the Trail, part 3

This is the third installment of my series of my hike along the Appalachian Trail.  Scroll down to see what you have missed.

I pondered whether or not I should brush my teeth considering that I just learned that bears are attracted to the scent of personal toiletry products.  Cindy agreed with me but didn't seem to have a strong opinion either way on what was the right decision to do. I decided I was going to forego brushing my teeth since the only living thing sharing my tent that evening was my faithful companion Belle and her breath was worst than mine by far.

It was early in the evening.  It was much earlier than I ever go to bed but all I wanted to do was to set up my tent, crawl in that thing and rest my aching bones.  Cindy was going the extra mile by cooking a hot meal for herself on a small burner.  I abstained from all of this needless work by declaring that if it wasn't in a ziploc bag or any bag that I could rip open easily then I wasn't bothering to cook or prepare it.  I was on a break from my normal life after all and that meant not preparing any meals for anyone.

I set up my tent.

Proud moment for me.
Can I tell you that I can't put anything together?  Amazing feat that this even happened.

I went to the bathroom one last time, zipped up my tent and hunkered down with Belle.  I declared out loud to Cindy that I didn't care how bad I needed to go to the bathroom there was NO WAY I was going to leave my tent until the morning.  Who knows what crispy crawlers were out that in the middle of the night.

I then, turned on my Nook.  Okay.  Don't judge me.  I was in the middle of a really good book and I am used to reading for a half an hour before I go to bed.   Don't judge me.

Cindy had set up her tent once.  Once she realized that she had set it up on top of some uncomfortable rocks, I heard her start moving it to the other side of mine.  She did this while trying to keep Audrey under control and not using any bad language.  As she was moving it, I heard a man start talking to her.

"Hey!  I saw you coming off the trail with the big backpacks.  Are you hiking the whole AT?" he asked. (My thought:  "Hell NO!)

"No.  We are just hiking for a few days on the trail", Cindy answered.(My thought:  Don't tell him anything!  We don't know if he is a creeper or not!)

"Well.  Be careful out there", he replied(Very thoughtful I thought).

"Oh.  We will be okay", Cindy said.

The man went on his way.

"Cindy?" I asked.

"Yes", she replied.

"Next time someone tells you to be careful please say:  "Don't worry.  My friend has a pitbull and a large hunting knife.  That way they won't mess with us." 

Things were really quiet at the Lewis Mountain Campground and I fell asleep fairly quickly.  It rained all night and I was happy to be in my tent tucked away from the elements.  I don't think I completely set up my tent the right way because I did see some water pile under the floor of the tent.  I was dry though and that is all that mattered.  

I woke up a lot that night, but it was strange.  I was asleep and felt at peace but when I woke I tossed and turned and I remembered that I was suppose to feel uneasy and scared.  

I woke up early and had absolutely no idea what time it was and I really didn't care.  I waited until I heard stirring from Cindy's tent and asked her if she had any idea of the time.  It was about 7am and we had until 9am until the camp store opened and the coffee would be ready! I was not getting out of my sleeping bag until I knew coffee would be available.  Again, this is my vacation.  I can do what I want.

Audrey tied to the picnic table and straining to get away.
9am arrived and we got our coffee which we decided was one step above the coffee that they serve at church on any given Sunday.  I wasn't going to complain though because I wasn't even expecting to get anything that resembled a hot beverage.

On to day 2 of the trail!  We decided that we needed to change our original plans considering our current physical state.  From looking at my lame park service map, I determined we were maybe 7 miles of AT way from Big Meadows?  We got to the AT when I said "We need to go North on the trail.  Which way is north?".

Cindy:  "I don't know."

Me:  "Do you have a compass?"

Cindy:  "No"

At this point I was floored because Cindy is married to a guy that has about every survivalist/boy scout item known to man.  I was surprised that he didn't give her a compass.

"Is there an app for that?, I laughed nervously.  

"Actually there is on my iPhone!", Cindy exclaimed.

I don't know if we were breaking some backpacker rule there but.....

Foggy morning

It was very foggy starting out that day.  We asked the park ranger about the weather but he said that it really didn't matter if it said if it was going to rain or not.   It could be raining here and not be raining 5 miles up the road.

We headed along Bearfence Mountain and it again was a slow steep upgrade that sometimes made me feel out of breath with the backpack on.  It was rocky in spots and I let go of Belle's leash because she was having no problem climbing on the rocks as I was.  I didn't want her to pull me over by accident.  We were not going to be going to the top, thank God, but I felt like it was a pretty good workout as it is.

We came to a AT trail marker at one point in the morning and I was discouraged to see that it said "7.3 miles" to Big Meadows.  We had already been walking quite a bit and I was thinking that the distance that we would be covering total would be about 7 miles.  I felt like a fool with map.

Wildlife that is not a bear.  I'm down with that.
The wildflowers that we passed in the morning were beautiful and I tried to identify them with my limited wildflower knowledge.
Black Eyed Susan(Rudbeckia)
The ferns were as long as my arm.  We also saw a lot of these little critters:
No.  It's not a snake.  Some sort of centipede.
It was sunny at times when we walking along the ridge and at times we were so high up there that we were walking along the tree line.  
Cindy walking through a wildflower meadow with the dogs.
I was tired somewhat but I was really enjoying the hike and feeling really good about everything.  At one point, we passed a spur to go down to a thru-hiker shelter.  I thought I smelled some barbeque but I could have been hallicinating.  

"Let's go down there and met some other AT hikers!", Cindy said excitedly.  

"I don't think that is a good idea.  We really wouldn't be welcome", I replied.

"What do you mean?", she said.  "AT hikers are known for their friendliness.  We can all swap trail stories!", Cindy retorted.

"Cindy, we have no trail stories unless you count the story of some redneck mountain people trying to scare us off the trail by telling us there were rattlers on it".

I kind of felt bad at that point because I felt like I let the air out of Cindy's balloon.  She so wanted to meet some AT hikers to bond with.

We kept on hiking and staying the course until the weather started to change.

To be continued.....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Round-Victorio Food Strainer-1, Me-0

In the beginning of the garden growing season, I always have high hopes.  As soon as the first veggies come and we are eating from our bounty, I'm on a natural high.

"Look!  We are living off our land!", I'll tell my husband in the early days before all the cucumber plants bear one fruit and die.

It's in that vein that this blog post is born.

Every year, I dream about making my own tomato sauce from tomatoes from my garden;  fresh, organic tomatoes that I have nurtured and tended to.  Last year, I had a plethora of Roma tomatoes but due to poor vacation planning they ending up in my compost bin rather than my pantry. :(

In my dreams, I own a food strainer.  I have been eyeing this baby for years.

Victorio VKP250 Food Strainer

The comments in the review section  were the following:

  • "simply the best"
  •  "an epiphany. So much easier, it's like a miracle" 
  • "not sure how I got along without one".

"Like a miracle?".  I want one.  I want one now.....

Faster than you can say "Amazon Prime", I ordered it and waited patiently for it to arrive.  For 2 days, I collected various tomatoes from my garden, hoping they wouldn't rot until the Victorio VKP250, my new best friend, arrived.

It finally came.

I didn't have a lot of tomatoes, but I wanted to test drive it.  I checked the Ball Canning website and they suggested cooking the tomatoes and mushing them up first prior to putting it through the strainer.  The instructions for the Victorio VKP250 suggested that you don't cook the tomatoes first.   Since I never read instructions to appliances, I already had started cooking my tomatoes.
Tomatoes are a cookin'!
I set up the strainer without too much problem. 
"She's a beauty!"

I thought that this would be a great learning activity for J3 since he was mindlessly playing the Wii.  I mean, what kid would not want to the first to break in a Victorio VKP250?

Well, I poured the tomatoes into the top and J3 with a little assistance from me helped to get the ball rolling.  I immediately became disappointed because everything that came out of the off-shoot looked like a liquidy version of tomato sauce. this tomato sauce?
I immediately noticed what was coming out of the funnel:  all the nasty, disgusting stuff that I don't want in my tomato sauce-seeds, skin etc.  
Looking at this photo is making me sick reliving this moment.
We kept on turning and I was still getting just tomato juice.
It stops getting fun when nothing exciting comes out.
J3 announced that this was "really gross" and went back to the Wii while I tried to figure out this all out.  At one point, I was fiddling around with the funnel thing and it fell off making a complete mess of my pristine countertop.

I re-strained the goop waste to see if I could get more tomato sauce residue but the effort was kind of futile.

I ended up taking it apart and putting it in the sink.  I then simmered the "juice/pulp/wannabe tomato sauce" in a pot.   While simmering I noticed this in the directions:

I can't tell you how I hate stuff that can't be thrown in the dishwasher. The last thing I want to do after this ordeal is clean this thing by hand.  All I want is a nap.  I didn't want to even deal with cleaning it, but look at the warning telling you not to leave it in water.  Give me a break.  Why don't they just say "Hey!  We made this overpriced gadget out of cheap materials that will rust and stain so therefore if you don't want it to be permanently marred than get off your lazy butt and clean and dry it when you are done!".


I just gave up at this point.  Don't throw tomatoes at me(excuse the pun) but I threw the tomato juice/sauce/whatever it is down the sink, washed the strainer and took a nap for 2 hours with J3.  I promised him if he took a nap that we would make a chocolate cake.

Someone I know suggested after hearing about my ordeal to pack that sucker up and send it back to Amazon.  I'm no quitter though.  I am going to try this whole procedure again with uncooked tomatoes and see what happens.

Pray for me.