Join Me and Let’s Make Homemade Strawberry Jam!

After visit Rita in Canada, she always inspires me to be a little more earthy and resourceful. Click here to learn about Rita. That being said, I just took a stab at making homemade, sugar-free strawberry jam. While the process took a little longer than I thought, I’m very happy with the results. The recipe is from 100DaysOfRealFood.com. Comment below if you have some favorite jam recipes that you think are worth sharing.

Cooking an easy Summer Spaghetti Dinner

Cooking an easy Summer Spaghetti Dinner

This is an awesome and very easy (healthy too!) summer pasta dish that I wanted to share with you from Blue Apron.

WholeGrainSpaghetti_Instagram
INGREDIENTS
½ Pound Whole Grain Spaghetti
5 Ounces Multicolored Cherry Tomatoes
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Ear Of Corn
1 Bunch Basil
2 Tablespoons Mascarpone Cheese
1 Shallot
Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

STEP BY STEP
1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and shallot. Remove and discard the husks and silks of the corn. Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

2. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the cooked pasta thoroughly.

3. While the pasta cooks, in a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, shallot and corn; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.

4. To the pan of vegetables, add the tomatoes, half the basil (roughly chopping just before adding) and as much of the crushed red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined and the tomatoes have softened slightly.

5. To the pan of vegetables, add the cooked pasta, mascarpone cheese, all but a pinch of the Parmesan cheese and half the reserved pasta cooking water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pasta is thoroughly coated. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Divide the finished pasta and vegetables between 2 dishes. Garnish with theremaining Parmesan cheese and remaining basil (tearing just before adding). Enjoy!

In case you need a little extra help, just cook with me!

For more information on Blue Apron and this recipe, click here.

Chub Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada

Chub Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada

We have a family cottage on Chub Lake in Northern Ontario, Canada. Nathan, Chloe and I took a trip to visit my grandma for a few days. Below are my favorite moments from the trip.

Our cottage started out as a one room fishing cottage and over the years the main cabin expanded to a kitchen, bathroom and two little bedrooms separated by curtains. About 13 years ago the guest cabin (which is Texas-themed) was built. Here you can see how thick the natural forest is surrounding our land. To the left you can see the guest cottage and it’s porch and to the right is the main cabin. Typically the Canadian flag is flown, but in honor of her guests, Grandma decided it would be appropriate to fly the Texas flag. Below that is a flag that has Michigan State on one side and the University of Michigan on the other. Our Michigan family is divided – half went to Michigan State and half to U of M.

01_Cottages

This is the living room in the main cottage. All across the top wall (only 9 are shown here) are masks that my grandparents collected over the years from their many travels. Grandma has been to over 100 different countries and this is just a small portion of her treasures. The comic strip to the right is probably my favorite decoration up here. My mom bought it many years on one of her trips abroad. A knight finds a naked woman tied up in a cave. He unties her, she thinks she’s being saved, he has his ‘way with her’ and then ties her back up and leaves. Hilarious.

02_InsideTheCottage

This is the guest cottage. Inside it there is a queen size bed, a small sitting area, closet and bathroom. In the bathroom is a special toilet called the Incinolet 5000. It’s great because it uses no water and basically burns your waste every day. At the end of the week you can dump out your ashes. They chose this type of toilet because the cottage was built on rocks and this made the most sense for plumbing.

03_LittleCottage

We have always loved The Peanuts Gang and when my mom was little, she painted the gang on the original woodshed. Every few years she would repaint them and then when I started going up there as a little girl, I would help touch up the images. When the old woodshed was torn down and this new one was built, my grandma mentioned to the builders how much she’d miss seeing these paintings. The builders surprised her by cutting them out and attaching them to the new wood shed. As silly as they may be, these paintings means so much to us.

04_Woodshed

Chloe loves being at the cottage but she can be sneaky and fast, so when she is outside, she’s always on a string attached to a tree. I love her but can’t trust her.

05_Chloe

Several years ago my cousin Chris balanced these rocks and amazingly enough, they have lasted through the extreme temperature changes that Canada experiences.

06_GrandmaMainCabin

Our first night Nathan cooked steaks on the grill. He claims to not be much of a chef but these turned out great. I’m mostly meat-free but if I’m eating with others, it’s easier to go with the flow. I must say, it was fun to have a week filled with steak, bacon and sausage!

07_NathanCooking

Chloe is used to sleeping all day while I’m at work. When she’s at the cabin, she goes hiking, kayaking and fishing… so each evening she passed out. It was really quite cute. Her eyes would just get so heavy and she couldn’t stay awake to save her life. Plus, how cute are her little jammies?

08_ChloeSleeping

On our second day, it was a little rainy but we managed to make our way to Tom and Rita’s. Tom opens and closes the cabin for Grandma and does any and all of the maintenance needed when she is back in the States. Rita is his lovely wife and has the most amazing garden I’ve ever seen. They are so awesome and let us come pick vegetables. I’ve never met anyone as resourceful as them. They even make their own maple syrup and wine.

09_Rita

We have 4 kayaks – two ocean kayaks and two kiwis (which are wider and shorter). Kayaking is one of my all-time favorite things to do, so we try to do as much as we can up here.

11_Kayaks

Chub Lake apparently has quite a lot of fishing potential (Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, Walleye and Northern Pike), we didn’t have much luck this year.

11a_NathanFishing

Across from our bay is a beautiful cottage owned by some of our cousins. Luckily, while we were up there we got to see T and two of his three sons Ryan and Zach. It has been years since I’ve seen them and probably 20 years since we’ve been in Canada at the same time. We had an awesome little family reunion!

11b_Cousins

After some unsuccessful fishing on our dock, Nathan decided to try fishing more in the middle of the lake in a kayak. I love this picture, he’s so determined here.

12_Kayaking_01

Chloe is my little co-captain and loves being on the edge of the kayak. She always wears a little life jacket and so she doesn’t swim in the wrong direction, I attach a string to her jacket so when she falls in, I can reel her back to me.

13_Kayaking_03

Our third day was absolutely gorgeous so we hiked up to Rock Candy Mountain. It’s located on Cummings Lake.

14_NathanBRCM

Here’s our view from the top of Rock Candy Mountain.

15_BigRockCandyMountain_01

More kayaking. When we kayaked with the Woods boys we went down to Little Chub. If you go to the other end of Chub Lake you can go through a small tunnel to Jobamageeshig – Jobam for short.

16_Kayaking_06

We don’t have cable up there so really rely on old cassette tapes and the Canadian NPR station. Aside from nights listening to Burl Ives and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, we always loved listening to Roy Clarks’ Greatest Hits. It’s hard to choose a favorite Roy Clark song, because they are all so good, but my vote goes to “I Never Picked Cotton”.

17_RoyClark

In 1960, Barbie’s Queen of the Prom board game came out and my mom had to have it. Somehow it ended up at the cabin and it’s been a staple ever since. We always play it once while we are up there and while Nathan may have been hesitant at first, I think he really enjoyed it. It’s a race to see who can get Prom Queen first, but before you can go to the Prom, you have to get a boyfriend, buy a dress and become the president of a school club. Nathan actually ended up winning and becoming the Prom Queen. He was the President of the Athletic Club, bought the $40 “Let’s Dance” dress and took Tom as his date!

18_BarbieGame

The sunsets are quite beautiful from our property. Every evening is filled with listening to the loons call on the lake. If you’ve never heard a loon, here’s an example.

19_Sunset

Mornings are typically filled with coffee and the Canadian NPR station. My grandma’s love for NPR was passed down to me – it’s about all I listen to now. The lighting this morning was really beautiful, so I figured it’d be okay to snap a picture of myself… yes.. a selfie.

20_HallieMug

After breakfast on our last day there, grandma and I took Nathan to the rocks on the Little White River. I have a lot of fond memories of playing on the rocks when I was little.

21_LittleWhiteRiver_02

22_LittleWhiteRiver_04

23_SignHallie

I was pretty excited to come here and test out my new ND3 filter. This was shot with my Canon 5D Mark II at an f22, 100ISO and for 30 seconds.

24_LittleWhiteRiver_03

We ended our final day with another loop around the lake. I can’t think of a better and more relaxing way to end this quick trip.

25_KayakingChloe_1

26_Kayaking_02

I love this shot of Grandma. She’s incredible. 87 years young and still gets in a kayak (on her own) and cruises to the middle of the lake. She’s my hero and I’m blessed to have her in my life.

27_GrandmaKayaking

Just in case you want even more, here’s a more in-depth look into our trip. Enjoy.

Cooking Cool Summer Vegetable Ramen

ramensaladHD

Okay guys, this Blue Apron recipe was really fun and different. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would rate it a 4 out of 5. Even though it’s pasta, it feels very light.

Check out this video of my cooking experience and if you want, cook with me.

Blue Apron’s Summer Ciambotta Stew with Heirloom Eggplants, Romano Beans & Farro

This Blue Apron meal was so filling. They say each meal is two servings but I’m pretty sure this could be four servings. To be honest, this one wasn’t my all-time favorite, but I still enjoyed it. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars.  The flavor was good and adding the butter and parmesan cheese really helped, but I feel like it was just lacking in something. I’m doing the vegetarian meal plan with BA, but to be honest, adding some sautéed sausage would really have taken this dish to another level.

SummerStew

Never the less, I enjoyed this one and the process was once again fairly simple. Enjoy.

For the full recipe, click here.

Page 3 of 712345...Last »