vinegar smells good....

At least I think so, in moderation. A word to the wise, though: when boiling vinegar, sugar, and spices, don't put your face over it and breathe in deep to see what it smells like. It will clear your sinuses out - even if you didn't think you needed it! (Not that I'm talking from experience or anything... wink wink).

These are good, so far, so thought I'd post them quickly.

Refrigerator Pickles
3 large cucumber pickles
4 Tbsp. salt
1 small-medium onion
1 1/2 c. vinegar
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. pickling spices

Using a slicer, cut cucumbers into thin slices and place in a large bowl. Add the salt, 2 Tbsp at a time and stir to coat the cucumbers. Add onion and stir well. Chill in the refrigerator, covered, for 2.5 hours.

In the meantime, bring the vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil, stirring regularly until sugar dissolves. Let boils for about 1 minute. Remove the vinegar mixture from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Once it is cool, pour through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to separate the spices from the vinegar mixture.

Drain the excess water off the cucumbers after 2.5 hours has passed and pour the vinegar mixture over this. Cover and return to the refrigerator for 1 day.... if you can wait that long. Keith says they are better the longer you let them sit, but they taste pretty good right away. I'm not sure ours will make it until tomorrow. :-D

UPDATE: Keith was right... waiting made them even better! He also added a little bit of garlic to them which is a nice addition - but they were good without, too.

it's peanut butter jelly time!

For reference, this is what is going through my head right now:

Haha. I love Family Guy! Anyway, last night I decided I wanted peanut butter cookies. I'm taking most of them to work tomorrow (so if you work with me and will be in tomorrow, stop by...) Because most of the recipes I've done lately were found online, I decided to pull out the church cookbook because there had to be a peanut butter cookie recipe in there - and probably from someone I know. I was incorrect - there's not a single one in there. For those of you who have the cookbook I'm referring to, had you noticed that yet? Weird, huh? So, back to the internet... I found this one on Allrecipes.com and followed it pretty much, but did a couple of things different.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. butter (softened)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

With a hand mixer, combine peanut butter (crunchy and creamy), butter, and sugar (white and brown) until mixed well. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix again.

Roll into 1-inch diameter balls and press the tops in sugar. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and press down with a fork to create the criss-cross design.

Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

With the last few, I wanted to try peanut butter & jelly cookies, so I pressed an indentation into the dough balls rather than making the criss-cross design and filled with strawberry jelly - and then baked (still for 8 minutes). They were yummy! It's probably easier just to make a PBJ sandwich, but these are fun. If you have kids, I bet they would like this and think it's fun to help make them.


better than christmas

I honestly think I enjoy the 4th of July more than Christmas. (don't hit me)

The 4th of July is almost always fun in Eitzen, even if there is rain like there was this year. There is never a lack of loved ones and friends. And it's highly unlikely that snow will ever post-pone it! The kids get candy at the parade, the adults watch and see people they know participating in the parade, derby, tractor pull, etc... Because of the weather, I limited my activities this year and spent a good portion of the time at mom and dad's, but enjoyed it all (even my nap). I've spent about three or four July 4th holidays away from Eitzen, but haven't enjoyed it as much. Here's a few photos from this weekend:

After a great weekend there for the holiday, I returned today and checked on my tomato plant (which I forgot to water, again, before I left... thanks a billion to mother nature for stepping in for me!) The last time I posted pictures of my tomato plant was June 23, and it's grown quite a bit since then. And the best part is.....

THERE ARE TWO BLOOMS ON IT NOW! As you can tell from the ALL-CAPS, I'm pretty pumped about this! There's hope for me and my black thumb! I know I can't take a whole lot of credit, since I've been relying on mother nature to take care of it this year, but I'm still excited. Hopefully I'll be able to post an actual tomato soon!

Thanks for humoring me. :)


Potatoes, that is. Remember how I mentioned that I needed you to excuse the quality of my photos for a few weeks? Good news, my excuses are now over because I have my camera back. And now I can post about the sweet potato pie we made a few weeks ago.

June seems like a weird time for sweet potato pie because it seems like it is typically made around Thanksgiving or Christmas. But as you may be able to tell, I don't always pay attention to timing. I want to try it.... now. Patience is not my thing. But I digress. I love sweet potatoes, but wasn't sure what I would think of them in a pie form. Turns out, it's great! Kind of similar to pumpkin pie, but different. Because it's not pumpkin, I suppose.

Sweet Potato Pie
2 c. sweet potato
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (I used deep-dish)

Boil potatoes until done, then drain and peel. Mash sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Add butter and mix well with a mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

Pour filling into pie crust and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees until done (when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean).

Cool before serving. Top with whipped cream.

This turned out very tasty and dad now has a new favorite dessert. In fact, this weekend I was making shortcake and he asked if I was making his sweet potato pie - and he was disappointed he wouldn't be getting any. Because this was a few weeks ago, I don't remember all the details, but I think that with the portions, I ended up with some extra mixture, so it may be worth your while to have an extra (non-deep dish) pie crust on hand in case you need to make a second one. Also, when you make the sweet potatoes, it's hard to figure out how to cook up just two cups, but they are good on their own, so you can just eat the leftover.

Give it a try! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised if you haven't had this before.