Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fruit Leather Fun: How to make your own

Homemade fruit leather is easy to make. Puree fruit and dry it! That's it!! I love being able to use our over ripened fruit for this so that we don't have to throw it away. The texture, nutritional value, and ease of the homemade leathers makes it well worth the time.
Step 1: Select your fruit and wash it thoroughly.
Step 2: Peel, if you want. I like to keep the skins on for fiber and nutritional value. Chop into pieces.
Step 3: Put fruit pieces in a blender and puree until smooth. Add a little lemon juice and sugar (if desired). You may gently cook the mixture in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar.
Step 4: Pour the puree THINLY onto a fruit dryer rack or onto a rimmed baking sheet that has Silpat silicone sheets underneath. You may also put plastic wrap underneath if you don't have silicone sheets.
Step 5: I use the Excalibur Food Dehydrator. Here is a picture of it. It is a workhorse for drying everything from apples to beef jerky. I love mine and use it all of the time, but if you can't buy one, no worries. Put the fruit leather into an oven at 140 degrees and bake until it is completely dried. If you are using a dehydrator, follow the directions for your particular dryer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Barnwood & Glitter: Make Your Own Custom Dry Erase Board

I looked too long for a dry erase board that was big enough to fit a particular space when it finally dawned on me to make my own! I already had a large barnwood frame in the garage that I'd been wanting to use for something, and it was perfect for the space! I started by ordering dry erase sheets. $8.00 a roll was just right. I then bought a foam board at Hobby Lobby that was big enough to fit the frame.
I trimmed the foam board to fit the frame.
Then I rolled the white board sheet out onto the cut foam board. The material was surprisingly easy to work with -- if I made a mistake I just pulled it back up and started over. I smoothed as I went, unraveling slowly.
Next, the foam board (with the white board sheets now attached) was glued to my frame.
The fun part.... decorating it!!!
I have always loved barnwood and glitter -- two opposites that go hand. I suppose it is because they are both me. I am as comfortable in cowboy boots as I am in heels. I feel most at home in the rugged mountains, but love to wear long, glitzy chandelier earrings with hot pink. Barnwood and glitter -- it just works for me! So I added sparkly, glitter letters that I bought in a pack at Michaels and hot glued them onto the frame.Attach picture hanging hardware to the back, and you have a very fun, personalized whiteboard!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

HOW-TO stuff a chicken breast

Step 1: Prepare the filling.
There are countless combinations you can use. Some of my favorite combinations are: pesto, pine nuts, and parmesan (sometimes I add sun-dried tomatoes); apples, gruyere, and toasted walnuts; brie, apples, and toasted pecans. Or to make it more savory, add sausage to the brie instead of apples and add another cheese like parmesan. I often make two different fillings and make an extra pan to freeze.
Step 2: Prepare the chicken breast by cutting off the tender (this is that little piece of the chicken breast that almost looks like a little finger). Pat the breasts dry with paper towels.
Step 3: Filet the breast with your knife, but do not cut all the way through. You are simply cutting the breast in half to open it up like a butterfly. Doing this will make it easier to flatten and roll.

Step 4: Pound the chicken breast with a kitchen meat tenderizer. I have the one fromWilliams-Sonoma. It is easiest to do this if you have plastic wrap or wax paper over the chicken breast, or if you put them in a ziplock bag. This prevents chicken juices from flying all over the room!

Step 5: Pat the chicken breasts dry again (if needed) and then place the filling in the middle of the chicken breast.

Step 6: Roll the chicken up over the filling and secure with toothpicks or kitchen twine. I tend to like using toothpicks because they are so easy to remove.
Step 7: You're done! Place the breasts in a baking dish, allowing enough space between each to let air circulate. I like to rub olive oil over each breast before cooking and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.