The first day of spring has arrived! Despite the snow, the sun is out, it's above zero every day now and everything is gradually melting. My mood is boosted each morning when I wake up.
I'm so happy to say that I am continuing the three-dog-walk. :) We went into the woods today along one of the snowmobile trails, but didn't get far because I kept sinking.
So yesterday was a big kitchen day for me. Maybe it's the spring weather...I have no idea, but I think I bit off a little more than I could chew lol...I started with homemade yogurt because we have a fruit shake each morning and it's not a routine I want stopped just because I run out of yogurt!
Alex and I bought each other a nice popcorn maker the first Christmas we were together. I love this thing, but honestly, it's a bit of a pain to clean. We'll never go back to other methods of popping corn though. I use coconut oil and with some clarified butter, you'd think you were at the movies! But I pulled this out of the dusty shelf to make crackerjacks!
I've had this in mind since before Christmas actually but never got around to it. Alex downloaded a good movie yesterday so I wanted to have a popcorn movie night. This is the caramel sauce.
If you love popcorn and caramel and Crackerjacks, do yourself a favour and make these Homemade Crackerjacks!!! They melt in your mouth but they are crispy at the same time! Oh my gosh, they were amazing! Good thing they're sweet because they would have been all gone in 15 minutes. Since Alex is allergic to peanuts, I used pecans and they worked really well!
The next thing to make on the list was homemade sausages. I had a 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin thawed and I found a great website that had a lot of sausage recipes on it. Ever since I got my handy dandy little meat grinder with the sausage attachment I've wanted to try it out!
Ewww!!! I have to say I was a little squeamish when I touched these! When we went out to get groceries on our anniversary last week, we talked to the butcher and he sold us these hog casings for $3.00. Trust me there is enough in here to make 100 sausages. He told us to keep them in salted water in a cool dark place. He sold us the smallest amount he could and we knew we weren't making 100 sausages! I came to terms knowing most of this would be thrown out, it's too bad it doesn't freeze, once it's prepared it has to be used within a month.
Homemade Sausages. The verdict? Not worth the effort and money! We got SIX sausages from that $8 pork tenderloin. See the sausage patty? That was what got stuck in the meat grinder attachment! I love my little meat grinder, but it's no good for sausage making. I'm glad we tried though because down the line if we can afford a better sausage maker, I'd love to make my own again! It was a two-man job though with that little grinder, the casings kept slipping off. Anyway, I don't regret trying, they are in the fridge right now, setting and flavour-mingling. I'll put them in the freezer for our next European hot dog night!
Next up was Nutella Cigars. For New Year's Eve 2016, I made some appetizers with phyllo dough. I'd put the rest in the freezer and really wanted to use it up. These are very nice, and the Nutella kind of sneaks up on you! These are salted so the sweet and salt go very well together! Very yummy with coffee! :) See that ziplock bag to the left of the picture? That's my homemade pastry bag. I've hinted that I want a REAL one for a gift one of these days! I made meringue mushrooms for my Yule log cake last Christmas and the ziplock was a beach to use, let me tell you. I'd like to do more creative baking so I think Alex got the hint! :))
For dinner, in my effort to keep using up the phyllo dough, I made Chicken Phyllo Bundles with mashed carrots. This was BEYOND delicious!
Most of the recipes I make aren't too complicated. These weren't either. The chicken breasts are stuffed with a mix of Feta, Parm and parsley. Then they're wrapped in the phyllo and baked. (Just a note on "best before dates"...my Feta had a best before date of March 6th. I'd forgotten about it. When I opened it up, it was fine. No weird colours, no bad smell, the brine was still watery and in the end it tasted amazing. I've learned over the years that things DO last beyond the "expiry dates", so always give things a second chance before tossing them!)
I took a closeup (a little blurry) of the chicken to show the stuffing. The parsley seems to have disappeared though. This is a definite keeper recipe! And you know what? I STILL have a third of the phyllo dough left!!! It's in the freezer again for the next round of phyllo recipes!
Today I'm taking it easy. It's going to be a slow-cooker meal, Coq au Vin. Do you freeze leftover wine? I do! White wine, never because I love to drink it. I love red wine too, but I never feel like drinking it when there are leftovers and I hate to waste, so I just put the bottle in a plastic bag, loosen the top and freeze it. I need a cup and a half of red wine for dinner, so my half bottle from Valentine's day will do it. I'm not a fan of "cooking wine"...which basically means an inexpensive vintage. I really think you can taste the quality of the alcohol you use in cooking so I always make sure whatever I use in my food, I won't turn my nose at to drink! Thawed wine still has the nice flavour and is definitely drinkable, but it's a little watery so it's best used for cooking :)
Everyone is enjoying the sunshine! :) Jack and Oscar often sleep back to back with each other. So today I'm going to clean up the porch a little. It's time to take in my winter decorations and think of something for spring! I'm also going to plant some herbs for my window garden. One chore I'm not looking too forward to though is trimming and filing 54 little doggie nails. Alex does the cats and I do the dogs. I did get a small Dremel last month though. One of the ladies at the shelter showed us how easy it was to use with all the tips to keep the dogs safe, so I'm going to try that out today.
I hope everyone has a great day today! Thanks for reading. :))