Archive for the ‘Healthy Living’ Category

Make It Yours: Make & Bake One-Skillet Potpie

Finally a one pot potpie! Lists basic Ingredients that you can mix and match per your liking along with healtheir substitutions like a whole wheat & olive oil crust!

More and more I’m not really a “recipe girl”. I like to use recipes as a guideline, and then substitute my favorite ingredients and flavors to make a recipe my own. Typically it’s hard to find just “one” recipe I like. I tend to find several with different pieces and parts that sound good, and throw them together to make one awesome meal. So, in an effort to keep my options open, but still stick to the basics, I’m going to be breaking down recipes to their basic measurements. You fill in your favorite meats, sauces, and veggies to truly make it your own!  At our house we definitely aim to use the healthiest ingredients, but sometimes it just comes down to what is on hand!

Now, get in there and own that potpie!

Everyone loves a potpie (unless you don’t like pie and if that is the case there is just something wrong with you!)! The thing I love about potpies is that they are so versatile. From the crust to the meat and vegetables you can mix and match or pull out leftovers in your fridge.

BASIC INGREDIENTS:
** Keep in mind I’m providing the quantities you’ll need of each ingredient, but feel free to substitute meats, seasonings, vegetables, sauce and crust to taste.

  • Meat: 1 lb; chicken, stew meat, or hamburger.
  • Seasoning: 1 teaspoon; Parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, celery seed or celery salt, and cayenne pepper (if you like a kick!).
  • Vegetables: 2 cups (1 cup each) of vegetables; typically we like a combo of peas and carrots, but you can also use corn, asparagus, green beans, etc.
  • Creamy Sauce: Typically 1/2 cup; of skim milk, whole milk, or even coconut milk + 1 cup of broth; chicken, beef, or vegetable + 2 tablespoons; of flour for thickness.
  • Cheese: 1/2 cup; low-fat cheddar, but substituting some other sharp cheese like Munster or even swiss maybe fun to try?
  • Crust: 1) Make a basic pie crust the old fashioned way with butter and flour, 2) Substitute regular flour with whole wheat and butter with olive oil (delish!), or 3) purchase a pie crust from the store and have it ready to go!
  • Additional: 1/2 cup; onion finely chopped.

HOW TO:

  1. Make/Prepare pie crust so it is ready to go. Look for a variety of pie crust recipe links in the ingredients list above or you can probably find a good one in any standard cookbook you’ve got laying around. (If I am making the pie crust from scratch I like to make two at a time so that I can freeze one, and have it ready to go the next time I want to make a potpie. Saves a TON of time and cleanup!)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375. If you are not using a oven save skillet you’ll just have to use a pan to cook the meat as well as grease a 9″ pie pan.
  3. Heat up the skillet with a dab of olive oil. Cook the onions until clear, add in the meat, and cook thoroughly through. Remember you are going to bake the meat as well so if things are slightly pink the meat will finish up nicely in the baking process.
  4. Step 3: Add harder vegetables (like carrots) and cook for 5 minutes, until softened (if you can stick them with a fork or toothpick they are done!).
  5. Add flour, whisk in for about 30 seconds, and then pour in milk and broth. Let simmer until the creamy sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk in cheese, additional seasonings (to taste), and other softer vegetables like peas or asparagus.  Stir until the cheese is melted.
  7. If baking in a SKILLET: Center the pie crust over the filling and tuck the extra parts draping over the side in. I typically use a spoon to help me get down in there since the ingredients will be hot! If baking in a PIE PLATE: Pour filling into prepared pie plate. Center the pie crust over the filling and tuck the extra parts draping over the side in.
  8. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out dry. (I like to use the baking time to cleanup so that by the time you are ready to sit down cleanup is practically done!)

Here are some yummy references of potpies I used to come up with my own version.

Let us know what you think about this new little series and ways that we can help clarify things? I’m always open to trying different ingredients or suggestions to make prep for a homemade meal easier and faster.

Now get in there and make yourself a homemade potpie. You can do it!

From The Farm

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Canning with Cale: Sugar Free Peaches with Honey and Fresh Basil

Canned Sugar Free Peaches with Honey and Fresh Basil

This summer has possibly been the BEST summer ever to can fresh vegetables and fruits. Not only has the weather in the Midwest been cool (perfect for standing over a hot stove), but it’s also created lots, and lots of rain! Just when we think our garden has passed it’s prime we get another round of fresh goodies.

Now that we have a baby eating solids I’ve been looking to create a few canning recipes that he could really enjoy. Making your own baby food is a lot of work so anything I can do to save time down the road, while utilizing our homegrown ingredients, is worth it to me!

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Canning with Ken: Berry & Wine Jam

Canned Blackberry & Apricot Wine Jam. Mix & match your favorite seasonal berries and white wine to customize your own version of this basic Berry & Wine Jam!

My dad, Ken, is the man when it comes to all things garden and wine. Every year he has a huge garden full of garlic, potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes (just to name a few!), but the thing I love about his garden the most is when he uses his extra veggies to make homemade wine! He’s made every kind you can think of out of currants, blackberries and jalapenos, apples, apricots, and even tomatoes!

Unlike typical jam and jelly bread spreads this recipe is a sweet/tart mix. It’s a celebration of that time of year when the garden (or berry bush) is just bursting with freshness and our way of saying thanks to my dad for all the FREE homemade wine over the years. :)

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Pipe Smoking 101

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There is nothing quite so luxurious as smoking a pipe. It’s a James Bond; “shaken not stirred,” type statement. I know who I am and what I’m about, that I can state it casually. To me pipes are about an image, enjoyment, relaxation and fun. That’s why I smoke one, and that’s why I would recommend it to any man or woman that wants to try something new, something from a bygone age.

I started dreaming of smoking a pipe in the second year of our marriage. I would watch old Humphrey Bogart movies and Cary Grant films and the desire to know that time, to have Sean Connery’s accent, Cary Grants humor and Bogart’s sex appeal. But I settled for a pipe, and it was one of the greatest choices I’ve made.

The basic startup items for a novice pipe smoker are…

  • Pipe
  • Tobacco
  • Accessories to help with that first experience

PIPES
I recommend buying a second hand pipe, or if you have a pipe smoker you know possibly borrowing or buying one from them. There are many advantages to buying used vs. new pipes as a beginner.

  • First, used pipes are already broken in, or tempered. A new pipe will need to be cared for more specifically and your flavor and quality of smoke can be affected if not done properly.
  • Secondly second hand pipes are cheaper, money isn’t the only consideration but it is one nonetheless, why spend $50 – $300 on a new pipe when you can pick up a used one for $10-$30 and determine if pipe smoking is right for you.

My first pipe was a second hand pipe from an antique shop; I still smoke it and love it today. Here are a few links to great places to purchase new and second hand pipes…

THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PIPE
A few things to know when buying second hand pipes, these may seem obvious but need to be watched when picking out a good used pipe. None of the new pipes should have these defects and if they do, send it back immediately.

  • Cracks or large chips in the stem or bowl
  • Used or baked on tobacco in the bowl, this means that pipe was probably not well cared for and it may just need cleaning. But I find it nasty and unprofessional to sell a used pipe without cleaning it.
  • Broken or cracked stem, heavy bite marks or disfiguration of the stem
  • Finally, you should be able to pull the stem and bowl apart and look inside for cleanliness, a filter, and any cracks or broken edges

Not all pipes will have filters, neither of my two favorite pipes do. Other things to look for in a pipe are.

  • The fit, how it fits in your hand and how comfortable you feel with it in the smoking position
  • Style, this is completely up to you, I tend to like Dublin and Billiard shaped pipes see the image below from the Pipe Rack for shapes and styles
  • Draw, the pipe should have a good draw; which means a good flow of air when puffed

Again, pipes are a statement of who you are and what you like. So picking one is like picking a good hat or that perfect pair of boots it takes time and thought. But when you find it, it’s yours and only yours and you’ll tell stories about your first pipe and how you found it. Now that I’ve got you searching the Internet for pipes and defining your style, let’s talk tobacco.

TOBACCO TYPES AND QUALITIES
The second key ingredient to a good smoke is your tobacco. This is one of those areas where a little trial and error comes in. Each person likes different flavors and different types of tobacco. From very rich dark flavors to light and fruity flavors tobacco is much to the taste and like of the smoker, so here are some basic types and descriptions for your reference in picking a tobacco, or tobacco blend. Keep in mind most tobacco you find in the shops is a blend of two or more of these tobaccos with possible additional flavors added.

  • Virginia: one of the basic tobacco types used in most blends, it ranges from a light yellow color to medium brown. The lighter colors tend to have a spicy flavor while the darker colors tend to have a deeper more complex taste.
  • Burley: the opposite of a Virginia in its oils and sugar ratio, being high oil low sugar. Burleys tend to have a nutty flavor.
  • Carolina: similar to a Virginia but not as rich, a more diluted tobacco.
  • Maryland: A mild tobacco, used often in blends.
  • Orientals/Turkish: A broad group of tobacco’s used to “spice up” a blend, and are often quite fragrant.
    This is a simple list there are others and some non-tobacco elements that are used as well. A great way to learn about tobaccos and to start to develop a personal preference is to try them out, spend time in your local tobacco shop talking to the owner and other pipe enthusiasts, you’ll learn a lot and possibly make a few friends in the process.

THE METHOD
Smoking a pipe as I said before is making a statement, it’s about taking time to think and to listen and so don’t expect to smoke your first pipe in 10 minutes. Grab a beer or a manly cocktail, and settle down in your favorite chair, it’s time to enjoy your pipe.

Step 1. Filling the bowl of the pipe. This is the hardest part, but has the most affect on the rest of your smoking experience. Fill the bowl loosely with tobacco and press or pack it lightly with the tamper. The tobacco should compress half way down the bowl. Fill again to the top and pack with the tamper once again, more firmly this time. Now the bowl of your pipe is about ¾ full of tobacco. Finally top of the pipe with a last layer of tobacco and pack it with the tamper, there should only be a small space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco.

Step 2. Testing the pack. Put the pipe to your mouth and draw through it as if smoking. Don’t light the pipe yet. If the air is flowing freely through the tobacco and pipe then your pack is ready to light. If the air is not flowing freely and it’s difficult to draw on the pipe then empty your pipe and re-pack using less pressure with each tamping this time.

Step 3. To light your pipe, use a wooden match or pipe lighter. I like matches, they have a style that I enjoy, more old fashioned. But a lighter works just as well. If using a match let it burn for a second after striking to let the sulphur burn away. Then gently draw on the pipe while moving the match in a circular motion over the surface of the tobacco. You want an even and complete lighting of the top layer of tobacco. Some will tell you to let this first lighting go out, they call this the false light. When breaking in a pipe I follow this rule, but on my older pipes I often get a good light and just let it smolder for a moment, then start puffing.

Step 4. Smoking your pipe is leisurely, and slow. Slow steady puffs, this is not a race it’s a casual stroll with friends. A good comment to make here is that tobacco smoke similar to cigar smoke is not to be inhaled like a cigarette. These tobaccos are stronger and blended more for flavor and enjoyment, so bring the smoke into your mouth taste it, like wine rolling it on your tongue and then release it into the air.

Smoking your pipe should take 30-45 minutes at least, and enjoying it should add even a little more time. So don’t hurry the worst thing a beginner pipe smoker does is smoke 3 bowl full’s of tobacco in an hour and wonder why your head is hurting and your tongue is burning. Slow and steady is the proper and most enjoyable way to smoke a pipe.

WHAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME

  • The pipe is going to go out, especially as your getting started and learning the feel of packing and lighting. You’ll get halfway through a bowl and realize your just sucking air, not a problem follow step 3 and keep going.
  • The pipe get’s too hot for your hand, let it go out, and give it a second relight and keep smoking.
  • If the pipe starts getting wet, or gurgling, you start to get tobacco juice in your mouth or any combination of these means that there is too much moisture in the stem of the pipe. Take a pipe cleaner and run it into the stem and let is draw out the moisture for a second or two. Try and keep your mouth dry while smoking to keep this from happening.
  • When finished smoking, let the pipe cool before cleaning. Never “knock” a pipe out into your hand or on a hard surface. This can lead to stress fractures in the pipe bowl and stem, which will affect the draw and eventually may crack the pipe completely, rendering it unusable.

I hope this helps those who might be interested in smoking a pipe to get started, and for others maybe it was just a fun read. I’m by no means an expert in pipes or tobacco’s and smoking is something I enjoy but it’s not for everyone. So here are a list of links that helped me get started and which informed this post and it’s images.

Let me know your smoking stories and any advice that you would like to add for the new smoker in the comments below.

From the Farm

Pipe Image via The Pipe Rack

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Canning with Kerry: Green Pepper Jalapeno Jam

green-pepper-jam-thumb5

I always get a little sad this time of year. The garden seems to slow down it’s production as the summer heat rages on in full force. This summer we’ve shared some great jam recipes with you and I hope you’ve found sometime to put some away for the winter as well as can some of our old favorites.

I thought it would be fun to conclude our 2012 “Canning with…” Series by taking it back to it’s original roots and sharing a recipe from a local friend. Kerry and her family have opened up their home for Cale and I in so many ways. We’ve spent lots of Sunday afternoons part-taking in meals around their dinner table, projects around the house, and a few intense moments playing Settlers of Catan.

Actually it was in one of those “intense moments” that Kerry busted out some of her Green Pepper Jalapeno Jam. From that moment on, I knew I had to share this recipe with you! It’s super easy to make… no hours of boiling down fruit AND we didn’t even have to give ours a water bath in order for it to seal! You’ll have to checkout the full instructions below, but I promise this is one recipe that is well worth your time!

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(fake) Canning with Jennifer Jo: Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes

oven-roasted-tomatoes-thumb

Due to being 8 months pregnant canning this year has been a little bit harder than I had expected. I have not been able to tryout as many new recipes as I had originally hoped, but I was recently looking up some recipes for canning Sun Dried Tomatoes and found Jennifer Jo with Mama’s Minutia. A momma of four she’s been busy canning and preserving all summer long. I was super excited when she agreed to share her easy recipe for Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes in our “Canning with…” Series. Especially since it’s SUPER simple and doesn’t require actual “canning”. Since each batch is fairly small (2 oven trays full = about 2 pint jars) Jennifer just freezes her tomatoes in a jar and calls it good. Maybe this makes me a sellout canner, but this 100 degree weather has my ankles so swollen I swear they could be a prop in the up and coming The Hobbit Movie (minus the hairy feet of course!).

So bare with me this year! I’m cutting canning corners wherever I can (Ha!)! ;)

Why does Jennifer love these tomatoes?

They’re delicious! Meaty and flavorful and chewy and sweet. They add a wallop of a flavor punch. They are easy to make—no peeling or seeding the tomatoes. They use up lots of in-season herbs. They roast while you sleep.

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Canning with Samantha Lamb: Pectin Free Strawberry Jam

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Today we are super excited to share a canning recipe from the lovely Samantha Lamb. We first met Sam at a local craft show where we shared neighboring booth space. She’s a true farm girl after our own heart with chickens, cows, and garden all her own. She lives in a little farm house near her family in OK and loves baking pies for the locals!

Hello my Darlin dears, wonderful meadow creatures that live in the orchard & you darling Gnomes that are wonderful at picking Strawberries,

Miss Lamb your canning & fanciful farmer here,

Today, I am honored to be the guest blogger here at Green Couch Design & I am happier than a peach to share with you my favorite canning recipe for Strawberry Jam, that uses no pectin

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Canning with Paige: Earl Grey Peach Jam

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Today we are launching one of our favorite summer series called “Canning with… “. This is our third year and what started as Canning with Grandma has now turned into a collaboration with different bloggers and several neighborhood friends. We’ll be sharing a new recipe about every two weeks from now through August. From Sweet & Sour Pickles to Rose Water we’ve got enough to keep you coming back all summer long! So dust off those canning jars and get stashed with equipment. Before you know it you’ll be up to your ears with the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables.

Hi ya’ll! My name is Paige and I write the blog, Come and Take It. Come and Take It is devoted to inspirational living, family style. What does that mean you say? I write about the things I love: cooking, home décor, fashion, and entertaining among others, but most importantly, how our family likes to incorporate all of these elements into our own lifestyle. My husband is in the Army so things can get a little chaotic at times, but no matter where we live (currently near Savannah, Georgia) we will always call Texas home. We are excitedly anticipating the birth of our daughter, due in early September, and love to harass snuggle our dog, Winston, and cat, Charles.

My parents moved from suburban Houston to a small, hill country town outside of Austin, Texas about 5 years ago. Not only was the pace of the every day life different, there were whole new aspects to living a ‘country’ life to get used to, like a full tree of peaches every May.

Over the past couple years I’ve taken on the hundreds of peaches that inhabit our kitchen for the last two weeks of May with cobblers, chutneys, salsas and more. Last year we even turned them into our wedding favors! My mom and I tackled the project this year, and we ended up with ginger peach jam, jalapeno peach jam and now, early grey infused peach jam. Don’t forget the weeks of cobbler for dessert!

Depending on the size and age of your peaches, the process can get a little overwhelming so don’t despair! Our peaches were at the end of their life and were very small, so lots of peeling involved. I’ve included the recipe I followed, but please be aware that every stove cooks differently, so test your jam before you can! ;)

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Fresh & Local: 2012 Summer Guide to OKC+ Farmers’ Markets

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Can you believe it!? It’s that time of year where the tomatoes grow just so perfect in the summer sun and the taste is unlike anything else in the entire season! We love out little garden but we realize that not anyone can afford the time, money, and energy it takes to maintain a garden. With the idea of fresh and local becoming such a popular term these days it’s making it easier for the not so green thumbs to still cash in on some wonderful homegrown vegetables! We like to attend Farmers’ Markets simply because we can purchase fillers that we didn’t plant in our garden and it makes a wonderful Saturday morning for the kids. We’ve also found that even on a small budget you can always find a few cheap veggies AND their shelf life is 2-3x longer than the stuff you buy at the store! Totally worth the extra $0.15 cents if you ask us!

It’s time to officially welcome in the summer by attending a Farmers’ Market near you. Enjoy! :)

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Date on a Dime: Hunting for Lights

doad_header-lights

A fun, almost free sentimental date to help Grinches like me get over themselves & into the Christmas spirit, is a Christmas lights tour around the houses of those who REALLY buy in to the Christmas theme of things.

A Christmas date isn’t complete of course, without Christmas music… so I’m told.  Step up Pandora. A veritable feast of Christmas tunes, absolutely free. If  you have a smart phone, apologize to it, then go ahead & play Pandora’s Christmas Music station. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can still enjoy this festive tradition of auditory abuse on your local radio station.

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High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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