Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Garden - 3 Weeks

I've been so busy with work recently that it's a good thing the weather was relatively mild all last week. My daily watering was minimal due to the low temperatures.  It started to warm up on Friday, and was well into the 100's this weekend. It's supposed to continue like this for the next few days so I'll be sure to water everything extra well.  It's now officially Fall though so it's annoying we're still getting Summer-like temperatures. 

As I've mentioned in past posts, the new crops for Fall are doing well and are continuing to thrive!  I think a nice batch of sautéed Spinach will happen verrrrrrry soon!


The plants keeps getting more and more leafy every day.



Snap Peas!

I hate to pick favorites...but I think this may be mine right now. 

These little suckers are fast workers! They latch on to things - sometimes another sprout - with their little tendrils and loop around and around and around. I had to keep carefully moving them into the position I wanted each one growing. I think I've finally got them trained. I thought that before too though so we will see...

The herbs are doing amazing! I pruned the Flat Leaf Parsley and Sweet Basil plants a lot last weekend and it seems to have made them do even better than before.  

Flat Leaf Parsley

Sweet Basil


I'm happy to report the I used my cilantro for the first time tonight in my enchilada sauce and rice. It was tasty. To be honest - it taste just like store bought, but it's cheaper to grow and I enjoy it!

Upright Rosemary



Jalapeno Plant

And the 1st Baby Jalapeno for Fall!

Tomato Plant

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Warm Cheesy Goodness!

I've always loved macaroni and cheese - even the Kraft kind. I can remember my childhood babysitter, Marie, making it for my brother and myself quite often. 

As I got older I started adding red pepper flakes to it right before eating. Delicious and spicy I tell ya! 

Then one day I decided I wanted to try making macaroni and cheese from scratch - and bake it! Ever since that day, I can't get enough of the tasty baked mac 'n cheese that I seem to make it every few months. I've switched it up a few times with different cheeses or substituted crushed cheddar goldfish crackers for the breadcrumb topping.  

Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe
-6 tbls butter - set 2 tbls aside to toss with pasta
-4 tbls flour
-2 C milk (I use skim because that's what I have on hand, but you can use whatever)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-8 oz shredded cheddar cheese - set 2 aside for cheese sauce
-4 oz shredded jack cheese
-4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
-4 oz shredded havariti cheese (I've also used gouda before! You could use as many or as few types of cheese for this, just make sure it's a total of 20 oz of shredded cheese)
-1/4 C breadcrumbs 
-1 box of elbow macaroni noodles 

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease baking dish with butter (When using a whole box of macaroni I usually use a 9X13 pan.) 
2. Fill the pot for your pasta about 3/4 of the way full with water and start to bring it to a boil. Once boiling add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes until al dente. Once 5 minutes are up, drain and toss with the reserved butter. (Start the other steps while water is boiling and pasta is cooking, but don't cook more than 5 min because you're putting it in the oven later!)
3. Melt 4 tbls butter over low heat.
4. Add 4 tbls flour. Stir to combine and cook about 3 minutes - stirring consistently. 
5. Increase heat to medium heat. Whisk in milk little by little and cook until thickened (about 4-5 minutes but maybe longer).
6. Remove from heat then add salt, pepper and the reserved cheddar cheese.
7. Add the cooked, drained, buttered pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
8. Put half of the saucy macaroni mixture into the grease baking dish and cover with half of the shredded cheese.
9. Repeat with the rest of the saucy macaroni mixture and the rest of the shredded cheese.
10. Sprinkled breadcrumbs on top.
11. Bake for about 45 minutes and let sit 5 minutes before serving. 

I usually serve this with some kind of green like a nice garden salad or steamed broccoli.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Garden - 2 Weeks

As my Fall Garden continues to come to grow, I am getting more and more excited for what the future will bring.  My friend, Alison and I got to enjoy some spinach from the 1st spinach harvest and it was sure tasty!

The four big spinach leaves in the middle are part of the harvest. 

I can't wait until there is much more ready to saute with a little garlic. Yum!!!

Even with the tiny 1st harvest, the spinach is growing like crazy and there are new tiny leaves almost daily.

All of my herbs continue to do well and many of my friends are reaping the benefits. I can't use the herbs fast enough, so I'm glad other people get to enjoy them as well.

Sweet Basil

Flat Leaf Parsley



Upright Rosemary

The new vegetables for Fall, that were planted from seeds, are all doing amazing as well. The leaves on the carrots are changing, the tiny beet greens are slowly getting bigger and the snap pea growth continues to amaze me!

I may have over thinned these guys... :(


Snap Peas

There are so many new groups of tomato flowers that I've lost count at this point. My jalapeno plant has around five new blossoms, and many other tiny buds that will be flowering soon.  I'm so excited that I'm getting a second round of crops from these plants. 

Tomato Plant
It looks naked because I pruned it like crazy this weekend!

Jalapeno Plant

New Blossoms!

Strawberry Plant

A Garden Visitor!

I've been finding mushrooms growing in my snap pea pot almost every day since I planted them a couple weeks ago. It's odd because I used the same soil in my other planters, but the mushrooms are only growing with the snap peas. I mentioned before that I dig them up every time, but they just keep appearing! 

No, the mushrooms aren't the visitor, but they lead to me finding the visitor.  

Earlier this week I came home from work and was tending to my garden like usual. I pushed a chair over to stand on and grabbed a little plastic shovel I was going to use to dig the mushrooms up if there happened to be any. Instantly I felt something on my hand so I flung my hand, along with the shovel, and all of a sudden I saw a praying mantis clinging for dear life to the chair I was standing on. Poor little sucker. I didn't mean to fling it, but it caught me off guard.  I was a little scared at first, but then I realized what it was and couldn't help but snap a few pictures to share!

I didn't welcome the caterpillars - they were unwanted visitors, but I'll take a praying mantis any day!

Just hangin' on!

Climbing up.

Oh hello there!

It just kept movin' on up the chair.

I ended up putting it on another plant hanging off my balcony. I haven't seen it since.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

Before my parents left to come to California for vacation, my dad made two loaves of some absolutely amazing cinnamon raisin bread. It was delicious and made me want to go out and buy my own bread maker.  I didn't, but I wanted to and I still may! 

After enjoying a few slices of the homemade bread toasted and smeared with butter, I decided to take it one step further. One of the mornings my parents were staying with me, I made the already tasty bread into mouth watering cinnamon raisin french toast! 

Enjoy it with butter or syrup or peanut butter or jam orrrrrr a little of all those yummy things! I'll always think of my parents no matter how I decided to eat this tasty treat! 

Fall Garden - 1 Week

It's been a little over a week since I planted my Fall garden - with the help of my wonderful parents! (Thanks again Mom and Dad!) I am so excited to see the growth from the new plants, as well as the new growth on older plants.  I was a little scared this time since I am starting so many things from seeds. Last time I had the help of the nursery because everything was already a developed plant.

The beets and carrots are doing amazing. I've already thinned them both and have a feeling I'll be thinning the carrots again soon.

Itty Bitty Beet Sprouts

Lots of Carrots Sprouts!

The snap peas have sprouted! I'm so excited and cannot wait to grab one off the vine and munch on it right away. Yummm!  The only problem with them though is the fact that I keep having to dig up and get rid of mushrooms. The little suckers appear out of nowhere - I don't get it. Tonight I dug up a huge mushroom root system. I hope it did the trick - but I also hope I didn't damage the little pea plants in the process. Hmmm....

The Tiny Little Pea Sprouts

So cute!

The spinach is doing very well - so well that I can probably eat some in the next few days. The weather last week really helped and I was so glad I didn't lose the lil spinach plants to extreme heat.  I just hope the cool Fall weather is here to stay!

Singular Spinach

Unfortunately I was snapping pictures of the garden while the cable company service rep was fixing my internet and phone, and I forgot to get shots of most of my herbs. OOPS...sorry folks! I did manage to get a few, and don't worry because they'll all be back next week! :)

GIANT Sweet Basil

Mint that is taking over!!!

And you can't forget about the tomato, jalapeno and strawberry plants.  They're ALL flowering again and I'm anticipating another crop from each one. I cannot believe it. Show's how much I know! I'm learning things as I go and loving every minute of it! 

It's still a monster

I pruned it recently - that's why it looks so bare.

And the new buds. 

Look at the lil white, unripe lil strawberry!!!

Last but not least, the garlic. I'm convinced it's almost time for me to harvest it, but I'm so scared to do it too early and it not be ready... Soon enough! What do you think??? :)