Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Country Roots and Cowgirl Boots

I want to invite you all to take a journey with me over to the launch of my new blog Country Roots and Cowgirl Boots. I have moved all the content from this blog over, so you can still find old posts i you'd like, but I will discontinue posting on the Schloerb Blurb.

I have decided to move for a couple reasons. First, I can now have my own domain/url so I hope it will be easier for people to find me. Second, I have much more flexibility with the design of the blog, and as a visual communication.marketing person, I look forward to that. Lastly, I now pay for the blog and I hope that is even greater incentive for me to write consistently.

Please head on over! Subscribe to an RSS feed or email feed if you'd like updates delivered to you.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Plans

I hope you all are enjoying Labor Day festivities. I know I certainly am - sleeping in ('til 7), a long walk along the lake, iced coffee on the patio - we're about as festive as it gets around here.

We have plans to meet some friends at a park this afternoon for grilling out and catching up but before we can do that Ryan is replacing the radiator on my Jeep as I type. It conveniently decided to start leaking this week. I guess that's what happens when you drive a 16-year-old car.I am just thankful to have a husband who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty to fix it. I think he even likes it!

Enjoy your barbecues, travels, and whatever else this holiday brings your way! I'd love to hear how you spend the day off from work, if you get it off.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kicking Off Another Season

I have some exciting changes coming soon for the blog. I am moving to a self-hosted site and am working to get it set up and designed as I write this. For those of you who aren't familiar with self-hosting, it just means I will have a different url. It's a little like moving to a new address.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

In other news, we received the remnants of Hurricane Isaac yesterday and today. It was much needed rain. It's been so long I think I forgot what rain was.

College football kicks off tonight with a huge match between my fave, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Michigan Wolverines. Roll tide! I am so excited for football season. It's one of the signature events of autumn, my favorite season. Kick off is only minutes away so I am off. Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baked Ziti

Friends and people we meet often ask if we eat a lot of pasta. We do. At least a couple times per week. Ryan works for a pasta manufacturing company so we always have pasta stocked in the pantry. We don't share, or so our friends say. Sorry about that! I guess we eat it so often that I forget to serve pasta to our guests. So, here I am sharing one of my favorite pasta recipes.

Baked ziti is one of the easiest recipes in my books. And it's delicious. Win-Win. I even made a meatless version in the microwave of my college dorm room a few times when I was tired of eating cafeteria food. I used a microwaveable pasta cooker and disposable pans (I think Glad makes them). It's that easy!

Start by browning 1/2 lb. ground beef. Stir in 1/2 c. chopped onion.


Meanwhile, prepare a pot of boiling water. Add 1 lb. ziti and cook according to package directions. I actually undercooked my pasta a little because it will continue cooking a little in the oven and we like it al dente.


I just started buying Mezzetta pasta sauce. It's natural and contains no added sugar, which is why I like it so much! And it is so flavorful!


Drain the ground beef, if needed. Add 1 jar pasta sauce and heat in skillet.


Gather your cheeses. I usually use 2 c. shredded mozzarella, but I had 1 c. cottage cheese in the fridge that I needed to use up and it worked well in this recipe.


Stir it all up in a pot.


Pour in a greased baking dish. I use this Dutch oven I received as a wedding gift.


Sprinkle an additional 1 c. shredded mozzarella on top.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted throughout.


Yum!


Look at all that cheesy goodness.


It makes for two happy stomachs in this house.



Baked Ziti
Serves: 4-6 people
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 lb. ziti
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
3 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
1 c. cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion in skillet over medium-high heat. Drain beef, if necessary. Meanwhile, cook pasta for one minute less than recommended cooking time. Drain pasta.

Stir beef mixture, pasta, pasta sauce, 2 c. mozzarella and cottage cheese together. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Canning Peaches

In my canning mode, I added peaches to my repertoire, which were surprisingly easy. Whenever I think of peaches I think of the Presidents of the USA song...

Peaches come from a can they were put there by a man 
In a factory downtown 
If I had my little way I'd eat peaches everyday 
Sun soakin' bulges in the shade 
Movin' to the country I'm gonna eat a lot of peaches

Anyone?




Start a pot of boiling water and fill a bowl (or in my case a sink) with ice and water. Blanch the peaches for 45-60 seconds in the boiling water and quickly transfer to ice water. Once cool, remove from water and peel the skins, halve and pit the peaches.

Heat your syrup; I used a 2:1 ratio which was a lighter syrup than some. It calls for 2 cups sugar per 1 quart water. Simply heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves.

Begin packing peaches into pre-sterilized jars and pour syrup over the fruit, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Run a knife around the edge of the jar to release any trapped air in the jars. Cover with fresh, unused lids and seal.

Place in water bath and process pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool overnight.



I love me some home-canned peaches. They taste so much better than store-bought canned peaches. I hope you give it a shot!



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Putting Up Corn

I guess this really shows my Iowa roots, huh? There is nothing that screams summer like fresh, sweet corn on the cob. That, and the dreadfully scorching sun.

Growing up, my family tried to preserve the flavor of summer as long as possible by "putting up corn", a.k.a. freezing it. We had homegrown corn all throughout the winter. There is a method to my madness though and I'm about to show you how it's done.

First, you must shuck the corn. This is not glamorous. Do not wear your Sunday best for this step. Or any steps for that matter. You simply remove the green husks and peel away the silky layers from the corn. It is sticky and the flies may swarm you, but I promise it is worth the trouble. No pain. No gain. Right?

Here you have it. I did 5 dozen ears and this is about half of them. That yielded me 20 (2-cup) bags. (I realize 2 cups = 1 pint, but I used quart bags and just wanted to be specific.)



Get a large pot of water boiling on the stove. This may take a while. Salt it if you'd like, although it's not necessary. I may have done it out of habit. Oops!

Once you have a steady boil, start plopping the cobs into the pot and set your timer for 5 minutes. While they're cooking away, fill your clean sink with ice water. This will stop the cobs from cooking once you remove them from the pot.

When your timer beeps, or buzzes, or vibrates in your pocket remove the cobs and place in said clean, ice water-filled sink.


This is the messiest part. I didn't tell you before hand so as not to scare away the timid. A nifty little trick I learned involves the use of an angel food cake pan to stand the cob on end so you can slide the knife right down the cob and remove the kernels. 


The pan will fill after a few cobs, maybe 5 or 6, so I started filling bags as I had enough corn. Like I said before, I used quarts bag and placed 2 cups of corn into each bag. I found a funnel to be quite helpful in this step. I have my station set up below, completed bags on the right.


One more helpful tip: buy an electric knife. They're like $12 at your local Wal-Mart store (ironic, I know). On second thought, you can probably find one on Ebay or Amazon even cheaper. An electric knife sounds like one of those kitchen tools your grandma uses to slice into the turkey every Thanksgiving, and it probably is, but for instances like this, they can be quite handy. 

Let me know if you plan to preserve your own fruits and veggies this year. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Patio Table Update

Do you remember this table? I blogged about it here


We took advantage of the lovely weather and finished it this past week. After building it over Memorial Day weekend, we had to let the wood dry completely for 30ish days before sealing. Then with the extreme heat, it ended up being a bit longer than that, but I'm happy to report it's finally complete!


I went with a nautical blue, Wedgewood, in a semi-transparent stain by Behr. Ryan and I applied it all by hand with Purdy brushes. I never knew the importance of good, quality brushes until recently. I noticed as I read several of my favorite diy blogs that the designers almost always used Purdy brushes so I thought I'd pick one up to see if they're worth the hype. I quickly understood. 

Do you ever notice as you're painting that you inevitably have a stray bristle that paints completely outside the lines? The bristles seem to be more cohesive on the Purdy brushes I've used - I now have two. Also, though minor, they come with a nice little case that keeps the bristles in good condition while in storage. And, probably the most important feature is that it seems to hold more paint than your average brush so you don't have to reload as often. But that's just my two cents!


As for the stain, it was a lot thinner than I expected. It was a watery consistency so the first coat had us both a little worried about how well it would cover. The wood looked splotchy and uneven, but thankfully the second coat evened it all out! We just had to slow down a bit and really work the stain into the wood to ensure good coverage.


 I am happy with how it turned out. I love that you can still see the grain of the wood and can't wait to see how it weathers.