Power of Citrus and Honey

We all know powers of citrus. Oranges were historically used for their high content of vitamin C, which prevents scurvy. Citrus fruit juices, such as orange, lime and lemon, maybe have been useful for lowering the risk factors for specific types of kidney stones. Grapefruit is another fruit juice that can be used to lower blood pressure because it interferes with the metabolism of calcium channel blockers. Lemons have the highest concentration of citrate of any citrus fruit, and daily consumption of lemonade has been shown to decrease the rate of stone formation.

And there is honey. Sweet, smooth tasting honey. Historically, honey has been used by humans both orally and topically to treat various ailments including gastric disturbances, ulcers, wounds, and burns. However, it is only recently that the mechanisms underlying the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey have come to be understood. Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs and, according to recent research, may be an effective soothing agent for coughs.

Knowing all this just made making citrus and honey drops make sense. I get to eat something that is good for me and tastes like candy. Yeah I call that a win win. I had everything already in the house so it didn’t cost me anything to make except my time, which was only about 30 minutes of doing something. The hardest part is waiting the 12 hours while it is in the dehydrator. I have never tried them in the oven yet. Maybe I will make that my next experiment in the kitchen.

Sorry for the bad picture. I had to hurry up and take it before the kids ate everything!

Citrus & Honey Gummy Drops

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c  + 2 TB clear jel
  • 1 1/3 cup fresh fruit juices ( I used a combo of orange, lemon, and grapefruit)
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2 c honey

Directions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan combine clear jel and honey. Mix until completely combined. Boil on medium for one minute.
  2. Slowly add in the citrus juices. Mix until smooth. Boil on medium for one minute or until think.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Trust me on this, this is a must! You don’t want to burn your hands like I did. Once cooled place in a piping bag or a large zip lock bag.
  4. Pipe even size drops on to the fruit roll up tray that works with your dehydrator or on a parchment sheet.
  5. Let them ‘cook’ in the dehydrator for about 12 hours. That is the hard part waiting! They are done when they pull apart like a gummy worm/bear.
  6. Once done place them in the refrigerator and let cool.
  7. Take about 1/2 of sugar, paper or plastic bag and place the gummies in. Shake until well coated. You don’t have to do this step but it will help with keeping the gummies from sticking together. 
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Saving Time and Money

        I don’t know about most of you, but I am not rich and probably will never become rich. With the economy in the shape that it is in now, I do all I can to save money. And with having a full schedule with work, school, and extra-curricular activities, I just want to relax and have some extra time to unwind with the family. Especially during the holiday season, nothing is more important to me than family.

So, how do I do it and still have time and a little money? It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for us as a family. I won’t lie. It did take some time to figure out, but at the day’s end, it was worth it. Not only can I feed my family of five great tasting food ,but I can do it without breaking the bank. Nothing is wasted.

I want to bring to you my eight ways to save time and money. Funny thing is with a little planning, saving time and money tend to go hand in hand.

1. PLAN. This sounds easy, but it is probably the hardest thing to do if you are not used to planning. Since we get paid bi-weekly, I go food shopping every other week. I plan what we are going to have for dinners for two to four weeks in advance. And I don’t do this alone. We do it as a family during dinner time–which is the perfect time to talk about food.

2. SHOPPING. When you head out to go food shopping, figure out if there are items on your list that you can buy in bulk and save. Usually the answer is yes. Items like cereal, rice, sugar, flour, grains, to name a few, are great for buying in bulk. Make sure to check the expiration date, I know that my kids will not go through cereal in two weeks especially during the school year. And buy your meat in bulk too. Separate and wrap it yourself and you save a bunch. This takes no time at all to do, either.

3. COOK. Again I know this sounds easy, but with everything being prepackaged and ready to eat, people forget that you can make the same thing at half the price and get twice as much.  An extra added bonus: when you cook with fresh ingredients you are not taking in all the preservatives that are in the prepackaged food. Learning to cook at home is learning to cook healthier. So not only is it budget friendly it is also body friendly. I call that a win-win. A great example of this is my maccaroni and cheese. I can get all the ingredients for $11 (that is with the bacon) and that make enough to feed 12 people. Making it less then $1 per serving. I can even show you how to make a steak dinner with asparagus and small red potatoes for $17 that will feed 5 people. Do the math, where can you get a steak dinner for under $4 per serving?

4. COUPONS. I know that everyone knows how to clip coupons. But did you know that you can save between $15-$30 on food shopping? Look for coupons that come in the Sunday, online coupons and even with apps. For example, with the app coupons and the item on sale, I only paid $6 for a 14lb turkey for Thanksgiving. Don’t go downloading every coupon app out there, just use the apps for the stores you would use the most.

5. BUY LOCAL. This is by far my favorite thing to do. Not only are the prices better but the flavor is the best. During the spring and summer months we visit our local farmer’s market and PYO (pick-your-own) places for some of the best tasting food. Not only are you getting a great buy, you are helping support your local farmers and community. And it is a great way to get some quality time in with the family.

6. QUALITY SPICES. I know it is easy to go to the store and buy what they have. I used to do that for years, then I found myspicesage.com, and I will not buy from anyone else ever again. They have the best selection that rivals any store. You get a large amount for the price you pay, and they give you free samples to try. The flavors are so rich, that you really only need to use half the normal amount a recipe calls for. Using less and getting more out of it, saves even more money.

7. WASTE NOTHING. This is something we do all the time. We compost all of our scrap fruits and veggies and use it for compost soil in the spring for our garden and flowers. We save a ton of money by using the compost for our flower and vegetable pots instead of purchasing soil from a store. If you have some heals of bread left–face it, it happens–don’t throw them away. Make croutons or bread crumbs. My favorite thing not to waste is egg yolks. I like my eggs without the yolks but instead of throwing out the yolks I save them to make vanilla or chocolate pudding.

8. CANNING. I love canning! I love making jelly, jams, marmalades, soups, sauces, syrups, lemonades and canning the fresh fruits and veggies from the summer. We haven’t purchased jelly from the store in over four years. I won’t lie, this one takes the most amount of time to do. But knowing that my family is eating healthier is the only reason I need to keep doing it. Plus canning soups and sauces make for quick easy meals after long days at work. I get 95% of my stuff from Ball. Added bonus: when you have finished a jar you don’t throw it away just put it in the dish washer and use it again. This does take a little money to get started but pays for itself in no time. Just remember to use fresh lids and replace rusty rings. 🙂

I am not saying that if you do these eight things you are going to see a ton of money left over. You may start to see you are able to buy better quality foods and make that budget stretch just a little bit more. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to get into the rhythm of doing things. Anything worth doing takes time to do it right. And remember this works for me and my family everyone is different, find what works for your family and budget.

Freshly Baked Citrus Cranberry Cookies

I love the cold months, it gives a break from the heat of the summer and we get great fruits like cranberries and amazing tasting oranges. A friend of mine grows his own oranges, satsumas and chickens. Needless to say I am never out of fresh fruits during the colder months of the year. Well over the holidays my oldest had to take care of the chickens and dogs while they are away. And we got so many fruits and eggs I just had to warm up my oven and get to baking. I was not letting these go to waste.

I love the taste of oranges and cranberries together. These are the prefect balance between tart and sweet. I dare you to just eat one! Trust me it can’t be done.

Cranberry Citrus Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature (two sticks)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 large orange finely grated zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and orange zest and juice.
  2. Combine flour, salt and cranberries. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture, blending until smooth. Form dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for dough 60 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  3. Cut into desired shapes and thickness with lightly floured cookie cutter or knife. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator in between baking batches.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cookies on ungreased or parchment line cookie sheet  and bake until lightly golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minute.