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Grilled Orange Chicken

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For me, 2015 was a big year of canning. I made countless batches of jams and jellies, fermented pickles, fresh-pack tomatoes in their own juices, a few batches of applesauce, and other things that are happily at-home in my basement pantry.

So, what I guess I just revealed to you is this: If the zombie apocalypse comes and in the event that anything happens to me (i.e., let's hope Darryl rescues me from a zombie hoard and we ride off into the sunset together on his motorcycle), my house is a good location to raid for food.

Anyway...

I give away a lot of my canned goods as gifts to friends and family. One of my favorites that I selfishly held on to was a batch of bourbon and black pepper orange marmalade. I had a craving to do something that involved more than just spreading the marmalade on toasted English muffins with butter—which is amazing, by the way. Chinese food came to mind, so I thought a savory application, orange chicken with some steamed vegetables, would be good to try.

Homemade Aioli: Take 1

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Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday!

Mine was both productive and relaxing. Steve and I worked in the garden, weeding and spreading top soil, and I continued sorting and throwing away old stuff from the basement, trying to get moving-ready for when the time comes. The day in the city on Saturday with my mom to see Jersey Boys was fantastic, too.

Speaking of the garden, my first purple bell pepper is growing nicely! It was about the size of a kumquat, but it got much bigger just in the past week or two. We also have quite a few blooms on our Japanese eggplant and cucumber plants, sunflowers shooting up and zinnias starting to sprout (two of my favorite flowers), and healthy herb plants. Exciting!

I also managed to knock-off one of my foodie goals for this year during dinner on Sunday (grilled Dundore & Heister hamburgers and hot dogs from Easton Public Market, veggie burgers, and Greek tatzki pasta salad.) I made homemade aioli to go with the burgers, and all-in-all it was a good first attempt. I hit some roadblocks when it came to the flavor, though, but as far as the process? That was a cinch.

On Pinterest: Stars and Stripes

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If you took a day off from work today (like me) to get a jump-start on your holiday weekend plans, then I hope you're not battling too much traffic right now to get where you need to be. Better yet, maybe you've already arrived or opted to skip the crowds and stay home, and with a drink in hand are currently catching up on a good book or TV series. Either way, I hope you enjoy. :)

I certainly hope to have a relaxing extended weekend, myself. My plans for the actual holiday will likely include throwing something on the grill and kicking back with a few cocktails, but tomorrow I'm looking forward to a day in the city with my mom. We have tickets for a matinee performance of Jersey Boys and are planning to go for dinner after the show. (P.S., if you have any suggestions for me on where to eat in NYC, I'd love some new ideas. Let me know in a comment or DM me on Twitter @fromannakitchen.)

If you're planning a big bash to celebrate the holiday, check out these red, white, and blue food and entertaining ideas curated from Pinterest and have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

What is Kombucha?

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Last year, I took a long weekend and drove down to Maryland to see my friend. At one point during the visit, we were eating dinner and I saw her open up a curious, brightly colored orange drink. It wasn't a soda, but made a similar "fizzy" noise every time the cap was taken on and off.

The drink, as it turns out, was kombucha, a beverage made by fermenting tea and other flavorings with a bacteria and yeast starter called a scoby. The smell was sour and fruity, like oranges or lemons. I took a sip and wasn't turned off, but my first taste left something to be desired.

Earlier this year, I came across a whole shelf of kombucha varieties in the organic section of Wegmans. I was determined to try it again to see if I could develop a taste for what was supposed to be an incredibly nutritious drink and a source of natural probiotics.

Strawberry Picking and Preserving: Strawberry-Balsamic Jam and Strawberries in Syrup

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A few weeks ago, Steve and I went on an impromptu strawberry-picking adventure to Grim's Orchard and Family Farms in Breinigsville, PA. We visited the farm last year for pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, which was a lot of fun, and decided that we would go back for strawberry-picking as soon as the season came around.

Steve picked strawberries when he was younger, so he was an ol' pro at it. We ended up hauling home a whopping 10 lbs of strawberries for about $25 -- not bad at all for some of the sweetest, ripest strawberries I think I've ever put in my mouth.

Of course, Steve was tasked with the all-important job of carrying our harvest, too. ;)

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I had a total of 10 quarts of berries on-hand after I included the ones that I picked up from the farmer's market earlier in the week before this adventure. Those berries were leftover from the strawberry-rhubarb preserves that I made and have been eating with my morning breakfast ever since because it's that damn delicious.

It may sound like a lot, but I assure you: Not a single strawberry went to waste. A small batch of strawberry-balsamic jam was up first followed by strawberries packed in syrup, using up every single berry that didn't otherwise end up in my mouth during the washing and chopping process.

It’s Official: This is My New Favorite Breakfast

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A recent trip to the market yielded me tons of gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb that I knew were destined to be a jam. I wanted something different, though, than a standard strawberry-rhubarb preserves. I ended up choosing a recipe from one of my go-to resources for canning, Food In Jars, that sounded incredibly unique -- a rosewater-scented strawberry-rhubarb jam.

Pantry Raid: Fig, Toffee, and Walnut Granola

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I was craving something sweet one afternoon when I thought back to an episode of Barefoot Contessa that I watched a couple of weeks ago. Ina Garten made homemade granola bars for an episode about breakfast. Her bars featured apricots, cranberries, coconut, and slivered almonds along with oats and a base made out of sugar and honey.

I was inspired to take a look at what I had on-hand in my own kitchen to make a batch of my own. I always have pantry basics, like oats and dried fruit, on-hand for baking. What I ended up making was something that, for granola standards, was really, really tasty. [wprm-recipe-jump text="Get the recipe below."]