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Posts Tagged ‘Recipe’

Crepes with Strawberry Preserves

Yes, I know what you may be thinking…”Strawberry season?  I thought that was in the summer…?”  You are right, strawberry season is in the summer around here.  However, when a friend of mine got an ad in the mail for our local grocery store, strawberries were listed at $0.97 a pound!!  She discovered that this year Florida’s strawberry season has been very late, and is coinciding with California’s strawberry season…good news for us canners!! 

Ideally, I would have loved to have gotten these strawberries more locally, maybe even from my farmer’s market, but the lure of the deal I would be getting got the best of me.  At least the strawberries are from this country. 

I used the recipe for Strawberry Jam by Food In Jars to process my strawberries.  I loved the idea of using vanilla beans and lemon zest for a warmer, more interesting flavor.  Additionally, many other recipes that I saw used much more sugar, sometimes twice as much.  I like my preserves to taste more like the fruit itself then like candy.

Preserving for the first time this year showed me how much I had already learned in canning, as well as how much I have yet to learn.  I know the process well, sterilize, cook, fill, process, cool.  But I have so much more to learn about the art of canning.  It takes so much intuition and experience.  My jam turned out delicious, but a bit on the loose side.  I know that as I can more and more fruits and vegetables, I will be able to tell when a recipe is not going exactly as planned, and hopefully will know how to fix the problem.

Not all was lost for this “jam”, however.  Last night I threw together one of the tastiest desserts I have had in a long time…crepes with strawberry syrup and powdered sugar!

CrepesAdapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter (plus more for oiling the pan)
  • dash of salt
  • dash of vanilla or a bit of vanilla bean
  1. Mix flour and eggs as well as you can.  Slowly add 1 cup of milk, whisking to eliminate lumps of flour.  Add butter, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk to combine.
  2. With a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt a small bit of butter to coat.  Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of crepe batter, and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.  Cook until golden, then flip.  When the second side is done, spread a small bit of butter over the crepe.  Fold or roll crepe and place on plate.  Repeat with remainder of batter.
  3. Lightly dust the crepes with powdered sugar, and drizzle with warm strawberry syrup (or your favorite topping).  Eat all of them!!

It was so great to start the season with a big canning adventure!  How do you feel about canning with food bought from the grocery store vs. local food?

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Pi day Pie

Having a Math Nerd for a husband (and many Math Nerds as friends) means that there are little things my family may do differently than your average family.  Take for example Pi Day (3/14)…a whole day devoted to a number…or for me, a whole day of eating pie!

making the pie

I was really happy to finally use up the cherries that I canned over the summer.  I didn’t have enough of either sour or sweet cherries for a full pie, so I decided to  put them together to make one Super-Cherry Pie.  It made for interesting flavors.  I also, of course, made the vent in the shape of the Pi symbol, on Mike’s request.  It may be my very favorite part of the pie!

Slice of Cherry Pie

My friend Stephanie made a very delicious strawberry pie, which was beautiful, and tasted even better than it looked…I went back for seconds!

Stephanie's Strawberry Pie

Stephanie's Strawberry pie, detail

The second pie that I made (which of course I didn’t take pictures of….sorry!!) was a chicken/tomato/parmesan hand pie.  I know you can’t see what it looked like, but it was delicious!

Chicken Parmesan Hand Pies

  • 2 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 batches of Pate Brisee (omit the sugar)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • ice water
  1. Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the pan.  Saute garlic and onions until the onions are transluscent.  Add tomatoes, oregano, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes, bring to a boil.
  2. Place chicken breasts in sauce and cover pan with a lid.  Adjust heat to bring sauce to a simmer.  Simmer the chicken breasts in sauce until they are fully cooked.  Turn the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat in sauce.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and allow to cool on a plate.  Cool the sauce as well.  Cut chicken in thin strips against the grain of the meat.
  4. Roll the dough out to 1/8″ thickness and cut into 4″ circles (work in batches if needed).  Place the circles of dough in the frige for 30 minutes.
  5. Place dough circles on baking sheets.  Fill each piece of dough with a couple strips of chicken, a tablespoon or two of sauce and a sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan. 
  6. Dab ice water around the edges of the circles, fold one half of the circle over to the other side, and pinch closed with a fork or your fingers.  Make a small slit in the top or stab it a couple of times with a fork.  Refrigerate hand pies for another 30 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place pies in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden (May take more or less time depending on your oven.  Go by the color, not the time!).
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying!

 Have you ever celebrated Pi Day?  or Pie Day??

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Baklava

A piece of Baklava

Probably the number one thing pregnancy is known for is the cravings.  So far, there have not been too many weird things that I crave (though once I ate a whole jar of green olives).  My main problem has been TV commercials.  Everytime a new food item pops up, I feel like I have to have it.  Lately I have taken to looking away, or concentrating on something else when commercials come on so that I won’t have to worry about craving a huge Big Mac with extra-large fries and a Coke!

One of the things I have given in to however, is Baklava.  I figured since I have already made this twice (in the last 7 days), I ought to share it with you.  The first time I made Baklava was for Valentine’s day last week.  I thought it was a special dessert that went perfectly with the kabobs and humus that Mike and I were having for dinner that night.  What I didn’t know was how much I would love it.  The kind of love that makes you wonder where this has been your whole life.  I proceeded to have it for breakfast for the rest of the week.  I ended up taking some of the dessert to work so that I wouldn’t eat any more of it.

tray of baklava

But now, I’ve made it again.  Luckily, this time I have another social function that I can take leftovers too as well…assuming I don’t eat the whole tray over the next few hours.

I only made one tiny adjustment to the recipe…instead of filling the pastry with a mix of walnuts and almonds, I only used walnuts, because for the second time in a row, I forgot to purchase almonds.  Um yes…I also have a severe case of pregnancy brain.

What is the craziest craving you have had, or experienced a friend having?

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Pumpkin Pies

This weekend I found myself wondering where fall went, and how I had suddenly stepped right into winter.  We had our first snow, which came a bit early this year, and nothing seemed more fitting than staying home and eating pumpkin pie.

I got the recipe for the pie at Martha Stewart, and made it into a bunch of tiny pies instead.  One recipe of her Pate Brisee made 24 mini pies, and there was plenty of filling left over at the end, which I froze so that we could have pumpkin pie again in a few weeks.  I basically followed the recipe, except for cooking time.  I cooked the pies at 450 degrees F for 5 minutes instead of 10.  Then I switched the oven to 350 degrees F and cooked them for about 15 minutes more.  I kept a careful eye on them, though because they cooked much faster than their full-sized counterpart.  If you don’t have a mini tart/pie pan, you could use a muffin tin instead.

For the whipped cream on top, I made up a recipe as I went along, and it turned out absolutely delicious.  It is so incredibly quick and easy, and the difference in taste between this and the store bought whipped cream is huge.

Maple Whipped Cream

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour heavy cream into a clean glass bowl.  Whip on high until it holds shape.  Slowly drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla with the mixer on low.  Mix until fully incorporated.

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If you asked people what the number one thing they would like to can is, I think most people would answer tomatoes.  Tomatoes are such a fundamental part of my diet.  Canning tomatoes is very easy, because tomatoes have a high acidity level, which means that you can can them without using a pressure canner.  Other veggies, like corn, cannot be canned with a regular canner.

Last year I canned some tomato sauce.  I thought that it was alright, but I decided to just can tomatoes by themselves this year.  I prefer adding the other ingredients fresh because I think the flavor is better.  Also, I can use the tomatoes in other recipes as well.  In the picture above, you can see that I also preserved some pickled hot peppers and some marinated sweet peppers.  The harvest season is definitely upon us!

Canned Crushed Tomatoes

  • 20-25 lbs tomatoes
  • vinegar or lemon juice
  • 12-14 pint jars with 2 piece lids
  • salt, if desired

Prepare a large bowl by filling it with water and ice.  Keep more ice on hand for when the ice melts.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Blanch tomatoes in the water for 30 seconds, and then submerge them in the ice water.  Peal off the skin of the tomatoes.  I found that the whole blanching, submerging, and peeling process worked best in batches.  I don’t have any pots or bowls that can hold 25 lbs of tomatoes!

Cut out the center stem scar, and squeeze out the seeds (be careful at this point because sometimes the seeds can squirt out the wrong end…I ended up with a lot of tomato on me).  Cut the tomatoes into 4 pieces.

In a large pot, layer the bottom with tomato pieces.  Smash them with a spoon, or with your hands.  Keep adding tomatoes, smashing them as you go, until the pot is full.  Heat the tomatoes over medium-high heat, stiring constantly until the mixture is boiling.  Turn heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in each of the jars.  If you want, you can also add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Pour the tomatoes in the jars, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch of headspace.  Close the jars with hot 2 piece lids.  Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35-40 minutes.

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This weekend I traveled out to the Bay Area in California for my sister’s wedding.  We have already been doing lots of work to get ready for the big day, and yesterday we spent a lot of time putting together wedding favors for the guests.  My sister decided to make the favors to cut down on cost, and went with rosemary almonds.

I made rosemary almonds for my family as a part of their Christmas gifts.  One problem I ran into, and never had a chance to remedy, was the rosemary and sea salt fell off of the almonds as soon as they came out of the oven.  After a bit of discussion, and our fair share of “Ooh, ooh, what if…”-s, I think we came up with a pretty good solution.

We ground the rosemary up very fine in a coffee grinder, and then set the salt grinder on a very fine setting.  We then cooked the rosemary and salt in some olive oil until it became fragrant, tossed the almonds in, and then baked them until they were crispy.  The almonds are so delicious!  The rosemary mixture sticks to them beautifully.

Rosemary Almonds (modified from various internet sources)

  • 1 pound of raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of finely ground fresh rosemary
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the olive oil and rosemary into a shallow pan, and put over low heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until rosemary just begins to simmer, and remove from heat.

Add finely ground sea salt to the rosemary mixture.  The amount you add depends on your taste, but we added enough to make the mixture fairly salty because we wanted each almond to have a bit of salt.

Mix the almonds and rosemary mixture together in a large bowl.  Spread the almonds over a couple of baking sheets.  The almonds should lie in an even layer.

Cook the almonds in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Be sure to check often, because nuts can burn easily.  There is no need to stir the almonds while they are baking.

Remove the almonds from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

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Moving gives me such weird feelings.  First, I get excited about the move to a new, better place.  Then, I start to feel sad about leaving Mike and my first home together.  Then I get frustrated and tired of the whole packing and moving process.  Then I feel relief when it is finally over.  Finally there is excitement again about the possibilities the new place presents.

The other night, Mike and I stayed up late because it just felt weird walking back and going to sleep in a room we are so unfamiliar with.  It is strange because it still has all of our same stuff that we have in the old place.  The room is even set up in almost the same way, but it just feels different.  I’m sure we will start to feel settled soon enough.

Unfortunately the move coincided with the start of summer produce at the farmer’s market, which meant a lot of preserving.  I suppose I could have waited a week or two, but I get so excited about finding the first pickling cucumbers (yes, I know I’m a little unusual). 

Probably the best find of the weekend was sour cherries…I could not believe my eyes when I saw them!  I was sure there would not be any at my market since making pies and canning seems to have fallen by the wayside for so many people.  It took me a while to figure out what to do with them, but I finally decided to can them as pie filling.  I modified this recipe by omitting the Clear-Jel (kinda freaks me out) and the red food coloring (also freaks me out), and replacing the lemon juice with white wine vinegar because that is all I had.

This weekend I also made some unfermented pickles, I am in the process of making some fermented pickles, and am almost done with my kimchi.  For these recipes I used The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, a book that I highly recommend for all the yummy looking pickles and preserves.  Other things that I plan on making are pickled onions, hot and sweet peppers, giardinara, chutney, ketsup, and of course many more!  And now a question for you…do you preserve the harvest?  What are some of your favorite recipes?

I want to apologize for being away for so long…dear blog and readers how I have missed you!

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Cherry Season

Cherry season is going strong out here, so I have been spending lots of time, waiting in line at the farmer’s market, canning and drying, and of course, eating cherries!  This summer I am trying to be a bit more conscientious about eating with the seasons, so I am getting all the cherries I can before the Colorado season is up.

I used to think the idea of a cherry pitter was kinda dumb…one of those one use kitchen items that you can get by just as easily without.  Now I know why people get those things…I was using a paperclip to pit the cherries and it took me about an hour to do 4 pounds.  Yikes!  Have any of you used a cherry pitter?  Does it save any time?

Probably the most sucessful of my cherry recipes was a cherry compote, made of cherries, sugar, and a bit of lemon juice (unfortunately I don’t have a picture).  The cool thing about cherries is you don’t really need to add extra pectin to get a good jam…after cooking the compote for about 10-15 min, I did a test on a cold plate and it had set just as well as any store-bought jam, and it tastes a hundred times better!  Even Mike, who has never been a cherry cheerleader, absolutely loved this!  The recipe I used: Cherry Preserves via Martha Stewart.  I only made half of the recipe, and it turned out well.  Also, watch the timing for the preserves…the recipe says it will gel after 30-40 minutes, but it only took me about 10 minutes.

The dried cherries went pretty well too.  The only problem is they have to be dried more than store-bought dried cherries because there are no additives to keep them from going bad.  This is kind of a double edged sword…its nice to have dried fruit without the preservatives, but they are a little more tough.

Just a reminder: Projects for the contest are due next Thursday!  Also, I should probably clarify…you can pick any color/color combo that you don’t normally use for the contest.  I picked hot pink, but you don’t have to.

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Hosted by Abby.

{See}

- The sudden changes in weather.  Mid-Spring one day, Mid-Winter the next.

{Smell}

- Sweet Cardamom Cookies (recipe below), baking.

- Fresh snow falling outside, laying a thick blanket over the earthy-sweet fragrances of Spring.

{Taste}

- Freshly baked cookies and Good Earth tea, from my favorite mug.

- A simple quesadilla with black beans.  mmmm.

{Touch}

- The warmth radiating from the fireplace.

- Freshly ironed fabric…ready for the many projects I have in queue.

{Hear}

- The sewing machine, marching onward all day long.

- The wind howling outside, while I am bundled up inside.

This week we experienced some really odd weather…a sudden storm dumped over a foot of snow in one day, so we were pretty much confined to our apartment.  I made this recipe up using ingredients we had on hand, and I have to say, it turned out deliciously!!  Cardamom is one of my new favorite spices!

Cardamom Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar on medium until fluffy and lighter in color.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  sift flour,  baking soda, salt and cardamom into the butter mixture.  Mix on low speed to combine.  Be sure to scrape down the sides once with a spatula to make sure you combine everything evenly.  Drop cookies about the size of a tablespoon onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  bake in oven for 12 minutes, turning half way through.  The cookies will be done when they are just slightly golden on the very edges.  Place cookies on a cooling rack until cool.  Enjoy with a tall, cold glass of milk, or some tea!

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I’m just not sure what Valentine’s Day would be without chocolate.  And really, does anything say love like freshly made, traditional truffles?  I made these for my husband and a coworker for Feb 14th this year (shhh!) instead of buying expensive chocolate for a couple of reasons.  First, I think that like so many other things connected to holidays, chocolate truffles are so expensive!!  I really have a hard time justifying the purchase when they are so easy to make at home.  Another reason for making my own is I love giving hand-crafted gifts.  I think it is so much more meaningful to give something that I put a little effort into rather than something I bought at the store.  My final reason for making these at home is they are just so dang tasty!  Inevitably, I will end up having a few of these little guys, and I am really picky about chocolate.  Seriously, this is not a joke!  I really hate Ghirardelli and Hershey’s, and when I make the truffles at home, I know exactly what goes into these.  Also, you can make them stronger by using chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa in it.

Robert Linxe’s Chocolate Truffles (found and adapted via Smitten Kitchen)

Gourmet, February 2001

  • 11oz of 54% chocolate (I got Chocolove bars, because its Valentine’s Day <3)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • cocoa powder

What else you will need:

  • a parchment-lined baking sheet
  • a large Ziploc bag

Chop and place 8 oz of chocolate in a bowl.  Heat cream on stove or in microwave until just simmering.  Pour cream over the chocolate, and let sit for a few minutes. 

Starting in the middle of the bowl, slowly stir together the chocolate and cream, working outwards, until the  mixture is smooth.  Allow to sit for about an hour, or until firmer, but still pliable.

Place the chocolate mixture in the Ziploc bag, and cut off one tip. 

Pipe onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, in mounds equaling about 1 teaspoon.  If there are pointy tips on the mounds, pat them down a bit.  Place baking sheet in freezer for about 15 minutes.

Place the remaining 3 oz chocolate in a heat safe bowl over another bowl filled with boiling water.  (I heated some water in my kettle and poured it into the bowl).  Slowly stir until smoothe.

Remove the mounds from the freezer and place about 1/2-1 cup of cocoa powder into a shallow bowl.  Smear some chocolate into the palm of your hand (use rubber gloves if you have them), pick up a mound and coat with a thin layer of chocolate. 

Place in bowl with the cocoa powder and toss with a fork, making sure the outside is fully covered.  Remove and place on a plate.  Repeat with the rest of the mounds.

Place truffles, a few at a time, into a fine sieve and toss to get rid of excess cocoa powder.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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