Monday, June 30, 2008

Homemade Strawberry Jam




My family counts on me to make Jam each year. I use Oregon Strawberries, which are the best in the WORLD. They are slightly smaller but oh so sweet. Instead of water bath canning, I use the inversion method. I do refrigerate the jam, but you do not need to. I make about 30 jars each summer and each year the amount increases, as they make their way all over the world with my husband on his travels.

You will need:

Pectin, I use Sure Jell For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipe, I use the less sugar recipe, Oregon Berries are naturally sweet
6 pints Strawberries
4 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp butter

Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling. 
 
STEM and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 6 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.

MIX 1/4 cup of the sugar (from the measured amount in bowl) and pectin in small bowl. Add to fruit in saucepot; mix well. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 3-3/4 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly, turn the jar of jam upside down and leave that way for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, you can then turn jars right side up and check for seal by pressing middle of lid with your finger, if the lid springs back, it is not sealed and you will need to refrigerate.

The Jam will last for 1 year unrefrigerated and up to 3 if you refrigerate.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Homemade Refried Beans


We had a belated Cinco De Mayo party (same one as the Flan), and I decided to make my own Spanish Rice and Refried Beans. I have never made either from scratch before, it was about time. The beans turned out really well, my Father In Law is a bean lover and he enjoyed them! The rice is in the picture but it was awful! so I wont tell you about that!

Refried Beans
4 strips of bacon, diced
3 cans of pinto beans, drained
1/2 onion diced
1 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp hot sauce (I use Cholula)
1/3 can of Rotel Tomato and onion
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Fry the bacon until crisp, remove and set aside.
Cook the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat until lightly browned. Add one can of pinto beans and mash with a potato masher or spatula.
Add the remaining cans of pinto beans and the rest of the ingredients including bacon and cook thru.
Taste and re-season if necessary.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chicken and Asparagus Crepes



I love to make food using "in season" ingredients. We love Asparagus, I saw Paula Deen making this and I thought it looked good enough to try. It was really tasty and this recipe makes enough to have about 4 leftover crepes which you can use for breakfast! YUM! I served with a salad, it is a bit heavy and rich.

2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/8 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
8 asparagus spears, steamed until crisp-tender
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add cream of mushroom soup and onion and cook for 2 minutes, Stir in sherry, fontina cheese and chicken. Cook until cheese is melted.

Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center 1/3 of each crepe. (Recipe Below) Place 2 asparagus spears over chicken mixture. Fold edges of crepe over filling, and place, seam side up, in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Swiss cheese over crepes.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crepes are hot.

Savory Crepes:

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoons butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, egg yolk, and butter. Gradually add flour mixture to milk mixture, whisking until smooth.

Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon 2 1/2 tablespoons of batter into skillet; cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Loosen crepe with a spatula, and carefully turn over. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds; transfer to plate. Repeat procedure with remaining batter, stacking crepes on a plate.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cherry Pancakes


As you may of noticed we are breakfast fanatics and always try to come up with fun, new breakfast items. I had a bunch of leftover cherries and wondered how that would taste in a pancake. It was really good, I actually like them better than blueberry pancakes! We are total cheaters when it comes to pancakes, there is really nothing better than mixing pancake mix with buttermilk, makes for a really tender pancake.

This is one of the "no measure" deals, short and sweet!

Mix Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake mix with low fat buttermilk until you have the consistency you want, we like thin pancakes so the batter is a bit on the runny side. If you like larger, fluffier pancakes ensure the mixture is thicker

Add fresh, pitted, chopped cherries to the mixture

Cook as you normally would pancakes

You can hold your pancakes in the oven at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes without issue

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meat and Cheese Manicotti


We were having dinner guests, and I wanted to make something very special for them, they are fellow foodies. This recipe is a HEAVILY modified recipe by Giada De Laurentis. Her original recipe sounded too bland for me so I changed it quite drastically and it was sublime, so rich and yummy! I served with Parmesan Breadsticks and a nice salad.

• 4 tsp olive oil
• ½ onion diced
• ½ lb medium Italian sausage
• ½ lb veal (very hard to find, but worth it)
• Salt and pepper
• Package of Manicotti noodles
• 1 (15 oz container) whole milk ricotta
• 3 cups shredded Mozzarella
• 1 cup grated Parmesan
• 4 tbl chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 cups marinara sauce
• 2 tbl butter
• 1 container Fettuccini Sauce (don't use jarred sauce)
• Onion Powder and Garlic Powder (to taste)
• Oregano (2 tsp)
• 1 small tub of cream cheese

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and meats. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream cheese and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, onion and garlic powder, oregano, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture, and re-taste for seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. (I have these wonderful boats, I used those) Spoon the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. I tried my pastry bag but that did not work, I finally stuffed some mixture in one end, that opens up the tube and I used my fingers to stuff them, messy but it worked well.

Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish (or whatever you want to use) and spoon a bit more red sauce on top. Then top with your Fettuchini Sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta.



Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

*I doubled this recipe and had enough for 14 tubes and enough leftovers to do it again, I froze the filling*

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cherry-Almond Clafouti













I have always wanted to make a Clafouti and I had some wonderful fresh Cherries, so I took the plunge! It is actually quite easy to make and tastes a bit like a German Pancake with Cherries, the best part is that it is not a really sweet dessert. My husband loved it, which is what it is all about for me!


1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur ** I purchased a mini and used it all**
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups flour
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
*Heavy cream also works well in this clafouti.
**Substitute 2 teaspoons almond extract if the Amaretto is unavailable.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 °
Butter a nine-inch skillet and set it in the oven while you prepare the batter. (I used a cast iron pan)
Combine the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, Amaretto, vanilla, and salt into a blender and process until well mixed.
Add the flour and process until combined, about 30 seconds.
Remove the pre-heated skillet from the oven and pour the batter in.
Quickly sprinkle the cherries evenly over the batter and return to the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top browns too fast, loosely cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar, spoon into individual bowls, and serve immediately.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Potato, Leek and Cauliflower Soup


I have made Potato Leek soup many times and we adore it. I had a head of cauliflower that needed to be eaten and decided to add it to the soup and see how it tasted. It was really amazing, the texture and tastes really went well together, and it is fairly easy to make. Roasting the Cauliflower first really brings out the flavor. p.s. posts may be short this week, I really tweaked my back@

· 1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
· 8 cups of Chicken stock, homemade if you have it
· 2 Leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed very well
· 4 smallish Potato’s peeled and cut into quarters
· 1 cup Buttermilk
· 1/4 cube of Butter
· 2 tsp salt
· Black pepper to taste

**I also added 1 cup of Cheddar Cheese and 6 Turkey Bacon slices diced at the very end**

Melt the butter in a Dutch Oven over meduim heat. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, place your cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and toss with a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, remove and set aside to cool

Add the potatoes and the broth and increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are almost done, (test after 15 minutes) then add in the cauliflower florets and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the Buttermilk and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. (if you don't have an immersion blender, you can carefully put into a regular blender and whir it, you may need to do it in batches)

Sprinkle with Chives or reserved Leeks and serve immediately.

**Note, you can add cheese to this as well, and leftovers keep very well**

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lime Garlic Shrimp


I love to make compound butters and this is one of my favorite treatments for shrimp! I served with Zucchini and Coconut Rice. You can grill the Zucchini right along with the shrimp so the cleanup is easy as well.

Ingredients:
shrimp (use larger ones 15/20's), I plan on about 6 shrimp/per person
1/2 stick butter (softened)
1 lime
salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp finely diced garlic

Method:
Peel, devein shrimp and place on skewers (be sure and soak in water)
juice the lime and mix with the the softened butter
zest the lime and mix into the butter mixture
add curry powder and I also put a dash of Cayenne
dash of salt, mix well and set aside

Throw your shrimps on the grill for a minute or two, flip and cook till they turn pink, remove and brush the lime butter on while they are still warm. Remove from skewers and serve immediately

*I served with Coconut Rice and Zucchini (cut in half, drizzle on a bit of olive oil, salt pepper and whatever seasonings you wish and cook alongside the shrimp on the barbecue)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chocolate Cake with Toffee and Whipped Cream Icing





I enjoy cooking, especially for people who like to eat, and appreciate food. One of my husbands pals is that person for me. I love to feed him. I gave the boys a choice between muffins, cookies or cake and they choose cake. I have not made a cake in a very long time, I am a diabetic and cant really eat it, but I still love the process and I can give it away.

· 1 chocolate cake mix (I like the Duncan Heinz Moist Deluxe)
· 1 quart of heavy whipping cream
· 1 package of toffee pieces, or you can use several bars and break them
· ½ cup of chopped pecans
· Sugar
· Vanilla
· Powdered Chocolate, sweetened, I use Mexican Chocolate which is wonderfully sweet and chocolaty, or you can use regular Hershey’s Powdered Chocolate but you must add a few tsp of sugar as it is not sweetened.

Make the cakes according to package directions, use 8 inch round cake pans
When making the cake mix, replace the water with coffee and add a few teaspoons of the powdered chocolate
**In the meantime open your container of whipping cream and add ¼ cup of the powdered chocolate, and shake, then back into the fridge** I suggest putting your bowl and beaters in the fridge as well for the best results

Bake cake, and let cool thoroughly on racks

While cake is cooling, make you’re whipping cream frosting. Whip until you have stiff peaks, don’t whip too long or you will have butter. I also add a tsp or so of Vanilla, and sugar as needed, or to your taste. You can also add in interesting flavors, any extracts, more chocolate, cinnamon.

Assembly:
Place your 1st round on your plate, frost the top heavily and bring down over the sides. Sprinkle your toffee pieces all over the top to the edges. Place your 2nd round on top, rounded side facing up. Take a long knife, preferable a bread knife and cut straight across the top, making it flat. Brush any crumbs off.

Now you will frost the top and all the way down the sides, do a light layer or a crumb layer. You can then do your final frosting with an offset spatula or get out your pastry bag and tips as I did. I placed the pecans in the middle of the cake.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Twice Baked Potatoes


I had not made twice baked potatoes for quite some time and I wanted something special to serve with a beautiful Hanger Steak I purchased for our Holiday meal. I always make extra for a light lunch later in the week.

· 2-3 large baking potatoes
· 3 green onions chopped
· ¼ cup sour cream (I used fat free)
· 2 tbl butter or margarine
· ¼ cup buttermilk
· ½ cup shredded cheese any kind you like
· ¼ cup or more Turkey Bacon diced

Note: I always bake one extra potato just for the filling; I like to have a well filled potato

Bake the potatoes at 350 until tender, 30 to 45 minutes, remove and let cool

Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the middle (be sure and leave enough potato so it will stay together)

Combine all the ingredients and mix well, I like to leave mine a bit chunky

Scoop the filling back into the shells and bake at 350 for 15 minutes

Remove, and sprinkle on a bit more cheese then back into the oven for 5 minutes

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yankee Pot Roast


I love a good Pot Roast, it had been quite some time since we had one, it was Sunday and it sounded good! I think the key to a good Pot Roast is to roast the Vegetables seperatly. I started doing this several years ago, and it works out perfectly. I serve with a Horseradish Cream Sauce.

· ¼ cup olive oil
· 2 onions sliced
· 3-4 lb beef roast
· Flour for dredging
· 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 inch lengths
· 3 additional carrots to cook with the beef
· 3 ribs celery cut in half
· 5-6 red potatoes cut into fourths
· 2.5 cups beef broth
· 1.5 cups good red wine
· 5-6 springs fresh thyme
· 1 tsp fresh black pepper
· Salt to taste
· 2 tbl unsalted butter at room temp
· 2 tbl flour
· 6 mushrooms, sliced, keep 1 back and dice (for the gravy)

In a large, heavy casserole, preferably cast iron, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onions until golden. Thoroughly dredge the beef in the flour, covering all the surfaces. Add to the pan and brown on all sides. The flour may cause the onions to burn slightly, this is a good thing.

Add the carrots, celery, beef broth, wine, thyme, black pepper, and salt to taste. Reduce heat, partially cover, and barely simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours on the stovetop, turning the beef occasionally. Add in the mushrooms when it is nearly done.

**In the meantime take your carrots and potatoes and place them on a sheet pan, add olive oil, salt and pepper, mix well and bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then crank the heat to 400 for another 30 minutes, flipping them on occasion** Serve alongside the beef

When the beef is falling-apart tender, remove it from the pan and strain the pan juices thru a strainer to remove the tired old veggies and thyme. Knead the butter and 2 tablespoons flour together until thoroughly combined. Add the mixture to the broth and stir with a wooden spoon until you have beautiful gravy, add the remaining gravy and cook just a bit till the mushrooms get tender.

I mix sour cream together with horseradish and serve with the beef, it is amazing!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Toffee Cookies



My husband loves Oatmeal Raisin cookies, and I decided to bake him some. I found some toffee chips in my cupboard, so I decided to throw them in and see what happened, YUM is what happened!

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup raisins
1.5 cups toffee chips or you can just break up the bars
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease your cookie sheet (I used a silpat instead)
Cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar
Beat in the eggs, one at a time
Stir in vanilla
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and slowly pour into the creamed mixture
Blend in the oatmeal and toffee bits
Spoon onto cookie sheet
Bake for 10 minutes, it may take a few minutes longer, but check at 10

Let cool on a wire rack

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Swedish Pancakes with Blackberry Compote


We went to a local restaurant several weeks ago, Davidson's, and I ordered Swedish Pancakes with Currant Butter. It was incredible, and I wanted to try to make them at home. Instead of Currant Butter I made a nice Blackberry compote. It was excellent and will be a new addition to our weekend breakfast indulgence.

1/2 Cup Flour
2 Tbs Sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbs butter (melted)
1/4 tsp salt

This Recipe makes about 3-4 of the 10" pancakes or two servings
Use a "10-12" round non-stick skillet or frying pan.

First lightly beat the egg in a medium sized bowl, then add sugar, milk, salt and flour, mix well, melt the butter in the frying pan (or skillet) then while stiring the mixture add melted butter to it, continue mixing until there are no lumps, don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Once the batter is well mixed, then over medium heat pour just enough batter in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan, cook until the top of it is "dry" then flip the pancake. This takes a fair amount of finesse, as the pancake is large and not very 'tough'. Get the spatula underneath the pancake and make sure that all around the pancake is loose first, then quickly flip it.

After the flip, shake the pan a bit to get the pancake flat

Cook each one for about 30 seconds only after the flip.

Slide the finished pancake out onto a dinner plate. I rolled them up 2-3 at a time and topped with the compote and powdered sugar.

**the Fruit Compote is really easy, I used 3/4 cup of blackberries, with about 5 tsp of water added to a small saucepan. Let cook at medium temp for a bit, then add 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp of honey and 2 equal. I also added a dash of fresh cracked pepper. It takes about 20 minutes to cook the berries. I then mixed 1/2 tsp arrowroot with water and added that. Stir until it thickens.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup with Orzo

Yet another Sunday Chicken Dinner and I had lots of chicken leftover.  I decided I was going to try something a little different this ti...