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Too many tomatoes, peaches falling off the tree and “waste not, want want.” – Sounds like a tomato and peach glut to me.

I finally grew a real garden this year after several bad attempts and concluding there’s no way I’ll ever have a great garden.  But this year it did amazingly well until the temperatures went three digits. Then everything started to brown, wilt and slow in production. Still I had enough produce to put a few pints and quarts away for the rest of the year. This is how things looked on the west side of my patio sometime in June. (there’s more on the east side)

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And again several weeks later.

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And just to be sure you get the idea. Here’s some of what was harvested.

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So far the 3 tomato plants yielded about 50 lbs of tomatoes and this time I decided it was time I did some canning. So I got busy and canned 12 quarts of stewed tomatoes.

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Then I my husband asked me to make tomato jam. It seems he remembers his mother canning tomato jam when he was a boy. Well, I too remember tomato jam only it was the neighbor across the cul-de-sac from our house. (Thank you – Barbara) And I remember being quite shocked at the sweet yumminess in my mouth.

So, tomato jam would be a first for my kitchen but I couldn’t wait to try it out.  Another several pounds of blanched, skinned and deseeded tomatoes later and some hot bubbly, sugary, steamy work over the stove and several pints were canned.

I was bummed it didn’t set but no worries I just open a jar when I need it, pour the contents into a saucepan and reduce at a boil for about 10 minutes and… Voila! Perfect tomato jam that my husband seems to prefer over that fancy French stuff I pick up at the specialty shop. (have a look at the little jar there next to the quart of stewed tomatoes.)

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This is the way I enjoy my tomato jam … A cup of tea and toast with cream cheese and tomato jam… Mmmmm.. Deliciousness…. Delightful!

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Then this morning I got to canning 8 pints of peach butter. I’ve made apricot butter and plumb butter before but this year I decided my neighbors peach tree hanging over my back fence with the puny, boring fruits with bitter skin that don’t ripen on the tree and never get bigger than an apricot wouldn’t go to waste another summer. So I got to work and blanched, peeled, deseeded, simmered and boiled those little lovelies until they were worthy of homemade toast.

It was highly satisfying to hear the canning lids pop (ahhh!) one by one as the jars cooled and sealed in all that sweet fruit.

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For my next effort I hope to be canning tomato salsa from a recipe that my mother-in-law made.  I lost the recipe years ago and after she passed away I figured I’d never be able to reproduce that awesome flavor until the other day when I remembered a friend of mine has had the recipe for years.  I’ll be giving her a call soon. 🙂

In the mean time, I’m quite satisfied with my labors. My efforts to eat cleaner and closer to the vine are paying off.

Growing your own produce ensures cleaner food on your table and knowing its clean just makes you feel healthier.  Next year I hope to blog my gardens progress more systematically. For now, it was good to finally just get a post on the proverbial paper.

Hope your summer is beginning to cool off.  Leave a comment if you like. Let me know about your canning adventures. Tell me if you’ve ever made tomato jam. Maybe we can swap recipes… c’mon… Ask me how to make it.  For now I’ll leave you with this…

Proverbs 31:15-17

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

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gotta get me one of these!

 

Have you ever made that meatballs with grape jelly recipe?  I’ve used it several times when I need something quick and easy for potlucks.  They are always good but I’m not completely happy with the ordinary-ness of the taste.

Today it was a funeral that made me run to the store, when I should have still been in my pj’s, for a 3-4 lb bag of frozen meatballs.  I ran out of the store forgetting the rest of the ingredients.  (I hate it when that happens!)

I got home and realized my fatal error.  I stood in front of the refriderator, all that cold air escaping, snorting something about how to figure out how to makeshift the recipe, (good thing no one else was up yet) since I only had 30 minutes to get these puppies up to speed and be at the church on time for sound check. (I was singing in said funeral too)

So what does any self respecting pastor’s wife who cooks for all the potlucks do in a pinch? She gets out the raspberry chipotle sauce and some “famous” peppers and onion relish from the “famous chain store” and gets cooking!

Mission accomplished!  They were a big hit, my recipe made the requests list and I was relieved.

And a beautiful funeral I might add.  We miss you Roy!…  Looking forward to our heavenly reunion, minus crock pots and meatballs. 🙂

For those of  you who asked.. here’s the recipe in all it’s glory….

The Amazing Meatballs Recipe:

Method:

  1. Place bag of meatballs in the micowave to defrost for 8 minutes.
  2. After 90 seconds take bag out of the microwave (because there’s not enough room for them to turn on the lazy susan) and pour meatballs out into a large plastic (micro safe) bowl.
  3. Now put the bowl in the microwave on defrost… on second thought, maybe just set to high for 8 minutes.
  4. Stir meatballs every few minutes and repeat the process, (no! don’t put them back in the bag! just repeat step 3 on high at 8 min.) Stir and continue on high as needed, until heated through.
  5. Pour meatballs into your 25 year old crock pot.
  6. Now mix together the sauces, relish and catsup in a bowl or measuring cup of your choice.  (I didn’t mix first… mistake!) Pour over the meatballs stir and and run out the door!
  7. Wait, don’t forget the crock pot!!!
  8. After the emotional flogging of getting a speeding ticket, arrive at the church and unload your amazing meatballs, find the right place for them and plug them in.  Set heat level on high.

XO and Enjoy!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

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Grilled Chocolate Ribeye Steaks

A few years ago I made a cooking blunder that turned out to be a major AHA! in my cooking experiences.  You know, a recipe error that turns out to be a good thing?  Like in that peanut butter cup commercial?  “You got chocolate on my peanut butter!”  …. “No, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!”

The plan was to make some BBQ Ribs with this spice rub from a cookbook.  I had mixed a spice rub up a few weeks earlier for another meal and the unused portion was packed away.  The problem was that when I was prepping the ribs, sprinkling  spice rub on them, I realized something was wrong.  It wasn’t spice rub at all….. it was … chocolate?

Yep, I had on another occasion way, way back, taken some stale chocolate biscotti and ground it to a crumbly sprinkle for ice cream and I had put it in the same kind of container as the spice rub.  Foolish me didn’t label them and now I was in a pickle with chocolate biscotti sprinkles on my beef ribs.

“So,” I think to myself, “my husband and I both like chocolate.  Maybe if I rub it off and put enough spice rub on he wont notice.” So that’s what I did and the ribs were wonderful!

Since that day I’ve recreated that great bbq taste and presented it to the twisted brow of a few folks who agree it’s great.  Now I’ll share my little secret with you. Enjoy!

Chocolate Ribeye Steaks

1/3 c packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbls onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbls fresh ground black pepper
4 Tbls paprika
3 ground chocolate biscotti (I used my food processor)

Ribeye Steaks

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Sprinkle on both sides of your perfect steak, “marinate” for about 30 minutes and grill to your desired result.  I like mine rare.

Store left over Chocolate Spice Rub in an airtight container.  Stays fresh for an extended time in the freezer.  Oh, and don’t forget to put a label on it.  🙂

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Picture 9

Raisin Scones

This past saturday I hosted a baby shower for my daughter who will be the mother of our first grandchild.  My husband and I are thrilled and the shower was such great fun, with lots of ladies and lots of chatter and of course, goodies on the table for all to enjoy.

This shower was an afternoon tea and among some of the fair we served finger sandwiches stuffed with cream cheese fillings made with strawberry and cucumber.  My daughter worked at a tea house several years ago so she made the finger sandwiches.  We’d went shopping for the supplies the day before and found some gingerbread cookie cutters and she used the little cutter to cut the finger sandwiches.  They were so cute all looking like little babies and the ladies gobbled them up so fast we couldn’t get them on the serving table fast enough.

I was responsible for the scones, one of my favorite things to bake since they are so easy and fast.  I made three batches; one raisin, one pear and the other apple sauce.

I was in a pinch and had to make some of the scones from a recipe I found on the www, for reasons I wont explain here, so I found this raisin one and whipped it up quick.  I didn’t get a chance to taste it since they disappeared so fast.  You know something is up when the room gets quiet and there’s 20 women sitting together.   I figured they must have been good enough to eat.  🙂

The other recipe I used is my own.  I have found that it can be converted with most any flavors or fillings you like.  The original recipe is Maple Pecan but since my daughter doesn’t eat nuts I opted for the pears and apple sauce fillings.  They are moist and don’t crumble into pieces when you cut them.  Enjoy!

Maple Pecan Scones

3-1/2 c flour

1/2 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 c chopped pecans  (walnuts may be substituted)

1 stick butter cut into pats

1-1/4 c cottage cheese

1/2 c maple syrup

Method:

Using a food processor blend dry ingredients together first.

Add butter and spin just till crumbly.

(at this point you can choose to mix the balance of ingredients in a large bowl)

Combine cottage cheese and maple syrup in a seperate bowl, pulse into the dry ingredients being careful not to over mix.

Add pecans and pulse just to mix together.

Pour out onto a lightly floured board.  Dough will be sticky.

Form a large low round about 3-4 inches high and place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

Score (just into the dough about half way) the round into 8 pieces (like a pie)

Bake at 350 until golden for 25 minutes or more depending how high you choose to make your round.  Test with a toothpick or wooden skewer.  When it comes out clean the scones are finished.

Optional:  Sprinkle with brown sugar before baking.

Substitutes… as long as your liquid to dry ingredients balance out you can use your imagination…. chopped pear, persimmon, fresh cranberries, and omit maple syrup.  Other options include; apple sauce for maple syrup and add chopped apple.

You might also like this Bacon Cheddar & Scallion Scone recipe by King Arthur Flour I used earlier in the year for a women’s brunch.  And,… just in case  you are adventurous check out this King Arthur recipe for Starbucks style mini-scones.

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Parmesan Bread Puffs

Parmesan Bread Puffs

Years ago there was a pizza restaurant in our home town.  Their pizza was deep-dish and fabulous, and the menu had a great variety of items which included Romano Bread Puffs.  

I often reminisce of those bread puffs and today I had an epiphany… why not try to reproduce them at home?  So here’s some pics of my efforts.  Since I didn’t have any Romano Cheese nearby I opted for Parmesan.  My hope is to try them a couple more times and perfect them at which point I’ll post the recipe and maybe some play-by-play photos.  For today, they approached perfection and I enjoyed them completely.   Ahhhh, bliss!

 

6 Bread Puffs and weigh too many carbs

6 Bread Puffs and weigh too many carbs

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ysmitbrcbrdg

yosemite bracebridge dinner

Christmas dinner is one of those meals that has it’s stars and then there are a few guest appearances on the menu that sometimes make a hit and other times they bomb.  

I remember one year when the turkey took so long in my oven that everybody’s eyes were glazing over by the time it got on the table.  I’m still puzzled by it and I’m convinced something was wrong with the oven.

Since then I’ve had mostly success so I’ve decided to post a few of my ideas for the menu I’m planning.  Some recipes will be “donated” from some of the cooks who’s blogs I follow.  Who knows, could be yours.   

A Few Possible Menu items

What’s on your menu?……

 

Luke 2:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

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