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Archive for the ‘Recipes & Preserving’ Category

My dear friend Alicia sent me this recipe of a soup her father made for her when she was feeling sick to share with all of you.  He got the recipe from Giada De Laurentis.  I wish I had a image of the soup to add to the post but truth told I have been so busy of late and when  I made it  it was consumed to fast to get a picture.  I agree it is extremely delicious and a wonderful comfort food.

  • Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.

  • prep time 15 minutes

  • yields 4-6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 pound swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chipped

  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig

  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed

  • 2 (14 ounce) cans low sodium beef broth

  • 1 ounce piece parmesan cheese rind

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

  • salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, blend 3/4cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off the stem.)

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Use it to fill pie crusts, or tarts shells.  Spread it between cake layers or as filling for cupcakes.  Smear on pancakes, serve over ice cream or pound cake..or my favorite just grab a spoon and dig in.

Making your own lemon curd at home is not difficult it just involves doing the process in small quantities to assure it turns out.

To make your own curds you will need:

6 egg yolks (save whites for that lemon meringue pie).

1 cup sugar

Large lemons or limes (juiced) to make approximately 1/2 cup or better of juice….OR you can use 1/4 –  1/2 cup  concentrate.

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz if you make your own butter).

In heavy pan over medium heat whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.  Add lemon juice and using wooden spoon stir to keep from burning.  Stir continually for 10-15 minutes but do NOT let come to a boil.  Don’t fret about any egg lumps they will be worked out later when butter is added.  Once thick enough to coat back of your spoon the curd is done.  At this point add butter and stir well until melted.

Pour your curd into prepared jars place in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

Curd will keep for several months, however it might lose some of it’s color.  This doesn’t not mean it is bad…just use it in things where it won’t be so noticeable.

Canning for shelf storage is only considered safe for lemon and lime.  Orange, Grapefruit and other citrus can be made into curd using same method but require being stored in refrigerator.

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Peanut Butter, a household staple and when you have children often a must have necessity for when they go through their food fussy stage.  We are all so use to buying it off store shelves that we forget how truly easy it is to make at home with two ( three max) ingredients and a food processor or blender.

I will admit I chuckled typing the title of this post, however, while this shows the making of peanut butter, other nuts can be substituted and create similar results.  Hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, feel free to experiment.

Now some might be asking why make your own peanut butter when it’s so simple to just buy it off shelves.  Well for one, buying peanuts in bulk is far cheaper and goes farther.   Secondly you can control what goes into your food rather then be forced to deal with over salted, sugar or saturated in unhealthy fats and additives.  Thirdly, FDA allows a certain amount of “Filth” to be found in processed foods.  I’m not speaking of a bit of field dirt here which, if you lived on a farm you probably sample at least one time or another. I’m certain that’s part of the list but  I’m speaking of worms, bugs, and other things that might slip their way through the commercial machinery.  Call me what you will but I really do prefer to know what is in what I am eating.

Alright, enough chatter.  The recipe to make you own.  You need …peanuts (or other type of nut), some form of oil  (I prefer olive or peanut) or water.  That’s it…now you can also put a little sugar or honey in if you would like yours a bit sweeter.  That is fully up to you.

Pour your peanuts in your blender or food process and slowly pour in a couple drops of the oil, and I do mean drops it is very easy to over due and get runny peanut butter rather then creamy.  Start blending to break down the nuts until fine chopped.  If you want crunchy peanut butter, now is the time to take about 1/4 of the nuts back out to stir back in later.

With the remaining nuts SLOWLY pour in the oil.  This step is easier with a stand blender or food processor but if you do it a little at time, blend, check, tiny bit more, blend, check..you will reduce chance of over liquifying.

When you finish you should have a nice creamy base.  At this point you can choose to leave as is, stir in your retained peanut bits to create crunchy, add a little honey or sugar to sweeten or add salt if you desire.

In this house there is of course the final step in the creation process. That is to look at the counter beside you where a little one is perched, finger inching towards the creamy delight laid before them.  The one last final step giving the go ahead to taste test and make sure it’s passing the pint size judges stipulations. I’m pleased to say this batch passed the test.

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Love, love, love orange marmalade, especially on fresh from oven warm buttermilk biscuits. Thankfully this is citrus season which means bags of oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes adorn my counters and allow for stocking away this golden treasure to enjoy all summer long. Yet I am not a fan of the pieces of rind found in traditional orange marmalade.  Now I’m sure others have created rindless marmalade as well, but this is my method. Besides I have another purpose for those rinds in making citrus cleaner.

8-10 navel oranges peeled and sectioned.

2 packages pectin.

7 cups sugar (if using regular pectin), 4 cups sugar (if using low sugar pectin)

2 cups orange juice

Place oranges in blender or food processor, add orange juice and puree until clump free.  Move to pot on stove and heat to boiling.  While it’s heating remove 1 cup of sugar to separate bowl and add your pectin stirring to incorporate.  Once orange puree is at full boil add your cup of sugar with pectin as well as remaining 7 cups of sugar and stir well.  Bring back up to rolling boil while stirring frequently.  Let boil 5-10 minutes.  Reduce heat, jar and seal.  Hot water bath in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Jars will take up to a month to set into a jelly so don’t be shocked if it stays runny at first.

As another blessing this week, I am the proud foster mother of 8 (and counting) baby chicks.  There really is little that truly announces spring like baby animals which, right now, we’re overflowing with.

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This warmer then usual winter weather has my small flock working overtime to give me upwards of 8 to a dozen eggs a day.  While I know when they slow down and I’m lucky to see one or two eggs daily I will miss these over productive days, right now it’s bottom line is just a lot of eggs.

While there are ways to use up abundance of eggs such as making quiche, curds, meringue’s..when you are faced with four dozen eggs a week, and rely on your own flock for your fresh egg supply often finding a way to preserve the bounty for those off season months is desired.

To manage this, I freeze them.  While they do not make for good baking eggs, they are wonderful as scrambled eggs, fried eggs and egg sandwiches.  My method for doing such is fairly simple.  I grab my muffin tins and grease them well with Pam.  To each muffin cup I crack one egg inside.  Some I leave with yolks whole, be aware that frying these the yolk is less runny.  Others I break the yolk in for those who prefer hard fried eggs.  To make scrambled, simply scramble the egg with cheese, sausage/bacon, onions or whatever else you like in your scrambled eggs and pour  into cups.   Once hardened, remove from muffin tin and put in Ziploc baggie or use a vacuum sealer.

Use up the eggs in 6 months.

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Bacon, love it…the taste, the smell it’s just the wonder food.  I wonder how many know that they can make their own bacon quite easily from their own homes without needing to subject themselves to all the preservatives and additives thrown into commercial bacon found on the store shelves.

Many are afraid to attempt making bacon at home. The element of needing to either hang it for months or put it in a smoker filled with wood chips sets the fear in so many individuals they avoid it.  You don’t need either of these to make your own bacon, your kitchen oven works just fine and even the apartment dweller can make it.

Bacon does not need to be made only from the stomach of the pig either, pig jowls make excellent, and, in my opinion, flavorful bacon.

To make your own bacon you need the following ingredients:

Pork belly or Pork Jowls.  (See your butcher)

2 oz kosher salt

2 tsp pink salt  (often sold online or some butchers carry this also)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple sugar

2 tbsp liquid smoke

Combine ingredients in a bowl and pour over your pork inside a Ziploc baggie.  Rotate to coat well and place baggy in your refrigerator.  Turn it three times daily, (when you get up, get home from work, before you go to bed) for a total of seven days.

On the seventh day, remove your bacon and place on cookie rack atop a cookie sheet and bake in oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  (You will need a meat thermometer, these are cheap and can be found in most grocery stores).

That’s it….when ready to use simply thick cut (or thin if you are talented enough to) your bacon and fry as you would normally.  Enjoy!

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This weekend I was blessed with a pleasant surprise of a bag of pomegranates.  If you never had pomegranates before you are truly missing out. Cleaning them however…left my kitchen looking like a brutal murder scene.

Some of the seeds (or aril for correct term), I placed in muffin tins with a little water and froze for eating later or using in salads.  The rest I turned into jelly.

Making pomegranate jelly is just like all other jelly making.  I put all the seeds in a pot with a little water and let simmer to soften.  When softened I run them through a blender to separate the “seed” from the juices.  Pour the broken down mixture through a fine screen colander or cheese cloth.  Use a spoon or hand to make room for drainage as you will have a LOT of seeds.  After separating the liquid from rest it’s just a matter of using the recipe that comes with your pectin box.  My personal favorite is to add 1 tbsp lemon juice per batch and use low sugar pectin.

This makes a wonderful and tasty seasonal gift to give for the holidays.

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Pumpkin pie, oh I love you.  Yet, I am one of those who will scrape the filling out of the crust and leave the crust behind.  It’s not that I don’t like pie crust, I eat it in all other types of pies, but pumpkin pie it’s the filling that I crave. My children have developed this eat filling-leave crust preference as well so I was overjoyed when I learned I could make pumpkin pie without needing to make a pie crust at all.  Not a bite goes to waste and every fork full is a delight of rich, creamy, golden decadence.

Crust-less Pumpkin Pie

1 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh..not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 cup sugar

1 can evaporated milk

1 tbsp butter melted

1/2 cup bisquick mix (or homemade bisquick mix)

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

Mix all together and pour into greased pie pan (or square cake pan because you can’t find pie pans until after you already have it made).

Bake 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

*If you want to make small individual pies, pour into greased muffin tins and bake 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.*

To make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground allspice

Mix and store in airtight container.

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It’s fall festival time and with them come caramel apples.  All year long I look forward to this time of year, the sour tang of the apples mingling with the sweet butter of the caramel…treat of the gods, I swear.

I’ve lost count of how many of these delicious beauties on a stick I’ve made through the years but one thing has always reigned true. I have no luck with pre-wrapped store bought caramels.  Perhaps others do, but for me it always slides down the apple to become a sticky pile at the bottom.  To remedy this I have taken to making my own caramel.

To make your own caramel is amazingly simple, even more so if you have a candy thermometer.

Homemade Caramel Recipe

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp vanilla

In heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and condensed milk; bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 248 degrees, this is what is known as firm ball stage.  If you do not have a thermometer, take a glass of ice cold water and drip hot caramel into water. If it forms a stiff ball as it sinks it is ready.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

I do not suggest doubling this recipe, if you need more, make a second batch.

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There have been fall festivals, craft shows, bake sales, costumes to make and walk-a-thons to participate in.  There is gardens to work, herb seeds to start, fruits to pick and food to preserve.  There are Fall craft projects to finish and Christmas gifts and crafts to begin. To say it’s a busy time of year is an understatement.

With the cooler fall air moving into the crisp chill of winter, casseroles are a large staple food to warm not only the body but the soul as well.  Casseroles are wonderful for not only their simplicity to set a nutritious meal on table in hurry, but also to use up leftovers without waste.  Added to their benefits, they can be made in large amounts and frozen for those times you are time pressed.

This dish is very easy to make for your family, or in larger quantity for social events. Make up several and put some in freezer, then you have a quick meal ready for when unexpected holiday company shows, or that last minute “bring dish to pass” event.

Cheesy-Chicken Casserole

2 cups shredded left over chicken

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 can (or 1 cup) garden peas

1 cups milk

1 cup water

2 cups wide egg noodles

1 tbsp corn starch

1 cup sour cream

1 sm. can mushrooms (or 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced)

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup corn flake style cereal (beaten to crumbs with hammer or rolling pin)

Place chicken in large fry pan on stove place your milk, water and corn starch. Mix well.  Add your egg noodles and cook until beginning to boil. Reduce heat to low and add your chicken, peas, mushrooms, sour cream, and spices.  Cook until noodles are near done.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Transfer into a casserole dish and sprinkle top with corn flake crumbs.  Put in oven at 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve.

**You can skip the oven step and make it a skillet style meal. I prefer to do the oven step as I like the crispness it gives to the top of the casserole.**

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