Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving the girls borrowed a book from the library called, Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin written in 1971.  It was a really cute story and had Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread which was the secret recipe that the story was based around. At the end of the book, they gave the "secret recipe".   So, since I can never pass up a recipe - especially one that is "secret", I copied it and tried it.  It is really quite amazing!  I made it last year for my neighbors for Christmas and tonight we had a family baking night that featured this bread.  It is so good!  You have to try it.  It's perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Enjoy!!!

Here's the "Secret" Recipe:

Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread
From Cranberry Thanksgiving by Charles and Wende Devlin

2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peal
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups light raisins
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in the raisins and cranberries.

Spoon into a 9 x5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

If you choose, you may substitute cranberries for the raisins to have an all cranberry bread.  (That's what I did.)

Recipe tested by the Food Department of Parents' Magazine

Here were my gifts of the cranberry bread all wrapped up for my neighbors.

Morning Glory Muffins

I'll also throw this in:  I made these Morning Glory Muffins last Saturday night for breakfast on Sunday morning.  We had a really busy day ahead of us on Sunday with a concert at a local church (1 hr. away on back roads - if you consider that local) and then we taught the children's group for Sunday night's church immediately following our return home.  I really wanted to start out our day with some homemade goodness.  My Grandma had given this recipe to me and I found it on King Arthur's Flour site.  They're very good and packed with a ton of good nutrition.  To make them even better, I substituted homemade, no-sugar-added, applesauce for the oil. 

Morning Glory Muffin Recipe

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heavenly Baking

It is chilly outside and using the oven to bake makes our homes so warm, cozy, and inviting.  I love it when my husband comes in from outside and gets hit with a wave of warmth and the smell of goodies coming out of the oven.  There's really nothing better to accompany the enjoyment of a warm home and family.  So that's why I'm calling it Heavenly baking! 

Apple season is here and what better way to celebrate than to make Apple Crisp topped with fresh whipped cream?  I used Martha's recipe for it this time and it was superb!

Who doesn't need a chocolate fix every now and then?  My Aunt made this recipe of Hershey's Chocolate Cake for a baby shower and it really hit the spot.  My husband doesn't even like chocolate cake and he loved this.  It's so moist, chocolaty, and really easy.  I put mine in a really big, oblong pan because I wanted to have smaller pieces than a layer cake provides.  I don't know the dimensions of my pan, but I think you could use two 9 x13 pans and it would work just fine.   This is definitely Heavenly especially with a glass of cold milk!!!

BLT Sandwich Board

I really don't care for sandwiches, but I LOVE a good BLT!  There is a trick to making them I have found.  The mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip!) really absorbs flavor if you let it.  So, here is my version of a good BLT sandwich:

First, set up your sandwich board.  Mine is complete with bread that MUST be toasted, real mayonnaise (mine is light), cooked bacon (I found the microwave makes this process really fast), fresh lettuce, and sliced tomatoes.

Then, spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on the toasted bread.
Next, place the tomato directly on the mayonnaise, then add the lettuce, and top it off with the bacon.  The mayonnaise will absorb the flavors of the bacon and tomato so you want these on the outer sides of the sandwich.  This is the KEY to a good BLT!  ( I really wasn't trying to rhyme - it just worked out that way.)

Squish it down a little and cut it in half diagonally.  This makes for a delicious lunch!  (Sorry for the chipped plate!  They're 11 yrs. old and used everyday - what can I say?)

Our local Cider Mill sells fresh Concord Grape Juice, so this accompanied my sandwich this day.  Oh, what a treat!

Time for Soup

It's Fall and in this neck of the woods you look forward to a hearty, hot bowl of soup after running errands and working out in the cold all day.  So, here are a few of the soup recipes that we've been enjoying.  Serve these with fresh Italian bread and a salad - Voila!  Dinner is served!

1. Corn Chowder:  The corn was from our garden this year.  We froze it and it tastes so amazing and fresh.  This recipe is really good: Tyler Florence's Corn Chowder  

2. White Chicken Chili:  My grocery stores stopped selling the McCormick's Seasoning for this.  This is the result of a home-made recipe which did turn out pretty good though a little thin.  However, our town just opened a new Super Walmart and they carry the McCormick packets.  Hooray!  I just bought 5 of them.

As you can see in the background, I also served this with avocado, sour cream, and cheese. 

3. French Onion Soup:  This recipe was from my mother's Betty Crocker Cookbook.  Sadly they don't have this recipe anymore.  I'm convinced that the key to this recipe is the Worchestershire Sauce.  Here is the long lost recipe:

Vintage Betty Crocker Recipe for French Onion Soup:
3 Onions sliced
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups beef boullion
1 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
Beef Consume

Recipe for Beef Consume:
2 cans (10 oz) beef broth
1 can (10 oz) water
1/4 cup onion, carrot, & celery - cut in large chunks
parsley to taste
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. thyme

Cook the onions in the butter until very tender, slightly browned and translucent in large dutch oven.  Then add the beef boullion, Worchestershire Sauce, and Beef Consume.  Boil and then reduce heat to simmer until ready to eat. 

Toast thick pieces of fresh French bread covered in cheese under broiler until cheese is melted.  Place in bowls on top of soup.   

Beef Consume Instructions:  Add everything to large pot and boil.  Turn down heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Remove the vegetables and bay leaf with slotted spoon.  Add the Consume to the Soup. 

Food That Sticks To Your Ribs

Every once in a while you need some good, comfort food that really sticks to your ribs.  I feel like I've been drawn to it more and more, but I've been putting up a good fight.  However, here are a few instances where I lost the battle and just had to make them!  They were very good and I did at least serve them with a good helping of veggies on the side. 

First, I made Spaghetti Carbonara, but I substituted Penne pasta for Spaghetti.  It was delicious!  I used a different recipe than the one of Emeril's here:  Spaghetti Carbonara but the link to my recipe disappeared the  other day.  I also used proscuitto instead of actual bacon.  YUM!!!

Needless to say, it hit the spot!

Several days later I made Chicken and Cheese Enchilladas.  This recipe from Campbell's works really well for me and my family because we're really wimpy and can't handle spicy foods too well (except my husband).  Campbells Chicken & Cheese Enchillada Recipe

This is a hit every time.  Even my 4 yr. olds love it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Late Dinner

Sunday night turned out to be a late night for eating dinner.  As it was already 8pm, I made the girls a quick PB&J with fruit leather and a cheese stick and sent them to bed.  Then I made these for Jeremy & I.  Let me just tell you - they are amazing!!!!!  We were so hungry and these were so good that we ate half of them all on our own!  If you like the Chili's Southwestern Egg Rolls, then you'll love these and you can have them anytime you want.  I also found Spicy Ranch Dressing by Hidden Valley to dip them in.  Every bite was perfect!!

Note: You find Egg Roll Wrappers in the refrigerated case in the produce section of your grocery store.

First, here is the recipe that I followed: You're Gonna Bake It After All's Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

(Disclaimer:  I have a good camera, but the lighting in my kitchen is currently terrible at night, so you'll have to excuse these not-so-great shots.)

The filling - it looks like a ton, but you use it all up believe it or not!  I was almost done filling them when I remembered to even take this picture.  And - I might add - that is fresh corn from our garden!

Place a good amount of filling on the egg roll wrapper:

How to fold your egg rolls:

Step 1: Fold bottom point up.

Step 2 & 3: Fold sides in and mess with them a little to get the corners tucked in.

Step 4:  Roll it up.

Step 5:  Wet the last corner and stick it to itself. 

Step 6: Place on a greased cookie sheet, brush (or spray) with oil and pop it in the oven for 7 min.  Turn them over and bake another 8 min. 

Step 7:  Put as many as you want on your plate with the dressing and eat until your heart's content!  Be careful though - they are pretty hot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I LOVE Basil

It's not often that you get to have the freshest ingredients at your fingertips, but in this case, I have tomatoes galore and quite a harvest of basil this year.  It's also not very often that I get to have really great lunches, but thanks to my basil and tomato crop I got several lunches and dinners that just about sent me through the roof they were so good!

The first is one of my favorites - Bruschetta.  I posted this quite some time ago, so here's the old blog: Julia Child's Bruschetta Process .  This time I did use Basil and as always hit just the right spot.

My friend, Mandy, made the best tomato-basil tart for Easter and so I got her recipe and made this too.  However, I had pastry sheets left over instead of pie crust.  It was divine!  Sorry I didn't get any pictures.  We scarfed it down to quickly!  Here's the recipe link and you can make your own: Giada De Laurentiis Heirloom Tomato and Basil Tart Recipe.

I've been making pesto sauce from that recipe and here was the other lunch I managed to get pictures of before devouring it!

Making the pesto.  Isn't it gorgeous?

I wanted a good sandwich and I really enjoy paninis. I took 2 slices of Italian bread and brushed them with Olive Oil.  Then I made pesto mayonnaise.  I didn't measure anything, but it turned out to be about 1/2 mayo with 1/2 pesto. 

Coat both slices of bread on the inside (not the side with the olive oil - that will be directly on the pan).

Then add your beautiful, tasty tomatoes!

We had left over grilled chicken, so I sliced that up and gave it a slather of my pesto mayo:

Topped that with proscuitto (imported is the best):

Then topped it with my other slice of bread (pesto-mayo side in).  See my olive oil brush?

Then cook over fairly high heat and press on the sandwich to get that panini "squished" look.  Flip over and cook the other side too until just heated through and toasted well on each side. 

Sit down and get ready to thoroughly enjoy every last bite!!!

Remember, I still had a bunch of pesto left?   I made some penne pasta, diced up a tomato and added my pesto to it all.  Gave it a good stir and we had a tasty dinner the other night.  It was enjoyed by all!

A good use for watermelon

I had bought a watermelon a while ago but then no one was in the mood for anymore eating of it.  I found this idea in one of Martha Stewart's Living Magazines and thought I'd try it out.  It turned out very good.  It's best served with something light to eat.  I made it and ended up using it to accompany a turkey dinner - not a good combo.  Everyone liked it when they drank it before the meal.  However, during and after the dinner it just didn't taste very good with the heartiness of the meal.  As a disclaimer: It's not that I can't plan correctly, I just needed to get it used up. 

So...Here's the recipe: Martha Stewart's Watermelon Punch & Bowl

I crushed up the watermelon:

 Then I put it through my new jelly bag to strain out the juice:

The rind carved out and being chilled:

 The end result!


Canning Jelly & Jam

We just found a huge tree of crab apples on some property owned by our friends.  Jeremy thought it would be neat to see if we could make crab apple jelly, so we gave it a whirl.  His Mom gave us some pointers:  Buy and follow the directions from the Certo brand pectin and get a jelly bag.  The pectin can be bought at your local supermarket.  The jelly bag was a little more difficult to find, but we have a hardware store in town that sells just about everything you thought you'd never need but sometimes do.  You can also find them online.  We used this recipe: Apple Jelly Recipe and here was the process:

First we picked the crab apples.  We felt like we didn't have many in this big tote/bin, but it turned out to be WAY more than we needed.

 Aren't they cute little things?

Next, cut them up to make sure they don't have any worms, etc...  Put them in a pot and just cover them with water to get them nice and soft.

They don't look beautiful at this point, but they're ready to be strained through the jelly bag to extract the juices.
Straining out the juice in my newly purchase jelly bag.

There was alot of pulp left over and I just hated to throw it away, so I decided to put this through my food mill and make apple sauce.  Beware, crab apples are really sour and tart.  The applesauce needed a lot of sugar and cinnamon to help it out.  The girls did enjoy the finished product.

Now back to the jelly!  Here is the juice we finally extracted.  Isn't it the prettiest pink color?  We had enough to make about 2 batches with a little left over which we froze.  Not sure what we'll use if for.  We'll see!

Sterilized all the jars and getting them ready to fill:

Boiling the juice, sugar and pectin.  Watch it closely and constantly stir to avoid the sugar burning and a boil over!

All jarred and processed.  Waiting for the tops to seal.  I just love hearing all the pops!

Aren't these pretty?  I'm hoping to sell these at a craft show and give as Christmas gifts.  However, we did keep a jar's worth for PB&Js and it's pretty good!!

I then went on to make 2 batches of Blackberry & Elderberry Jam.  My Aunt had given me a big pan of blackberries from her yard and we had a crop of elderberries that we had frozen from last year from my parent's yard.  I used Certo's recipe again.  Here it is: Certo's Blackberry Jam Recipe  I just added the elderberries to the mix and counted it all for the volume of fruit.

Here it is getting cooked down. 

 It was basically the same process as the apple jelly.  However, with the jam, I kept most of the seeds in it.  This too turned out very pretty and I've heard it was very good!