Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pear Butter

The aroma of pears and cinnamon will spread throughout your home chasing away the winter blues with this pear butter.  I chose to use the crock pot but you can make it on the stove top.  

Pear Butter

8 Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the pear chunks and lemon juice in your crock pot or large saucepan.  The pears will release juice as you cook so there is no need to add in additional liquid.  Turn the heat to medium and cook the pears until they are soft.  Use an immersion blender or run the pears through a food mill and return to the crock pot/saucepan.  Add in the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Cook until it thickens.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Three Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

If you're looking for a delicious side that you can serve with any meat selection, these potatoes will work out wonderfully.  Or you can just make them as the  meal since they are quite a big portion.  You can make them in advance and reheat too.

Three Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

 2 large Russet Potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup Fontina, grated
1/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp sea salt (taste before adding to adjust the amount)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Wash potatoes.  Poke holes into skin with a fork and bake under fork tender.  The length of baking time will depend on the size of the potatoes.  Check after an hour.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut the upper third of the potato off and scoop our the middle and put into a bowl.  With a fork, stir in the butter and cheeses.  Add in seasonings.  Spoon mixture back into the shells and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 350°.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Split Pea & Sausage Soup

Split pea soup used to be one of my favorites growing up.  Maybe it's because I got older or a certain soup company changed their recipe but I haven't really had it in a long, long time.  Despite their being sausage in this soup instead of ham, this brought back memories of growing up and the delicious soup that I made often.  I was also happy that I had just made the 6 quarts of chicken stock two weekends ago so I was able to thaw and use some of that for this soup.

Split Pea & Sausage Soup

2 1/4 cups green split peas, soaked overnight in water and drained
6 cups unsalted or low salt chicken stock
1# carrots, peeled and thin sliced
1 cup celery, thin sliced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 pound smoked sausage, sliced with casing removed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the chicken stock in a large soup kettle.  Add in drained split peas, carrots celery, bay leaves and grated garlic.  Cook over medium heat until the peas are tender. Remove the bay leaves.  Mash the peas in to soup or use an immersion blender.  Add in sausage slices.  Taste and then season accordingly.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Blueberry Banana Bread

It was a great week for free items from the grocery store.  One of the items I received was 3 bananas.  That automatically means it's time to make my family recipe of banana bread.  I wanted to tweak the recipe just a bit to add in some blueberries that I had in the freezer.  It's nice to have a burst of blueberry in every bite.

Blueberry Banana Bread

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 tsp flour

Cream butter and sugar.  Add in eggs and mashed bananas.  Gradually add in dry ingredients.  Mix in the tsp of flour in the blueberries and stir until they are evenly coated so they don't sink to the bottom of your bread.  Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.  Bake for 75 minutes at 325° or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the middle of the bread.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Italian Bread Crumbs

Bread crumbs are super easy to make and you can adapt them to have whatever herbs and seasonings that you like….plus there’s no preservatives.  I had a problem using full containers of them before I thought they were too old and just taking up valuable shelf space so I ended up tossing them.  I made these with Italian seasonings and am using them for pork and chicken.  Shown below is sirloin pork chops.
Italian Bread Crumbs
4 slices of bread – white or wheat
½ tsp parsley
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp thyme
1 ½ tsp salt

Place the bread on a baking sheet and place in over for  10 minutes at 325°.  Allow to cool.  Tear up the bread into smaller pieces and pulse until they are the size you want to use.  Add in the spices and herbs and pulse until blended.  Store extras in an airtight container.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Orange Bread

Last week I started thinking about making an orange bread.  I have in the past but with cranberries in it.  I'm thankful I did buy oranges and orange juice since I ended up with a sinus cold and having the additional vitamin C hopefully is helping it to depart quickly.  In the recipe, you'll see plain yogurt.  You can also use a 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt.  It's the perfect size and then you don't have to come up with ideas to use the rest of the container on (although it's great for chicken).

Orange Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add in egg and yogurt.  Fold in the baking soda, salt and orange zest.  Gradually alternate stirring in the orange juice and flour.  Place mixture in a greased loaf pan.  Bake for 70 minutes at 350°.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan and placing on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Orange Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp orange zest
1 tsp milk

Stir together until all the powdered sugar is mixed in.  Drizzle over the bread and allow to harden for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chicken Broth & Homemade Noodles

It was insanely cold last weekend - 20's.  I had an organic chicken and vegetables to create my own broth.  I have containers frozen that will last me quite awhile (6 quarts worth) and I feel better about having my own verses a store bought one (even organic) since I can control the amount of salt per recipe that is added.  Plus it's so easy to make and I grew up on homemade broth.  I add in a little bit of salt and a few dashes of hot sauce for a perfect meal on a cold winters day.

Chicken Broth

1-3# chicken
6 quarts water
1 onion, cut in half
3 bay leaves
1# carrots, peeled
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 stalks celery
1 tsp black peppercorns

Place all of the ingredients in a large kettle.  Bring to a simmer and keep at heat for 8 hours.  Remove the chicken and strain the rest of the liquid.  Cool down and place in the refrigerator.  After it has completely cooled (overnight), remove the excess fat.  Place the remainder into freezer sized containers.  If you keep some out, it will be good for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Homemade Noodles

Sift together -
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together in a small bowl -
1 large egg, beaten
3 tbsp milk

Pour egg mixture into the flour.  Mix together completely and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out the dough and let it stand for a half hour before cutting.  Cut into noodles to the size you want to use.  Spread out to dry on a lightly floured surface and let dry for at least an hour.  Drop into the broth and let cook for 10 minutes.