Monday, June 26, 2017

Strawberry Jam

It is strawberry season in Maine! I had to close out the Jam month of the Food in Jars Mastery challenge by including some strawberry love!

Quick and simple and from one of my favorite cook books, Put 'Em up!, this jam was put up in a pinch!
Because when I have a million things to do on a Friday before the college reunion we host arrives at our house, I decide to add making jam to the list!



The recipe was really quick which made my hasty decision so much more rewarding.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 TSP Pomona's Universal Pectin
4 cups strawberries, hulled and slices
1 teaspoon calcium water (in the Pomona Box)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Process
*** boil your jars asap as this recipe goes quickly!***
1. Combine the sugar and pectin in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Place the berries in a medium non-reactive pot and crush with a potato masher.
3. Bring strawberries to a bowl, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
4. Stir in the calcium water and lemon juice.
5. Slowly pour in the sugar and pectin mixture, stirring to dissolve.
6. Return to a boil and stir to be sure it is heated through.
7. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles.
8. Skim off the foam.
9. Pour into hot jars, affix the lids, and process in the hot water canner for 10 minutes!

















Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dawn's French Onion Soup

Dawn, previously known as Egg Basket, gave me this recipe 6 YEARS ago. Apparently I stashed it away in a never to be seen again place. At least two computers later, I stumbled upon it today when trying to clean out a folder of PHOTOS! Geesh, I can be so disorganized sometimes. Without further ado, I present Dawn's French Onion Soup.

Dawn’s French Onion Soup

Ingredients
2 lbs sweet yellow onions
1/4 cup butter
8 cups beef stock
2 TBSP granulated bouillon
1 cup red wine (I use Sassy Bitch Merlot .. I'm a rebel like that)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf of crusty bread (I love a good garlic ciabatta)
sliced provolone, swiss and mozzarella (I like a mix, you can use whichever cheese your family prefers)

Makes 8 servings

Directions
1. Peel onions and slice in six equal pieces (larger or smaller depending on your preference)
2. On low heat in a large. heavy bottom soup pot, saute onions in butter until translucent (about 15-20 min)
3. Add beef stock and wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
4. Add Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste (my family likes the tangy flavor that the Worcestershire sauce adds and I will often add more to our tastes)
5. Continue to simmer on low while preparing the crouton
6. Slice bread in 3/4 inch slices and lightly brush or spray with olive oil and toast under the broiler until lightly toasted (keep broiler on)
7. Ladle soup into oven safe crocks
8. Place a crouton on top of each bowl and lay sliced cheese over crouton
9. Place soup under broiler until the cheese is brown and bubbly, then remove (carefully LOL) and enjoy

Asparagus, Egg, and Bacon Salad with Dijon Viniagrette


 


We made this for dinner last night and it was SO good. It is a keeper and will be repeated many times. For the two of us I used two bunches of asparagus,  about 6 slices of bacon, and 5 hard boiled eggs so of course there are left overs! This will be a perfect hot summer night meal and everything can be prepped ahead of time and left to chill in the fridge. The only thing I did differently than the recipe was to enlarge the portion size and devil the eggs. Next time, I will only devil the eggs with a little bit of the dressing to keep it super healthy.

The recipe was found on SkinnyTaste.com and advertised as a Paleo friendly meal. For the original recipe, click HERE.

For my version, here's my portions of ingredients:
2 bunches of asparagus, chopped
6 slices of crispy bacon (I make mine in the microwave)
5 hard boiled eggs (devil a bit with some of the dressing)


Dressing = Dijon Viniagrette
8 tablespoons olive oil
8 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Apple Zucchini Muffins

This is another recipe from Crunchy Creamy Sweet that I can not wait to try! Apple Zucchini Muffins that will help me put away all the zukes popping out of the garden!

Apple zucchini muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded zucchini (see note)
1 cup shredded apple (one medium apple, I used gala)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with a non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt).

Add shredded zucchini and apple. Stir to coat with the dry ingredients.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, oil and egg.

Add to the dry ingredients and stir in with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Do not overmix. Lumpy batter is okay.

Using a regular ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin pan, filling one scoop per muffin.

Bake muffins in 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Without opening the oven door, lower the temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking for 12 minutes. Check the muffins with a toothpick or a dry spaghetti noodle to see if done baking. If the muffins are too pale on top, add two more minutes of baking. They should have golden brown edges and golden tops.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove onto a cooling rack, plate or cutting board.

notes: It is very important to squeeze as much moisture from the shredded zucchini and apple as possible. To do so, place shredded zucchini and apple on a stack of two paper towels and squeeze in your hands over the sink. You can use a colander with small holes but the paper towel method works the best.

Muffuletta Grilled Cheese

We made these a long time ago and I am just recovering the recipe off my computer. I had done a search for Giardinieria since we had made it from our garden. Of course I found a new blog, Lemons for Lulu, to follow.
From the briny taste of olives to the warm comforting cheese,  grilled cheese will never be the same again!
Ingredients

    4 slices sourdough bread
    6 slices provolone cheese
    2 teaspoons butter
    2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
    2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
    2 tablespoons red bell pepper, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons giardiniera, chopped

Directions
1. In a small bowl combine green olives, black olives, red bell peppers, garlic and giardinara. Set aside.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
3. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
4. Lay two slices of bread, buttered side down in the skillet.
5. Place one and half slices of provolone cheese on each piece of bread.
6. Divide half of olive salad and place over cheese.
7. Place remaining slices of cheese over olive salad, top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up. 8. Toast sandwich for 3 - 4 minutes per side or until golden.

Chive Vinegar


I was excited to find a vendor selling bunches of chive blossoms last weekend. It made a delightful arrangement for the kitchen counter, bringing edible spring inside. My own chives haven't blossomed yet, in fact look so weak and pathetic I wonder if I should move them to a different flower bed. I hope that they will bloom this year after allowing that specific flower bed to get totally weeded over last year.

I recently stumbled upon a Pinterest pin for chive vinegar that I promptly added to my sustainability board. The recipe from Vegetarian Ventures was simple, straight forward, and offered an exciting trial for a new vinegar for me. I didn't waste much time (well I waited a day and made sure the garden had been second planted) before making Chive Vinegar because of their post.

 The recipe is simple and all you need is chive blossoms, vinegar (either white or champagne) and a mason jar with a lid. Cut the blossoms off, pack them into a jar,  cover with vinegar, put a lid on it, give it a shake, and put it on a windowsill giving it a good shake once a day.











I loved how the cut stems looked all stacked together. My favorite part was the realization that all those stems could go into our freezer bag for making stock.






















See how clear the vinegar starts out?

























Well after one day (and two shakes):






















Isn't that beautiful? I am getting rather excited about it. Each day I come home it is a richer color and I want to find tiny bottles that I can distill the vinegar into for gifts!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breasts from Cafe Delites

This Cafe Delites recipe is hands down my favorite new chicken recipe. I've been trying to create a more Keto-esque diet for myself after packing on the winter weight this year. So far is has been working, I am down 6 pounds and can feel it today. The dress tank I am wearing is once again comfortable and not tight around the back of my armpit. I can feel the progress. This chicken I made for one of my first nights on the diet, when Puckstopper was first home from college and requested my pasta sauce over spaghetti with garlic bread. I knew I needed an easy out. This was perfect and the left over stretched into lunch for the rest of the week. I was happy to make it again last night. Oddly enough I didn't take any pictures of it either time. It's not odd I guess - who wants to touch their phone when in the midst of handling chicken breasts? Not me!

The recipe is from Cafe Delites and can be found Here. The change I make to the recipe is to pound the breasts out after butterflying them, as it makes them much more pliable when you are trying to close and seal them. I added a slice of provolone for extra cheese melt and then tripled the sauce as it just makes the chicken even yummier. Here's my slightly modified recipe:

Ingredients
For the chicken:
5 chicken breasts, gently butterflied and then pounded for tenderness.
Salt
Pepper
Dried Oregano
Dried Basil
2 Tomatoes
Jar of sun dried tomato strips (reserve the oil when draining)
Log of fresh mozzarella, sliced
Sliced Provolone
at least 10 Fresh Basil leaves
and for the sauce:
4 cloves garlic
1 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Tablespoons brown sugar

 Process
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Prepare the chicken breasts by slicing nearly all the way through but not all the way. 
  3. Pound the breasts flat for tenderness. 
  4. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. 
  5. Pour 1 teaspoon of sun dried tomato oil over each breast and massage in.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other side. 
  7. Fill each with 2 slices fresh tomato, 2 teaspoons sun dried tomato strips, sliced cheeses and basil leaves.
  8. Seal with 3-4 toothpicks diagonally to keep the filling inside while cooking.
  9. Heat remaining sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil) in a skillet or non stick pan over medium-high heat. 
  10. Add the chicken and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden.
  11. While the chicken is cooking, mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small jug. 
  12. Pour the mixture into the pan around the chicken; bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally, until the glaze has slightly thickened (about 2-3 minutes).
  13. Transfer pan to the preheated oven and cook for a further 10 minutes. 
  14. Take pan out, flip breasts and bastes. 
  15. Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese has melted.
  16. Remove toothpicks and drizzle with pan juices.

Please go to https://cafedelites.com/2017/03/20/caprese-stuffed-balsamic-chicken/ for the enticing video of the amazing recipe, making it look far better than my iPhone ever would. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Barry's Pickled Eggs

A teacher I work with makes the best pickled eggs. He has brought them to teachers collaborative as a snack. They were so good I had to bring one home for SP to try. SP loves them even more than I do. After my last several attempts at pickled eggs, I finally remembered to ask Barry for his recipe. Buried in my email has been the recipe, lying totally forgotten, until today. I have yet to make them but when I do I will update this post with pictures. Off to buy some south west seasoning!

Ingredients
2 dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 TBSP sea salt
1 TBSP mustard powder
1-2 TBSP Southwest seasoning
6 cloves fresh garlic
3 white onions
4 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water

Process

1. Slice onions and garlic.
2. Add the cider vinegar, water, salt, celery seed,
mustard seed and pickling spice in the sauce pan and bring to a boil.
3.  Put peeled hard boiled eggs, sliced onions, and sliced garlic in gallon glass jar.
4. Pour in boiling sauce and put lid on immediately so that when it cools it will seal.
(If sauce doesn't  fill the jar, top off with white vinegar until it is about 1/4 inch from the
top).

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pickled Asparagus for the May Raw/Cold Pack Challenge




















I used Marissa's Pickled Asparagus recipe almost to a T, except I was unable to get Penzey's pickling mix which leads me to believe that I will have a much sweeter pickle than I intended. Marissa's recipe can be found HERE but I will write it out  my method below. One thing I regret not reading before I stumbled through the kitchen vying for available counter space was the recommendation to save the blanching water. Drained and left to cool, it provides a nutrient rich (and sustainable) water to water the house plants with! Thanks for the tip Marissa - no blanching water will ever go down the sink in this household again!

This was nice to do on a rainy Mother's Day after a wonderful Eggs Benedict breakfast from SP. Anticipating the rain, we got 90% of the garden in yesterday which is a tremendous feat for Maine and our track record. I'm still itching to get out there and plant the 160 onions that are just waiting patiently on the porch. 

Ingredients
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit your pint jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds






















3 cups vinegar (half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 slices of lemon
4 tall (12 oz)  pint jars

Process
1. In a hot water bath, sterilize your jars.
2. Put a  lemon slice in the bottom of each jar and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars.












































3.  Tuck a garlic clove down into the asparagus spears.

4. Bring the vinegar, water and spices to a boil. Pour into jars on top of asparagus, leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space.

5. Affix lids and rings on the jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (you can skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge).

















6. Wait at least 24 hours before eating, to give the asparagus spears a chance to get sufficiently pickley.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cocktail Onions for the Cold Pack/Raw Pack May Food in Jars Challenge

I decided to try my hand at preparing pearl onions from scratch. I had been warned, nevertheless, I persisted. In case of failure or a flailing temper tantrum, I made sure I had frozen pearl onions on hand to bail me out and cover for the wee bag of pearl onions I tasked myself to process.

I was pleasantly surprised by, after a 3 minute boil and three minutes in a cold water soak,  how easy it actually was to peel the onions. What was even better was the fact that the "skins" weren't really skins but more so meaty, that I popped all the waste into the freezer for future broth making!


















The draw back I discovered was that my back up plan didn't look as appetizing. The pearl onions I processed were crisp, clear, and white while the frozen onions were blemished, green tinged, or had inconsistent color. Here they are all together just before I sprinkled them with salt, covered them with water and soaked them overnight.






















If you look closely you can see some are pure white. Any onion with green came out of the frozen package. Any cloudy onion was also from the frozen package. I sprinkled them with generous amounts of salt, covered them in water, and put them in the refrigerator over night.  The following afternoon I drained them, rinsed well, and packed them into hot sterilized jars.






















I then prepared the pickle by combining the essentials of two or three different recipes from the Food in Jars website

















and two of my favorite canning books Food in Jars and Canning For a New Generation. (albeit one was just being used as a weight).























Ingredients 
~ 3 pound pearl onions
1 cup sugar
3 cups White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
2 to 3 Tablespoons Prepared Horseradish (I love the stuff)
Bay leaves - one for each jar
(I'm lucky enough to have a market that stocks fresh ones right now!)






















Process
1. Combine vinegar ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.





















2. Pour liquid over onions in jars.
3. Affix caps and boil in hot water bath for 15 minutes.








































Yesterday, once fully cooled, I took them outside for their photo opp in a lovely silver tray. Unfortunately the sun went away and we were left with a grey, dark, damp back ground.







































I look forward to trying them in a day or two!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Phyllo Tarts AKA Fillo Tarts


















What the heck Athens - is it Phyllo or Fillo? It's driving me crazy!

 We had an entire weekend of eating as vegetarians. It feels good to go back to my roots, especially when SP asks for vegetarian meals. I pinned this recipe a month or so ago and forgot about it until we had the puffed pastry tarts. I was excited to see that our local hot house had the ugly heirloom tomatoes back in stock. I love the heart shaped ones on the tart to the right. Baby doesn't like tomatoes so he made the asparagus and pepper tart on the left. He also added lots of pepper - my kids loves pepper! Does anyone else's kid like pepper? it's strange.

From the blog  Girl Versus Dough, I bring you Tomato Ricotta Fillo Tarts. 

Ingredients

1 roll Athens Fillo Dough
¼ cup olive oil or melted butter
1¼ cups ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for topping
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ to 2 lbs tomatoes, sliced to ¼-inch thickness 

Process
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on parchment paper. Brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo dough; brush lightly with oil. Repeat until all phyllo dough sheets are stacked.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, basil, chives, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Spread evenly on top of fillo dough, leaving a 1-inch border along edges.
5. Top with sliced or halved tomatoes.
6.  Sprinkle with more salt and pepper.
7.  Bake 30 minutes until dough is golden brown and flaky.
8. Cool tart slightly; top with more chopped basil and chives and salt and pepper, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad by Janice Cole





















 This egg salad recipe is a favorite for our Last Weekend in June party. La, MarieNicole and I discovered it for lunch a few years ago and we have been fawning after it ever since. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole. It is full of wonderful ideas for both chicken and eggs. Buy it - you will not be disappointed.























It was this morning when I put up my own egg salad recipe that I realized that this recipe still  has not made my blog despite being online in various other sources.
This recipe is on  Serge the Concierge
This recipe is on Epicurious
This recipe is on Food.com
This recipe is on my mind and now it is on my blog.

Ingredients
6 hard boiled eggs
3/4 cup seeded and diced cucumber
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/3 cup sliced green onions (green part only)
3 Tablespoons lightly packed chopped basil
1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Image result for hellmans
Process

1. Hard boil the eggs. 
2. Run eggs through an egg cutter and into a large bowl.
3. Gently combine eggs, cucumber, shallots, green onions, and basil in the bowl. 
4. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. 
5. Store in refrigerator for up to three days. 
6. Serve with greens, pita pockets, or slices of crusty bread.






My Egg Salad

I recently made egg salad out of our Easter eggs and realized that I don't think I have put up a recipe for my egg salad.

 One might wonder why/how I used our Easter eggs dye and all, but this year I made sure to do it right. First of all, we dyed the eggs with the very messy but all edible Cool Whip and food coloring. I never managed to get a picture of them but they were beautiful. I fastidiously kept them refrigerated whenever they were not decorating our table. It always amazes me how long egg salad can last when made with more than 6 eggs!

There's nothing very scientific about my egg salad but everyone raves over it. This is not to be confused with the amazing cucumber egg salad from Janice Cole a few years ago. I just realized that that is not on my blog! I will amend that post haste! Anyway, back to why I am here.


Ingredients (this is not done with measurements - you decide your proportions)
had boiled eggs
(Hellman's)  Mayonnaise - and yes I will forever shameless plug this brand.
celery
curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

The above is my "famous" go to recipe. I vary from time to time, depending on my mood or the fridge or the contents of the herb harder. That said, here are some optional additions:
chopped pimentos?
cumin powder?
chopped herbs?
finely chopped pickle?

Lentil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing




















This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe from Hannaford's March/April Fresh magazine. The original recipe is the Asparagus and Lentil Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. The dressing is easily one of my favorite buttermilk dressing ever!


















We had everything but the radishes so we made it without. You can make and refrigerate the dressing and lentils up to 2 days in advance.
Ingredients
for the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
For the lentils:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups water
1 cup French lentils, rinsed
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest and 3 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
Process
1.  To make buttermilk dressing, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, buttermilk, parsley, chives, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium bowl until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste; refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Combine water and lentils in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil and lemon zest and juice to bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. (refrigerate for a cold salad)
3. To serve, line a platter with lettuce. Stir lentil mixture to re-coat with lemon and oil, then spread evenly over lettuce. Spoon dressing evenly over top and serve.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Puffed Pastry Tarts or Asparagus, salmon and egg tarts


 





These wonderful puffed pastry tarts were inspired by the cover page recipe on Hannaford's Fresh this spring. The recipe found HERE was the basis for our nice spring dinner soon after Easter.You have to prep the dough in advance and refrigerate before using so plan ahead. You also can keep the prepared dough ( (steps 1 through 4) at room temperature for up to 4 hours or refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Ingredients - but also additional suggestions. 
1 (12-oz.) container plain whipped cream cheese
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
2 sheets puff pastry (about 1 lb.), thawed
2 1/2 lb. small to medium asparagus spears
9 medium eggs
Salt and pepper
8 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Other topping options we did:
goat cheese
pickled red onions
sliced carrots (I used lacto-fermented ginger carrot slices) 
sliced tomato

Process:
1. On a lightly floured surface, cut each pastry sheet into quarters. Roll each piece into a 6x6" square, then trim with a paring knife to create even edges. Using the paring knife, score a 1" border around each square, being careful not to cut through dough.
2. Working one at a time, pierce area inside the border of each square all over with a fork. Transfer squares to two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
3. When ready to assemble,  Place racks in upper-middle and lower-middle of oven and heat to 400. 
4. Mix together cream cheese and chives in a small bowl and set aside. 
5. Cut asparagus into 4"-long spears. 
6. Beat 1 egg and brush along the border of each square.




7. Working inside the border, spread 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture in an even layer.

8. Arrange asparagus side by side on top of cream cheese, alternating the direction of the tips.

9.  Season with salt and pepper and bake until pastry edges are golden and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes.

10. Remove baking sheets from oven. Gently push centers of tarts down with the back of a spoon, then crack eggs into each indent. 

11.  Return to oven and bake until egg whites are just set, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through. Top evenly with salmon and dill and serve immediately.