Monday, October 5, 2015

Apple Butter

We like ours best swirled into oatmeal, but you could spread this over toast, slather it on a pork chop, eat it straight from the jar, etc.
This recipe is basically making applesauce, and then taking it a step further; thickening it and adding some spices.  I make both simultaneously.  I like to make the apple butter in my 7 quart crock pot; it makes my house smell like fall and doesn't require a lot of work from me.  You can do the same thing over the stove top in a shorter amount of time if you are in a rush.  You basically just need to simmer it down to your desired consistency.
This recipe includes instructions for canning, but by all means skip this step if this frightens you.  You can store this in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and freeze the extras.

Apple Butter
Recipe from Everyday Food Storage

28 c. sweetened applesauce (enough to fill a 7 quart crock pot)
Pour applesauce into slow cooker.
Use a cooling rack in-between the crockpot and the lid, to make evaporation of liquid possible.
Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is reached (8-24 hours).
**I like mine to reduce by half, which takes me the full 24 hours.  You can cook it on high for a shorter period of time, but if you are leaving this out overnight, use the low setting.

When desired consistency is reached, add the following ingredients
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice

At this point the apple butter is done.  Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and/or freeze.  If canning:
Spoon apple butter into sterilized pint jars.
Wipe rims and add lids and bands.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, be sure to adjust for altitude, (20 minutes Utah time).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tomato Basil Sauce with Roasted Garlic {Bottled}

Tomatoes are abundant here right now, and there is no better way to preserve the garden goodness all through the winter months than by making this sauce.
Toss it over noodles.
Spread it over pizza crust.
Add it to some tomato soup (or any recipe calling for tomato) for a touch of homemade flair.
It is thick and hearty and garlicy and delicious.
I often make this in a HUGE batch (I'll at least double the recipe if I have the tomatoes); I feel it makes my time more worth while.  You can easily half (or more) the recipe, but stick to measurements pretty closely here, as straying can alter the acid levels which is no bueno for canning.
If you aren't into the whole canning scene, this sauce also freezes beautifully.

Tomato Basil Sauce with Roasted Garlic
Recipe modified from Our Best Bites

24 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 c. lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tsbp. thyme
1 Tsbp. parsley
1/3 c. pureed roasted garlic (about 4 heads)
2/3 c. lemon juice (for canning only)

Blanch tomatoes and remove all skins and stems.
Rough chop tomatoes and add to large stainless steel pot.
Add brown sugar, salt, vinegar and pepper and stir to incorporate.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a steady simmer, but still bubbling all over.
Continue simmering, uncovered, until mixture is reduced to desired consistency (at least 2 hours).
Stir occasionally while sauce is simmering.
If you like your sauce with some chunks, leave as is.  If you like it smooth, you can pulse with an immersion blender.
Once desired consistency is met, stir in basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and garlic.
Adjust seasoning to taste.

If canning:
Add 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice into each hot, sterilized pint jar (12), or 2 Tbsp. for quart jars (6).
Ladle sauce into jars, accounting for headspace.
Remove air bubbles by running a knife along the outside of the jar, 4-5 times around.
Wipe rims and top with hot lids.
Screw on bands.
Process in a hot water bath canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary (45 minutes Utah time).
Makes 12 pints or 6 quarts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oven Baked Corn on the Cob

Another go to recipe for wonderfully easy corn on the cob.  Very similar to using the microwave, this corn comes out perfectly cooked, juicy and, if handled properly, completely silk free.  Just throw the entire thing in the oven, husk and all!  Be sure to check out the link above to view how to remove the husk once cooked.

Oven Baked Corn on the Cob
Bake unhusked corn in oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
When done, cut through the corn completely at the base end (be sure to cut through corn, not just the stem).
Once cut, grab the husk and silk at the top, and gently pull up to remove it.
All of the silk will come off with the husk, and you will be left with perfectly cooked and ready to eat corn!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Caramel Corn

Some of my most beloved popcorn recipes start with a base of caramel corn.  But then it is baked to a crunchy perfection.  This recipe is that irresistibly sticky, chewy treat best eaten right after it is made.  Preferably still warm.

Caramel Corn
12 c. popped popcorn (about 1/2 c. kernels)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Pop corn and sift through to remove unpinned kernels.
Chop butter into pieces and add to brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl.
Pour honey over butter and brown sugar.
Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.
Microwave for an additional 2 minutes, and stir.
Microwave 2 minutes more - mixture should be bubbling.
Add vanilla and baking soda and stir to combine (mixture will foam and rise).
Pour over popcorn and stir immediately to coat evenly.
Store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jalapeno Jelly

I love canning.  Something about taking fresh produce and storing it away for another day with the twist of a lid is all over satisfying for me.
As I've advanced in the kitchen, I've started trying out new canning recipes.
Enter Jalapeno Jelly.
You could easily spread this on savory sandwiches or over freshly grilled chicken.
My personal favorite: start with a brick of cream cheese and top with half a pint of this stuff for the best cracker dipping appetizer of all time.

A few notes:
1: I leave the seeds in half of my jalapenos.  If you like more heat, leave more seeds in.  I am generally not a huge fan of ultra spicy, so I would recommend starting with half seeds in, and go from there.  You can always taste and add more as you go.
2: The original recipe called for 6 cups of sugar.  I'm happy with 4 1/2.  Start with that and increase until you reach desired sweetness.
Jalapeno Jelly
Recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe

1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
10 jalapenos
1 1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 - 6 c. granulated sugar, to taste
1 3oz. pouch liquid fruit pectin (certo)

Add bell peppers and jalapenos to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add peppers to a large pot (account for rising foam).
Stir in the vinegar, salt and sugar, and bring to a boil.
Boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add liquid pectin and boil for 1 minute.
Ladle jelly into warm, sterilized jars, pint or half pint jars, leaving headspace.
Wipe rims with a rag and screw on lids with bands.
Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (20 minutes in Utah, accounting for elevation).
Jelly needs at least 2 days to fully set up.
Makes about 9 cups.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

We used to have this thing for iced oatmeal cookies.
And by that I mean, the hubs and I would devour a package or so every week.
The perfect combination of sweet and crunchy, this homemade version does not disappoint.
We like things a little more mellow at our house, so I cut down the sugar as well as the amount of icing.  Feel free to check out the original recipe if you have a larger sweet tooth.
Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe modified from Bake-a-Holic

1 c. shortening
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 c. regular rolled oats

Combine shortening, sugars and eggs, mixing until fluffy.
Add vanilla.
Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl, and gradually add to creamed mixture.
Mix in oatmeal.
Let mixture stand for 5 minutes, and then mix again.

Accounting for the cookies spread, arrange 6 at a time on lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes - edges will be golden, but the middle will look undercooked.
Cool on sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire racks.
Makes 2-3 dozen.

1 egg white
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. powdered sugar

Beat well.
Hold cookies by outside edges and dip upside down in icing.
Let harden on wire racks.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bottled Jalapeno Rings

The first time I bottled jalapenos I made the mistake of assuming they had to be canned in a pressure canner.  They came out of the canner looking beautiful and ready to add to fresh salsa and mexican dishes all winter long.  But they ended up being horribly mushy and I ended up throwing the entire batch down the drain.
After a little more research, I discovered that the jalapeno rings you get in the grocery store are in fact, pickled.  And so I was back in the kitchen to test this new recipe for pickled bottled jalapeno rings.
They are the perfect replacement for store bought jarred rings, and a wonderful way of extending the garden harvest if you grow your own jalapenos.  I was at first worried that the taste would be too 'vinegar', but the heat of the jalapenos overpowers all else and these are a welcome addition to my winter storage.
You can shake out the excess seeds if you prefer, but I find it much easier to just throw them all in.
Bottled Jalapeno Rings
Recipe from The Organic Prepper

5 lb jalapeno peppers
4 Tbsp. canning salt
4 c. white vinegar
1 c. water

Bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil.
Slice washed jalapenos into rings, discarding stems.
Tightly pack jalapeno rings into warm, sterilized pint jars.
Pour boiling vinegar liquid over the jalapenos, allowing 1 inch for headspace.
Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (be sure to adjust for altitude).
(20 minutes for Utah).