Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vanilla Bean Pear Jam

Last week I had a bunch of ripe pears and as I searched the internet I was inspired by the Food in Jars blog to make her Pear Vanilla Jam. This is delicious! My kids ate an entire jar with toast in one sitting.

Vanilla Bean Pear Jam

Ingredients

8 cups pitted, chopped Bartlett pears (or any smooth, thin-skinned pear as there’s no need to peel. *If you have thick-skinned pears as I did use a potato peeler to peel the pears.)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (lemon juice prevents browning)

2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
4 cups sugar
1 packet pectin

  1. In a large pot combine chopped pears, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla beans (including the insides of the scraped beans). Cook over medium heat until the fruit can easily be smashed with the back of a wooden spoon. Use a potato masher, immersion blender, or transfer to a standing blender to pulse a few times and break the fruit down into a mostly-smooth sauce (remove the vanilla bean solids before blending). I like it slightly chunky so I made sure not to blend it too much.
  2. Add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for a full five minutes in order to activate the pectin.
  3. Fill sanitized jam jars, wipe rims to remove any residual jam, apply lids (heat canning lids in a small pot over very low heat while you’re preparing the jam to ensure a good seal) and screw on the rims.
  4. Process the filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start the timer when the pot has returned to a boil). When the time has elapsed, remove jars from pot and place the jars on a towel-lined countertop. Let them cool undisturbed for at least two hours. During this time, the lids should seal. After it has thoroughly cooled check to ensure the jars have sealed by pushing down on the center of the lid.  
Yield: 7 half-pint jars
Original recipe found on Food in Jars website with slight alterations on my part.

**My Notes: This jam has almost a syrup consistency. The pectin recipe for cooked jam found on SURE-Jell by Kraft calls for 4 cups of fruit to 5 cups of sugar and states that in order to get a good gel this is the amount of sugar needed. I wanted less sugar and this recipe with less sugar is definitely sweet but also has runny in texture. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bistro-style Pork Chops in the Crockpot

A few summers ago my sister-in-law introduced me to the taste of pork chops cooked with sauerkraut. The vinegar adds a great flavor to the dish and it also tenderizes and moistens the pork. This recipe is one step up with the addition of potatoes, sausage, and peppers. Plus, I love a good crock-pot meal that cooks itself even if this recipe requires a little extra work with the searing of the pork chops and adding the 'kraut at the end.

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1 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork loin rib chops, 1/2 inch thick
6 oz. cooked, smoked bratwurst, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups quartered small red potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp salt and black pepper
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 cup drained saurkraut
Stone-ground mustard (optional)

1. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the pork, then brown about 4 minutes per side; set aside.
2. Combine bratwurst, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, bay leaf, and thyme in slow-cooker. Place pork chops on top of vegetables. Stir together apple juice and vinegar; pour over pork cops.
3. Cover and cook until pork chops are fork-tender, on high-heat setting for 2-2 1/2 hours or on low-heat for 3-4 hours. If using low-heat setting, turn to high when chops are tender. Add sauerkraut to cooker. Cover; cook for 30 minutes more. Serve chops with mustard, if desired.

Who Dished it first? Cuisine at home Slow Cooker Menus magazine (photo credit)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coconut Fruit Salad

I'm not really into preparing fruit salads for my family. Our snack of choice is usually fruit and we eat so much of it during the day that I'm usually more concerned with dressing up vegetables in salads instead of fruit. But there are occasions where I want to accessorize my fruit with a little more, something impressive for dinner guests. This recipe is easy, unique, and tastes impressive for such little effort.

Yes, my picture is not very glamorous. I was packing kids' lunches late at night and this is the best photo I could get.

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Coconut Fruit Salad

2-3 C. Sliced Strawberries
1-2 C. Blueberries
3 Apples – Peeled, Cored and Sliced
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Can of Coconut Milk
1-2 Tbs. powdered sugar
1/2 C. Coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (a fun option for kids)

First, chill the can of coconut milk for at least 12 hours. This allows the creamier part of the milk to separate.

When you're ready to prepare your salad, begin by slicing the strawberries, bananas, and apples.  Place the apples and bananas in a bowl with 1 cup of water and the lemon juice. This prevents browning of the fruit. Remove the fruit from the lemon juice mixture before adding it to the salad.

To make the whipped coconut milk: Remove the can from the refrigerator, open and pour off most of the clear liquid that has accumulated. Transfer the remaining coconut milk to a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high for about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until the coconut cream is thick and fluffy. (It won't form peaks but it will thicken.)

Toss the whipped coconut milk into the fruit, adding the shredded coconut (and marshmallows if you want to make this more desirable to kids) and gently mix.

*My notes: I forgot to chill the coconut milk ahead of time so I put it in the freezer for half hour. It didn't quite separate so I ended up pouring the entire can of coconut milk in and whipping it. It turned out just fine!

Who Dished it first? This recipe was inspired by Daily Dish Recipes with alterations made by me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

If you're looking for an easy alternative to shortcake made from the box, this is the recipe for you. All you have to do is mix, knead for 2 minutes, roll out, cut and bake. The results are delicious. Enjoy!

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Easy Strawberry Shortcake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter with pastry blender then stir in the cream and egg. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Roll into a half-inch thick rectangular shape, cut into squares, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

Let shortcakes cool before splitting and filling with sugared berries.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

While at Costco the other day my husband said he wanted to buy their double chocolate muffins. Cringe! Instead, I promised him I would find a recipe and make him muffins that I knew would taste better than those dry, preservative packed muffins.

Since it's cherry season I settled on making these double chocolate cherry muffins. They're very moist with the addition of sour cream and my family ate them right up. They're not great for the waste-line but they sure do taste delicious.

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Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 jumbo (3 1/2-inch) muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center; set aside. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and almond extract in a bowl until evenly blended. Pour the sour cream mixture into the well, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling half full.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

*My Notes: I used regular sized chocolate chips. I was out of almond extract so I substituted vanilla extract.

Who Dished it first? AllRecipes

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

Who doesn't love a fully loaded baked potato, complete with chives, bacon, cheddar and sour cream? What if you could eat your fully-loaded potato and not feel so guilty? I made this Skinny Taste version of a lighter and healthier baked potato soup and it's delicious! My kids had no idea they were eating a soup made mostly of cauliflower.

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Baked Potato Soup with Cauliflower

  • 2 russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, stem removed, cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 tbsp chopped chives, divided
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (you can use turkey bacon if you prefer)
Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for 5 minutes, turning and microwave for another 3-5 minute or until tender. Cool and peel.

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to the pot. On medium heat add chicken broth, milk, potatoes and bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (I don't have an immersion blender so I transferred the soup in batches to a blender.)

Add sour cream, half of the chives, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup servings into each bowl. Top with cheese, remaining chives, and bacon crumbles.


Who Dished it first? Skinnytaste
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