Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peach Preserves

Not that I needed an excuse to use up some summer peaches I have, but I did find an AMAZING way to make the distinct taste of summer last all winter. My uncle made these peach preserves and this recipe is so good. We (ok, mostly I...) plowed through his batch and just had to make a batch of our own. It's as fresh tasting as it is addicting. I just spread it on crackers and eat it, but you can also use this recipe as a glaze over chicken or pork. So simple, very impressive, and defintely worth the canning effort!

Peach Preserves
(thanks to my uncle for the fool-proof recipe!)

3 lbs peaches, "cling free" ( they are much easier to work with like Red Haven)
1/4 cup of lemon juice
7 1/2 cups of sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin - 3 oz.

Boil a pot of water and drop peaches in for about 1 minutes. This will soften the skin and it should come right off. Remove the pit and discard. Finely chop skinned and pitted fruit. You should get about 4 cups of fruit.

Wash canning jars in your dishwasher on hottest setting and leave them in there until ready to use. Put lids into just simmering water on stove and let them stay. Put bands into a bowl and pour boiling water over them just until covered. Bring your boiling water canner, half full of water, to a simmer.

In a 6-8 quart heavy saucepan, mix exact measure of fruit, stir in lemon juice and sugar. Bring mixture to a roiling boil. Add pectin and bring back to a roiling boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle hot jam into prepared jars to within 1/8 of top. Place lid on and secure with band tightly, but not too tight. You should get about 8 - 8 oz jars.

Put jars on a rack in boiling water canner and bring to a gentle boil. Jar should be covered by 1-2 inches of water. Process for 10 minutes.
Remove jars and place upright on a towel to completely cool. After jars are cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If lid springs back it is not sealed and should be refrigerated.
Let stand at room temperature to help with the setting process. This can take awhile, so be patient. Store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homemade Applesauce

As much as I love fall, I tried to make it come a little early this year! In the beginning of September, the fam and I went to an apple orchard with great friends and their daughter. We had a blast despite the cold, rainy weather and terrible apple selection. The orchard lady wasn't joking when she said that the apples were really picked over already and that we'd have to hunt for the good ones.

Despite a few bruises (the apples, not me) I found some great apples of all different varieties. We couldn't possibly eat them all, so I got a great recipe from my friend Kathy (the great friend we went picking with!) She's been making this applesauce for a while now and she swears by it. Although she does say that she and her family are ruined because store bought applesauce just doesn't measure up.

After trying this recipe I couldn't agree more! I kept it chunky for my husband and I and pureed it for our 5 month old. We all devoured it! The fresh apples make the applesauce bright and chunky and AMAZING! I can't wait to make an even bigger batch of this next time! The great thing about this recipe is it's SO easy and all of the ingredients are "to taste" so if you like it sweeter or with more cinnamon you can go ahead and add them with wild abandon! But just know, you were will probably never like store bought applesauce again!

Homemade Applesauce

6 apples, peeled and diced
1/2 C. water
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. lemon juice

Put the apples into a saucepan with the water. Cover and cook until the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the apples to a bowl and
mash. Add sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Mix well and enjoy! (This is truly great both warmed and cool!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Frittata

I have to apologize for this recipe. You see, I have had it a long time and have been holding out on you! I saw a frittata recipe a long time ago and though "Hey, that look like quiche...I like quiche - let's do this!" But then a came across/ thought up recipes for other treats like gooey pasta bakes with Italian sausage and apple cake with homemade caramel sauce (all coming your way soon) so this one got thrown to the back burner.

But, when I made it recently, I realized the error of my ways. This recipe was really good and worthy of it's very own post. What I like here is the method...frittata are fun, easy, and always impressive (and cute!) when in mini form. I actually prefer this method in the muffin tin because they are more manageable. You don't have to worry as much about the edges being rubbery and the center still liquid. They bake nice and evenly. Plus, you can be free to add/ substitute other ingredients. I have also made Bacon-Cheddar Frittatas with this very same recipe - I just subbed out the chicken and mozzarella and added in the bacon-cheddar duo (Which, by the way, my husband loved just a bit more than the end I liked the chicken-mozzarella version best and it's my blog so here you go :) But don't worry, he wasn't too heart broken).

Mini Smoked Mozzarella and Roast Chicken Frittata

1/2 pound orzo pasta
7 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
6 ounces diced roast chicken breast
5 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, diced
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Special equipment: 1 regular-sized muffin tin for 12 muffins

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the muffin tin.
In a blender combine the eggs, milk, cream, and mascarpone cheese. Blend until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add pasta, chicken, mozzarella cheese, Asiago cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until the ingredients are combined.

Using a 1/3 cup measure, fill each of the muffin tins until both the pasta and liquid are just below the top. Bake until just firm and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes before removing from the tin. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Braided Breakfast Casserole

I have been making this breakfast casserole a long time. I love to make it when I have guests or am going to a brunch. Really, it's scrambled eggs in a fancy braided crescent roll hug. I also really like that you can put whatever you want in the eggs to make it different. For this recipe, I used asparagus, onion, red pepper, cheese, and chopped turkey bacon. Again, use whatever veggies you have on hand to make this a deliciously different breakfast!

Adding the cream cheese in with the eggs is also really great. Although not the healthiest option, they really do make creamy, delicious eggs. And a note on the crescent rolls - this recipe calls for 2 cans but I have seen tubes of sheet crescent might want to try it because it would make the braiding a lot easier!

Braided Breakfast Casserole

4 oz. (half a brick), cream cheese
1/4 C. milk
1 T. flour
8 eggs
1 tsp. dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. cheddar cheese
2 cans (8 oz.) crescent rolls
2 C. total of your favorite fillings - I used onion, asparagus, turkey bacon, red pepper and a little more cheese!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the packages of crescent rolls - do NOT separate. On a lightly greased cookie pan, arrange dough in a rectangle and press seams to help seal them. Starting on the longest side, cut dough into 8 strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and milk. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Separate 1 egg - reserve the egg white. Add the yolk and the remaining 7 eggs, dill, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Add you fillings and mix well.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, 4-6 minutes, until eggs are set but still moist. Remove pan from heat. Scoop the filling evenly over the crescent rolls - sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Starting at one end, lift one strip of dough, twist one turn and lay across the top of the filling. Repeat, alternating sides to form a braid. Fold bottom edges of dough up at the ends of the braid.

Brush with the remaining lightly beaten egg white. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!