Nectarine Jam

Nectarine Jam

Nectarine tree4 lbs of ripe whole nectarines
5 C sugar
1 large lemon

Put a small, dry plate in the freezer.

Chop the nectarines, removing the pits but leaving the skins on. The skins are full of pectin and add a pleasant color and texture to the jam.  Measure five cups of sugar into a bowl. Set aside.

Put the nectarines in a stock pot. You should use a pot that is 10 quarts or larger because this jam will bubble up while cooking. Zest the lemon with a small grater, directly into the pot before cutting the lemon in two and squeezing in the juice.

Put your pot on the stove over medium heat. Slowly pour in sugar, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil for ten minutes, stirring to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Nectarines

As the jam boils, it will produce foam.  Most of it will go away, as it boils. Whatever is left, you can scrape off with a metal spoon and throw away. The foam doesn’t taste good and it spoils the flavor of the jam, if it’s left there.

Using a potato masher, break up the remaining chunks of nectarine. Stir and return to a boil for one minute.

To test consistency, put a small dollop on the cold plate that you placed in the freezer earlier. If it’s too runny, let it cook a little longer and try again. If you like the consistency, it’s done.

Pour the jam into a container of your choice, then use a butter knife to scrape the inside of the container, to release the air bubbles. If you want to freeze your jam for use later, make sure it’s in a freezable container. Otherwise, put the jam in the refrigerator to cool before using it.

It’s great in PB & J sandwiches but also great with ice cream, on biscuits or sweet breads.

jam
Freezable jars exist, now.  What a time to be alive.

Vegetable Scrap Broth

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This recipe is a staple in my kitchen.  I use it in nearly all of my vegetarian recipes to add flavor and calories but it can be used as a substitute for broth in any recipe.

I prefer making broth in a slow cooker because it doesn’t require much attention.  I use a 4 quart slow cooker which makes about 2 quarts of broth.  This homemade broth only lasts about three days in the fridge so I cook it in small batches to avoid waste.

Start saving veggie scraps before you plan to make this recipe.  Avoid adding eggplant skins, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, potato skins and corn husks to your medley.  Pepper seeds will make the broth a little spicy but that isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

Good scraps to use are celery ends, broccoli stems, carrots tops and peels, green onions, garlic skins, mushroom stems, dried-out herbs, leafy green stalks, bell peppers or most vegetables that you have on hand. Include at least three kinds of vegetables in each batch of broth so you don’t end up with broth that only tastes like celery.  You can use whole vegetables as well but cut them up or puncture them so they don’t float.

A lot of the color in these broths comes from onion skins and leafy greens, so don’t be skimpy with those.

Vegetable Scrap Broth

1 G freezer bag of Fresh or frozen vegetable scraps
3 whole bay leaves
1.5 t minced garlic
2 medium brown or yellow onion
1 C mushrooms
2 T apple cider vinegar

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Before

 

Leaving skins on, coarsely chop onions and add to slow-cooker.  Add garlic, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar. Cover with water, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Let this cook for 12 hours on low heat, stirring regularly.

 

 

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After

Pour contents of the slow cooker the through a fine, mesh sieve over a large bowl. Make sure that nothing solid made it through and pour into the container of your choice.

Add to any dish that you would normally use broth in and enjoy.

 

Holy Mole

It is in honor of Father John McShane that I came up with this recipe.  It can be served as a side dish or as main dish, in a cup or bowl.

Holy Mole

Slow Cooker Black Beansblackbean

3 C dried black beans

4 C broth

Coat the inside of your crockpot with pan spray.  Pour in beans and broth.  Cover beans with water.  Cook on high for six hours, adding water, as necessary to keep beans covered with liquid.  I use chicken-bone broth for flavor but if you want to make this a vegetarian recipe you can substitute vegetable or mushroom broth. Drain beans.

Brown Rice

3 C brown rice

6 C water

Pour water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.  Add rice and return to boil.  Cover and keep on a low simmer for twenty minutes, stirring frequently.

Sauce

1 T cooking oil

1 C onion, minced

1 28 oz can tomatoes, puréed

3 T unsweetened, powdered cocoa

1 t chipotle chile powder

2 t salt

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Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes.  Pour puréed tomatoes into pan.  Add cocoa, chili powder and salt, mix well.  Bring sauce to a boil and let simmer for three minutes, stirring constantly
Combine rice, beans and sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Serve warm.

Chocolate Toffee Crisps

Chocolate Toffee Crisps

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50 saltine crackers
1 C butter
1 ½ C brown sugar, packed
3 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with tin foil and spray thoroughly with pan spray. Set down a single layer of crackers. 

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Yes, it is supposed to look like this.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar.  Bring to a full boil and allow to boil hard for three minutes, while stirring constantly.  

Pour mixture over crackers. Using a wooden spoon, spread mixture evenly over crackers.

Bake for five minutes.  Top with chocolate chips.  Bake for three minutes. Spread melted chocolate over crackers, evenly.  Place flat in the freezer for at least thirty minutes.

You can use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut these into orderly pieces or you can use your hands to break them into jagged pieces.  

Keep these cold until they are ready to serve or anticipate chocolate covered fingers.0F4205D7-10E8-4811-A6CB-28C39C319032

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caponata

CaponataCaponata is to Sicily and Italy what chili is to the Midwest.  Everyone has a recipe but no two recipes are the same.  There are a few generally accepted ingredients but otherwise anything goes.  Much like chili, it is served as a main dish or on top of another foods.  The way it’s prepared; roasted, baked, fried or sautéed seems to vary, too.  Also like chili, people are vehement about their way being the only correct way to prepare it.

Most folks seem to agree that caponata should consist of eggplant and other summer vegetables and be served as a stew or relish.  Most recipes include a tomato base.

I have made it with stewed tomatoes and sliced Italian sausage links and served it with bread for dipping.  I have used broth to water it down to make a stew.  I have also used tomato sauce and put it over pasta.  If you are not a food purist, there is no wrong way to make this stuff.

Remember to chop the veggies into sizes appropriate for the way you want to serve it.  If it’s a relish, dice it more finely.  If it’s a stew or casserole, larger chunks are fine.

Caponata

4 C Diced Eggplant, skins on
2 C Cherry-Sized Tomatoes, halved
10 OZ Olives, whole or halved, drained
28 OZ can of tomato sauce
1 C Oil
1 T Parsley Flakes

Heat your cup of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add eggplant and allow to cook five minutes, stirring often.

Add tomatoes halves and stir in, making sure that tomatoes are coated in oil.  Cook three more minutes.  Add olives and parsley, and mix thoroughly.

I prefer to eat caponata as a stew, so I add a lot of tomato sauce but if you prefer it as a relish, dryer is better.  Add tomato sauce according to your tastes.

Pour tomato sauce over mixture and mix it all together.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for five minutes or until you reach your desired texture.

You can serve your caponata immediately but it is also good the next day, after you have allowed it to marinate in the fridge.  It can be served hot or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Caponata2

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole

beans117 OZ Can Baked Beans
24 OZ smoked sausage (2 ropes)
1 large onion
1/2 C brown sugar
2 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
2 T Butter
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

The base for this recipe is a wholesale-sized can of baked beans. It costs about $5.00 and goes a long way.

Melt butter in large frying pan over medium-low heat. Dice onions and peppers and heat in pan until soft. Slice smoked sausage into bite-sized pieces. Add to pan until heated through.

In a large pot, heat baked beans to a simmer. Add brown sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add sausage, onion and peppers. Stir thoroughly and allow to simmer for ten minutes or until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

I serve this with a slice of warm cornbread

cornbread
Pouring Cowboy Casserole into cups or bowls and topping with a slice of cornbread at home, will save you a lot of time and hassle once you reach the hungry crowd.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies have a bad reputation.  Sure, they aren’t their glamorous cousin, chocolate chip cookies but they are delicious and a little healthier.  I also love making oatmeal raisin cookies because the dough doesn’t come pre-mixed from Pillsbury.  When you bite into an oatmeal cookie, you know that it was homemade.

These cookies are moist and sweet.  The combination of brown and white sugar give the cookies a depth of flavor that you will love.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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1-1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1 C butter, softened
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 T vanilla
3 C oatmeal
1 C raisins
Heat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; sift ingredients, looking our for clumps of baking soda. Set aside.

img_1530-1Using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until blended. Add flour-mixture. Mix until blended. Add oats and raisins and continue to mix.  This is a thick batter, so be sure to stop the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl completely and continue mixing at least twice or until oats and raisins are fully incorporated.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool two minutes on cookie sheets then remove to wire rack. Cool completely before removing. Enjoy.