Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brown Sugar Maple Pear Butter

Remember the pear sauce I could not figure out what to do with? Well I found a couple recipes I liked and created my own recipe. In the crock pot I started with about 8 cups of pear sauce. Cooked it on low for about 5 hours. Then I added 2/3 cup of brown sugar and about a cup of pure maple syrup. Let it cook for another 5 hours and ended up with 4 half pints of tasty brown sugar maple pear butter. I probably would have had another half pint but there were a lot of taste tests that were needed. This stuff is so great!

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Apples, Apples and More Apples

I love apples! I don't even think I can pick a favorite kind. It is probably a good thing I live in The Apple Capital of the World! I remember as a child picking apples off of the trees in our front yard and making applesauce. I don't remember it being hard, so why have I never made it before? Plus with my new fruit strainer attachment I should be able to crank out a lot of sauce. I picked up a 25+ pound box at a local fruit stand thinking it would make about 12 quarts. Boy was I wrong! But it only took be about an hour to make 7 quarts. I think this weekend I will make another batch.

I used a mix of apples. Fuji, galas, golden delicious and honeycrisp. I sliced them with one of those handy apple corer and slicers. Put them in a pot with about 2 cups of water, a little lemon juice and let them cook. I think next time instead of water I will use apple juice or cider. When they were nice and tender I ran them through the fruit strainer.

With the first batch I added 2 vanilla beans and after running them through the strainer I added a little bit of brown sugar. It turned out great. Just a slight vanilla taste. The second batch was a more traditional sauce. A little cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. It tastes so much better then the store bought applesauce. Especially warm. My son and I shared a little bowl. I don't know who liked it more.

Any suggestions on different kinds of applesauce? Cranberry applesauce, candied ginger applesauce or maybe red hots applesauce?

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Friday, September 23, 2011

A Quick Pear Sauce

Look what came in the mail!!!

I had to test it out. So half a bucket of over ripe pears and my new Kitchen Aid fruit strainer attachment became a quick and easy pear sauce.

In less then an hour I was done. This food strainer is gonna get a work out as soon as I have some time and a couple of boxes of apples.

What to do with the pear sauce? I am still deciding, so for now it is going in the freezer.

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Hunting Season....YEA (extreme sarcasm)!!!

Don't worry this is not a post about hunting, killing or cooking wild game.  But when hunting season comes around it means several things for me.  Single, working, tired and exhausted mommy.  This year things won't be as bad.  I have some great help at my office. So I can take a couple of days off and maybe spend time doing something fun with my son.  I have also planned ahead.  My husband asked it I could put together some meals for him to take that would be easy to make in the motor home.  Why not make double everything so I have something easy to make for dinner for me?

2 hours, start to finish (including clean up), five dinners plus leftovers in the freezer!!!

Chicken Enchiladas

3 large chicken breasts
2 large cans enchilada sauce
flour or corn tortillas

Cook Chicken
Add a little enchilada sauce and a hand full of cheese to cooked chicken
Add a little bit of enchilada sauce to bottom on dish or I use the handy throw away foil containers you can get at any store.  If you have never used them, try it.  Makes life so much easier.  Roll chicken into tortilla and place into dish.  Add more enchilada sauce and cheese on top.  These are ready for the over or cover with foil and into the freezer.  There are lots of things you can add to this recipe to make it your own.  Onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, salsa, cooked rice or beans to the chicken mixture. Another option is to make a Mexican lasagna.  Instead of rolling the chicken in tortillas, alternate layering the chicken, tortillas and enchilada sauce.

When I was finishing up with encliladas I started cooking the chicken for the next dish.

White Lasagna

3 large chicken breasts
3 jars of your favorite Alfredo sauce
1 small container of ricotta cheese
1-2 boxes of no cook lasagna noodles
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Add a little sauce to the bottom of dishes

Next add a layer of the no bake lasagna noodles.  They are so much easier then boiling and handling wet slimy noodles. 
Add ricotta cheese to cooked chicken

On top of the noodles add a layer of the chicken cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.  Add another layer of noodles and Alfredo sauce on top.  Finally top with as much or as little mozzarella and Parmesan cheese as you like.  Sprinkle a little more Italian seasoning on top and they are ready for the oven or freezer.  I forgot to take a picture of the lasagnas ready for the freezer.  Oops!

Now all I have to do is remember to take them out of the freezer before I leave for work!  So easy and great for the busy mom (or dad).  They are also great new mommy gifts. 

This weekend, before my husband leaves for hunting, I have one more dish I will make.  Good old plain lasagna!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pear Vanilla ???

Sometimes things don't go as planned in the kitchen. It happens to everyone. In this case things did not go as planned but my pear vanilla ??? still tastes great. Pear vanilla jam has become pear vanilla sauce. And not to mention I learned something. I followed a great recipe from Food in Jars, but decided to double the recipe (this was my mistake). After doing some online research I found out that when using liquid pectin it is not a good idea to double the recipe. Small batches work best with the liquid pectin.

But it tastes great so that is all that matters. It can now have a different purpose. Ice cream topper, drizzles over cheesecake or even baked on top of brie cheese.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Garlic Dipping Oil

The other day on my way home from the County Fair I stopped by a local bakery to get a freshly baked loaf of bread.  I was trying to think of something great to go with the bread.  Something I had at home so I did not have to stop by the store (sleeping baby in the back seat).  Butter?  Cheesy goop bread (I will share the recipe another time)?  What about dipping oil?  You know, the kind fancy restaurants serve in a little tiny bowl like it is liquid gold.  It is so easy to make, inexpensive and impressive when served to guests.

1/2 cup olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves
1 tsp Italian seasoning
course ground sea salt (about 20-30 turns)
course ground black pepper (about 20-30 turns)
1-3 pinches of red pepper flakes (depends on how spicy you want it)

I used a garlic press but you can chop or grate the garlic.  Mix all ingredients and shake or whisk together.  Let marinade for at least an hour.  Serve with bread, use as a marinade or even a salad dressing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My 10 on the 10th!!

Copying an idea from a friends blog here is my first 10 on the 10th. My 10 on the 10th will consist of 10 things I have made, eaten, seen or just what to share from the previous month. I got a late start this month so this is really 10 from the last 10 days.

1. Cherries!!! Mid July I canned a lot of cherries. 24 pints and 6 quarts!!! Labor Day weekend I decided it was time to open a few jars to share with friends and family. I love cherries and am excited that I have enough to get me through the winter.

2. An easy quick dinner. 1 cup Uncle Bens long grain white rice, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup cheese, 1 can corn and 1 lb. cubed raw chicken. Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish, cover and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Top with cheese or my favorite fried onions and bake without a cover for another 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Homemade fish tacos!!!

4. The menu at Cabela's in Lacey WA. We were not very adventurous that day. Pizza and chili cheese fries.

5. Pears! I am so excited to try different recipes with pears. These should be ripe in a couple weeks.

6. The amazing colors of fruit. Left to right, blueberry butter, chai peach butter, chocolate raspberry sauce, kiwi daiquiri jam, bing cherries in a medium syrup and peach pie filling.

7. Baby food. The other day I bagged up all the baby food I had in my pantry to give to a friend for her little one. Made me a little sad to think I no longer have a baby in my house. I now have a crazy peanut butter & jelly and goldfish eating little boy.

8. We are heading to the county fair tomorrow. Excited to see the animals and exhibits, but more excited to try different kinds of food.

9. and 10. APPLES!!!!

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Monday, September 5, 2011


I am luckily enough to live in an area where you can find fresh fruit everywhere. A couple of Fridays ago on my way home from work I followed a homemade sign down a gravel driveway. I came upon a small house with different fruit trees covering their front and back yard. On a small table was several boxes of huge peaches, a scale and a locked box to drop your money. $1 a pound or a 25 pounds boxed up ready to go. I grabbed one of the large boxes, dropped some money in the box and headed home. My goal for the weekend, peach pie filling!!!

The next morning I peeled, pitted and chopped the peaches stirring in fresh fruit protector along the way.

I packed the peaches into jars. I had enough for 6 quarts and 6 pints. Enough to make 6 peach pies. In a couple of the jars I decided to add some fresh raspberries. Just layer them in with the peaches.

For the filling I mixed in a large pot:

4 cups sugar
1 cup corn starch
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
The seeds of 2 vanilla beans

Over medium high heat add 10 cups of water. Heat until mixture is well incorporated and becomes less cloudy, about 15-20 minutes. Pour hot mixture into jars slowly. Remove any air bubbles, wipe rims of jars, attach heated seals and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

This last weekend it was time to test out the peach pie filling. With store bought pie crust and a cobbler topping. Delicious and I still have enough for 4 more pies!!!

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