Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I've put up some more cans of fruit tonight. This time Cranberry Sauce and Spiced Pears. I've decided to start a canning journal to keep with my stored cans in order to document the specific recipes used and ingredients, etc. I've been labeling the jar lids with the appropriate name, plus the date it was made, but this way I can look back and see what "else" was put in it.

What do you do to keep track of these things?
Do you have jar labels, or write on the lids?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Stephanie's done it again! I'm going to grab one of my frozen bags of pumpkin puree and make this quick Pumpkin Pie dip for the crew of friends we have working on our house today. They totally deserve it!
Maybe I'll whip up a batch of gingersnaps to go with it...

Okay, I did end up making this Saturday afternoon, but I wasn't completely won over. Oh, and my hubby thought it looked like cheese dip and was totally surprised when he tried it with a pretzel!
In general I thought it was bland. I did add pumpkin pie spice although it didn't call for it. I think next time I'll go with a little less sour cream and maybe a tablespoon or so of sugar.
Yes, I will definitely be making this again!

Black Beans no longer Black Listed

I have been screwing around with using dried beans, soaking, boiling, soaking, ... soaking, etc.
I haven't quite gotten a good method yet with a consistency I like, but I'm hoping Stephanie's method, using the crockpot, will be the winner. Gotta love that crockpot!!

I finally tried this a few weeks worked wonderfully! I'm definitely won over to using dried beans now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

All about Cranberries

I'm in love with cranberries.
I know.
I tend to exagerate a bit.
But this time I mean it.
I absolutely love taking cranberries and surprising people with the versitality of them. So far, I've come up with Cran-Apple Crisp and some Cranberry Burst Muffins, but I want to really go for it this year, so I went in search of some new-to-me cranberry recipes and boy did I find them!

Simply Recipes has a fantastic recipe for Cranberry Sauce.

I knew I could count on Apartment Therapy for something great! They list a Cranberry Jam that has me breaking out the pots and pans!

And what about Cranberry Salsa?! Never imagined...but Simply Recipes is definitely a creative bunch!

101 Cookbooks has abother Cranberry Jam recipe, loaded with fantastic commentary.

I laughed out loud at the truth to the dilema of the "Morning After Cranberry Sauce Muffins" over at Serious Eats. Indeed, until people give it a chance, there is little love for cranberry sauce.

Kitchen Parade's Cranberry Chutney looks oh-so-sophisticated. (And easy!!)

A shameless little plug...though I don't benefit from it at anyway: I found all of these recipes by typing in "cranberry" to google's Food Blog Search engine. Cool huh?

I also found this beautiful (to me) pic of a New Jersey cranberry bog harvest.

And this site told me it IS possile to can-preserve cranberry products!

That makes me a very, very happy girl!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blue Cheese Dressing

I'm making hotwings for our work party this saturday and wanted to try my hand at Blue Cheese Dressing. This recipe looks like a keeper! It's made with all staples in my pantry.
Yes, I make it a point to always have blue cheese on hand at all times.
I'm okay with that.

Easy Chocolate Torte

We are having a work party Saturday for our roofing project and instead of ordering pizza, I decided I wanted to cook for all our helpers. I have plenty of meal ideas, but wanted a really special dessert idea....enter Easy Chocolate Torte! I cannot wait for Saturday to get here! I may have to think about an alternate recipe thought, for two reasons.
One, the torte may not make it out of the kitchen,
and Two, guys aren't as chocolate-driven as us ladies.
Or so I hear.
Maybe I'm just justifying myself...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs

Mmmmm. I just watched Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals and I wish I hadn't already started dinner! I think I'm going to dream about her Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs tonight!

Okay, I made these last night and I am officially the s-loooooow-est cook in the east!
But I'm okay with that.
And my hubby's more than okay with the results of my slow-and-steady cooking!
I can't stress enough that it is imperative to coat the meatballs with olive oil prior to cooking. I didn't do it. I really should have. I was watching Alton Brown's Good Eats later last night and found out why! (Go figure!)
The Olive Oil creates a moisture barrier making sure the meatballs don't loose their moisture... AND it cooks faster. Mine didn't cook so fast. I think it took a half hour for them to cook to proper doneness.
Also, I made the tomato gravy which is also listed in the recipe, but it never thickened up. Not sure why, but it was still quite tasty!
It makes 8 gigantic meatballs. I ate one, my hubby ate two, and we have 5 frozen for future meals.

Grilled Cornish Game Hens. Why didn't I think of that?

We're having Cornish Game Hens tonight...and now we're doing it on the grill! This is a fantastic idea, I can't wait to get started!

This hen was so incredible! The skin was trully crispy, the meat was full of flavor and oh-so juicy! I got a couple nice second degree burns, but it was worth it!

The recipe:
Turn the bird over and cut out the backbone (just cut up one side and down the other with poultry shears.) This is so you'll be able to lay it flat on the grill.
Next, brine the bird in 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry on paper towels. Next, rub the bird with a spice rub on both sides.
Spice Rub:
1-1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch coriander
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne or hot pepper
Grill the bird over indirect heat (375-400F). You can skewer the bird to keep it from breaking apart while grilling or put in a grilling basket. If your grill doesn't allow for indirect heat, simply monitor it to be sure that the temp doesn't go over 375F.
Grilling will take about 30 minutes.
For the last 10 minutes, apply the glaze, first on one side, then flip after 5 minutes and glaze the other side.
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/4 cup water
1 whole minced garlic clove
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to develop flavors. Remove from heat until ready to glaze the bird.
My modifications:
I ended up soaking the birds in the brine for about two hours, the spice rub was just enough for both the birds, and I used my homemade tomato paste instead of ketchup for the glaze.

Erin's TX Cowboy Pie

I think I'll be trying Erin's TX Cowboy Pie this week. Her pic makes my mouth water! Erin is THE genious behind $5 dinners!

I made this a few nights ago. We didn't eat it that night. My hubby has been working late into the night on OUR house, not wanting to stop for silly things like eating and such, so my wonderful dinners have been left unsampled.
Yesterday, I reheated a bit of this for him and he loved it! I did too, and I'll tell you what my revisions were... (in Bold)

Leftover Beef Roast I didn't have leftover meat, so browned up about a pound of ground pork that needed to be cooked or frozen.
2-4 T Barbeque Sauce I did have leftover homemade barbeque sauce from my grilled cornish game hen, and used up the rest of that.
3 Large Potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Boil potatoes, mash with milk and butter until desired creaminess. Add Salt and Pepper.
2. Shred leftover beef and mix with BBQ sauce. Or cook whatever meat you wish to add.
3. Spread mashed potatoes in bottom of 8x8 baking dish. Top with saucy meat mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until cheese begins to golden.

While browning up the meat, I forgot I was adding bbq sauce so I added an envelope of taco seasoning to make it a little less dry. I thought about the combination of flavors and decided what the heck...and added the bbq sauce too. It was fantastic!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another shot at Taco Soup

As good as my previous attempt at Taco Soup was, it was closer to a stew or chili in my book, so back to the internet I I found Emily's Southwest Taco Soup. This shows promise! It may be more of a soup, so I'm giving it another try this week!

Pumpkin Puree

I decided I wanted to do as much "from scratch" cooking for the holidays, so I grabbed a few pie pumpkins to make filling now, while it's fresh. I wanted to can them, but it looks like I may have to freeze it. Oh long as it lasts until Christmas! I found this site quite informative about the process...This other article was also quite informative about why it's not recommended to can pumpkin and squash...unless you have a pressure canner...which I do not.

Acorn Squash

When I was checking out at the grocery store, I was asked what acorn squash tastes like. I haven't the foggiest idea! But I'm SO looking forward to trying this crockpot recipe for Acorn Squash!

I didn't make any variations on this recipe at ALL and it is definitely a winner! For some reason, I thought the brown sugar would turn crunchy, but of course it wasn't, it was a very liquid sauce so be carefull lifting the sections out of the pot. I ended up keeping the flesh in the skin and fork-mashed it so the brown sugar sauce got into each bite. Mmmmm.

Brie with Apricot Topping

This sounds like the perfect appetizer for the Tea Party I've always wanted. Just the sound of it makes me want to call up the ladies and start the teapot! Brie with Apricot Topping. And in a Crockpot to boot...what could be easier?! Once again, Stephanie comes up with a winner!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been finding just amazing recipes for all this produce I've found! Like Spiced Peaches, Apple Butter, Old Fashioned Barrel Pickles, Pickled Beets, Pumpkin Pie Filling, Freezing Turnips, which I have way too much of, Freezing Greens, and much much more at
So now I'm torn. I finally learned how to can this week so I'm eager to jump into canning everything in sight...and I just picked up a small freezer for $20 at a yard sale (and it works!). So I can freeze anything in sight too!
Oh, the choices in life...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spiced Grape Butter

I found this recipe here, but I'm doubling it becuase, well, I have 21 pounds of grapes and a pound and a half is just a drop in the bucket!

SPICED GRAPE BUTTER (already doubled)
3 lbs stemmed grapes
2 tab. Grated orange peel (about equivalent to two average sized oranges)
2 cup water
5 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Wash grapes; separate skins from pulp. Cook pulp until soft; sieve to remove seeds. Add orange peel and water; cook 10 minutes. Add skins; heat to boiling. Add sugar and spices; cook till thick. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Seal immediately. Makes about 8 cups.* from BETTER HOMES & GARDENS COOKBOOK *

My Comments:
These directions are a bit sparse on specifics. It took me about a half hour to separate the skins from the pulp. My grapes were already washed. As I was waiting for the mixture to thicken after adding the sugar and spices, I was getting impatient (an hour later) and looked up another recipe for grape butter that said it could take between 2-3 hours. I had to go out, so I put it on low and left for a few hours. When I got back it was still very thin (but super sweet!) so I used my immersion blender to break up the skins. That did the trick. It thickened quickly after that. Now I have purple fingers and lots of strange looks. But I also have a spiced grape butter that's going to be a big hit with kids of ALL ages!

Mine cooked for a total of 6 hours, but I think it would have gone quicker if I'd used the blender to begin with.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hopefully Taco Soup

Five years ago I went to Dallas for a convention and had Taco Soup for the first time.
I fell in love.
I've never had such wonderful soup again.
Hopefully, Stephanie's Crockpot Taco Soup recipe will reunite me with my favorite soup. I'm running out for the ingredients tonight and I'll post about it tomorrow.

I made this last week and it was more like a chili than a soup. It tasted fantastic, but it wasn't my long lost taco soup. Alas, we keep on searching. But meantime, I'll definitely make this again!

This has officially become our new House Chili. I'm making it today for our "work party" at our house tomorrow. The day after you make it, it becomes thick and hearty, it'll be a great topping for chili dogs, or fantastic on it's own!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grape, Grape, Gripe

Okay, 48 pints of grape jelly?
Not happening.
So what do I do with the rest of my grapes?
I'm thinking Grape Parfait Pie or Spiced Grape Spread.
And more!

Here's another site, for Grape pie or cobbler filling.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I've been meaning to make ahead some pizzas to freeze for those nights when it's a struggle to even set the oven and wait! Jen's post gave me the impetus to make it happen!
I figure, if Tony and Freschetta and DiGiorno and the rest of them can do it, why can't I?

This was fantastic dough! We made two individual sized pizzas and a regular size. It was the perfect combination of strength and crispiness.

Concord Grape Jelly

We decided to make jelly instead of wine this year, since last year's wine isn't quite ready to sample yet and we're not sure if we want to make any adjustments to the recipe yet. So the plan is to alternate years and this year it's Jelly-Makin' time!
This also means I have to jump in and actually can the jelly...a process I've been avoiding. I'm SO afraid of poisoning my friends and family!
But I'll bite the bullet and figure it out...once I get the recipe figured out! All the recipes I have found thus far call for 3.5 lbs of grapes. When I weighed ours this morning, I came up with 20.5 lbs that are usable. Rounded up a teeny bit, that's 21 lbs = 6 times the "normal" recipe!
So here's the re-calculated recipe, adapted from the Concord Grape Jelly I found on

21 pounds Concord grapes
3 cup water
42 cups white sugar (21 lbs!!!)
3 (36 fluid ounce) containers liquid pectin

Sort and wash grapes, and remove stems. Place them into a large kettle and crush them. Add water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and extract juice. Allow the juice to stand in a cool place overnight to prevent the formation of crystals in the jelly.
Strain the juice through a double thickness of damp cheesecloth. Measure 24 cups of the juice into a large pot. Stir in the sugar. Quickly bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in pectin, and allow to boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and skim off foam. Pour into hot sterile jars, and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

So I've already washed, removed stems, all I have to do is dig out our turkey fryer so I have a large enough pot for all of it!

But holy tamoly! That's a lot of sugar and grapes! It'll yeild 48 pints! Do I even want all that jelly? Where will I store it all?! I guess I know what y'all are getting for christmas this year!

A word about Tomato Paste

I love making my tomato paste! Scratch that. I love the results of making tomato paste.

But it's time consuming.
And it's labor-intensive.
I've never actually made it in one day. It probably would only take a day, but I usually cook in the evenings and one night just isn't long enough. Not if I want to sleep some too.
And it's expensive if you're not using your own tomatoes.
I probably won't make them again until I harvest my tomatoes next year.
I'm making my second batch today. Well, I started yesterday.
You have to have a LOT of tomatoes to make any worthwile amount of paste. Seriously.
And peeling, seeding, chopping...that all takes time. Not to mention the simmering. Granted, then you can be doing other things, but takes all day.

So take the recipe with a grain of salt and if you're up to it, I say dive in!