Friday, November 29, 2013

Learning to Preserve: Meyer Lemon Jelly with Vanilla

I have just a few short weeks to harvest, preserve and enjoy my Meyer lemons.

This season I am sharing more of the bounty with friends and experimenting with new ideas.  First out of the gate is a Meyer lemon jelly with a hint of vanilla.  This a wonderful out of the ordinary jelly that would be delightful served generously on muffins or scones, or served along side a casual cheeseboard.  

Meyer Lemon with Vanilla Jelly
Makes 4 Half-Pints
Recipe from Butter Yum

15 ounces of Meyer Lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained
3-1/2 cups vanilla sugar (note*-if you do not have vanilla sugar you can substitute 3-1/2 cups of sugar with the seeds from one vanilla bean).
1 pouch liquid pectin

Prepare 4-half pint jars with lids.  In a non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat bring lemon juice and sugar to a boil; continue to boil for 1 full minute (remove any foam that forms).  Stir in liquid pectin and bring to a boil for 1 more minute.  Remove from heat, and ladle hot jelly into prepared jars.  Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Image from Bing

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fix and Freeze Soup-Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew is a popular dish similar to a thick vegetable soup with meat, and like most soups and stews there are a million variations.

Two places claim to be the origin of Brunswick stew Brunswick County Virginia and Brunswick Georgia-It appears that claiming the origin of this stew is serious business.

In the past this soup did not appeal to me until I saw a friend prepare it for her grandchild's bring to school  "Family Recipe Day" Suddenly I was inspired.  This version is a thick Georgia style stick to your ribs version, and to reflect my state of mind, true to form, it is a batch and freeze kind of soup. Or it is a crowd pleaser on a Sunday afternoon.

This stew is a keeper and during the cooler months this hits the spot.

Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew
Serves 8
Recipe from Southern Living

2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 tablespoon jarred beef soup base
2 lb. skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 (28-oz.) can fire-roared crushed tomatoes
1 (12-oz) package frozen white shoe peg or whole kernel corn
1 (10-oz) package frozen cream-style corn, thawed
1 (9-oz) package frozen baby lima beans
1 (12-oz) bottle chili sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 lb. chopped barbecue beef brisket without the sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Hot sauce (optional)

1.  Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil in a 7.5-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.

2.  Stir together beef soup base and 2 cups water, and add to Dutch oven.  Stir in chicken and next 9 ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 hours.

3.  Uncover and shred chicken into large pieces using 2 forks.  Stir in brisket and lemon juice.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.  Serve with hot sauce, if desired.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Dirt Road Iowa

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fix and Freeze Hearty Italian Soup

When I am feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed that there are not enough hours in the day, week or month,  I start to crave time in my kitchen.  My kitchen is my sanctuary where I retreat to relocate my center of gravity.  I lean towards preparing comfort foods, preserving seasonal bounty or indulge in batch cooking to ease my disorganized meal plan ideas that will surely plague me during the week.

Today, it was all about "Fix and Freeze" soup.  The recipe for this hearty soup was adapted from a recipe found in Southern Living.  I used chorizo instead of mild Italian sausage, kale from the garden instead of spinach, dried navy beans (soaked overnight), and added carrots too.  I had 8-quarts of this soup simmering on the stove on this cloudy Sunday afternoon.  I stored a few containers for the work week lunches and a few quarts for the freezer.

A loaf of crusty bread, and a salad and this would be a great meal. It is hearty and delicious.

Hearty Italian Soup
Serves 8
Recipe adapted from Southern Living

1-lb. chorizo
2tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (48-oz.) chicken stock
2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ( 14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
3 large carrots, chopped
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 (small bunch kale
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil
Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

1.  Cook sausage in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove sausage from Dutch oven, reserving drippings in Dutch oven.  Sauté onion in hot drippings  3 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.  Cut sausage into 1/4-inch thick slices, and return to Dutch oven.

2.  Stir chicken broth and next 4 ingredients into sausage mixture; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes.

3.  Stir in kale and next two ingredients; cook stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes or until kale is wilted.  Top each serving with Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine
"Mountain Top View"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ginger Fizz Cocktail

Keeping the holidays simple can be a real challenge.  It is easy to get over ambitious with menu planning and entertaining.  While the planning is the fun part, the game day execution can get stressful fast.

Holidays are for making memories and spending time with family and friends.  I realize that I will not be able to avoid holiday stress entirely but, certainly I am going to give it my best effort.

These cocktails are a good start to holiday entertaining.   The Prosecco is spiked with a ginger syrup and served up with a few light bites is a nice way to kick-off the holiday season.

Ginger Fizz Cocktail
Serves 8


Ginger Syrup
Bring one 3" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup raw or granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a small jar or bowl; discard ginger. 

Note: Syrup can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Pour 1/4 oz.  ginger syrup in each coupe glass.  Divide evenly, top off with two 750-ml bottles Prosecco (about 5 oz. per glass) and garnish with a thin slice of clementine or orange slice.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine
Blue Ridge Mountain View

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Supper: Perfect Roast Chicken

 Simple, real food on this Sunday shared with family and friends is what eating is all about....Enjoy!

Perfect Roast Chicken
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Ina Garten

2- 5-6 lb. Roasting Chickens
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of garlic, cut in half, crosswise
Sprigs of Rosemary
2 lemons quartered
2 medium onions quartered
Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove any excess fat, pin feathers and pat the outside dry.  Generously salt and pepper the inside of the chickens.  Stuff the cavities with sprigs of rosemary, quarters of lemons, onion and garlic.  Brush the outside of the chickens with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper again.

Roast the chickens for approximately 2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh.  Remove the chickens from the roasting pan an cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes.  Slice, serve and enjoy.