Better Than Cereal Crepes

I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends that are like family to me.  I’ve known Erin since we were about 11 or 12, which is the same age that her daughter is now.  We know each other so well because we grew up together and ended up being college roommates so she is the closest thing that I have to a sister.  Luckily, we also only live about 20 minutes away now and in California that’s like being neighbors!

On most Sundays, I head over to Erin’s to go for a walk, grab brunch and chat about the past events of our week and upcoming mayhem planned for the coming week.  This particular Sunday, I came over and Erin was casually making crepes for her daughter and her two BFFs. Crepes are traditional breakfast for the kids if they have a slumber party the night before.  She said, “let me just whip up some crepes.” It was such a nonchalant statement.  Whip up some crepes?!  I always had in my head that crepes were terribly time consuming and took skill.  I was honestly a little afraid of them.  Erin happily convinced me otherwise and added “They’re better than cereal!”  No argument there!

A few years ago, she said she went in search of a recipe because she felt like eating crepes.  She tried Julia Child’s cause, don’t you have to?  For anybody that sews, we determined Julia Child was like following a dificile Vogue pattern as opposed to a Betty Crocker recipe which would be the easy McCall’s pattern. Needless to say, Betty Crocker became her go-to crepe recipe.  (Note to self: definitely have a go-to crepe recipe in your life!).

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As Erin proceeded to get her mothers’ inherited Betty Crocker book out, I continued to doubt that this crepe making process would be easy.  She proved me wrong!  It was easy and fun!

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Ingredients

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Erin followed the directions pretty closely, mixed flour, sugar, baking powder and salt then in her mixer added milk, eggs, butter and vanilla.  It was very similar to making pancakes but this has a much more liquid consistency.  (Similar to buttermilk or even a little thicker.)

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She used a non-stick skillet, which I would highly recommend.  You should still grease the pan either with butter as Betty Crocker does or with any oil of your choice.  You need to grease in between each crepe.  Erin poured about 1/2 cup of crepe batter into the pan, then swirled the pan until the batter thinly covered the bottom of the pan.

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Let the crepe completely dry on the surface.  You’re using about a medium to low flame on the stove.  Use a spatula to loosen the edges of the crepe all the way around.  Flip the crepe once it is lightly golden on the edges.

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You can also try flipping it in the pan with a quick wrist motion!  Have a dog around for any failed attempts!

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This recipe made about 20 crepes.  The girls filled them with Nutella and bananas but you can fill them anyway you like.

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In the end, there was plenty for everyone!

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Do You Carrot for Glazes?

What made the carrot blush?

He saw the salad dressing!   Hahahaha

I’ve been on a carrot kick lately.  I was at my parents and cooking dinner this week.  We typically like a protein and some veggies so I made a simple chicken and tried a maple glazed carrot.  We also have to make white rice for dad cause it’s not a meal for him without it.  It all sounds simple but I made a few things more complicated, not on purpose.

First of all, I preheated the oven but forgot to take the stored pots out of the oven first!  We unfortunately don’t have a large mansion so a few pans get stored in the oven.  Luckily nothing was damaged or melted.  I got the chicken in the oven after mom and I took the pots out and cooled everything down.

I’m experimenting with carrot dishes because I’m actually working on a menu for Easter.  It sounds good to have a glazed carrot but each time I’ve made them, I’m not wowed by them.  I’ve tried brown sugar glazed, maple syrup glazed and a brown butter glaze.  They’ve all tasted fine but nothing was extraordinary.

I’ve decided that there’s nothing wrong with any of the recipes but they need finishing by roasting and letting the glaze carmelize more before serving.

Try your own recipe or use this or a variation:

2 lbs of carrots

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

you can also add about a tsp. of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

First, I put about an inch of water in a skillet and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes or watch and cook to desired tenderness of your carrot.  Drain the water once the carrots are cooked.  Put the cooked carrots aside.

In the same skillet, melt the butter, brown sugar and spice (if you choose) over a medium heat.  Heat until it becomes a bit thicker and bubbly.  Add the carrots.

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At this point, I plan to put the skillet in the oven and roast for a few minutes.  There was nothing wrong with the dish without roasting, I just want a richer, darker, thicker glaze and dimension of flavor to the carrots.  I think it’s worth a try.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

If I don’t like it, I’m returning to basic carrots sautéed in butter and salt.  For now, I’m not going to carrot all!

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I Want Chili!

It’s supposedly Fall?  There’s pumpkin spice lattes, Fall decor, Halloween costumes…it all looks like Fall except it’s 100 degrees outside?!  I am in the mood for Fall now, but I have to be realistic and not put on a wool sweater.  Instead, I made an easy pot of chili that didn’t heat up my house too much too.  That was probably the most important part of this recipe.

1 package of ground beef

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 large onion

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 cup of carrots

1 small can of black beans

2 sausages of your choice

1 cup of mushrooms

I sautéed the onion in coconut oil, added the ground beef and cooked until brown.

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I put the tomatoes in a Dutch oven, added the onion and the meat on a low flame.  I then cut up the carrots and added those along with all of the spices.  Add the can of beans and let everything cook for an hour.

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Note:  I put in 1 tablespoon of chili powder first then after each hour decided to taste if I added more to the mixture.  You can also add a jalapeño for some more heat to this if you like.

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I then decided to cook the sausage, cut it up and add to the Dutch oven.  I added the mushrooms and let everything cook for another hour.

I added whatever vegetables that sounded good and had on hand to make this a one pot meal suitable for lunches all week.  Hope your weather isn’t quite as hot or you have air conditioning too.  Try this chili in any weather!  And make some cornbread too!

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Banoffee What?

Anyone know the movie “Love Actually”?  For the few of you that may not know it, it’s a 2003 romantic comedy with a bevy of English actors.  It intertwines eight, varying stories of love during Christmas..

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Some of my girlfriends and I can probably act out the movie for you, but I would highly recommend watching the original, not that we wouldn’t be entertaining but we may not give it its true justice.

Not all of the story lines end happily, such as the story of unrequited love of a guy with his best friend’s wife.  There’s a moment in the movie where Keira Knightly (object of guy’s affection but married to the best friend guy) asks guy played by Andrew Lincoln, if she can look through the video that he took of their wedding cause her wedding video didn’t turn out well.  In an effort of self preservation he gives her the impression that he really can’t stand her.  Keira shows up at his door with…Banoffee Pie to ask him if she can look through his videos and be friends with him.

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There is way more to this story and all of the others in the movie but the important part here is…Banoffee Pie.  For years, my American self and friends were puzzled by what is a Banoffee Pie?  We couldn’t even figure out how to spell it or imagine what was in it?  It sounded made up, a fictitious pie altogether!

But, with the magic of the interwebs, I looked up several recipes and attempted a simple one.

Once I knew that the pie was toffee and banana, hence Banoffee, I wasn’t sure that combo sounded delicious to me?  I decided to make it for friends and to test it at a recent trip to Palm Springs.  (And yes, we were back in Palm Springs again!)

It’s a pretty simple recipe that I cut corners on cause I was in Palm Springs and lacking supplies like a pie pan and a double boiler.

Ingredients

4 bananas

1 graham cracker pie crust.  You can definitely make your own with graham crackers and melted butter but I didn’t have a pie pan.  I decided to buy the premade pie crust already in a pie tin.

1 can sweetened condensed milk  (note:  there’s another version where you boil the can of sweetened condensed milk without stirring and labor, but I’ll have to try that next.  It sounded like a magic method and I didn’t trust it but I’ll attempt it with the next pie)

heavy whipping cream and sugar to taste

I started by slicing three of the bananas and layering them in the pre-made pie crust.  Then I found two pots that I could improvise as a double boiler.  I placed water in the bottom pot and brought to a boil while I had the condensed milk in the second pan, stirring constantly.  You want the condensed milk to get thicker.  It’s obviously the toffee portion of the pie.  My double boiler didn’t seem to be doing the trick so at some point I just eliminated the water pot but my toffee was lumpy and had problems for sure.  Since I was convinced that this was a throw away pie and it was just to appease a very long obsession with the “made up pie” in the movie, I decided lumps were acceptable!

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So, I thickened the condensed milk to the best of its ability in my borrowed Palm Springs kitchen and poured it over the bananas in the pie crust.  It still didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t take pics of too much of the process cause I was a disbeliever in Banoffee Pie.

Next, I whipped the heavy whipping cream and added some sugar.  I didn’t add a ton of sugar as the toffee and bananas were already very sweet.  I also only had raw sugar which was pretty granulated so there was texture for this whipped cream, haha.  All in all, I was executing a pretty bad pie at this point with brown bananas, lumpy toffee and gritty whipped cream in a store bought graham cracker crust.  Yum!

I decided to just put the whipped cream on top, garnish it with sliced bananas from that fourth banana and cover it up and present it for dessert later as just a joke for the movie reference.

I knew the pie would create excitement from my friends that knew the movie, but I came armed with the disclaimer that we can try it but let’s not think we’re going to like it!  I had low expectations.

The pie presentation was a hit!  Everyone was impressed that I attempted the unknown movie pie and was eager to try this concoction.  I had guinea pigs.

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I sliced into it and served small servings due to my lack of confidence in this creation.  As we ate it, I didn’t detect the toffee lumps or anything wrong with it?  It was surprisingly and happily delicious!  Who knew that Banoffee Pie was sooooo good?  We Americans had no idea what we were missing out on?  As the rest of our party showed up through the weekend, each partook in a slice and each one ended up liking it.  Comments such as “This is how I want banana cream pie to taste” and “My new favorite pie” solidified that I will be making this pie again.  I might try the pie with a crust from scratch and use an actual double boiler next time.  There weren’t any leftovers of this one!

I think the upcoming holiday season just became a bit sweeter for me as I’ll be watching Love Actually and making Banoffee Pie!

Even Cavemen Like Banana Bread

I don’t follow a strict paleo diet by any means, but I usually try to limit the amount of carbs and sugar that I have.  (Don’t ask me to do that when there is a banoffee pie in proximity though.  It’s a new found love that I will share next week!)

Paleo diets are also known as the caveman diet and follows what a Paleolithic human would have eaten or had access to back in the day.  Like I said, I just try to limit the carbs and refined sugars.  In an effort to do so, I try some recipes out and this is a banana bread that uses coconut flour which I’m not sure cavemen would have had?  It IS a low sugar and low fat version of banana bread though and I thought tasted decently.

I followed a recipe on Pinterest from southerninlaw.com

“The BEST Healthy Paleo Banana Bread Recipe”

1 cup + 1 tbsp (2 medium bananas) ripe mashed banana
2 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted (I used butter cause I had it in the fridge)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
1/2 cup  coconut flour (The writer of the recipe recommends this one for the best results!)
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 tsp baking soda

I followed the recipe pretty closely.
Preheat oven to 340F.

Grease and line a small loaf tin and set aside.  I greased my Pyrex loaf dish (that I picked up at a thrift store for $.70! Can you tell I’m proud of that frugal find?) with butter.
In a medium mixing bowl, mash your bananas

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and add in your honey, vanilla, melted butter/coconut oil, applesauce and eggs.

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Mix in your coconut flour, baking soda and almond meal and allow to sit for two minutes.

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She says the mix will be runny, more like a pancake batter mix.  Mine was already on the thick side so my coconut flour was pretty absorbing.  If your batter is too runny, she says to add a spoon of coconut flour slowly until it’s the right consistency.  You’ll want to make sure you let it sit each time to see how the coconut flour is absorbing.

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Once you get your banana bread to what you think is the right consistency, pour it into that greased loaf pan and bake for approximately 40 mins.

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Mine wasn’t baking in the middle, so I got creative on the bake.  I knew I was going to cut into slices, so I sliced it and removed each end of slices.  I put it back in the oven to bake the rest a bit longer and it seemed to do the trick and not overbake the ends.

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The writer suggests – If your banana bread is browning too quickly but isn’t cooked in the middle, cover it with foil.  She also says to allow to cool completely before slicing.  Oops!  I didn’t do that for sure.  I sliced right out of the oven to remove some of the bread (and ate it!)

Its suggested that you can keep the bread in a sealed container in your refrigerator up to a week or freeze individual slices.  Or…you can take it to work, like I did, and watch it disappear in 2 days.  I wasn’t sure that others would like it and I warned everyone that it wasn’t normal banana bread so don’t expect a strong sugary flavor.  It was eaten, so I think they didn’t mind it?

Feel free to try it and let me know if you had any other variations.  I’m thinking of trying a zucchini bread next and hoping it’s not going to taste like a salad.  Here’s hoping!

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People Make the Party and So Does Spinach!

Vegetables, not exactly healthy when mixed with cheese and put in a French bread loaf.  It makes for a great party dish though!

I wasn’t sure that I was going to make this as we had a ton of food already.  I showed this Pinterest pic of a yummy bread loaf with spinach dip to my friend Tracy and she said, “Get in that kitchen!  We need it!”  So I obeyed and the result was pretty amazingly yummy.  It was made with love, so that usually reduces the calories and we dove into it like cave men, so it’s “paleo”.

Recipe used was Stuffed Spinach Dip French Bread from Carlsbad Cravings.com on Pinterest.  Apparently it’s a retro recipe originally published in 1950 by Lipton on the back of the vegetable soup mix packet.

INGREDIENTS
1 loaf French bread
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained/patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use reduced-fat)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

i didn’t use the 1/2 chopped bell pepper or the paprika that the author uses.  I’m not a fan of either even though they add pretty color.  Since I wanted to eat it and not just look at it, I left them out of this recipe.

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take the middle of the bread out to create a bowl.  Set aside the bread.  I saved the bread that I cut out.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Sauté the onions, then add the garlic.

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Add the spinach, pesto Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and mayonnaise.  Leave the heat on and mix thoroughly until the spinach is warm.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese until melted. Stir in sour cream, Parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese until combined.

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When all is combined, place it in the bread bowl and spread mozzarella cheese over the top.

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Bake on a baking tray at 350 F degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.

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You’re supposed to let it sit for about five minutes before diving in, but I’m not sure those directions were followed?  We took it out of the oven and dug into it.  We tried to cut the bread but learned it would have been good to cut it all the way through before baking.  It was really tasty any way you slice or try to slice it.

Anyone else has a party dip bread loaf recipe?  Share it here and I’ll make it for the next gathering!  It’s just about Palm Springs season for the gang.

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Marma-Failed Oatmeal Cookies

This was the second time that I made these cookies but this time didn’t go as smoothly as the first.  So what this tells me…I should have documented the first batch for this blog!  Oh well, I didn’t.  I’m not perfect.  I still served the cookies at a party and people still ate them.  So what this tells me…don’t judge a cookie by its crumbled mess appearance.

I had a bunch of oatmeal that I wasn’t eating, so I decided to look for an oatmeal cookie recipe.  I originally wanted a recipe that would hold up like a thumbprint cookie so that I could put the Orange marmalade jam in the middle.  It didn’t quite work this way but they tasted good, so I consider it sort of successful?  But it was a bit of a Marma-failed oatmeal cookie batch.

I ended up adapting a Pinterest recipe for Apple Oatmeal Cookies but I didn’t add apples.  I’m sure it would be great if I followed exactly.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

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1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

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1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 and 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 medium apple (peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces). I didn’t use this.  Instead I used orange marmalade to top the cookies like a glaze.

Instructions from the livewell bake often recipe:

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla, making sure to mix well after each ingredient.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in the oats, then the chopped apple until fully combined. (I left the apple out)

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Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.  I had the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours but for my warm house, I learned that it was better to freeze the dough.  My second batch was baked with frozen dough and they came off the cookie sheet without difficulty.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silipat mat.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop two tablespoon sized pieces of dough onto the prepared baking sheets.

I cut slices and cut the dough in half to place on cookie sheets.  I added marmalade like a glaze on top.  This made a yummy topping.

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Those cookies really melted onto the sheet so next I tried balls, then made an indent for the marmalade to have a well.  That still all melted too much into the cookie sheet.

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Baked at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish.  Easier said than done.  In any case, these cookies tasted great and I still put them out for everyone to munch on.  There wasn’t any left, so nobody minded that the weren’t perfect.  So even if they failed to look pretty, they weren’t a complete failure cause they were very edible!  Just make sure your dough is very cold, if not frozen when you go to bake.

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Let Them Eat Cake!

I love celebrating happy occasions with family and friends!  Who doesn’t, right?  Every Valentine’s Day has been special since I met my friend John, as that was the day he was born (25 year ago – wink, wink).

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Actually, as we get older, I really do think we are getting better with age.  I know it’s a common phrase but it applies to us!  With life experiences each year, I think we’ve grown and learned what we need in our lives.  With age, I edit what doesn’t matter as much and hold closer what does.

For this celebration, I realized that being with friends was what mattered and holding a candle lit cake close to me while walking with it towards a birthday boy is a little like being in a mini emergency.

The Birthday song was sung quickly while the birthday guy extinguished his cake with a breath of wishes (all of which I hope are coming true!)

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John’s birthday cake was adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Victorian Sponge recipe in her book, How To Be a Domestic Goddess.

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Victorian Sponge

For the cake:

1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self rising cake flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 8×2 inch cake pans (about 2 inches deep), buttered and lined with parchment or wax paper.  I didn’t have any parchment or wax paper so I had to just butter and flour my pans.

For the filling:

2 – 4 tablespoons raspberry or other jam, depending on berries.  I really varied this cause I used my homemade orange marmalade.
1/2 pint raspberries or berries of choice.  I could only find strawberries and blueberries so that’s what was used!
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the topping:

1 – 2 tablespoons sugar

So because I had never made this cake before, I tried to follow it very carefully.  I followed Nigella’s direction for the traditional way.  So, to start, you cream the butter and sugar, add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each.  Fold in the rest of the flour and the cornstarch, adding no baking powder, and when all is incorporated, add a little milk as you need.

Continue reading Let Them Eat Cake!

Orange You Glad I Made Marmalade!

I’m not sure what possessed me?  I have always wanted to be that person with homemade jars of stuff on their shelves.  Perhaps it was all that watching of Little House on the Prairie and my love of Anne of Green Gables (especially the story where Anne makes her best friend drunk with currant wine instead of raspberry cordial!).  It seems that people just knew how to make everything and preserve it.   I decided that I’ve seen and read plenty of inspirational movie scenes and books to create my own award winning jar of marmalade.

My experiment started with putting on State Fair, the 1945 version with Jeanne Crain.  The mother, played by Fay Bainter, creates fair ribbon winning pickles!  I figured the skill and talent would ooze from the screen to my fingertips.  As the musical sung in the background, I opened my Better Homes Canning magazine and got all of my supplies ready.  I was happily set for success as I sang “It’s a Grand Day for Canning”! (Sorry for those that don’t get the musical reference)

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I must tell you that just getting my supplies was a challenge for this event.  I don’t think we have a lot of people canning in Pasadena?  Or maybe there are tons and they purchased all of the supplies?  I ended up at four different stores before I found my basic supplies at OSH hardware.  I purchased a basic kit from Ball which seemed like a good idea as the same items were used in the magazine.  I also got a canning pot with a rack, oh and of course half pint jars.  I went with half pint because I just couldn’t think of anyone eating a pint of marmalade?

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I decided to follow the directions in the magazine cause these people were pretty convincing that they knew what they were doing or at least knew a lot more than me.  I also talked the plans through with a couple of friends that were equally unqualified as me, so I was completely ready for this.

Here’s the marmalade recipe ingredients:

4 medium oranges (I used a Cara Cara navel orange from trees from my friend Lucas)  They are a beautiful pink orange so they made a beautiful marmalade color.

1 medium lemon

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

5 cups sugar

1/2 of a 6 ounce package (1 foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin  (I had a 1.75 oz of pectin in a foil pouch so I think next time I will buy and use more pectin.  I had a foil pouch of fruit pectin though, so I’m counting this as a win!)

I began pretending that I was a pioneer woman and multi tasked my process.  I washed my dozen half pint jars and placed them in my canner on the stove to boil and sterilize.  As these were taking forever to boil, I began prepping my lemon and oranges.

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Step 1. (From the magazine). Using a paring knife, score the peel of each orange and lemon into four lengthwise sections; remove peels with your fingers.  Scrape off the white portions of peels with the knife; cut peels into very thin strips.  In a saucepan combine peel strips, 1 1/2 cups water, and the baking soda.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not drain.

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I prepped and cut ingredients before I put anything into a saucepan.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to do step 2 so I thought I better have the oranges cut and ready before.  I worked with the lemon first and realized that I should prep the fruit like my dad taught me for fruit salad.  Scraping the white portion of peel wasn’t quite working, so I cut a thin layer off when I started the oranges.  I mangled my lemon but was hoping that wouldn’t make a ton of difference.

I uncrossed my fingers and began step 2.

Step 2. (from the magazine).  Cut away any white portions on oranges and lemon.  Working over a bowl to catch the juice, section oranges and lemon; discard seeds.  Stir orange and lemon sections and juice into peel mixture.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

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Cutting with a sharp paring knife made the job pretty easy.  I had super dull stupid knives before Christmas so thanks to my parents this project was not a cutting frustration.

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Sectioning the oranges is a little time consuming but you just slide the knife before and after the segments of the fruit.  As you can see, once I remembered how my dad showed me, I had the method down.

After I had all of my cutting prep work complete, I began cooking items per the directions.

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Step 3.  (From the magazine).  Transfer fruit mixture to an 8 to 10 quart heavy pot; stir in sugar.  Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in pectin.  Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.

imageI wasn’t sure what to expect with the foam?  But like magic, foam appeared and I followed the directions and skimmed it off the top as quickly as I could with a metal spoon.  (I felt a little like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom when he makes Chinese food.  If you don’t know this reference, watch this hilarious movie!)

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Step 4. (From the magazine).  Ladle hot marmalade into hot sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.

So while all this marmalade cooking and foam collecting was going on, I had jars boiling and sterilizing on the stove.  I removed them with my jar lifter and placed them on a kitchen towel on the table.  Using the funnel, I ladled marmalade into the jars until it reached almost the top.  The first rim of the jar is 1/4 inch according to my ruler and the magazine directions.  You don’t want any air in the jar so you have to release bubbles if there are any.

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I was unable to snap pictures of the ladling and lid tightening because I needed both of my hands.  I could have used more hands but I think I’ll just be happy I don’t have more and can’t be the freak at the circus.   Maybe I’ll invite a friend to help next time and they can be covered in sticky marmalade like myself and the kitchen.  I had no idea how that marmalade ended up on shelves and body parts but my jars were very clean!

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Step 5. (From the magazine).  Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling).  Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.  Let stand at room temperature for two weeks before serving.  Makes 6 half pints.

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I think I spent about 4 hours and made 5 half pints!  It said it would take 55 mins prep time and 20 mins cook time, but because I was no expert…it took me forever.  I also didn’t want to deviate from the directions not even to double the recipe to make more jars.  I figured I’d learn from this first time and be able to increase my quantity later.  It definitely seems you’d want to make more in the batch if you’re going through the trouble of home canning.

None of the steps were difficult but there were a few things that I was unsure of such as wiping the jars?  I used a new clean paper towel each time.  My next plan is to chat with people that have more knowledge and gain their handy hints for my next attempt.  Each of my can lids popped, so they say that’s success in the home canning process.  If the lid doesn’t bulge, I think I’m not in danger of killing anybody.  To be safe, I’ll tell any marmalade recipient to eat it quickly just in case!  Wish me luck with the next batch and if you’re an avid canner, leave your tips in the comments.  Thanks and happy canning.

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Sparkling Strawberries

A friend of mine had a few friends over recently.  Several of us haven’t seen each other since before Early December so there was much need to celebrate and catch up!  Since there were New Years resolutions and health conscious goals, I tried to find something to bring that was celebratory without being super rich like chocolate cake.  I found a recipe for Champagne Strawberries and adapted it a little.

This is an easy recipe but it’s not quick.  Allow at least a day to prepare.  I started with a basket of strawberries, roughly two dozen.  I washed them, dried them and put them into jars.

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Here’s the hardest part…I opened a bottle of sparkling wine and poured it over each jar of strawberries to fully cover them.  Try not to drink any until you’ve covered all of your strawberries.  (I ended up using the whole bottle for my three jars.)

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I put them in the refrigerator and soaked them for about 24 hours.

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The next day, I took the strawberries out of the jar and patted them dry.  I made a simple glaze.  I didn’t love it but it was ok for this time.  I just did powdered sugar, couple of teaspoons of milk and some vanilla extract. The recipe called for frosting in a can which I’m not a fan of.  I made the glaze just to drizzle over the berries.  It didn’t look as pretty as the frosting pics but it tasted good.

I tried one of the strawberries immediately from the jar and determined that if you can serve these immediately they would be best cause they retain some of the fizziness so it’s a fun bite.  If you can’t, they still are tasty.

I drizzled the glaze over the berries and sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles.  Rainbow sprinkles cover a mulitude of imperfections such as the berries not being completely in season!  Since the berries were soaked in booze and covered in glaze, it didn’t matter that they weren’t the sweetest on their own.  Place each berry on a cupcake wrapper and ta-da!  Super easy and looks sort of fancy.

has sugar and sparkling wine so it’s not really in the healthy category, but I’ll say it’s a win cause it’s way healthier than something else I could have made.

Find yourself a reason to celebrate and make these boozy berries sometime soon.

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