Archive for the ‘In the Kitchen’ Category

I’m notorious for cobbling recipes together—seriously—no kidding!

 

I rarely—if ever—follow a recipe from start to finish without looking for ways to make it different (ah hem, giving it my touch, I mean).

So, when I visited the newest addition to our culinary scene I just had to try one of the dishes at home.

It was a work lunch.  Someone had suggested we try the new Cuban restaurant in town.  Being the foodies we all are we couldn’t resist.  Well—let me tell ya, we were not disappointed…not at all.

It was a fun, lively open air place with long wooden tables where you, and the strangers sitting near you, could ooh and ahh over the rich, spicy aromas wafting in from the kitchen.  It was like one big beach party, rather than a stuffy business lunch with colleagues.

As is our want to do, we ordered different dishes so we could taste many different items from the menu.  Sounds strangely unsettling for a biz lunch, but when you are friends as well as colleagues, business lunches take on a whole new meaning.  We love to share.

There were Cuban style taco concoctions, black beans and rice; a Cuban-style shredded beef; mojo-marinated pork shoulder roast; a Cuban-style chicken Stew; and, the Cubano Sandwich, piled high with ham, pork, pickles and cheese.

We ate, stealing tidbits from each other, laughed and talked as friends and colleagues, with as little business as possible being conducted.  The one business-like discussion we did have revolved around which dish was our favorite.  Hands down the fan favorite was the Cubano Sandwich, the perfect combination of savory slow-cooked pork, the bite of dill pickles and the creaminess of mayo and Dijon mustard all held together by two layers of melted Swiss cheese. YUM!!!

So—in true to me fashion I asked the restaurant if they would share the recipe.  After a bit of friendly girl talk…okay…a lot of girl talk…well… some would call it serious flirting…the darling restaurant owner gave me the basic rundown of how to make a Cubano Sandwich.  Armed with that info and with a bit of time combing the internet for recipes I cobbled together a few that I liked.

Knowing that this would make a lot, I enlisted the help of my family to be guinea pigs for my latest culinary creation.  We served our sandwiches with black beans, white rice, and coleslaw. The results were amazing and no one went away hungry, or disappointed.  SUCCESS!!

 

To try your own island creation check out the recipe below.

A word of warning, though, these are the perfect dripping, gooey flavorful sandwich, so break out the dish towels, folks, ‘cause a napkin ain’t gonna cut it!

 

 

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Roast

 

INGREDIENTS:

To Make Slow Cooker Cuban Pork:

  • 2 Pounds pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 Cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of your knife
  • 1/4 Teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1 Medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 Cuban bread rolls or other firm bread like a Telera Roll
  • Mayo
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dill pickles, sliced
  • 8 Thin slices Swiss cheese
  • 8 Thin slices deli ham
  • Butter

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

Trim pork shoulder of excess fat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the slow cooker.

Mix remaining ingredients and pour over pork.  Roll the pork around in the mixture to coat well.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours (meat should be fork tender).

Remove meat and set on cutting board, cut from bone and slice or shred.  Remove any excess fat from the pot.  Return meat until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.

 

HOW TO BUILD YOUR CUBANO SANDWICH

 

 

Slice rolls in half and butter the outside of the top and bottom.

Smear both sides with a little mayo and Dijon mustard.

Starting on the bottom half, layer with 1 slice of cheese, a slice of the pork roast (at this point you can drizzle with a little of the cooking liquid), the deli ham, the pickle, and then another slice of cheese.  Put the top on.  Stack um high, folks.

Place on a hot Panini maker and close the lid.  Apply slow pressure to compress the sandwich.  It will shrink to about 1/3 of its size.  You can also use a skillet or griddle, but will have to weight down skillet in order to compress the sandwich.  Another heavy skillet will work.

 

 

NOW—pop open a beer, crank up the Caribbean music, and break out your dancing shoes…its party time!

 

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork & Cubano Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Lbs. Pork Shoulder
  • Kosher salt & Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 Cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of your knife
  • 1/4 Teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1 Medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 Cuban bread rolls or other firm bread like a Telera Roll
  • Mayo
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dill pickles, sliced
  • 8 Thin slices Swiss cheese
  • 8 Thin slices deli ham
  • Butter

DIRECTIONS:

  • Trim pork shoulder of excess fat. Place in slow cooker.
  • Mix remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Roll the pork around in the mixture to coat well.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours (meat should be fork tender).
  • Remove meat and set on cutting board, cut from bone and slice or shred. Remove any excess fat from the pot. Return meat until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
  • HOW TO BUILD YOUR CUBANO SANDWICH
  • Slice rolls in half and butter the outside of the top and bottom.
  • Smear both sides with a little mayo and Dijon mustard.
  • Starting on the bottom half, layer with 1 slice of cheese, a slice of the pork roast (at this point you can drizzle with a little of the cooking liquid), the deli ham, the pickle, and then another slice of cheese. Put the top on. Stack um high, folks.
  • Place on a hot Panini maker and close the lid. Apply slow pressure to compress the sandwich. It will shrink to about 1/3 of its size. You can also use a skillet or griddle, but will have to weight down skillet in order to compress the sandwich. Another heavy skillet will work.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/slow-cooker-cuban-pork-cubano-sandwiches/kitchen

Tangerine Mimosa’s

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

 

Set your Mother’s Day celebration apart this year with something truly unique and beautiful—Tangerine Mimosas!

 

Nothing says “I Love You” better than a sweet, bubbly, pretty cocktail perfect for moms special Brunch.

I picked the last of the tangerines from my dwarf tree today.  It is by far the most productive fruit tree I have on my little suburban homestead, which always surprises me considering the little thing barely stands 4-feet tall.  Each fall it sets hundreds of sweetly scented white blossoms that turn into sweet, juicy tangerines months later, just in time to ward off the grey days of winter.

They provide a great source of vitamin C all winter long and remind us that spring is no too far off.  We usually eat them fresh as a snack or as a side fruit with lunch.  It’s not hard to eat a half dozen in one sitting…they’re that good!

This last pick wasn’t huge, about a two dozen, or so, fruits.  But, it WAS enough to mix up a refreshing batch of tangerine mimosas, and that’s what I decided to do with them.  Mimosas are such a festive way to spend a lingering afternoon in the sun, but sometimes the same old recipe gets boring.  Since mimosas are super easy to make, and very forgiving in the kind of juice you use, I decided to “mix things up” as it were and juice the tangerines instead of the standard orange juice.

And, boy was it delicious!  Light, sweet, refreshing…perfectly lovely.

 

Tangerine Mimosa Recipe

 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups fresh squeezed tangerine juice

1 bottle champagne, chilled (750ml)

Strips of tangerine peel for garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

Squeeze tangerines and place juice in the fridge for an hour or more to chill.

Divide tangerine juice evenly between 4 Champagne flutes.  Top with Champagne.  Slightly stir to blend and garnish with the strips of tangerine peel.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Cook’s Note:  Blood Oranges, Cara Cara Oranges or Ruby Red Grapefruit would be wonderful alternatives, as well.

 

Tangerines and Champagne…what a perfect combination for this Mother’s Day weekend!

 

The Best Ever Egg Salad

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

 

Now that the days are becoming longer my girls are ramping up the egg production.  It’s a blessing and a curse (of sorts) with my unpredictable work schedule.  I get to have fresh free range eggs for all my recipes, but in some weeks I have way more eggs than I can use.  Nice problem, right!

There are many ways to use excess eggs.  There are quiches or frittatas; custards and curds; or breakfast for dinner.  Some people even swear by freezing eggs for omelets or baking.  That’s a tad unappealing to me, though.

Our favorite way of using up excess eggs has always been good old fashioned egg salad.

Whether it was used for sandwiches or served heaped on top of crackers, it was the “go-to” take along for volleyball tournaments, weekend sheep shows, or just day tripping up the coast on a beautiful weekend.  I remember my DD’s volleyball team “always” requested egg salad sandwiches for their away games and we never left for a livestock show without a pack of finger sandwiches for road trip snacks.  Good thing I had 20 hens, and two large stock pots for boiling all those eggs!

Not only is egg salad a nutritious, protein packed alternative to other options, it’s also super easy to make and easy to pack in a small ice chest.

I’ve heard people say they don’t like egg salad because the eggs always taste a bit rubbery.  This would be true if the eggs were boiled too long, becoming overcooked.  But—I have covered on that.

 

A Foolproof Way to Boil Eggs

 

1.)  Place eggs in the bottom of a large stock pot.  The eggs go in first because they can break if you drop them in.  They can also crack if you drop them in hot water.

2.)  Fill pot with water to cover eggs by an inch or two.

3.)  Place pot on the stove over high heat.

4.)  Bring water to a rolling boil.

5.)  Remove pan from the stove and put a lid on the pot.

6.)  Let stand for 15 to 18 minutes.

7.)  Drain eggs and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  (This is why eggs get rubbery. They are over cooked)

Once the eggs are completely cooled they can be peeled.

 

Now you’re ready to make the best egg salad you’ve ever tasted!

 

The Best Ever Egg Salad Recipe

 

12 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I prefer mayo over salad dressing)

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly until well combined.

The finished salad can be spooned over bread to make a sandwich, or topped on crackers.

 

BTW—this same recipe can be used for making deviled eggs, too.  Simply cut the hardboiled eggs in half length-wise.  Scoop out the yolks and mix with the mayo, mustard, relish and pepper, adjusting the amounts to fit the number of yolks you have.  Spoon the mixture into the hollow and lightly sprinkle with sweet paprika.

 

The Best Ever Egg Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I prefer mayo over salad dressing)
  • 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
  • Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly until well combined.
  • The finished salad can be spooned over bread to make a sandwich, or topped on crackers.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/the-best-ever-egg-salad/kitchen

The Best Molasses Cookies EVER!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

 

This is no joke. Just wait til you try them!

 

In the small town of Franklin, just south of Nashville, sits a small locally owned bakery and café that will rival any grandmother’s kitchen!  Their baked goods–pies, cakes, scones, muffins and cookies will put even the best baker to shame.  I stop by for lunch, tea or just to grab a sweet treat each time I visit my sister, and often times this includes a few of Merridee’s giant molasses cookies.  I know what you’re thinking…but, the calories!  Calorie’s be damned when cookies taste this good.

I spent last Christmas in Franklin and of course we stopped by many times for tea and treats.  I was fortunate enough to get the recipe a few days before I left.  When I got home I just had to make a batch for myself.  They turned out fantastic and the recipe is super easy.  The cookies bake up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just the way a cookie should be.

Try them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

 

Best Ever Molasses Cookies

¾ cup shortening (half butter)

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

 

Melt shortening in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add, all at once, to the sugar, molasses mixture. Mix until well blended (the dough will be stiff, so don’t panic). Chill at least one hour.

Form dough into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet 1-inch apart. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes; just until set and lightly browned. They should be crunchy and chewy when cool.  Makes about 2 dozen.  Store in a lidded container, so they don’t dry out.

The only change I made to the recipe was rolling them in vanilla sugar, because I had some on hand and I wanted to try it out.  YUM!

I also used a small ice cream or sorbet scope to form the balls, which made forming the balls easier and the cookies all came out the same size.

 

Image result for merridee's breadbasket

 

The Best Molasses Cookies EVER!

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ cup shortening (half butter)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Melt shortening in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add, all at once, to the sugar, molasses mixture. Mix until well blended (the dough will be stiff, so don’t panic). Chill at least one hour.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet 1-inch apart. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes; just until set and lightly browned. They should be crunchy and chewy when cool.  Makes about 2 dozen.  Store in a lidded container, so they don’t dry out.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/the-best-molasses-cookies-ever/kitchen

How to Seed and Juice a Pomegranate

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

pomseeds-white-bowl

 

Pomegranates are the jewel of the fall fruit season. The ruby red seeds and tantalizing juice pair perfectly with dishes from salads to desserts to cocktails. But, they are notorious for being one of the messiest fruits to break into.

 

As a child we would sit under an afternoon fall sky, peeling back the skin to expose the thin membrane before separating each quadrant to get to the seeds. We’d pop them into our mouths and crunch down to release the vibrant juice. I can’t tell you how many shirts were ruined or the number of times we had to scrub our hands to get the staining off. But, that was then.

 

Now we have become much more adept at extracting the hundreds of tiny gem-like seeds that lie inside while keeping the greatest number intact. Follow the steps below, which I found in a local farm bureau magazine, and you will quickly be using fresh pom seeds, making juice or boiling it down to a thick sticky molasses that is perfect in a wide range of dishes.

pom-seed-peel-juicePomegranates are not a primary crop in most areas of the U.S., they grow in small-acreage pockets across the warmer zones 8-10. Although there are hundreds of cultivars world-wide only about 14 grow in the States. They are very easy to grow and are quite productive once established in the right region. They can be grown like a dense shrub, trained as a tree, or heavily pruned in an espaliered form to fit into small gardens. Seeds range from a very dark ruby red to a lighter pinkish color depending on the variety. If interested in growing pomegranates, check with your local nurseryman for the best cultivar for your area.

 

More Tips on Pomegranates

  • To freeze seeds: dry seeds with a paper towel before placing on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Place in freezer for a few hours. Once frozen thay can be stored in a freezer container.
  • To freeze juice: pour juice into a freezer container leaving about a ½-inch of head space.
  • To make pomegranate molasses: pour juice into a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Adjust to maintain boiling. In about 30-35 minutes the juice will take on a syrupy consistency and become bubblier. This is the point when the syrup begins to turn into molasses. Watch closely because the transition happens quickly. Use a spoon to test. Syrup will coat the spoon, while molasses will have a heavier coating. The whole process will take between 30 to 40 minutes, but closer to 40. Store finished molasses in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Best Banana Bread Ever

Saturday, November 26, 2016

banana-bread

 

I know, I know. We all have grandma’s best ever this or that, the tried and true family favorite, but this is seriously the best banana bread you’ll ever taste.

 

And, it came about by shear accident. Let me explain.

 

It was years ago. DD was still in grade school and bananas were a staple in our house. We used them in lunches, on oatmeal, dipped in chocolate as a sweet treat. Every week I would buy them and every week they were eaten in some fashion or another.

 

Then, they fell out of favor as many foods do when you eat them insesately for weeks or months. They are no longer special, just part of the daily grind that is putting together meals or packing school lunches.

 

When bananas were too soft for fresh eating I would make banana pancakes on the weekend to use them up, so they didn’t go to waste. Single moms can get very creative when they live on a budget and don’t want to waste food.

 

But, this day was different. We had tired of banana pancakes, and not being a fan of banana cream pie I had to come up with another way to use the now spotted yellow and brown skinned tropical fruit. When no ideas came to mind I threw the now very ripe bananas in the freezer until I could come up with a plan.

 

Then it happened. That ah ha moment when you find what you’re looking for without really even looking. I was flipping through a cookbook, looking for something completely different, and there it was, bold as day…a banana bread recipe for a holiday breakfast. I read over the recipe and mentally checked off the ingredients one at a time (it’s so nice having a well-stocked pantry). The recipe called for slightly softened fresh bananas, but I only had the one’s I had thrown in the freezer a few weeks earlier.

 

What the heck, I’ll give it a try.

 

I thawed the banana’s, reread the recipe, making a few adjustments, and the end result was a soft, moist, dark-colored nutty bread with the most intense banana flavor I had ever tasted.

 

It was, in fact, the best banana bread I had ever tasted.

 

So what makes this banana bread so different?

 

My gastronomically uneducated opinion is…the sticky, sweet, intensely flavored syrup that is given off when the bananas defrost; that and the combination of brown sugar, applesauce instead of oil and the addition of pecans rather than walnuts.

 

This recipe has become a fall favorite and is great toasted and slathered with butter, or even made into grilled French toast.

 

 

Frozen Banana Bread

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup mashed very ripe bananas

½ cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chopped pecans

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs.

Sift dry ingredients and combine with the butter mixture. Blend well.

Add the bananas, applesauce, and vanilla; stir well, but don’t overwork the mixture.

Stir in the nuts and pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3-inch loaf.

Bake one hour, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool. Makes: 1 large loaf.

 

TIPS:  This is one of those full proof recipes. It’s had to screw it up, so be a little adventurous with it. I have used different kinds of applesauce from plain to chunky homemade to cinnamon. If you do try it with cinnamon applesauce, reduce the cinnamon in the recipe by half.

You can also use this recipe as a base for other quick breads like apple spice, apple butter, pumpkin or pumpkin butter.

How to Make a Rustic Apple Tart

Saturday, October 22, 2016

apple-tart

 

I have a confession to make.

 

Wait for it…here it comes.

 

I am NOT a huge baker!

There — I said it.

I’m not a huge baker.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my desserts and toasted sweet breads now and then, but you won’t find a jar full of cookies or a plate of brownies, or even a pie on a cooling rack in my kitchen every day of the week.

That’s just not me, at all.

I do enjoy making my much requested (frozen) banana bread, and I love making my pumpkin spice bread during the fall. And, summer wouldn’t be summer without a juicy berry cobbler with its sweet, crunchy oatmeal topping. But cakes and pies or pastries and muffins have never held much fascination for me, other than occasionally eating them, of course.

The one thing I do enjoy making, especially this time of year, is a fresh gooey apple pie. Not just any apple pie, ‘cause remember I’m not into baking, but a quick and easy apple creation that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, popped in the oven and ready to eat by the time dinner is finished.

That kind of apple pie.

 

So—how do I pull off this feat of culinary genius?

 

Simple…I use a pre-made pie crust.

Yep, you heard that right. The suburban homesteader uses pre-made pie crusts, sometimes. And, I don’t feel the least bit diminished.

I have to say they are a God send after a long day at work and even longer hours tending to the farm. There is nothing like throwing together sliced apples, spices, and butter, piling it all in the middle of a thawed pie crust and folding over the edges to encase all that yummy juiciness before popping it in the oven to bake.

I know I would be more of an authentic homesteader if I ground my own flour, sifted together the dry ingredients and folded in the wet before rolling it out and cutting it in the perfect circle, but sometimes life just gets away from us, and I’m okay with that. For me, homesteading is more a frame of mind and lifestyle that I work to achieve. It’s also a life that I’m successful at some weeks and not so much in other weeks, and I have to be okay with that too.

So, if you have a busy schedule, that prevents you from being the true to life farmer you’d like to be, take a deep breath, get yourself a pre-made pie crust, and bake a pie that is worthy of any farm girl. Don’t forget to smother it in vanilla ice cream:)

 

Rustic Apple Tart

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

8 cups sliced peeled tart baking apple, like Granny Smith (about 3 pounds)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)

2 tsp ice water

2 tsp granulated sugar

2 tbsp apricot preserves

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; cook 2 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Stir in apples and next 3 ingredients (through nutmeg). Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.

3. Roll out dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange cooled apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of dough toward center; pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover the apple mixture). Brush dough with 1 teaspoon ice water, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Place the preserves and 1 teaspoon water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush the mixture over warm tart. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature…with vanilla ice cream, of course.

Rustic Apple Tart

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 8 cups sliced peeled tart baking apple, like Granny Smith (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • 2 tsp ice water
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp apricot preserves

DIRECTIONS:

  • 1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; cook 2 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Stir in apples and next 3 ingredients (through nutmeg). Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 400°. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.
  • 3. Roll out dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange cooled apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of dough toward center; pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover the apple mixture). Brush dough with 1 teaspoon ice water, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • 4. Place the preserves and 1 teaspoon water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush the mixture over warm tart. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature…with vanilla ice cream, of course.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/how-to-make-a-rustic-apple-tart/kitchen

Homemade Mulling Spices

Monday, October 10, 2016

apples-pumpkins

Can you feel it?  It’s coming. Pushing out the warm sultry days of late summer and replacing it with crisp cool days that glow like gold. It’s creeping closer…softly…silently…like little cat feet.

 

It’s October!!!

 

October is my soul month, truly. And, if you’ve read this blog for long you’ve read lots of stories about my love of October. It’s the time of year that I feel the most alive, while at the same time feeling the most at home. I love everything about it—the way the afternoon sun turns golden and bathes the world in soft hues of amber, while the leaves shower down in shades of orange, red and umber; how the crisp air smells as it pushes summer out of its way. Or, the way pine and firewood smoke mingle and hang like a fragrant curtain.

October is a time for fall festivals, trips to local apple farms, hard cider tasting (and not so hard cider tasting), and searching for the perfect pumpkin to adorn our house. It is also a time when friends get together around a warm fireplace and turn a simple soup or stew dinner into a truly memorable evening. And, let’s not forget the array of hot toddies to keep the fall chill at bay.

Yep, October starts a fall season that is all about food, friends, family and merriment.

I break out my pumpkin scented candles, keep a big fire going whenever I’m home, and load up the slow cooker, but most of all I love to have a pot of mulling spices ready for a warm your soul cider concoction.

 

Can you smell the nutmeg cloves, orange, cinnamon, and apple cider? 

 

Isn’t it heavenly?

 

It really sets the mood of a warm and inviting home, even if you’re not mulling cider or wine. Add the smell of a rich pumpkin pecan bread and you’ve got me hanging out at home all day! It’s that relaxing.

Our annual trip to the apple farms sets this scene in motion when we come home laden down with pounds of heritage apples and gallons of fresh pressed apple cider.

Looking towards the parties and cold weather ahead I mix up a batch of homemade mulling spices. I store mine in a canning jar and make a few 4-ounce jars to give as hostess gifts. They are unique and very much liked. This recipe makes eight 4-ounce jars.

 

Mulling Spice Mix

 

mulling-spices

 

INGREDIENTS:

16 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces

4 whole nutmeg pods, smashed to pieces with the flat side of a meat mallet

½ cup whole cloves

¼ cup whole all allspice

½ cup dried orange peel

1 cup candied ginger, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS:

Place 2 or 3 pieces of cinnamon stick in the bottom of each jar. In a medium bowl, combine the nutmeg, cloves, allspice, dried orange peel and candied ginger.

Scoop mixture into each jar and close with the canning lid.

To make a mulling spice sachet:  place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture into empty clothe sachet or tea bags and tie closed, leaving some headspace.

 

TO MAKE MULLED APPLE CIDER:  pour a ½ gallon of apple cider into a slow cooker and add 1 mulled spice bag. Allow to simmer for several hours before drinking. Keep slow cooker on low to keep cider warm. (Mulled cider can also be made on the stove top, but it takes longer. With the slow cooker you can add all in the ingredients and walk away; leaving the cider to do its business while filling the house with a wonder fall aroma.

To serve a “grown-up” version, adding a splash of Calvados before serving brings the whole thing together.

TO SERVE:  Ladle hot mulled cider into mugs.

NOTE:  One of the great things about making your own mulling spices is that you can tailor the mix to fit your tastes. Experiment with different combinations and make your own version.

Making Parmesan Biscuits

Monday, October 10, 2016

parmesan-cookies

 

It’s no mystery that fall, and especially October, is my favorite time of year. I have written about my love affair with the season many times before, and you can read about it here, and here, and here.

 

The cast of an amber sun setting low in the sky throws a glow over the whole farm and bathes it in the quite serenity of a changing season. Colorful leaves carpet the ground like an artist’s painting. You can smell the coolness in the air as it pushes against the warm Indian summer breeze. Fall fruits and veggies stand out with their muted hues of red and orange; gold and plum. Even the earth takes on a new smell as the scent of fallen leaves mixes with freshly turned soil waiting to be planted with fall seeds.

But, the best part of fall.

 

The very best part of fall can be seen in the kitchen.

 

After months of summer greens, fresh salads, crispy vegetables, juicy fruits and plump berries, the kitchen switches over into heartier fare for the table. Soups and stews; roasts and chops take center stage now.

But, one of my most favorite things about fall is having a simmering pot of soup on the stove or in the slow cooker. The aroma that fills our little home is like a comfortable blanket spread over you as you lay in front of a crackling fire. It’s enough to warm the heart and soul, as well as the tummy.

On our little homestead soup is not only a mid-day snack, but a full blown meal as well. My stash of cookbooks has more soup recipes tucked in between the pages than any other kind. There are hearty fare soups chock full of chunky roots vegetables, a thick broth and bites of meat; creamy, full bodied soups with tubers, or noodles or rice; and then there’s the more brothy soups that spotlight flavorfully rich bases more than vegetables or meat. But, no soup would be complete without a little crispy biscuit to go with it.

Over the years I’ve tried many different kinds of biscuits with varying opinions, but the one we coming back to, the one that everyone keeps requesting is the Parmesan cheese biscuit. I found the recipe in a Farm Bureau long ago and it has been on our table ever since. It’s one of those recipes that you fall in love with, not for the sheer genius of it, but because it’s so dang simple. With just three ingredients, it takes no time at all to become totally addicted to the little things. Make a double batch of dough to keep in the freezer, just in case…or, just because.

 

Parmesan Biscuits

 

INGREDIENTS:

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, softened

2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (it’s important to use the real stuff. It is 1/3 of the ingredients after all)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350; position racks in top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

2.  Fit stand mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl combine the butter, cheese and flour, and beat until a stiff dough forms. (For a few minutes the dough will appear dry and not come together; keep mixing and it will form).

3.  Divide dough in 3 pieces and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour—this will make slicing the dough much easier.

At this point, you can freeze 2 of the logs and bake one; or if making a double batch, you can wrap each log in plastic wrap, vacuum seal it and freeze for up to 2 month. When ready to use, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.

Moving on…

4.  Slice the logs into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, and arrange on the cookies sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they turn golden brown around the edges. Shift and rotate the pan half way through baking for even browning. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

NOTE:

These little biscuits are great for stacking on ham, smoked turkey, salmon or trout pate. Spreadable cheeses, other pate’s, or just by themselves are also good options.

You can also make Parmesan sticks by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and slicing it long and thin.

Parmesan Biscuits

INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, softened
  • 2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (it’s important to use the real stuff. It is 1/3 of the ingredients after all)
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350; position racks in top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
  • 2. Fit stand mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl combine the butter, cheese and flour, and beat until a stiff dough forms. (For a few minutes the dough will appear dry and not come together; keep mixing and it will form).
  • 3. Divide dough in 3 pieces and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour—this will make slicing the dough much easier.
  • At this point, you can freeze 2 of the logs and bake one; or if making a double batch, you can wrap each log in plastic wrap, vacuum seal it and freeze for up to 2 month. When ready to use, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.
  • Moving on…
  • 4. Slice the logs into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, and arrange on the cookies sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they turn golden brown around the edges. Shift and rotate the pan half way through baking for even browning. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
  • NOTE:
  • These little biscuits are great for stacking on ham, smoked turkey, salmon or trout pate. Spreadable cheeses, other pate’s, or just by themselves are also good options.
  • You can also make Parmesan sticks by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and slicing it long and thin.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/making-parmesan-biscuits/kitchen

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Monday, September 19, 2016

sweet-potatoes-brussel-sprouts

 

Do you have a favorite fall vegetable?  I do.

 

I have always been crazy for sweet potatoes. They are my “go-to” fall vegetable, whether they are baked and smothered with butter then sprinkled with salt and pepper, smashed with sweet maple syrup and nutmeg, or roasted with fragrant herbs.

I love trying new fall veggies to add to my kitchen arsenal. But, I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of Brussels sprouts. Those little globe-like cabbage looking things never really appealed to me, probably because my family never ate them…ever. Really—I can’t remember one time growing up that my mom cooked Brussels sprouts.

So, when I found a recipe on the internet for roasted Brussels sprouts I was less than tempted. Even though the picture was beautiful and they looked appealing I refused to be tricked into trying them.

It wasn’t until I had them at a restaurant that I became a convert. They were tender, flavorful and downright yummy. I was sold, and they now make regular appearances on our fall dinner table.

I have never had them any other way but roasted, and I have several different ways to flavor them during the roasting process. Why mess with a good thing, right?

 

Boy was I ever wrong!

 

It was a few weeks ago and sis and I were making dinner. I had bought some Brussels sprouts from the market, but they weren’t enough for two people. When I looked around my kitchen I spied a few small sweet potatoes. Not enough for two people either.

At that moment a stroke of brilliance came over me. Why not fix both? Together.

I combed through recipes and combined pieces of a few different one’s and voila! A masterpiece was born.

I cleaned and halved the Brussels sprouts and peeled and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Then I drizzled everything with almond oil, sprinkled it with ground cumin, salt and pepper, and tossed the whole thing together. Best idea ever!

I loved the nutty flavor from the almond oil and the cumin brought out a wonderful earthy dimension to the whole dish. After they were roasted, I splashed a bit of balsamic vinegar over, added a bit of thyme springs for good measure and sprinkled on some chopped pecans.

The whole thing turned out divine.

What started out as not enough veggies for our two-person dinner, turned into a flavorful fall mixture and ended in discovering a new favorite side dish. Don’t ya just love experimental cooking?

NOTE:  This would make a great holiday side dish. But, if you’re worried about commandeering your oven for 45 minutes make them a day or two ahead and store in a lidded container, then pop them in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until they sizzle and are hot. They turn out great!

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer leaves removed and stems trimmed

4 small or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup Almond oil (be adventurous and try other nut oils or olive oil)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ground pepper to taste

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Thyme leaves for garnish

1/8 cup chopped pecans

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse, remove outer leaves, trim stems and cut Brussels sprouts in half. Small one’s can be kept whole. Place in a large bowl.

Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Add to bowl.

Peel and mince garlic cloves. Add to bowl.

Pour almond oil over vegetables and toss to coat.

Add cumin, garlic salt, sea salt and pepper. Toss to mix.

Drizzle cookie sheet or large casserole dish with oil and spread to coat.

Pour vegetables into pan and arrange so they are in a single layer.

Roast for 30-35 minutes. Veggies are done when they are browned and fork tender.

Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp.) Garnish with thyme and chopped pecans.

Eat hot!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer leaves removed and stems trimmed
  • 4 small or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup Almond oil (be adventurous and try other nut oils or olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Thyme leaves for garnish
  • 1/8 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse, remove outer leaves, trim stems and cut Brussels sprouts in half. Small one’s can be kept whole. Place in a large bowl.
  • Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Add to bowl.
  • Peel and mince garlic cloves. Add to bowl.
  • Pour almond oil over vegetables and toss to coat.
  • Add cumin, garlic salt, sea salt and pepper. Toss to mix.
  • Drizzle cookie sheet or large casserole dish with oil and spread to coat.
  • Pour vegetables into pan and arrange so they are in a single layer.
  • Roast for 30-35 minutes. Veggies are done when they are browned and fork tender.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp.) Garnish with thyme and chopped pecans.
  • NOTE: This would make a great holiday side dish. But, if you’re worried about commandeering your oven for 45 minutes make them a day or two ahead and store in a lidded container, then pop them in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until they sizzle and are hot. They turn out great!
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/roasted-sweet-potatoes-brussels-sprouts/kitchen