Category Archives: Recipes

Chunky Spiced Applesauce in the Crock-pot

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Do you enjoy a delicious bowl of hearty applesauce? This is the best way to make applesauce that I know. I have made applesauce over the stove and in the Crock-pot, and the Crock-pot method works out better for me. It splits up the actual hands on time nicely.
 

First, take approximately 12 apples that have been cored and sliced, 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon, a dash of water in the bottom to prevent sticking, and cook the apples on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Your house will smell so nice!

At the end of the time, the apples will have broken down so much that you may not even need to process them if you want chunky sauce.

If you prefer a finer sauce, or if you left the peels on ( I used Jonagold apples, which have fairly thin skins, but they still needed a bit of processing) this is the time to give them a whirl with a food processor or immersion blender.

If you want to add sugar, add it to taste. The cooking concentrates the sweetness, so I started with 1/4 cup, and ended up adding a total of 3/4 cup.

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Yield is approximately 4 pints, depending on how many quality control specialists get involved. 🙂

Either refrigerate the applesauce, or can the pints or quarts for 20 minutes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

I like how using the Crock-pot splits up the time. It takes me about 5 minutes to wash and slice the apples and put them in to cook. Then, if needed, I can just leave them on the warm setting until I have the time free to can them.

So, yummy applesauce in the Crock-pot, what do you think? Have you ever made it this way?

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I’m working my way through 160 lbs of delicious apples, so be on the lookout for more apple recipes!

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Time-saving Dinner Prep Tip

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At my house, dinner needs to go from ingredients to plate in 30 minutes. I like to cook, but my evenings don’t always allow for a lengthy dinner prep. Sometimes, I need a really quick dinner.

My go-to super quick dinner is spaghetti with meat sauce.

I also like to make chili in the crockpot. It just takes a few minutes to throw some ingredients in the Crock-pot and then it will be ready by dinner time.DSCN6584

Tacos are another quick dinner option.

Dinners like these come together very quickly, especially if the meat is already cooked and ready to go. I like to buy my ground beef for the next few weeks, cook it, saute some onions and maybe some bell peppers in it; and then stick it in the fridge if I’m going to use it in the next few days, or store it in the freezer.

What is your quickest homemade dinner?

How do you expedite dinner prep in your home? I’m always looking for ways to make a yummy dinner quickly!

Easy Bread Dipping Oil with Fresh Basil

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Do you love the smell of fresh basil? Do you enjoy pesto? This dipping sauce combines all the fresh flavors of basil, garlic, and olive oil to create a delicious dipping sauce.

First, start off with some delicious fresh pesto. You can use my recipe, or create your own with whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I love fresh basil and so I use that as my main herb.

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Dollop a tablespoon or so onto a plate, add some chopped toasted walnuts, Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

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Homemade bread is especially good dipped in it. So yummy!

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Have you ever made your own dipping sauce before? How was it?

My basil going to seed now, it’s almost time to harvest those seeds and to save basil seeds for next year!

Yard Long Bean Recipe: Roasted Knots

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Yard Long Bean Recipe: Roasted Knots

If you had beans that grew as long as your forearm, why would you just chop them up to make them look like ordinary green beans?

Why not do something interesting?

I thought about this for a while, and this is what I came up with one evening. Roasted Yard Long Bean Knots is quite a mouthful to say, but it is a literally delicious mouthful.

 

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Take your beans, wash and trim off the tough stem end.

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Blanch for a few minutes to make them pliable.

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Tie them into knots ( I got two from each bean), then snip with scissors or cut with a knife to separate.

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Place on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Pretty neat presentation!

If you’ve never grown these beans, you can check out my post about them.

If they are a favorite of yours, how do you like to eat them?

Nana Clement’s Sand Pear Conserve

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Nana Clement’s Sand Pear Conserve

It is always special when something is passed from generation to generation. Some pass down fine china, antique furniture, jewelry, or books; some pass down treasured recipes for others to enjoy.

I was honored to be given a special family recipe for a conserve. For those not familiar with conserves, they are a thick fruit spread similar to a jam also containing dried fruit and nuts.

 

The original recipe reads as follows:

Pear Conserve from Nana Clement

Cut up 5 lbs. pears. Cover with 5 lbs. of sugar, stand overnight. Next morning add juice AND rind of 3 oranges and juice of 2 lemons. 1 lb. raisins. Boil slowly 2 hours or until thick. Just before taking off heat add 1/2 lb. walnut meats. Pour in hot, sterilized jars, add lids and cover with towels to let cool slowly.

I made some alterations to account for current canning safety guidelines and personal taste.

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Here’s what I used: 10 cups diced sand pears, 4 cups sugar, 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 lemon, 3 oranges,  5 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

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Start by mixing your diced pears, sugar, and bottled lemon juice. Cover and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Thinly slice the entire lemon and  whole oranges into thin rounds, removing seeds as you go.

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I roughly quartered my slices, but you can leave them larger or chop them smaller, depending on what you prefer to see on your toast.

Add pears with juice, lemon, oranges, and raisins to a large stockpot.

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Cook over medium high heat for 2 hours, being sure to stir regularly and to watch for scorching.

The chewy raisins will get nice and plump.

I didn’t even bother checking for the gel point, as I could tell already that it was pretty thick.

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I toasted the walnuts at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, turning after about 3 minutes.

My reason for toasting the walnuts was twofold: flavor and texture. Toasting brings out the flavor of the nuts, and I was also hoping to preserve as much of the crunchy texture as possible.

Stir the walnuts in just before ladling the hot conserve into hot jars for canning.

Process half pints in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

My yield was approximately 8 half pints.

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This conserve is delicious on a hearty bagel. I really like the addition of the walnuts to a fruit spread. Now I’m thinking about adding nuts to other jams; how does an apple pie jam with walnuts sound? Or maybe carrot cake jam with pecans?

Sand Pear Conserve

Have you ever eaten conserve before? How do you like to eat it? On a English muffin? Maybe with cheese and crackers?

Family recipes are wonderful! Do you have a top-secret family recipe?

French Toast Casserole with Nutmeg

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Some people just know how to find the free stuff. My mom has access to day old Panera Bread, and so I’m the recipient often of some yummy bagels and sometimes bread past its prime. So what should you do with old bread?

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Make some French toast! What’s nice about this casserole is that you can make it the night ahead, pop it in the oven early in the morning, brew your coffee, get dressed, and by then breakfast is ready!

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This casserole is really easy. First, cut up the bread. If you do larger chunks like me, you will get some soft pieces and some chewy crust pieces. I like the variety, and I don’t want to spend my life trimming crusts, so I did larger pieces and left the crusts. 🙂

how to make french toast casserole

Here’s what you need: 8 cups diced bread cubes, 3 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Preheat your oven to 400, then generously grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray or butter. Put your bread in the pan.

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Whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla. Add the milk to the egg mixture, then pour over the bread cubes. At first, it will seem like a lot of liquid, but it will begin to soak into the bread. If you are going to bake it right away, be sure to toss the bread cubes in any remaining liquid one last time before putting in the oven.

If your bread is extra dry, drizzle some more milk over the top. Cover with foil.

If you plan to bake it the next day, pop it in the refrigerator. I baked mine later, and I let my glass dish set on the counter for a few minutes before putting it into the hot oven.

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Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. I baked mine with a foil cover on, and when I opened up it was nice and steamy.

Serve with butter and syrup.

Yum! Time for coffee!

Yum! Fresh Salsa!

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How spicy do you like your salsa? Mildly spicy? Sweet? Or does your mouth need to be tingling with pulsating agony from the peppers?

I’m one of those people who like spicy foods, but I draw the line at hiccuping over hot sauce.

My husband has an uncle who collects hot sauce. We got him some crazy hot sauce for Christmas one year, and it was so spicy that ONE DROP ON A CRACKER caused his eyes to water and gave him the hiccups. Strangest reaction to hot sauce I’d ever seen.

You can adjust the heat in this salsa by removing the seeds from the jalapeño for less heat, or leave them all in for maximum heat.

Pair some homegrown tomatoes with some onion, jalapeño, and cilantro, and you have a fresh, flavorful salsa.

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Just a whirl in a food processor and a dash of salt, and you are done!
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This salsa is delicious with tortilla chips or with your favorite Mexican meal.

I could consider this lunch- what about you?

Sand Pear Recipe: Florida Pear Preserves with Pineapple

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Wondering what to do with a huge harvest of sand pears? I have really enjoyed working my way through my laundry basket of pears. My most recent project has been these preserves. Sand pear, juicy pineapple, and tart lemon combine in a spread that is delicious and makes good use of a windfall of sand pears.

When I first started looking for sand pear recipes, I found a recipe on Oysters and Pearls that sounded intriguing. It called for the addition of pineapple and lemon. It is an old recipe, using paraffin wax for sealing(no longer recommended!), but the flavor combination inspired me to create a preserve with those flavors.

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Ingredients: 8 cups peeled diced sand pears, 22 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, 3 cups sugar, finely chopped flesh of one lemon, approx 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice for canning.

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Combine all ingredients except bottled lemon juice in large stockpot, and simmer until it passes the gel test. For more information on how to test for gelling, click here.

I ended up with approximately 5 half pints of preserves. Canning guidelines for sand pears call for the addition of 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice per pint. I like to round up for safety!

Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

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Enjoy! If you are fortunate enough to have access to sand pears, I highly recommend this recipe. The grittiness of the pears is not the focus, and the pineapple adds a nice accent flavor.

So far I’ve made Spiced Pear Butter and these Florida Pear Preserves.

Next post on the sand pears will be… Nana Clement’s Pear Conserve! I have been entrusted me with a family recipe that I am so eager to try. It has walnuts in it, which means that I may just eat it out of the jar with a spoon, or pour it over ice cream. How do you like to eat a yummy conserve?

Look for that sand pear recipe soon!

Sand Pear Recipe: Spiced Pear Butter

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Sand Pear Recipe: Spiced Pear Butter

Wondering what to do with a bounty of sand pears? If you have never had a sand pear, I would have to describe them to you as a fruit with the crisp crunchiness of an apple, the flavor of a Bartlett pear, and textured with the tiny bits of grittiness that give them their name.

I have had a laundry basket of them setting on my kitchen table, slowly but steadily ripening.

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First plan: Spiced Pear Butter. This is a great way to use up the pears that need to be preserved right away. It takes a large amount of pears and turns them into a delicious product thanks to some easy cooking done in the Crock-Pot.

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Ingredients: 14 cups peeled sliced sand pears, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup sugar, lemon juice for canning

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Place pears in Crock-Pot and cook on low overnight or for 12 hours.

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In the morning, puree the pears until smooth. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, then cook on low for another 4 hours with the lid cracked so the excess moisture can evaporate. At the end of four hours, taste the butter to see how sweet it is after all the cooking down time. I only needed 1 cup of sugar. You may want to add more, based upon your personal taste, or the relative sweetness of your pears. At this point, the butter was not quite as thick as I’d like, I so I let it cook on low for another hour with the lid cracked.

Sand pears are also known as Asian pears, and do not contain enough natural acidity to be canned alone. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that lemon juice be added to Asian pears before canning, at the rate of 1 tablespoon per pint.

To be sure that it would be acidic enough, I measured the amount of the final product (5 cups), then added the appropriate amount of bottled lemon juice (2.5 tablespoons).  You may have more or less, depending on how juicy your pears were, how thick you wanted your pear butter, etc.

spiced sand pear butter recipe

Spiced Sand Pear Butter Recipe

If you decide to can your butter, process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Won’t this be delicious on hot biscuits? Or on some roasted pork chops?

Next: Florida Pear Preserves!

These preserves are made with sand pears, juicy pineapple, and a bit of lemon. Really tasty. Look for that recipe soon!

Freezing Peaches for Smoothies

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When you’re finally looking at the end of 75 pounds of peaches, and you feel as though you’re losing the race against time; just freeze them! This is the easiest process for preserving huge quantities of very ripe peaches. I didn’t do anything special to the peaches, I just washed, pitted, sliced, froze on cookie sheets, then stuck them in freezer bags. They will be delicious later on in smoothies! I already canned some spiced peach pie filling, but if I run out of that, these will do nicely for a quick cobbler.

Of course, if I reach the end of my beloved peach jam (AHH!! PANIC!!), I may have to dig into this stash and make a small batch. 🙂

Now I’m working on a laundry basket full of sand pears! Recipes and tips coming soon!