Category Archives: Recipes

Super Easy Crock-pot Apple Butter-No Canning Required!

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Having the words “easy” and “Crock-pot” in the same sentence is a bit redundant, I know. This apple butter is really simple to make and is a great way to make a dent in a bushel of apples.

Yep, I bought a whole bushel of Jonathan apples! 40 pounds of apples for $17 is a fabulous price to me.

I have started to see the end of my homemade jam stash. I didn’t think we would go through so much jam, but when it tastes so good, you tend to try to think of excuses to eat your peach jam.

So, on to the apple butter.

Here’s what you need: approx 3 dozen apples, 1 T pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, 3/4 cup brown sugar. Yield will depend upon how long you cook down the apple butter. You should get at least 6 half pints.

Here’s what makes this so easy (beside the Crock-pot)- no peeling! That’s right, with Jonathan apples you can skip the terribly tedious chore of peeling 36 apples.

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I just used this handy dandy apple corer/slicer. Remove the cores and save them for your favorite chickens.

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The hard work is done now. The Crock-pot does most of the work from here.

Place the apples and spices in the Crock-pot on high for 3 hours, then stir and cook on low for another 2 hours.

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By this point, the apples will be very soft and the peels will be disintegrating.

Puree it in a food processor (I used my Ninja-it’s great for helping separate lettuce seeds too!). It will probably still be a bit too thin for apple butter, so take the lid off and cook it on low for another 2 hours or so to evaporate extra moisture.

Your home will smell so wonderful. Much better than fake apple pie scented wax, for sure.

Now taste the apple butter. I did not have you add the sugar until now, because once they cook down you may realize that you do not need or want as much sugar. Add about 1/4 cup of sugar at a time to taste. I recommend tasting it on a fresh biscuit. 🙂

You can store it in the fridge for a few weeks. I recommend storing a few jars for yourself, then making some friends by handing out the rest.

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Who is that crazy lady eating it all now? Save some for Christmas gifts!!!

If you want to can it, now is a great time to do so. I canned mine in half pint jars for 15 minutes.

Maybe there will be some left by Christmas. I probably should just make another batch. I still have about a gazillion apples in my fridge, even after eating them fresh and making applesauce too.

Look for an easy applesauce recipe soon!

So, what should I make next? I hope you are able to take advantage of local deals on seasonal produce too.

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Are Sweet Potato Leaves Edible?

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If you grew sweet potatoes this year, you probably have a massive tangle of vines overtaking your garden. Those sweet potato vines, in addition to being one of the crops that thrive in Florida summers, can be a tasty addition to the dinner table.

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If  you grow greens like kale and collards, you probably know that they are cool weather crops that tend to bolt as temperatures rise. Not to worry, sweet potato greens can take their place!

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I like to snip some leaves and saute with olive oil and garlic, much like I do with kale. It is delicious served as a side dish, much like spinach.

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Try not to harvest ALL your leaves, though, be sure to leave some to produce food to be stored in the sweet potatoes!

I think that I will have to try some in an omelet soon; starting kale seeds for my fall garden is reminding me of how much I miss kale with my eggs!

Have you ever eaten sweet potato leaves? If so, how do you prepare them? If not, would you be brave enough to try them? Let me know what you think!

Sweet potato vines aren’t the only green in my garden, the basil is still growing. Time to preserve some basil!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Walnut Cookies

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The fall decorations are up, and now it’s time for pumpkin spice!!

I can’t help but anticipate pumpkin desserts this time of year.

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Sometimes ingredients just beg to be together. These three want to be made into a cookie with their good friend, Pumpkin.

Chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts-what a great combination! Mr. Quaker Oats wants to be in on the fun too, so I took the recipe for Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from the lid of my Quaker Oats canister and modified it a bit. Well,  maybe I took quite a few liberties with what is already a yummy classic.

These cookies were fabulous! Creamy chocolate, sweet-with-a-bit-of-tang cranberries and toasted walnuts make every bite of these cookies delicious. Oh yes, and pumpkin spice too! There’s  different textures too- soft chocolate, chewy cranberries, and crunchy walnuts, all in one cookie.

You will need:

1/2 cup + 6 Tablespoons of softened butter, 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 2 1/2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked), 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup of walnuts.

So much yumminess!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat sugars and butter until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add the pumpkin puree. Wisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together, then add to the batter.

By this point, your oven is probably preheated and you have to get the cookie sheets out anyway, so why not toast those walnuts? Put them on the cookie sheet and set the timer at 3 minutes. Mine took 4 minutes to get a light brown color, but definitely check on them after 3 minutes. You want them toasted, not roasted.

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See how they are light brown? Take them off the cookie sheet to cool while you mix the chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the dough.

I had 2 bags of white chocolate chips with little random amounts left. They were bugging me. What can you do with a random amount (1/2 cup) of white chocolate chips? Toss them in too, of course!

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Wow, these are going to be spectacular. Better get a glass of milk into the freezer now!

Mix in the cooled walnuts and place by rounded tablespoonfuls (or use a cookie dough scoop) on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Hmmm, better smush those down a bit, these cookies are stuffed with mix-ins. Bake from 8-10 minutes. I like my chocolate chip cookies to be pretty soft, but with these I waited until the centers weren’t glossy before I took them out of the oven.

Cool on tray for a minute, then transfer to wire rack. Put your second batch in, set the timer, grab that glass of milk from the freezer, and enjoy some spectacular cookies!

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This is supposed to make 4 dozen. This number is highly variable, depending on how big you tend to make your cookie dough scoops. My scoops are pretty big, so I just made 3 dozen. If you think that 3 dozen cookies are too many to have in your house at once, you can try the tip in this other cookie post.

These are just the thing to make your house smell homey and warm and to welcome fall.

What do you think-can I eat these for breakfast too? Don’t forget to pin this recipe using the handy-dandy Pin It button below and to share it on Facebook with your fall-loving friends!

Maybe I’ll try to make a homemade pumpkin spice latte soon.  Have you ever made one?

Small Batch Pickled Okra

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My father-in-law has been asking me about pickled okra. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? I mean, many people don’t like okra anyway; add the word “pickled” and it takes the weirdness to a whole new level.

I like to prepare okra using my no-slime recipe, but I couldn’t get the idea of pickling okra out of my head.

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Okra season is about over for me, but I did find a few pods and decided to make a small batch and try them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I modified and adapted the pickled okra recipe from Southern Living to make just one half pint, and also changed the seasonings a bit. I did not alter the ratio of vinegar and water, though.

Here’s the recipe and process-pretty easy!

Bring to a gentle boil: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon canning salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.

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While you are bringing the solution to a boil, pack the jar with a clove of garlic, a half teaspoon of dill seeds, and as many tender okra pods as you can possibly cram in the jar. The okra will soften and shrink during the canning process, so cram as much as you can in the jar.

Carefully pour the boiling solution into the jar, cover, and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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Try these as an interesting addition to a relish tray! Sure to be a conversation piece. This is another way to make okra without the slime.

Maybe next year I’ll plant less tomatoes and more okra! Shocking, yes, I know.

Have you ever had pickled okra? Would you be brave enough to try one?

What Should I do with Green Tomatoes?

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As I pulled up my tomato plants, I harvested some green tomatoes.

I have some large green tomatoes, so I’m considering making fried green tomatoes.

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However, the little ones have me stumped. I was given the idea by my husband’s grandpa to pickle them. I do have some pickle juice left from when I made my easy dill pickles, so I did try that.

However, I’m sure that I will have more green tomatoes.

Any ideas?

 

UFO Squash Update

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No, it didn’t take me to Mars, but do you remember my UFO squash post?

You as my readers had some great suggestions for what to do with my patty pan squash. Of course, I had to try it sauteed first; that was pretty good.

What’s better than that? Chocolate cake.

One of the commenters, tinywhitecottage, suggested making quick bread with it. Of course! Makes sense to me; why not treat it like zucchini and make bread with it?

Then I remembered seeing a recipe on myfavouritepastime. She has a delicious recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Apple Bread. As you can see, I was quite generous with the chocolate chips. 🙂

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I thought it was great! It really tasted like chocolate cake. If I hadn’t told people that there was squash in it, they would have never known. To some, it was a plus having a hidden vegetable in the chocolate loaf. Others were a bit squeamish. After their 3rd slice I figured they were over it. 🙂

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I liked smearing a bit of cream cheese on mine. I recommend that you check out her site-she has so many great recipes and ideas!

Now on to the savory. One of the commenters gave a detailed kebab recipe which included the patty pan squash, red onions, various spices, and slivers of fresh mint. I had a few of the baby squash in the produce drawer, waiting to become kebabs. Well, I was a bit pinched for time tonight so I thought, “Why not just whip up a quick saute using that recipe as inspiration?”

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That’s what I did. It really took a rather ordinary, somewhat bland squash and elevated its status. I have to admit to being a bit uncertain about the mint addition, but it was really good! My husband liked it too. 🙂 If you want the recipe, check out the comments on the UFO squash post.

If you grew the squash just because you thought they were cute and figured you would decide what to do with them later (like me), Chocolate Zucchini Apple Bread and Savory Kebabs are a great place to start!

My plants are still hanging on, in spite of the squash vine borers and the intense heat and humidity. I hope to try stuffing them next!

Have you ever grown something just for its looks and hoped it would taste good too?

 

 

Blueberry Peach Quick Jam (No Canning Required!)

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I have been jamming like a crazy woman. Making fresh jam is so simple and a fast way to capture the intense flavors of summer. Blueberries and peaches combine wonderfully-they are  better together.

This is just the recipe for a single half pint jar, a great way to get your feet wet on the shores of Jamming. You may use the full batch recipe to make more jars, just keep in mind that smaller batches (say 6-8 jars) are easier to  work with and will help the jam set.

You will need: 1 cup finely chopped peeled peaches, 1/3 cup blueberries, and 1/2 cup sugar

Full batch: 6 cups finely chopped peeled peaches, 2 cups blueberries, 3 cups sugar ( makes about 6 half pint jars)

I found that I did not need pectin to make the jam set. You may increase the sugar if you like, but I like my jam a smidgen on the tart side and less sugary. I feel that this helps me to really capture genuine fruit taste in a jar.

Start with the peaches and sugar. Cook them over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the jam begins to thicken. Add the blueberries and mash them gently. Continue cooking until it has set according to the he cold plate test described in my Easy Two Ingredient Strawberry Jam Recipe.

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See how the peaches have darkened a bit? You can taste the jam at this point to be sure that it is sweet enough for you. If you want to can it, process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Canning is optional, though. Please don’t skip this recipe just because you may be intimidated by canning!  Can you imagine the wonderful feeling of opening a jar of summery jam in the middle of winter, when memories of  local strawberries, peaches,and blueberries  have faded, like summer’s tan lines? Canning really is quite simple, maybe I”ll write a tutorial one day.

You can store this in a pretty glass jar or just in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Blueberry Peach Quick Jam ( No Canning Required!)

Blueberry Peach Quick Jam ( No Canning Required!)

Isn’t that purple color so luscious? Time for some homemade bread!

Homemade bread is the only bread worthy of fresh jam. To put it on anything less keeps it from its full potential. Fellow jam makers, don’t  you agree?

Have you made fresh jam yet? I have several easy recipes for you: Easy Two Ingredient Strawberry, Blueberry, and Peach.

You are welcome to share these recipes and this site on Facebook. I’d love for you to come visit me on Pinterest and pin some Garden Tips and Recipes too!

Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Drumsticks with Cheddar

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So what happens when you add bacon to BBQ? Happiness on a drumstick.

This is an easy and impressive way to make chicken.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         6 chicken drumsticks, 6 slices of bacon, 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (my friend Teresa on acupofdiy.com has a homemade BBQ recipe on her blog), and 6 slices of Cheddar cheese

Warning: Don’t use your nice baking pans for this recipe.

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Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each drumstick in bacon and bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and bacon is crispy.

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Brush drumsticks with BBQ sauce (this is why you don’t use your nice pan) and lay the cheese on top.

Bake an additional 5 minutes more or until the cheese is gooey and melty.

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Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Drumsticks with Cheddar

Summer on a plate! Serve with some No-Slime Okra and some sweet tea, mint-infused if you want to be fancy.

Probably won’t be much conversation for a while after you bring these out-people will be too busy eating to talk.

So many fresh and delicious meals to be enjoyed in the summer. I am enjoying the fresh fruit so much. I’ll have to tell you about my Peach-Blueberry Jam next!

What is your favorite summer food?

How to Make No-Slime Okra

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How to Make No-Slime Okra

I don’t like slimy food, but I still grew okra for the first time last summer.

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Okra is one of the crops that grows well in Florida summers, so I decided to grow some anyway. My theory was this: any vegetable tastes good sauteed in olive oil with a bit of garlic, right?

I couldn’t believe how good it was! This way of preparing okra is so simple that I almost don’t even consider it a recipe.

To make 2 side servings of healthy, yummy okra you will need: 16 okra pods sliced 1/2 inch thick, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 clove minced garlic.

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Saute the garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat just until the garlic starts to look translucent. This will take just a few seconds-have the okra ready! Be sure the pan is really hot, then add the okra.

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The heat will sear the slime right up and begin to cook the okra. Turn the slices so that both sides are lightly browned.

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I love how that the okra slices look like little flowers. So pretty!

Sprinkle with kosher salt and enjoy!

This recipe may win over even the staunchest okra hater. I had to plant more row of okra last month- we are eating it so quickly! Once I get more coming in, I plan to try whole pods roasted in the oven. I also want to try some Cajun seasoning on it for a bit of spice.

If you think you hate okra, why don’t you give it another chance? You may just find another vegetable to love.

Okra is a crop that you can plant in North Florida’s hot July. For a list of more things to do in the garden, check out my July To-Do List.

Hmm…what would be good with this? Maybe some Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Chicken Drumsticks with Cheddar? Yummy post coming soon!

Small Batch Fresh Peach Jam Recipe- No Canning Required! (Full Batch Instructions Included)

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I think I could eat warm homemade bread slathered with this peach jam for breakfast every day for a week and still love it. Fresh peach jam bursts with intense flavor. Peaches are in season now in North Florida, and by using just a little sugar as I do in this recipe, you can really let the peaches be the star.

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The ingredient list is simple: 1 1/3  cup of  peeled finely chopped peaches(about 5 medium), 1/2 cup sugar. This recipe will make one half pint (one cup) of jam.

NOTE: I just got 75 lbs of peaches, and will be making full batches with 8 cups of chopped peaches and 4 cups of sugar. Yield is approximately 6 half pints. If you want to can them, process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Don’t try to double a full batch, as trying to make too much jam at once or it may not set properly.

Cook the peaches and sugar over medium-high heat, stirring often.

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Cook until the jam has jelled, using the cold plate test explained in my Easy Two Ingredient Strawberry Jam Recipe post. This will take 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

You can see in the second picture how that it has become darker in color and how that the syrup looks thicker.

Time to put the yumminess into a jar!

Small Batch Fresh Peach Jam Recipe

Small Batch Fresh Peach Jam Recipe

Let it cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate. I just love looking at the pretty colors in this picture.

Making jam is so easy to do, and with so much fresh fruit in season, why don’t you try to make a small batch of jam? You may just impress yourself. 🙂

If you can make mac-n-cheese from a box, you can make this jam. You will love how easy it is and your family will love to eat it!

If you’re somehow one of those people that doesn’t like peaches, you can try my easy strawberry jam recipe or my quick blueberry jam. One of my favorites is my small batch blueberry peach jam. Those recipes are great for a beginner and are very good.

Be sure to check out my no-slime okra recipe!