Monday, September 30, 2013

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

How often do you go to reach for a can of condensed creamed soup for a recipe and you are out?  I always seem to be out of cream of chicken soup.  I now make my own so I will not be out of it again. 

For each batch, you’ll need one quart jar and one pint jar to store.  I use an old vintage 2 quart jar that is just perfect for it.  I also label the jar with directions so I won’t forget how much to use.  It’ll store on the pantry shelf up to a year.

4 cups instant non-fat dry milk
½ cup dairy creamer
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup dried chicken bouillon 
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon white pepper (you may use black if you like)

This equals 18 cans of condensed cream of chicken!  Just think of the storage space you save.

To reconstitute (equal to one 10 ounce can of condensed cream soup) the soup, combine 1/3 cup of the mix and 1 1/4 cups water.  In a small saucepan on the stove or a microwave safe bowl; cook and stir till mixture thickens.

Once you have reconstituted the soup, you may add chicken, mushrooms, cheese, broccoli or what ever you wish to make the cream soup of your choice.

Tip – I save the flavor packets from Chicken Ramen Noodle packets and use them in this recipe in place of or to supplement the chicken bouillon (Just make sure that you use a total of 1/2 cup of the flavoring or 50/50 of Ramen packet and powdered bouillon).  I seldom use the packets when I making the noodles so found another use for them. 

I make up a batch of this each fall and it gets me though the winter and spring and saves me money and storage space. 

Frozen Condensed Soup

Here is a recipe for frozen condensed soup.  You may want to give this one a try also if you have plenty of freezer space.   

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups flour
3 cups half and half (you may replace with milk if you like)
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

In medium sized saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter.  Once butter is melted add ¾ cup flour.  Whisk to create a paste.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking frequently.  Add the half and half, whisking as you pour.  Whisk until completely combined.

Add 2 cups chicken broth and all spices.  Whisk to combine and bring to a boil.

In a quart sized mason jar combine ¾ cup flour and 2 cups chicken broth.  Seal tightly and shake the living tar out of your mixture.  You will create a smooth flour mixture for thickening your sauce called a slurry.

Slowly pour slurry into soup, whisking constantly.  Bring back to a boil and cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and remove from heat.

Allow to come to room temperature if you are planning to freeze it.  Freeze 12 ounce portions of this soup to replace the cans of soup called for in favorite easy recipes.  The recipe replaces 4 cans.

It is getting to be that time of year where this will do you some good.  There are so many uses for it.

It is going to be another perfect day.  Hope you have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Copy Cat Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

Have you had Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole?  I love it.  I’m giving you a copy cat recipe of theirs and then my simple variation that I have made for years.  They are very simple and great for any meal.

1 2 lb. pkg. frozen hash browns
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Place potatoes in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in the microwave. In a bowl add minced onions, sour cream, and cream of chicken soup, and melted butter. Mix together.

Pour the soup mixture over the potatoes; sprinkle with Cheddar Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until all is completely warm, and the cheese begins to melt.

My Variation

1 2 lb. pkg. frozen hash browns
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of cream of mushroom soup
1 stick butter
1 tsp. onion powder
2 cups shredded cheddar and Colby blend cheeses 

Place the hash browns in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in the microwave. Add onion powder, sour cream, and cream of mushroom soup, and melted butter and mix together.

Add the cream of mushroom soup and the shredded cheese. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until it is lightly browned on top.

Variation of my variation -  I have fallen in love with the new soft cheese spreads (Swiss or White Cheddar).  Try using  them with a package of cream cheese.  Replace the sour cream with half and half.  You get a completely different taste.

You can always add bacon J!

Have a great Sunday.  Going to be a beautiful day here.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Porcupine Meatballs

I have left over rice, so the boys and I are making porcupine meatballs.  They should love using their hands to mix it up.  This is a recipe that comes from the 50’s.  I first had it at a church dinner and have loved it ever since.  When ever I have left over rice, I like to make it.  The rice poking out from the meatballs inspired someone to name it porcupine meatballs. 

1 1/2 lbs. of lean hamburger
1 cup of cooked rice
2 eggs
1 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can 29 oz tomato sauce or original recipe called for a can of tomato soup
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first 7 ingredients together with your hands.  Roll your meatballs into golf ball sized meatballs.  Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until they are brown.   Once they are brown, cover them with tomato sauce or soup and put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  The original recipe I made for years called for tomato soup but since Saylor can’t have milk products I am now using tomato sauce.

It makes over 2 dozen meatballs. 

Variation -  Before serving sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and/or fresh chopped basil or parsley for extra flavor and color.

Going to possibly rain this afternoon.  We can use the rain so will get outside this morning and enjoy it while we can.  I have more tomatoes to pick and can.  Enjoy your day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Crescent Rolls

It's Friday and I have my grocery list ready to go get groceries. I thought I'd share this today so when you go to get groceries you can pick up crescent rolls to make this for the weekend.  It is a simple, great way to use up apples and they are wonderful.  Your house will smell like a bakery.

1 (8 ounce) Original Crescent dinner rolls
1 can of apple pie filling (I’m using 1 pint of my Apple-Pie-in-a-Jar
Butterscotch chips
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pour your apples our in a bowl and pick the apples out by hand and save the thick sugar mixture left.  You can use it in a glaze to finish the apple crescent rolls.

Remove rolls from package and pat out on biscuit board or counter top.  Add about 1 tablespoon grated apple, a couple butterscotch chips, and some chopped pecans. Roll up as you would for crescent rolls and kind of smash ends together.  Dip in melted butter.  Have your sugar and cinnamon mixed in a shallow plate. After dipping in melted butter, roll in cinnamon mixture. 

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until brown. 

You can serve with or without the powdered sugar topping below. 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 or 5 tbs. of apple-pie-in-a-jar syrup or syrup from canned apple pie filling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add a little powdered sugar at a time to the bowl of syrup from the apples. Mix well with wire whisk.  Stop when you know it is runny enough to drizzle over crescent rolls (or you can dip them in the glaze).  If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit of water.

This will be a very busy weekend here with 2 grandsons and lots to do in Maquoketa.  Hope your Friday and weekend is a great.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sausage, Red Beans and Rice

Red beans with slices of smoked sausage served over Puerto Rican white rice will make my kitchen seem like it used to be when I served rice and beans every day.  I saw a recipe on FB that looked good, but I had to make changes to turn it into more like Puerto Rican beans and rice. The recipe called for sage and other spices taking it in another directions.   

1 (1 pound) bag dried small red beans (you could replace with pinto if you like)
8 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (can use 2 less cups of water and add one can of chicken broth)
1 teaspoon bacon grease (optional)
1 ham hock
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into slices
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
Basmati Rice or a long grain rice 

Rinse the beans and put in a large pot. I soak the beans over night to shorten the cooking time, but you do not need to.  It is up to you.  Do rinse them after you have soaked them though.  Add water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for about 2 hours (or less is soaked). 
Taste and add additional seasoning if you think you need it.

Serve over rice of your choice.  I like to use Basmati rice because of the wonderful smell it produces and it is long grained.  Brown rice would be great also.

Variation - This could also be made in the crock pot.  Just cook on low for about 7 or 8 hours until beans are done.  Make your rice separate.

To speed up the cooking time you can always buy canned beans.  You may also use Pinto beans in place of the red beans.  You would need at least 2 cans. Leave out the ham hock if you are shortening the cooking time and maybe just add a couple slices of shredded left over ham to give the pork flavor.  Since you are not cooking the beans you will not need that much water.  Just add enough to cover the beans and meat to make the gravy.


2 cups rice
3 cups water
1 tsp. garlic powder
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cover the bottom of a good rice pan with a tight lid with olive oil.  I have my favorite rice pan I always use.   Heat oil on high until hot and add rice.  Stir until the rice begins to turn whiter.  Do not let it brown.

 Add your garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper while stirring.  This makes a lot of rice.  You can cut it down or use it in another recipe (I think I'll make porcupine meatballs this week with it).

Going to be another beautiful fall day.  Hope you have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stuffed Shells in White Sauce

I can never get tired of pasta.  You can do so much with it.  Today sharing stuffed pasta shells.

24 large pasta shells

30 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces feta crumbles
¾ cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup chopped basil
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
2 large eggs
Kosher salt and pepper

5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
4 ounces feta or grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Kosher salt and pepper

Prepare the shells according to the package instructions.   Rinse, cool and set aside.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter over low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour and stir until smooth. Turn up the heat to medium and cook until the mixture turns a golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring to a boil and stir.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes and remove from the heat.  Stir in the salt and cheese. Set aside until ready to use.

Assemble the shells
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Pour about 1 1/2 cups sauce into the bottom of the pan. Fill the shells with the cheese mixture and set them in the pan.  Drizzle the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, chopped basil and parsley.

Bake 30 minutes, or until the shells are hot and bubbling and heated through. Leftovers keep well.

Variation – Add some drained frozen spinach and or artichoke heart to the cheese filling mixture.  You can also add some small shrimp to the mixture.

Use a marinara sauce to replace the white sauce and sprinkle the top with grated mozzarella cheese for a completely different dish. 

You can make both in a 9 X 9 inch pan and let your family have a choice of one of both on their plate.

Try doing both in one pan in a red and white sauce combination.  Make the white stuffed shells and when you are putting it in the oven put your red sauce on the bottom and white sauce on the top extra flavor and color. Add fresh mozzarella cheese to the top to take it over the top.

Serve with hot out of the oven garlic bread. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apple Pie Milkshakes

I canned some more apple-pie-in-a-jar last night with the apples Sal and I picked this weekend.  So, I'm back at thinking apples again.  I'm not appled out yet.

Here is a quick sweet apple shake I think you will like.

3 to 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup milk
½ cup of apple-pie-in-a-jar or canned apple pie filling (should be flavored with cinnamon)

Put your apples in the blender and blend until they are small chunks.

Add your ice cream and milk and blend. 

Top with a little whipped cream and drizzle the top with some of the syrup from the apple pie filling or caramel sauce.   Stick a cinnamon stick in the glass for presentation and to stir. 

Hope you have a delicious day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Honey Apple Pork Loin

Pork loin was on sale for $1.99 a pound this week so I purchased some.  I couldn't turn it down at that price.  I have wanted to try this recipe and am sharing it now because after testing it, I’ll be making it again.  I had to buy the pork loin in a 10 pound package, so had them cut it up for me in 3 pieces which means I can make it several more times if I like.  I can also use up some more of my apples.  It is a crock pot recipe and is super simple and beautiful in appearance.  Sure made the house smell wonderful and it was delicious. 

3 pound pork loin
Delicious apples (2 or 3)
Kosher salt
1 cup apple juice
½  sweet onion

Make a marinate of 1 cup apple juice, ½ of a sliced sweet onion, 4 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Poke holes in the pork and place the pork loin in a bag with apple juice marinate and marinate it overnight. 

Toss the marinate out after you have marinated the loin overnight.  Lay some apple slices in the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon. 

Cut slits in the pork loin (fat side up).  Drizzle some honey into the slits. Place apple slices into the slits.

Place the pork loin into the crock pot.  Drizzle the top with the honey.  Sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon and a bit of Kosher salt.

Cook on low for 7 hours.

This is definitely proof that apples and pork are made for each other. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mini German Pancakes

These will make a great Sunday brunch treat.  You can fill them with what ever pie filling you like.  Aren’t they beautiful and pretty simple to make?

Mini German Pancakes

You make these mini German pancakes in large muffin tins.  Do not use liners.  

1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Blend first five ingredients in a blender. Be sure there are no lumps.

Blend in butter a little at a time.

Grease muffin tins well and fill slightly less than half full.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top. The crater will form on its own.

Add your favorite toppings and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Hope you have a beautiful Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Copy Cat Magic Mountain

Have you ever eaten at Ross Restaurant under the Hwy. 74 bridge in Bettendorf?  They serve this wonderful dish they call a Magic Mountain

It starts with grilled Texas toast on the bottom and is topped with ground beef, piled high with French fries or hash browns (I like the hash browns) and smothered with cheese sauce.

1 pound 85% lean ground beef
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of Kosher salt and pepper

Brown your beef and add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. 

Cheese Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar or smoky flavor Cheddar cheese

Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually add milk, stirring until well mixed. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Cook for 5 minutes longer; add cheese. Stir until smooth and well blended. Makes 2 cups.

Toast your Texas toast in your toaster until brown and crispy.

Hash Brown or Fries
Oven fry frozen French Fries while making cheese sauce and meat if you are using fries.  If you are using hash brown, put oil in a large skillet and heat up on medium.  When hot put a mound of frozen hash browns in the middle of the pan.  Sprinkle them with Lawry salt.  Do not touch until they are really crispy on the edges.  Test by lifting with a spatula a little and if nice and brown in the middle lip them.  Let them brown equally on both sides. 

You can be lazy and use those frozen small hash browns you toast in the toaster. 


Place your toast on the bottom and pile it high with your warm hamburger.  Pile the meat with fries or hash brown and pour the cheese sauce over the top.  You can add onion on top if you like. 

Variation – You can put onion on a Magic Mountain.  If I added onion, I would make them caramelized onions.  It will take longer so start caramelizing your onions first while you are doing all the other preparations.  This will take it over the top. 

Try adding some heat to the cheese by using pepper cheese or add a little hot sauce.

You can add onions to the beef if you like or add a little heat to the meat.  Try putting chili on top.  Make it your own with your own likes and flavors.

Save the gas to Bettendorf and make your own Magic Mountain.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Apple Desserts

Sharing more super simple apple recipes for this winter using up canned apples or fresh apples if you want to make them tonight. I needed a little break from apples, but still have a lot more to pick and can. I'll be canning more this weekend. I love both of these recipes because you serve them warm and they are so easy to make using flour tortilla which I always have in my house. 

Apple Dessert Quesadillas

2   8 inch flour tortillas
2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
1/2 apple, sliced very thin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and sugar mixture
Nonstick cooking spray
Powdered sugar
Caramel topping
Whipped cream

Spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese on one of the tortillas. Spread sliced apples evenly over cream cheese, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Spread the other tablespoon of cream cheese on the other tortilla and place on top of the filled tortilla, cream cheese side down.  Spray sauté pan with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat. Place the quesadilla in the pan, and cook each side until lightly browned.

Cut into 8 pieces like a pie. Top with a light dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of caramel ice cream topping, a few chopped walnuts and a dollop of whipped cream.

Variation – If you like raisins add some raisins to the apples inside.  You could also add dried cherries or cranraisins.  I use my apple-pie-in-a-jar draining the juice off the apples in the winter.

Apple Chimichangas

3 cups sliced, peeled apples
4 tbs. sugar
4 tsp. flour
¾ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
Or you can use my apple-pie-in-a-jar or canned apple pie filling

Small flour tortillas
Oil for frying

Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.

Place a heaping amount in the center of the tortilla.  Use a bit of water around the edge to help seal it as you wrap it tightly like a burrito. 

Heat your oil to 350 degrees and drop in only a few at a time into hot oil.  Do not over crowd the pan.  Fry each for about 4 to 5 minutes until browned and crispy. 

Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar mixture and serve warm.

Variation -  You can also make small appetizers by making these with egg roll wrappers using the same recipe. 

Hope you have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chinese Chicken Tacos

Here is a multicultural taco that is super simple and tasty too.  I love the idea because I love Chinese and Mexican food.

Chinese Chicken Tacos

2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. honey
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. onion powder
12 taco shells (soft or hard)
2 cups of shredded lettuce
Olive oil for cooking

Cut your chicken into thin slices.

Add olive oil to a heated pan.  Add your sliced chicken, ginger and garlic, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned.

Reduce the heat to low and add soy sauce, honey and onion powder. Stir making sure the chicken is evenly coated. Cook covered for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally.  Add sesame seeds at the last minute. 

Serve chicken in a hard shell taco shells. The sesame seeds and corn taco marry beautifully.  Top with shredded lettuce.  I used leaf lettuce from my garden.  I'll definitely be making these again.  

Variation – Try this with sliced pork in place of the chicken. I see Fareways has boneless port tenderloin for sale for $1.99 a pound. You could make this with left over pork.

I didn’t have any or I would have added chopped green onion on top as a garnish. 

Like a little heat?  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes when adding the ginger and garlic.

This makes a quick lunch or supper for a busy day.  Now relax, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I thought I’d take a break from apples and deal with my basil.  I have lots of basil that I don’t want to go to waste so am going to make some basil jelly and give them as gifts.  I thought I would share my recipes with you so you can use up some of your basil. 

You can also freeze basil in ice cubes and put the ice cubes in a baggie for the winter or you can dry it in the oven at very lowest temperature or dry them in the microwave.  Just don’t let it go to waste. 

For microwaving basil, take a branch of basil, wrap it in a piece of dry paper towel and put it in the microwave for one minute.  You can set a flat piece of bake ware on it if you like to flatten it.  Do not walk away.  Watch it closely to make sure it does not catch on fire.  You will hear it pop as the moisture is dried out.  I replace the piece of paper towel with each branch because it is wet.  You can store the whole leaf or crush it for flakes. I store mine in a mason jar or a baggie for the winter.

Basil Jelly

2 cups packed basil
3 cups boiling apple juice
3 cups sugar
¼  cup lemon juice (bottled)
6 tbs. powder pectin

Wash your basil leaves and let them drain in a colander.

Put the basil leaves in a pot to steep in.  Bring your apple juice to a full boil and pour the boiling juice over the basil. Cover with cloth and let steep for 15 to 30 minutes.  The longer you steep the more basil flavor you will get.  I use a wooden spoon to try and squeeze more flavor out.

Clean and sterilize your jars and lids properly while basil is steeping.  Get your water bath ready for processing.

Add a glass dish to freezer for testing of the jelly.

Strain your basil well from the apple juice.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  You may add green food coloring, if you like.  I like is natural.

Bring to a hard boil.  Once at a hard boil, add in the pectin.  Stir well with a whisk and bring back up to a hard boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.

Test jam on cold dish from the freezer.  If it jells, you're done.  If not, add an extra 2 tablespoon of pectin. Boil again for 10 minutes and test again with cold dish.

Skim off any foam and pour the prepared jelly into a large measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring or do what I do, use a large mouth funnel on top of each jar for easier ladling.  Fill the mason jars leaving an ½ inch space at the top, clean rims, add lids to make sure they seal.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I doubled the recipe on this when I made it.  It made 11 half pints so you should get around 5 half prints with this recipe. 

Variation - You can make this without the apple juice and replace the apple juice with just water, but I like the extra flavor.  Maybe try it both ways to see which you like the best.  You will taste basil either way.

Use the same recipe but use sage, rosemary or thyme to make jelly.  All 3 in a gift bag make another wonderful gift.

Strawberry Basil Jam 

This is a beautiful marriage of strawberry and basil.  Make a strawberry basil jam. Fill your canner ¾ full with water and bring it to a simmer. Sterilize your jars, lids and bands in it.  Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Crush strawberries, and measure 4 cups prepared fruit into 6 or 8 qt. sauce pot. Combined the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice and bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat, and stir in basil and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars in canner. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.

You can do this with other fruits also, but the basil and strawberry go together beautifully just like tomatoes and basil. 

Tomato Basil Jelly

4 ½ cup blanched, peeled, seeded and finely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 4 1/2 lbs)
¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup bottled lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
4 cup sugar
1 1.75 ounce package powdered fruit pectin
In a 6 or 8 quart pot, bring tomatoes to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Stir basil, lemon juice and salt into the tomatoes.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin. Stir the sugar mixture into tomato mixture. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 3 ¾ cups sugar. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Test by dripping some of the hot mixture into an ice cold bowl and see if it jells.  If it does not add more pectin and tablespoon at a time, boil hard again and test again until it is thick enough.  Remove from heat, skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint mason jars, leaving ½ inch head space. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.  Listen for the lids to pop. I love that sound.  This recipe made 7 1/2 pints.

Put this on a piece of crusty bread with some cream cheese.  It is wonderful.  It reminds me of my best friend in high school grandmother.  She used to make tomato preserves and when she made homemade bread every Thursday, I would stop in and get to sample the bread and preserves. I can't have tomato preserves without thinking of Gram Hubner.

This makes a beautiful Christmas gift because of the color also.  Make all 3 and gift in a nice gift bag.  The person receiving them will love them.

You can enjoy your basil well into the winter. 

Have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apple Pie-in-a-Jar

I love this simple recipe for apple-pie-in-a-jar.  It just takes some time to peel apples.  The name implies a great use for it, but it also allows you something in you pantry for a quick, warm dessert when ever you need it.  Some of my favorite things to do with them is to make a quick apple crisp or use pastry sheets and make quick turn overs.  It makes great camp fire apple pies if you have the pie irons for over a camp fire (all you need is this, bread, canned frosting and spray oil for the irons).  I have also given you quite a few recipes lately that you can use the apples for.  I like to make both quart jars and ½ quart jars for smaller recipes.

7 quarts peeled sliced cooking apples
4 1/2 cups  sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
10 cups water
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Wash, slice and peel your apples.  I use an apple corer slicer and then peel the slices.  It saves time.  I also set up a station of my bucket of apples, a lined waste paper basket, cutting board, corer/slicer, knife and bowl with lemon in it to speed up the process.  After I have sliced an apple and peeled it I put it in a bowl with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.  Today I listened to my Kindle read to me as I worked making for an enjoyable morning.

When I have a large bowl full, I pack quart jars and 1/2 quart jars with the apple slices leaving 1/2 inch head space on the top. Be sure to pack the apples really tight.   Put a few in and push down with the handle of a wooden spoon, then a few more and repeat.

Make syrup by combining sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water.  Cook until it thickens. Pour syrup over apples in jar.  You can put the syrup in a large measuring cup with a spout to make the filling of the jars easier.  I have a large mouth funnel I use.

Make sure the lips of the jars are clean so the lids seal.

Place the lids on and screw the rings down just finger tight.  Make sure you have sterilized the jars, lids and rings.  Process the jars for 20 minutes in a hot water bath.  It should yield 7 quarts. 

I'll be picking and peeling apples for days and putting up more of these wonderful jars in the next week.  I'll be happy I did this winter. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless your and yours.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sticky Apple Butter Buns

Going to be a beautiful day out there today.  Temps in the 60's so would be a great day to heat up the oven and make the house smell like a home.  I'll be spending some of my day peeling apples (see quite a few of those ahead of me).  I'm not complaining though.  I really enjoy canning because I can see my bounty when I am done and benefit from it all winter.

Here is another great apple recipe for you today. You can use my apple butter recipe.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbs. butter, melted
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

2 tbs. soft butter
4 tbs. apple butter (substitute apple sauce if you don't have apple butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
6 tbs. cold butter
1 grated apple
2/3 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin tins and set aside.

Combine the honey, brown sugar and melted butter. Mix together until well blended. Place an equal amount into the bottom of each muffin tin. It should work out to about 2 teaspoons in each. For raisin lovers, sprinkle the 1/3 cup of raisins equally into each muffin tin; set aside.

Make the filling for the biscuits by adding the 2 tablespoons of soft butter, 4 tablespoons of apple butter,  and 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar  into a small bowl and mix together; set aside.

To make the biscuits make sure the butter is cold. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together and stir with a whisk.

Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until it becomes small pea size chunks.

Grate the apple, peel and all. Add the apple to the mixture. Add in the milk. Mix together until the dough comes to a ball.

Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until it all comes together. Roll dough out to a 10 x 8 inch rectangle. Spread out the filling on top. Roll the dough, starting on the long side. Like a jelly roll. Cut into 12 pieces (Cut in half, then half into half, etc. so you have an 12 pieces).

Place the slices into the muffin tins. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 1 minute then remove from tin. Serve warm. Don’t let the biscuits sit in the pan for too long, or they will stick. Rolls look best when turned upside down to serve.

Variation - I'm not putting in raisins.  I'm putting in walnuts instead.  You could use pecan also.  If you don't have whole wheat flour you can use all white flour. The whole wheat makes it a little healthier.  

Have a super Monday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Apple Biscuits

I still have quite a library of apple recipes.  These would be great for a Sunday brunch just hot out of the oven. The smell will make everyone rise and shine.

1 cup flour (extra for rolling out biscuits)
1 cup cake flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
4 tbs. cold butter, cut into bits and chilled
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups diced apples

Caramel Glaze
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. course or sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (F).
Combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut the bits of butter into the flour until it resembles course meal. 

Mix in the diced apples and stir until they’re all covered with flour.
Pour in 3/4 cup of buttermilk and mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined. If the mixture is too dry, add more buttermilk, about a tablespoon at a time until it comes together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use the heel of your hand to lightly compress the dough and push it away from you. Fold the dough in half and then turn it 90 degrees. Repeat this only 8 more times; you don’t want to overwork the dough.

Roll the dough out about 3/4 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or 2 1/4″ round cutter dipped in flour to cut out the biscuits; press the cutter straight down without twisting to cleanly cut through the diced apples and to ensure that the biscuits will rise evenly.

Place the biscuits about an inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet (if you prefer biscuits with crispier sides place them farther apart). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

While the biscuits are cooking, make the caramel glaze.  Place chunks of butter, brown sugar, cream and salt into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for exactly 1 minute; remove the pan from heat. Cool for about 5 minutes and then whisk in 1/2 cup powdered sugar. The glaze should be thick but pourable, add more sugar to thicken it or a bit more cream if it’s too thick.

Drizzle the glaze over the warm biscuits and serve immediately.

Note:  Why cake flour?  It gives a lighter texture to the biscuit.  Cake flour is a low protein flour that is made from soft winter wheat. It is bleached and gives a very fine texture and a very light color. Because it has such a fine texture, cake flour should be sifted before incorporating it into a recipe to prevent clumping.  If you don't have it, you can use regular white flour, but if you want really light biscuits, use the cake flour.  

Leftover biscuits can be stored in an airtight container and reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Store leftover glaze in a covered container in the fridge, reheat in 15 second bursts in the microwave or over low heat on the stove until pourable.

Don't want to fuss with the glaze, just slice them and fill them with melted butter and homemade apple butter or apple jelly. 

Enjoy the rain.  I sure am listening to it.  Have a great Sunday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Baked Fall Apples

Here is another great apple recipe for your recipe file for fall desserts.  They were really great warm out of the oven and great for a cool fall day.  

4 apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup

Wash your apples well.  Hollow the center of the apples out. I used a melonballer.  Brush lemon juice on the inside of the apples to keep them from turning brown. I cut a little off the bottom of the apple so it will sit straight.

Combine flour, butter, sugar, oats, maple syrup, your favorite nuts, and cinnamon.  I used black walnuts because that is what I had in the freezer.  You may also add raisins if you like. Use a fork to combine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spoon the mixture generously into each apple.

Place about 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish or you can use a muffin tin pan to hold the apples. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crumble on top of the apples is golden brown, and the apples are soft.

Since it is just me, I only baked one apple and cut the stuffing recipe down accordingly.

You may serve the apples with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make it an even decadent dessert.

The smell will make you think fall.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Crock Pot Apple Butter

I made this yesterday and am very happy with it.  I did speed up the cooking time by putting the crock pot on high though.  Because I like it, I’m going to double it next time I make it and can some jars for winter.  It will go nice on toast or bagels (maybe mix it with some cream cheese).

5 cups of fresh finely chopped apples
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Lemon juice

Peel and core apples.  Cup the apples into small pieces and place in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown while you are cutting up the other apples.

Place the apples in crock pot. Top with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and mix well.

Cover and cook on high for at least 7 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. As the apples soften, mash them with a fork.  Let cool.

If it is still too lumpy, puree in a blender.  I don’t mind a few lumps in mine because I don't dirty a blender.  If it is not thick enough for you put it back into the crock pot.  Cook until it is thick enough to suit you.

If you can’t watch and stir it all day, start it before you go to bed on low and finish it up in the morning.  Should take at least 10 hours or more on low and then another 1 to 2 hours on high to finish it.  

Spoon into sterile jars or containers and refrigerate.

Made about 3 half pint jars. 

Think apples.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apple Donuts

It is apple picking time.  These are a  great apple treat.  

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 cup applesauce
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup butter
Vegetable oil

Melt your butter.  Combine all of your wet ingredients and set aside.  Combine all of your dry ingredients (first 5 ingredients) and slowly add them to your wet.

Roll out your donuts on a well dusted board until they are about 1/2 inch.  Using a donut cutter cut your donuts. Heat your vegetable oil for frying.  Wait until the oil is hot.  Drop in one at a time and do not over crowd.  Once they have browned, turn over.  Take out and put on paper towel to drain.  Also fry the donut holes.  They are my favorites because they are bite size. 

You may frost them or dip them in cinnamon and sugar.  I’m also sharing an apple glaze below to frost them.

Homemade Applesauce

5 cooking apples cored and seeded
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Peel and core your apples, cutting them up into small sections so they will cook faster.

Combine apples, sugar; apple juice, and ground cinnamon. Bring to boiling and reduce heat to low. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes or until apples are soft enough to puree. Transfer apple mixture to a blender or food processor if you don’t like chucky apple sauce. Cover and blend or process until sauce texture. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Applesauce Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup Homemade Applesauce or unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup water

In a medium bowl combine powdered sugar, applesauce, and water. Whisk together until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

The terrible heat is gone so I'll be playing in my kitchen again.  I'm picking apples today and going to start canning.  Hope you have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

I’m going to be canning apples starting tomorrow (waiting for cooler temps).  So I’m thinking apples.  I’ll share some new recipes I've saved to use up my apples.  You can use raw apples for this or you can use your canned apples.  

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tbsp sugar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup oats
½ cup butter
½ cup nuts (walnut or pecan)

½ cup caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 9 × 13 inch baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  This is so you can take out and cut the cheese cake easily.  Set aside.

For the crust: combine the flour and brown sugar.  Cut in the butter with pastry cutter (or two forks…or your fingers) until mixture is crumbly and evenly distributed.  Press into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For the cheesecake filling:  beat cream cheese with sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  Pour over warm crust.

For the apples: stir together chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.  Spoon evenly over cheesecake mixture.
For the topping: combine all ingredients.  Sprinkle evenly over apple mixture.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes in preheated oven, then drizzle with caramel topping and let cool.

Have a great Wednesday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Lobster Copy Cat Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

I took Sam to Red Lobster for his birthday on Sunday and we ended up taking part of our lunch home. Along with the sea food, we took home some of their cheddar cheese biscuits and Eddie needed to sample one right away.  I thought I would share a copy cat recipe of the cheddar cheese biscuits since my family loves them so.  They are so simple to make and you can serve them hot out of the oven.

Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick shopping list
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
1 tsp garlic powder, divided
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together the Bisquick, milk, cheese, and ½ tsp. garlic powder; beat for 30 seconds. Do not over mix.

Fill lightly greased muffin tins with the mixture, filling up 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or till the tops are nice and golden.

Combine the melted butter and the remaining ½ tsp garlic powder; brush this over the warm biscuits.

Variations -  Add sesame and poppy seeds into the dough mixture.  Add some fresh of frozen corn,  omit the garlic and use your favorite nut.

Don't want to bother with biscuits, then just make it into a loaf of bread.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 × 5 inch loaf pan with oil.  Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Allow to cool for one hour before slicing and serving.

Today is suppose to be another hot one and then it is suppose to get back to normal temps.  I can hardly wait.  Hope you stay cool, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Caprese Sandwich

I’m still trying to come up with ideas to use up my tomatoes.  I love a Caprese salad, so am doing a spin on it by making it into a sandwich. 

Caprese Sandwich

Basil Chimichuri
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped fine
2 tablespoons basil chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic finely minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Combine olive oil, parsley, basil, red wine vinegar, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Let it sit at least an hour develop the flavors.

One large baguette or French bread cut into quarters
Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced or fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Slice your baguette in half and slice it down the middle.  Pour a little olive oil on the slices and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder to make a garlic bread.

Toast your bread pieces under the broiler.  Watch it closely until they are lightly toasted.  To build a Caprese sandwich spread the basil chimichuri on the bottom half of the bread. Add slices of sliced or fresh mozzarella cheese.  Put under the broiler again to melt and brown the cheese.  Again watch very closely.  I stand right there and watch it with the door open.

Slice your heirloom tomatoes and put on top of the cheese.  Finish it off with basil leaves and a dash of salt and pepper.

Slice the sandwich into individual size sandwiches and serve while cheese is still warm.

Variation - You can always add a few slices of your favorite meat like ham or turkey, but then it would not be a caprese sandwich.  It would be just as good though.  

If you don’t feel like messing with the oven today because of the heat, I’ll share my Caprese salad with you.  It is even simpler.  I’ve shared it before, but I’ll save you looking it up on the blog.

Caprese Salad

Small fresh mozzarella balls
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Fresh basil
Your favorite balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

It is that simple.  Secret is finding the mozzarella balls.  I had to get mine out of town.  In fact I have to get all of my fresh mozzarella out of town.  I can never find it in Maquoketa.

Variation - You can always make this on a stick by using skewers.  Make the salad, salt and pepper and pour the vinegar over it and then vary basil, tomato, cheese on the skewer.  

Have a great Monday, stay cool, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fresh and Canned Tomato Soup

Here are two recipes to use up those tomatoes you are harvesting or being given.  One is for canning to have this winter and the other is for a soup tonight.  Both are using fresh basil from the garden too.  To impress your guest, you can serve both of the soup recipes like you would a French onion soup by broiling it under the broiler with fresh mozzarella and French bread or croutons.  It is outstanding.

Note:  If you are canning tomatoes this year and still have left over cans from last year or frozen tomatoes from last year, use them up making this canned soup or juice.

You may wish to try both recipes to see which one you like the best.  They can both be canned.  They are both good.

Tomato Soup-Canned

6 onions
1 bunch celery
8 quarts (32 cups) fresh tomatoes (or 5 to 6 quarts of juice)
1 cup sugar (or to your taste)
1/4 cup salt
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp. lemon juice per qt. (necessary if you are using heirlooms)

Chop the onions and celery.  Place in large kettle with just enough water to keep them from burning. While this simmers, cut and core your tomatoes with skins on.  Add to kettle and cook until tender.  Cool mixture and put through sieve to deseed and deskin and turn to just tomato juice.  Return to kettle.

Add sugar and salt. Cream butter and flour together and mix thoroughly with two cups of cold juice, until dissolved (or blend together in a blender), to avoid lumps of flour in the juice. Add butter/flour mixture to warm tomato juice and whisk in. (Add before it's hot, to avoid lumps of flour). Stir well. Heat just until hot (If it gets to a boil, it can make the flour lumpy).

Just prior to boiling, turn off the burner (It will continue to thicken as it cools).  Ladle into jars and close securely with lids. Return to the canner and process 20 to 30 minutes (start timing when it's at a rolling boil). Remove from canner and allow jars to sit until sealed (approx. 12 hours).   It should made 12.5 pints.  I like to make in both individual size and family size.

To serve, mix equal parts tomato concentrate to milk or half and half and heat.  Add fresh chopped basil (dried if it is not available).  Taste for seasoning and season more if needed. 

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

3 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
3 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
Small handful fresh chopped basil leaves
Salt and black pepper
Sour cream or fresh mozzarella cheese

Core the tomatoes and put in boiling water for 20 seconds.  Plunge into cold water and peel skins off. Squeeze the tomatoes to deseed.  Rough chop the tomatoes and place them in a large saucepan, pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.  Process the soup with a blender or a food processor.  Pour through a sieve to get rid of any seeds or chucks.  Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and basil. If the tomatoes are sweet enough, you may omit the sugar.

Put back on the stove to heat again.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.   

Put your soup into oven safe bowls topped fresh mozzarella.  Broil the mozzarella cheese until melted and bubbly.  Top with your toast slice. 

The fresh basil, thick soup, hot melted mozzarella, and garlic bread is a great meal in itself. 

Have a great Grandparents Day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.