Uncategorized

Cherry Fruit Leather from Fresh Cherries

Sugar, water, cherries

Sugar, water, cherries (There’s a few Mt. Raniers in there.)

With cherries in season and some deals here and there, I had some on hand. Unfortunately, nobody was eating them and they were just passing their prime. Having recently discovered that my almost 15 month old grandson was very enthusiastic with the discovery of “Fruit by the Foot” snacks, I decided to pull out the dehydrator and give it a shot. By coincidence, I happened to find a deal on some Presto brand liners for making fruit leather and had bought a couple. That probably spurred me on a bit as well. My dehydrator is a Nesco brand, however, and it has a bigger center hole than the Presto model, so the dehydrator motor would not fit through the Presto accessory’s center hole.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole...oops.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole…oops.

Having already poured the fruit puree, my best bet was to put the trays at the bottom with the empty ones on top. Those, plus the lid, got me close…still sticking up a little, but enough for the dehydrator to work.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

As for the fruit leather, I looked around on Pinterest and found a recipe that looked like what I was searching for. The recipe, at http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/cherry-fruit-leather/  (credit where due!), specifies using an oven at 170F and sheet pans with silicone liners, but I figured that substituting a dehydrator would be no problem. I will admit  that I didn’t really measure my cherries…but I think I was in the neighborhood of four cups. In the end, I perfectly lined the 2 inserts, with none left over.

One tip: double check your cherries for pits. I thought I was careful, but a couple made it into the blender and I had  to run the puree through a sieve. I left behind a little fiber and peel, I guess, but I think I would add that step anyway, for a smoother puree. So, here’s the recipe:

 

Cherry Fruit Leather

4 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Directions

Add the water and the fruit to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a potato masher to mash the cherries as they cook. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until well broken down. (I must admit that I added the sugar also and it seems to have turned out okay, though it was supposed to be added later.)

Mashed cherries simmering.

Mashed cherries simmering.

Transfer the cooked fruit to a blender, in batches, and blend until smooth. I did mine in 2 batches. Be careful with hot stuff in blenders! I left the center hole open and covered with a towel, to avoid building pressure and causing a hot fruit puree explosion.

Pureed and strained.

Pureed and strained.

Return the puree to the saucepan…after passing through a sieve, if necessary or desired. Add the sugar…if you didn’t do it when I did, by mistake. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened some. Remove from heat and stir bubbles down a bit.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Lightly spray your dehydrator disks with a nonstick spray or lightly brush with oil and place on dehydrator trays. Ladle the puree onto disks and carefully give a jiggle to even out puree.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Add the cover and the motor and dehydrate until a little tacky to touch, but not dried out completely. (Although…it needed to be a little drier than I thought.) Should be between 4 to 7 hours, depending on your dehydrator, humidity, etc. (Mine actually took more like nine hours.) Allow to cool. Peel from dehydrator inserts and store, rolled in wax paper or parchment and stored in an airtight container, up to one month. (Cut in smaller strips, if desired.) Enjoy!

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

I did need to go to the longer period of time for the dehydrator…actually, well beyond. One tray was a little thicker than the other and, when I touched it, it kind of schmudged it some. Yeah…made up that word. And I turned it off after about 5 hours, thinking it was done. I decided it wasn’t done, later, after it had cooled. I popped the trays back in the dehydrator and let them go another 3 or 4 hours. The thicker one then went another hour. But they turned out fine, in the end, and taste good. Live and learn. Next time, the process will be smoother.

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!

Soup!

Soup!

Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!

Standard
Uncategorized

Sauerkraut is Ready! Let’s Cook Some Brats!

Rinsing and draining homemade sauerkraut.

Rinsing and draining homemade sauerkraut.

I started my batch of homemade sauerkraut on September 18th and today is November 2nd. That’s makes right at about 6 weeks. I opened the fermentation bucket and, with a sanitized spoon, I removed the plate that was keeping everything weighted down and removed a sample. Yes! It tastes like sauerkraut! Here’s the September 18th entry:

https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/oh-come-on-make-and-eat-sauerkraut/

I removed a few cups of the kraut to a colander.  I stirred the sauerkraut around and pushed it below the surface of the liquid again. I sanitized the plate and put it back in place and resealed the bucket. I’ll divide it into quart jars and refrigerate it later. I rinsed the kraut in the colander and placed it in an oven-safe souffle dish.

Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained.

Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained.

I topped the kraut with some fresh brats

Brats on top of t he kraut and home brewed beer sample.

Brats on top of t he kraut and home brewed beer sample.

and I added some uncarbonated beer that I removed as a test sample from a batch I am brewing. Covered it with foil and placed it in a 425F oven.

Covered and in a 425F oven for 30 minutes.

Covered and in a 425F oven for 30 minutes.

Cooked for 30 minutes and uncovered and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes. Lowered the oven to 350F. Baking some potatoes as well and they’re done (And my son just HAD to have a kid’s TV dinner…uck. But he picked it.)

Brats, cooked on top of homemade sauerkraut...and some spuds and my son's TV dinner.

Brats, cooked on top of homemade sauerkraut…and some spuds and my son’s TV dinner.

With a few minutes to go, I turned the sausage, just to brown them a little more. The sausage and kraut were delicious! A little brown mustard on the side and served with peas and baked potato. Awesome!

Great meal. with homemade sauerkraut!

Great meal. with homemade sauerkraut!

Update: 11/3/14

Packaging the sauerkraut.

Packaging the sauerkraut.

Packaging the sauerkraut…I sanitized some quart size canning jars and filled them with sauerkraut, then added the brine to cover and put the lids on.

Ready to package the sauerkraut for the refrigerator.

Ready to package the sauerkraut for the refrigerator.

I understand that this kraut will continue to ferment very slowly under refrigeration and will last a very long time, so I’m not going to bother to process the jars for shelf-stable storage (although, I could), I would rather keep it fresh and maintain the macrobiotic properties. If I cook it, that benefit will be compromised, but that decision can be made depending on the recipe.

I was able to pack four 1-quart jars, plus a single pint jar of sauerkraut.

Ready to refrigerate.

Ready to refrigerate.

Additionally, I brined the cabbage cores along with the kraut. Some people evidently like to eat them like pickles…so, I stuffed those into a pint jar and put everything into the refrigerator.

Saurkraut core pickles.

Saurkraut core pickles.

Oh, one more little side treat: I have a few ounces of the brine left over. I’m going to chill that and add an ounce of vodka to it for a little probiotic nightcap later. (No, seriously! There are those who say that drinking sauerkraut juice is really good for you! The vodka…not so much. But I have to make it worth the try!).

Standard
Uncategorized

Easy Vegetarian Pazole in the Crock Pot

Easy Vegetarian Pazole

Easy Vegetarian Pazole…I went back and removed the big pieces of chili and chopped them. Next time, I’ll break-up into small pieces first!

Always looking for something vegetarian that is still satisfying. This one fits the bill! Traditionally made with pork, pazole is a Mexican stew made with hominy. Hominy can be purchased canned or dried. I find the canned to be easy and good. Plus, the liquid in the can adds both liquid and flavor to the stew. Pazole is a corn product that has been dried and treated in an alkali solution using lye or lime (not the citrus). Grits are nothing more than ground hominy. It can usually be found in white or yellow. The canned version is a bit chewy and looks large and puffy, compared to a regular corn kernel. Combined with some other common ingredients, it makes a great stew. It is also versatile! Some people might like to add chopped green chilies, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, regular corn, etc. In the summer, you could add some of that abundant squash and/or zucchini and use fresh tomatoes. I find my version here to be on the spicy side, but not killer. You can serve as is, or you could serve with some rice or macaroni. If you want to garnish it, I would recommend sour cream/crema, fresh cilantro and some crispy tortilla strips. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 can Black Beans, not drained (or 1 pint, home canned)

1 large can Diced Tomatoes, not drained (fire roasted  is okay, or 1 quart home canned)

1 large can Mexican Style Hominy, not drained

2 large dried Guajillo Chilies

2  or 3 dried Pasillo Chilies

1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Ground Oregano

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions

Preheat a large crock pot on high temperature. Add all the canned ingredients and the oregano and cumin. Cover and let start warming. Break up the dried chilies and remove the seeds and stems. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chilies for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the power of your microwave. DSC04285

Cool enough to handle…do NOT breath the fumes as you remove the chilies from the microwave! When cool, break into very small pieces and add to the crock pot and stir to combine. (I missed that to bebin with and had to go back and fish the big pieces out and chop them.) Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or overnight on low. Refrigerate any unused stew. It will be even better the next day! Serve hot. Enjoy!

Ready to serve...but I'm refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It'll be even better!

Ready to serve…but I’m refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It’ll be even better!

Standard
Uncategorized

Stout Braised Country Style Ribs

Stout Braised Country Style Ribs

Stout Braised Country Style Ribs

For the last couple of months, I have been getting into brewing beer and fermenting cider. Recently, I was bottling a batch of beer and was in the mood to sample some stout that I bottled about a month ago. So, I put together an easy recipe for some country style pork ribs…conveniently, the recipe only needed 1/2 of the bottle of stout! Enjoy!

Stout Braised Country Style Ribs

Ingredients

3 to 3-1/2 lbs Country Style Pork Ribs

1 small Onion, sliced thin

2 cloves Garlic, chopped

6 oz stout or other dark beer (okay, you can add the whole thing, if you don’t drink the other half…but why wouldn’t you?!)

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1-1/2 cups Water

1 T. Cornstarch

Enough cold water to mix with cornstarch to blend

Directions

Heat a large, straight-sided, covered skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ride and brown on all sides. If you need to, you can add a little vegetable oil, but you will probably get enough rendered fat to not need additional oil. Add the onions and garlic and continue browning for a couple of minutes more.

Add onions and garlic

Add onions and garlic

Deglaze the pan with the beer, reduce the heat, cover and slowly simmer, covered, for about 2 hours or until fork tender, turning the meat every 1/2 hour or so.

Deglazed

Deglazed

My home brewed stout!

My home brewed stout!

Remove the meat, skim the fat off and add the 1-1/2 cups water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the cornstarch slurry. Whisk quickly to combine. Bring to a boil to thicken, while whisking. (Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a photo when the gravy was done…we were hungry and it looked so good!!!) Remove from the heat and add the meat back to the sauce. Serve hot with rice or mashed potatoes.

I used a gravy separator to remove the fat (See top photo).

I used a gravy separator to remove the fat (See top photo).

Note: You can put the browned meat and deglazed juices into a crock pot and cook, unattended for hours and hours on low. Finish back on the stove to make the sauce. Also, pork goes very well with apples. I plan on doing this recipe with hard cider, too. It will be a different, but equally delicious dish! Enjoy!

Standard
Uncategorized

How About Some Easy Deviled Eggs?

Easy Deviled Eggs

Easy Deviled Eggs

Here’s an easy recipe for some great deviled eggs. I’m not usually a fan, myself; however, even I like these! These have a little kick, but are pretty traditional. The fun thing is that you can personalize deviled eggs with all kinds of variations, from anchovy to Sriracha…from different mustards to truffles. The thing that makes these so easy is that you can buy eggs in the grocery store that are already boiled and shelled. I know, right!? But bear with me! I was reluctant for a long time too; but I finally tried some and they are great and very consistent. Different stores may carry different brands. Not a problem! I’ve tried a couple and all were good. Cooking and shelling the eggs is the real pain in the butt! The rest is pretty easy. Just watch the expiration date!

No, really! They're good!

No, really! They’re good!

Easy Deviled Eggs

Ingredients for Easy Deviled Eggs

Ingredients for Easy Deviled Eggs

18 Eggs, hardboiled, peeled and chilled

1 t. Coleman’s English Mustard (powder)

4 T. Dill Pickle Relish

1/4 c. mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)

1 t. Yellow Mustard

1 t. Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Directions

Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a mixing bowl. Place the whites on a serving platter. Use a fork to smash the yolks and stir until evenly broken up and fluffy.

Fork-fluffed yolks

Fork-fluffed yolks

Stir in the Coleman’s English Mustard to distribute evenly throughout the yolks. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well blended.

Fill the whites

Fill the whites

Fill the whites with the yolk mixture and chill until ready to serve. You can use a very small (#60 to #80) disher (food/ice cream scoop), spoons or a pastry bag with a tip big enough not to be blocked by the size of the pickle relish. Sprinkle with a dusting of paprika to garnish just before serving, if desired. I’m thinking that these would be great at a New Year’s Day brunch with roughly chopped capers in place of the pickle relish, a thin slice of lox on top with a touch of sour cream and a little sprig of fresh dill! What’s your variation? Enjoy!

Standard
Uncategorized

Leftover Turkey, Dressing, and Mashed Potatoes

Happy leftovers, everyone. Here’s my post-Thanksgiving creation for this year! It is a Turkey, Dressing, and Mashed Potatoes Skillet Cake.

Turkey, Dressing, and Mashed Potato Skillet Cake

Turkey, Dressing, and Mashed Potato Skillet Cake

The procedure is like this: remove three title ingredients from the refrigerator and get out about 1/2 cup of each.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Ingredients

Ingredients

Chop the turkey a little, if necessary, and toss with the dressing to combine. Chop the cold potatoes into pieces and toss with the dressing and turkey.

Toss the ingredients to combine.

Toss the ingredients to combine.

Melt some butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mixture and flatten out to cover bottom of pan. Do not move for the next few minutes…you want a nice brown, crisp crust to form.

Flip and repeat.

Flip and repeat.

Allow crust to brown on bottom.

Allow crust to brown on bottom.

Use a tossing motion and flip the skillet cake and continue on the other side until it is brown and crisp as well. Slide off onto plate and serve hot. Good with cranberry sauce, gravy, ketchup or plain! Enjoy!

Note: If you like a thicker, patty style cake, like a crabcake, you can shape the mixture accordingly. It won’t be as crispy and you need to make sure it is heated all the way through, but it will be easier to turn over.

Standard