Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Jam

This is the best stuff ever! I am so blessed to have a great garden and an amazing husband who LOVES gardening! So every June, we venture out and harvest a vast amount of these beautiful strawberries and can some jam. Last year the jam we canned lasted for just over 11 months. We ran out 2 weeks before our berries were ready. So, so cool! This is a very basic jam recipe and so great for first time canners. We used this recipe from Pioneer Woman (She has a great tutorial if you are a first timer). We cut the sugar in half. (Our berries were super sweet!)

Fresh Strawberry Jam

5 cups hulled, smashed strawberries (I like my jam smooth so I just run my strawberries through the food processor)
7 cups sugar (we used 3 1/2 cups)
4 T fresh lemon juice
1 package powdered fruit pectin (49g)

Place 8 or 9 sterilized (I just run through my dishwasher) 8-oz mason jars in a large hot water bath canner (not a pressure canner). Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer center lids in a separate sauce pan of water.

Place smashed strawberries and lemon juice in a large pot. Stir in the pectin until it dissolves. Bring the strawberry mixture to a strong boil. Add sugar, then return to a full boil that can't be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds. Skim the foam off the top using a spoon and discard it.

Remove one jar at a time from the simmering water. Pour the water back into the pot. Using a wide mouth funnel, fill each jar with jam. Make sure to leave 1/4-inch of space at the top of each jar. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue or stickiness. Remove a middle lid from the simmering saucepan and position it on top. Put scewbands on the jar but do NOT over tighten! Repeat with the remaining jars, then place them on a canning rack and lower them into the water. Place the lid on the canner and bring the water back to a full boil. Boil hard for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to remain in the water for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the water with a jar lifter and let them sit, untouched, for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the screwbands and check to make sure all the jars sealed. The center lids should have no give at all! If the seals are compromised, store those jars in the fridge. Otherwise wipe down the jars and store in your food storage or share with your friends!
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turkey Burgers

We are trying our hardest to eat healthier in this house.  So I have been trying new healthy recipes that mimic some fattier favorites.  Being that it is grilling season we tried out Turkey Burgers last night.  I must say it was a huge success.  I personally liked them better than burgers made with beef!  After looking at a million different recipes and doing a little research, I ended up just throwing together my own concoction.  So here it is... now go heat up that grill!

Turkey Burgers
(4 burgers)

1 pound ground turkey (Don't use turkey breast, it will be too dry)
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 t Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 egg
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Mix all this together and form into 4 patties.  Cook on grill until cooked through. (You may want to brush your grill with olive oil to keep them from sticking)

Put cheese on them for the last minute to melt it. (we used Provolone)

Put on a bun and top as desired.

*we only used 2 patties so I just wrapped the other 2 in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. They freeze great and you can cook them from frozen for a super quick meal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken Gyros with Greek Chicken

If there is one thing that Michigan has a million of it is Coney Island Restaurants. When I first moved here I just assumed that Michiganders LOVED their hot dogs, but as it turns out all of these Coney Islands also have Greek food. YUM! We love us a good Gyro! So when I saw this recipe over at A Hint of Honey I decided to try it out. As it turns out, this is our new favorite chicken marinade and we have made these many times!  I altered the original recipe just slightly.

Chicken Gyros with Greek Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 -inch pieces
4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Feta cheese
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
hummus (optional, but so good. We LOVE this recipe)
Pita bread (We LOVE this recipe)
Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and red onion to garnish

In a medium bowl combine extra virgin olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Whisk together and then add the chicken.  Stir to coat evenly and let marinate for 30 minutes.  Preheat grill and thread skewers with chicken. If you are using wooden skewers don't forget to soak them in water for 20 minutes to keep them from burning.  Cook chicken on the grill until it is cooked through. (We have also put bell peppers and onions on with the chicken and served the kabobs over rice.)

Tzatziki Sauce

8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, shredded and water squeezed out
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T extra virgin olive oil
several dashes of dried dill, to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the Gyro add chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion and lettuce to the Pita.  Top with Tzatziki sauce, hummus and feta cheese.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been meaning to blog about these for weeks now! I am a sucker for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies! I just can't seem to get enough of them! I grabbed this recipe off of My Kitchen Cafe and got straight to work. Heaven! Pure heaven!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes 4-5 dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 T milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 cups chocolate chips (I used 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 peanut butter chips)

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl combine butter and peanut butter and beat until it is light and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and white sugar and mix until combined.  Add the eggs and mix for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is well combined and light in color.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix again.  Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly.  While there are still large spots of flour, add the chocolate chips and then continue mixing until the flour is all mixed in. Let the cookie dough sit for 15 minutes before scooping onto cookie sheets.  It will firm up as it sits.

When ready to bake, scoop the dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Leave 1-2 inches between cookies to allow spreading.  Bake for 10-11 minutes, making sure to not over bake in the slightest.  Leave the cookies on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  The cookies will look lightly undercooked but they will firm up as they cool.  (My cookies didn't flatten out very much so I had to flatten them with the back of a spoon as soon as they came out). Cool completely.

These are Super good frozen too!

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches

I have always loved a good French Dip...tender meat, yummy rolls, au jus...I mean what could be better? So I found a recipe over at Food Network that met my standards and gave it a try. I used this French Roll recipe and the all the parts put together just made a fantastic sandwich!

French Dip Sandwiches
(about 6 large sandwiches)

1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped (I didn't have this so I left it out, but I am sure it would be delish)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 t dried sage
1/4 t dried oregano
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves (I thought this was way too much, next time I will cut this down to 1/8 t)
1/2 t ground all spice
2 pounds beef top round roast
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups beef broth
French Rolls
provolone or swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 300.  Combine the chopped veggies, garlic and thyme in a large roasting pan.  Rub the dried herbs and spices all over the beef and generously salt and pepper.  Place the beef fat side up on the veggies.  Roast for about 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 130. Remove the meat from the pan and loosely cover with foil, let this rest for 30 minutes.

While the meat is resting, put the roast pan on the stove and cook the veggies over high heat until they are browned but not burned and the liquid is evaporated.  Pour off any excess fat.  Add the beef broth to the pan and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Transfer the liquid and veggies to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 30 minutes.  Strain the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Trim the meat of any excess fat and slice very thin.  Slice the rolls and add the beef.  Top with cheese (provolone or swiss) and place under your broiler to melt the cheese (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).  Serve with au jus.

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