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ground cherry breadI needed *something* to do with the tons of ground cherries I had, and I finally decided on bread. We don’t use a lot of jam or jelly, so that would have sat around for a while. And I’m still not sure how I feel about them as a pie.

What are ground cherries? Related to the tomatillo, they are very small fruits inside a husk. Remove the husk after the fall to the ground and are ripe. The golden fruit inside is pineappley, citrusy, and a little creamy tasting.

This recipe is basically the bread recipe (search page for “bread” – so many recipes on there!) I found on this great GardenWeb thread. Lots of other great sounding recipes in there, too (I also made a modified version of one of the ground cherry sauces using GCs, sherry, and sugar). I was going to use my tried and true banana bread recipe from my mom’s early 1970’s Betty Crocker cookbook (and switch banana for ground cherries), but I figured I’d switch it up. This one is simpler just because there are less ingredients, and it’s also very buttery and yummy. Yet still acceptable as a breakfast food because it has FRUIT in it….right?

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 egg
1 stick of butter OR 1/2 cup margarine (I’ve used both)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed ground cherries (and a little pineapple if you want)
whipped cream cheese (or regular) for serving

Mix together milk and sugar. Add in egg and other ingredients. The batter will be a little runny.

ground cherries

Ground cherries unhusked and husked. All of these went into the bread.

Bake in greased loaf pan at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or in greased muffin pan for about 15 minutes. Cake tester or toothpick should come out clean.
ground cherry bread

The first time I made it, we had a few slices of leftover pineapple from making my dad’s birthday pineapple upsidedown cake. I’d heard so many times that ground cherries were pineappley that I blended some of those in as well. Tasted great! Serve when still warm with some whipped cream cheese on top and it’s amazing. It’s good room temperature, but I found after taking some for lunch that it’s also good cold, which is kind of interesting.

NOTE: I was going to include a better glamour shot of the loaf I just took out of the oven, but it stuck to the pan. Still delicious, but not photo-worthy. So make sure you grease the corners of the pan well! (Loaf pictured is the first loaf with GCs and pineapple. Today’s was just GCs.)

ground cherry bread

Let me know if you make it!

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egg rollsPeople are often confused when I say I’m making egg rolls for dinner, but ever since I found these little egg roll wraps, I’m addicted. This egg roll recipe I made up is SO easy it’s insane. So if you find the wraps, give it a try! I’ve only been able to find the wraps at my local grocery store chain and not at WalMart, so I’m not sure how widely available are. I use the Nasoya egg roll wraps. They’re refrigerated, and my grocery store actually keeps them in the produce section near the tofu. Any ingredients below that look/sound funny are probably available in the Asian ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store.

INGREDIENTS:
-Asian 5-spice powder
-Asian sweet chili sauce
-soy sauce (I use light for less sodium)
-one bag of pre-cut/pre-mixed coleslaw mix (found with the bagged salads)
-egg roll wrappers
-large, deep skillet for pan frying
-oil for pan frying (I use vegetable oil with a touch of sesame oil)
-duck sauce, hot mustard, or whatever you want to serve them with.

START THE OIL
Put enough oil in the pan to go up about halfway on the eggroll (or you can deep fry if you want, but that’s a pain to me) and turn the oil on medium heat. If you have a frying splatter guard, you’ll want that out.

MIX THE FILLING
Using as much if the coleslaw mix as you want (depending on how many egg rolls you’re making!), dump it in a big bowl. Add a pinch of the 5-spice (not too much or it will overpower and taste like crap. A teaspoon would be almost too much if you’re using the whole bag of coleslaw, so use that as a guide). Add about a tablespoon of the sweet chili sauce (adjust for amount of coleslaw) and a small splash of soy sauce. You can let the mix sit for a few minutes if you want, but I usually don’t. You don’t want it to be watery, but you can of course drain or squeeze it out before putting in the wrappers if it’s too liquidy.
*You can also add pre-cooked shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or whatever else to the coleslaw mix at this point. It needs to be pre-cooked, though, because the eggrolls will only fry for a minute or so!
eggroll filling

MAKE THE EGGROLLS
The eggroll wrappers are small, so don’t overstuff them if you don’t want to make a mess while frying. A decent pinch of the filling will do. My eggroll package has instructions, but wrap them up like so:
*Note: If you want them to be thicker or the insides to be chewy (I sometimes like that chewy second layer), then double up on wrappers.

1. Put a small amount of filling on a wrapper.


2. Roll one end up over the filling and tuck it under a little.


How to roll an eggroll

3. Fold in both sides so it looks like an envelope.


home-made eggrolls

4. Continue rolling towards remaining unfolded edge. Last edge will stay in place once fried crispy.

FRY THOSE BAD BOYS
Make sure the oil is ready by dropping a tiny piece of wrapper in and seeing if it fries. You want it to fry quickly, otherwise it will just soak up oil and be nasty. If the oil is ready, use a pair of tongs and place a couple egg rolls in the oil. IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG for them to fry. I’m talking like less than a minute. Once the one side is a nice golden brown, flip it over. Note that it takes less time the longer that oil is on there. Once both sides of the egg rolls are done, move them to a drying rack or some paper towels and put in the next batch.
eggrolls
eggrolls

That’s it! Seriously! Just writing this blog post made me want some like NOW. I usually serve them with some simple stir-fry (HINT: you can use ramen noodles as the noodles!). If your work has a toaster oven, it’s a great re-heat for the next day at work – I always make extras for that purpose. I usually try to hoard away a thing of Chick-fil-a Polynesian sauce to dip them in at work.

egg rolls

YUM.

If your store has wonton noodles, you can also make some quick crab rangoon: mix cream cheese, 5-spice, and imitation crab, fill wontons, fold however you like, quickly fry.

Let me know if you try it! I should have taken a pic of the inside of one, but I didn’t think about it. I’ve passed this recipe on to a couple people already who have been amazed at how easy and delicious it is. Impress your friends and make them think you slaved over the eggrolls. They’ll never know. I won’t tell. I promise.

I decided last summer that I wanted a food dehydrator. I oven-dried some tomatoes and they were delicious, but it took about 3 days in the oven. I looked at about a million of them on Amazon and was about to order one recently when I thought hey – why don’t I place a ‘wanted’ on freecycle? Seems like the kind of thing someone might purchase with good intentions and never really use. I have given away a lot via freecycle, but this is the first thing I have taken.

Sure enough, the next AM I had an offer from someone who got one for a wedding gift 7 years ago and had never used it! I picked it up from the end of her driveway later that afternoon. It’s the Nesco FD-40 Snackmaster Elite. They don’t make it any more, but it’s similar to this, only without the timer and temp options. And mine is 400-watt, I think. It’s not that loud either, which is nice.

the beginning

The Beginning

This weekend, I finally gave it a try with some apples and bananas. Here’s what I did:
1. Washed and sliced apples. I used Golden Delicious since that’s the only kind of apple I like. I sliced them with my new mandoline that I am totally in love with. I used the thick setting and then sliced them lengthwise with a knife. The best bits are the end pieces with lots of skin, though.
2. Tossed the apples in a mix of a little lemon juice and some orange juice. This is to keep them from getting brown (if you didn’t know, you can do this for sliced apples in a lunchbox, too. I also tossed them with a little cinnamon and sugar, just to make them extra good.
3. Sliced banana thin and also dunked it in the lemon/orange mix, just for kicks.
4. Piled them in and dried on Saturday for about 8 hours. Turned it off overnight and gave them another 3 hours or so today.

The End

The End

They are SO GOOD. A little tart, sweet, and crunchy. They tasted good after being dried just a little (I’d grab one every now and then yesterday – you know, to check…). Today they are excellent. I could probably have dried them a bit longer, but since I know they’ll be gone by the end of the week most likely, I’m not concerned with them being 100% dry for long-term storage.

Had some on top of my cereal this AM and have been snacking on them all day. I bought some more apples and grabbed a giant bag or ripe bananas they marked down to 60¢ (for the whole bag! dried bananas and banana bread FTW), so I can make some more. I want to try different fruit as well, but nothing really caught my eye today.

Next I want to try other fruits (I’m wondering how something like beets might be, too…?), fruit rolls (it came with one fruit roll sheet), and maybe some jerky for the hubby. This summer, I can use it for tomatoes, herbs, and peppers as well. Kind of excited! Yay freecycle!!

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 28: Aspen trees bloom now. “Aspen tree, and may also be called Tremble, after the French name, considering it is the matter whereof women’s tongues were made (as the poets and some others report), which seldom cease wagging.”—John Gerard, Herbal 1633

[what??]

A while back I won the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook – very exciting! I don’t check the site all that often, but I am very familiar with the Pioneer Woman. She’s like a slightly less buttery, younger, and less annoying Paula Deen.

All the recipes in the book look great, and none look that complicated. Photos are shown for every recipe and most every step of every recipe (husband: “Oh good! They show you how to cut carrots.”). The only gripe I have with the format is that they oddly decided to put the steps vertically instead of across the page. I tend to want to read across the page, so often this has me skipping from step 3 to step 7 and becoming momentarily confused about how I am supposed to have already blended something together. I think they did it this way to avoid unnecessary white space when some steps have longer sets of directions, but it seems awkward to me and I’d change it if I was the editor for the next reprinting. The outside of the book is lovely though. While I am mildly perturbed that there is an edible flower on the cover (nasturtium) and it does not seem to be in any recipes, I’ll get over it. I’m in the habit of taking dust covers off if books are going to be displayed, and this book is a really gorgeous hardcover. The material of the book is also nicely coated and not just cloth – easy to wipe cooking messes off of!

prettier naked and amongst the flour

There are all sorts of fun little asides in the book, too, which is nice. If you’re not familiar, the Pioneer Woman is a former city girl who fell in love with a cowboy and now lives in the country with him and her children. All a very cute story and the asides are nice, but I don’t know, they eventually get annoying to me. The way we ONLY know her husband as “Marlboro Man,” they way she always waxes poetic about the vast countryside and her hardships of being a cowboy’s wife. Like I get it, but it gets annoying to me after a while. She even has the audacity to include a (beautiful and cool) photo of her shadow doing a “ballet stretch” under the long arch of a rainbow – IS SHE EVEN A BALLERINA?!? [EDIT December 29, 2009: I guess she was. Forgiven.] Perhaps I am overly sensitive to these things. I AM a ballerina, and my hometown is somewhere between city and country (I tend to lean toward wanting to live the more country way). Am I jealous of her lifestyle? Hell yes. Maybe that’s why I’m bitter about her stories. The “I’m homey! And city mouse/country mouse!” just gets to me after a while. But anyway – the recipes are GREAT. Typical home-cooking stuff you’ll go back to again and again.

My hubby was on duty Christmas night and who knows what’d be open for him to eat dinner, so I made him a nice xmas lunch – the Chicken Pot Pie from the cookbook. It was great! Of course as per usual, I modified it a bit both because we were missing ingredients and because I wanted to use some stuff. So, modified from the Pioneer Woman, here’s the recipe.


Chicken Pot Pie
•3 or 4 chicken breast tenderloins
•about 2 cups of carrots, chopped small
•a couple handfuls of winter greens (kale, collards, etc – need to use those CSA greens!)
•frozen peas
(whatever veggies you want, really, but I think carrots and peas are key)
•chicken stock (about 1 can)
•bouillon of some kind (I used my trusty pork soup seasoning)
•about 1 cup of heavy cream
•one pie crust dough (top half) – she has a recipe to make it that I will try eventually, but I happened to have one leftover that broke when making a fruit pie, so I rolled that out and used it
•salt and pepper
•thyme and sage (I used lemon thyme and sage mix from my garden)
•1/2 stick of butter
•1 cup or so of flour
•1 cup or so of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°
1. Cut the chicken up small and brown it.
2. Melt the butter in a pan. Once melted, add in the greens, carrots, peas. Cook them over med-low heat until carrots are softened.
3. Add cooked chicken to veggie mix. Stir a cook a minute or so.
4. Add flour to mix and stir. Cook for a bit.
5. Pour in chicken stock and stir. This will make a kind of gravy. Cook for a minute or so and stir.
6. Add in heavy cream and stir. Cook for a minute or so.
7. Add in seasonings – salt, pepper, lemon thyme, sage. Add to taste and make sure it’s salty enough or it just won’t taste good. Cook for a minute or so.
8. Dump it all into a pie plate.
9. Roll out pie crust and place on top of pie plate. Cut a few slits in center for ventilation. Tuck in any excess crust over the sides, as per a normal pie crust.
10. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until pie crust topping is done and golden brown.
11. Cut and enjoy!

I served mine with a slice of Vermont Cheddar on top, cooked kale with cider vinegar and mashed red potatoes (both leftovers) as side dishes. Very good, and hubby enjoyed it! This is pretty much just as easy as the good old soup and Bisquick pot pies I usually make, and definitely a step or two better.

Yesterday we went to my aunt’s for Thanksgiving. Because I had a lot from the CSA, I brought sweet potato casserole and kale. My hubby made a shoofly pie and a maple pumpkin pie – both very good, but everyone was just totally stuffed by the time dessert came around, so I’ll be sharing them again tonight for a dinner with family friends at my parents’ house. Now enjoy some largely measurement-free recipes.

maple pumkin pie and shoofly pie made by my hubby

kale

Big Leaf Kale, Southern Style

1. Fill a giant pot with water.
2. Add twice-washed kale.
3. Add bacon. Best if you fry it up first. Feel free to dump in the grease.
4. I also add some ham-flavored soup seasoning.
5. Add a bit of salt (not too much, since the bacon and ham flavored stuff have that mostly covered) and pepper to taste.
6. Add a cup or so of vinegar and/or sherry wine. You can serve it with more after it’s cooked.
7. Cover and bring just to a boil.
8. Lower temp and simmer for as long as you like. I prefer to let the leaves not get totally wilted, but do whatever you like. I let mine sit simmering for about 3 hours yesterday.
9. Serve plain or with cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar.

Sweet Potato Waffles

As noted above, I made sweet potato casserole (recipe linked above, too). My aunt also made candied yams, so we both ended up with a good amount of sweet potato-y leftovers. I will be bringing them to the family dinner tonight, but I wanted to use SOME beforehand because there are a lot. I based my recipe off of this one for pumpkin waffles. I made a bunch and will be freezing the extras to pop in the toaster in the AM next week. I serve my waffles with honey, but you can use whatever syrup you want.

2 1/3 c Bisquick (or make your own)
1 1/2 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 c mashed sweet potato mix*

* I used sweet potato casserole, so it already had milk and butter mixed in. I scooped in the topping and everything for some crunchy bits in the waffles (but you could leave them out) – just make sure it gets mixed well. If you’re using candied yams, I’d mash them up with a little milk before mixing them in and add some pumpkin pie-type spice if it wasn’t already in the dish. If you’re just using fresh or canned sweet potatoes, cook them then mash them with some cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar, and milk to taste. Depending on the consistency of your sweet potato mash, you may need to add more or less milk in to get it to the right consistency.

I happened upon this little gem (don’t even remember how) the other day and joined. So hello to all you others! So every time I post a CSA-involved recipe or whatever now, I’m going to link back there. Now if only I could manage to take better food pics. My kitchen really doesn’t have great lighting for it, which certainly isn’t helped by the fact that this stuff is usually done at night. Oh well. Trust me, if I share a recipe, it’s good!
CAMC_1_png_242
I’m going to get this week’s CSA stuff tomorrow after work (partner wasn’t able to pick it up today), but I have stuff to share anyway. I am STILL drowning in tomatoes (and this week’s CSA declared that it is “the year of the tomato” at Even’ Star Farms – so uhhhh more to come), and I think I’ve perfected my tomato sauce recipe. While this one is good, I have a variation…

Picture 12Jennah’s EVEN BETTER Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce

1. Cut the tops off a bunch of tomatoes. Paste tomatoes or roma preferred, but throwing in a few slicing tomatoes, grapes, or cherries is good.

2. Throw them in a large pot of boiling water. Boil until the skins start to peel back. Then spoon out tomatoes and put them in a bowl of ice water.

3. Once cooled enough to handle, remove skins by squeezing tomatoes into a blender. Puree tomatoes, discard skins.

4. Chop up (throw in blender or by hand) a handful of oregano and basil. A little lemon balm too, if you have it.

5. Put it all in a sauce pan and add some olive oil. Also a small amount of white wine, if you have it. Also add to taste: sugar, salt and a bit of pepper.

6. Add tomato paste and stir (without the paste, it tends to be too runny and won’t stick to any noodles). Depending on how thick you want your sauce, you may want more of less paste. (I like a bit more.) Cook on med-low covered until it starts to bubble, then turn it all the way down to low for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally (you’ll need to mix in that paste once it starts to warm up).

5. Enjoy! It’s best after being in the fridge for a day or so, but also great right away. And I have quite a few bags in the freezer for winter as well.


Picture 13Simple Squash Fritters

These are SO GOOD. My husband wasn’t quite as excited as I was about them, but he really enjoyed them too (he doesn’t get excited easily – possibly I do). This is a great way to use a ton of squash. Kids would love them too, trust me. Sorry – you are forewarned that I don’t really measure in the recipe. It’s based on this recipe, but modified a little.

1. Roughly slice up some squash and stew/boil until soft. No need to peel. Once soft, strain/drain and puree the squash. Put a pan of oil (I used vegetable oil) on med-high to start it getting warm.

Picture 142. Mix in the following ingredients to taste (you can taste as you go) until you get a slightly un-firm batter. I am listing the ingredients from MOST to LEAST: squash puree, corn meal, flour, sugar, salt (just a touch), baking powder (just a touch).(Ignore the random herb leaf in my pic.)

3.Put small spoonfulls (maybe quarter size) into the hot oil. They don’t need to be covered all the way. Once the start to turn golden brown, flip them over. Once done, put them on a paper towel/rack to dry/drain. It only takes a minute or so for each batch to fry.

4. Enjoy! Soooo good. THe outside is crispy and the inside is gooey/bready with the sweetness of the sugar and squash. Yum! This would probably also be good with various winter squashes or other veggies – zucchini, eggplant maybe?


Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Picture 16
I also dried some tomatoes. There are a ton of recipes out there for this, but the time was WAY off on all I looked at. They took FOREVER and still aren’t totally dry (they were very ripe/juicy – I head from others on Twitter that theirs too way longer than they thought, too), but I figure instead of storing them, I’ll just use them up over the next week or so. I cut them thin, sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper. Put them in the oven on 200° for probably about 6 or 7 hours total (3 last night, then covered and left them sitting out today, then a few more hours tonight). They’re very good. They taste like seasoned sun-dried tomatoes. This might be good to do with sub-par grocery store tomatoes in the winter.

So allllll that, and I still have this many tomatoes left! Plus I have a bag from the neighbors’ that I will force upon my CSA sharer, plus I have more coming from the CSA tomorrow.

Picture 17

And you know, I might be going crazy, because it almost seems as if the tomatoes are MAKING FACES AT ME!! This is clearly bad.

The tomatoes are mocking me.

The tomatoes are mocking me.

One of my favorite things about summertime is that I get to make my own salsa with ingredients fresh from my garden. Neither my hubby nor I like onions. (Yes you CAN taste them, and more than that you can feel their texture that totally weirds me out. I am not a picky eater other than meat and onions – it just so happens that both of these things can be very hard to avoid!) Though we can handle them in things like salsa and spaghetti sauce, it’s sooooo much nicer if I just make it myself without. Of course, add onions to this recipe if you’d like, but I don’t think it needs them.

Jennah's salsa

Jennah's salsa

My tomatoes (besides the cherries) aren’t quite ready yet, but I had some tomatoes from the Amish that needed to be used before they went bad, so I figured I might as well do my first salsa of the season. The peppers are from my garden, and I use seasonings from my garden when I can. Most of these things are easy to find, and fresh salsa is a great healthy snack to have on hand. The measurements here made the jar in the pics, but it’s all to taste. But here’s what I use…

Does anyone have a Tostito?

Does anyone have a Tostito?

Jennah’s Easy Garden Salsa

  • Tomatoes! 3 large red and about 8 cherry (I usually like to use a mix of large ones and cherry/grape ones.)
  • jalapeno peppers – 2
  • cayenne pepper – 1 large or 2 small
  • banana peppers – 2
  • cilantro – small handful
  • a little bit of pineapple sage and lemon balm (a leaf or two or each)
  • splash of lemon and/or lime juice
  • sugar – about 1/4 cup to taste
  • salt and pepper ( I use sea salt) – about 1t
  • taco or fajita seasoning – about 1t (adjust salt if this has a lot of salt already)
  • hot sauce – to taste – I used sriracha this time
  • If you’d like, you can also add a slice or two of peach or pineapple

Cut everything up into small pieces and mix together well. I prefer to slice by hand – I have an electric chopper, but I find that tends to turn things (esp tomatoes) into more of a sauce than small pieces. If you’d like, you can stop here and it tastes great, but I tend to prefer it cooked a little bit.

So, if you want to cook it, just put it all over low heat for a while (cover if you like). Once it starts to bubble, turn off heat. You’ll need to drain the excess water – I use a small strainer over a glass or bowl. The one I have lets me prop the salsa jar up and let it drain on its own for a few minutes. Don’t throw the juice away! It’s great for a marinade or to add when cooking rice or various stir-fry dishes. So drain the excess water and let it sit. That’s it! Salsa is best after it’s been sitting in the fridge for a few hours at least. (Keep it in the fridge, of course!)

Let me know if you try it or if you have your own variation!

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