Marinated Cheese

“If we are not supposed to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge?”

This is one of my favorite appetizer recipes.  I recently took a platter to my high school reunion potluck and it was well received.  It’s been around for awhile and I believe it appeared in a Southern Living magazine back in 2006.  The important thing to remember is to let the cheese marinate at least for 8 hours …. I typically go for 12 – 16 hours.

Ingredients:

Marinated Cheese

Marinated Cheese

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 (2 ounce) bottle diced pimento, drained
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (4 ounce) block Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (4 ounce) block Colby-Jack
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cold

Directions:

  1. In a jar combine the olive oil, wine vinegar, pimento, parsley, green onion, garlic, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.
  2. Cut each of the blocks of hard cheese in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices to form squares. Repeat with cold cream cheese. Arrange cheese squares alternately in a shallow baking dish with slices standing on edge. You can arrange in a single long row, or several parallel rows depending on the size of your dish. Pour the marinade from the jar over the cheese slices, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. To serve, remove slices to a serving platter so they are still arranged in an alternating pattern. Spoon some of the extra marinade over the cheese, and serve with crackers (I prefer Nabisco Sociables).

Honey Pecan Baked Salmon

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” A. Bourdain

My wife found this recipe on a Facebook page belonging to Jen Hatmaker who is a well-known Christian speaker and author in Austin, TX. I changed nothing but the name from the original recipe so all the credit goes to Jen.

Ingredients:
1 ½ T yellow mustard
1 ½ T Dijon mustard
3 T honey
3 T melted butter
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup bread crumbs, Panko or unseasoned
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 six-ounce fresh Salmon fillets
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice

Directions:
In a medium bowl, mix together the first five ingredients. In another medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, parsley and pecans.

Salt and pepper the salmon fillets. Brush on the mustard honey butter pretty thick. Coat with the bread crumb mixture and pat down. Bake at 400-degrees (skin side down) for around 20 minutes. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top if you have it.

The tangy mustard, sweet honey, crunchy pecan mix, and toasted bread crumbs are just delicious. Jen writes that this recipe also works well with chicken or pork chops. I plan to try it soon using catfish fillets.

Blistered Green Beans

“A clean kitchen is a sign of a wasted life.”

I first saw this recipe on Ree Drummond’s, The Pioneer Woman, television show. Obviously, her recipe inspired this, and I only made a few very subtle changes. Instead of 2 T of butter, I used one tablespoon and then one tablespoon of bacon grease. I also changed the cooking times just a bit. All in all though, Ree Drummond deserves all the praise and I hope you’ll watch her show on the Food Network.
Servings: 2 … Total Time: 10 minutes … Prep: 5 mins … Cook: 5 mins.

Blistered and ready to come out of the skillet.

Blistered and ready to come out of the skillet.


Ingredients:

1 T butter
1 T bacon grease (or substitute butter)
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 T soy sauce, low sodium

Directions:

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter/bacon grease and when melted, add the beans. Let the beans sit and blister for about 2 minutes. Toss the beans coating them and allow them to blister some about 90 seconds more. Add the soy sauce, toss to coat the beans and cook about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and serve.

Roasted Salsa for Canning

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Harry S Truman

This recipe comes from Monica at www.TheYummyLife.com. This website is unbelievably great and, if you are new to canning like I am, it is a must. Many outstanding recipes are clearly defined step by step along with great photos and even tutorials!

Hopefully Monica won’t mind, but I made just a few minor tweaks to her original recipe. First, I cut the original large batch recipe in half. Second, I substituted shallots for onions. Third, for her ½ cup of cider vinegar, I substituted a ¼ cup of lime juice and ¼ cup of cider vinegar. Last, I added 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar to offset the bite of the peppers and vinegar.

For Monica’s detailed instructions and step-by-step photos, see the full post and the original recipe at http://www.theyummylife.com/blog/2011/09/234

I’ve only made this recipe once and, even with my subtle substitutions, it was very hot. I’m a wimp and it was way too hot for me. Next time I plan to cut back on the peppers by substituting shallots and I will eliminate the red pepper flakes altogether.

Makes 4 Pints

Ingredients:
• 4 lbs. (approx. 16-20) roma/plum tomatoes
• 1 lb. Anaheim peppers (approx. 5 to 6) (add jalapenos for added heat and adjust quantity to equal 1 lb)
• 2 medium shallots (or substitute 2 med. onions)
• 4 garlic cloves
• ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
• ½ tablespoon + ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup bottled lime juice (for canning safety, don’t use fresh)
• ¼ cup bottled lime juice & ¼ cup cider vinegar (or substitute 1/2 cup cider vinegar as in the orig. recipe)
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 ½ teaspoons sugar (not included in the original recipe)
• ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional (add to taste for a hotter salsa)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Core and cut tomatoes in half. On large baking sheets, place tomatoes cut side down, peppers, quartered onions, & garlic cloves. Roast in preheated oven 30 min., removing garlic after 15 min. Skin of tomatoes and peppers should be blistered and partially blackened. Cover pan for 10 minutes; steam will make peeling skin easier. Remove tomato skins. * Wearing plastic gloves, remove skin, seeds and stems from peppers (or leave seeds if you want hotter salsa). In batches, place onions, garlic, cilantro, peppers & tomatoes in food processor and chop to desired consistency; transfer to 5 quart pan. Add lime juice, vinegar, water, cumin, oregano, salt, & pepper. If any juices remain in roasting pan, add those, too. Stir together. Add crushed red pepper flakes to taste, if more heat is desired.

*Note: If you prefer, you may leave the skin on the roasted tomatoes. Be sure to puree them in a blender or food processor before the other ingredients in order to finely chop the skin.

FOR WATER PROCESS CANNING: Bring salsa to boil on stove top; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Add to hot sterilized jars leaving 1/2″ of headspace, and water process in water canner 15 minutes for half pints, 20 minutes for pints. Turn off heat, and leave jars in hot water for 5 minutes. Remove from canner and let rest undisturbed for 12-24 hours.

For canning safety:
–In order to ensure a safe pH level, do not alter the ratio of tomatoes to peppers, onions, lime juice, and vinegar. Seasonings may be adjusted, if desired.
–Follow jar preparation and processing recommended by the USDA; see canning safety guidelines at http://www.freshpreserving.com

Chipotle Fig Jam

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs figs, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus a few lemon slices if desired
1-1½ canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped — to taste, depending on your desired spice level

DIRECTIONS:

Chop your figs according to how chunky you want your jam, and place in a large non-reactive pot. Cover with sugar and let macerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Add water, lemon juice, and lemon slices if using, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir regularly to prevent scorching.

After an hour, if needed, use a potato masher to break up the figs. Stir in the chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce.

Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until the jam has reached a consistency you like.

Ladle into hot jars, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Yields 4 half pints

Fuzzy Navel Jam

INGREDIENTS:

3-1/2 cups peaches, peeled and chopped

1 large orange

2 cups sugar

3 T. Peach Schnapps

3 T. Ball Flex batch low sugar/no sugar pectin

DIRECTIONS:

Using a vegetable peeler or a knife cut away just the outer rind of the entire orange without taking too much of the pith (white part). Using a knife cut the rind into slivers and set aside. Using a knife or your hands peel away the pith and segment the orange. Cut off any of the white part inside the orange as that is bitter and will leave an unpleasant taste to your jam. Chop the orange and set aside. Cooking: In a stainless steel pot combine peaches, orange, and rind. Simmer, for 10 to 15 minutes or until peaches are tender. Add sugar and peach schnapps and bring back to a boil.

Add pectin stirring in completely. Bring it back to a boil and do not stir for one minute. This will help activate the pectin. Remove from heat.

Ladle jam into hot, sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and refill if necessary. Wipe rims, and add hot lids and rings. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. You will start timing once the water comes to a full boil.

Makes 5 half pints.

Balsamic Fig Jam

“A messy kitchen is the sign of happiness.”

Figs are beginning to ripen in East Texas and luckily we have friends with fig trees on their properties. I’d never done any canning before so this first time was rather laborious and time-consuming but I’m now looking forward to trying out additional recipes. Without patting myself on the back too much, I must say that this is the best fig jam I have ever tasted … the aroma and tastes of the vanilla and balsamic vinegar really make it unbelievably pleasing.

This recipe was adapted from CookingMadly.com. It makes six half-pint (8-oz) jars.

(PS … Since originally posting this recipe, I’ve been able to repeat it several times and it is undoubtedly the best canning recipe I’ve made.)

Beginning to simmer in the pot

Beginning to simmer in the pot


Ingredients:
3 pounds fresh figs
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, tied into a sachet
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons vanilla
A great breakfast or snack!

A great breakfast or snack!


Instructions:
1. Wash the figs, remove the stems, and coarsely chop them.
2. In a large saucepan, add the figs, sugar, balsamic vinegar, peppercorn sachet, and lemon juice. Bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring to break up large pieces of fig, until the jam reaches 220°F, about 45 minutes to an hour.
3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir well. Depending on your preference, you can use an immersion blender to puree the jam.
4. Ladle into sterilized jars, wipe the rims, add lids and rings, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Kristen’s Nutella Brownies

“Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions; chocolate understands.”

Our seven year old niece’s favorite food is Nutella so it was only natural that we would make something using this gooey and delicious spread. Nutella can be really messy so have plenty of paper towels on hand!

Ready for the oven....

Ready for the oven….

This recipe is found on many websites and all over Pinterest. Our inspiration came from Food.com and had been posted by a user named “A Nice Czech Girl.”

Prep Time: 15 mins. Cook Time: 15 mins. Servings: 12

Ingredients:

½ cup Nutella
1 large egg
5 T all-purpose flour
12 Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses (chopped nuts can be substituted)

Directions:

Fresh out of the oven ....

Fresh out of the oven ….

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use paper or foil liners in a 12-cup mini muffin pan.

2. Whisk the Nutella and egg together in a medium mixing bowl until well blended. Add the flour and whisk until well blended.

3. Spoon the batter into each prepared muffin cup until about ¾ full. Top each brownie with a Hershey’s milk chocolate kiss.

4. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Our Black-Eyed Peas

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

This really isn’t OUR recipe but since my wife discovered it and I ‘fine-tuned’ it, we are calling it Our recipe! Actually, my wife heard about this recipe on a TV gardening show and the host made it clear that he knew the ingredients but not how much of each. I experimented with the measurements on two batches and finally came up with this recipe which we really enjoy served over fresh, hot cornbread.

Our Black-eyed Peas

Our Black-eyed Peas

The secret, or success, of this recipe is to use a smoked turkey wing instead of the traditional salted pork or bacon. This recipe should be easy to modify to serve two people or twenty.

Ingredients:

    24 oz. Black-eyed Peas, frozen or fresh
    32+ oz. Chicken Broth, enough to cover the peas
    1 Turkey Wing, smoked
    1 tsp Adobo (Mexican powdered seasoning)
    1 tsp Garlic powder
    1 tsp Onion powder
    1 tsp Canola Oil
    ¼ tsp Red Pepper flakes, crushed

    Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings and oil with a cup of the Chicken Broth. Mix well and set aside.
2. Place the Turkey Wing in a pot or large pan and cover it with the peas.
3. Pour in the seasoning mixture and enough Chicken Broth to cover the peas by about a half inch.
4. Cook on a low heat for 2 to 3 hours carefully stirring occasionally to ensure that the peas don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. Using a slotted spoon and tongs, remove the bones, skin, and other waste from the Turkey Wing and discard. Leave the turkey meat and shred it into chunks with two forks.
6. Serve as a side dish or even as an entrée over cornbread or even rice.
7. Serves four to six.

Roasted Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms & Asparagus

“Keep calm and pass the balsamic.”

Originally this recipe (from laaloosh.com) was for Green Beans and Mushrooms but I’m so picky that I just felt like the green beans were always over-cooked and mushy. Sooo, I substituted fresh Asparagus spears and the result was the ideal side for steak or seafood (or, almost anything else). By the way, you can also substitute fresh whole Okra pods for the asparagus.

This is a healthy, light, side dish … the biggest calorie contributor is the EVOO.

Servings 4 … Prep Time 10 … Cook Time 20

Ingredients:

8 oz., fresh, Asparagus spears
16 oz Mushrooms, fresh, sliced
2 T Olive Oil
2 ½ T Balsamic Vinegar
6 cloves Garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F. Wash mushrooms and let drain. Cut the asparagus spears into 2 ½-3” pieces and discard the lowest portion of each spear.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic.

Place the mushrooms and asparagus pieces in the bowl and carefully roll them around coating them with the liquid mixture. Arrange on a large cookie sheet covered with non-stick foil spreading them out well. Roast 15-20 minutes, starting to check for doneness after 15 minutes. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown. Most of the liquid on the pan from mushrooms will have evaporated.

Remove from oven, season to taste with just a hint of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. If desired, sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan. Serve hot.