Monday, October 29, 2012

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Bread - Secret Recipe Club

After being out of town for several months - our trip to Colorado, followed by our trip to New York - it's time to be back participating in the Secret Recipe Club.

This month I was assigned Emily's blog Life on Food.  I had a great time going through her blog, checking out as many recipes as I could, but since I had just finished processing two pumpkins, I was drawn to her pumpkin bread. I had frozen 8 two-cup packages of fresh pureé, and was in the mood for baking.

Emily states in her recipe, "To mix things up a bit I like to add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips or dried cranberries to the batter before baking."  I figured "more is better," and added a cup EACH of chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. Oh my, was this bread yummy! Emily's recipe made two regular-sized loaves and two mini-loaves.

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Bread
from Emily of Life on Food
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 16oz canned pumpkin (I used two cups of pumpkin pureé)
  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Beat eggs. Add oil, water, and pumpkin and mix well.
  2. Sift flour. Measure and sift together with the sugar, soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center of these ingredients and add the pumpkin mixture to this. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
  3. Turn into 3 well-oiled loaf tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove pans from oven. Set on rack to cool.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dump Chicken - 2 recipes tried and reviewed

As I've mentioned before, I put quite a few meals in freezer bags with seasonings, and promised to share the recipes as we ate them. Last week we tried the Herb Wine Chicken, and tonight we had the Spiced Citrus Chicken. They were both from the Yahoo Group Frozen Assets.

Herb Wine Chicken

1 cup Red Wine
⅔ cup Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
½ Lemon (sliced thinly)
2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Basil
½ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Pepper

Combine wine, oil, and remaining ingredients in a gallon-sized reclosable freezer bag. Add 4-8 pieces of chicken - any pieces will do... breasts, wings, thighs, drumsticks, bone-in, skin-on, boneless, skinless, etc.   Freeze.

To cook:  Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Then you can either a) cook it in the crockpot on LOW for 6-8 hours, b) cook it in an uncovered pan in the oven at 350˚ (boneless - 30 minutes; bone-in up to an hour), or c) grill. 

----while this one smelled really good, the taste was "okay."  Don liked it, but agreed with me that the herbs overpowered the wine.

Spiced Citrus Chicken

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cayenne
½ Teaspoon Pepper
½ Teaspoon Salt

Combine olive oil, juices, and remaining ingredients in a gallon-sized reclosable freezer bag. Add 4-8 pieces of chicken - any pieces will do... breasts, wings, thighs, drumsticks, bone-in, skin-on, boneless, skinless, etc.   Freeze.

To cook:  Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Then you can either a) cook it in the crockpot on LOW for 6-8 hours, b) cook it in an uncovered pan in the oven at 350˚ (boneless - 30 minutes; bone-in up to an hour), or c) grill.

---this one gets a definite thumbs up from both of us. The citrus juices helped to tenderize the chicken (we used boneless thighs and breasts in this one), and the spices went well with the citrus. We ate this with baked sweet potatoes - a good contrast to the spicy chicken.

Lemon Soufflé Pancakes - tasty!

I admit it - I'm a Pinterest addict.  Almost every time I'm sitting in the recliner with my laptop, I'm checking out the food & beverage section of Pinterest.  I've found so many things to pin; and a vast majority of them are desserts.  Occasionally I'll find something great to try for breakfast - and this morning I tried the Lemon Soufflé Pancakes I pinned Friday night.

These are from the blog Shirley had these light, fluffy pancakes posted on her old blog (Kokken69) and since I love all things lemon, I just had to try them.

Lemon Soufflé Pancakes
from Shirley

¾ cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
A pinch salt
2 egg whites

To serve
Strawberries, halved
1 tablespoon honey
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Mix egg yolks, milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a bowl. Add melted butter and mix well.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in (1) gradually and mix flour with milk mixture until the dry ingredients are moistened. Be careful not to overmix.
3.  Place egg white in a clean bowl and beat until soft peaks are formed. Fold in egg white into (2).
4.  Melt a small portion of butter in a heated non-stick frying pan. Place 2 tbsp of the batter from (3) into the pan.  [Note: I just used nonstick cooking spray] Cook until the cake turns golden brown on the underside and looking dry on the edges. Flip over and continue to cook the other side. transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking remaining batter.
5. Toss fresh strawberries with honey and a light dusting of icing sugar. Dust pancakes with powdered sugar and serve immediately.   [I just served them with a few raspberries and dusted with powdered sugar.]

These made 18 4-inch pancakes - and since they're very, very light, it's enough for 3 people.

Verdict:  OUTSTANDING!  Don and I both devoured these, while at the same time, trying to savor every bite. The lemon is subtle, in spite of the amount of zest and juice used - but it is definitely lemon. I liked the light texture as well.  I think Don and I will be fighting each other over the leftovers.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cooked all day

Don was getting a load of wood delivered today; I knew he was going to be busy so I decided to tackle the rest of the apples. We'd talked about what we liked best, and the #1 choice was apple pie and apple pastries.  So the first thing I did was make another batch of apple pie filling. This time I used more apples, and ended up with 6 quarts and 2 pints.

With about 16 small apples left in the box, and a bag of cinnamon red-hots I'd picked up last week, I made cinnamon apple wedges.  Don said that he ate cinnamon apples a lot as a child; I remember Mom serving them often as a dessert.  This was a simple recipe which didn't require much sugar at all (compared to jelly).

Cinnamon Apples
from Miranda via SB Canning

4 cups water
1 ½ cup red-hot candies
⅔ cup sugar
6 medium tart apples, peeled and quartered (I used about 15 small apples)

In a large saucepan, bring the water, candies and sugar to a boil over medium heat; boil and stir until candies and sugar are dissolved. Reduce heat; carefully add apples. Cook in sugar mixture for 10 minutes on low. Turn off the heat for 10 minutes to let the apples suck up the syrup then just heat them back up to a simmer. Turn off the heat and with a slotted spoon, transfer apples into pint size jars then fill with the sweet liquid. Fill to ½” headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, add lid/rings. Process in water bath canner 15 minutes. I ended up with 4 pints and 5 half pints.

The last canning I'll do for a while (I'm worn out!) was a batch of jelly.  I saw a few recipes around the web for jelly using the peels and cores - cooking them for a while to get the good flavoring, adding some water or cider, and using that juice as the base for a jelly.

Apple Core & Peel Jelly
adapted from a recipe on

cores and peels from 15 -20 medium tart apples
6 cups water (for cooking cores and peels)
1-2 cups apple cider or juice
1 (1 3/4 ounce) box dry pectin
9 cups sugar
1-2 drops red food coloring (optional)

Cook peelings and cores in 6 cups water for 20-30 minutes. Strain through prepared cheesecloth or jelly bag. Add cider or juice as needed, to strained juice, to obtain 7 cups liquid. Whisk in pectin and bring to a rapid boil. Add sugar, bring back to boil and boil hard for 1 minute. If desired, food coloring can be added to juice for color. Pour into sterile jars, leaving 1/8" headspace; wipe jar rims, adjust lids and rings; water bath 5 minutes.  Note:  This jelly will take several days or longer to set up, so be patient!  This recipe made 6 half pints and 8 4-oz. jars, or 10 half pints.

Once I finished cleaning up the kitchen after all the canning, Don decided to take a break from hauling and stacking wood. [Our woodshed is out behind the house. The truck dumps the wood in our driveway, and Don has to put it in a wheelbarrow and go up some stairs and back to the woodshed to unload it and stack it.  It's a two-day job to do a cord.] I knew he'd be hungry, and I had a piece of beef thawing, so I made some gulaschsuppe.  It's a German dish that he and I have had in restaurants when we were stationed there, and I don't recall where I got this particular recipe. It's a bit different from the restaurant versions since it has potatoes and bell peppers in it (in addition to the onions). But we were both pleased with this, and the addition of the potatoes and bell peppers "stretches" it.  We had plenty for dinner and have a bag ready for the freezer for another meal.


1 lb. beef (round, chuck, arm, etc.)
5 slices lean bacon
2 medium onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 medium potatoes, peeled
6 cloves large garlic
3 medium tomatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (I didn't have any this time, and it was fine)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups water or beef stock
½ cup vegetable oil

Cut beef and bacon into small cubes. Finely dice the vegetables. Heat oil in a large stock pot; add meats and saute onions until brown. Add remaining vegetables. Stir well. Add tomato paste and all other spices. Stir well. Ad 3 to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Monday, October 01, 2012


I took a one-hour subbing job this morning at Yucaipa High School, just to get my feet wet again (I have an all-day job tomorrow). Afterwards, I drove up to Oak Glen so I could get apples and cider. Oak Glen is a small community that sits at about 4500-5000' up against the San Bernardino Mountains above Yucaipa. I live over the ridge from it, at 6000' in a different canyon. Because of the elevation, it's an ideal place for growing apples, and is known all over southern California as one of the best places to go. There are orchards, shops, restaurants, and other related business (pony rides, for example!) and gets pretty busy during the harvest months of September - November.

The first place I stopped was Law's Apple Barn, since I knew he had the best prices. We picked out a box of mixed apples - Pippins, Golden Delicious, Jona-Golds, and a few Granny Smiths. A mixture is best for making pie fillings.  These were "C" grade, meaning they had a few spots (some were perfect little apples) so I got 25 pounds for $20.

My second stop was Parrish Pioneer Ranch, where I got a gallon of apple cider and two apple burritos, one for me and one for Don.  Those gave me the idea for making a few small containers of apple pie filling for desserts like that.

I had to set up my apple peeler/slicer in the basement - it was the only place I could find a spot to clamp it.  I processed about a third of the box, and brought the big bowl upstairs to the kitchen to make the apple pie filling. I think I could have used 3-4 more little apples, but I still had enough pie filling for four quarts and three pints.

Apple Pie Filling
from SB Canning

10 lbs. tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced (~20 cups sliced)
5 ½ cups sugar (I used 2 cups brown sugar and 3 1/2 cups white)
1 ½ cup Clearjel
1 T. cinnamon
2-½ cups cold water
5 cups apple juice (I used apple cider)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup bottled lemon juice

For fresh apples, place 6 cups at a time into 1 gallon of boiling water and boil one minute when it comes back to a boil. Drain but keep fruit covered in a bowl. In a stockpot, mix the sugar, Clearjel, cinnamon, nutmeg together. Add the water and apple juice, stir to mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice. Fold apples into mixture. Pack the apples into hot, sterilized quart size canning jars, about 3/4 of the way. Fill the jars with the prepared hot syrup to fill to 1" headspace. Using a rubber or plastic spatula run through the contents of each jar to remove the air bubbles. Fill again to 1" headspace with syrup. Wipe the rims and place the hot lid/rings on the jars. Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes at a full rolling boil. Wait 5 minutes, remove and place on dishtowel overnight undisturbed. The next day remove rings and clean jars and label with recipe name and date. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.

On Wednesday, I think I'll freeze a bunch of the remaining apples.