Thursday, September 16, 2010

Freezer Peach Jam

This isn't so much as a recipe, but rather just some notes for the next time I make peach jam--my favorite of all homemade jams.  I'm not sure what the reason is for being so dear to me--maybe it is because ripe peaches means Fall is just around the corner, or maybe it is the memory of my mother making peach jam, or maybe it is just because peaches are just so heavenly!

For this batch, I just Kroger Can-Jel Fruit Pectin.  Each recipe calls for 2 lbs peaches, 2 T lemon juice, and 5 cups of sugar.  I used 8 peaches and it was just enough for 2 batches of jam.  I ended up with 10 1-cup containers of perfect jam.  The only hard part is waiting 24 hours for it to set (who am I kidding, we didn't wait....).

Making jam....I think it defines us, kind of makes me feel like a real mom.

Butternut Squash

*I feel so good seeing my husband and children eat squash like it was dessert--the little bit of sugar makes it all worth it!

1 butternut squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seed removed
2 T butter
approx 1/4 cup brown sugar
sprinkling of nutmeg (~1/4 t)
sprinkling of cinnamon (~1/2 t)

1.  Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
2.  Place squash in baking dish, skin side down.  Pierce flesh with fork multiple times in meat of squash.
3.  Spread butter over squash.  Sprinkle with sugar and spices.
4.  Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depend on size of squash).  Squash is ready when the flesh easily pulls away with fork.

*Butternut squash can be cook many different ways, saltly or sweet.  I prefer the sweet, honey can also be used.  The aroma is delicious with just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Chicken Stew

*A week or so ago I was trying to clean out leftover ingredients in my fridge and came up with this recipe.  I didn't write it down or take any pictures because I didn't know what a success it would be.  I had to try to replicate it today and much to my pleasure, it was again a success (it's not often we eat the same dinner twice in a month, the picture doesn't do it justice).  I have a feeling this will be a good stand by for 3 reasons: (1) good on the budget and simple to make, (2) there aren't any special ingredients I really have to plan ahead for, and (3) everyone likes it!

2 t olive oil
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (I have combined these with boneless, skinless--either work just fine, but I would recommend the bone-in for 2 reasons--the meat seemed to be moister and it is less expensive)
1 cup chicken broth
3-4 carrots, sliced in about 1 inch rounds (these have been the first things eaten from the meal)
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 t fresh basil
flour/cornstarch (to thicken gravy)

1.  Heat olive oil in oven-safe saucepan.  Sear chicken on both sides.  Add carrots, onion, and broth.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil.
2.  Cover and bake at 275 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken juices run clear.
3.  Remove chicken and veggies from broth.  Thicken with flour/cornstarch dissolves in 1/2 cup cold water.  Let cook for a few minutes.  Serve with rice.

*I bet celery would taste good in this, too.

Single Crust Peach Pie

From Allrecipes
*It wasn't until after I was married that I even knew peach pie existed--even then it was something elusive, I only ever heard of someone making it.  Last Saturday I bought a case of delicious peaches.  Sadly, all 42 peaches had been devoured in less than 5 days (except for the 8 peaches I used to make jam)!  On the bright side, my children reached for the perfect peach snack in place of other things and we got to finally try our own Peach Pie. A definite winner--it too had a short life span and the leftovers didn't last the night.

3/4 cup white sugar
2 T butter, softened
1/3 cup flour
1/4 t ground nutmeg
6 fresh peaches - pitted, skinned, and sliced
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

1.  Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then cool in cold water.  This makes them a cinch to peel with your fingers.  Slice and pit peaches.
2.  Cream sugar and butter or margarine together.  Add flour and nutmeg; mix until mealy.  Spread 1/2 of mixture in pie crust.  Arrange peaches on top of crumb mixture.  Load the peaches up well over the edges of your pie pan (they will shrink a little while cooking).  Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top of peaches.
3.  Place pie on a baking sheet (to catch dripping).  Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.  Continue baking for 40 minutes, or until brown.

Beef Roast

Assumption #1:  A roast should be full of flavor
Assumption #2:  A roast should be fairly easy to make
Assumption #3:  Every Sunday, we should have roast (that's my husband's assumption)
Assumption #4:  Above all else, a roast should be TENDER!

*After many tries of making a tender, fall apart beef roast, this one fit the bill.  I'll admit that I'm still not the roast expert I want to be--nor the gravy queen (I'll happily take suggestions).  However, my 5 year old said, "Mom, can you put this whole dinner on your blog so we can make it again?"  That (and the fact we didn't have any leftovers) was enough for me.

2 t olive oil
4 lbs beef roast
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Heat a heavy Dutch oven on top of the stove over medium high heat. Add oil, and sear meat in the center of the pan for 4 minutes. Turn meat over with tongs; sear all sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Arrange onion, garlic, and 1 bay leaf in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return meat to pan, place remaining bay leaf on top of meat, and cover. 
3.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. Reduce the heat to 275 degrees F, and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Remove roast to a platter to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice, and top with onions and gravy. (Thicken the drippings with a little bit of flour to make gravy).

*I fibbed a little on the cooking time as church is 3 hours long--and it is about 3 1/2 hours that we are away from the house, but the meat turned out just fine.  I'm sure the degrees and time can be adjusted slightly to fit your meal schedule.