Saturday, September 29, 2012

Canning Pumpkin

Canning can be fun and fulfilling.  Knowing that the holiday Pumpkin Pie is made from Pumpkin made by hand and not from a store bought can is a pride.  An added benefit is the lack of packaged processing.

Pumpkins are probably the most popular of the of fall squash family.  Like many I am drawn to purchase a couple to spruce up my front lawn during Halloween and even Thanksgiving.  Drawn by my childhood I am unwilling to simply discard the oversized winter squash.  One medium sized squash can produce up to 8 pints of fresh packed pumpkin for holiday cooking.    That transforms into a lot of pumpkin pies, pumpkin cookies and even pumpkin soup.


Canning a pumpkin is a simple process
You will need:  One medium pumpkin

                           Six to eight quart canning jars
                           Food Processer or Blender
                           Large canning pot


Remove upper rack from oven.  Place remaining rack on lowest level.  Place one medium sized pumpkin on rack.  Set temperature at 250°.  Bake pumpkin for 4 hours or until it is soft to the touch.  Do not over cook.  Pumpkins tend to ooze juices when over cooked.  Allow pumpkin to cool.  Cut pumpkin in quarters.  Skin should easily peel off of pumpkin.  Discard seeds and skin and save for compost.
Place fruit of pumpkin in food processer or blender.  Allow puree completely, removing lid frequently to stir up mixture.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt for every four cups of pumpkin.  Continue process until all pumpkin has been pureed.  Pumpkin will not be as thick as store bought pumpkin. 

Place jars and lids in a large pot. Allow to boil for several minutes to thoroughly sanitize.   I like to use a large tamale pot.  It works very well, and is reasonably priced.  To avoid the cost of expensive canning jars I save every glass jar I purchase.  Once you’ve finished eating the jam ,The jar and lid can be reused to can with.

Place the fruit in the jars approximately ½ inch from the lower rim.  Seal the jar and tap the bottom several times to be sure all air bubbles are released.    Place the jars back in the pot.  Do not set the jars directly on the bottom of container.  Elevate the jars at least 6 inches to avoid too much heat cracking your accomplishment.  Allow the jars to boil for at least 20 to thirty minutes.  The elevated steam and heat activate the rubber on the lid to seal the pumpkin.  Carefully remove the jars and place on a surface that will not burn or melt.  Check the jars quite often by pushing on the center of the lip.  If the lid pops the pumpkin is not sealed.  If the jar is cooled and the lid is not sealed you can either place the jar back in the pan, or replace the lid.  If the jars are cooled and the lids do not pop you are ready to store your canned pumpkin for holiday cooking.
Split the pumpkin in half canning the first half as mentioned above
Add 2 cups brown sugar
        2 tablespoons cinnamon
        1 tablespoon nutmet
        1/2 tablespoon cloves
to the second half and follow canning directions.  You've got a pumpkin butter great spread on toast, biscuits or pancakes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From Scratch Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are just plain good anytime.  I find the store bought mixes lacking in a lot so I just make my own from scratch.  Of course, I serve them on Homemade Buns.  You can also find that recipe on this blog (and they are worth a try).  This will make eight sandwiches

2 Lbs Ground Hamburger
2 Garclic Cloves Minsed
1/4 Cup Hatch Chili Peppers
1 Cup Catsup
2 TBS Brown Sugar
2 Tps Mesquite Flavored smoke
1 Tbs Mesquite Flavored Seasoning
2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce

Brown meat in skillet with garlic and chilis.  Once browned drain grease and add remaining ingredients.  Stir generously and allow to simmer for 15 to twenty minutes.  Serve on buns with jalapeno, pickles or avacodo.

Frontera Pollo y Fideo

We love fideo at our house and enjoy experimenting with a lot of new ideas to prepare it.  This is what a call a plate full of comfort with a great kick to it.  So easy it will compliment any Sunday night meal.  So quick you'll want to try it on a cold fall evening. This will serve four.

8 Chicken Legs and/or Thighs
2 TBS Olive Oil

1 16oz package Fideo noodles
1 Bunch (apx 6) Green Onions chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
1/4 Cup Chopped Hatch Chilies
2 Tsb Oregano
1 8 oz Can Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

In larges skillet brown chicken about 10 minutes on each side until slightly crispy.  Remove Chicken from skillet and add onion, garlic and chilies.  Cook for five minutes until blanched.  Add Fideo to vegetables and stir constantly until noodles look cream colored.  Add tomato sauce and chicken broth in to mixture blending well with salt and pepper.  Return Chicken to pan with Fideo.  Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until noodles are done stirring frequently.  Serve with warm tortillas.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vegan Personal Pizza

These Pizza's are so darn good.  You won't believe how easy they are to make either.  I made these half vegan and half non vegan.  It didn't matter they both went quick.  Make these in advance and freeze to serve at your next party.  They are perfect for a leftover lunch too.  Use any combination of topings you like.  I used these because the combination was colorful and flavorful.

1 pkg (5 count) Indian Flat Bread (Naan)
3 cups Marinara Sauce

1 1/2 cup eash - Mushrooms, Red Pepper, Green Onions, Black Olives and Green Olives

5 Cups Boca Veggie Crumbles
1/4 Cup Green Chillies

Vegan Chedder and Mozeralla Cheese (by Follow Your Heart)

Read package ingredients carefully.  Not all Naan is vegan friendly.  Dice the vegetable ingredients a couple of hourse before you plan to bake the pizza's and place together in a covered bowl.  This gives an equally diverse flavor amoung the ingredients.  Place the flat bread on a cookie sheet.  Warm in 350 oven for 10 minutes or until as crispy as you like.  Do not cook crumbles, but add Green Chilies and mix well. Spread marinara sauce to the very edge of each piece of bread.  Top with 1 1/2 cup of vegetables and than 1 cup of crumbles and press with a splatula. Place back in oven for 10 munites to heat.  Top with cheese as close to the edge as you can go and press again.  Heat in oven until cheese is melted.

You can change the pizza up by adding you favorite meat topping like sausage or peproni and non vegan cheese.  Either way you prefer them the taste is one of the best pizzas around.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kickem Guacamole

You simply can't beat it!  Fresh guacamole is so creamy and goes with so many things.  Serve on Tacos, Tostados or Nachos for the perfect compliment.  Enjoy with tortilla chips, or baked pita chips and you've got a pleasing snack.  It's so simple you'll be serving it often.  Make this recipe for your next get together and you'll be a hit.

2 Large Haas Avocados
3 Large Crushed Garlic Cloves
2 Chopped Roma Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Chopped Onions
1/4 Cup Diced Hatch Peppers
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Split avocados down the middle.  With a knife rotate the seed until it breaks free.  Remove the pulp with a spoon and mash with  a fork.  Add remaining ingredients and and mix well.  Let set for at least thirty minutes for a seasoned taste.

TIP:  Buying fresh hatch peppers and dicing your own is economical and easy.  Coat pepper with olive oil and bake on a low temperature in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Once you remove the pepper from the oven the skin will peel off easily.  Dice the pulp and store in refrigerator.  Use in your favorite recipes for great flavor.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Sandwich Buns

Homemade Buns
I won't kid ya.  This is not a ten minute job but the effort is  worth it.  These buns are fresh, soft and tasty.  The work with any sandwich you can think of, including Hamburgers.   I love them for lunch with ham and cheese.  For breakfast they are really good with egg white and turkey bacon.  You can make them sliders, or full size buns for ease and they freeze well.  This makes 1 1/2 to 2 dozen buns.

Home Made Buns                
3/4 Cup Milk
1 Egg

Egg White and Turkey Bacon on Homemade Bun
2 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 3/4 Cups Flour
2 Tsp Active Dry Yeast
1/4 Cup Warm Water

Place yest and warm water in a bowl for five minutes to activate the yeast.  Whip egg and milk together in mixing bowl.  Add yeast and dry ingredients kneading all items together.  Dough should be stiff and easily from a ball. If too moist add more flour until texture is proper.  Leave dough in bowl and cover with a warm towel until doubled (approximately 30 minutes).  Remove dough from bowl and lay on a well floured surface.  Knead until all air bubbles are removed.  With a rolling pen that has been floured make a round form 1 1/2 inch thick.  Pick a glass that is either 3 inches across (for sliders) or at least 5 inches for larger guns.  Dip glass in flour and place as close to edge of dough as possible.  With a knife trace the edge of the glass.  Remove glass and place the etched bun on a pan coated with cooking spray.  Continue process until all dough is used.  Take remaining  dough and roll again to form more buns.  Place tray in a warm room (or oven that is heated to no more than 150) and let raise until doubled (about 20 minutes).  Cook on 400 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush tops and bottoms of buns with butter  to keep from hardening.

TIP:  If you happen to have a bread maker place all ingredients in kneading pan and allow to knead on highest speed through course. Run maker to rise through first cycle and remove from pan.  Knead dough on floured surface and continue with remaining process.