Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peanut Crunch

You may think it is too late for cooking up goodies in your kitchen for Christmas 2014...but think again.  Here is a simple and delightful sweet 'n salty treat that you can whip up in a few minutes.  It is a great addition to the Christmas trays and also packages up nicely for a hostess gift any time of the year.  Thank-you to my friend Judy who shared this recipe on her blog many years ago.

  • 1 bag peanut butter chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups mini-pretzels, somewhat crushed
Place chips and peanut butter in a large, glass bowl.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Stir until smooth. (Continue to heat in microwave for 20 seconds at a time, if necessary.)
Add peanuts and pretzel pieces.  Stir to coat evenly.
Spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and break the sheet of candy bite-sized pieces.
Place in a large container with a tightly fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract couldn't be easier!  
All you need are two ingredients...vanilla beans and alcohol.

Pure homemade vanilla extract smells heavenly...
adds intense flavour to baked goods...
and makes a fun little gift from the kitchen.

  • 12 Vanilla Beans 
  • 2 cups vodka 
 Rule of thumb ~ use six beans per 1 cup of alcohol.  (Never less.  More is better!)

  1. Split each bean in half lengthwise using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.  Leave an inch connected at each end of the bean.  (Just because.  For looks!)
  2. Place the beans in a clean jar.  Cover them with vodka to submerge completely.  Place the lid on the jar and give it a little shake.
  3. Put the date on the lid...just so you know how long it has been steeping.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for several months.  Shake occasionally.The longer you wait, the richer it is.
  5. Strain the infusion through a coffee filter to remove the flecks of seed.  Or, leave them if you prefer.
  6. Decant the extract into pretty bottles for gift-giving...using a funnel.
  7. Add more vodka to the 'spent' vanilla beans in the jar and make more vanilla!  Eventually the beans will need to be replaced...once all the flavour has been extracted.  I left the 'used' beans in the jar and added fresh ones as well.
Vanilla happens to be among the most expensive spices, since growing the seed pods is very labour intensive.  I ordered Madagascar beans on-line.  As for the vodka, I used the least expensive kind I could find.   Vodka is the preferred alcohol since it is virtually flavourless.

And that is the synopsis of my first foray into making vanilla extract.  The vanilla has been packaged and gifted...and the next batch is steeping in a dark corner of my pantry.  I thought I would share my experience with you now...to give you plenty of time to get your vanilla extract production going before next year's gift-giving season is upon us.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Brown Sugar Cookies

This is a tried and true recipe from long ago.  My boys always enjoyed these cookies at their friends' home...and brought the recipe home for me one day. Though they are a year-round 'lunchbox' kind of cookie...I like to make them at Christmas-time as well.  Create patterns by pressing the dough flat with the bottom of a fancy glass (or a vase, in my case) dipped in sugar.  The sparkling sugar crystals add a festive touch!

Brown Sugar Cookies
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Combine melted butter and brown sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  3. Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and stir until combined.
  4. Form small balls of dough (3/4" diameter) and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Press down with bottom of fancy tumbler dipped in granulated sugar.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven.  Leave on pans for several minutes; then transfer to wire rack to cool.
  8. Yield: about 5 dozen cookies 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pigs in a Blanket

This  cottage cheese pastry is one I have used in the past for sweet rolls...specifically Orange Glazed Cheese Pastries.  But I discovered it is also a great pastry for savory appetizers.  Wee sausage rolls make a yummy appetizer served with a mustard dipping sauce, pickles and cheese. 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold
  • 1 cup creamed cottage cheese
  • 1 package (500 grams / 1 pound)  cocktail sausages
  1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Using a large-holed grater, grate the butter and stir into flour mixture.
  3. Add creamed cottage cheese (I like to process the cottage cheese slightly in the blender to get rid of lumps first).
  4. Mix until smooth. 
  5. Wrap in plastic and chill for several hours.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and shape into disks.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll each disk into a fairly thin circle, about 1/8-inch thick. 
  8. Cut each circle into 8 wedges, pizza style. Using a pizza wheel works great for this. 
  9. Place one wee cocktail sausage on the wide edge of each wedge, and roll up pastry around the sausage.
  10. Place the pointy side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or well greased. 
  11. Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
  12. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
Yield: 48 rolls

*These can also be frozen and re-heated before serving.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Cheerios Fruit and Nut Bars

Photos of cheerio bars kept popping up here and there...and piqued my interest.  Why not use my recipe for puffed wheat squares and make a few substitutions?  That's what I did...and they were a hit! 

  • 4 cups cheerios
  • 2 cups fruit and nut trail mix (or your favorite combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup syrup (corn syrup or golden syrup)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Combine cereal, fruit and nuts in a large bowl.
  2. Combine butter, syrup, brown sugar and cocoa in saucepan.   Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil.  Boil stirring constantly for one minute. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour brown sugar mixture over cereal and stir well to coat.
  5. Turn into a greased 9" x 13" pan  (or a 10" x 15" bar pan for a thinner bar).
  6. Press flat with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray. 
  7. Allow to cool 10 minutes and cut into bars of desired size.

*Tip ~ Line pan with parchment paper and remove unsliced squares to the cutting board before slicing.  Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lemon Basil Carrot Bundles

With many people planning turkey dinners for this weekend, here's a veggie plate suggestion that might just be a good addition to your menu.  The carrots can easily be prepared in advance, and re-heated at the last minute.  They taste as good as they look!
  • 8 large carrots (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 stems of green onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  1. Pare or scrape carrots. Then cut into strips about 3 inches in length.
  2. Cook carrots over medium heat until tender crisp.
  3. Remove from heat.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. Place onion greens in a covered dish in the microwave.  Cook on high for 30 seconds.  Cool and use limp onion greens as ropes to tie the carrot bundles.
  5. Gather carrot strips into eight bundles.
  6. Tie each with an green onion stem. Trim off ends of carrot bundles to even out lengths, if desired.
  7. Place bundles in a shallow bowl and drizzle with lemon basil mixture.
  8. Cover and chill until serving time. 
  9. Reheat in microwave oven for about 3 minutes or until piping hot.
  10. Serve on a bed of steaming green peas, if desired!
Serves 8


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Apple Fritter Rings

It's autumn and we are enjoying apples every-which-way these days.  Once a year we have apple fritters...this year they became apple ring fritters.  I used a mandolin slicer to get thin (1/3 inch) slices and a dollar store apple corer to remove the core.

Apple Ring Fritters
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large tart apples
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Blend flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Beat eggs and add milk; pour into flour mixture, stirring until smooth. 
  3. Peel, core and cut apples into thin slices.
  4. In an electric skillet or a heavy frying pan, heat oil to 375°. 
  5. Dip apple rings into batter to coat and place into hot oil.
  6. Fry several at a time until golden...turning over to cook on both sides. 
  7. Drain on paper towels. 
  8. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over hot fritters.  Or, serve warm with syrup.
Yield: about 18 - 24 fritters

And just for the fun of it...I tried apple ring pancakes using the very same method.

  • Peel the apples. 
  • Remove core. *If you do not have a corer, slice first and then use a biscuit cutter to cut out center circle.
  • Slice thinly.
  • Dip each apple slice into your favorite pancake batter. (I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the batter).
  • Transfer the apple slices to greased and pre-heated skillet. 
  • Cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and then flip. 
  • Cook until golden brown.
  • Drizzle with syrup and enjoy!
 Both the fritters and the pancakes were great.  My pick?  The fritters, of course!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cheesy Onion Rolls

Last summer, while in Winnipeg for some Celebration book launch events, we enjoyed some wonderful cheesy onion rolls made famous by a local bakery.  I came home with the recipe and am sharing my copykat version with you today.  The yeast dough I used is not the bakery original, but my favorite refrigerator yeast dough. 

Yeast Dough:

  • 2 cups very warm water
  • 1/4 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons yeast (instant, fast rising)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
  • 6 - 6 1/2 cups flour
  1. Stir together the water, potato flakes and sugar. 
  2. Add eggs, softened butter, and yeast mixed with 3 cups flour. 
  3. Beat with mixer on high speed. 
  4. Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft but knead-able dough is formed. 
  5. Knead well. 
  6. Place in a greased bowl.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. (About an hour in a warm place.)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  1. Punch down dough, and divide in half.
  2. Roll each half out to form a 16 x 12 inch rectangle.
  3. Brush each piece with half the melted butter; sprinkle each rectangle with half the cheese and poppy seeds.
  4. Beat egg, and brush lightly over long edges.
  5. Starting at one long side, roll up tightly, pinching seam to seal.
  6. Cut thick slices (about 1 1/2") and place on parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 
  7. Press buns to flatten to about 3/4" thick.
  8. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  9. Brush lightly with beaten egg.
  10. Top each roll with onion slices. 
  11. Add a dollop of mayonnaise on top of each bun (about 1 teaspoon).
  12. Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Cool on racks.
Yield: 20 large cheesy onion rolls.

*Here's what I love about this dough.  It is a wonderful refrigerator dough...and keeps well for several days in the fridge in a sealed container.  It is a simple thing to use half the dough for cheesy onion rolls today...and refrigerate the rest to use for cinnamon buns or more onion buns tomorrow (or the tomorrow after that!). 

Served alongside a salad...these cheesy onion rolls have been a lunchtime favorite in recent months.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Tuscan Tomato Basil Soup

We have a favorite soup that comes from the Safeway deli...a zippy tomato and basil bisque.  Here's my version of that soup...one I make in fall when the tomatoes are plentiful.  I'm sure it could also be made with canned tomatoes...but fresh is always better.  It also freezes well...to be enjoyed later. 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes (or 4 cups canned diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme or oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup cream (or 1/2 cup milk and  1/2 cup sour cream)

  1. Heat olive oil in large pot, over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  
  3. Add broth, squash, tomatoes, basil and thyme (or oregano).
  4. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until very tender. 
  5. Purée soup in a blender (in small batches).
  6. Return pot to stove and re-heat on medium-low heat.
  7. Add seasonings and cream and heat until steaming, stirring as necessary.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Damson Plum ~ Jam, vinaigrette and plum sauce

Damson plums are a beautiful fruit from a bygone era...and often hard to find in this modern age. They are a European variety of plum that originated in England and around the Black Sea.  Damson plums are small, round and dark purple with intense colour and flavour...which makes them perfect for jams, jellies and preserves.

Here in the Fraser Valley, they are ripe for the picking in September...just as summer is about over. We happen to have friends with Damson plum trees on their yard and have enjoyed many delicious gourmet treats from these wee plums in recent years.  

The downside to preserving Damsons is that most varieties are not freestone, so removing the pits can be a bit of a challenge.  The simplest way to do that is to simmer the plums and then pick out the pits by hand.  Here's how:

  • Wash and pick over the plums.
  • For every 8 cups of  plums add 3 cups water. 
  • Combine the plums and water in a large heavy-bottomed pot. 
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle and then fish out the pits.
*I put them through an old-fashioned food mill (the kind with the wooden pestle), and then removed the pits from the pulp left left behind with gloved hands. The pulp goes back into the plum mixture.

Damson Plum Jam:
  • 6 cups prepared plums
  • 4 cups sugar
Measure the plum puree into a large heavy-bottomed pot.  (For every cup of prepared plums, add 2/3 cup of sugar. You can cook up slightly larger or smaller batches than the one posted here.)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While stirring, continue to boil rapidly for 20 minutes...or until mixture coats the stirring spoon.
As the jam cooks, remove any pits you may have missed.
Remove from the heat; stir and skim for several minutes.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

This makes a soft-set jam...perfect for spreading on biscuits or breads.  Damson plum jam is also a great addition to sauces and dressings.

 Plum Sauce:

  • 1 cup plum jam
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Allow to cool; store covered in the refrigerator.
*Serve with chicken or with pork.

Plum Vinaigrette Dressing: 
  • 5 tablespoons Damson plum jam
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  •   salt and freshly ground pepper  to taste
  1. In a blender, pulse the preserves, vinegar, and mustard until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the oil until smooth. 
  3. Add the onions, salt, and pepper; pulse briefly. 
  4. Refrigerate in a bottle.
This dressing goes well with a salad of mixed greens, chopped red onion, fruit (peaches or nectarines), feta cheese and toasted almonds or pecans.
* * * * * 
Those are a few of the Damson plum dishes we have enjoyed here recently.  These are not my grandma's Damson plum recipes however.  She baked Platz (coffee cake) using this delectable fruit.  It tasted great but should have come with a warning attached...beware of pits!
Have you got a Damson plum memory, recipe or story you would like to share with us?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frozen Peach Pie Filling

Everything has been coming up peaches around here lately...and now is the time to stock the freezer with one of my favorite fruits.  I clipped this recipe from a newspaper many decades ago...and have used it often through the years.  Freeze the peach pie filling in 9-inch pie plates lined with several thicknesses of plastic wrap.  When you are in pie making mode, just remove the pie-shaped frozen filling and set into a pastry lined pie pan.  Bring the taste of summer to your winter table!

  • 9 pounds fresh peaches
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Fruit Fresh (fruit preservative)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 heaping tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Line four 9" pie plates with several thicknesses of plastic wrap, allowing wrap to extend 5 inches beyond rim of pan.
  2. Scald and peel about 9 pounds peaches.  
  3. Slice and measure 16 cups.
  4. Combine sugar and Fruit Fresh. 
  5. Add to sliced peaches along with tapioca, lemon juice and salt.
  6. Divide filling evenly among the pans.
  7. Loosely cover each filling with extended wrap and freeze until firm.
  8. Once filling is frozen solid, remove from pans and wrap tightly.
  9. Return to freezer until needed.
To make up pie:
  • Pastry for 2-crust 9" pie
  • 1 frozen block of peach pie filling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Line pie plate with pastry.
  2. Remove block of peach pie filling from freezer.  Unwrap and place into pastry lined pie plate. Do not thaw.
  3. Dot with butter.
  4. Cover with top crust and seal edges well.  
  5. Cut several small slits near center of crust.
  6. Bake at 425°F for 45 minutes; lower temp to 350°F and bake an additional 20-30 minutes (until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Pear Bread

There is a story behind this moist and delicious pear bread.   More than three decades ago, I was gifted a loaf by a dear lady named Frieda.  After a long day of work, I recall how nice it was to have the fresh pear bread to enjoy with the family in the evening.  Frieda told me it was a recipe from a cookbook put out by a group of local women.  I had the cookbook at home, and made a mental note to bake the pear bread in my kitchen sometime. Time flew by and several years ago I finally got around to baking the pear bread...and I brought Frieda a loaf.  Not so long ago, I brought her another loaf…along with a bouquet of tulips.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago and did not expect to see the flowers of spring the following year. Since then, two years have come and gone.  Frieda has enjoyed the tulips and now she is smelling the roses!  And tomorrow she will be celebrating her 90th birthday. She's still looking terrific and feeling quite well.  Her only explanation is that God still has a purpose for her on planet earth!  It seemed a good day to share this recipe.  Feel free to leave your birthday greetings to Frieda in the comment section.  I happen to know Frieda reads this blog!

Cinnamon Swirl Pear Bread 
  • 3 cups chopped peeled ripe pears (3-4 pears)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 9 - 10 cups flour
  • 3 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  1. Combine pears, water and 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain pears, reserving syrup. Add cold water as necessary to reserved syrup to measure 1 1/2 cups; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine beaten eggs, butter, honey, salt, almond extract and lukewarm pears and reserved juice. 
  3. Stir instant yeast into four cups flour and add to other ingredients.  Beat well.
  4.  Continue adding flour to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. 
  6.  Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/4 hours.
  7. Punch dough down; divide into three pieces.  Roll each portion into a 16-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle each surface with 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture to within 1/2 in. of edges.
  8. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seams to seal. 
  9. Place, seam side down, in three greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, (about one hour).
  10. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 20 minutes longer or until bread tests done. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.  
Yield: 3 loaves   
I have one more note of interest about the origin of this recipe.  It was submitted to the original cookbook by Bev Klassen.  Who knew that one day Bev and I would both be contributors to Mennonite Girls Can Cook...and that I would be the one to share it over here?  It is a small world after all!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Bowls

We serve up our salads in tortilla bowls, why not desserts?  Cinnamon sugar tortilla bowls make a great dish for those summer desserts. What could be better than an ice-cream sundae served in a crispy bowl...one that is meant to be eaten?  They are simple to prepare and can be made ahead. 

  • 6 - 6" flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Spray 6 large oven-safe ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Soften the tortillas by microwaving for about 10 seconds.
  4. Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with melted butter and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Place each tortilla in a ramekin, gently folding as needed and pressing to flatten the bottom.
  6. Bake on middle rack of oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp.
  7. Remove shells from ramekins after several minutes and cool on a rack.

Fill with a scoop of ice-cream and your desired toppings.  Or fill with pudding, fruit and whipped cream...or even fruit salad.   And don't forget to eat the bowl!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob

Fresh Chilliwack corn-on-the-cob is at its prime right now...and we are enjoying it often.  Last year I shared a tip for cooking corn-on-the-cob for the masses in a picnic cooler.  It's perfect for that backyard BBQ when the whole gang is coming.

But what if there are just two of you?  Or even one?  Here is the best way to cook and husk a few cobs of corn!  Pick out fresh cobs, fully ripe with the husks and silk intact.  Then place them in the microwave and cook on high  for 3-4 minutes per cob (4 minutes for a large cob).  Remove from the microwave oven with an oven mitt or a hot pad.  Then comes the magic part!

1. Place corn cob on cutting board, holding with the hot pad on silky end.
2. Cut about 1" off bottom end of cob.
3. Squeeze from the top and the cob will slip out the bottom. Ta-da!
4. Yield: 1 perfectly cooked and silk-free cob of corn!

Smother in butter and season as you like.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bumbleberry Jam

We quite enjoy throwing several kinds of berries together to make a pie or a crisp.  Why not combine a few varieties of berries to make bumbleberry jam?  I used blackberries, blueberries and raspberries...equal amounts of each...and we quite enjoyed the combo.
  • 6 cups berries, crushed with a potato masher or pulsed in the food processor or blender
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 box Certo Light pectin crystals  (If you prefer a runnier jam, use only half the package of pectin.)
  • 1 teaspoon butter, optional  (prevents jam from foaming)
  1. Place crushed berries and water in a large pot.  (Add water to berries when processing in blender.)
  2. Combine pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of the measured sugar.  Add to prepared fruit.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring with a long wooden spoon.
  4. Add remaining sugar and 1 teaspoon butter.
  5. Return to a hard boil; boil while stirring for one minute.
  6. Remove from  heat.  Stir for several minutes to prevent fruit from floating.
  7. Pour into warm sterilized jars* to 1/4" from top.
  8. Cover with lids and screw rings on tightly.
*Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse well. Sterilize jars, lids and rings by placing in a large baking pan and placing in oven at 225ºF for 10 minutes. Keep warm until filling time.  By using warm jars and hot lids, the jam jars will seal without processing in a hot water bath. (According to the Kraft Certo guidelines.)  Cooked jams and jellies can be stored on the shelf unopened for 6 to 8 months.

Triple berry preserves on a thick slice of fresh bread is a delightful combo!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Cube a Watermelon

Who knew there could be so many ways to cut up a watermelon?  We figured out early on that we each had our own method...and both us of thought that ours was the better way.  But that was all about serving slices on a platter...with the rind on.

Today I am going to share a few tips for cutting a whole watermelon into bite-sized pieces.

Place washed watermelon on a cutting board and lop off both ends.

Stand the watermelon up on one of the flat ends.  With a large knife, follow the curve of the watermelon and cut the rind off one slice at a time. 

 Be sure to remove all the white rind...since it is not at all sweet.

Cut the watermelon in half horizontally.  Working with one half at a time...slice vertically as if you are slicing a loaf of bread.  (If your watermelon has black seeds...this would be when you remove the seeds...one slice at a time.)  Rotate your half-watermelon and slice vertically in the opposite direction.

Lay pieces on their side and complete the process by cutting into bite-sized chunks.  It works well!

Cubed watermelon should be stored in a covered container in the fridge...and will keep for about 5 days.  It makes the best summertime snack!

And did you know that watermelon cubes make great ice-cubes? That makes perfect sense...since watermelon is over 90% water.  Instead of watering down your drinks with regular ice...try watermelon ice-cubes.

Places the cubes onto a parchment lined tray.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze the watermelon cubes until completely frozen (several hours).  Place the frozen cubes into a resealable plastic bag for easier storage.  Add to your next cold glass of water or punch to enjoy on the patio!