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Red Raspberry Jam

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Does anyone remember this post last October where I teased you with this picture?

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-VQbTH43Z544/UnH1scURz3I/AAAAAAAAKTw/YIjt8BflQsY/w685-h514-no/DSC08626b.jpg

{Pancakes recipe here}

It all started when I bought a gazillion pints of raspberries because they were unseasonably on sale for $1 each at that time.

After we ate half a gazillion, the rest were about to go bad, so I decided to try my hand at homemade jam.

It’s something I’ve never done but always wanted to.  Let me tell you, it couldn’t be easier! You don’t even need to go out and buy pectin, at least not for this recipe.  That’s one reason I never made it, it just annoyed me that I needed to go buy something that was already in fruit anyway. This method uses a method of cooking the sugar first to gel the jam, rather than an abundance of pectin.  Cool.

If you’ve never had homemade jam, there is just no comparison to store bought. So good.  You might not be able to eat store bought after making your own!  And if you can bear to part with some, it makes great gifts too.

Red Raspberry Jam

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 lbs fresh raspberries
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to combine and break down the berries. I mash them with my spoon or a potato masher to break them down and the jam still has a pleasantly chunky consistency when finished. Cook until jam reaches 221 degrees, or until a small amount gels on a plate when placed in the freezer for 2 minutes. Pour into a 4-cup glass measure and pour into sterilized & prepared jars. Screw on lids and allow to sit until sealed.  Jars may be stored in refrigerator for up to a month.  For instructions on how to can the jam to keep it at room temperature for up to a year, click the recipe link below.

Recipe source: adapted from Martha Stewartx

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Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

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Jessie turned ten earlier this month and I decided that I was finally, finally, going to throw her the birthday party I’d always wanted to throw her ever since we got her.  I had invitations I meant to use for it so long I finally ended up selling them at our garage sale last year, thinking I would always have too much going on to actually do it.  Ironically, I ended up throwing her a birthday party the year I’m most busy, with a little human puppy taking up most of my time.  Just goes to show, you always have enough time for whatever you put your mind to.

I plan to do a whole separate blog post about the party because it was the sauce, if I do say so myself, but first I wanted to share the recipe I made for the PupCakes.  Rather than make something flour-based, I decided I wanted to go with meat-centric PupCakes because, let’s get real here, it’s a rare dog that prefers a flour & fruit-based treat over a meaty one.  Jessie is alll about the meat.

So I just threw together a bunch of stuff that seemed like it might make good dog-friendly (i.e. no onions) meatloaf into a bowl, mixed it up, and took a tiny taste test after baking.  Wow, I was impressed!  The only salt in the recipe comes from the ketchup, so I thought it would be rather bland, but these are so good I wished I’d made extra to enjoy along with the pups!  I added a mashed potato “frosting” that I thinned with yogurt.  So healthy and delicious, and the dogs devoured them! (Don’t be fooled by Doc giving up his to Jessie in the video, he’s so sweet that if Jessie even looks at him when he has a treat, he drops it so she can have it.  Kind of breaks my heart, actually! lol)  Even the little tiny dogs ate an entire PupCake by themselves. I’d say they are definitely dog-approved. :)

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
½ cup quick oats
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 cup ketchup

Frosting
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
Milk to thin

Optional garnish: real bacon bits

Remove ground beef from refrigerator to allow the chill to come off while you begin the recipe. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9 muffin cups with foil liners; set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, red pepper, and zucchini, and sauté until softened, about 5-10 minutes. In large bowl, combine the cooked veggies with the remaining pupcake ingredients until well combined. Roll mixture into 9 large balls and place in prepared muffin cups.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. Cool slightly in muffin cups.

While loaves are baking, cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in 3-quart saucepan, cover with water, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Add yogurt and beat with an electric mixer, adding milk as necessary, until creamy and smooth like frosting.

Place potatoes in a 10-inch decorating bag and snip the tip as large as you want it to come out. Alternatively, you can place them in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Remove the pupcakes from the muffin pan and place on serving plate. Starting at outside of each cake and in a circular motion, pipe potatoes onto each meat loaf. If desired, garnish with bacon bits. Serve warm or room temperature.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original

Sweet Potato Pizza

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Although my favorite pizza isn’t fancy or interesting (supreme with regular ol’ pizza sauce), I do love to try new things and this recipe, found in the latest Taste of Home magazine, called to me.  My husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes and I have this weird thing where if he doesn’t like something, I try to find a way that he will enjoy it.  I want everyone to like the things I like – I’m a control freak like that. ;)

Anyway, he hates eggplant even worse than he dislikes sweet potatoes, and I once got him to enjoy it on a pizza, so I figured it would work with sweet potato too.  I was right!  He might not have enjoyed it as much as our mutually loved supreme pizza, but he gobbled it up and said “it’s good” when I asked what he thought, so I count this as a success.  :)

Sweet Potato Pizza

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for pan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, about 10 oz.
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tube (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza dough*
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir the olive oil and garlic together; microwave for 30 seconds and set aside to infuse while preparing pizza. Preheat oven to 450F. Rub plain olive oil over a large 14″ pizza pan; set aside.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Cut each slice into 1/2-inch wide strips; place in a microwave-safe dish and add the water. Cover and microwave on high 3-4 minutes, or until potato is almost tender. Drain; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together gently.

Unroll pizza dough and press to fit prepared pan. If desired, pinch edge to form a rim. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and one tablespoon of the garlic olive oil. Top with sweet potato and sprinkle with the herbs. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of garlic oil and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. Bake on lowest oven rack 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

*Veronica’s notes: if you prefer to make your own crust, go for it! This is my favorite whole wheat crust. The original recipe called for 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup of fontina cheese, but I couldn’t find the latter and went with all mozzarella.  I’d definitely encourage you to try it with fontina if you can find it – I’m sure it’s even better that way!

Recipe source: adapted from Taste of Home Feb/March 2014, sent in by Libby Walp of Chicago, IL

Lookin’ for more pizza with pizzaz? Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Shrimp & Bacon Ranch Pizza

Fresh Vegetable Pizza

Cheeseburger Pie

Bread Machine Hamburger (or hot dog) Buns

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It’s been so long since I posted the recipe for Rosemary Sage Burgers with Chive Mayo that many of you may not even remember this picture:

Yeah, I posted that over three years ago.  I put that delicious burger on a delicious homemade bun, always intending to share the recipe. And didn’t.  Then I won a red ribbon for that recipe and still didn’t share the recipe.  I guess better late than never, right?

These buns are nice and soft with great flavor.  Making the dough in the bread machine makes them fairly easy, too! The only work you really have to do is shaping the buns, the rest is just waiting.

Bread Machine Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons non-fat milk powder
2 tablespoons shortening
2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups all-purpose & 2 cups white whole wheat or whole wheat flour)
1 packet instant/bread machine yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
Optional: egg white & sesame seeds or poppy seeds

Measure all the ingredients into the bread machine pan in the order given, making a little well in the mound of flour to put the yeast in. Push pan in place, select the dough cycle, and push start.

When cycle finishes, turn out onto a floured board and punch down. Knead 4 or 5 times; add a little more flour as you knead if necessary to keep it from sticking. Cover dough with a clean dishcloth and let rest for about 30 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal or flour.

For hamburger buns: Press dough into a circle and cut into 8 even wedges; form each wedge into a ball then flatten into a smooth and fairly even circle.

For hot dog buns: Shape these into long somewhat narrow snakes. (Makes about 12 or so.)

Place dough shapes on the baking sheet, cover with parchment paper or a clean dish towel, and let rest for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. If you’d like to add sesame seeds or poppy seeds to the tops, brush them with beaten egg white, then sprinkle the seeds on top.

Bake at 375 for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Makes 8 hamburger buns or about 12 hot dog buns.

Recipe source: The Cooking Photographer

Homemade Sloppy Joes (look Ma, no cans!)

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I follow a lot of blogs and some of them I rarely comment on (if I commented on every blog I follow it would be my full-time job), but will pin their recipes almost daily.  Such as Plain Chicken and Jam Hands.  Everything they post is like, “Oh that is the most fattening and delicious thing I’ve ever seen. I must make it!”  FYI, I really love fattening recipes, especially right now.  (And more and more am not loving sweet stuff!  To the point that I almost would have rather died than taste the frosting on the last order of cupcakes I made, though I made myself do it to make sure it was good. I couldn’t tell if it was good, I hated it so much.  Oh well, fat is better for you than sugar anyway.)  This one  isn’t fattening, but I won’t hold that against it because it is family friendly.  And maybe that’s a better way to classify Ali’s recipes (she has two little girls).  I love family friendly too, even if it doesn’t have a pound of butter in it.

I pinned Ali’s Best Ever Sloppy Joes over a year ago and finally made them recently.  I have never made them from scratch so I don’t know if this is the best-ever recipe from personal experience, but it sure beats using a canned sauce!  Totally delicious.  I ate two sloppy joe’s for dinner the night I made this, and Dennis ate the rest of the pan! I think he had at least four!  So I guess you could say this is husband-approved.  Like I said, family friendly.

*I didn’t serve these with bakery fresh buns, but her instructions to do so reminded me I have an award-winning buns recipe I need to share! Will do that soon!

Best Ever Sloppy Joes

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell peppers (I use a small bell pepper)
1/2 cup chopped celery (I used three stalks)

Cook ground beef and chopped onion. Drain fat off meat. Add back to large pan. Add remaining ingredients. Mix. Reduce heat to low and cook 40 minutes. Serve with fresh bakery buns.

Recipe source: Jam Hands

Thankful Thursday #93: the cake didn’t explode


So did any of you realize that the cake in yesterday’s wedding photos was the cake I said I was making on Thanksgiving? Oh yes it is!  It survived the 1 1/2 hour journey and did not explode, implode, topple over, get dropped, get smashed, get stepped on, sat on, or even sneezed on.  It was perfect.  Well, as close to perfect as I’ll ever get a cake.  Thank the Lord above for small miracles!  Or perhaps in my case, it was a miracle of epic proportions.

This was my first wedding cake:

And this was my first wedding cake done for a couple I did not know, so the stress factor and importance factor was even higher (they did not have love for me to help with forgiveness,  lol):

Notice the water on the box? Yeah, it was raining. I hope it’s true that the more goes wrong on your wedding day, the smoother your marriage, because if so, this couple must be the happiest couple on Earth!  They certainly deserve it.

And here’s the sad little dummy cake (made out of styrofoam) I made in a hurry to replace the cake I ruined…and then proceeded to drop and ruin it as well.  It was a bad. day.

So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal that the only snafu I ran into with this cake was that the top tier suffered from icing budge (when the air inside a refrigerated cake expands as it comes to room temperature and causes a bulge and/or eruption in the frosting). I even put a dowel rod in the top tier to keep the budge from happening but should have removed it to allow more air to circulate during the trip, but even so, this was a small problem and I just pressed the frosting back into place with a spatula and it was good as new.

I was so happy you guys!  The bride was happy, the groom was happy, and we all lived happily ever after.

Until the cake slid off the table.  ;)  The end.

Bird’s Nest Cookies

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Most of my readers probably know by now that I’m a Christian.  What might surprise you is that I don’t celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays.  We do the secular stuff with our families, exchanging gifts, hunting for baskets, but we do not recognize any affiliation of those holiday traditions with our faith.  We recognize Christ as our savior, remember his birth, life, death, and resurrection, but we do not do it just because it’s Easter or just because it’s Christmas–holidays that ultimately have pagan roots and nothing to do with Christ, despite the emphasis put on Him during this time by many. Not that I despise that emphasis, it’s actually refreshing, but we choose to keep these holidays secular while keeping our focus on Christ year-round.  Make sense?

*crickets chirping*

Hello?  Is anyone left?  Hopefully I didn’t lose everyone by starting out on such a serious note.  I have lots of thoughts on this subject…and maybe I should share them some day.  I was thinking about starting a “my faith” page on my blog where I can file my thoughts on spiritual matters in more detail.  Let me know if you’d be interested.

Anyway, whether you celebrate Easter or not, these moist chocolate macaroons shaped into nests with white chocolate truffle “eggs” are a perfect spring-time treat!  I made these a couple years ago and nearly forgot about them until I ran across the photos I took.  Perfect timing!  I hope you enjoy them, I know our family did!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 squares (2 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz) bag sweetened shredded coconut
16 to 18 white chocolate Lindt Lindor balls (2 bags), or other egg-shaped candies

Move the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt baking chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave on high 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each stop until melted; set aside.  With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites on high until stiff and glossy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate. Beat until mixed. Stir in the coconut and hazelnuts. Scoop into mounds with a small (size 24) ice-cream scoop or a 1/4th cup dry measuring cup. Place on cookie sheets and make an indent in the middle with your thumb.

Place both cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the cookies to the opposite shelf halfway through baking. This will prevent over-browning. Meanwhile, unwrap the candy.

Move cookies to a cooling rack and allow to sit for five minutes, or until they are barely warm to the touch. If you place the truffles on top while they are more than barely warm, they will melt into goo. If you are using candies with a shell, wait until the cookies are cool to place them on top, or the shells will crack. For the truffles, working quickly, set the Lindt balls on top of the cookies. Let cool completely. The Lindt balls may drip a little so you may want to place a sheet of parchment underneath the cookies.

*To toast the hazelnuts, place them in a small bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave another 30 seconds. Immediately rub together in a paper towel to remove a little of the excess skin. Leave most of the skin on. Chop coarsely and set aside.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.

Recipe source: The Cooking Photographer

Question of the day: if you celebrate Easter, what are your favorite traditions?  Our family (technically Den’s family–mine doesn’t really celebrate) always does a Easter basket hunt, even for the adults. I love hiding them almost as much as finding them! :)

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