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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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Tips for Shipping Food Items

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Many participants in the online bake sale have asked me for tips on shipping baked goods, and since there will also be many needing this information for the cookie swap, and probably others reading who would like to ship food items at some point in their life, I figured it behooved everyone for me to share my tips.  I’ve shipped a lot of food items, and have always had success getting my goodies from one place to another, fresh and (mostly) unbroken.  You may find a way that suits you better, but this is how I do it.

1.  Wrap/package the baked goods very well so that they are air tight.  For soft/chewy cookies, I put them together in a Ziploc bag and press the air out before sealing. For more fragile cookies, wrap individually in plastic wrap before putting in a tub or tin.  If you are shipping something that will smash or break easily (delicate cookies, marzipan, etc), it is best to place it inside a sturdy container, within the box you are shipping it in.

2. If you put your cookies or other goodies in a tub or tin, fill it to the top or so there’s no room for the goodies to move around in.  If you don’t have enough to fill up the tub or tin, fill the empty space with wadded up waxed paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap.  The goal is to be able to shake the tin and not hear or feel anything moving around.  No movement equals no breakage.

Notice I filled this tin all the way to the top with cookies (Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons).  I did have to rearrange them to make sure I could close the lid without smashing them, but when I closed it, there was no room for the cookies to move around when shaken.  I shipped this all the way to Afghanistan with no problems.  If you need to ship to a very far away place, coconut macaroons are a great cookie to choose as they get better with age, stay moist, and are sturdy.

3.  Once the baked goods are in the shipping box, pack well around the them so that they will not shake inside the box.  Use packing peanuts, wadded up newspaper, bubble wrap, etc.  Fold the box flaps down and shake it to test and make sure that the goodie package within the box does not move around.  I find it best to use a box closest to the size of the baked goods possible, so there isn’t much packing necessary.  A dozen cookies fits perfectly in a small Flat-Rate Priority box (offered for free at Post Offices everywhere) and you will only need a few peanuts to fill in the open space between your bag of cookies and the box. I have shipped many cookies this way and have seen photos of them after arrival, and they look just as good as the day I baked them.  Packing them tight so that they don’t move around during shipping is key.

After taking this photo, I made sure to fill in every gap with peanuts, closed the flaps, shook the box, and put in more peanuts if anything shifted.  By the time I sealed the box, those cookies were completely stable inside their box.   And as you can see, below, they arrived in the same condition they left in (minus the eaten part, lol). Julie described the cookies favorably as chewy, salty, and sweet (they were Sneaky Snickers Cookies, peanut butter cookies with mini Snickers hiding inside), so they also arrived tasting the same as they left.


4. For bread, wrap well in plastic wrap, making sure it is air tight.  You can then place it inside a plastic tub if you can find one that fits, or just put it right inside the box you are mailing it in, preferably one not much larger than the bread.  Pack with bubble wrap or peanuts to ensure the bread does not jostle during shipping.  Have the postal clerk mark “This Side Up” if you don’t want your box being turned upside down.

5. For glass jars, wrap each jar in bubble wrap before placing in box, secure the bubble wrap with tape, and fill in the empty space in the box very well with wadded newspaper, peanuts, or more bubble wrap.  Have the postal clerk mark “Fragile” on your box.

6.  Use Priority Mail (2-3 days delivery) or Express Mail (overnight) service.  Parcel Post is used a lot by companies shipping heavier items and if you choose this service, which will only be a little cheaper than Priority Mail, not only will it take longer to arrive, it may be placed beneath a heavier package and crushed.

7.  Request delivery confirmation.  (You will have to fill out a little slip that you can find usually while you are in the Post Office line and fill out the address while you wait.)  This allows you to track the progress of your package online and make sure it gets delivered.  This really helps when someone wants to know where their package is, then you can just provide a tracking number if need be.  It does cost 75 cents extra (free when you ship online with Priority Mail) but it is worth the peace of mind.

There are also a lot of tips here that I did not mention, but are very important to know, such as waiting for your baked goods to cool completely before wrapping/packing, and much more.

What NOT to do…

I once received a package of cookies in a Tyvec bag with no padding.  Notice the price she paid to ship it was more than it would have cost to use a small flat rate priority mail box, and the cookies would have been in better condition if she had mailed them that way.

She also would not have had to buy a container if she’d used a flat rate box, just a Ziploc bag.  The container had cracked during shipping because of the lack of padding, so it wasn’t air tight.  You can see that the cookies got beat up because the tub had a lot of extra room for them to move around in during shipping.  Despite all this, the cookies weren’t completely dried out yet and were still very good.  But they could have been wonderful if more carefully packaged.

Also, please do not try to ship a frosted cake.

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So sad.  :(  I got this photo here, and you can read the lovely story of how a mother shipped her daughter a birthday cake.  Unless you don’t mind your cake arriving in a heap of crumbles like the thankful daughter who received this cake, please leave it to the professionals. (How DO they get them delivered in one piece?! I really wish I could figure that out.  But I don’t want to pay the price of delivery to find out for myself-lol.)

I hope this helped you with any concerns you might have had and if you have any questions, just leave me a comment below.

Fresh Mild Salsa

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The secret ingredients chosen for the Holiday Recipe Club‘s Cinco de Mayo blog hop were dulce de leche, tomatoes, and chorizo.  For last month’s Easter blog hop, I went crazy and put a lot of effort into creating something with all three secret ingredients (carrot cracker treats with carrots, spinach, and eggs).  This month, I’m totally cheating and taking the easy route by using this as an excuse to finally post my fresh salsa recipe that I won third place for at the fair last year.

My inspiration for the recipe came from my sister, Danielle, who usually only makes recipes that turn out things like soap, lip balm, or bath fizzies.  But one edible thing she does make, and well, is fresh salsa.  Her secret ingredient is orange juice, and while I didn’t follow her original recipe to a T, I did make sure to use some fresh orange juice in it. I also replaced the jalapeño with poblano, which is a mild pepper, sort of like a bell pepper with just a bit of kick to it.  (I love spicy food but I was making this salsa for the “mild” category.  The salsa also had to use fresh ingredients, which is why I didn’t just make my favorite salsa.)  If you’d like a hotter salsa, dice up some seeded jalapeño instead!

The judges loved my salsa, but said it had a bit too much garlic, so I’ve adjusted the recipe to up it to blue ribbon status by cutting the garlic from four cloves (hey, what can I say, I love garlic!) to two (the amount in Dani’s original recipe–I should have listened to the expert!).  But as with all recipes, just add amounts to suit your own tastes!

Fresh Mild Salsa

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

6 medium fresh tomatoes on the vine
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ large red onion, finely diced
½ a bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Juice from ½ a lime, ½ a lemon, and ½ an orange
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated pepper

Finely dice the tomatoes, removing the seeded pulp as you go, and place them in a wire mesh sieve set over a bowl to drain for five minutes. Discard juice, then stir the tomatoes and all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 pints.

Recipe source: adapted from Danielle Davis

Check out the other Cinco de Mayo recipes in the blog hop by clicking below!



Cheeseburger Pie

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Nearly every single recipe that Faith from An Edible Mosaic posts, I want to try.  I have saved so many, but just like most recipes I save, I forget about them quickly.  However, this one really stuck in my cranium and even a week after I made it, I still can’t get it out.  I have to make this again, stat, and luckily I still have another sheet of puff pastry waiting in the freezer for me!

Her Cheeseburger Pie jumped out at me for several reasons.  First, it’s fairly simple.  Second, it’s pizza.  Third, it’s pizza that tastes like a cheeseburger, with a crust that looks like a bun!  Fourth, the ketchup and mustard are mixed in with the hamburger filling along with Worcestershire to kick it up a notch.  And fifth, she added a garlic & chive dressing to the top that I thought was a stroke of genius. I’ve had cheeseburger pies before, but never one quite like this.

This pizza not only met, but exceeded my expectations.  I wasn’t so sure using puff pastry as a pizza crust would work, but I really loved the shattering-crisp flakiness of it.  It really went well with the toppings.  The flavors in the filling were spot-on, and the lettuce, tomato, and dressing on top gives it a very nice, fresh quality that pairs well with the salty, cheesy filling.  This recipe is definitely worthy of my my “favorite recipes” folder and has already claimed it’s spot inside.  Thanks, Faith!

Cheeseburger Pie

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 sheet (1/2 lb) puff pastry, thawed
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 to 3/4 lb 95% lean ground beef*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dill relish
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon steak seasoning
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
1 egg, beaten (for eggwash)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, diced
Creamy Garlic & Chive Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place onion and beef in skillet and cook over medium heat, mixing and crumbling with spatula, until meat is browned. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add relish, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, and steak seasoning and cook until the liquid is evaporated (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.

Unfold puff pastry and place on prepared baking sheet. Spread the meat mixture on the pastry (leaving a 1-inch border all the way around), and sprinkle the Cheddar on top. Use your finger to lightly brush the border with eggwash (you will have extra eggwash) and sprinkle sesame seeds around the edge. Bake about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Cut into four slices and top each with lettuce, tomato, and a drizzle of Creamy Garlic & Chive Dressing.

*If you use meat with more fat than this, drain off the fat after browning.

Creamy Garlic & Chive Dressing
Yields about 1/3 cup

1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dried chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch salt and pepper

Whisk together all ingredients; store refrigerated until serving.

Recipe source: adapted from An Edible Mosaic

Fresh Apple Bundt Cake


Update: I won first place for this cake at the 2012 state fair!

This is my most requested recipe and the only one I’ve ever purposely not blogged.  It has always been raved over to such a degree that I felt it was the best weapon in my dessert arsenal and, just like I used to keep the name of the perfume I wore secret so I could be special and no one else would smell like me, I wanted to keep this to myself as well so I could be the only person supplying the joy it induced.  (OK so it’s available on Paula Deen’s website, but no one had to know that! Teehee!)  I’ve now come to my senses and realized joy should be shared on a much wider plane.  I think if everyone made and shared this recipe, the world would be a happier place.  And who am I to keep us from achieving world peace?!

Fresh Apple Bundt Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans


Glaze
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10” bundt cake pan.  Set aside.

For the cake: in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix well with a whisk. Fold apples, coconut, and pecans into batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.

Shortly before the cake is done, make the glaze: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda, and bring to a good rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the hot cake in the pan as soon as you remove it from the oven, making sure that it runs down the sides & middle to soak. Let stand 1 hour, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Recipe source: Paula Deen

This cake will stay fresh in the fridge up to a week–the glaze really helps it retain its moisture perfectly.  It also freezes extremely well.  Wrap the cake in several layers of plastic wrap before freezing.  If you plan to keep it in the freezer longer than a week or two, I would put a couple layers of foil over the plastic wrap.  To thaw, remove all wrapping and let sit at room temperature overnight in a container.

It’s very important that you don’t let all the sauce sit on top.  Spread it around, making sure it goes down the sides and down the middle of the pan so that it is all covered and soaks in evenly. (Your pan will not be this full unless you’re like me and can’t resist putting in some extra apples.)


This was a best seller at the Flying Pig last fall and I just got another order today from someone who just couldn’t wait until October to get another!

Honey Oatmeal Bread


**Note: This post is an eyesore but I don’t want to change the content because I’m keepin’ it real.  This is how the original post looked and read, and I want to be able to read it again ten years from now and cringe as much as I’m cringing now. :)  (Although I am adding a new photo of this in rolls-form, and plan to add more next time I make this into bread again.)

I will let you in on the people I’m identifying here.  This was back in my MySpace days, where I originally posted this, when I was friends with a couple gals who went by Red (Kim) and Kitchen Bitch (Krista).  Red’s white bread was the first yeast bread that required kneading that I’d ever made.  This was the second one and it is still my favorite after three years of baking with yeast.  It has the best, softest, texture and an incredible taste.  I hope you overlook the bad photos and delirious writing and make it!**

Well I’ve made Red’s bread which got me over my fear of making it, so I decided to tackle the Bitch’s bread…Kitchen Bitch, that is!  :)  Kim can have “Red’s Bread” and Krista can have “Bitchin’ Bread”–am I a great marketing schemer or what?  If you guys ever do open bread shops, I want 10% of your profits. Ha!

(It’s after 1 AM and I’m sleep-deprived.  In case you didn’t notice.)

OK, so Krista sent me this recipe quite a while back, but since the directions called for a stand mixer with dough hooks (which I don’t have) and I was scared to make bread in the first place, let alone try to modify a recipe to suit my lack of kitchen apparatus, I saved it for a later date.

The date came today.  Emboldened by my most recent success with the white bread, I decided I was going to go for the Honey Oatmeal Bread, despite my lack of dough hooks and despite the fact that it was nearly 11 PM.  It was a huge success and totally worth staying up for–even better than my first bread attempt!  The taste is unbelievable and the texture is crazy soft.  I’m in love.  I wish I had a good camera to show off the beauty of these loaves, but you can get a general idea from the back-up camera that I’m using.

Honey Oatmeal Bread
from KitchenAid

1 1/2 c water
1/2 c honey
1/3 c butter or margarine
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c quick cooking oats (Krista says rolled oats work fine too)
2 t salt
2 pkgs active dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp jarred yeast
2 eggs
1 egg white
1 T water
Additional oatmeal for decoration (optional)

Place water, honey, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until mixture is very warm. (120-130 F)

First place oats, then 5 c flour, salt, and yeast in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 15 seconds.

Continuing on Speed 2, gradually add warm mixture to flour mixture and mix about 1 minute. Add whole eggs and mix about 1 minute longer.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 c at a time, and mix about 2 minutes or until dough starts to clean the sides of bowl. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover (I use plastic wrap) and let rise in a warm, non-drafty place (I use my oven with the light on) about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Sometimes this takes longer than 1 hour. Let it go until it has doubled.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in greased bread baking pans. Cover (I use a clean dish cloth for this) and let rise again in a warm, draft free place (oven again) until doubled in bulk…usually an hour, sometimes a bit more.

Beat the egg white and water and brush the tops of loaves GENTLY. Sprinkle with oatmeal if desired. Bake at 375 F (preheat the oven so it is up to temp) for 30-40 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Krista recommends brushing the crust with butter or margarine after removing from pans and so do I.

Yields 32 servings (16 slices per loaf). Nutritional info per slice: 134 cal, 4 g pro, 24 g carb, 3 g fat, 13 mg chol, 162 mg sod

Veronica’s Notes:  To make this by hand, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Beat the eggs in a small bowl.  Pour in warm liquid and mix with a spoon until blended, then dump in the beaten eggs and fold the dough over and over until all the egg is incorporated and you’ve got a ridiculously sticky mass attached to your hand.  Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading it in.  I just knead my bread dough in the bowl to keep from dirtying another surface.  Once you have kneaded in all the flour and continued to knead for a few minutes, follow the instructions on the recipe.   I used instant yeast so I was able to skip the first rising and go straight to shaping the halves into loaves and sticking them in the pans.  Krista wouldn’t recommend this and she’s probably right that using regular yeast and allowing the bread to rise longer develops a fuller flavor, but I seriously can’t imagine bread getting any better than this.  If it’s better her way, the taste would probably give me a heart attack so it’s partly in the interest of my own health that I’m sticking to my own method.

Fresh Corn Chowder

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Take advantage of the abundant fresh corn available and cook up a double batch of this delicious chowder, freezing half for a simple meal this chilly fall or winter.

Fresh Corn Chowder
Serves 6

8 medium-sized ears of corn
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium-size red skin potatoes (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (about 3 cups of kernels); set aside.  Working over a bowl, grate remaining 4 ears of corn on the large holes of a box grater.  Scrape pulp from cobs (about 3/4 cup) using the dull side of a knife; set aside.

2.  In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon for about 6 minutes or until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

3.  Add onion to pot and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden brown.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes.

4.  Whisk in chicken broth.  Add potatoes, thyme, milk and grated corn and pulp.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Using a potato masher, press down on the chowder about ten times.

5.  Add whole corn kernels, bacon and heavy cream and cook an additional 5 minutes or until corn is tender but still crunchy.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Ladle chowder into bowls.  Top each serving with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar.

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