Grape Jelly

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but here’s another cooking adventure I’d always been afraid to try. Making jelly and canning. This adventure wasn’t even on my culinary bucket list – it was too scary. There’s the whole bit with the pectin and the part of sterilizing jars and sealing jars. It just seemed like way too much time and effort to be worth it.

Boy was I wrong!

Homemade jelly is FANTASTIC.

Maybe it’s the grapes.

These grapes came from my parents’ lake house in Lake Geneva, WI. This house used to be my grandparents’ summer home and I spent many of my childhood summers making memories there.

By the road there’s a fence that has grapes growing on it. Grapes which I always thought were green grapes. Nope. They’re beautiful, purple concord grapes! They were just never ripe when I was visiting.

This year, the grapes were ready a little early and Mom called me up asking if I wanted to try making jelly with her. She had over ten pounds of harvested grapes! She stopped by on her way back to Florida for the winter for a few days and we tried our hand at jelly making. A first for both of us!

There are a good number of steps to jelly making. And there’s a good mess to be made. But it’s not difficult. And with the right canning suppliesit’s even fun. This recipe made 12 4oz Jarsand 4 8oz jars.

Making Homemade Jelly 1 Making Homemade Jelly 2 Making Homemade Jelly 3 Making Homemade Jelly 4

Grape Jelly

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb concord grapes
  • 7 C sugar, divided use
  • 1 pkt pectin(or 8 tbsp)

Equipment:

  • blender or juicer
  • cheesecloth
  • jelly jars with lids and rings
  • jar funnel
  • jar grabber
  • magnetic lid grabber
  • large stock pot(s)

Steps:

  1. Sanitize your jelly jars. I did this by running my dishwasher on a very hot cycle. Keep jars warm until ready to fill to prevent the glass cracking. If you do this in a dishwasher, simply don’t open the door until you’re ready to fill the jars. If you sanitize jars by washing with soapy water and boiling in water for 10 minutes,keep the jars in warm water until you’re ready to fill them.
  2. Place jar lids in a shallow skillet over low heat (do not boil) to get the seal gummy, remove lids from water.
  3. Place grapes in a blender (this will need to be done in batches) and pulse until juiced. Pour and press the juice through a cheesecloth lined strainer and strain into a large measuring cup. Squeeze cheesecloth to extract all the juice. Do this until you have 5 C of juice. (Any extra juice is a delicious tart treat for you to enjoy!)
  4. In a small bowl, combine the pectin with 1/4 C of the sugar.
  5. Warm the juice, but do not boil (yet). Stir in the pectin. Bring to a full boil.
  6. Add the rest of the sugar and return to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
  7. Fill jars with jelly, cover with lids and rings. Seal by placing the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in a dry place over night. (I did this in my oven.)

*This recipe is adapted from http://www.pickyourown.org/grapejelly.htm#.VELDzfl4ofg*

Homemade Grape Jelly

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce

Today is National Pasta Day!

As if I needed an excuse to eat pasta!

I must admit, when I saw this pasta sauce I judged it solely by its cover. Had I read its description I would have passed it up.

Alfredo isn’t my favorite sauce – which is surprising seeing as cream sauces typically make my mouth water – I simply find that it’s always lacking in flavor.

Bell peppers aren’t my favorite vegetable, I usually find their flavor too strong.

Goat cheese is one of those cheeses that I’m on the fence with. I’ve had it in cheesecake and it was fabulous and I’ve had it in macaroni and hated it.

So why on earth would I combine these three flavors? Well, because the original photograph depicted a creamy pink sauce that I just can’t resist!  Sure, I could’ve read the ingredients and continued on my merry way but I don’t just cook for myself. I have a husband who enjoys my cooking and supports my hobby. A husband who is always the inspiration behind what I cook. Stuart likes alfredo sauce, loves bell peppers, and enjoys goat cheese. I continued with my plan and topped my favorite pasta shape with beautiful roasted red pepper alfredo sauce.

I am pleased to announce that I greatly enjoyed this pasta sauce. The goat cheese added the zip that I find is missing in most alfredo sauces and the roasted red peppers provided a beautiful color and earthy flavor to the creamy sauce. Honestly, I think the sauce tasted better for lunch the next day!

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 4 oz goat cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan
  • 1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Steps:

  1. In a saucepan over medium high heat saute onion in olive oil. When translucent add garlic and cook another 60 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk and heavy cream. Add the cheese and cook until melted. Add the roasted red peppers.
  2. Using an immersion blender puree the sauce until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Note: If you don’t have an immersion blender use a counter-top blender, just be sure to leave the lid cracked because the sauce is hot. 
  3. Serve over your favorite cooked pasta. Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese.

*This recipe is adapted from Chungah at http://damndelicious.net/2013/12/02/roasted-red-pepper-alfredo/ *

Alfredo FG1

#BundtBakers: Caramel

4ae7b-bundtbakerspost

This month’s edition of #BundtBakers is a little different. No, you won’t notice anything unique about this month compared to any of the previous #BundtBakers events but behind the scenes I’ve gotten to try my hand at hosting! #BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

Because Halloween happens this month I chose the ingredient of Caramel. I considered making candy the ingredient of choice but I couldn’t get Caramel Apples out of my mind. Looking at the day’s offerings it looks like I wasn’t alone! And there are even two recipes that use some popular Halloween candy in their bundts!

I must admit though, in all of my excitement at getting to host this month I ended up scrambling to make my bundt. Thankfully our leader Stacy of Food Lust People Love sent me a friendly reminder. If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have noticed that I am in the market for a planner. If I had a super fun beautiful planner I wouldn’t have gotten my weeks messed up and this bundt would’ve been made in a less stressful environment. When it comes to #BundtBakers I’ve usually completed my cake and blog post by the first of the month!

But it all worked out in the end. My mother-in-law was visiting over the long weekend and although we had to lose some sewing time I got to bake with her! I did use a boxed cake mix as I was in a rush and because it was due to expire next week! I haven’t used a box mix in quite some time, hence it was about to expire. I needed to adjust the cooking time to accommodate for the deeper baking vessel. Feel free to use your favorite chocolate cake recipe if you so desire, but a little “semi-homemade” action isn’t a bad thing. It’s the apple crumble and the homemade caramel that set this cake apart.

Chocolate Caramel Apple Bundt 1

Chocolate Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix and ingredients required (or use your favorite chocolate cake recipe)
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar, divided use
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 10 tbsp butter, divided use
  • pinch of salt
  • scant 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 C finely diced green apple

Steps:

  1. Prepare boxed cake mix to instructions. Pour batter into a well greased bundt pan and bake until a knife inserted comes out cleanly. Allow to cool. (I baked mine at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes.)
  2. Make caramel: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 C brown sugar, heavy cream, 4 tbsp butter, and salt. Once butter melts cook stirring constantly for 8 minutes until thick. Add vanilla and cook another 2 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Make crumble: In a large bowl whisk together 1/2 C brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon. Cut 6 tbsp butter into cubes and fork into oat mixture until a crumble consistency is achieved. Pat the diced apple dry with a paper towel before adding to the crumble.
  4. When cake is cooled remove from bundt pan and cut a well in the top. Fill well with crumble and top with 1/2 C of the prepared caramel.

*This cake was inspired by Averie at http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/10/caramel-apple-cheesecake-crumble-bars.html *

Chocolate Caramel Apple Bundt 2

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. All recipes and photographs can be found on our individual blogs, on our Pinterest board, and the #bundtbakers homepage.

And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

Apple Butter Bundt Cake with Cider Caramel Glaze by Cassie of Cassie’s Kitchen

Apple Pecan Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze by Aisha of La Cocina de Aisha

Brown Butter Praline Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle by Tux of Brooklyn Homemaker

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake by Kaylin of Keep it Simple, Sweetie

Caramel Banana Bundt Cake by Kathya of Basic N Delicious

Caramel Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing by Rebekah of Making Miracles

Caramel Chocolate Bundt Cake by Natalia of Principiando en la Cocina

Caramel/Chocolate La Belle Helene by Jelena of A Kingdom for a Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce by Laura of Baking in Pyjamas

Cornmeal Bundt Cake with Caramel Popcorn by Patricia of Patty’s Cake

English Toffee Bundt with Drunken Dulce Drizzle by Stacy of Food Lust People Love

Fall Classic Caramel Bundt Cake by Maleka of La Luna en Dulce

Fair Toffee Apple Bundt by Jane of Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Milky Way Bundt Cake by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm

Salted Caramelized White Chocolate Glazed Butterscotch Pecan Bundt Cake by Laura of The Spiced Life

Snickers Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze by Bea and Mara of I Love Bundt Cakes

Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with a Caramel Brickle Drizzle by Teri of The Freshman Cook

Spiced Caramel and Pear Bundt Cake by Rocío of Kids&Chic

Three Flavor Zebra Bundt Cake – Vanilla, Caramel and Chocolate by Caro of En la Cocina de Caro

Tuesday Tattles #2

Tuesday Tattles

It’s hard to believe that my little man is over 3 months old already! I imagine I’ll be saying that at every month and every milestone. But it’s true! It’s amazing how much he changes every day. I feel like a lot has happened during this month, and it seems that my son’s happy days now outnumber his fussy ones.

Here are a list of the things that helped make this month so special.

Tuesday Tattles #2

10685502_10102438510986301_1797669741868615293_nMusical Mobile

When we put together my son’s room, it was complete with a traditional mobile over the crib. This one has a woodland theme to match his bedding. If the purpose of mobiles is to help lull babies to sleep then it doesn’t do it’s job. But what it does do is entertain my son and helps work on his tracking skills. He gets really excited when I turn it on and it’s beyond adorable to watch. I benefit from it’s distraction when I need to empty his diaper bin. (Cue Friends quote when Rachel is at her baby shower and doesn’t understand a diaper genie.)

Burp Rags and/or Bibs

I can’t stress this one enough! My son has turned into a slobber monster, what I call a “slobberpuss”. We are constantly wiping at his mouth fighting a never ending battle to keep his onesies dry. The doctor assured me that this is completely normal and will only get worse!

Bouncer

My mom bought a bouncer seat during a trip to Target because it was on sale. I was hesitant. I’m always nervous to spend money on something to find that my son hates it. At $22 my mom went for it. And I am so glad that she did! My little man loves sitting in his “big boy seat” as Stuart calls it. These seats come with removable visual toys and thank goodness they’re removable. I don’t know if my son is afraid of cartoon lady bugs and snails, but he hates having these toys in front of his face. Maybe they’re just too close for comfort. I’ll give them another try soon – maybe when he can reach them they’ll be fun and not scary.

IMG_0306Activity Gym

Activity gyms are a popular purchase for new moms and it’s obvious why. With different toys hanging down there’s always something “new” to look at. There’s even a mirror that can be attached to the gym. My son loves to look in the mirror and smile and coo at his “friend.” My favorite thing about this play mat is that it works his hand-eye coordination. As he gets older and learns how to use his hands he can grab the fox that hangs lowest and shake and rattle it, or simply bat at it to make noise. The hedgehog has a little device that plays an excerpt of “Rock-a-Bye-Baby” and the rabbit has a squeaky toy in it, when I squeeze them he looks towards the source of the noise. I love watching him grow and learn!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

Mexican Monday and Salad Night combine in this recipe from Jess of Flying on Jess Fuel.

Beet Biscuits

My neighbor gave me a mega massive beet from her local produce box. She said they were being over taken by beets and asked if I’d like one. I’d only ever used beets once before, for August’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge, and we really enjoyed them. This one beet provided the same amount of food as 2 of the beets purchased at the grocery store. Seriously, huge!

I stumbled upon this idea when searching for a dinner recipe to use some of the sweet potatoes my husband brought home from a grocery run. (He is king of straying from the list) A quick Food Network search revealed Paula Deen’s recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits.

Then I saw the beet on the counter staring at me, begging to be used. I figured, why not!?

I’ve never made biscuits before. I’ve never seen or heard of beet biscuits. But who’s to say I can’t do it?!

I couldn’t remember ever being this happy after a recipe success.

And as an added bonus – they’re pink! Stuart pointed out that they fit with Breast Cancer Awareness month, so rush to the computer to create a blog post I did!

Beet Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 beet
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash the beet and wrap in foil. Roast beet for 50-60 minutes, until fork tender. When cool enough to touch peel, cube, and place in a food processor. Puree the beet and add a few tablespoons of the milk until the beet reaches an almost smooth texture.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Place in a large bowl.
  5. Fold the pureed beet into the flour mixture. Add in the remaining milk.
  6. Knead dough on a floured surface. Add extra flour if needed. Press to 1/2″ thick. Cut dough into 9 square biscuits and place on a greased baking sheet. (Or, if you’re fancy, use a 2 1/2″ round biscuit cutter.)
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes until firm to the touch.

*This recipe is adapted from Paula at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/fluffy-sweet-potato-biscuits-recipe.html *

Beet Biscuits

Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes

I used to be really bad at wasting food. I’d buy groceries with good intentions and then life would get in the way or cravings would overrule common sense. I have used the move as a great way to break that habit.

Instead of doing a massive “common pantry items” grocery trip I bought what I needed to make dinner. And then I would use those ingredients to plan out the next dinner plans, only buying what I needed at each trip to the store.

When I saw that the buttermilk in my fridge was nearing the end of it’s life and didn’t have enough to make Sweet Potato Waffles again (they’ve become a popular request of Stuart’s) I decided to make mashed potatoes.

I could’ve just thrown things together until they looked right, but I realized that sometimes people want a recipe for mashed potatoes and I could always use more side dishes on the blog. I pulled out the measuring cups and started creating a recipe!

Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 gold potatoes
  • 1/4 C + 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ranch seasoning
  • S+P, to taste

Steps:

  1. Wash and quarter the potatoes. Because gold potatoes have thin skins I left them on, but feel free to peel if you prefer. Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, salt the water, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Boil potatoes until fork tender and drain. Mash potatoes with a potato masher, or a hand mixer if you prefer.
  3. Mix in buttermilk and butter until creamy. Add ranch seasoning and S+P.

Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes

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