Archive for September, 2010

My dear, dear friend Marilyn sent me the link to this Sweet Pumpkin Butter recipe last week. She raved how after tasting it that she was gonna hafta ask for her own hand in marriage. She even said it was better than Stonewall Kitchen Maple Pumpkin Butter. So of course I had to give the recipe a try, and boy oh boy was Marilyn correctomondo!! It is delicious!! You can serve it on english muffins, toast, crackers, put it in your oatmeal, or just eat it from a spoon. I had mine on an english muffin this morning, after I had a taste from the spoon first.

Sweet Maple Pumpkin Butter
Adapted from Diana’s Desserts

2 – 15 oz. cans pure pumpkin
1 cup fresh apple cider
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tbsps. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a full boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

When slightly cooled, spoon mixture into sterilized jars, and process in water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit in pot for an additional 10 minutes after boiling. Remove from bath and cool. Make sure all jars seal.

You can also put butter into sterilized jars and refrigerate for 2 months.

Makes approximately 10 – 4 oz. jars.


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I found this recipe on The Sister’s Cafe blogspot and was intrigued by the combination of seasoning packets that were used. I put it into my “I wanna try this recipe” folder. And then while grocery shopping this week, I picked up a nice thick chuck roast, and some of the seasonings that I didn’t have in my pantry.

This morning I put the roast into the crockpot, peeled and cut up some carrots, chunked some celery, sliced two onions, and placed them around the roast along with some canned button mushrooms. Then with a lot of hesitation I dumped each of the packets of seasoning onto my beautiful roast. I kept going back to look at the roast through the glass top of the crockpot and I could have kicked myself because I thought I was wasting a perfectly great looking piece of meat. However, as the hours went by and the aroma of the roast was wafting through the house, I started to think, okay, so how bad could it be if it smells this good?

It is fork tender delicious!! I served it with some mashed potatoes, some nice crusty bread and I was in heaven.

It’s an odd combination for sure, but one that will delight and everyone is sure to be crazy over this meal (unless of course they are vegetarians that is).

4 Packet Roast
Adapted from The Sister’s Cafe

1 packet of Ranch Dressing
1 packet of Italian Dressing mix
1 packet Brown Gravy mix
1 packet of Onion Soup mix
1 4-5 pound chuck roast, or use wild game meat if you want
2 medium onions, sliced
2 ribs of celery sliced into thick pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick pieces
3/4 cup water
2 small cans of button mushrooms

Place roast into the crockpot, arrange vegetables around the roast. Sprinkle the seasoning packets on top of the roast, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.


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Everyday I read blogs that I have saved in Google Reader. I can’t remember how or where I found For the Love of Cooking but boy am I glad I did. Another thing I do is save recipes in a folder called Recipes I want to try. Yesterday Pam posted this Penne with Sausage, Peppers, and Homemade Marinara recipe and as the day went on I just could not get it out of my mind. So I made a grocery list and after work last night I stopped at the grocery store and picked up the ingredients for this dish. And boy oh boy am I glad I did. I’m sitting here right now having a plate of this goodness and savoring every bite. I started the marinara sauce this morning, the smells wafting through the house were heavenly!!

I made a few adjustments as everyone does with their cooking styles, I forgot to put the fresh basil in at the end, and even though I forgot, it’s still delicious. I also used a mild Italian pork sausage instead of turkey sausage and a pound of penne instead of a 1/2 pound. This is a YUM recipe and one I will be making again in the future! Thanks Pam!

Penne with Sausage, Peppers and Homemade Marinara

Marinara Sauce:
6-7 miscellaneous tomatoes, quartered (I used 8 patio tomatoes from my garden)
Large handful of cherry tomatoes (I used a pint of them from my garden)
1 head of garlic, DO NOT REMOVE THE SKINS (I used two cloves from a giant head of garlic that I have, I like lots of garlic)
1/2 sweet yellow onion, cut into chunks (I used a whole small onion, I like lots of onion)
1 tbsp olive oil plus 1 -2 tsp divided
Dried basil, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Pinch of crushed red pepper (more if you want a spicy sauce)
Sea Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Other Ingredients:
5 Italian sausages, cooked then sliced into chunks
4 baby bell peppers, sliced (I used one large red pepper)
1/2 sweet yellow onion, sliced (I used the whole onion, I like lots of onions)
Fresh basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; line a baking sheet with tin foil then coat with cooking spray. Quarter the tomatoes, cut the onions, and break up the head of garlic (KEEP SKINS ON SO THEY DON’T BURN). Spread the tomatoes (except for the cherry tomatoes), onions and garlic all over the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top, then sprinkle the dried basil and oregano as well as sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss to coat.

Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes; remove from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes. Roast them for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are really soft and the tomatoes are still juicy. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once they have cooled, carefully peel the skin off the cloves of garlic. Spoon the tomatoes, onions, garlic and juices into a small Dutch oven. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables until smooth, making sure there are no chunks. Simmer for 1-2 hours.

Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until they are cooked through. Remove from the pan. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to the same skillet and cook the peppers and onion until soft and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Season the peppers with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Slice the sausage.

Cook the pasta per box instructions, then drain. Add the marinara to the drained penne along with the sausage, peppers and fresh basil then toss until evenly coated with marinara sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

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Fall is sneaking in slowly and it’s now time for those comfort foods that I never make during the summer. One of those dishes is Sheppard’s Pie. My sister-in-law Dottie goes to England several times a year for her job, and she brought home a recipe that we Americanized. It makes a wonderful meal all on it’s own or served with a salad and crusty bread.

Sheppard’s Pie

1 lbs. ground beef (lamb, veal, pork mixture can also be used)
1 small onion, chopped
3 tbsp. butter or oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup beef stock
1 tsp. tomato paste (optional)
1 cup frozen peas (or if you prefer, mixed vegetables)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs potatoes
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Wondra (this is a fine flour, which makes a wonderful gravy)

Boil potatoes, mash with milk and butter. Add shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Set aside.

Saute onion in butter until soft. Add meat and garlic, brown. Add the beef stock and Worchestershire sauce and boil gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle Wondra on top of mixture and stir, adding more until you have a nice rich gravy. Add frozen peas and simmer until heated through.

Put meat mixture in a caserole dish. Spread mashed potato mixture on top of meat. Brown top under broiler.

Makes 4 servings.

I make 4 of these little casserole dishes, eat one for dinner and then freeze the other three right in the casserole dish. The next day I pull them out of the freezer, pop them out of their dishes, then put them into a Food Saver bag and seal them up. They last in the freezer for a long time, and I always have a wonderful meal on hand when I’m rushed for time.

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