Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Berry Fruit Leather

When I first moved out to the farm, a couple years back, I was excited to see all the berries that were growing here.  I grew up picking red raspberries and black raspberries, and have always loved them.  Much to my disappointment, the majority of the berries we have here are blackberries, which I never cared for.  We only have enough black raspberries for me to munch on while picking the other berries, and just enough red raspberries to make one dish. We also have mulberries, but I haven't learned what to do with those yet. This year, we will be planting more red and black raspberries!

Fortunately, I have developed a taste for the blackberries, but have been limited on recipes in which I like them.  I still have tons of them in the freezer from last year, and am always looking for new ways to try them, hoping I find something I like.  On Pinterest, I have found several new ideas to try with the blackberries.  The one I kept running into the most was for Fruit Leather. I've always heard of it, but the closest I have come to Fruit Leather is Fruit Roll-ups!

What the heck, I didn't have anything to loose other than my time, so I gave it a shot.  Fruit leather is good! I like it better than Fruit Roll-ups!  I did sadly find out that my extra sheet pan somehow got bent, wish I would have known that before putting this in the oven :)

Add your combination of berries into a pot.  I used 3/4 blackberries, and 1/4 strawberries.  Cut them into small pieces if you can. I add mine straight from the freezer.

Add a splash of lemon juice. And some water.  Between 1/4 cup to 1 cup of water. Just enough to help them stew. Cook over medium heat, mashing occasionally. Once they are all soft and mushy, remove from heat. 

Cover sheet pan(s) with plastic wrap.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  

Add stewed fruit to blender. Be careful with this step, blending hot food can be messy.  Remove the cap from the whole in the blender lid, then cover the lid with a dishtowel.  After blended, sample the mixture to see if you need to add sugar.  Add with caution as the fruit will naturally be sweeter as it dries. I did not have to add any sugar to my last batch.

Pour the mixture onto your lined sheet pan(s). Spread it so it's even. Now, into the oven it goes.  Low temperature, the lowest my oven goes is 170, and it took about 10 hours. I had the oven cracked about half of the time to keep the temp as low as I could. 

When it's done, it will be completely dry. Cut it up in slices, I found my pizza cutter worked great for this task.

It is a long wait, but so worth it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Bake Double Chocolate Energy Bars

Hello Sunday! Hello new week! Last week was certainly not a week I care to repeat, from flopped recipes, to totaling out my new (used) vehicle. All turned out well in the end. I walked away from the vehicle, unharmed. And the flopped food, was edible, but certainly nothing to write about!

I am trying to kick this week off to a good start with some healthy recipes to try. I love my junk food, greasy food, and just plain bad for ya food. But, I need to be eating healthier foods and I would rather eat good when I can, and still be able to enjoy the indulgent treats when I want!

As always, I like to find foods that travel well, and that my truckin' man will like as well.  When I found the recipe for these No Bake Double Chocolate and Prune Energy Bars over at Eat Good 4 Life, I was sold.  With 2 kinds of chocolate, peanut butter, almonds, and honey, how can it go wrong???  Add in some prunes, and flax seed meal, it is a good healthy snack.  Flax seed meal is a new ingredient for me. Since finding it at the store, I am running into a variety of recipes that call for it, so I doubt that it will last long.

If you have any picky eaters, you can probably sneak this right by them as a chocolate delight.  When I gave my truckin' man his first bar to try, he thought it was a new fudge recipe! Yup, he didn't even know it was good for him, until I told him :)

No Bake Double Chocolate Energy Bars  (from Eat Good 4 Life)

1 c. raw almonds
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. flax seed meal
1 lb whole pitted prunes
1/2 c. cocoa powder
3 T. honey
2 T. Peanut Butter

In food processor, add almonds and pulse until they are in coarse pieces. Add dark chocolate chips and flax seed meal, pulse til finely chopped. Pour into another bowl, and set aside.

In food processor, add prunes, honey, peanut butter and cocoa powder and pulse until mixture is finely chopped and comes together. Add almond mixture back to the food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the entire mixture comes together.

Line a 9 x 9 pan with parchment paper. Cut the paper extra long, so that the parchment paper hangs over the ends of the pan.  Press the chocolate mixture evenly into the pan and fold parchment over the bars. Set a plate in the pan, to cover the bars. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove bars from pan, and cut to desire size.  Store covered in refrigerator. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Animals

February sure isn't a month to complain about this winter.  And, what a great weekend this was to be outside! Of course with snow and mud everywhere, I couldn't accomplish much.  The Peterbilt is down and having TONS of repairs done, which left me with a lot of time on my hands!  So, I spent a fair amount of time this weekend with the animals.  We got a nice walk in today.  There is not much snow left, but sure would have been easier out there with some snow shoes.  

In all the animal time, I got everyone's pic taken.
With that said, here is our cast of characters.....

Tippy (Mama's baby) She was a little to busy sun bathing to be bothered with posing to much.

 Hazel.  The baby and newest addition.

Rusty - Our crazy dog.

Then there is the indoor gang.

Daisy- The eldest of them all. Ruler of the house.  She is deaf and partially blind, yet she knows every time I go near the bathroom and follows me in hopes that she can drink from the sink.

 Lizzy - Siamese. She's a big girl and is just a love. 

Lina and Bobbie.  Practically inseparable. Lina is a polydactyl cat with thumbs, and loves to climb. Bobbie's specialty is rolling over :) 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherry Bars

As soon as From Cupcakes to Caviar posted her Chocolate Covered Cherry Bars, I knew that was a recipe I would be making.  For as long as I can remember, my dad has LOVED chocolate covered cherries.  Even at the old age I am at today, I still get my dad his box of Chocolate Covered Cherries every year for Christmas.  When my sister moved to Canada, I made sure I got an extra box each year, just in case she had trouble finding them.  

Much to my surprise when I made these, I loved them! I am not much of a cherry fan, but dang they are good! I had meant for the bars to make it to Dad for Valentine's...  Due to schedules, we couldn't get together yet, and the bars are just about gone. Ooops!!  I will just have to make another pan this weekend, and hopefully (for my waistline) we get to share the bars this time.

Check out the recipe here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wild Rice Soup

It's hard to explain, to people that aren't from the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, how my favorite soup comes from a grocery store! Byerly's was always that higher end grocery store that had foods that were just a step above the rest.  Of course, they had all the normal foods as well, but they had the super yummy ones that you just craved. Waaaayyy back in the day, when my friend Stacey and I had our first apartment, we were in walking distance to Byerly's so we were fortunate enough to do a lot of shopping there.  In more recent years, I would love stopping there on my way home from work and picking up special meats for grilling.  Now, it is just a treat to stop at when I am in the cities, and get their pasta sauces, bakery treats, soups....  this list goes on, but you get the idea.  I guess they don't go by the same name anymore, I think they were bought out by the store from the other side of town. I believe their name is Lunds now.  Ahhhh....  the memories!

One of the best soups found at Byerlys', locally famous, is their Wild Rice Soup.  You could order it in their restaurant or purchase several different size containers in the store.  I would always try to have a container on stand by.  Feel a cold coming on?  Wild Rice Soup. Bad day at work?  Wild Rice Soup. Raining out? Wild Rice Soup.  See how I am?  I got even more spoiled the year that my mom bought the Byerly's cookbook.  Oh, life was good! Mom would always make a big batch so she had enough to share with me.  She still makes it often, and she usually serves it for Christmas Eve when we celebrate at their house.  

When making this, you can use Half and Half in place of the milk for the most indulgent version of this recipe. Just to lighten it up a bit, I use milk. 

Wild Rice Soup (Adapted from Byerly's)

1/2 c. finely diced onion
6 T. butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 c. finely grated carrots
1 c. minced ham
3 T. chopped slivered almonds
1/2 t. salt
 1 c. whole milk (Half and Half is the rich way to go)

In saucepan, melt butter; add onion and saute till tender.  Blend in flour; Cook for two minutes.  Gradually add broth.  Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to boil.  Boil while stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir in rice, carrots, ham, almonds, and salt.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Blend in milk.  Heat thoroughly.  

Serve with crust bread and enjoy :) 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Cookies

Valentine's has to be the second biggest holiday for treats in our house.  Not that we need a reason for goodies or chocolates, but we like to have an excuse!  Of course, we love our Sugar Cookies!  I had planned on baking up some Sugar Cookies today, but I felt like doing something a little different than the normal frosting.  Chocolate felt like the right way to go!  

This really was so simple to do, and probably took less time than if I had decorated with Royal Icing. I have already delivered some to my parents, so hopefully the rest will make it til my man gets home! 

Roll-out Cookies
1 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In your mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and extracts.  In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt; add to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Divide dough into two balls.  Roll dough out to about 1/8" and cut with cookie cutter.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6-7 minutes.  

Depending on the size of your cookies, this will make about 2 dozen.

Fudgy Frosting
1/4 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. milk
1 t. corn syrup (optional)

In mixer bowl, beat butter until light.  Add sugar and cocoa, a little bit at a time, beating on low speed.  Once all sugar is incorporated, and vanilla and milk.  Beat on medium speed.  Add more milk, if needed to reach desired consistency.  

Match up your cookies to the closest in size.  Flip one cookie upside down, and pipe or spread with frosting.  Cover with another cookie.  When done, thin out the remaining frosting to drizzle over top of the sandwiched cookies.  I used a little bit of corn syrup for thinning my frosting.

Enjoy :) 

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cowboy Cake

Geeez...  those cookbooks got dusty!  I have spent so much time online looking at the great recipes, that my cookbooks got quite the layer of dust on them!  I didn't realize this until I started digging through some of my mom's cookbooks last weekend,  just looking for something different. Once home, I realized how long it had been since I had looked at my own cookbooks! 
I did find a dessert recipe for the weekend, and was ready to make it today.  When I was prepping earlier, my Truckin' Man got a little worried when he found me making a second pot of coffee ( I get a little bit jittery if I drink to much!).  But, when I told him it was for his cake today, he was relieved and happy to know there would be cake waiting for him when he gets home today :)

This is a one pan cake recipe.  I love that there is virtually no clean up! It turned out so good.  I was a little worried about adding cider vinegar to a cake, but there was no need to worry.  It is super chocolately goodness! Very moist.  Perfect!  I didn't even miss having frosting on it.  

Cowboy Cake

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. vanilla
2 c. cold coffee
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an ungreased 9x13 baking pan, sift together flour, 1 1/2 c. sugar, cocoa, soda and salt.  

Make 3 wells in the  mixture; pour oil in one, vinegar in one, and vanilla in one.  Pour in coffee and stir all with a fork until well mixed.  Spread into an even layer.  

Combine 1/3 c. sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle half of this mixture of the batter.  

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over hot cake.  Cool 30 minutes before cutting.