Thursday, August 27, 2015

Preserving the harvest

Things seem to be slowing down a bit in our world, although I am sure it is just a lull between seasons. Our garden did absolutely outstanding this year. I contribute a big part of that success to Truckin' Man. With him not being over the road trucking anymore, he was able to help out a fair amount and that really helped keep the weeds minimized.

We had so many vegetables, I finally made the investment in a Foodsaver. 
My only regret is that I didn't have it here in time for the berries.

All the peppers sliced up, ready for fajitas. 
The air that the Foodsaver pulls out, still amazes me every time I use it.

Since there were still so many veggies, I took the leap into the world of canning.
First up was a Southern Pickled Relish. It's sooo yummy!

Then with the 500 million sweet banana peppers, I made Pickled Banana Peppers. 
Haven't tried tasting them yet, but we will soon!

Jam. I had to make some jam with all the Blackberries.

 And, how about some Peach Jalapeno Jam? Ooooh, this is tasty!

Salsa. Where to start. I tried one recipe, just to see what it entailed, and I am sure it will be good, but... The second recipe I tried from my friend Mary, I can just see the difference, and know this will be delicious. Click here for the recipe.

I am absolutely loving preserving all the goodness from our garden this year. It will be quite a while before I feel confident enough in what I am doing to share any recipes. But, for those of you looking for recipes, please check out these great places where I have been doing most of my learning! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cheese Curd Stuffed Beef 'n Brat Burger

Wisconsin is where I call home. I was born in North Carolina, then spent my childhood in Iowa, the next twenty some years in Minnesota, and here I am now. Someday, sooner than later, I hope we spend part of the year in a warmer location. Until then, I am happy to be a Wisconsin girl.

Having spent so many years in Iowa, and Minnesota, both locations near Wisconsin, life isn't much different here. Except for the cheese. I have never in my life seen the dairy selection that this state offers. It's kind of become a thing for me to check out cheese selections in stores when we travel, just to see what they have. It amazed me to find two of my favorite Wisconsin cheese brands, Carr Valley and Sartori, when we were in South Carolina last year.

And cheese curds? It's not so much where to go to get them, they are everywhere. It's a matter of white or yellow. And how fresh do you want them. I love the options. I love the accessibility. Basically, I just love cheese. Don't you? I guess the cheese produced here is why Wisconsin is said to produce more milk than any other state. It's known as the Dairy Capital of the United States. And.... anyone from Wisconsin knows that Happy Cows really are from Wisconsin!

So to celebrate Wisconsin, I have a Cheese Curd Stuffed Beef 'n Brat Burger. You know Bratwurst is big in Wisconsin too...After all, we host the World's Largest Bratwurst Festival!

Cheese Curd Stuffed Beef 'n Brat Burger
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
1 pound bratwurst
Fresh Cheese Curds
Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil
6 large buns
Bacon (optional, but encouraged)
Lettuce/Tomato/Other favorite burger toppings

Set beef and bratwurst out for 15 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In mixing bowl, removing casing from bratwurst and add to ground beef. Divide meat into 6 equal portions. Then cut each portion in half, and shape each half into a thin patty. Place 1-2 cheese curds in the center of one patty, then top with other half. Pinch the edges together so that the burger is completely sealed into one patty. Season both sides of burger with salt and pepper.

(Make Beer Cheese Sauce - Recipe below)

Heat cast iron skillet (or other oven proof skillet) over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to skillet, just enough to coat the bottom of your pan. Add burgers to skillet. Cook for 3 minutes, and then flip the burgers, cooking for another 3 minutes. Once burger has been cooked on both sides, transfer skillet to preheated oven. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until internal temp of 160 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Place burgers on buns and top with Beer Cheese Sauce, bacon, and your favorite toppings.

Beer Cheese Sauce  (Source: Farm Flavor)

7 oz medium cheddar cheese
2 tsp corn starch
1 garlic clove
1 cup beer (Should be a Wisconsin beer!)
2 tsp. brown mustard

Preheat skillet over medium heat.  Grate cheddar cheese, then toss with cornstarch in small bowl. Rub garlic clove on inside of skillet. Add beer to skillet; bring to boil. Add half of cheese mixture, stir until melted.  Add remaining cheese, stirring until melted. Bring to boil. Once boiling, add mustard and stir until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat to low until your burgers are ready, stirring occasionally.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grace's Baked Beans

So much of my baking and cooking inspiration comes from other bloggers. While I spend plenty of time on Pinterest, Yummly (my new favorite), or flipping through cookbooks, if there is a something specific I am looking for, I often head to my favorite bloggers sites.

That was the scenario when I was looking to make a new bean dish a couple months ago for when we were having company over. I didn't want the traditional saucey baked beans. Maybe I should play it safe more often, but I don't!  I ended up finding something new and different (to me anyway) at A Southern Grace. We loved this recipe, and I can't tell you how many times we have made it since. We have tweaked it a bit to suit our taste.

The name of this dish? Well, I name a lot of my dishes after the blogger where I found the recipe. It helps me keep track of where that recipe came from. Like Mary's Peppercorn dressing and Mandy's Goulash. Now, we have Grace's Baked Beans.

I love all the different beans in this dish. Butter beans always make me happy, can't tell you why, but they do. But, it's the dried spices that really what set this dish apart from others, they take the beans to a different level. We especially love cumin in our dishes, and it works perfectly with these beans. They have such a "Southwest" flavor, that any chili/cumin rubbed meat would be a great main course for this side.

Grace's Baked Beans

1 - 28 oz can baked beans
1 - 16 oz can butter beans
1 - 16 oz can baby butter beans
1 - 15 oz can Great Northern beans
1 14.5 oz can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles, undrained
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp Red Gold Siracha Ketchup
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ancho chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Transfer to baking dish and bake for approximately 60 minutes or until desired consistency.

Adapted From: A Southern Grace

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Veggies, Veggies, Veggies

The veggies are just everywhere. Our garden is still succeeding, and our best ever. 
We couldn't be happier. 

I didn't get any photo's of our full cauliflower heads, as when they hit, the kitchen got very very busy! We had 5 heads of cauliflower, which totaled 19 pounds! We only got to eat one of them, the rest had to get into the freezer ASAP!

After the cauliflower, we have had so many Banana Peppers.... They are very happy this year. 

As are the bell peppers. So many.

The Red and Yellow Bell, just aren't turning colors very fast. 
This was in the only glimmer of hope we have in seeing something other than Green.

Pea's were off to a rough start, but they pulled through. 
Only enough to enjoy as a snack with our lunches, but they are delicious.

This is what's left of our Kale. The squash and pumpkins are taking it over. 
At least I still get enough kale to make chips when I am in the mood.

By the time I get back to the house, and look over everything, I can't help but smile.
And plan what I am going to do with it all!

What's your favorite summer recipe to enjoy with garden fresh veggies? 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sour Cream Lunch Box Cookies

It's time to "Fill The Cookie Jar" and the theme is "Back to School". I had a great idea for a cookie for this month, but I have been so busy with the garden and keeping up with all the veggies, I kept putting off any and all baking. Believe me, Truckin' Man has been monitoring very closely the lack of cookies in the house. He is by no means going hungry, but sweets have been lacking. Especially cookies. On the rare occasion I have baked, I have made bars because well... they are faster. And, now that I think about it, the last bars I made were no-bake. Yikes.

Well, by Tuesday evening, I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to miss my first ever "Fill the Cookie Jar" post. Then Wednesday morning, I get to work, and the first thing I hear from my co-worker is "Don't you bake anymore?" So... Here we are, for the sake of my cookie baking reputation, I am pulling out all the stops and clearing the veggies off the counter and baking cookies for all the guys. I sure hope they aren't disappointed!

I LOVE this cookie, and will be sure to make it again. As is usual for my cookies, it's a soft cookie. The vanilla shines through, and reminds me why I love vanilla so much and always get a good quality vanilla. You certainly don't need to do this, but I wanted a little more cinnamon kiss on the cookie, so after "smooshing" the cookie, I sprinkled a bit more cinnamon sugar over top each one.

If you are interested in joining Fill The Cookie Jar group on facebook, fill out the form that can be found at Fill The Cookie Jar. Each month we bake a different theme for the cookie.
We bake, we share and we enjoy our cookies!

Sour Cream Lunch Box Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg, mixing well. Next, add the sour cream  and vanilla, mixing until completely combined.  In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing until flour is completely combined.  Chill cookie dough in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon; stir until combined. Roll dough into 1", and place a couple inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Dip bottom of glass into water, then into cinnamon sugar mixture. Press glass onto each cookie to flatten. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just turning golden. Cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy :)
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