Saturday, January 4, 2014

Autumn Glory Compote Recipe - safe way to water bath pumpkin or winter squash

Autumn Glory Compote
Makes four pints (500 ml) jars
This recipe must be followed exactly because it has been made to make it okay to water bath pumpkin.  The book I got this from Bernardin  Complete book of home preserving made note that it must be followed exactly to make it save to water bath pumpkin instead of pressure canning. 
2 cinnamon sticks (each about 4 inches/10 cm) broken into pieces
5 cups cubed seeded peeled pie pumpkin (or winter squash)
5 cups cubed cored peeled fresh pineapple (3/4 inch/2 cm cubes)
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 cup golden raisins
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
Prepare canner, jars, and lids
Tie cinnamon stick pieces in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine pumpkin and pineapple.  Add lemon zest and juice, apricots, raisins, sugar, water and spice bag.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Discard spice bag.
Using a slotted spoon, pack hot pumpkin mixture into hot jars to within a generous ½ inch (1 cm) of top of jar.  Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover pumpkin mixture, leaving ½ inch (1 cm) headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, than increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, remove jars without tilting.  Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hrs; do not re-tighten screw bands.  After cooling check jar seals.  Sealed lids curve downward.  Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars.  Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired.  Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

Carnival Caramel Apple Butter Recipe

Carnival Caramel Apple Butter
This recipe can make between 6 and 9 ½ pints 250 ml jars depending on how thick you cook it down

Hot pack, use water bath canner.  
8 lbs apples (boil in water if fresh, boil in apple cider if older)
2 ¼ cup brown sugar
2 ¼ cup white sugar
Half the sugar goes into the apple mix and half will be caramelized and then added into the apple mix.
2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp all spice
½ tbsp nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger-root – peeled
Remove core and seeds of apples.  You can peel or leave apple skin on as per taste (we left it on).
Cut up apples – the finer you chop them the less time it takes to break them down, so small pieces means less cooking time.
Place diced apples into large saucepan.  Add water or apple cider.  Bring to boil and cook until apples are soft.  (You can add 1 to 2 tsp cider vinegar if you are not adding lemon juice).  Continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain water/apple cider
Mash apples, use food mill if you have one.  Pulp apples as smooth as possible.  There should be about 12 cups of apple pulp.
In a separate saucepan heat 2 to 2 ¼ cups sugar (mix white and brown) over medium heat until sugar melts and turns golden brown.  This happens very quickly once it starts, be ready to quickly add the caramelized sugar to the apple pulp.  The caramel will harden and then melt in when apple mix is cooking down.
Add remaining sugar, gingerroot, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg (if using).
Cook down on low (simmer) until apple mix is thick and brown.  Stir often.  (I have been known to cook it all day)
Once apple mix has cooked down and you are about to put into jars add the lemon juice (and stir) then add to jars.  Use nonmetallic utensil to remove air bubbles.  
Leave ¼ inch headspace.  Clean jar rim, put lid on.  Apply screw band securely and firmly until resistance is met, fingertip tight.  do not overtighten.  Place jar in canner; repeat for remaining.  Make sure the jars are completely covered with water.  

Cover canner; bring water to a boil.  At altitudes up to 1,000 ft (305 m), process (boiling filled jars) for  ½ pints or pints water bath for 5 min.  For quarts water bath for 10 min.  Once time is up, turn off the heat, let jars sit in the water for about 5 min.  

Remove jars without tilting.  Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hrs; do not re-tighten screw bands.  After cooling check jar seals.  Sealed lids curve downward.  Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars.  Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired.  Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

Thai hot and sweet dipping sauce.

 We tried this recipe a few weeks ago and wow. However please note you need to let it sit a few days or weeks to get a nice blend of flavors. The vinegar was quite strong the first day, but by the time Christmas (a few days later) came around it was much nicer. The vinegar has mellowed out nicely and the hot peppers have not become too strong. We will see how strong they get in the next few months. If they get to strong the next batch will have less peppers, but we love it the way it is now and so does everyone I have given a jar to.

Thai Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce
Water Bath Canning
Yields about 9 250 ml jars
½ cup (125 ml) chopped garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbsp (15 ml) pickling salt
6 cups (1500 ml) cider vinegar
6 cups (1500 ml) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 ml) dried chili flakes – this can be adjusted to taste. 
In a small bowl, mix garlic and salt; let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large, stainless steel saucepan, bring cider vinegar to a boil, over high heat.  Add sugar, cook and stir until dissolved.  Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic-salt mixture and chili flakes.  Remove from heat. 
Ladle hot condiment into a hot jar to within ½ inch (1 cm) of top rim (headspace).  Using non-metallic utensil, remove air bubbles.  Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness.  Center SNAP lid on jar; apply screw band securely and firmly until resistance is met – fingertip tight.  Do not over tighten.  Place jar in canner; repeat for remaining jars. Make sure the jars are completely covered with water..  
Cover canner; bring water to a boil.  At altitudes up to 1,000 ft (305 m), process (boil filled jars) for 15 minutes.  Wait 5 minutes then remove jars without tilting.  Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hrs; do not re-tighten screw bands.  After cooling check jar seals.  Sealed lids curve downward.  Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars.  Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Amazing Carolina BBQ Meatballs

Oven 350 F, for 30 minutes
2 lb ground beef
2 tbs Carolina BBQ dry rub *see below for recipe
2 eggs
½ small cooking onion finely chopped
2 celery sticks finely chopped
¼ red pepper finely chopped
1 to 2 tbs fresh cilantro finely chopped
¼ cup Italian bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)
Mix ingredients together in large bowl. 
Shape into meat balls. 
Place on cookie sheet, use a sheet of parchment paper so they don’t stick and are easy to remove.  Cook in oven at 350 F for 30 min.

Carolina BBQ dry rub

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 cup


·         2 tablespoons salt
·         2 tablespoons sugar
·         2 tablespoons brown sugar
·         2 tablespoons ground cumin
·         2 tablespoons chili powder
·         2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
·         1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
·         1/4 cup paprika


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well; use as a dry rub on beef, chicken, lamb or pork.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The best biscuit recipe ever – from the Joy of Cooking

Pre heat oven to 450 deg. (Canadian temp.)

 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tsp double acting baking powder - sift together into a large bowl. 

Add 4 to 6 tbls chilled butter or shortening or a combination of both (we use a mix of both).  Cut the shortening into dry ingredients using a shortening cutter if you have (should get if you don't it makes a big diff.) use a fork if you don't.

Make a well in the center, and add 3/4 cup milk.

 Stir until the dough is fairly free from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board.  Knead gently and quickly, making about 8 to 10 folds.  Roll with a lightly floured rolling pin until the dough has the desired thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter (we used cups until we bought a biscuit cutter).  Place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Brush with milk or melted butter.  Bake until lightly browned - 12 to 15 min. 

If you want to use as a meat pie dough - use 2 cup flour instead of 1 3/4 cups.  Roll out and place in pie shell – you can also use to put a lid or pie top on the meat pie.  We make it in our glass casserole dish and it works great.

The best part of this recipe is that you can add extras to make the biscuits even better.  WE like adding parsley (chopped) and grated cheese.  So about 2 tbls of parsley or chives, and about 1/3 cup cheese.  Though we tend to put extra in.  It is also great with chopped cooked ham, onions and cheese.  We also do fruit ones – fresh its 1 cup fruit chopped, dried it is ½ cup if you want to add nuts its about 1/4 cup.  However we just add what we like, and to taste now.  We are going to try the bacon crumbled in one day, it sounds good and we can make a great gravy from the drippings. 

If you want the biscuits to be a bit sweeter add 1 tbls sugar and another ½ tsp salt.  We usually do this when we add fruit to the mix, or have a spicy or sweet meat filling like BBQ pulled pork.

I hope you try and enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Scotch Shortbread Cookies

Creamy cookies that don’t last very long (they get eaten very quickly).  They can be changed just by adding a little something such as vanilla or almond extract, or even a little chocolate.  However they are very good even when we use the basic recipe.


1 cup butter (need to let it get soft beforehand.   We took out of fridge and let sit for a bit until it was soft)

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar).

¼ teaspoon salt

*we usually add a little vanilla or almond extract but we forgot this time.

Bowl, spoon and baking pan

Let the butter become soft, than cream it.  You can use a mixer, spoon or even a fork.  We put all the dry ingredients into the sifter, and sifted it slowly into the butter as we mixed it in.  We used a spoon but you can use a mixer.  The dough looked crumbly but well mixed.  Pour mixture into ungreased baking pan.  It is recommended to put mixture into a 9 X 9 inch baking pan.  We used a larger cake pan, giving us slightly thinner cookies, but still very good.  Press the mixture down firmly until it no longer looks crumbly, but a solid piece.  Poke a fork into the mixture about every half-inch.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees.  When done take a butter knife and cut into squares while still warm (in the pan).  Let cool in the pan, remove cut cookies and eat.  You may find they never make it to the cook jar, they are too yummy. 

Next batch we make we are thinking about melting a little milk chocolate and drizzling it on the cookies before they cool.  Not sure if we are going to cut them first and then add the drizzle of chocolate or add first and then cut. 

Homemade white bread made with egg

This was a fun recipe to do with my kids.  There is nothing quite so nice as the smell of bread baking, except that first piece of hot bread covered in butter – as soon as it comes from the oven.  We made this last night – and the family ate an entire loaf before going to bed.


Between 7 and 8 cups of sifted all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 package of active dry yeast (about 8 oz or 2 teaspoons)

2 ½ cups hot water (between 120 – 130 so hot but not boiling)

½ cup lard or shortening (we used vegetable shortening)

1 egg beaten

A bowl, something to cover it with (tea towel works), bread pans (or cookie sheet for free style shapes or pie tins for round loafs).
In a large bowl mix in 3 cups of flour, sugar, salt and active dry yeast.  We sifted the 3 cups flour, sugar and salt together, added the yeast and mixed with spoon.
Combine in a second container the hot water and lard or shortening.  The shortening does not need to melt, though my husband did suggest next time we put the water and shortening together first to give the shortening a chance to melt.  We just broke the shortening up into smaller pieces in the water and let sit for a few minutes.
Slowly add the water and lard or shortening mix to the dry ingredients.  Beat for about 2 minute is using a mixer.  Use the bread hook attachment, not the regular mixer attachments.  Or mix by hand, for longer.
Add the beaten egg and 1 more cup of sifted all-purpose flour.  If using the mixer beat for about ½ a minute on low (so flour does not end up everywhere but the bowl) then mix on high for about 3 more minutes.  Or mix by hand until the dough is well mixed (no dry flour and looks like to dough).
Slowly add in the last 3 to 4 cups of all-purpose flour.  It is important to add the flour slowly because you may not need it all.  We used just over 3 cups this time.  We did not use the mixer for this part (though you can).  We mixed the last 3 plus cups of flour in by hand, not spoon but actually put our hands in the bowl and worked the flour it.  It is easier to know when to stop adding flour by feel then mixing it in and trying to tell by looking.  This is a skill developed by making bread, and it will take a few batches to learn it. 
Lightly flour a board or clean counter top.  Knead the bread until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 min).  If you have no kneaded bread before there are many websites that will show pictures or videos to demonstrate the different techniques.  Eventually you will develop your own kneading style that will continue to improve as you make more bread.

Form a ball with the dough and place into the mixing bowl.  Some people like to use a clean bowl and add flour or butter to the sides so the dough does not stick.  I find using the same bowl is fine as long as there is flour on the sides.  Cover with cloth, cheese cloth is recommended but we used clean tea towels.  You want to make sure nothing gets into the dough, but it can still breath so don’t use a lid or plastic wrap. 

Leave dough in a warm (not hot or cold area) for about an hour or two.  The dough will rise.  You want it to double in size (so keep an eye on it).  Knead again or punch the air out.  Shape and place into greased baking pans.  We did one regular shaped bread pan, one in a round cake pan and did 4 mini free shaped loafs in a larger cake pan (they looked like little ½ foot balls and did not touch).  The kids loved the mini loafs.
Cover and leave dough in a warm (not hot or cold area) for about an hour or two. The dough will rise again. You want it to double in size again(so keep an eye on it).
Put baking pans into the cold oven.  Turn heat on to 400 degrees (in Canada, not sure what it is in the US).  After 15 minutes turn down to 375 degrees.  Bake for about 25 minutes longer.  Our bread was done at about 18 minutes because our oven runs a bit hot.  To test for doneness see if the bread has pulled away from the baking pan.  If it has pulled away from the edge take the bread out of the oven, flip over and let the bread loaf come out of the baking pan.  Then tap the bottom of the loaf, if you hear a hollow sound the bread is done.  If not put back into the oven for a little longer.  Let the bread cool before storing.  –Recommendation – cut a slice right away, don’t worry about how big it is, just cut and cover with butter. Yum.
You may want to brush a little melted butter to the top of the bread loafs when they come out of the over, before they cool.  A trick my Mom always did. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fresh slow cooked chicken soup with cheese butter dumplings

A simple but tasty chicken soup that is easy to adjust for any ones taste.  Please note that I am writing what we used, feel free to adjust or change to make the soup the best one for you.

One Chicken – we used 4 ¼ chicken pieces – legs and thighs together.  I find the dark meat is usually more flavourful and is often the cheaper cut.

3 small onions – diced – bite size pieces

3 medium potatoes – diced – smaller then bite size pieces so they cooked quicker

5 to 6 celery stocks – diced or chopped to bite size – keep the leaf part it adds flavour to the soup. 

3 to 4 cloves of garlic – diced or chopped to bite size pieces

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Other spices – to taste.

If you are using a whole chicken you should cut it into pieces to fit into the pot. Put chicken in a pot with water and some salt.  Bring to boil, reduce heat so that there is still bubbles (pot still boiling) but there is no white foam forming.  The water will reduce – keep adding fresh water so that you develop a nice broth.  Boil until chicken is cooked.

Remove chicken – let cool then peel meat off the bones.  I know some people like to keep the skin, we did not.  It tends to add fat making the soup greasy. Cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Put into fridge until needed.

Let the broth cool down.  Skim off the layer of fat/grease that forms on the top.  Some people like the extra fat and believe it adds flavour.  I find that the soup is better if you remove the top layer of fat/grease.  There is enough in the remaining broth to add enough flavour.

Bring broth to boil.  Add potato’s, celery, onions, garlic and cut chicken.  Let boil at reduced heat (water boiling but no foam forming).  Add spices – this should be done slowly.  Don’t put lots in.  We added some pepper at this point and waited to add the other spices until the potatoes were soft.  Boil until potatoes are soft, reduce to low (simmer). 

This time we decided to make the soup spicy so we added more salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, thyme and a tinny amount of sugar.  We used some premixed spices we had in the house, which is why some sugar was added.  The beauty of this soup is that you can use the spices you have at home, the ones you like.  If you have fresh grown herbs and spices that will make a great soup, but dried or premixed will work.

We added some noodles just because the kids wanted them.  You can take spaghetti noodles and break them into small pieces or buy the smaller pre-cut noodles used for chicken noodle soup.  Again it is about what you like, and what you have in the house.

We added cheese butter dumplings, which made the meal for me.


4 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

6 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup grated cheese (this can be adjusted to taste, but don’t add to much cheese)

Beat until soft the 4 tablespoons of butter.  Beat and add in the 4 eggs.  Stir in the 12 tablespoons flour and ½ teaspoon salt.  Once all mixed and smooth, add 1/3 cup grated cheese.

Drop the batter from a spoon into the simmering soup.  Put lid on and simmer the dumplings for about 8 minutes. 

Serve soup with the dumplings on the top of the bowl.  They go quickly.  You may want to make a double batch.  Once the first batch has been served put soup back onto the stove, and make more dumplings.

We made a large pot of soup.  We had enough for a family of four to have dinner and lots of leftovers.  We portioned the extra soup into single lunch sized containers.  We froze it.  When school starts we will pop the portions into the microwave in the morning and put the hot soup into the kids’ thermal containers so they can have hot fresh soup.  The kids wanted us to put dumplings in, but even after making a double batch there were none left.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chinese Dumplings or Potstickers Recipe 1

My children love Chinese’s Dumplings, also known as Potstickers. I was lucky enough to meet a Chinese family willing to share their beloved recipe. I tried it out and it was a big hit. Since then I have tried some variation of my own. I will share those variations at a later date.

This recipe makes about 48 dumplings, but I tend to make larger dumplings so I don’t quite get 48.

Dumpling filling recipe 1:
½ lb lean ground pork
½ lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp corn starch
3 to 4 tbsp Hosp soya sauce (may use any soya sauce)
To taste:
Baby bok choy - I used 6 baby bok choy
Finally chopped garlic – I used 3 tbsp
Finally chopped ginger – I used 1 tbsp
Finally chopped fresh Chives – I used one cup
Ground pepper – I used ½ a tsp or less

Boil the baby bok choy. Drain and let cool. Once cool squish the baby bok choy so that excess liquid is removed. Finely chop the compressed or squished baby bok choy.
Mix meat together. Add and mix into the meat the finally chopped bok choy, garlic, ginger, chives, egg, soya sauce and pepper. Once the mixture is well mixed add and mix in the corn starch. Once everything is mixed together you are ready to add to the dumpling wraps.

Please note that I learned to add the corn starch last because it tends to lump up when added with everything else.

Dumpling wraps can be purchased or made. I used pre-made wraps the first time. They were quick and easy to use, but it was still time consuming to make them by hand. You have to put about 1 tbsp of filling in and fold the wrap in half, pinch the edges together so that they are firmly sealed. Making the dumpling wraps takes more time, but there are no added chemicals and you know they are fresh.

Dumpling wraps recipe:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup boiled water

Put flour in a bowl. Add water. Mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly flour surface about 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a roll 12 inches long and cut each roll into 1/2-inch slices.

Roll 1 slice of dough into a 3-inch circle and place 1 tablespoon pork mixture in the center of the circle. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch 5 pleats up to create a pouch to encase the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining slices of dough and filling.

I did try using my perogie maker to make things easier. It does work but only if I make the dough a little thicker than I do when I am making them completely by hand. The dough did have a tenancy to stick to the sides of the perogie maker and tear if care was not taken. The problem was reduced when I used slightly thicker dough and dusted it with a little flour before putting on the perogie maker.

How to cook the Chinese Dumplings or Potstickers:
The recipe called for: Heat a wok or nonstick skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, tilting the wok to coat the sides. If using a nonstick skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place 12 dumplings in a single layer in the wok and fry 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.

Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

I used: a non-stick frying pan. Add 1 tbsp oil, virgin olive oil or roasted sesame seed oil. Brown both sides on medium heat. Add about ¼ cup of water, put lid on, reduced heat to simmer, cook 10 minutes (15 if they are larger sized).

The roasted sesame seed oil adds a nice flavour, but can be more expensive than virgin olive oil. The roasted sesame seed oil and soya sauce can be mixed together to create a dipping sauce, though I like peanut sauce to dip them in.

These dumplings went over great with my family. We ate them all up and I ended up spending a weekend making them. They can be frozen before they are cooked. So if you like the dumplings but don’t want to have to put the work into them every time then make a batch to freeze. When you want to eat them just take out as many as you would like. Brown both sides, and ¼ water and simmer for 10 minutes with lid on.