Saturday, February 25, 2017

Easy Greasy Review and Giveaway

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I was given an Easy Greasy to try and review. I'd never heard of it before Michelle offered to send me one, but as soon as I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page, a few friends immediately chimed in saying they had one and loved it. My sister even commented "best thing since sliced bread" so, naturally I was excited to try it.


Their website says "Easy Greasy™ is a kitchen tool to make draining hot grease from food fast, easy and safe! Its patented design consists of a strainer that sits securely in a heat-resistant container. Simply pour cooked food into the strainer and allow draining. Then, remove the strainer and easily move your food to a pot or dish. Your hot grease is safely contained! Once your hot grease has cooled, just scoop it into the trash or secure the lid to store it. It’s that easy!"


"Easy Greasy™ is designed to contain hot grease produced as a byproduct of cooked food, such as ground meat (like for tacos, meat sauce or beef nachos), bacon, sausage or other meats. Easy Greasy™ is great for straining pasta or vegetables too! The Easy Greasy™ strainer can be lined with a cheese cloth for making jams or jellies."


I tried it with bacon grease today and it worked just as they said it would. Then I took out a measuring cup and filled the bottom with water just to see how much liquid it holds, and it holds a whopping 4 cups.

Four (4) cups is a quart which makes it the perfect vessel when I get ready to make some fruit jams this summer; simply line the colander with cheesecloth, place it on the bottom and pour in the fruit. This will be especially wonderful for straining the seeds out of blackberry or raspberry jam to make a seedless jam.

I can also see the Easy Greasy coming in handy when I'm making a variety of sauces, because once they are cooked down, you strain the liquid from the solids, then I could store the sauce in the bottom section covered with the lid (provided) until I was ready to use it ... perfect!


Easy Greasy would also be very helpful when making small batch veggie or chicken broth; easily stain the liquid while the bones, etc. you want to discard stay in the colander ... excellent! I'm sharing the Easy Greasy promo video here for you to watch, then be sure to enter my giveaway to WIN one for yourself!!

Watch the Easy Greasy demo video below!





Enter below to WIN an Easy Greasy of your own!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer - I received a free Easy Greasy to try and review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Pickled Red Onions

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If you've never tried pickled red onions, you really need to. They are perfect for topping on sandwiches, wraps, burgers, tacos, and salads. Slightly sweet and tart, 2 large red onions makes just enough for 2 pint sized jars.


Ingredients
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
⅔ cup sugar
1 tbls pickling salt
2 tsp pickling spice, divided

Method
Cut onions into 1/4" inch slices. Dissolve the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the onions to the saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes covered, stirring often to move onions on the bottom to the top.

Sterilize a pair of tongs by dipping the ends in boiling water for a minute. Add 1 tsp pickling spice to each jar. Use the tongs to pack the onions into two 12 oz or 16 oz sterilized canning jars.

Using a ladle, fill the space around the onions with the pickling juice, leaving ½ inch of head space.

Process for 10 minutes submerged in a boiling water bath. After removing the jars from the water, allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours before handling. Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year with the rings removed. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Salt Preserving - February Challenge

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A group of us are participating in the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge hosted by Marisa at Food in Jars and this month's challenge was SALT PRESERVING. It was fascinating to me to see all the varied ways to preserve foods with salt and many of us tried several of the suggested methods during the challenge.

The most intriguing one was Salt Cured Egg Yolks! The way the process changes the molecular structure of  the egg yolks from their original state to one where they are more or less solid and can be grated was fascinating. Then there was salt preserved citrus, sauerkraut made simply with cabbage and salt, a vegetable soup base, salt infused with herbs and spices making your own salt blends and so much more.

The Recipes suggested were:
  • Salt preserved lemons – This is an easy starting point. I make at least one batch of these every year. They add a tangy, funky bite to soups and stews. I often heap a bunch of them in the blender and puree them smooth. I dollop that puree into hummus, vinaigrettes, and other creamy spreads.
  • Salt preserved key limes – Some readers argued whether the fruit I used were in this project were actually key limes, but that’s what the bag said. They’re zippy and bright and worth the making.
  • Citrus salt – Another really simple one. Zest a bunch of lemons, limes, grapefruits, or oranges and combine them with chunky salt. Spread it out on plate or parchment-lined cookie sheet and let it air dry. Then sprinkle it over chicken, fish, dips, and roasted vegetables.
  • Herb salt – A variation on the citrus salt above, this expansive, wide-ranging recipe is flexible and adaptable.
  • Herbes salees – There’s a version of this recipe in my second book, but I learned everything I know about salt preserved herbs from Joel and Dana at Well Preserved. And so if their post was a good starting place for me, it’s a good starting place for you!
  • Gravlax – Quick cured and seasoned salmon that takes a few minutes to prep and just a couple days in the fridge to get good. It’s a low effort, high reward project and just the thing to make if you’re planning a dinner party or fancy brunch.
  • Cured egg yolks – I’ve not made these before, so I point you in the direction of Hank Shaw for instructions here. From what I hear, this relatively quick cure produces something with the flavor and depth of good cheese.
  • Kraut – There’s so many directions to go here. Start with a recipe that appeals and begin to explore.
  • Kimchi – This is my favorite approach, but it just one of many. If you decide to go in this direction, do try to stay away from the brined recipes and stick to the ones that are salted directly, as we’ll focus on wet brined foods later in the year.
  • Soup base – I almost always have a jar of this vegetable-heavy paste in my fridge for giving depth to soups and stews.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sauerkraut Made Easy!

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I am participating in the year long Food in Jars Mastery Challenge and February was salt preserving. While there are many ways to use salt in preserving, from lemons to herbs, egg yolks and flavored salts, I chose to salt preserve some sauerkraut.


My husband enjoys sauerkraut, and I must admit while I like the flavor, store bought sauerkraut doesn't always agree with me, but salt preserved sauerkraut is teeming with "good for you" healthy bacteria, which is an excellent way to boost your gut health, and it's so easy to make ...  much easier than I anticipated.


What do you need? A small'ish head of cabbage a tablespoon of salt, a mason jar and a weight. That's it, that's all there is to it. Well, that and time as the sauerkraut must ferment on your kitchen counter-top for approximately 3 weeks. The ideal room temperature for making sauerkraut is 65-72 degrees, no warmer, which is why its typically made in the cooler fall and winter months, and not in the summer. After it's fermented, it can be stored in your refrigerator for months, some say up to a year.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

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One of my favorite pies elevated to deep dish decadence!

Smooth and creamy caramel chock-full of fresh pecans, this dessert is worthy of any special occasion, or bake one just because ... you know just because you want to! Sooo good!



RECIPE
Ingredients
Crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
16 ounces (2 cups) light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 large farm fresh eggs, lightly beaten
4 farm fresh egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbls vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups pecan halves

Method
To make the Crust:
Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil (don't skip this step as the pie has a tendency to leak a bit while baking). Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and sugar, and beat well. Shape the dough into a flat disc. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 13″ circle. Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of pan. Cover and chill while preparing the filling.

To make the Filling:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt, and stir well. Stir in the pecans. Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake 2 hours and 15 minutes or until set. If necessary, shield the pie with foil to prevent excess browning.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill. Remove the sides of the springform pan before serving.

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday - Thanksgiving Desserts

Recipe slightly adapted from Bake or Break and Southern Living

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Steam Canning

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The use of Steam Canners for SAFE home canning was approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation in September 2015 after the University of Wisconsin, under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Ingham, conducted research on appropriate use of atmospheric steam canners for home canning in collaboration with the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). Atmospheric steam canners are used for processing naturally acid or properly acidified foods with natural or equilibrated pH values of 4.6 or below. They are not pressurized vessels used for processing for low-acid foods. Read the complete study here

steam canner with rack and temperature gauge showing "zones" on top

Naturally I was very excited to hear this news, and very anxious to try a steam canner, so I recently purchased the Victorio Steam Canner and set about to try it out.

I chose my Pickled Heirloom Tomatoes as my first project since I had some cherry tomatoes readily available in my refrigerator.

water filled to just barely above the rack; heated and jars added to process

Several things to note right away: 

  • It only uses 2 1/2 quarts of water so no more filling a water bath to 2" above the tops of the jars. With a steam canner the water just barely covers the rack.
  • Naturally this means the water heats up more quickly.
  • The steam canner is easier to handle because you warm the water up to 140 degrees before you add the jars. This process can be happening as you finish up with your canning project, filling jars, adjusting head-space and covering with lids and rings.
  • It's FAST! The water warmed up in a matter of minutes, I added my filled jars, put the lid on and waited for the gauge (conveniently located on the top of the steam canner lid) to get to the desired "zone" - zones are pre-set based on your altitude.
  • As soon as you reach your "zone" the processing time begins. At that time you also turn down the temperature to maintain a low, but steady boil, keeping the gauge within your zone. I literally started on "high" and ended on "simmer" during the processing time.
  • The processing time is the SAME as it is for water bath canning, so if your pickles are 10 minutes in a water bath, they are 10 minutes using a steam canner. The difference is the time is takes to get your water up to heat; since the steam canner uses much less water, the processing time is much quicker.
  • The steam canner is great for small batch canning holding 7 quart jars or 8 pint jars.
Jars processed, lid removed, let sit 5 minutes

Jars cooling 

My overall assessment and experience with a steam canner is I LOVE IT! So much faster, very energy efficient, works exactly like they say it will, and definitely exceeded my expectations. 

I see me using the steam canner a lot more in the future. So easy I wish I'd bought one sooner.

Disclaimer - This is not a paid endorsement. I received no compensation for this post and all the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sunshine Jam {Pina Colada}

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Sunshine Jam is a tropical paradise just waiting for you to indulge in. It's a Pina Colada in a jam and is absolutely delicious.


Open a jar of this on a cold and dark fall or winter day and you'll immediately be transported to the islands, sitting on a beach in the hot sunshine with a nice cold beverage in your hand.

Sunshine Jam is amazing over cream cheese on crackers, but be sure to try it with grilled shrimp or chicken for a tasty tropical treat.