Monday, June 17, 2019

Plum Jelly

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A few years ago, my husband and I transplanted 3 purple leaf plum trees from our yard to a military recreation area my husband manages. Mostly this was done to provide some shade for a few RV sites, but also to provide an edible fruit for his customers.
It's taken a few years, but those plum trees have now matured, and for the very first time, one tree was loaded with delicious plums. 
They have a taste very similar to Damson plums and make an excellent choice for jelly or jam. Sweet and slightly tart at the same time, they are simply delicious.
I set out one morning with a large bucket to pick some of these amazing plums, and with the help of another friend, we managed to almost fill a large bucket simply by picking the ones we could reach on the lower branches. This tree was loaded, and there are still many plums unpicked we simply couldn't reach.

Upon my return home I set out to make Plum Jelly. This has to be the easiest jelly recipe you will ever try. No peeling or pitting, you simply cook down the plums in water, then strain it through a mesh colander, extracting the delicious juice used to make the Plum Jelly.
How easy is that? It's the simplest, easiest jelly recipe ever. Even if you have never canned before, you can do this.
Spread on English muffins, toast or biscuits for a delicious breakfast treat. Serve over cream cheese with crackers, heat and baste on grilled chicken or pork toward the end of grilling time, or heat and top on vanilla ice-cream, pancakes or waffles. Delicious!
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RECIPE
Ingredients
6 lbs. plums
4 Cups water
3 1/2 tbls Hosier Pectin or 1 3/4 oz powdered fruit pectin package (Sure-Jell)
1 tsp butter (to reduce foaming)
8 Cups sugar
Method
In a large stockpot simmer plums and water until tender and broken down, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle mixture into a mesh strainer placed over a large bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press solids around mesh strainer to remove as much liquid as possible. Let stand for 30 minutes. You should have 6 cups of liquid. 

Return liquid to pan, add butter and pectin. Stir and bring to a boil. Add sugar all at once and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle hot mixture into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims. Apply lids.

Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner. Remove jars and allow to sit undisturbed on your kitchen counter 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is depressed and won't flex up and down.

Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated and will keep several months.

Yield: 12 - 8 oz jelly jars

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.


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Monday, May 13, 2019

Garlic Butter Rice with Kale

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Garlic Butter Rice with Kale is my new favorite side dish. Think beyond the normal kale salad and make this amazing side dish full of nutritious kale.

Considered to be a "super food" kale is so very good for you. Here are just some of the health benefits of kale:

  • exceptionally high amount of Vitamins A, C and K
  • high in antioxidants
  • help lower cholesterol which can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • it has cancer fighting substances
  • an excellent source of minerals that many people don’t get enough of, including calcium, potassium and magnesium
  • So this kale recipe is an excellent delicious way to get more nutrition into your diet!


This Garlic Butter Rice with Kale is so good my husband even ate it, and liked it, and he is not a veggie fan. That was a win-win to me!

You may also like:
Kale and Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette


RECIPE
Ingredients
4-5 cups chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups chicken bone broth
3 tablespoons butter, reserving 1 tablespoon
2 tsp garlic powder

Method
Remove kale from stems, roll leaves up cigar style and slice thin ribbons then chop. Place the kale in a large bowl and rub with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook rice in a rice steamer (or on your stove top) with the chicken bone broth, 2 tablespoons butter and garlic powder.

Once rice is fully cooked, fluff with a fork. Add kale, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and stir to combine. Cover steamer and let sit on "keep warm" for approx. 15 minutes. Alternately, if you cooked the rice on your stove top, remove from heat, add kale and let sit covered 15 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with most any roasted or grilled meats. We loved it with fried chicken breasts and garlic cheese biscuits.

Yield: 4 servings

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.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Cocoa Fig Spread

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Cocoa Fig Spread, oh where have you been all my life? My daughter recently purchased some Cocoa Fig Spread, called me up and said "mom you need to make this" then proceeded to tell me all about it. She sent me some photos so I could see it, and the ingredients label from the back of the jar.

photo credit: Sharon Benton Studios
I did a little homework and discovered Cocoa Fig Spread is a product of Croatia. How cool is that!
Croatia, with its over 1,000 islands and islets, is a country with an exceptional natural beauty, varied terrain, and cosmopolitan cities. Croatia is also renowned for its production of healthy food, a characteristic of this part of Europe.

photo credit: Sharon Benton Studios
Around the time I was making it, I was preparing for a Getaway with some amazing women chefs, and a fabulous food photographer, Sharon Benton Studios. Several taste tested and critiqued it for me, then proceeded to set up an entire photo shoot around it. It was fantastic and the photos used here are the result.
photo credit: Sharon Benton Studios
This versatile Cocoa Fig Spread is amazing on baked goods and breakfast treats, or warm and poured over ice cream or fresh fruit. Fold gently into mascarpone and use as a filling for crépes. Pairs with soft cheeses such a Brie, Manchego, and aged Cheddar's or Gouda's or spread onto whole grain toast with sliced bananas.

photo credit: Sharon Benton Studios
You may also like these other Fig recipes
Southern Fig Jam
Drunken Fig Jam
German Fig-Apple Mustard
Fresh Fig Spice Cake
Fig-Cranberry Chutney


RECIPE
Ingredients
4 cups diced ripe figs (I use Brown Turkey)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fair trade cocoa (Equal Exchange or similar product)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/3 cup brandy

Method
In a large heavy saucepan combine diced figs, sugar, cocoa powder, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. Stir and heat over medium high heat bringing to a gentle boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring often. Mixture will begin to thicken up and figs will be macerated.

Remove from heat and stir in brandy (be careful as it will splatter some). Spoon mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse on low a few times, or until mixture is smoother with a few remaining pieces of fig.

Pour or spoon into prepared 8 oz mason jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Top with lids and rings and process in a water bath or steam canner 10 minutes.

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel on your counter-top and allow jars to sit undisturbed 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is depressed and won't flex up or down.

Yield: 5 - 8 oz jars

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.


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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Strawberry Pineapple Jam

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The other day I was able to pick up several gallons of juicy, delicious, locally grown and freshly picked strawberries from my friends at Dorr Farms. WOW! These strawberries are incredible.  Seriously so good I had to stop myself from eating them. Just look at them!!


I knew many of these berries were destined to be jam of one kind or another, so I drove home with the idea of freezing most of them for future use. I walked into the kitchen with my treasures and sitting on the counter was a can of Dole crushed pineapple. Hmmmmm? Right away the wheels started turning ... I mean really sometimes that's a dangerous thing, but not this time.


Delicious, juicy, fresh strawberries and a can of crushed pineapple is a match made in heaven. This jam is amazing topped on biscuits or English muffins, and delicious as a filling between cake layers. It's the perfect Spring or summer jam and a great way to put up some of those berries.


You may also like:

Step-by-Step Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Margarita Jam

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

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RECIPE
Ingredients
3 cups chopped strawberries (I used fresh, but you can use frozen)
1 - 20 oz can Dole crushed pineapple (slightly drained, about 1/2 the juice)*
1 package Sure Jell (pectin)
1 tsp butter
7 cups sugar

Method
In a large stock pot, combine chopped strawberries, crushed pineapple (slightly drained), Sure Jell pectin and 1 tsp butter (to prevent foaming).

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add sugar all at once; stir and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute stirring constantly (use a long handled spoon to avoid the jam splattering on you).

Remove from heat, stir to reduce any foaming and ladle into prepared canning jars leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Wipe rims of jars with a wet paper towel and cover with lids and bands.

Process in a boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes. Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. Let sit 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button on lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down.

Store in pantry up to one year.

*Cook's note - drain the pineapple slightly, or about half the juice out. You don't need to be too fussy with this, you just don't need all the liquid.

Yield: 8 - half-pint jars

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday
Featured in Parade Magazine

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.ix all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil over medium heat. 

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Herb Salts

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Making your own herb salts couldn't be easier. First you need to choose your salt. Here are just a few types:

Himalayan Pink
The color hues of this sea salt range from light pink to dusky rose to deep red. Formed about 600 million years ago when a great inland sea evaporated, Himalayan Pink salt’s gorgeous palette comes from a variety of trace minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, and potassium, among others, which have been trapped in the salt crystal matrix (Bitterman, 2013).

Celtic Gray
Celtic gray sea salt is blue-gray in color and carries a distinctly mineral-rich flavor. Derived from Brittany, France, this salt gets its distinct color from the earthen clay from which it is harvested. Its traditional uses in cooking range from finishing on savory dishes to being finely ground and added to baked treats to create a “richness” in other flavors (Bitterman, 2010).

Black Hawaiian
Jet black in color, black Hawaiian sea salt actually gets its unique hue from activated charcoal added during or after the drying process is complete. Although it is traditionally derived through evaporation over volcanic soils (hence its other common names, “volcanic” or “lava” salt), this aspect does not impact the color of the sea salt (Bitterman, 2010). The flavor is earthy and slightly tannic.

Fleur de sel
Translated as “flower of the salt,” this unique sea salt is made by evaporating saline water in the open air with energy from the wind and sun (Bitterman, 2010). Since these salts already have a high about of moisture in them, the crystals are able to resist instantly dissolving when sprinkled over a plate of steaming food. This means that the flavor profile will be more pronounced and the salt will maintain a slight crunchiness.

Red Hawaiian
There are several different types of red Hawaiian sea salt ranging from brick red to pale or dark salmon in color. As the red color implies, red Hawaiian sea salts are rich in iron. Like black Hawaiian sea salt, the color is not derived from the salt itself but from the red volcanic clay, called Alaea, that is mixed with the salt during natural evaporation in tidal pools. The flavor of these salts is oceanic with a mineral undertone (Bitterman, 2010). 

Persian Blue
The pale sky blue color of Persian blue sea salt alludes to its mild, silky, and slightly sweet flavors. Although it is rich in trace minerals, its distinctly blue color is derived from the natural compression of the salt over long periods of time. Considered one of the more rare sea salts available on the market, Persian blue sea salt also carries a high price tag (Bitterman, 2010).

Smoked
While smoked sea salt does not lend any additional nutritional content, the smoky flavor is rich, distinct, and favored by chefs all over the world. The process of smoking sea salt is typically done over hot coals at a low temperature. Through this process, the salt takes on a slightly tan or gray color (Bitterman, 2010). (Reference: The Herbal Academy)

Now Choose Your Herbs!

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
I was looking for a blend we could use to rub on thick cut pork chops, steaks or chicken when we were grilling.

Curly Parsley
Recently we cut some Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, Curly Parsley, Oregano and Thyme, so I went after something a bit Tuscan in flavor. I also chose to use a Garlic French Sea Salt from a purveyor in Maryland who makes small batch flavored sea salts.


For longer shelf life, I first dried the herbs and then blended a bit of everything together with some of the salt. It was literally a taste experiment, adding a bit more of this or that, until the flavor was where I wanted it. You don't want the salt to overpower the herbs, so starting with a little and adding more is the way to go.


RECIPE
Ingredients
1 tbls. dried Flat Italian Parsley
1 tbls. dried Curly Parsley
1 tbls. dried Oregano
1/2 tbls. dried Sage
1/2 tbls. dried Thyme
1-2 tbls. sea salt of your choosing, to taste (I used *Garlic French Sea Salt)
*If not using Garlic French Sea Salt, add 1-2 tsp garlic powder, to taste

Method
Combine all ingredients together in a food processor and process until it's the consistency you want. Store in air-tight mason jar. Use as a rub on pork, beef or poultry. Especially good on grilled meats.

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.ix all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil over medium heat. 

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Southern Praline Bread Pudding

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This is not your mother's or grandmother's bread pudding. Even picky "I hate bread pudding" people will like this one. How do I know? My husband was one of those people.


Determined to make him a convert, I made this and had him try a piece without telling him what it was. After a few minutes of listening to him say "mmmmm" and "oh ya" I asked, what do you think? He replied "absolutely freaking delicious!" Boom!!! Non-bread pudding person was now a believer.


This is rich, decadent and unbelievably delicious. The pecan topping and the sauce just put it over the top. A small piece is all you need.



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Deep Dish Pecan Pie

















Butter Pecan Cheesecake

















Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake














RECIPE
Ingredients
1 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
1 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed bread (honey buttermilk works really well, but Challah, Italian or other hefty bread works)
Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 30 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted on a low simmer, whisking often. Mixture will darken and thicken some while cooking. Do not overcook. Add the brandy (if using) stirring well. Pour over bread pudding, if desired, or serve separately with each slice. Serve warm.

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.ix all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil over medium heat. 


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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Jam

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A bag of fresh frozen strawberries in my freezer I purchased from a local farm, got me thinking how to use them. I really wanted to create a dessert jam, something that would really zing and be a bit different from the ordinary.


Having read several recipes for chocolate cherry jam, I thought, why couldn't that be strawberries? Of course, there was no reason why it couldn't. Then I wanted to "boost" the flavor a bit more so I added some dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.


Wow doesn't begin to describe this jam. It's sweet, savory, sultry and darn delicious. It pairs equally well as a jam between cake layers, or topped on your favorite cheese on crackers. The strawberries are the star, with a nice taste of chocolate coming though, and just a hint of the tang from the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.




RECIPE
Ingredients
6 cups chopped strawberries
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
1 package Sure-Jell pectin
1 tsp butter to reduce foaming
7 cups sugar

Method
Place strawberries, dark chocolate balsamic vinegar, Sure-Jell and butter in a large stock pot. Heat over high heat stirring to combine ingredients. Continue stirring occasionally until mixture starts to bubble.

Stir in sugar and cocoa powder all at once and bring to a rolling boil over high heat stirring often. Boil hard one (1) minute, remove from heat.

Ladle jam into prepared canning jars leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Top jars with lids and rings, and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or steam canner.

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. Let sit 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down.

Serve with a sharp cheese over crackers, or top on a pound cake with whipped cream. This jam is extremely versatile and can be used in savory or sweet applications.

Store on pantry shelf up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated.

Yield: 8 - 8 oz jelly jars

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.ix all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil over medium heat. 

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