Mango and Red Bean Salsa

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This is a quick and easy salsa to make and one that we enjoy with fish.  My father loved to fish. To him it was one of life’s greatest pleasures. He can tell you a lot of fish stories. We ate a lot of fresh water fish, never ocean fish, and we enjoyed our fish pan fried or occasionally made into fish soup. Friday nights were fish fry nights. But we would have never considered eating salsa with fish.  Especially not one made with mango.  I never tasted a mango until I was an adult. My dad would look at this salsa and say, “what is that?  I don’t think I’d care for that.”  But that’s okay. I think if you try it, you’ll like it.

Ingredients:

2 ripe mangos

1 can small red beans or black beans

1/2 cup diced red onion

bunch of cilantro rough chopped

Juice of one lime (1/4 cup)

3 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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Peel and dice the mangos. Dice red onion.  Drain and rinse the beans.

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Rough chop the cilantro.

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Put the beans, onion, mango and cilantro into a bowl and toss. Squeeze the lime, add the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.   Toss again.

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Ready to serve.

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We had the salsa tonight with grilled walleye and asparagus. It was a perfect dinner.

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If you like things a little kicked up add a diced jalapeño pepper.  You can also serve this with corn chips.  Or with fish tacos.

Enjoy.

 

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Rhubarb, Strawberry, Apple Crisp

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After making three batches of strawberry jam I had strawberries left and I decided to make a crisp with berries, rhubarb and apples. One of my dad’s and my daughter’s favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb so I know they have both loved this dessert.  Easy to make and great served warm with some ice cream or fresh whipping cream.

Ingredients:

3 cups diced rhubarb

2 cups strawberries hulled and halved

1 cup peeled and diced apple

1 cup granulated sugar

3 T flour

zest of one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup melted butter

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl combine fruit, granulated sugar, lemon zest and 3 T flour. Toss to combine and pour into an 8×10 baking dish.

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In the same bowl you tossed the fruit around in add the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and butter for the crisp and mix to combine.

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Using your hands crumble the crisp ingredients over the fruit.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the crisp should be a golden brown.

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No pictures of us enjoying this dessert. Shortly after it came out of the oven I covered it with foil, wrapped it in a bath towel and took it to a friend’s house for dessert. It was amazing if I do say so myself. My Dad and daughter would have been in dessert heaven. I whipped up some fresh cream and brought it along to top the crisp.

NOTE:  I learned a simple and time saving tip for whipping cream from one of my many food magazines.   If you have an immersion blender put the heavy cream and a little granulated sugar into a quart jar and after a few spins of the immersion blender you have perfect whipped cream. No cream splatter on the counter and easy to store in the fridge or transport to serve with dessert.

 

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic

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One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan.  Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar.  With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick.  The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.”  They are right. It’s a perfect addition.

Ingredients:

5 cups “smashed” strawberries

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon

OR

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar

1 pkg fruit pectin

7 cups granulated sugar

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I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.

Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.

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Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle.  Gradually stir in the pectin.

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Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.

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Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.

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Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

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I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess.   I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars.  After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.

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We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.

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NOTE:  One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups.  And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.

Strawberry Lime Sorbet

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Spring seems like it’s never going to get here and I thought a nice fruity sorbet would make a refreshing dessert and would taste like Spring. I happen to have an ice cream maker that I haven’t used in awhile so I dusted that off and put the bowl in the freezer. I decided to combine strawberries and lime to get a little sweet tart thing going on.

Ingredients:

2 1-lb boxes of strawberries washed and hulled

2 T fresh squeezed lime juice

zest of one lime (about a tsp)

1/2 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is and, of course, personal taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Put the washed and hulled berries in your food processor and purée until smooth.

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Pour the purée into a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside while you prepare the syrup.

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Taste your purée for sweetness and then determine how much sugar to add. I used a generous 1/4 cup. Measure your sugar, zest, lime juice and water into a small saucepan.

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Cook over medium heat stirring constantly just until sugar is dissolved.

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After taking it off the heat stir in the vanilla. Allow the syrup to cool a little. Once it’s cooled stir the syrup into the purée. You should have between 3 and 4 cups total once the syrup and purée are combined. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. Now dust off your Ice cream maker.

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Once it’s assembled (I had to get the manual out) turn it on and pour in the purée.

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After about 30 minutes I had a perfect sorbet. Scoop out and garnish with a little slice of lime or a piece of fresh mint. And enjoy the taste of Spring!

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Now that I’ve dusted off the ice cream maker and located the manual I think I’ll be experimenting with more fruit sorbets. They are a lot lower in calories than ice cream or even frozen yogurt.

NOTE:  Put your sorbet into a container with a good sealing lid and store it in the freezer. Before serving leave it out for a couple minutes for easier scooping. Also, I had a particularly juicy lime so I saved the rest of the juice in a labeled zip lock snack bag and put it in my freezer.

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Bourbon Cherries

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When we were visiting our daughter over the Christmas holiday she had made some bourbon cherries that made a great Manhattan. Maybe not a traditional Manhattan, but a pretty good variation. I made a batch of these tasty cherries when I got home and I think the longer they “cure” the better.

Ingredients:

1 fifth of bourbon (I used Evan Williams)

1 pint of grand Grand Marnier

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 T vanilla (or 2 vanilla beans slit)

1 T whole allspice

3 cinnamon sticks

a little grated nutmeg

32 ounces of frozen, pitted tart cherries

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In a large heavy kettle combine bourbon, grand mariner, sugars and spices. Over low heat whisk until sugars are completely dissolved. DO NOT boil. Turn the heat off and allow it to steep and cool down.  Once off the heat stir in the vanilla.

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Put the cherries in glass jars and pour the cooled alcohol mix over the cherries. You can leave the spices in the jars but be careful to remove them before serving.

To prepare your faux Manhattan…

In a small glass with a little ice pour “cherry juice” over the ice. Add a couple dashes of orange or Angostura bitters. Spear a few cherries on a cocktail pick and serve. You can add a bit of orange or lemon peel for garnish if you wish. A traditional Manhattan has a little sweet or dry vermouth but the grand mariner is a great substitute.

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I think these cherries would be awesome over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or on a dish of homemade rice pudding.

Cheers!  Happy New Year.

Galette aka Rustic Tart

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Pie is one of my favorite desserts and this rustic tart (or galette) is easy and beautiful in its simplicity.  My good friend Jane introduced me to this recipe a couple years ago. She made hers with pears. It works with almost any kind of fruit filling….peaches, pears, apples, berries. Today I made it with pears and apples.  Awhile back my daughter and I made a galette with apples and raspberries. I keep my cornstarch and baking powder right next to each other in my baking cupboard and I somehow confused the two. We wondered why our fruit was bubbling. Was a fail that we fortunately were not serving to guests. But, we did eat it ourselves. Waste not, want not…or something like that.  Pay attention to the ingredients and I promise that you will enjoy this recipe.

Ingredients:

Pie crust (homemade or pillsbury refrigerated crust)

I prefer to make my own crust but in a pinch the refrigerated crust works fine.

5 cups of sliced fruit (I used 2 pears and 3 apples)

1/2 cup golden raisins or dried cherries or cranberries

1/2 cup amaretto

3 T cornstarch

3 T brown sugar

5 T white sugar

Preheat oven to 450

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Peel, core and slice the apples. Core and slice the pears. Put them in a shallow dish with the raisins and amaretto and let them marinate for about 30 minutes. Longer is okay. While you’re waiting for the fruit,  prepare your pastry. Roll out a disc about the size of a pizza pan.

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Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Once your fruit has marinated combine the brown sugar, corn starch, and 3 T of the white sugar. Drain the amaretto from the fruit. (Save it, it’s perfectly fine to sip on while you finish preparing the tart). Toss the fruit in the sugar mixture. Heap the fruit in the center of the prepared pastry.  Fold the edges over.  Sprinkle with 2 T of granulated sugar.

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Bake at 450 for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for 45 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

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Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or at room temperature with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

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Galette is a French word and means “any of various round flat pastries with a sugar glaze or a sweet filling such as fruit.”  If you want to impress people serve them a “galette”.  If you’re just serving it for dessert tonight call it a rustic tart.  Either way, enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce – Three ways

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Cranberry sauce and poultry dishes just seem to go together. The sauce with whole berries is my favorite although I remember holidays when I was a child and my mother would get out the jellied cranberry sauce. She’d open both ends of the can and push the can shaped concoction onto a special dish and she would slice it.  I think we liked it. We ate it. And I know a lot of other people who still favor the wiggly, sliceable stuff. Cranberries are not available year round where I live so this year I decided to can sauce to use year round. I also froze several bags for recipes like cranberry muffins or sweet potato crisp. I did cranberry sauce three different ways; plain cranberry sauce, spiced cranberry sauce with orange rind and cinnamon and cloves, and cranberry apple relish.

Simple Cranberry Relish

4 cups water

4 cups sugar

10 cups cranberries

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Put your cranberries in a colander and wash them. Pick out the stems and any bad berries. In a large, heavy kettle combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and cook over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes without stirring until skins burst. Using a jar funnel ladle the sauce into sterilized pint jars, make sure the lips of the jars are wiped clean and put the two piece vacuum caps on your jars. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes making sure there are a couple inches of water over the jars. Put the jars on a heavy towel to cool.  Pretty basic.

Apple Cranberry Relish

6 tart apples peeled, cored and diced

10 cups cranberries

3 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

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In a large heavy kettle bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Using a jar funnel ladle into pint jars leaving a 1/2 inch of head space. Make sure jar lips are wiped clean, fasten two piece vacuum lids and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Put the jars on a heavy towel to cool.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

4 cups sugar

3 cups water

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

rind of one orange

2-3 whole cinnamon sticks

1 T whole cloves

10 cups cranberries

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Combine sugar and water in a large heavy kettle and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile remove orange peel with a sharp knife leaving as much of the white part on the orange. Cut the rind into very thin strips.  Juice the oranges. If necessary add bottled orange to make one cup. Put the cloves in a mesh bag for easy removal. Add juice, rind, cinnamon sticks, cloves and berries to simmering sugar water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until berries burst.

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Follow the steps outlined above to bottle the sauce. Process for 15 minutes in a water bath and cool jars on a heavy towel.

I think I will have to make chicken one night soon so I can enjoy a jar of cranberry sauce.  Any one of these would be a good addition to a carton of yogurt or over a dish of vanilla ice cream.  Or add a few tablespoons of sauce to a turkey or chicken sandwich.

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Apple Blueberry Crisp

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Apple crisp with blueberry sounded like a great idea. It’s what was for dessert.

Preheat oven to 350

6-8 Macintosh apples or another good baking apple

1 cup blueberries

lemon zest

juice of 1/2 lemon (1 Tablespoon)

1/4 c sugar

grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c flour

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c white sugar

1/2 c oatmeal

1 tsp cinnamon

1 stick cold butter

Peel, core and slice apples. Toss with lemon zest and juice, 1/4 c sugar, and spices. Spread apples out in a deep 8×8 casserole dish that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle blueberries over apples.

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Whisk together flour, sugars, and oatmeal. Work butter into dry ingredients with your hands or use the paddle on your stand mixer. Sprinkle the crisp over the fruit and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with whipping cream or vanilla ice cream.

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This recipe can be doubled and baked in a deep 9×13 pan. In case of bubble-over you may want to put the pan on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Apple Slices in Cinnamon Red Hot Syrup

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It’s apple season!  I’ve been in a canning frenzy this month and I had to do apples. I got a bushel and a half of apples; a variety of apples because the combination of sweet/tart and textures makes the best apple sauce. I made several batches of apple sauce. I use minimal sugar…maybe a half cup of sugar for 7 pints worth of apples and a bit of cinnamon. Mostly I just want the bright, natural taste of apples in the sauce. Apple sauce is very easy to do. Peel, core and slice the apples, put them in a large kettle, add just enough water to keep the apples from burning and cook over medium high heat until the apples are tender. I like chunky apple sauce so I mash the apples with my potato masher or you can use an immersion blender.

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Ladle hot applesauce into hot, sterilized jars leaving a half inch of headspace. Use a wooden or plastic spatula remove air bubbles and put the two piece lids on the jar. Process pints in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove and put hot jars on a towel or wooden board to cool. Voila!  You have applesauce to enjoy all winter. Well I did a LOT of applesauce and wanted to try something different so I got out my Ball Blue Book and found a recipe for…

Apple Wedges in Cinnamon Red Hot Sauce

8-10 pounds of apples (use firm apples)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies

2 cinnamon sticks broken into several pieces

2 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp ginger

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups white or cider vinegar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

More peeling, coring, and slicing!  You may want to treat your apples with fresh fruit produce protector or lemon juice to keep your apple slices from browning while you work.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large heavy kettle and slowly bring to a boil.

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Add apple wedges to syrup mixture, stir, cover and simmer 4-5 minutes. Pack hot apples into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Ladle hot syrup over apples leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Adjust caps and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

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They look beautiful!  They will be wonderful to serve as a side with pork or poultry. The red hots and ginger give them a little kick. Apples are all canned. Now I need to find space to store them all!

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Spiced Peaches

I have been in a bit of a canning frenzy lately. Produce has looked particularly beautiful  this year and once I got started I didn’t want to stop. One of my favorite new recipes is for spiced peaches. I bought a bushel of peaches and did half of them in a light syrup, spiced nearly half a bushel and made jam out of the remainder. I found peeling peaches much more time consuming and challenging than peeling beets and tomatoes. I dropped them into boiling water and then into an ice bath just like tomatoes but the peach skin wasn’t quite as cooperative. The first thing you need to do is get rid of the fuzzy peach skin and then we can start spicing the peaches.

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As with any canning project you will need to sterilize your jars in a boiling water bath.

You will need:

Approximately 40 peaches peeled and sliced

7 cups of  sugar

2 cups of water

1 cup white vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks crushed (I wrapped them in a dish towel and smashed them with a hammer)

12 whole cloves

Combine sugar, water, and vinegar in a large heavy kettle.   Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until liquid begins to thicken. Add peaches and spices and simmer until peaches are thoroughly heated.

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Once the fruit is heated fill your prepared jars with the peaches and cover with the syrup leaving a half inch of head space. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. Remove jars to a towel to cool.

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You can can your peaches whole, halved or sliced.

These peaches can replace syrup on your pancakes or waffles, spice up your oatmeal, add interest to ham, pork chops or chicken, or serve as an ice cream topping. Or just eat them out of the jar.  If you like peaches you will love these!