Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blackberry Cobbler


What we call blackberry cobbler might not be what you all call cobbler, but this is how I learned to make it. I had to really struggle through some of this because I'm not used to making it with measurements, so just hang with me.

In the Pacific Northwest, blackberries are starting to come on. Picking them is a "must-do" for us. Not only do the juicy berries supply me with some of our favorite jam, I like to dehydrate some for granola and snacking as well as freezing some to enjoy the bounty all year long. Blackberry cobbler in December? Yes, please!

First, you need to make a pie crust. I've been using this recipe lately that I found in our family cookbook:

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups lard (or shortening)
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 egg
3 1/2 Tablespoons ice water

Mix flour and salt together. Using a pasty blender or 2 forks, blend in the lard. When it is fairly mixed in and looks like tiny lumps, set aside. Mix together the egg, water and vinegar. Stir well. Add to the flour and mix until just combined. Roll out immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Now that you have your pastry, roll it out to fit your pan. I usually make my cobbler in a 9x 13 inch pan so I roll it out to overlap the edges and put a crust on the bottom, like so:


Don't mind the patch job, it'll work out just fine. Work your dough to fit the pan even if that means tearing off a piece and squishing it onto another piece. I don't always put a bottom crust down, it depends on how much time I have but I can tell you that it is equally delicious with or without it!

Next, take your berries and mix with some sugar and flour. Sugar is totally up to you. We like ours to taste a little more like the berries taste off the vine, so I don't use as much~ maybe 1/2 cup for 6-8 cups of berries. The flour is also approximate. I sprinkle it on and stir until all the berries have a nice dusting, maybe 1/3-1/2 cup as well for the 6-8 cups. It'll look something like this:


The white lumps are sugar. Someone in my house *small children* were caught dipping strawberries into the 5 gallon bucket of sugar in the pantry. Now it has some clumps....I'm not concerned about them in here, they'll melt while they are cooking.

Now you're going to dump the berries into the crust. I didn't have as many berries as I would have usually used in this sized pan, it should fill it up almost to the top and I was a little short. Not that that matters at all, I'll show you how I made it work perfectly.


Since the berries didn't come all the way up, I folded the edges down and put another piece of pie crust over the space that was left. It's not very pretty, but hey, not all good food has to be pretty....it just has to be pretty tasty :)

Poke some holes in the top for vents:



Sprinkle on some clumpity sugar for crunch:



Ready....Set.....BAKE! Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown.



Serve this warm with a scoop of ice cream, or cold with a dollop of whipped cream. Or, you could eat this in your pj's in the middle of the night straight out of the pan. Whatever floats your boat!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homemade Stromboli




I first learned to make stromboli in High School Home EC. class many moons ago. I was surprised when I brought my leftovers home and my dad loved it. It just didn't seem like his kind of meal, but it was and I have made it many, many times over. It's one of those recipes that has served me well. It's adaptable, always tasty and it makes a ton. I like that this recipe makes a lot because as good as it is hot out of the oven, it's just as good *if not better* the next day cold for lunch. Or breakfast. Or a midnight snack. I'll not judge you if you want to eat this all the time, it's really that good.




Have I mentioned that it's simple as well? Other than the bread dough portion, which you can make from scratch as I opted to do OR you can buy pre-made bread dough from the freezer section, it goes together in no time at all. Oh, and it can be made in the morning and be waiting for you at dinnertime. Nice, huh?



Stromboli
makes 2 large loaves

1- 2 loaf recipe of bread dough
8 slices provolone cheese
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup (or more) shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (or more) sliced dry Italian salami
1/2 cup (or more) sliced pepperoni
8-10 slices ham (I like thin sliced black forest in this)
4-6 Tablespoons grainy or Dijon mustard

Roll out 1/2 the bread dough into a 18 in x 8 in rectangle, short side facing you. Spread 2 -3 Tablespoons Dijon or grainy mustard down the middle. Lay 1/2 the provolone cheese down the mustard. Layer 1/2 the salami slices, followed by 1/2 the Swiss cheese. Top that with 1/2 of the ham, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 the pepperoni. Sprinkle 1/2 the Parmesan cheese on top. Now you should have about 4-6 inches of bread dough sticking out on each side of the meat/cheese. You're going to make horizontal slices in that dough about every 2 inches on both sides all the way to the other end. Starting at the end closest to you, fold the slices inward, overlapping them almost making a braid. When it's all closed up, transfer it to a greased cookie sheet and repeat with the other 1/2 of the dough.

Now you have 2 options, you can let it sit on the counter and raise, about 30 min to an hour depending on the temp in the house. OR you can cover loosely with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Just take it out and let it sit on the counter while the oven heats up. Either way you do it, you'll bake it at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Slice, eat and enjoy!



My pictures hardly do this any justice. This is the cold one that we ate for lunch today, so you'll have to imagine it all ooey and gooey and warm. :)

One of the best things about this recipe is it's ability to adapt to what you have on hand. Use what meats, cheeses and even veggies that you have on hand and have a different combination every time. Not to mention that kids LOVE it!




Monday, August 15, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The winner of the cookbook is....drumroll please.......

AMANDA TORRISI!!!!

Contact me with your shipping address please :))

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You Are Awesome!

And to thank you all for being so awesome, I have a giveaway for you :) I'm giving all of you the chance to be the proud owner of: Everyday Slow Cooker & One Dish Recipes by Taste of Home.

This is a hardcover, 256 page fully color cookbook. It contains more than 325 recipes, most with a picture. This is a great book and who couldn't use some new recipes??







This is not a sponsored giveaway, Taste of Home has no idea who I am and didn't pay me or compensate me to write this post and do a giveaway. It's out of the goodness of my lil 'ol heart here.

To enter: Leave a comment on THIS post telling me what your worst kitchen disaster was. Don't have a kitchen disaster? Just say that you want it :)

Want an extra entry? Comment on any other post on the blog, come back here and leave a comment telling me the title of the post you commented on. One extra entry only.

Contest ends 8/14/2011 at Midnight Eastern time. Winner will be drawn using a random number generator and announced Monday 8/15/2011 no later than noon Eastern time.

GOOD LUCK!!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US only please! Thank you

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream

The best thing about having our own dairy products at my disposal is that I can make ice cream whenever I want and let me tell you, nothing beats homemade ice cream! It's thicker, creamier and fresher tasting.



That just looks good!!

In this recipe you will be making a cooked custard base, cooling it and then freezing it according to your ice cream maker instructions. I made the 6 quart recipe and I'll include the quantities for it in parenthesis after the 4 quart recipe for the people who want to make a little more.

Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream

4 Quart

2 1/4 cups sugar  (3 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour  (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt  (3/4 teaspoon)
5 cups milk  (7 cups)
4 eggs, beaten  (6 eggs, beaten)
4 cups whipping cream (6 cups)
2 Tablespoons vanilla  (3Tablespoons)

Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring all the while. Stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the eggs. Add eggs back into the hot mixture stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute, remove from heat and cool in the fridge for 2 hours. Combine the whipping cream and vanilla in a large bowl and stir the custard in using a whisk to stir. Freeze as directed for your ice cream machine.

This is a very basic, yet delicious, recipe. You could add things like fruit, cookies, nuts or candy and make your own gourmet ice cream. Or you can leave it plain and pour hot sauce or fruit sauce over the top. Add a scoop with your pie or cake. Make milkshakes. Ice cream cones are always nice. Do whatever you want with your ice cream, it's going to be good no matter what!

I have a ton of recipes that I want to try: Spiced Cider Sorbet, Pina Colada Frozen Yogurt, Caramel with Buttered Pecans, Chocolate Chip Mint (I might add thin mints to that one). But the next one were going to make is.....drum roll please.......Praline Almond Fudge. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crumble Bars

Yesterday I wanted to make a snack for the kids but I didn't feel like making one of our standards: brownies, chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. So I did what I always do when I want to try something new and I got out my old cookbooks and my family cookbook. There are gems in these books just waiting to be discovered!

Since what's old is new again (case in point: mullets) I like to see what the ladies from the 40's, 50's and 60's were cooking up for their hungry families. I am rarely disappointed with a recipe from those era's and although the directions can be somewhat vague, because everyone knew how to cook then, they are almost always very easy.

I picked the humble sounding "Crumble Bars" recipe from my family cookbook. I was not sorry that I tried them :)




There is a buttery, brown sugary crust topped by a chewy, chocolate-y layer that is sweet without being overly so. A little of the crust is sprinkled on the top to make a crisp-like topping. They are so good, so easy and makes a whole cookie sheet full. I like recipe that come in bulk sizes!




Crumble Bars

For the crust mix together:

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt

Blend in:

1 cup shortening or lard
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Press 3/4 of the mixture in a cookie sheet. Reserve the rest of the crumbs for the topping. Set the cookie sheet aside.

For the filling melt together:

6 Tablespoons cocoa
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 Tablespoons evaporated milk

Pour over crust and sprinkle with the reserved crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.





These were good. So, so, so good. Make them so you can taste the deliciousness too. I don't want you to be left out!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Week

Last week Kevin had vacation. We didn't plan on going anywhere, mostly due to the fact that we have a cow now. Did I mention that? Yeah, we have a cow. So, our vacation mainly consisted of hanging out at home, getting various chores done around here, taking some afternoon naps and generally just relaxing.

It was fabulous.

In the midst of all the relaxing, Alex and Brenna had a birthday! My babies, who are no longer babies, are now 3.



We had some birthday cupcake cones. Super fun for little kids, not the tastiest birthday cake/cupcakes I have ever made, but they loved them.




They got some super cute 3rd birthday pictures taken.









They don't look like babies anymore. They are losing that pudgy baby face and getting big-kid features. Either way, they are still the cutest little kids....or at least I think so :)

In a nutshell that's what I have been up to this past week. I have a bunch of really good things to post about this week and I'm really excited to see what you think of them.

Have a happy Monday and I'll meet you back here tomorrow!