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Let Them Eat Cookies! Holiday Baking List 2013

Its that time again! I’ve got John Denver and The Muppets christmas album blaring on the stereo.  I’ve got my two little toddler helpers in their aprons and we’re mixing up some holiday cheer 1 cup at a time.  Here’s our list of cookies we’re making for this year.

For more of our tried and true family favorites, check out these cookies!

 

 

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

Its apple season again! Now that I don’t have the dread of the return to school, I love the fall! Its all about apples, pumpkins, crisp mornings and eating lots of food to “bulk” up for the winter. I got a good 10 lbs to pack on so I can survive my winter hibernation. Lets get started. Just kidding guys, this recipe won’t bulge your bellies as long as moderation is kept in mind AND you can now enjoy your apples GLUTEN FREE.**


apples are always gluten free, dummy.

Slow Cooked Apple Butter
makes 12 pins

20-25 lbs apples, skinned and cored
6 c. apple cider or juice (or 4 c. water)
4 c. sugar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp all spice

You can use whatever apples you want for this, but a sweet apple is best. The softer it is, like a Mac will cook faster. If you use something hard like honey crisp, you will just have to cook it a bit longer and use a blender to help break down the pulp. But just go with your bad apple self. There are no RULES.

Wash, skin and core your apples.

Put apples and cider in large 5 gallon cooking pot and bring to a boil. If you don’t have a pot that big, get one. If you can’t get one, use two pots. Or half the recipe. Or you can choose to go to another recipe where they don’t do everything in bulk.

Cook apples down on medium heat until they begin to form apple sauce, about 1-2 hours.

Add sugar and stir until sugar is melted. Add spices and stir. Bring heat down to low and cook uncovered to allow excess water to evaporate. Cook until the apple butter has thickened. Joy of cooking describes consistency as: sheeting from a spoon and suggest for testing, “putting a small quantity on a plate. When no rim of liquid separates around the edges of the butter, it is done.”

For my part, I cook for about 6 hours after I add the sugar, stirring occasionally to keep from burning to the bottom of the pot. I let it cool overnight and when I test it in the morning, its good to go.

Place in sterile jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Freezing Blueberries

Its blueberry season! You won’t get as tasty blueberries any other time of year, so make hay while the sun shines.  Be a good little ant and store some food for the winter.  Here’s the best simple way to ensure quality in your frozen berries.

Freezing Blueberries.

1. Wash berries and drain until nearly dry.

2.  Lay berries flat on a cookie sheet.

3.  Place in freezer.  Freeze for 24 hours.

4. Remove from freezer, remove berries from trays and put into freezer bags.  Mark date and put back into freezer.

And, done.

Fifth Forkable Anniversary!

This month Forkable turns five! Let’s celebrate, starting with a photo from my first Forkable photo shoot!

I look great.  My photo skills sure have improved.  5 years!  1,507,705 page views, 383 posts, 1,195 comments, readers from 209 countries.  We’ve been covered by TimeOut Chicago, featured on Bon Appetite.com, The Kitchn, Gapers Block, Boing Boing (twice!), and been retweeted by the official Showtime Dexter page.  I’ve had a post go viral (700,000 unique hits)!

We’ve hosted underground supper clubs, cooking classes in our kitchen and catered events including my own wedding!  Not too shabby. My photos have gotten better.  I’ve become a better writer.  Sort of.  And we’ve eaten lots of amazing food.

Whats next for Forkable?  Readers may have noticed I don’t post as much over the past year or two as I did in the past.  Well, having 2 children under the age of 3 will do that to you!  Am I going to quit writing Forkable?  NO!  I just may only post once every other month.  But this site is such a repository of recipes, its got almost all of my favorite recipes already.  But when I find something truly special, I promise you, I’ll share.

Ok, enough tooting my own horn.  Yay!  5 years!  Ok, serioulsy.  Enough tooting.  Thank you all so much for 5 years of readership, support and love.  Lets continue to make amazing foods!

Strawberry Freezer Jam With Honey

I’ve been wanting to try making Jam without so much sugar.  The best natural substitute for sugar seems to be honey, however, honey is very expensive.  Recently I was given a bunch of honey form the hives on my in-laws property.  Finding myself honey rich, I decided to finally try out a natural jam.  I found this simple recipe and decided to give it a try.

Strawberry Freezer Jam with Honey
makes 4-5 pints

  • 4 c. crushed strawberries
  • 2 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 box of Sure Jell
  • 4 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 c. water

Wash, stem and crush strawberries using food processor or potato smasher. Measure out and pour 4 cups of strawberries into a bowl and set aside.

In a pan, mix honey and sure jell.  Mix water and cornstarch until cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Add water/cornstarch mix to honey.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Mix into strawberry mixture until well blended.

Pour strawberry jam into clean jars, leaving 1-2 inches of head space to allow for jam to expand during freezing.  Allow to stand at room temp. for 24 hours.  Cover and place in freezer.
____________

I think this recipe turned out very tasty.  Its a bit runny for a jam, but since I use my freezer jam more often as a sweeter for plain yogurt, I don’t mind mine being more syrupy.  I think one might try perhaps adding a few tablespoons more of cornstarch to achieve a better consistency.

 

From The Archives: Lamb and Black Bean Chili

This last cold weather snap has been making me crave this chili.  Yum!  This is my FAVORITE chili, so I thought I should repost! Lamb, black beans and WINE.  Say no more.

Lamb and Black Bean Chili

  • 1 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, un-drained and chopped
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • salt to taste
  • hot sauce to taste

In cooking pot, saute lamb, onion and garlic.

Add tomatoes, red wine, and seasonings up to sugar and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 2 hours.

Add black beans and allow to simmer for 30 more minutes.

Season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Done! Garnish with cilantro and fresh jalapenos.

 

Pickled Pears

I keep finding seckel pears at the market this year.   Thora loves them as children love all mini sized foods, so we’ve been buying them a lot.

This last batch, I decided on a whim, to pickle.  Why not?  They’re so cute, they’ll look even cuter stuffed in a jar with spices and a sweet brine in my pantry.

I’m using seckel pears, but you could try any pear cut into sections.

Pickled Pears

  • 3-4 lbs pears

Brine:

  • 4 c. vinegar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. honey

Per pint jar (double for quart):

  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 thin slice of lemon peel

Wash pears and cut in half.

Mix brine ingredients and bring to a boil.

Stuff jars with spices and lemon.  Stuff jars with sliced pears.  Pour boiling brine over pears.

If canning, process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Allow pears to sit for 4-6 weeks before eating.

 

 

Fresh Baked Bread: DAILY!

Now that we are a family of four, we go through bread quickly.  I felt like I was always having to run to the store to get some.  Finally, I just thought, I’ve seriously got to start making my own bread.  Ha! Yeah, right.  When am I going to find the time.  So…I got a bread machine!

Yeah, I said it.  I got a bread machine.  You can get one too.  Just ask your Mom if you can have the one she got during the craze of the late 90′s and then hid in the basement when the Atkins frenzy hit and demonized bread and those evil carbs as the worst villain of the new millenia.  Is it cheating to make bread in a machine? Oh, who cares?? We have fresh baked bread everyday.

To make it simple, every Sunday, I premix the dry batter for a whole weeks worth of loafs.  Placing one batch in the machine bowl and then the rest in 6 mason jars.  That way, every night before bed, I can just throw the dry ingredients into the bowl with the water, add the yeast, press start and go to bed. When I wake up, bread! Yum.  Easy.  End of story.

And yes, I know the bread from the machine has those weird butts where the paddle kneads the bread.  I just cut off that end, dry it out and use it for bread crumbs.  Multitasking!

2012: Food from Scratch In Review

New Years is all about resolutions, but New Years resolutions are depressing. They are based on what you’re not doing and/or what you want to do better.  This year, Ira and I decided to spend New Years Eve writing a list of achievements of the past year.  It was very empowering to focus on what we’ve done well, not what we haven’t.  So I decided to apply this to Forkable.  Here is a list of foods I am very proud to have incorporated into my daily life over 2012.

1. Raspberry Jam
This summer I was lucky enough to get 6 cases of organic raspberries and I made almost all of them into freezer jam.  I have enough to last all year!  I use it daily to make quick delicious vinaigrette, on toast or as a delicious sweetener to my daily oatmeal breakfast or yogurt snack.  Am I going to get sick or it, you ask?  Sick of raspberries? GASP! NO. I won’t.

2. Yogurt
I finally have figured this out!  Its all in keeping a steady 100 degrees during incubation.  I make yogurt at least once or twice a week now.  Yay! Probiotics have never tasted so good.

3. Granola
I usually make a big batch of this twice a month.  Granola is great with milk for breakfast or on top of yogurt.  It saves me a lot of time and money by not having to go buy so much boxed cereal for our breakfasts!

4. Saur Kraut
This year, I decided to always keep a batch of fresh saur kraut in the fridge to eat and one on deck, fermenting in the crock.  In the past I would just ferment and can a huge batch in the fall, but canning kills the pro-biotics.  And I want healthy intestines!

5. Fresh pickles
I’ve also got a jar of refrigerator pickles going at all times.  Mainly cucumbers, but I’ll do green beans, garlic, or whatever I have on hand. Its fun to taste the transition they go through from the light dill taste of an early pickle to the full Briney flavor of a mature one.

6. Fresh Bread
Its amazing to wake up every day to the smell of fresh baked bread that I only spent 5 minutes making!  Thank you bread machine!

7. Apple sauce
This is the best baby food ever.  I’m so lucky to be able to get organic apples every year from my family.  For the past few years, I’ve been able to can a few gallons of apple sauce every year.  Its so wonderful to be able to know I’m giving my baby the best food he can get.

Ok, well, that is enough shameless self aggrandizement for one day. 2012 was a great year.  I hope I can make 2013 just as amazing!

Your Grandma’s Chirstmas Wreath Recipe

This is probably the most nostalgic holiday cookie of all time. For me, these glorified rice crispy treaties conjure up memories of 80′s grade school holiday parties.

These were never part of my family’s holiday cookie list, which is why I call this cookie “Your Grandma’s Christmas Wreath Recipe” because although my Grandma didn’t make these, yours did! Lets get green and sticky!

Your Grandma’s Christmas Wreath Cookies

  • 1/3 c. butter or margarine
  • 4 c. marshmallows  (10 ounce bag)
  • 1 teaspoon green food coloring
  • 6 c. cereal of your choice
  • red cinnamon candies

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Melt marshmallows into butter, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.  Mix in green food dye. Remove from heat.

Mix melted marshmallows into cereal.

Spoon cereal mixture onto baking trays lined with parchment or wax paper.  Using your fingers, shape cookies into wreath shapes.  Lightly coat your fingers with water to help shape the wreathes and keep the marshmallows from sticking to your fingers.  I suggest having a small dish of water near your work station.

Place wreaths in fridge until hardened.  Place in an air tight container layered with wax paper to keep from sticking together.  Good for up to 1 week.



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