Saturday, October 30, 2010

Green Tomato Pickles

Yet another green tomato recipe. I made these a few days ago. Normally I don't care for sweet-style pickles very much, I prefer dill. But these turned out quite good. I used this recipe, cutting it in half because I accidentally cut my finger while slicing tomatoes, and didn't feel like doing any more slicing that night. :-} So remember to be careful when you're slicing the tomatoes, don't get lazy and start chopping up your extremities.

Green Tomato Pickles
1 peck (40 small) green tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 cups onions, thinly sliced
4 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
2 tbsp. celery seed
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
3/4 oz. mustard seed
12 whole cloves
8 whole allspice seeds

Alternate layers of tomatoes and onions on a large platter. Shake salt on each layer like you’re salting a meal. Cover platter with plastic wrap and store overnight in refrigerator. Salt will draw moisture from the tomatoes and onions, so place platter on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any water that may spill.

The next day, drain tomatoes and onions in a colander. In a large pot, add the tomatoes, onions, sugar, white vinegar, celery seed, bay leaf, ground mustard, and mustard seed. Place cloves and allspice in a cloth bag, and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Spoon into sterilized canning jars and seal (I did 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Tomato Relish

Next in my series of green tomato recipes is this deliciously tangy relish. After cooking this up this morning, I was left smelling strongly of cider vinegar, but I think it was worth it. The relish has a really wonderful flavor, and will be a great accompaniment to lots of future meals! I used this recipe, but instead of refrigerating and then serving right away, we put it in jars to freeze.

Green Tomato Relish
1/3 c. salad oil
3 lg. onions, diced
1 lg. garlic clove, minced
8 lg. green tomatoes (about 4 lbs.), cut into bite-sized chunks
4 med. green peppers, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
4 med. red peppers, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
3 c. cider vinegar
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger

About 4 hours before serving or up to 1 week ahead: In 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium heat, in hot salad oil, cook onions and garlic until tender, stirring occasionally. Add green tomatoes and remaining ingredients; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens.

Ladle into jars or freezer containers, cool to room temperature, then freeze. Or ladle into sterilized jars and process in a boiling-water bath for 30 minutes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Green Tomato ... Jam?

Hello, autumn weather! We had a stormy, windy, frosty night last night, which means it's time to bring in the green tomatoes. Do you have any idea how many green tomatoes you get from 19 tomato plants? A lot more than I currently know what to do with! So far we've brought in three large bowls brimming over with green tomatoes - at least 16 quarts. And that's just from three or four plants.

Anticipating a large green tomato crop, I've been looking up recipes for green tomatoes. This is one I found particularly interesting. Mixing green tomatoes, sugar, and jello to make jam definitely isn't something I would have thought to do, but the recipe had pretty good reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

Green Tomato Jam
4 cups shredded green tomatoes (I just tossed the tomatoes in the food processor)
4 cups white sugar
1 6-oz. box flavored gelatin mix (original recipe calls for raspberry)

Combine tomatoes and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir and cook about 10 minutes. Add the gelatin, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Spoon into hot, sterilized jars and seal; or, pour into freezer containers and freeze.

This turned out similar to the orange pear jam I made last year, which is also made using jello. And it was easy to make; the hardest part was standing there stirring it. I made three batches, using lime jello, strawberry jello, and then orange jello. I ended up with about 8 1/2 pints.

I'm sure I'll be posting a few more green tomato recipes in the near future, I still have a lot of tomatoes to use!

And another picture, just because I think this jam is so pretty!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mini Winter Squash Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies are so fun - cakelike cookies sandwiched with a creamy filling. They are usually a few inches across, but this recipe makes much smaller cookies, about an inch across. Fun, bite-sized cookie sandwiches. This was originally a recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies, but I didn't use pumpkin. We had some banana squash that we purchased on clearance that needed to be used. So we cooked it in the slow cooker, then pureed it and used it in this recipe.

There is a very large variety of winter squash available - acorn squash, banana squash, hubbard squash, butternut squash - that can be used interchangeably in many recipes. We don't usually have pumpkin on hand, so it's nice to have alternatives when it comes to fall baking. The flavor and color will be different depending on what squash you use (my cookies are much more yellow than the original orange of pumpkin cookies), but they turn out equally delicious.

To prepare winter squash for use in baking, simply cut up the squash and remove the seeds, cook in either a slow cooker or the oven until it is soft, remove the skin, and mash the squash into a puree.

Mini Winter Squash Whoopie Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup winter squash puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line four baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add squash and vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Drop by heaping measuring teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For cream cheese filling: Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy.

Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling onto flat side of one cookie; top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chocolate Soup

Every once in a while you just gotta have chocolate for dinner, you know? Tonight was one of those nights. I didn't feel like making a big dinner, it was just me and the kids. So we had some bread, some apples, and a nice steaming pot of chocolate soup.

I actually just used a recipe for chocolate pudding, but by calling it soup, I felt a little more justified in serving it for dinner. ;-)

Chocolate Soup
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and milk. Heat over low, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Since it was really hot but I wanted to serve it right away, I sliced a couple frozen strawberries into each bowl before ladling in the soup. The hot soup thawed the strawberries, and the strawberries cooled down the soup so the kids could eat it without scalding their tongues. They sure were excited to be having chocolate for dinner!

Not only is this good served warm as a soup, it's also good served chilled as a pudding. I had some later tonight with a dollop of whipped topping, yummy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

6 Years

My sweet husband and I have been married for 6 years, as of yesterday. When Jeff asked if I wanted to go out to eat or make something special here at home, my answer was obvious - I always prefer a great home cooked meal! So here's what we ate for our special meal to celebrate 6 years of marriage.

Pork and Bacon Skillet

Jeff created this dish specifically to use cheap cuts of pork and bacon ends. Since he didn't really measure anything, all amounts are approximate.

Start by cooking about 1/4-1/2 lb. bacon ends. Remove from pan and set aside, leaving bacon grease in the pan. Cut about 2 lb. pork into 3-inch chunks and add to pan. Brown on both sides. Add a sliced green pepper, some sliced green onions, 1 cup beef broth (or 1 cup water and 1 tsp. bouillon), and the bacon, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

A delicious and hearty salad from the new Southern Plate Cookbook (love this book!!!!!!!)

1 head cauliflower, broken and sliced
1 head broccoli, cut up
2 small onions, cut and separated into rings (I used half of a large red onion)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to vegetables and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Anniversary Pie

This pie has become tradition since I created it a couple years ago. I've made it differently each time, but it's always delicious. This time I went for a yummy cinnamon flavor.

1 package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup eggnog
1/2 cup ice cream (fried ice cream flavor - cinnamon ice cream with shortbread chunks and a caramel swirl, yummmm)
1 graham cracker crust, made with cinnamon grahams
Additional cinnamon graham cracker crumbs

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggnog and ice cream. Pour into crust and freeze until firm. Remove from freezer 10 to 15 minutes before slicing to soften the pie. Return any uneaten portion to the freezer. Sprinkle each slice with additional cracker crumbs.