Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicken Sausages

About a year ago, my friend Judy mentioned wanting to make sausage like her Dad used to make. I told her that I had the grinding and sausage stuffing attachments for my Kitchen Aid mixer and that we could do it at my house. I had these attachments, I received them as a wedding gift and they had been unused for about seven years! We had such a great time, and it was fun listening to Judy tell her daughters about making sausage with her dad while she was growing up. We have done it a couple of times now, and I am pretty confident in my Italian sausage making skills. 

I have seen a lot of recipes online for different chicken sausages and decided to try and make that on my own. I started with boneless chicken breasts and ground the meat before adding the rest of the ingredients. Once everything was mixed together, I started stuffing the mixture into the casing.

And here is my final product:

You can find the recipe that I used here. They were very good and I would make them again, but next time, I think I would increase the seasonings buy just a little bit, only because we like a little more kick. 

To serve these, I cut them into individual size pieces, sauteed some onions and peppers and served on sub rolls. Yummy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Peaches!

This is my second round of peached for this year. Last month I got a box of peaches and made all my jams, preserves and other things. The go-round, I bought two boxes of peaches to can as just slices and halves. Most of them are slices, but probably about a quarter of them are halves. The quart jars will probably be made into cobblers and pies with the pints will probably be eaten pretty much straight from the jar. I eat fruit with breakfast almost every day and some of these peaches on some oatmeal and a bit of brown sugar make a great breakfast. 

I got a phone call a couple of weekends ago from a couple of friends that were out looking for yard sales. One of my neighbors was having an estate sale and they were letting me know that they were parked in my driveway. I was kind of still in bed and asked her if she found canning supplies to let me know and I would run over there. After they were done shopping they let me know there were no canning jars and we visited for a while. My friend Linda asked what can of canning supplies I was looking for and I let her know that I was always on the lookout for jars. Linda loves going treasure hunting! A few days later I get another phone call from Linda letting me know that she was sitting in my driveway with a surprise. She had three reusable shopping bags stuffed with canning jars! She said that she hoped the wide mouth ones were okay because all the big jars were wide mouths. Perfect timing for my peaches! I love the wide mouths, but a lot of the stores around here haven't carried anything but wide mouth pints until this year and the wide mouth ones almost never go on sale. I was very happy to get those jars and the timing was perfect for me to can my peaches.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Making Cream Cheese

I love cheese. Almost any kind of cheese too. I think cheese makes the world a batter place! I have been wanting to learn how to make cheese for a while now. I was in a store a while back and bought a small cheese making kit. I made mozzarella the first time with no success. I read up a little more of different types of milk and tried again, and this time I had some yummy cheese to show off at the end. 

While I was reading up on home cheese making, I found lots of references to cream cheese and it being a fairly easy project to start with for a beginner. When Samantha and I went to the cheese making class last month, our handouts also included a recipe for cream cheese (similar to this one)

I knew I would have some time this weekend so I bought the ingredients and started my cream cheese by combining my ingredients and bring them up to temperature. After that, the mixture sat in a covered pot for about 24 hours to ripen it.

After the 24 hours was completed, my milk mixture looked like yogurt and pulled away from the pan like this:

The next step was to line a colander with butter cloth and let it drain for about an hour.

When the hour was up, I gathered the cloth, tied loose knots using the corners of the cloth and then inserted 2 bamboo skewers between the knots. I use the knobs on my kitchen cabinets to hang things on when I need it.

I left the cheese hanging for about 10 hours and this is what the ball of cream cheese looked like after draining it.

The only thing left to do was put the cream cheese in a bowl and stir in a small amount of cheese salt.

It was getting kind of late at this point so I just smeared some on some crackers so I could taste it. 

I will be making this again. It did take almost two days to make, but the actual hands on time was minimal. The taste was incredible and I wished I had a bagel to go with it. I try and keep bagels made and in the freezer but I was out of them. I know what I will be making in the next couple of days!

The day I bought my cheese making kit, I also picked up this book. The photos are great, the instructions are detailed, and the book is arranged in sections for the beginner, intermediate and advanced cheese maker. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

CSA Basket

This week's CSA basket included potatoes, squash, a couple of different kinds of zucchini, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, two different bell peppers, and CORN! I like all of these things, but the corn was especially exciting for me. Kip and I both really like it cooked on the grill. I shuck and clean it, rub on some butter and some chili lime seasoning***, wrap it in foil and throw on the grill and it is delicious.

I think I have said it almost every week, but I am so happy with this new CSA. I love the variety of foods that we get each week and everything has been so tasty. Everything tastes as good as it looks too.

I have a few extra zucchini. so I think I am going to make some Zucchini bead today. I will probably go ahead and shred some of what I have and freeze it in two cup portions so that it is ready to go when I am ready to make it again.

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July celebration. It was wet here, so we cooked indoors and went to my SIL's house and had a great time over there. Everyone kind of pitches in and brings a couple of different dishes and we are usually over there for a while, eating, visiting, playing cards or other games, watching movies, and eating again!

***the chili lime seasoning I like the best is a Chili-Lime Rub that I order from Pampered Chef. I don't know what made me sprinkle over my corn one day, but I did and we both love it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rosemary Bread

Rosemary Bread is one of my favorite herbed breads to make at home. Bread is one of my favorite foods and nothing makes my house smell as good as bread baking in the oven. With the addition of the rosemary and the other herbs, this one is exceptionally fragrant. This is my basic bread recipe that I use for any herbed bread. Rosemary is what I make the most often, but I have substituted the rosemary for other herbs such as dill or a combo of oregano, parsley and basil. Any combo of herbs that you would pair together will work. 

Here I have added my dry ingredients (minus 1 cup of flour) , including the yeast.

After adding the water and softened butter, mix for just a minute or two.

Add remaining cup of flour. At this time I switched to the dough hook on my mixer.

Bread is now ready to rise. I really like using my Kitchen Aid mixer for this, because the bowl that goes with it happens to be one of my largest mixing bowls. This way, I don't have to get another bowl dirty to allow the dough room to rise.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for about an hour in a warm, not hot, place.

At the end of the hour, punch down the dough and knead for a few minutes.

Grease a loaf pan. Press dough into the pan, make sure to get it in the corners. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes. 

After this rise, the bread will fill your loaf pan.

In about 40 - 45 minutes of baking you will end up with a golden brown beauty like this:

Herbed Bread Recipe

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 teaspoons parsley
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Stir, then add the water and the softened butter. Mix on low for 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl. Turn mixer to medium and beat for 1 more minute. Stir in last cup of flour. (Switch to dough hook if you have one) and mix until smooth and the batter pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. 

Grease a loaf pan. Punch down dough and knead for about 5 minutes. Place dough in the greased loaf pan and pat down. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 - 45 minutes until dough has about doubled. 

Preheat oven to 375* and bake in oven until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on top, about 40 - 45 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

It really is best to wait an hour before slicing, but I have only been able to do that once or twice, nothing beats bread straight out of the oven!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Steak Seasoning

Are you grilling this week? I am sure we will be at some point. I thought I would share one of my favorite seasoning mixes that I almost always have on hand here at the house. I usually use it on steak but it is actually pretty good on burgers too.

Steak Seasoning Mix

2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs. onion powder
1 tsp cracked brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 Tbs garlic powder
2 tsp hickory smoke seasoning
1 tsp hickory sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Measure out all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

An even quicker way is to measure your ingredients into a small mason jar, put the lid on and give it a couple of shakes!

Store in an airtight container.

Most of these spiced are easily found wherever you do your grocery shopping, but the brown mustard seeds, the hickory smoke seasoning and the hickory sea salt aren't as common or easy to find. I buy a lot of my spices online from My Spice Sage. I have ordered from them many times and have always been happy with their service and the prices. I also order the Clear Jel I need to canning pie fillings from here. Orders over $20 ship free and they also let you choose a free sample when you check out. Lots of the time they also have a free gift with a minimum purchase. They have lots of great recipes on their site too!