Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Our garden season has ended and I harvested a large quantity of peppers, onions, and eggplant. Several times in the past few weeks, I've made a simple stuffed red and green pepper and included some eggplant in the baking dish between the peppers.  I'll be doing this again!

There are many recipes for stuffed peppers. Some include rice with hamburger.  I like panko bread crumbs. I mixed hamburger and panko with fresh tomato sauce and topped the stuffed peppers and the sliced eggplant with the tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan--so an Italian version.

This is an easy recipe with less than 10 minutes of preparation time. I used peppers from my garden. At the farmers market this time of year, large bell peppers are $.25 each. 

Cut 3 large bell peppers in 1/2 length wise and place cut side up in an oiled baking dish.

To 1 lb of ground beef, add:
3/4 c panko
1 beaten egg
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 c seasoned tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Divide the beef mixture among the peppers and fill each pepper so the mixture forms a mound.

For the eggplant:
Cut 1" slices of eggplant, brush with olive oil and place in the baking dish with the stuffed green peppers.

Cover the peppers and eggplant with 1 1/4 c tomato sauce. Top with sliced or shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses to taste--about 3/4 c of each.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until the cheese begins to bubble.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Canning Marinara Sauce

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

The fresh tomatoes are still at the farmers markets and in the fall, bushels of canning tomatoes are inexpensive. Last week, I brought home 1 1/2 bushels and canned 35 quarts of tomatoes. This weekend's project was marina sauce.

Canning is very easy and it allows me to have complete control over what goes in the jar. When fruits and vegetables are plentiful, canning stocks my pantry shelves at low costs for a quality product.

There are several ways to make marinara sauce: peeling the tomatoes and cooking the sauce and ingredients down to a thick stage resulting in a chunky sauce; peeling the tomatoes and cooking down and then running them through a food mill to puree and remove seeds; and my cheater method--filling a huge pot full of tomatoes, unpeeled and uncored, cooking until slightly soft and running them through a food mill.  The result is a very thin tomato sauce that is then cooked down.

I use a Victoria food strainer that sends the juice down a chute and the tomato skins and seeds out another side. I put the seeds and skins back through the strainer several times to get even more juice.Then on the stove this large pot of tomato sauce went for several hours. I cooked it, stirring often, until it was reduced by 25%. I started with 1/2 bushel of tomatoes that I bought for $7.95 at the market. Then I added:

6 medium onions, chopped
6 green peppers, chopped
12 cloves of garlic, minced
1 c fresh basil
1/2 c fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
6 cans tomato paste

The sauce continued to cook down another 25% to a thick sauce. To each hot pint canning jar, I added 1 1/2 T lemon juice--needed to balance acidity levels. The sauce was cooked in the canner for 35 minutes. And the result? 15 pints of gorgeous marinara sauce at a cost of about $1 a jar.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Corn with Onions, Peppers, & Cilantro

Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Fall is here and the last of fresh sweet corn is at the farmers markets. I love sweet corn in any fashion but this recipe is especially good with corn that is not so fresh or with frozen corn. My garden is overflowing with onions and multi colored peppers which went into this dish. I added a hot pepper to this for some heat.

In a saute pan, add and heat:
3 T olive oil

Add to the hot oil:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large sweet pepper, chopped--add a hot pepper if you like heat

Stir for 2 minutes until the ingredients are evenly coated with oil and beginning to soften. To the mixture, add:

3 c fresh corn cut from the cob or frozen (not thawed) corn
3/4 chicken or vegetable stock
1 T chopped cilantro
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the mixture over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Zucchini Cake

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We were invited to a dinner where we were bringing dessert. I wasn't happy with the fresh fruit selection at the farmers market for a pie but my garden was overflowing with zucchini.  The chocolate zucchini cake I concocted was a hit! There is not even a hint of zucchini flavor in this cake. It is moist and chocolatey....perfect.

In a bowl, cream:
1/2 c softened butter
1 3/4 c sugar

To it add and beat until smooth:

3 eggs added one at a time

Stir in:
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t grated orange peel
2 c grated zucchini

Sift together:
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 t salt
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches and in between add:
1/2 milk

Stir in 3/4 c chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans.

Pour into a greased and floured bundt or angel food cake pan and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F until a tooth pick inserted into the came comes out clean. 

Cool on a rack for 25 minutes or until cool to the touch. Then invert onto a cake or serving plate. Top with powdered sugar or a vanilla icing.

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Herb Bouquets

    By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    We are heading to a friend's house today so for a gift, I'm taking a summer herb bouquet. The garden is in full bloom now so I picked:
    Italian parsley
    Curly parsley
    Variegated Sage

    This gorgeous bouquet is arranged in a small canning jar and not only looks great but can be used for days after we leave!

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Roasted Beet Salad

    By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    Fresh beets are so good. This time of year, the farmers markets have fresh beets and they are so sweet.  Last week, I roasted some beets to use in Beet Risotto and I had some leftover beets.  They became an amazing beet salad!

    Roasting beets is an easy task: wrap cleaned beets in foil, add a couple of whole garlic cloves, some sprigs of thyme, and olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, less if the beets are very fresh.

    When they are cooled, peel the beets under running water--this keeps the red color off  hands.  For this salad, I used:

    4 medium beets, roasted, peeled and sliced
    1 small red onion, diced
    1 T parsley--I used Italian from the garden

    To the beets and onion, I added:
    2 T olive oil mixed with
    1T fresh lemon juice

    The salad was chilled for 60 minutes before serving and then topped with crumbled blue cheese. It didn't last long!

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    Basil Pesto

     By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    The basil in the garden is flourishing now and needs to be harvested. Pesto seemed like a good idea for tonight's dinner.

    And this is so easy!  In a food processor, add:
    4 c packed basil leaves
    2 cloves of garlic, peeled
    3/4 c pine nuts or walnuts

    Pulse these ingredients until they are just coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 c grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and while running the food processor, dribble in 3 T olive oil.  The mixture will come together.

    How to use the pesto? Many ways:
    *Freeze in ice cube trays and then remove when frozen and put into a freezer bag to add to stews or pasta.
    *Toss with 1 pound of pasta like I did.
    *Slice fresh tomatoes and top with 1T of pesto.

    I knew we would have leftover pasta and pesto so tomorrow, I'll add some fresh cherry tomatoes and chunks of buffalo mozzarella for a tasty pasta salad.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    By Aida Washburn

    As a lover of chocolate chip cookies, I'm always looking for something related. I borrowed this idea from the Reese's Facebook page, using my favorite chocolate chip recipe, box brownies, and Pieces instead of the Peanut Butter Cups they used.

    Amy's Grandma's Cookies
    1 cup shortening
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla
    2.5 cups flour
    Most of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips

    Mix all in a bowl. (For regular cookies, roll into small balls and bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees.)

    For this recipe, grease muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of the muffin tin with cookie dough...perhaps 1/2 inch deep.

    Prepare brownie mix. Sprinkle Reese's Pieces on top of cookie dough, 8-10? Then top with brownie mix. The cookie/brownie mix should fill 2/3 of the cup.

    Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, and check that a toothpick comes out mostly clean (chocolate chips notwithstanding).

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Clare Mackey Chili

     By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    This is a treasured family recipe. I cut it out of the Detroit Free Press years ago and have no clue what drew me to this odd blend of ingredients. It was called "Clare Mackey Stew" after the wife of a Michigan politician. 

    When our sons were in school, we would haul gallons of this to ski meets and it would wow people. Everyone called it a chili. No one could guess the secret ingredient: apples.

    Once or twice a year, a friend will ask for the recipe for "Clare Mackey" as it was affectionately called at the ski meets.  We would show up for the tailgate party and people would ask "Did you bring Clare Mackey?" It's that good.

    ½ pound dried red kidney beans
    1 lb. pound breakfast sausage
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 large garlic cloves, minced
    2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
    ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
    3 T chili powder
    1 ½ t dried mustard
    15 oz. tomato sauce
    sour cream for garnish

    Soak kidney beans overnight. Drain, cover with water and cook over low heat until the skin begins to break but the beans are still slightly hard. Drain beans reserving 2 cups of the liquid.

    In a large heavy pot, brown breakfast sausage breaking into 1" pieces. When the sausage is pink, add the chopped onion. Continue to brown the sausage; drain off any fat. Add to the pot, the beans, the garlic, apples, sugar, chili powder, mustard, tomato sauce, reserved bean liquid, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 60-75 minutes or until apples are softened and the chili is thick.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Spanish Judion Beans from Avila

    By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    Several years ago, we were making a dish with kidney beans and the only kind available at our local grocery store was a somewhat pricey Michigan grown bean. It was outstanding and for the first time, we understood the difference in dried beans.

    We were in Avila, Spain a few months ago, a walled city in a region known for their dried beans. I brought back 2 kilos of them, a large lima and a kidney bean. Today, I prepared a tapas-like lima bean dish similar to a tapas we had in Spain. We were wowed by the beans: huge, meaty, sweet, fabulous.  We won't be buying generic dried beans again.  There are no words to describe how spectacular these beans are.

    For this dish, I soaked 1 c of the Judion beans for about 6 hours. To a pot, I added the beans covered by 1" of water and:
    1/2 large onion, minced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 bay leaf
    several sprigs of fresh thyme
    These simmered for 30 minutes.

    In a Dutch oven, add:
    2 T olive oil, heated, then mixed with
    1/2 c chopped green pepper
    1/2 c chopped red pepper
    the remaining onion half, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 qt of canned tomatoes drained (I used tomatoes I canned from my garden)
    1 t smoked Spanish paprika
    salt and pepper to taste

    Bring this to a simmer. To it add the beans and the bean water and spices.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Cranberry Apple Pecan Pie

    By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

    I love cranberries and am excited each fall when fresh ones appear in the grocery stores. Cranberries are too good for just the holiday season so I stash several bags in the freezer. Many grocery stores now carry frozen cranberries year 'round--as well they should.

    Because we're pie people in our family, a variety of pies come out of our ovens. This cranberry, apple and pecan pie has a great blend of flavors from the sweet apples and  the tart cranberries mixed with the pecans.  This one's a keeper!

    In our family, pies always start with home made crust. If you have to succumb to the grocery store version, so be it, but truly, making a crust is easy.We had an abundance of apples in our orchard this year and still have a supply stored in a cool spot. For this pie, I used three different varieties--because I have them--and for apple pies, I prefer to blend two or three varieties.

    Mix together:
    5 c chopped, peeled apples
    1 1/2 c fresh or frozen cranberries
    3/4 c chopped pecans
    1 c sugar
    1/4 c flour
    1 t cinnamon

    Pour the fruit mixture into a pie plate lined with a crust. Cover with a top crust and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F and then reduce the heat to 355 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.