Homemade Cherry Pie

Homemade Cherry Pie.

On a recent visit to an awesome new grocery store that opened up near us called Fresh Thyme, I discovered they carried big 2.5 lb bags of red sour pie cherries.  I was so excited!  This is something hard to find where we live.  You can find dark sweet cherries everywhere, and they are delicious for eating, but to make a good old-fashioned homemade cherry pie, you have to have the sour cherries.

I snagged a couple bags and was excited to get to make a cherry pie for hubby for Valentine’s Day last week.

If you are lucky enough to find sour cherries, here is the simple, old-fashioned recipe I use to make a classic cherry pie.

Bake a little love!

Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, tapioca, and almond extract.  Mix well, and let sit while preparing pie crust.

Prepare crust and place bottom layer in pie plate.  Fill with cherry mixture.  Top filling with dabs of butter followed by top crust, being sure to cut slits or a shape to allow bubbling and steam to escape.  Spread a small amount of milk or water on top crust, and sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of sugar if desired.

Place pie in oven.  Cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.  Bake approximately one hour.  Remove foil and continue baking until filling bubbles out of top and crust is beautifully browned.

Allow to cool completely to set.  Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips.

I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier and make better food choices.

It’s hard.

While some people crave chocolate and sweets, I am a salty, savory girl.  I will take a crunchy pretzel or chip any day over a Hershey’s Kiss or cookie.

So when I heard about making homemade sweet potato chips, I had to try.

And HOORAY!  They totally satisfied my salty, crunchy chip-loving craving.

These are so easy to make, so delicious to eat, and healthy enough to not feel guilty!

The only tricky part is baking them long enough to get crispy without burning them.

This recipe is what works in my oven in my area.  I have an electric convection oven.  Your baking time may vary.  Just keep watching – and tasting – until you achieve your best results.

The batch pictured here is ONE sweet potato!

Here is how I made them:

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder or dry rub or your favorite seasoning (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Thinly slice sweet potato with a mandoline slicer and layer on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and combine to coat well.  Sprinkle with salt and seasoning.  Re-spread evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes.  Toss and flip slices.  Continue baking for 10 minutes.  Toss and flip slices.  Bake 10 more minutes or until edges are browned and chips become crisp.  Remove to paper towels to dry and drain off any excess oil.   Serve immediately and enjoy!

TIP:  Some type of mandoline slicer is really a must as well to get super thin, even slices.

Hope you enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

P.S.  Do you see a familiar furry, four-legged friend in the first photo who also loves these sweet potato chips?  (Charlie says “Hi” and wants you to know how good these are!)

Homemade Apple Fritters

Homemade Apple Fritters.

Last Sunday, Hubby had to get up very early – really the middle of the night – to work during a winter weather event in our area.

Missing Sunday breakfast, I wanted to make him a special treat for when he returned home.

With some wonderful Misfits Market apples in the crisper, I thought I’d try my hand at homemade apple fritters.

Who can resist a fresh apple fritter??!!

A couple tips from a first-time apple fritter maker:

  • Don’t heat the oil too hot.  Be patient and use a medium heat.  Better to fry them a little longer and get a golden brown than to overcook the outside and undercook the inside with high heat.  (Which, by the way, is what I did with the first batch of three, resulting in us only having three total!)
  • Spread them a little flatter than I did so you get more icing in each bite as the dough itself only contains a small amount of sugar. (This was hubby’s suggestion!)
  • Use a sweeter, less firm apple for best results.  I would not recommend Granny Smith.  The recipe calls for 3 medium apples, but you could really add another apple, which I will do next time.

Let me know if you try and/or if you have made and have any of your own tips.  We sure enjoyed these on a cold, snowy, comfort food, stay-in kind of day.

Here is the recipe I very slightly adapted from I am Baker‘s blog.

Homemade Apple Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil  for frying
  • Glaze
    • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 4 tsp. water (or enough for best consistency)

Directions:

In a small bowl, drizzle lemon juice over diced apples.  Stir to coat.  Set aside.

In electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs on medium-high speed until combined.  Reduce speed to low, and add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix until combined.  Add milk, and mix until incorporated.  Fold in apples with spatula.

Fill a frying pan halfway full with oil.  Heat over medium heat to 375 degrees F.

Drop three 1/4-1/3 cup portions of batter into the oil.  Let fry for a few minutes until golden brown.  Flip and fry until other side is golden brown.  Test for doneness by inserting a small knife in center.  If uncooked batter remains, fry longer.

Remove fritters from oil with slotted spoon to wire rack layered with paper towels or napkins to drain.  Allow to cool.

Repeat with remaining three portions of batter.

Prepare glaze by combining powdered sugar, vanilla, and water.  Drizzle over cooled fritters on cooling rack.  When glaze has set, turn to coat other side with glaze that dripped through, if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Easy Dill Pickle Focaccia Bread

Easy Dill Pickle Focaccia Bread.

Calling all bread lovers!

Calling all dill pickle lovers!

Calling all lovers of easy recipes that rock!

My cousin, who I affectionately refer to as “Oh Rob,” recently shared this recipe he made for his pickle-loving grandson.  Oh Rob loves to bake bread, and he loves his grandson even more!  This recipe was a match made in heaven for these two.

The idea really intrigued me and sounded so good. I knew I had to try it.

We are a dill pickle lovin’ family too.

And who doesn’t love bread?!

So I ever so slightly adapted the recipe and made it this past Sunday for dinner to serve along with spaghetti.  We loved it!

Give it a try, and let me know what you think.  Here is how I made it.

Easy Dill Pickle Focaccia Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup warm water (105-110°F)
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice, warmed (105-110°F)
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 large dill pickles, sliced or chopped
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp. Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Directions:

Combine warm water, warm pickle juice, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Let stand 10 minutes.

Whisk together flour, dill, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add pickle juice mixture and 2 tablespoons of the oil; stir until combined and dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and stretchy.

Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil in the bowl to coat; add dough, and turn to coat. Cover with towel, and let stand in a warm place until dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Punch down dough. Place on a lightly oiled 18- x 13-inch rimmed baking stone sheet. Press and stretch dough to edges of baking sheet. Cover with towel, and let stand in a warm place 15 minutes.

Using the end of a wooden spoon, make indentions evenly over dough. Top evenly with cheese and pickles.  Bake until lightly golden and cooked through,  approximately 20 minutes.

Sprinkle top with sea salt flakes, if desired. 

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  I will be taking a holiday blogging break until after Christmas and the New Year.  Wishing you all the joy of this festive season!

Fancy Sprinkles

Fancy Sprinkles.

I’ve mentioned before...  I kinda have a “thing” for sprinkles.

Well… what a SWEET surprise I came home to yesterday after an especially long day at the office to find a glittery, sparkly package in the mail pile with a sweet note from my bestie!

She has a knack for always knowing the right timing and just the right thing!

I’ve recently had a couple cookie fails in my attempts to try “something new” for Christmas cookies.

UGH!

Yep – happens to all of us I guess.

One was with a “best ever” sugar cookie recipe a baking blogger claimed to have refined after many attempts to create the absolute best.

Well…. NOT!  At least for me.  I knew when I made the dough, it wasn’t right….

Take it from someone who bakes cookies almost every week.  You get a “feel” for it.

I told hubby the dough felt dry, and I didn’t think they were going to turn out.

I baked a batch, and yep…. DRY!  (Though hubby didn’t seem to mind spreading jam on them like biscuits and enjoying them.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to make sugar cut-out cookies.  Anybody else have a “best ever” recipe I should try?

So even though it was late, I just couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of Sprinkle Cookies from a recipe I knew was yummy with these special Fancy Sprinkles.

I made one batch with the beautiful blue and white “Frostbite” sprinkles that had  hearts and stars and pearls and blue metallic balls and another batch with the adorable red, brown, and white “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” sprinkles – complete with tiny gingerbread men and mini marshmallows!

And, ironically, earlier in the day, a coworker and I laughed about the love her 6-year old son has for sprinkles and how he chose the “sprinkliest” cake he could find for his “second” birthday cake this year.

If you’d like my recipe for Sprinkle Cookies, just click here.  They are fun and festive and delicious!  I added just a smidge less flour to this batch and flattened the dough balls just a bit before baking to make this batch a little chewier.   I like how they turned out.  You can always adjust the amount of flour a bit to make your cookies flatter or thicker.

Thanks for sprinkling me with your friendship and love, Jill!

Happy holiday baking friends!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies.

It’s December, and that means time to start Christmas cookie baking!

These cookies are a wonderful version of pecan pie in a cookie!

They are similar to Pecan Tassies, but a lot easier.

The cookie is buttery and shortbread-like, while the filling is nutty and sticky and sweet and AMAZING!

I had a little bit of extra filling left that I just couldn’t throw away, so I spread it on a sheet of crescent roll dough, rolled it up, and sliced it into 8 easier-than-pie pecan “sticky buns!”

So
worth
it!

Hope you will give these yummy cookies a try for something new on your Christmas cookie baking list.  I do believe these will become a regular in our home!

Here is the recipe I found at  Crazy for Crust, which I only slightly altered.  Thanks for a great recipe, Dorothy!

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Batter:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pecan Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse or flaked salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 Tbsp. Half and Half or Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Optional:  Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top of cooled cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in electric mixer until creamy.   Add in baking powder, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until well combined.

Shape dough, two tablespoons at a time, into balls, and place the balls two inches apart on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Indent a hole in center with your thumb.

Prepare filling by stirring pecans, salt, brown sugar, and vanilla with cream until it forms a thick mixture.  Spoon approximately one teaspoonful into thumb indentation of each cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on stone or cookie sheet before removing to rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cookies freeze well for up to a month.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew.

The weather has turned blustery here, and we are “turkeyed” out from Thanksgiving, so the other day, I made a comforting pot of bubbling, thick, hearty, old-fashioned beef stew.

I finally made a trip to a local pantry I’ve been longing to visit in the quaint town of Zelienople, PA (not far from Mars) – Penn Pantry, where I purchased some local, organic grass-fed beef (amongst many other wonderful treasures) that seemed to be made just for stewing.

I also had an abundance of fresh vegetables from my latest Misfit Market shipment that I knew would work perfectly in a stew – potatoes in sweet, red and white, carrots, parsnips, and onions.

So a stewing I did, and oh how we enjoyed!

Here is how I made ours.  Shake it up with your favorite ingredients, but feel the warmth and comfort in this great classic recipe.

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef, trimmed and cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (or your favorite)
  • 1 tsp. coarsly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage, finely minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or parsnips
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery

Directions:

Combine flour, seasoned salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Add beef cubes, and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add coated beef cubes and brown on all sides.

Remove beef from pot, and add vinegar and wine to oil and beef drippings in pot.  Stir and scrape browned bits from bottom of pan until all combined and boiling.  Add beef back in, followed by beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and sage.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about a half hour to an hour – until beef is tender.  (Timing will depend on the cut and quality of beef.)

Add onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery, and continue simmering until vegetables are tender and broth thickens – approximately one hour.

Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh, crusty bread to soak up every bit of gravy goodness to comfort your appetite and warm you from the inside out.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Cheesy Chicken Prosciutto Roll-Ups in White Wine Sauce

Cheesy Chicken Prosciutto Roll-Ups in White Wine Sauce.

This past Sunday, I made a new recipe with chicken that turned out so yummy, I couldn’t wait to share.

With a few simple ingredients, but also the finest you can find or afford, you can create this amazing dish in just a few minutes before putting in the oven for a half hour.

Turn your sound on for just a few seconds, and click the arrow below to experience the glorious sizzling of these little gems as they brown in olive oil and a bit of butter!

These chicken breasts, pounded as flat as possible, are stuffed with thinly sliced salty, high-quality prosciutto,  fresh, creamy mozzarella cheese and a few simple spices before being rolled in flour and browned in olive oil and butter.

Once browned,  white wine is poured in to blend with the browned bits and juices to create the most amazing gravy!

We enjoyed our Cheesy Chicken Prosciutto Roll-Ups with a fresh garden salad.  The only thing we were missing was some crusty bread to sop up every last bit of gravy.

I cannot recommend this winner of a chicken dinner more highly.  I slightly revised a recipe I found at mangiamichelle.com.

Here is how I made it.

Cheesy Chicken Prosciutto Roll-Ups in White Wine Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. (3 large) chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally to create 6 pieces
  • 6 paper-thin sliced high-quality proscuitto
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning (or your favorite i.e. oregano, sage, thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/2 cup flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pound the chicken pieces until they are as flat as possible to about 1/3 inch thick.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and seasoning.  Lay a slice of prosciutto on top followed by a slice of mozzarella.  Roll up and secure with a toothpick or two to secure.  Dredge each chicken roll-up in flour.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat.  Brown each roll-up on each side for about 4-5 minutes.  Pour wine over all, and stir up browned bits and butter to incorporate.  Baste sauce over chicken.  Place in oven, and bake for 30 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Red Raspberry Dark Chocolate Puff Pastry Tarts

Red Raspberry Dark Chocolate Puff Pastry Tarts.

Phew!  That name is a mouthful….

But it really does say it all!

And I’m betting you would love a mouthful of these simple, but elegant and amazingly delicious treats!

I made these this past weekend for a Sunday family football dinner.

Would you believe me if I told you there are only three ingredients?!?!

Well – four if you count the powdered sugar you sprinkle on top.

Puff Pastry is such a dream to work with!

Keep these ingredients on hand and this recipe up your sleeve when you need a quick, but fabulous dessert or treat.

I’m betting you won’t be sorry. 😉

Red Raspberry Dark Chocolate Puff Pastry Tarts

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out one sheet of puff pastry, and cut into 9 squares approximately 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.  Place a teaspoon of raspberry jam in center of each square.  Top with a piece of dark chocolate.  Pull all four corners to center and pinch to seal.

Bake for 15-18 minutes on baking stone or cookie sheet until puffed and lightly browned.    Remove to cooling rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Serve warm or cold.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

One-Pan Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Sausages

One-Pan Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Sausages.

You totally have to love when your grown sons start sharing recipes with you!  I am so proud of the great cooks they have both become (and so happy for the lucky wives they have because of it!!!).

My younger son shared this recipe recently he found online at slenderkitchen.com.  I tweaked it up a bit by changing garlic salt to fresh garlic, oregano to rosemary, doubling the sausage, and zipping it up with horseradish mustard.  It is a healthy, clean eating meal that is gluten-free and Paleo as well.


But it is also super delish!

Imagine a pan full of crispy roasted potatoes coated in a mustard-garlic glaze, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and hearty sausage that only takes about 10 minutes to throw together.

One-pan meals are so awesome, and I love making something that also serves as an extra lunch or two to take the the office and dinner another night that same week.

I roast it all up in my all-time favorite baking pan, the Pampered Chef Large Stoneware Bar Pan.  It is so worth the investment for how beautifully and evenly it bakes and roasts.  I use this pan at least once a week for roasting veggies or baking.  I can’t imagine my kitchen without it.

Here is the recipe for how I made it.  Tweak it up to your tastes and share your ideas!  You could use butternut squash instead of potatoes, cauliflower or carrots or green beans instead of Brussels sprouts.  The ingredients and combinations are pretty limitless.

One-Pan Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Sausages

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used a bag of mixed baby potatoes in white, yellow, and purple and cut them in half)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. whole grain or horseradish mustard (I used horseradish – you can use your favorite!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (you might also like to use oregano – dried or fresh)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken sausages (I used two packages of Aldi’s Never Any Brand – one Italian Sausage and one Tomato Basil)
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts (cut in half)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used Malton Sea Salt flakes)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together 2 Tbsp olive oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss the potatoes with the mixture, and spread out in a large baking pan.  Roast in oven for 25 minutes, tossing once or twice during roasting.

Remove pan from oven and push potatoes to one side.  Spread out Brussels sprouts on other side of pan evenly.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken sausages in the middle of the pan between the potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees F, and place the pan back in the oven to roast for another 15 minutes.  Shake the pan once or twice during the roasting time to ensure even roasting.

To serve, slice sausages into bite-sized pieces and toss all into a bowl.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi