Category Archives: cooking

Really Good Scrambled Eggs

Each time I make scrambled eggs my husband comments “these are really good eggs”, and each time I think “I really should share my recipe on my blog”, so I am finally getting around to it.

In case you don’t already know how to make scrambled eggs here is a short video to show you how.

What I am going to tell you is the simple ingredients I use that make them “Really Good”.

 

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You can start with store bought eggs if you have to, but if you can find a local farmer who sells free range eggs buy some, and if you have your own flock of laying hens you are good to go.

Nowadays, since I am cooking for just my husband and myself, I use three eggs. If you watched the video above, or if you generally add salt and pepper, skip it. These are ingredients that can be added as a topping by each individual to suit his or her taste preference or dietary needs. Instead, to flavor the eggs, I add about three shakes of onion powder and three shakes of dried oregano as I beat the eggs.  When the eggs are finished cooking I turn off the burner and top them with cheese. I usually use American cheese slices (not cheese food) but you could use most any type of cheese. I then put the lid on the pan for a couple of minutes and let the cheese melt. Yes, these eggs are Really Good!

What is your favorite way to eat eggs?

A Recipe To Remember

I made a dish very similar to this last year, or perhaps it was even two years ago, when we had an abundance of banana peppers. I remember that we really enjoyed it, I just didn’t remember the exact recipe because I did not write it down. Last week when our neighbors sent over a bunch of banana peppers from their garden I decided to try it again. This time I am writing it down and sharing it with you as well.

I wasn’t sure what to call this and my first thought was stuffed banana peppers. That name reminded me too much of stuffed bell peppers but this really has no similarity. It is much closer to the jalapeno poppers that I love, so I decided to call it banana pepper poppers. Besides that is just fun to say. 🙂

* It is really not necessary to have the exact amount of any ingredient listed – a little more of this or a little less of that will not make a great difference. Feel free to add the word “about” in front of the amount of each ingredient.

Banana Pepper Poppers

8 Fresh Banana Peppers

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

2 or 3 jalapeno peppers

3 slices of bacon cooked crispy

bread crumbs

Slice the banana peppers in half long ways a remove seeds. Remove core and seeds from jalapeno peppers and chop them into small pieces. Chop bacon into small (bacon bit like) pieces. Mix cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, bacon bits and jalapeno peppers. Place banana pepper halves on baking sheet and fill each one with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of each pepper. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to thirty minutes.

ENJOY! 🙂

Asparagus For Dinner

Dinner is probably the most common time to eat asparagus and it always goes well as a side dish – lightly steamed, roasted, sautéed, grilled, topped with butter, olive oil, sea salt, hollandaise sauce or cheese – even pickled or raw and tossed in a salad – I’m not sure you can go wrong with fresh asparagus. Last week I shared a recipe for using asparagus at breakfast and today I am going to share with you another way I cooked our freshly picked asparagus this week.

Asparagus – Split Pea Soup

If you already have favorite recipe for split pea soup by all means use it – just cut up a big bunch of asparagus and add it to the pot as the soup cooks. If you don’t have a recipe for pea soup here is how I made it. Disclaimer: I usually don’t use exact measures when cooking – I am a pinch of this, shake of that, taste as you go along type of cook.

1 bag of dried split peas

a good size bunch of asparagus

5 or more carrots

1 onion

1 pound of beef smoked sausage

several cloves of fresh minced garlic or two about teaspoons of garlic powder.

about 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

add salt later if needed – the smoked sausage will add some salt and you don’t want to get to much

I always soak the peas in water over night. The next morning I drain the peas and put them in the crockpot. Add enough water to just cover the peas. I then cut up the asparagus, carrots, onion, and sausage and put them in the crockpot. I add the garlic and black pepper and put the lid on. I start it out on high for at least an hour to build up the heat. Then I turn it to low and let it cook. After a few more hours I check to see if the peas have become mushy. (At this point you can also taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper and add them as needed.) If the peas are still hard I put the lid on tightly and turn it back up to high for another hour or so. Once peas have become mushy I leave the lid partially covering the pot so any excess water can cook off and the soup will thicken. If at any point the soup is too think just add some more water. When the soup is the desired consistency dish yourself up a bowl and enjoy!!! 🙂

I almost forgot – the first time I made this I put it all in a cast iron Dutch oven and cooked over an open fire at the farm. It does make a nice campfire dinner.

Dump Cake Recipe and Changing It Up

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I wanted to make a fruity dessert yesterday so I decided on an old family favorite. I remember my mom making this when I was a teenager and then telling me the recipe when I was a young mom. It’s such an easy recipe I don’t know if Mom ever had it written down, but I know I never did.

This has got to be one of the simplest and most delicious desserts you will ever bake so here is the recipe.

Dump Cake

1 can cherry pie filling

1 can crushed pineapple

1 yellow or white cake mix

1 stick butter melted

Directions –  Spread the cherry pie filling in the bottom of a 13×9 inch (33×23 cm) pan. Pour the crushed pineapple evenly over the cherry pie filling. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pie filling and pineapple. Pour the melted butter over the cake mix as evenly as possible. Bake at 350 degrees F (176.7 C) for 30-40 minutes until top starts to brown.

Since I didn’t have any canned pie filling or pineapple on hand, I decided to change the recipe. What I did have was some of our home grown fruits that I had frozen when they were in season. I started with about 4 cups (946.35 grams) of  frozen strawberries and 1 1/2 cups (354.88 grams) of frozen rhubarb. I put the strawberries and rhubarb in a sauce pan and added 1 cup (236.58 grams) of sugar and 1/3 cup (78.07 grams) of corn starch. I slowly heated this until it came to a boil and became thick like pie filling. I then poured this into my 13×9 inch (33×23 cm) pan, topped it with a yellow cake mix and melted butter, and baked it just like the recipe above. This dessert can be eaten either warm or chilled. It is delicious either way.

While this may not have been as simple as the original recipe the home grown fruit made it extra delicious.

Note to my friends and readers around the world – I have added metric conversions by using online conversion charts and can only trust their accuracy. I have also rounded the numbers up to the nearest 100th and I am not sure if this gives you a close enough measurement. This recipe does not really need to be exact, but if the measurement does not seem right to you might want to do you own conversion.

Thanks for reading.

 

Making Tomato Sauce

I have been asked several times by friends how I make tomato sauce and I usually answer “cook it, cook it, cook it, and when you think it is ready, cook it some more.” Making a thick tomato sauce takes lots of time.

There is, however, much to do before you get to the cooking part and that is what I want to address today. To start with there are many, many varieties of tomatoes and although I do like to start with a paste tomato, Amish paste or roma’s, you can use any type of tomatoes for making sauce. Along with Amish paste I use any tomatoes that are ripe and will not be eaten fresh in the next day or two. I will even throw cherry tomatoes into the mix rather than see them go to waste.

In addition to taking a lot of time to make tomato sauce it also takes a lot of tomatoes to make sauce. It takes approximately 5 or 6 lbs. of tomatoes to make 1 quart of tomato sauce. So don’t be shocked when that shopping bag full of tomatoes ends up providing only a couple of spaghetti dinners for the family.

Now before you “cook it, cook it, cook it” you must first turn those tomatoes into juice and the are many ways you can accomplish this. I will share some of the methods I have used over the years including the steps involved and equipment required. If you have never made your own tomato juice or sauce keep reading.

When I first started making tomato sauce I did not have some of the equipment that I use now days so I used what I had on hand to juice the tomatoes – a blender. With any of these methods I start by washing the and any tomatoes that have rotten spots are discarded. When using the blender after washing the tomatoes I remove the skins by blanching the tomatoes. This is done by putting the tomato in a pan of boiling water for about a minute then immediately putting the tomato in a bowl of cold water. For this step I placed the tomatoes in a blanching basket or a wire basket that sits inside the pan of boiling water, then to remove the tomatoes from the pan I simply lift the basket by the handle and dump the tomatoes into the cold water. If you don’t have a blanching basket you may be able to use a metal colander or even just put the tomatoes in the boiling water and lift them out with a slotted spoon.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to hold I cut out the core of the tomato with a paring knife and then the peel of the tomato will slip right off. I then cut the tomato in half horizontally and scoop out (some of) the seeds. I don’t worry too much about removing all of the seeds because my family really doesn’t mind having seeds in their tomato sauce.

I then cut what is left of the tomato into small pieces and put it in the blender and blend it into juice. At this point I could of pour the juice through a sieve or fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds that remain. The juice is now ready to be cooked into sauce.

Over the years I have acquired some equipment has made this task easier. The first piece of equipment is this simple and inexpensive food mill. I’m sure I paid less than $20 for it several years ago when I purchased it.

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This food mill will sit on top of various size pans or bowls but must be held in place with one hand while turning the crank with the other hand.

When I use this food mill I wash the tomatoes, cut out the core, cut them in quarters and cook them until they are soft. Once they are soft this food mill will easily remove the skins and seeds and turn the tomatoes into juice.

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I use the medium blade and it does tend to get plugged up quickly. When it gets plugged up I need to scrape the pulp off the bottom of the blade (the pulp is part of the juice) and empty the seeds out of the top part of the food mill. The seeds are fed to the chickens later.

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While this method does not require blanching and removing the skins, it does take time to cook the tomatoes before juicing them. Once the tomatoes are cooked the skins break down easily and are mostly turned into pulp adding to the thickness of the tomato sauce. I tend to use this method when I am working with smaller batches.

When I am working with larger batches – a bushel or a shopping bag or more full of tomatoes, I use another piece of equipment that I have acquired in recent years.

It is another type of food mill or juicer. I actually have two of these, one was given to me by my mother and one was given to me by my father-in-law. Both of the models I have are very old and also very functional. Similar models are still produced today but they are quite pricey.

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My biggest problem with using this food mill is that it is designed to clamp to a counter top. Our home, however, was not designed with this kind of equipment in mind. The clamps will not fit over the lip on our countertops. In order to use this food mill I have to clear off this stand alone shelf that normally houses my food processor, nutri-bullet, and most of my stoneware baking dishes and move it to a location where I can clamp the food mill onto it and be able to crank the handle. I also have to set a chair next to the shelf to hold the pot that the juice runs into. Rearranging all this furniture can be a pain in the you-know-what so I usually only use this food mill if I am making a big batch. Once the food mill is set up the process goes pretty quickly. I just wash the tomatoes, remove the core and cut them up. I put the cut up tomatoes into the hopper and turn the crank and the food mill separates the juice and pulp from the skin and seeds.

I am certain that there are other methods that could achieve the same results and depending on the equipment that you have available you will figure out what works best for you.

Once your tomatoes are turned into juice it is time to cook the juice into sauce. You will be cooking the water out of it. I bring the juice to a boil then let it cook uncovered over a medium or medium-high heat until it is reduced by approximately 2/3rds to 3/4ths as the sauce gets thinker it may be necessary to reduce the heat even more to prevent scorching. Depending on how much juice you are reducing this cooking will take anywhere from several hours to a whole day. Since smaller amounts take less time to cook it may be wise to split a large batch into smaller pots to reduce the cooking time.

While the sauce is cooking I stir it occasionally, as it gets thicker I stir it more often to make sure it does not scorch. When it gets to the point where about 1/3 of the amount I started with remains in the pan I reduce the heat and I start watching it more closely. When the sauce is cooking for a while without being stirred the water will rise to the top, if the layer of water covers the entire top of the sauce I keep cooking. If less than 50% of the sauce has a thin layer of water on it the sauce is probably thick enough for me.

How thick the sauce should be is really about personal preference and how the sauce will be used. For instance if the sauce will be used in a pasta or rice dish where it is mixed in and the water can be absorbed into the rice or pasta a thinner sauce might be appropriate, but if the sauce will be put on top of pasta the remaining water will drain through the pasta and run off the plate, so a thicker sauce is what you want.

I hope that you find this post useful if you intend on making your own tomato sauce. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please leave them in the comments section on this page, and if you like what you have read please feel free to share it.