recipe

Busha’s Beet Soup

Busha’s Beet Soup

This colorful, tasty soup, was first made for me by my Busha, my Polish grandmother. Beets are a big ingredient in Eastern European culture. My Mom cooked with them, too.

I have fond memories of spending time with my Busha. I stayed with her on weekends a few times. One of those weekends, she taught me how to make a wonderful coffee cake. I still have the index card where I wrote down the recipe as she went along making it. Busha didn’t write her recipes down much.

Another time, she made beet soup. I loved it. I think the color is what pulled me in. I was a big fan of pink back then. I still am, especially when it comes to this soup.

I prefer to use fresh, raw beets.  You can use cooked beets, or even canned, if you like.

I made homemade spaetzle, but other pasta or cooked, diced potatoes are good, too.

So here is the recipe for the soup and the spaetzle. I always think of Busha when I make it.

 

 

Busha’s Beet Soup

1 large onion, sliced thin

oil

5-6 medium beets, about 2 pounds

5-6 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

1 c. dairy sour cream

1 t. dill weed

cooked spaetzle, recipe follows

 

In soup pot, sauté onion in oil until starting to brown. Meanwhile, peel and dice the beets. You should end up with 5-6 cups of cubed beets. Add beets and stock to pot and bring to boil. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender, about 20- 25 minutes.  Place sour cream in small bowl and ladle in a little of the hot soup, whisking until smooth. Add another ladle of soup and whisk again. Pour this mixture into pot of soup along with the dill weed. Serve with the spaetzle.  Serves 4-5.

 

Note: You can also pre-cook the beets or use canned beets. Trim off leaves of beets, leaving 2 inches of stem. Leave roots intact. Boil beets in water until tender, which can take as little as 20 minutes for tiny beets or 45 minutes for the large ones. Cool in bowl of ice water and then slip off the skins. Dice and add to soup as if the beets were canned. You don’t need the long cook of fresh beets. Just bring soup up to a simmer.

If you prefer, serve the soup with diced boiled potatoes or kluski, rather than the spaetzle.

 

You can serve the sour cream on the side, rather than incorporating it into the soup, then allow people to add a dollop of sour cream to individual bowls. Polish beet soup usually adds the sour cream and Russian style is to dollop on the top. Both versions taste good.

 

Spaetzle

3 eggs

1/2 c. half and half or evaporated milk

1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 c. flour

 

Combine all ingredients and let rest 30 minutes. Drop by small spoonfuls into boiling water. Cook until they float and puff up, about 5 minutes. Drain and serve with soups, stews, sauces or buttered.

 

 

 

Homemade Caramel Apples

Caramel Apple

I did a program with kids earlier this week and we made these caramel apples. The kids loved them and I wanted to share the recipe. Making caramel apples is a wonderful childhood memory for me. Every Autumn, we would make a batch.

We used those little store bought caramels. I was often the one tasked with unwrapping them. I can remember unwrapping one after the other.

I wanted to make my own caramel, so that is what I did with the kids. It is so much better than the store bought version.

Caramel is not that hard to make. You do need to keep an eye on it. Stir constantly. Just a hint, be sure your candy thermometer is really secure. Mine was a little slippy on the pan I was using. At one point the thermometer slid into the caramel. Not what you want to have happen!!!

Once dipped in the caramel, you can dip the bottom of the apples in nuts, pumpkin seeds, sprinkles, cereal, or even popcorn.

Homemade Caramel Apples

1/2 c. butter, cut in cubes

2 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. corn syrup

pinch of salt

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 t. vanilla

8-12 apples

chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, cereal, sprinkles, popcorn for dipping the bottoms of the caramel apples, optional

 

In heavy saucepan combine the butter, sugar, syrup and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 minutes. Add milk and bring mixture up to 248 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Place a Popsicle stick, skewer or chopstick down the center of each apple. Dip apples in the caramel, allowing excess to drip off- or not. Dip bottoms of apples into nuts, seeds or whatever ingredient you picked. Place on wax paper and allow to set up. If you don’t want to dip the bottoms in anything, place the dipped apples on lightly buttered wax paper. Cool before serving. Makes 8-12 caramel apples.

Note: You could also use pears in the recipe.

The kids dipped their apples in cereal.

 

Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling

While I think the best pie is made with fresh apples, I also like making and canning my own apple pie filling. It is a handy way for me to enjoy local apples throughout the year. It is also a whole lot better than any commercial pie filling I have tried. Loaded with plenty of big chunks of apples and seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg- I think it the next best thing to fresh apples for baking.

I use my canned filling  to make pies, but I also use it for kolachy, blintzes, cakes and more.

The hard part, for some, is getting a hold of Clear Gel. It is a special type of cornstarch. I buy mine on line, but you can find it in stores where the Amish shop. Clear Gel stays thick, even if it is reheated. Regular cornstarch will not.

Here is the recipe I use. You can tweak the seasonings to suit your own taste, but keep in mind that spices sometimes get stronger when canned, so don’t go too crazy!!

 

Apple Pie Filling

6 qts. apples, sliced and blanched

5 1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. Clear Gel- modified cornstarch available on line and in Amish stores

1 T. cinnamon

1 t. nutmeg

2 1/2 c. cold water

5 c. apple juice

3/4 c. lemon juice

If apples lack tartness use an additional 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Wash, peel and core apples and cut into 1/2 thick slices. Place in water treated with either lemon juice, citric acid or ascorbic acid to prevent darkening. Remove from solution and drain well. Blanch in boiling water- 2 quarts at a time- for 1 minute. As you finish each batch place in a bowl and cover to keep warm. In large pot combine sugar, Clear Gel, cinnamon, nutmeg, water and apple juice. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble and thicken. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute. Add drained apples and stir gently to combine. Ladle into hot, clean jars leaving 1 1/2 inches of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims and adjust lids.  Process in a boiling water bath- pints or quarts for 25 minutes. After the time is up, turn off canner and let jars sit in water bath for 5 minutes before removing. This will reduce the chance of siphoning.  Makes 7 quarts or 14 pints.

For only 1 quart

3 1/2 c.apples

3/4 plus 2 T. sugar

1/4 c. Clear Gel

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg

1/2 c. cold water

3/4 c. apple juice

2 T. lemon juice

Homemade Raspberry Liqueur

Homemade Raspberry Liqueur

I make a lot of different liqueurs. Raspberry liqueur is probably one of my favorites. It reminds me of a warm summer afternoon.

I love raspberries. My parents had a row of raspberry bushes at the back of the yard, so I grew up enjoying them fresh. I preserve raspberries to enjoy all year long.  I freeze berries, make jams and jellies and dehydrate some.

I also enjoy  using some to make homemade raspberry liqueur. You just start with alcohol – I  most often use vodka – then you add raspberries. I sweeten it later on, but you can leave it unsweetened, if you prefer.

Its beautiful color and great flavor make it nice for sipping, or used in mixed drinks. Think of it as just another food preservation method. Here is the recipe, in case you want to make it. Makes a great gift, too.

You can use fresh or frozen berries.

Homemade Raspberry Liqueur

1 lb. raspberries*
3 c. vodka, you could use brandy
1 ¼ c. sugar
Combine fruit and vodka and let stand 2 -4 weeks. Stir in sugar and age 3 months. Strain and filter. Makes 3-4 cups.

*You can use frozen berries, too.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies

These brownies are everything you want in a brownie. Sweet, moist and very tender. The fact they are also flour and gluten-free is a nice bonus for those who can’t have gluten.

You might think, when you read the ingredients, that I left something out. I didn’t. They baked up beautifully and had a wonderful texture.

I made them for a dinner with friends and everyone liked them, a lot.  I think the next time I make them, I might also add some chopped nuts.

 

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies

1½ c. shredded zucchini
1 c. almond butter- but you could use peanut butter instead
1 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. honey – but you can use 1/2 cup if you want a sweeter brownie
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 inch pan, set aside. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Makes 16.

Fresh Blackberry Scones

Fresh Blackberry Scones

I was recently given some beautiful blackberries. I decided to make scones with some of them. Warm from the oven, with a cup of coffee, these are hard to beat.

While scones are traditionally served for breakfast or brunch, I often use them in a dessert. These scones make a great shortcake.

For dinner with a friend, I split the scones and filled them with some sliced peaches. I had tossed the peaches with a little sugar and some vanilla.  We topped them off with a scoop of ice cream. Blackberry and peach shortcakes- bliss. 🙂

For shortcakes, just split scones add fill with some seasonal fruit, sweetened, if you like. Top with ice cream or whipped cream. Easy dessert and very tasty.

Here is the recipe for the scones.

Fresh Blackberry Scones

 2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

¾ t.  salt

6 T. chilled butter

2 c. blackberries, fresh preferred, but you could use frozen

1 t. orange zest

2 large eggs

1/3 c. heavy cream or half and half

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Toss in berries and zest. Beat together eggs and cream and stir into flour mixture. Mix very gently to avoid bruising berries. Use 1/2 cup ice cream scoop to scoop batter onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little extra sugar, if you like. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 22-24 minutes. Makes 10-12.

Peachy Chef Salad

Peachy Chef Salad

When you think about cooking with peaches, don’t limit yourself to desserts and jam. Peaches can pair well with savory dishes, too. I often use peaches for glazes and sauces for meats.

In this dish, I paired peaches with traditional chef salad ingredients. I tossed the peaches in a homemade honey French dressing, then spooned them over the salad. The result was wonderful- and a great lunch or dinner option for hot weather.

You can top the salad with cheese, meats or both. I like to add some nuts, too. I made it for lunch today and topped the salad with sharp cheddar cheese and bacon. I really liked the combination of the sweet fruit with the smoky bacon. Use what you like- and what you have on hand. A chef salad is a great way to use up that leftover grilled chicken or that open package of cheese. Add extra veggies, too, if you like.

 

 

Peachy Chef Salad

Honey French Dressing:
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil

3 cups chopped peaches

Salad:

6 c. torn salad greens
12 oz. cooked chicken, turkey, ham etc, cut into strips
1 c. cubed cheese

1/2 c. cashews, optional

To make the dressing, in blender, combine first five ingredients and start running machine on high. Add oil in a slow stream until mixture becomes thickened. Pour into bowl and stir in peaches and chill, several hours if you can. When ready to serve arrange greens on one large platter or on smaller salad plates. Arrange meat and cheese on platter or plates. Spoon over the peach/dressing mixture, add cashews, then serve. Serves 4-6.

 

Peachy Chef Salad with Cheese and Bacon

Peachy Chef Salad with Cheese and Bacon

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

I love peaches. For me, peaches always mean summer. My peaches aren’t ripe yet, but I found some at a produce market recently. They were nearly ripe, so I put them in a brown paper bag to help them finish ripening. A few days later, I have a bunch of super tasty, juicy peaches.

Since it is going to be unseasonably warm for the next week, I decided to use some to make ice cream.  I added some vanilla and orange zest for some extra flavor- but mostly just plenty of peaches.

 

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

3-4 ripe peaches

2 c. half and half

1 c. sugar, or to taste

1 T. vanilla

1 T.  orange zest

Peel and dice peaches. Cook in a small amount of water and a little sugar until tender. If you don’t precook the peaches they will be icy and hard in the ice cream. Cool and drain. In bowl combine half and half and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker place mixture in a shallow pan and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften a little at room temperature then break up into chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth and return to freezer. Makes 1 quart.

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits to cook with. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating cherries fresh. I bake with them and make sweet treats like jam. But, cherries are so wonderful when combined with different proteins. I love to pair cherries with duck, pork and chicken.

 

I think cherries add a special touch when added to main dishes. I have used them in any number of sauces, glazes, chutneys and marinades over the years.

 

This time, I was looking for a way to dress up some chicken. I remembered that I had a pound of cherries in the fridge. I made the cherry mustard sauce while the chicken was baking. Here is what I did.

 

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

 

To prepare the chicken: I had about 3 lbs. of bone-in chicken pieces. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and placed them in a 400-degree oven. I knew the chicken would take about 45-50 minutes to cook. I made the sauce while the chicken was cooking- sauce recipe follows. When the sauce was done, I left it in the skillet while the chicken finished cooking.

When I took the chicken out of the oven, I removed the pieces from the roasting pan and placed them skin side down in the skillet with the cherry sauce. I turned the heat onto medium-high and turned the chicken a few times until both sides were coated from the cherry sauce and the sauce had sort of glazed the chicken.

This would be a nice sauce to finish off grilled or broiled chicken, too.

 

Cherry Mustard Sauce

 

3 T. oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. cherries, pitted and halved

½ c. apple cider vinegar

¼ c. brown sugar

3 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. celery seed

1 t. hot sauce, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In large skillet, heat oil and cook onions until tender. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the cherries and cook over medium- high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and turn heat down to medium. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Adjust seasonings. This sauce can be used to glaze meats, or served on the side. I used it with chicken, but it would be wonderful with duck, turkey or pork, too. Makes about 3 cups of cherry sauce.

 

 

 

Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Why did it take me so long to make peanut butter ice cream? I love peanut butter and I make ice cream pretty often. I just never thought of putting those two things together.

I kept it simple, and was really happy with the results. I wanted a strong peanut butter flavor- so I used a whole cup of peanut butter in the recipe. It worked out fine. Creamy and rich, but not too heavy. I thought about adding chocolate chips or maybe a swirl of jelly, but decided to leave the ice cream alone this first batch. I did serve it with homemade hot fudge sauce- recipe follows. I could see using this ice cream as the filling in ice cream sandwiches. I think I might use almond butter in the next batch.

 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 c. peanut butter

2/3 c. sugar, or to taste – I was using natural peanut butter that had no sugar in it

2 c. whipping cream – you could use some half and half, if you prefer

1 t. vanilla

In medium bowl, combine peanut butter with the sugar, stirring until smooth. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and stir until well blended. Chill mixture. Pour chilled peanut butter mixture into ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once firm, transfer to a container with a lid and place in freezer until ready to use. Makes about 1 qt.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 c. cocoa

¾ c. sugar

½ c. brown sugar

1/8 t. salt

1-c. heavy or whipping cream

½ c. butter, cut into pieces

1 t. vanilla extract

 

In saucepan , stir together dry ingredients then stir in cream and butter. Heat to boiling and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes and stir in vanilla. Warm up before using. Store leftovers in fridge. Makes 2 ½ cups.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream- topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Peanut Butter Ice Cream- topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

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