Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cranberry-Pineapple Refrigerator Jam

I can’t seem to commit to full-on canning & preserving.  I like the idea, but really, our pantry is full enough with random jams, jellies & salsas, and a lot of the time, I don’t want to make a full batch of something, using a new recipe, and then find out it sucks.  So I like that Ball offers these little packets of “small batch” pectin so you can make two half-pint, or one full pint jar. 

Cranberries are super-cheap this time of year, so I tend to stock up.  There’s at least two bags in the freezer right now, waiting to be turned into sauce or gooey butter bars, or who knows what.  But I also just made some of this cranberry-pineapple jam and was pretty pleased with the results.  Since I made only one jar, I can put it straight into the fridge and not have to worry about preserving it for shelf-storage.

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INGREDIENTS: (makes one pint)

  • One packet of small-batch pectin
  • 1 1/3 Cups cranberries
  • 1 Cup of crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest
  • 3/4 Cup sugar (to taste—I like my jam to be a little tart)
  • One sterilized pint jar (I use Easy Clean)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Pretty easy stuff--combine the cranberries, pineapple, juice, zest, nutmeg, sugar, and pectin in a pot & stir over low heat. Continue stirring  until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil.

Then, crush the fruit in the mixture with a potato masher over medium heat on the stove; let the jam boil for approximately 15 minutes; longer if you want a thicker jam.

If you plan on using right away, you don’t have to worry about doing a water bath or freezing. 

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Makes a mean PB & J!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Guest Post: Primo’s Red Beans & Fries

Time for another guest post from my cousin Primo, straight from his pad in NOLA!  Seemed perfect to post on a Monday!

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It’s Monday and that means it’s red beans & rice day down here in New Orleans. In the 19th century, Monday was laundry day in the city. Without washing machines, the women of the house had to wash all of the household’s laundry painstakingly by hand, leaving little time for cooking.  So dinner had to be something that could cook without being fussed over.

Enter the red kidney bean, brought to New Orleans by those fleeing Haiti’s slave rebellion. The beans needed to soak overnight before cooking. After soaking and draining them, housewives simply set the beans on the stove with fresh water to boil until tender, and then added a delicious helping of sautéed “trinity”– the Cajun/Creole cooking base of diced onions, celery and bell peppers.  This would typically also be combined with leftover ham from Sunday’s big family dinner.

While I love red beans and rice, I wanted to mix things up a bit and put a small twist on a local staple. While Monday is ‘red beans and rice day’ down here, it’s Monday Night Football for  the rest of the country. Football and finger foods go together like, well, red beans and rice. Thus, red beans and FRIES were born.

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(FeauxNote: if you’ve made up a big batch of red beans & have some leftovers, this is a great way to use them up.)

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen waffle fries (or if you have a mandoline, you can make your own)

1 can Blue Runner red beans

1 lb smoked sausage (traditionally andouille or tasso, but use what you like best)

1/2 – 1 cup of trinity (diced bell pepper, celery & onion)

Green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400F and when at temp, throw in your French fries (waffle fries hold up best for our purposes; Alexia makes some seasoned waffle fries, and Great Value sells a generic for about $2.00).

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While I have the luxury of a modern washing machine, I decided to cheat and use a can of Blue Runner creamed red beans for experimentation purposes (and because I felt lazy). (FeauxNote: I can get Blue Runner at Wal-Mart in Missouri, but if you can’t find them, you can try this Crockpot recipe.)

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While the beans heat up on the stovetop, dice a link or two of your favorite sausage—andouille in my case (FeauxNote: Johnsonville makes a New Orleans style smoked sausage if you can’t find real andouille near you) and drop the sausage in a medium skillet or saucepan to begin heating up and releasing that delicious fat. Enter your “trinity”. Again, I cheated and bought a container of pre-chopped veggies.

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Add as much or as little to taste. Sauté those fine ingredients together until your onions become translucent. At this point, your peppers and celery will retain their crunch for a good texture contrast. Remove from heat.P1010246.JPG

Place a good base layer of your fries on a plate (platter if serving family style). Add a layer of the trinity/sausage. Heap your creamed red beans on top (FeauxNote: I added the Blue Runner beans to the pot and mixed it all together, rather than keeping them separate & layering—still tastes awesome). Lastly, garnish with some freshly diced green onions from your window garden…

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…add a dash (or 5) of hot sauce, and serve.

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Oh, and watch out for aliens posing as butternut squash. (Compliments of Feaux’s Hubs.)

Since the serving size on this varies (especially if you’re sharing with a group), I won’t attempt a NutriFacts sheet, but just use your brain—stop when you’re full.

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Hey….I didn’t say it would EASY.  But just TRY to have some restraint.

Have a great week, folks!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Baked Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya Egg Rolls

Hey there—remember back in the day when I made St. Patty’s Day Egg Rolls?  Well, that little venture got a lot of gears turning, so that I just started making baked egg rolls with just about anything.  There’s the Southwest Egg Rolls, and at some point I’ll finish my post about the Sushi Egg Rolls (I forgot to take a photo of the finished product before we ate them all, which means I need to make them again!).

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Really, my egg roll recipes are typically born out of necessity.  Because when you buy egg roll wrappers, there’s 20 in a pack.  And as much as I love them, we really can’t eat more than 8 between the two of us in a sitting.  Which means you still have 12 wrappers laying around, mocking you—“okay Captain Kitchen Improv, now what are you going to do with US????”  And oddly enough, I’ve never just said, “well, I have some pork & cabbage…guess I’ll just make normal egg rolls with you.”  Because that’s not how I roll. And I prefer to make baked rolls, because they’re just WAY better for you, and as long as you give a nice light spritz of olive oil on the wrapper, they still get a really satisfying crunch.

As we move through this post, you’re going to notice something---between the prep photos & the final product photos, it looks as though my jambalaya stuffing has magically changed color.  It hasn’t.  But the first time I made these, I was using my Crock Pot Jambalaya recipe, and then the second time I made them with my Chef Folse recipe.  You can choose either, depending upon your preference, time allotted, etc.  Or you can even cheat & buy some Zatarain’s jambalaya mix.  You can also mix it up & use seafood instead of chicken or sausage (or even venison).  Totes up to you.

PS—this is an awesome way to use up leftovers, if you’ve made a pot of jambalaya the night before.  And these are perfect for any upcoming SuperBowl parties you might have!

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INGREDIENTS: (makes 8 egg rolls)

8 egg roll wrappers (you should find these in the produce section, usually near the tofu.  My Wal-Mart stocks them near the shredded cabbage/bagged lettuce & veggies)

about 3-4 cups of jambalaya (it can be cold or hot)

water

Olive Oil mister

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Lay a wrapper on a clean, dry surface with a corner toward you.  Spoon about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of jambalaya onto the wrapper, not quite in the middle.

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Roll the point that’s closest to you over the filling, gently squishing a bit so the filling is uniform in thickness. 

Now fold in the sides, and then roll over once toward the far point.  Now wet the far point with the water, and then finish rolling it up.

Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil, add the rolls, and then lightly spray each of the rolls with olive oil (you can use a brush to get good coverage).  This will help them to brown all over.

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Bake for 10 minutes on each side (20 minutes total) so you get a good crust/seal on them. Then booyah—you’re done!

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Now: dipping sauces.  They REALLY don’t need one.  But it’s an egg roll—so you sorta feel inclined to dip it.  I tried Cajun mustard, but it was a no-go: just WAY overpowered the flavor of the jambalaya.  However, you could try a remoulade with it…or ranch goes with about anything.  If you get creative & find a great sauce to go with these, please leave me a note! Enjoy!