Peaches in Syrup

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Recipe and canning instructions are courtesy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, published by Robert Rose Inc.

 

One summer, a few years ago, I did a lot of canning. Our pantry overflowed with jams, fruit butters, salsa, pickles and fruits in syrups.  All during that fall and winter we reaped the rewards of my hard work and enjoyed fresh-tasting pears, peaches, Jardiniere, apricot butter, strawberry jam, cherries, and every kind of pickled vegetable I could think of.

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So when I happened upon these large, lovely peaches, all I could think of was how nice they were going to taste in January and February.  This is a small batch because I only bought 5 1/2 pounds and you really need about 8 or 10 pounds of peaches for a nice, large batch.

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To begin canning you will need a big pot and a canning jar insert ( I bought mine as a set).  The magnetic lid lifter, bubble eliminator and measuring tool, funnel, and jar lifter are conveniently sold together as a set.  You will also need canning jars ( choose wide mouth- they are easier to fill), lids and rings.  I used 7 pint jars, however you could use 4 quart jars instead.  Also, while you are in the store buying the jars and lids, buy a box of the white, plastic screw-on lids.  Months from now when you pull a jar of goodies out of the cupboard, you will save the ring and throw the metal lid away.  The rings can be reused, the metal lids cannot be reused.  You will then place the white lid on the jar before placing the jar in the fridge.

Canning is not difficult, but it is time-consuming, so plan accordingly.  From start to finish today, not including the cooling time for the processed jars, it took me about 2 hours.  That’s pretty quick as far as canning goes and that’s because this is an easy recipe.  Canning is a great way to save the flavor of your garden (or the farmer’s market and grocery store) for the fall and winter.  There is nothing like home-canned apricot butter on toast in January, to bring that summer feeling to a cold, snowy day.  Enjoy!

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1. Wash the jars, lids and screw bands in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well and drain.

2. Place rack in the bottom of a boiling-water canner, then place jars on the rack.  The water should cover the top of the jars.  Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer, you do not need to boil the jars yet.  Keep the jars in the canner until ready to use.

3. Set the screw bands aside, they should be at room temperature so that you can easily place them on the jars.  Place the flat, round lids in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer.  They do not need to be boiled, but they should be kept hot (like the jars) until you are ready to use them.

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4. Prepare the peaches and syrup:  Fill a large bowl 3/4 full with water and about 3 Tablespoons Fruit Fresh (it helps the fruit to retain it’s pretty color).   Peel, pit, and slice the peaches.  Place slices in large bowl of water containing Fruit Fresh.  Mix syrup (recipe follows) and bring to a boil, stir and reduce heat to simmer once the sugar has dissolved.  Keep syrup warm.  Place as many peach slices as possible in the warm syrup for at least 1 minute before placing the peaches in the jars.

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5. Working with one jar at a time, remove a jar from the canner using the jar lifter, carefully pouring the water back into the canner.  Place the jar on a folded towel (or cutting board) to protect the counter.  Ladle or use tongs to place the warmed peaches in the hot jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Ladle in hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space (head space is the distance between the top of the jar and the top of the food).  Using the bubble eliminator and measuring tool, slide the tool down in the jar and move the peaches a little, two or three times to remove the air bubbles.  Add more syrup if necessary.

6. Wipe the jar rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth.  Using the magnetic lid lifter, lift a hot lid from the saucepan and place it on top of the prepared jar.  Place the screw band on top of the lid and tighten it with your hand until resistance is met, then tighten by hand.  Don’t use a tool to tighten the bands on the jars.

7. Return the jar to the canner and continue this process until all the peaches are in jars, and all the jars are in the canner (you may have to eat a few stray peach slices).

8. Make sure all the jars are covered with water by at least 1 inch.  Cover the canner and bring water to a full rolling boil.  Start the timer once the boil is vigorous and continuous.  The water must continue to boil the entire 25 minutes for pint jars, and 30 minutes for quart jars.

9. At the end of 25 (or 30 ) minutes, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.  Allow the jars to remain in the canner for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars with the jar lifter and place on towels, in a draft free spot to cool.  Keep jars upright and do not touch the lids or seals because it could interfere with the sealing process.  Allow the jars to sit for 24 hours.

10. After 24 hours check the lids to make sure the jars are properly sealed; Remove the screw bands, press down on the center of each lid.  Sealed lids will curve downward and show no movement when pressed.  You should also check to see if the lid is easily removed just by lifting the edge with your finger.

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11. If the jar is properly sealed, wipe the jar with a clean, damp cloth and label the jar.  Store the labeled jars in a cool, dark,  pantry or cupboard.

12. If the jar is not properly sealed, you can re-process the jar in hopes of obtaining a proper seal.  Or you can refrigerate the jar and use its contents within a few days.

13. Use home-canned foods within 1 year.

 

 Syrup for Peaches ( 8-10 pounds peaches per 1 batch of syrup)

Light Syrup: 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 5 1/4 cups water.

Medium Syrup: 3 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 5 cups water.

Heavy Syrup: 4 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 4 1/4 cups water.

 

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After-School Snacks

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Hungry kids will grab the first thing they see when they walk in the front door.  No matter if your student is a cute little 8 year-old, or a full-grown 20 year-old, when classes are over they always seem to be starving.  To keep them from gravitating towards that bag of chips or box of cookies, it is important to have better snacks on hand.

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There is a multi-million dollar industry that produces convenience foods aimed towards kids.  Most of them are loaded with sugar and salt, but they are convenient…and cute, have nice packaging, and look fun to eat.  Usually though, the best after-school snacks are the most basic; fruit, veggies, dairy, grains and a little protein.

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Most fruits can be grabbed right out of the bowl or fridge and devoured as is.  You can also prep fruits and veggies; if the fruit has to be cut ahead of time, it can be soaked in a bowl of water with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep the fruit from turning brown (it works wonders on apples, pears, bananas, peaches, etc.) then drained and placed in the fridge.  Veggies can be sliced and diced ahead of time and placed in the fridge with a few ice cubes.

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Yogurt, cheese, and milk are all easy snacks as well.  And who says that cereal is only for breakfast?  Granola is great eaten by the handful, in a bowl with milk, or as a parfait with yogurt.  Crackers and cheese, sandwiches, and wraps are also filling and satisfying.  Pepperidge Farm has a bread called Deli Flats and I like to use the honey wheat variety for peanut butter sandwiches.

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Figuring that dinner will follow a few hours after snack time, I tried to keep these snacks small, quick and easy.  You can use cookie cutters for an interesting twist, ranch dip or peanut butter to dress up celery and carrots, and small sticks to make fruit kebabs.  The cookie cutters and kebab sticks are not necessary, but they do make food fun.  Challenge your kids to come up with some fun and healthy snacks and they will be more willing to eat them.  Enjoy

Ingredients

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1. Cucumber hair, black seedless grape eyes

carrot nose and a big ranch dressing smile (make a slit in each cucumber ring so that you can easily link them)

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2. Ritz crackers, co-jack and mozzarella cheese cut-outs

celery with peanut butter and cherry tomatoes

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3. Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats with peanut butter

apple, banana, and black seedless grape kebabs

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4. Cucumber flowers, baby carrot slices, Keebler Toasteds crackers

mozzarella cheese chunks and cherry tomato halves.

Crunchy Granola Bars

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recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine published by America’s Test Kitchen

Granola bars are a nice, quick snack to have in your bag while running errands, sitting at your kid’s practice, or just to eat for breakfast with some milk and fruit.

Ingredients

7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (don’t use quick-cooking oats)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole almonds, pecans, or walnuts ( I used a mixture of almonds and walnuts)

3/4 cup honey

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

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Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 375° F.

2. Line an 18 x 12 inch rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil.

3. Combine the oats, oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until the oats are evenly coated.  Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until pale gold, about 30 minutes. Remove the oats and lower the oven temp to 300 degrees. * I only baked mine 26 minutes and I thought that was too long, next time I will stop at 20 minutes.*

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4. Place the nuts in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.  Remove 3/4 cup (half) the nuts and place in a small bowl.  Process the remaining nuts until they are finely ground (this helps them fill in the nooks and crannies of the bars).  Add the nuts together and set aside.

5. Combine the honey and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (if using).

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6. Combine the oats, nuts, and honey mixture in a large bowl and stir with a large rubber spatula until the oats are thoroughly coated with the honey mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.  Wet the spatula with water (several times if necessary) and firmly press the mixture into the pan.  Make a flat, tight, and even layer. Bake until golden, about 45-50 minutes. * I only baked mine for 40 minutes and it was still too much, next time I will start checking it at 30 minutes.*

7. Cool in the baking sheet, on a wire rack, for 10 minutes before cutting.  A bench knife works great for this, but a big chef’s knife works great ,too.  Cut the bars all the way through (about 2 inches by 3 inches is a good size) and then allow the granola bars to completely cool.  Wrap and store. * The bars do harden upon cooling, don’t wait longer than the 10 minutes to cut the bars.*

P.S. I added craisins to the bars and you can’t even taste them, next time I will skip the craisins.  Do not use raisins either as they tend to burn, dry out and shrivel up.

P.S.S. I made these granola bars again a few days later.  I baked the oats for 18 minutes, I skipped the craisins and added extra peanuts, and I only baked the bars for about 15 minutes.  They came out crispy, chewy and toasty with just the perfect taste of cinnamon.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

Blueberry-Pancakes-with-Blueberry-Syrup-before-syrup

Pancake recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

published by Golden Press, NY

Blueberry syrup recipe courtesy of Forest Manor Inn, Bed and Breakfast

When the price of blueberries dropped and Danielle invited friends over to spend the night, I knew it was the perfect time to break out an old classic…blueberry pancakes.  I made these using my favorite pancake recipe, which is also featured on here in Granola Pancakes with Bananas.  Enjoy!

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Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

1 egg

1 cup flour

3/4 cup milk

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

blueberries

 

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Blueberry Pancake Directions

1. Beat egg until fluffy.

2. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.

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3. Pour batter on hot griddle (350-375°F.), immediately drop blueberries on batter…be generous.  Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, flip and cook for about 1 minute more.

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4. Serve hot with warm blueberry syrup (recipe to follow) and additional berries.

 

 

Blueberry Syrup Ingredients

2 cups (1 pint) blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup pure maple syrup ( I used what we had here, which was Mrs. Butterworth’s, it was fine)

2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Blueberry Syrup Directions

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1. In  a saucepan, cook berries and maple syrup over moderate heat until berries have burst and released their juices, about 3 minutes ( it took mine about 5 minutes).

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2. Pour syrup through a sieve into a heat-proof pitcher, pressing the solids.

3. Stir in lemon juice.  Serve warm over pancakes or waffles.  Refrigerate leftovers and heat before re-using.

Pecan Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

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Recipe adapted from the kingarthurflour.com

All the craziness started because Danielle needed a dress for an upcoming dance.  That seemingly straightforward task has evolved into a week-long sewing jag that has kept me designing, planning, and sewing round-the-clock.  Between Mark’s work shift and my crazy sewing schedule, we’ve been hot-racking the bed and the coffee pot has been left on 24/7.  Then I woke up this morning craving the taste of oatmeal; this caused me to drop all the sewing projects that were planned (I already finished the dress) and spend an hour reading through recipes until I found this yummy cookie. Just like that, my sewing jag was over.

This cookie really is scrumptious and you don’t have to feel so darn guilty about eating a cookie that is loaded with fruit, nuts, oats and whole wheat flour (pay no mind to the butter and brown sugar).  Maybe now I’ll have time to finish my pink cheetah-print apron.  I know…sew in moderation.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon spiced rum (optional) ( I don’t like the flavor of rum so I used something called Princess Cake and Cookie Bakery Emulsion-it’s from KAF- it sorta smells and tastes like a spicy vanilla-nut blend)

2 large eggs

3 Tablespoons boiled cider (you can substitute maple syrup or dark corn syrup-I used dark corn syrup)

1 cup dried cranberries, packed

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used 1 cup of each)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets (or line them with parchment paper, or use a Silpat).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, vanilla and rum, beating until smooth.

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3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add the boiled cider or syrup.  Stir in the fruits and nuts, then the flour, beating gently until well combined.  Add the oats last, making sure to thoroughly disrtibute them throughout the bowl.

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4. Drop dough by rounded Tablespoons (I use a metal cookie scoop that is exactly 1 Tablespoon) onto prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between them.  Bake until the cookies are barely set on top, about 11-12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Granola

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Everyday Granola by Molly Wizenberg

courtesy of Epicurious.com

This is a basic recipe that can be varied to suit your family’s taste simply by changing the nuts, spices and fruits.  I made this batch using pecans and raisins.  However, it would be equally good made with walnuts and dried cranberries, or even slivered almonds and dried cherries.  Next time I make it I’m going to try peanut butter powder and peanuts (that is Bobby’s favorite flavor).  There are so many options.

 

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (the recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ginger, but I wanted to keep it simple)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup dried fruit

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a rimmed baking stone that has been sprayed with Pam.

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2. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the oil.  Combine all the other dry ingredients, except for the fruit, in a large bowl and stir to combine.

3. Heat the honey and oil over medium heat until it is smooth.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss well to combine.

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4. Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet and bake until it is golden, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 40 minutes.

5. Place baking sheet on a rack.  Stir the granola and allow to cool.  Add in the fruit. (I add my fruit in after I remove it from the oven, but before it is cool).  Store the granola in an airtight container, it can be made up to one week ahead.

*In the past I have added wheat germ to my granola, it imparts a nice nutty flavor.

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Baby Spinach and Tortellini Salad

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Salad recipe courtesy of

Taste of Home’s 2004 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes

Taste of Home Books, ©2004 Reiman Media Group, Inc., Wisc.

Vinaigrette recipe courtesy of CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters

published by Sterling Epicure, NY, NY

This salad is so good!  At first you may be thinking…fruit in a vegetable salad?  Believe me, the taste is incredible.  My friend, Carol, made this wonderful salad at one of our craft/sew/eat/talk, get-togethers (emphasis on talking and eating).  The recipe suggests a poppy seed dressing, but I really like Pomegranate Vinaigrette with it.  I’ve included both recipes.

This salad is one of those recipes that can easily be stretched (add more spinach), or adapted to your family’s preferences (add more tortellini).  Start with the amount of spinach needed for the servings you wish to make, using roughly 2 cups of spinach per person, and go from there.  If you’re not a fan of strawberries, try canned mandarin oranges instead.  Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients

baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled
strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
blueberries, washed and drained
fresh grated parmesan cheese

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Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon zesty honey mustard (I used Dijon mustard and added a drop of honey)
sea salt

 

Spinach and Tortellini Salad Directions

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1. Cook tortellini, drain and allow to cool.  Place spinach leaves in a large bowl.

 

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2. Add strawberries (or mandarin oranges) and blueberries.  Grate fresh parmesan over the salad.  Add cooled tortellini to salad and gently mix all the ingredients.  Serve with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

 

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Directions

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1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except salt.  Season to taste with the salt.  Vinaigrette will keep refrigerated for 1 week.

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