Savory Schmeres

This pair of recipes may be used as dips, schmeres, spreads, dollops, or any other way you can think of to serve them. I personally like them in small dollops on a cheese cracker or spread on biscuits hot out of the oven.

BACON JALAPENO JAM
Prep Time: 30 minuntes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients
1¾ lb. thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1” pieces
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
? cup cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 bags (large) Kettle Brand Original Chips

Directions
Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Transfer bacon pieces to a large plate or tray to drain.

Saute jalapeño, onion and garlic in bacon fat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet.

In a crockpot, combine the bacon and the vinegar mixture, stirring briefly to combine.
Cook on high, uncovered, for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and two tablespoons of the cooking liquid; stir into the bacon crockpot mixture.

Continue to cook on high, uncovered, for 3 hours. Carefully transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse mixture until coarsely chopped.

Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool before serving with chips.

Mixture can easily be made and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks before using.
MEATY ONION RELISH
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients 
2 cups drippings from pork loin, roast beef or other roasted meat
4 large sweet yellow onions
1tsp black pepper
1tsp garlic powder or minced garlic

Directions

Peel and dice onions.

In crock pot, combine all ingredients. Set on medium and allow to cook until all onions are soft and clear.

Turn heat to high for 10 minutes. Add arrowroot powder and allow to thicken, stirring often.

Allow to cool before placing in a bowl to serve.

Relish may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks before using. Also good for canning project.

This relish relies on the spices used for the roasted meat as a major part of the flavoring. It will be a little different with every batch, depending on the drippings. Bits of meat and fat may be included, adding to the savory flavors.

 

I apologize for the lack of photos, but these were oddities in my kitchen. Hopefully you will give them a spin and let us know what you think.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Make-ahead Meatballs

I have a habit of planning and buying ingredients for meals I never get around to making. This happened very recently. I purchased some items and they sat around mocking me. 

“You’ll never make stuffed pork chops,” they said. 

“Even sketti and meatballs is beyond you,” they told me.

And they were right. Like many, my roommate and I are constantly on the go, and we usually get home late enough that I don’t want to spend an hour or more cooking up a meal from scratch. Stuffed pork chops are a time sink (though so delicious!), and even putting together some meatballs and jarred sauce for spaghetti takes more time than I’ve been willing to invest lately.

So when I found myself with a little spare time, I decided to try something different: making meatballs in the oven, to be refrigerated or frozen and eaten later. 

I ended up with more meatballs than I counted on, and boy was I glad! My fellow bloggers and I snacked on some miniature meatballs (along with all sorts of cheese), and I still had enough minis for a pizza and more than enough full-size meatballs for spaghetti. Score! Best of all, they turned out even better than I had hoped they would.

Meatballs, like meatloaf, are a matter of personal taste. For the meatballs that would be covered in sauce, I kept things simple: meat, bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings. For the mini meatballs, I added some cheese and some more seasoning. Both are very tasty.

The basic recipe is as follows:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned, depending on your personal preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used chuck)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used a chub)

To these basic items I added some seasonings, as I said: salt, pepper, and a mushroom and pepper blend called “mushroom truffle hunt” that I found in the clearance bin at a local supermarket. For the mini meatballs, I added a few things to about half the seasoned meat: about 1/4 cup grated parmesan and maybe a tablespoon of a garlic/romano/spice blend from Garlic Festival called Garli Ghetti. 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand until the mixture will easily form balls that hold their shape. Drop the meatballs in a greased sheet pan or baking pan and bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes (until they are partially browned on the outside). 

Freeze, refrigerate, or eat immediately. Great for pizzas, spaghetti, meatball subs, or finger foods. 

You can, of course, change up the seasonings to suit your tastes or what you have on hand:

  • Fresh or granulated garlic and onion
  • Italian seasoning blend, oregano, basil, parsley, and/or thyme
  • Shredded cheese (you’ll probably need to use less of the bread crumbs)
  • Shredded spinach
  • Different ground meats (or combination of meats) such as lamb, turkey, chicken, venison, or pork
  • If you don’t have any bread crumbs on hand, pulverize Saltine crackers or bread you’ve dried in the oven (250 degrees for about 30 minutes) in a food processor or chopper. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Bon appétit!

~LB

 

 

Food Porn – Episode 8

Writing about food can work up a great appetite, but looking at food can make your stomach complain that you are not paying it proper attention.

Being a photographer as well as I writer, I am often confronted with photos that I have taken that don’t quite make the grade as stock photography, but are too good to be wasted. They get lonely when they are simply  archived.

Rather than let these photos sit, allow me to share these tasty items with everyone. Enjoy!

DSC_0405 - Stew

Hearty Homemade Stew – looks like dog food, tastes amazing over fresh cornbread.

DSC_0022 - Apple Bacon Honey

Apple Bacon Honey appetizer.

DSC_0829 - Hot Layered Dip

Hot Layered Dip – this was a recipe form ALDI featured earlier on this blog.

DSC_0023 - Savory mince meat

Savory Mince Meat – scratch made mince meat from a Viking period recipe.

DSC_0024 - Salmon

Cured Salmon with Dill

DSC_0308

Half-pound Burgers

Burgers and home-made sausage links on the grill.

Burgers and home-made sausage links on the grill.

Holiday Appetizers

Appetizers range from the simple to the decadent. They can act as snack food during the day, a lovely start to a meal, and finger foods for next day brunch.

Veggie Tray
A super simple and elegant snack offering takes a little effort and a decorative touch to sparkle during your holiday gatherings. Pick up a pre-made veggie or cheese tray. Simply lay out the veggies or cheeses on an attractive tray. Place a dip for the veggies or a mustard for the cheeses in a glass bowl in the middle of the tray. Using your own serving platter rather than the black plastic that usually comes with the party tray will have your guests thinking you went to more trouble on their behalf.

Simple Salads
Any salad that can be tossed together the day of your event is a quick addition to your meal plan. A harvest salad is a twist on the traditional green salad that is sure to delight. Toss together baby Romaine and spinach, dried cranberries, diced roasted butternut squash, thin slices of radish. This salad lends itself to the maple vinaigrette below. Prep everything the day before if you prefer and toss the salad with a dressing just before serving.

Maple Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use and refrigerate any leftovers.

Warm Chicken Salad
This appetizer or brunch offering is a warm and cozy touch of fall for your guests. As an appetizer, use chicken and apple. If you are serving this later in the weekend, you  might consider turkey and pear as a variation. Prepare your chicken salad as you usually do. Add a hint of Dijon mustard. Mix in chopped apple or sliced seedless grapes, broken walnuts and a drop of honey. For the turkey variation, use pear and pecan. Toast slices of baguette and top with a piece of lettuce. Add a scoop of the salad and serve.

Hope you all enjoy these these little suggestions on making your holiday gatherings more enjoyable for everyone.

–Ann Cathey