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

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Emergency Lamb Loaf

While we were away at sea, our chest freezer finally gave up the ghost. family at home managed to save most of the contents, but a lot of it had been completely thawed and had to be cooked as soon as we got home.

Some of the items that had thawed out were 2 pounds of ground lamb and a 12 oz package of bacon. I decided to concoct a meatloaf out of them with assorted ingredients that I had on hand. Yes, I really do keep all these things on hand on a regular basis.

Lamb can be a very dry meat when used in meatloaf as the fluid it contains cooks off easily.  Wrapping the loaf in bacon not only adds flavor and helps to keep the loaf in shape, it adds some moisture to the loaf.

Lamb Loaf
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1/2 hours at 300F
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients
2 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup almond flour
3 large eggs
1 pk onion soup mix (already contains salt!)
1 tsp herbes de province (Dangold Gourmet Collection)
1 TBSP roasted garlic grapeseed oil (Wildtree)
1tp brown mustard
1TBSP Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp ground white pepper
12 oz hickory bacon

dsc_0035Mix meat, almond flour, onion soup mix thoroughly in a large bowl.

In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, spices, and Worchestershire.

 

Add egg mixture to meat mixture and combine thoroughly. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest.

 

On parchment paper, lay out strips of bacon to wrap or weave around loaf. A simple over-under  weave produces a nice even outer coating of bacon that will not peel away from the loaf as it cooks.

 

Form loaf on top of bacon strips. Wrap bacon completely around the loaf, sealing the ends. Use parchment paper to firmly shape the bacon and lamb.

 

Spray loaf pan with olive oil. Distribute roasted garlic cloves evenly on bottom of pan.

dsc_0038

 

 

Use parchment paper to transfer loaf to pan and tuck in. Remove parchment paper. Cover pan in foil to prevent spattering.

 

Place pan in a 300F oven to bake for one and a half hours., keeping an eye on the juices that will collect. If fluid becomes too deep, drain some off. A drip pan is advisable.

When pan is removed from the oven, allow the loaf to rest for 5 minutes or so before slicing and serving. This loaf turned out easily onto a plate.

 

We served with baked carrots and brown rice.

 

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

Crock Pot Sweet Spreads

Have you seen the price of jams and jellies lately? Why not make your own? You can get as crazy with flavors as you like, and make enough to share. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

These recipes are written more like concepts than with the usual ingredients list due to the many variations that are available for each.

APPLE BUTTER
Warm apple butter is like a taste of fall on a spoon, and it’s even better homemade. Peel, core and dice six pounds of Gala apples and put into the slow cooker. In a separate bowl mix one cup of sugar, one cup of brown sugar, one tablespoon of. cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Combine with the apples and cook on low until the mixture has cooked down. Uncover and cook for 2 more hours. Blend until smooth and serve or store.

BACON JAM
Bacon jam is an amazing savory AND sweet onion garlic spread that is, we need to repeat, amazing. In a slow cooker, combine 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, and 3/4 cup of coffee. Add 1 1/2 pounds of bacon that has been lightly browned and drained. Mix in two small diced onions and three garlic cloves that have been cooked until translucent. Cook on high for four hours. Coarsely chop in a processor and serve warm on toast points.

Spread some of these taste treats on a warm biscuit after you make them, and let us know how you enjoyed the results.

–Ann Cathey

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.

Crock Pot Breakfast

With the weather being cool to cold in most of the United States, I thought these warm breakfast dishes might be appreciated.

There are an amazing number of things that can be cooked in a crock pot or other slow cooker. I bet you didn’t know that breakfast can be prepared in a slow cooker rather than on the stove top. Here are a few recipes that are sure to delight.

These recipes are written more like concepts than with the usual ingredients list due to the many variations that are available for each.

OATMEAL
Instant oatmeal is quick, true, but it’s also just not the same as the real thing. Steel cut oatmeal or whole oat groats are a great way to kick start your morning, but the hour they take to cook can make that difficult.Instead, you should prepare oatmeal the night before for that wonderful smell in the morning. First, toast two cups of oats in a dry pan for five minutes until you can smell them.Then put the oats in a buttered crockpot with eight cups of water, two cups of milk, 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt.Cook on low for eight hours and enjoy!

APPLESAUCE
Fresh applesauce is amazing served with a pork loin or just as a comforting snack, but it may seem a little intimidating to make. Never fear! All you have to do is peel, core, and dice 10 McIntosh apples and put them into a slow cooker with 1/2 cup of water, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and one cup of sugar. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours and enjoy the warm cinnamon smell that permeates your house. Eat warm, cold or freeze for later.

HUNTERS BREAKFAST
I think this concept has been covered before, but this blog is about breakfast and it bears repeating. Layer potatoes (sliced leftover bakers, diced leftover french fries, frozen or leftover tater tots, frozen hash browns), meat (crumbled sausage or bacon, diced ham, or any combination you may prefer), cheese, and diced bell pepper. Do as many layers as you have ingredients for. If your crock pot is half full, use 6-8 eggs, if it’s mostly full use 12-18 eggs. Crack your eggs into a large bowl and whisk them thoroughly with a splash of milk or cream for fluffiness. Salt and pepper the eggs to taste. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the ingredients in the crock pot. Sprinkle extra cheese on top. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (overnight). if the smell of a hot breakfast waiting for you in the morning doesn’t make your tummy rumble, you may have a cold. Serve as is or wrapped in a warm tortilla for breakfast tacos.

Give these dishes a try and let us know how you enjoyed them. See if you don’t agree that the crock pot method is a time-saving twist on these breakfast favorites.

–Ann Cathey

Holiday Advance Prep

Save yourself some time and stress by preparing as much in advance as possible. Here are some suggestions from our kitchen to yours for simplifying your holiday cooking.

Cookie Dough
Cookies are a great treat! Most cookies can be mixed up in advance, rolled into logs and frozen. When needed, they may be pulled out and sliced, baked, and served warm to your guests. Any type of cookie that doesn’t require a little something extra like a sugar crystal dusting or toppings is great for this preparation. Frozen cookie dough can also be used as an activity for kids or adults. Get together in the kitchen and make cookies together with family chats and a glass of wine or juice.

Stuffing Suggestions
Stuffing isn’t always cooked inside the bird. It is often baked alongside the bird so there’s plenty for everyone. The dry ingredients for stuffing can be mixed up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. Mix in the wet ingredients just before baking the dish.

For an extra layer of flavor in your stuffing, add pre-cooked and crumbled sausage or bacon. The sausage can be spicy or mild, sage or Italian spiced. Use whatever suits your meal plan and give your stuffing a boost. Diced apple, apricot or pear will also add an extra dimension to stuffing.

Sweet Treats
Unless it’s something that you want to serve hot out of the oven, many desserts can be made up a day or two in advance. Pumpkin or sweet potato pies refrigerate well. Filling for fruit pies and tarts can be mixed up in advance, stored in an airtight container and refrigerated until it’s time to build the pie and bake it. Dry ingredients for gingerbread, brownies, and cakes can be mixed up and stored in airtight containers without refrigeration. Simply add the wet ingredients and bake when you are ready.

Thawing The Bird
Frozen turkey, duck, goose, or whatever flavor of bird you desire for your holiday feast may be purchased weeks in advance and kept frozen until it’s time for the thaw. Remember to reserve space for thawing your turkey or other fowl. These meats should never be thawed at room temperature to avoid bacterial infection. Always thaw your bird at 40F or below, and allow 12 hours to thaw per four pounds of bird. Place the bird in a pan to avoid leaking into your refrigerator.

May your holidays begin and end with love!

–Ann Cathey

Burger Wells

This little dish was the result of boredom, too much internet, and what was available in the kitchen. I think it turned out rather well, and the taste testers polished their plates.DSC_0607

Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (or venison, pork, or turkey)
1 lb bacon
2 eggs
2 tb salsa
1tsp cumin
1tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
1 tb dried parsley
1/4tsp paprika
1tb butter
2 cups brown rice, pre-cooked
1/2 cup diced mushroom (or 1 10oz can)
1/2 pound asparagus, pre-cooked
1/2 cup grated Manchego

Asparagus and Mushrooms, drained

Asparagus and Mushrooms, drained

Directions:

Beef Well

Beef Well

Mix beef, spices, salsa and one egg thoroughly. Roughly quarter into balls. Squash the ball with a greased slender cup or glass and form sides up the glass. Remove carefully and place in baking pan or on individual squares of foil for grilling. Shape the meat mixture further if needed to get evenly thick and tall sides for each beef-well.

 

 

Bacon Wapped Well

Bacon Wrapped Well

Wrap each beef-well in a slice of bacon (add a little if needed).

Mix pre-cooked brown rice, asparagus (chopped) and diced mushroom into a bowl with 1/4 cup cheese. Mix well. Fill the beef-wells with this mixture and set the remainder aside.

Stuffed Well

Stuffed Well

DSC_0605

Asparagus lined Well

NOTE: In the photographed version, asparagus stems were used to line the sides of the well. They were precooked and thus already tender.

Take the remaining bacon and slice into pieces approximately 1/5-2 inches long. Carefully place a layer of bacon pieces across the top of each stuffed beef-well. this will help to contain moisture so that the veggies don’t dry out.

Slide the tray into the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.

Into a skillet, toss the rest of the bacon strips and cook to preferred chewiness or crunchiness. Drain and set aside.

Drop butter into the skillet and allow it to melt. Add the remaining egg and stir vigorously. Before the egg is quite done, toss in the remaining stuffing and stir while the egg finishes cooking. Add the remaining bacon with a sprinkle of cheese and toss.

Emplate one beef-well with a quarter of the stir-fry, sprinkling remaining cheese on top.

We served with crescent rolls on the side, and this made up four lovely plates.DSC_0608

Give this a try and let us know how yours turned out!

— Ann Cathey