Crockpot Wednesday ~ Barbecued Bean Soup w/Beef Short Ribs

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Joining in at Dining with Debbie for Crockpot Wednesday. Thanks for the invitation to join in Debbie!

I really enjoy beef short ribs in my fall & winter menus. They cook long and slow and are perfectly suited to crockpot cooking. This recipe was a new one to us and we really enjoyed it. The only change I made was to brown the ribs prior to putting them into the crockpot. Added more intense flavor. I also used my favorite Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. I served with a hot skillet of cornbread.

Barbecued Bean Soup Recipe with Beef Short Ribs
(Printable Verison)

1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 to 2 pounds beef short ribs, browned in a skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3/4 to 1 cup barbecue sauce (your favorite)

In crockpot, combine beans with onion, pepper, and browned short ribs; cover with the water. Cover and cook on LOW 10 to 14 hours. Remove short ribs and cut meat from bones. Return meat to crockpot and stir in barbecue sauce and salt, to taste. Cover and cook on HIGH for about 20 minutes longer. Serves 8.

Book Review - Prairie Home Breads

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Symbolic of home & hearth, a good loaf of bread nurtures the soul as well as the body."

I am a bread baker. I love to bake bread and have a few books on the subject. I really didn’t think I needed another one. After all, I’ve been baking bread for years and have some wonderful recipes to choose from. That is what I thought. Years ago, I bought Judith M. Fertig’s book Prairie Home Cooking. I love that book. I make many of the recipes in that book on a regular basis. All that being true, I did not ever see the point in checking out her Prairie Home Breads until I recently came across a copy of it at our Public Library. Shame, shame on me for such arrogance. I have really missed out on a treasure. Lucky for me (and my family), I’ve added Prairie Home Beads to my collection now.

In Prairie Home Breads, culinary expert Judith Fertig showcases 150 splendid recipes for a variety of different breads. Categories of breads include Yeast Breads; Naturally Leavened and Slow-Rising Breads; Whole-Grain Breads; Rolls and Buns; Quick Breads, Muffins, & Popovers; Scones, Biscuits, Crackers, and a Soda Bread; Coffee Cakes and Pastries. The recipes range from simple family meal favorites, to celebratory breads ideal for even the most festive occasion. The recipes are complete, easy to follow, and include ingredients accessible to even the most novice kitchen chef. A strongly recommended addition to any cookbook collection.

The Miller’s Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry instant, rapid-rise or quick yeast
2 large eggs, beaten

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until warm (100 degrees). Remove from the heat and add the butter so it melts. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 3 cups of the flour, the brown sugar, gluten, cinnamon, salt and yeast. Using the paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, beat in raisins, then beat in the eggs and warm milk until you have a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Or turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and set aside. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Shape dough into a loaf and place into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom; an instant read thermometer inserted into the center should register 190-200 degrees. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Foodie Friday - Florentine Ravioli

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lots more wonderful recipes at

This has become one of my favorite *fast food* recipes. I use the cheese ravioli from Sam's.

Florentine Ravioli
(Printable Version)

1 Pkg (20-ounce) Frozen Cheese Ravioli
6 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 bag (16-ounce) frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; cook ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has thawed, wilted and heated through, 5 to 7 minutes. Divide among 4 bowls, top each with pasta and drizzle 1 tsp of the remaining olive oil over each portion. Serve immediatley with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Seasonal Goodness - Apples

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When I was a girl, we used to drive to Julian, CA and pick apples every year in early fall. Growing up in Southern CA, there wasn’t much of a fall or the changing of the colors, but this one day trip was my fall experience every year and wonderful memories for me.

Once I was the Mom, I searched out the same experiences for my children. When we lived in Southern CA, we also visited Julian. When we lived in Washington and then in Minnesota we always sought out local orchards (as well as planting our own) and picked and preserved apples. It just doesn’t seem like fall without apples. Now we live in Nebraska. The weather here in prairie country isn’t the best for apples. Too much freezing rain and ice and not many apple trees. It makes me sad but I still seek out apples to preserve and enjoy in these fall months.

Some of my favorite apples and their uses:

Braeburn: These apples store exceptionally well. The skin is tender, the flavor is moderately tart and they keep their shape well when baked

Cortland: These are very fragile and need to be stored separated to avoid bruising. They are high in vitamin C and because of this resist browning better than most other apples. Normally very thin-skinned and have a slight tart-sweet taste. They have juicy, tender, snow white flesh and keep their shape well when baked. Excellent for eating, salads, sauce, pies and baking. Good for freezing. This great all purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898.

Crispin: These apples are sweet, yet very refreshing; very juicy; and super crisp. Excellent for eating, sauce, baking and freezing Good for salads and pies. Try Crispins for roasting whole apples or thick slices. They're a wonderful accompaniment for your favorite roast.

Empire: With the popular Red Delicious and McIntosh for parents, Empire apples were destined to be a hit. It's a sweet-tart combination that's great for everything. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva introduced this new variety in 1966. It has juicy, very crisp, creamy white flesh. Excellent for eating and salads. Good for sauce, baking, pies and freezing.

Golden Delicious: These will store for 3-4 months fairly well in a very cool location but spoil fast at room temp. Should be light-yellow, not greenish. Skin is tender and the flavor is sweet. Since they are high in vitamin C they resist browning. Retain their shape well when baked. There are over 150 varieties of Red and Golden Delicious apples grown worldwide, more than any other apple.

Gravenstein: Old favorite large apple from Germany, with unique flavor and aroma. Great for fresh eating, and famous for sauce.

Honeycrisp: These apples are 60 to 90% scarlet red over a yellow background color. It is exceptionally crisp and juicy. The flesh is cream colored and coarse. The flavor is sub-acid and ranges from mild and well balanced to strongly aromatic, depending on the degree of maturity. Keeps well for 5 to 6 months in common storage.

Northern Spy: Tart, tangy, robust, juicy, firm apples excellent for pies. One of the oldest American varieties, it is the quintessential baking apple. Overlook the irregular shape and variable coloration, this apple is not for display. A little too robust as a fresh-eating apple for many, it still has many fans who enjoy it in hand.

Paula Red: This apple is only available from late August into October. It is a tart apple with juicy, crisp white flesh. Excellent for eating and good for making applesauce. Paula Red applesauce needs little or no sugar.

Pink Lady: Tart, crisp apples that are very good for all uses.

Prairie Spy: Extra long keeping winter apple. Large fruit with attractive red over yellow color. Crisp, juicy flesh with excellent flavor. All purpose. Keeps for 3 months with flavor developing and improving in storage. Hardy, vigorous, long-lived, annually productive tree. Bears young and heavily. One of the best home orchard varieties. Developed by the University of Minnesota. Ripe in early October.

State Fair: New, cold hardy Minnesota variety. Introduced in 1979. Mantet X Oriole. Fruit is round, conic, medium sized. Fruit is brilliantly striped with reddish orange over a yellow background. Creamy flesh is firm, juicy aromatic and sweet and firmer than most early varieties. Moderately sub-acid flavor. Excellent for fresh eating. Keeps well for a summer apple.

And a few apple recipes.

Apples & Romaine Salad
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash of salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apple
2 cups chopped Braeburn apple
¼ cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 cups mixed salad greens or crisp Romaine hearts
To prepare dressing, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
To prepare salad, combine apples, cheese, and bacon. Drizzle dressing over apple mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve over greens.

Spicy Apple-Stuffed Squash

1 acorn squash (about 1 pound)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 teaspoons melted butter or margarine
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Halve squash and remove seeds; cut into quarters. Place quarters, skin side up, in dish and cover; bake 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine apple, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Turn cut sides of acorn squash up; top with apple mixture. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer or until apples are tender.

Carnival Caramel Apples

1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 c light corn syrup
Dash of salt
1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
10-12 popsicle sticks
10 to 12 medium sized, tart apples, washed and dried
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped

In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter; add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
Insert Popsicle sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Dip bottom of apples into peanuts. Set on greased waxed paper to cool. Yield: 10-12 apples.

Apple Pancakes

1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup apples, peeled and grated
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and nutmeg in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, egg, butter, vanilla, and milk. Combine both mixtures stirring only until blended. Fold in grated apple. Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle. When batter is full of holes, turn to brown on other side. Turn pancakes only once while cooking. Makes 7 eight-inch pancakes.

Apple Cider Syrup

1-½ cup apple cider or juice
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

In a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed With Apples

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
2 T butter or olive oil
2 medium baking apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
1 C fresh bread crumbs, made by processing 2 large slices of stale bread
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp savory
½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp - 1T vegetable or olive oil
For glaze:
4 T honey
1 T brown sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T brown mustard
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Split the tenderloin almost in half lengthwise. Place it between two sheets of waxed paper; pound it to about ½-inch thick. Heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and onion and sauté until lightly brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, marjoram and savory, and toss with the apple-onion mixture until moistened through. Remove from heat. Pepper and salt the inside of the tenderloin and spread the apple stuffing over the surface. Roll the tenderloin lengthwise and tie with kitchen string. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Add oil and brown the pork on all sides. Place in a baking dish. To make the glaze, combine the honey, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Pour the glaze over the tenderloin and bake for 45 minutes, basting with the glaze 3-4 times. Remove from the oven; let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Heirloom Party

Friday, September 18, 2009

Firstly, I’m sad that I am not prepared for this wonderful event hosted by Marie. I so enjoy her events. With vacation and playing catch up, I just haven’t given the old blog the attention I should. All that said, I wanted to still share something although it is in story form, not pictures.

My grandmother-in-law was a wonderful woman. She really was like my own grandmother and I loved her dearly. She didn’t always have such an easy life. Her family were pioneers in the state of Washington and at age 20 she was left with a dear little boy to raise (my father-in-law) when her husband was killed in a logging accident. She had never held an outside job and had no means of support (there wasn’t even social security yet). In these desperate times she agreed to enter into an arranged marriage to a man 20+ years older than she was and the cousin of her 2 older sisters husbands (they were married to brothers). Her new husband came from Norway and didn’t even speak English when he came to the states. Despite all this, they built a happy life together that included 5 more children. Because of the age difference, Grandma was widowed early (I think she was in her late 40’s) and she never remarried.

Granny (as we called her) was a very special gal and I always felt a kindred spirit. She came to stay with us in Minnesota a couple years before she died and I will always remember that time with special fondness.

About 4-5 years before she died, she asked if I would like her wedding ring. I was a bit baffled (mostly because she has 4 daughters and many granddaughters and I was only a granddaughter-in-law) but also thrilled. I just love this ring and treasure it but only wear it occasionally. I would really like my youngest daughter to have it when she is older (I’ll eventually get my grandmother’s wedding ring and it will go to oldest daughter).

My 50th Year!

We returned from our vacation late on Monday and it was back to the office for me on Tuesday. Then the news that the mother of my employer passed away that same day. It has been a week tinted with sadness and the art of playing catch-up…both at the office and at home. I’m very glad to see the weekend at last. Or am I? It seems that somehow in the busy-ness of homemaking, raising 4 children, being a helpmeet and serving others, I now find myself about to embark on my 50th year this weekend. How did that happen? How can 49 years have gone so quickly?

To mark this occasion, I plan to bake a pie. I prefer pie over cake. I also plan to busy myself this weekend with some put-off projects. Painting and papering my laundry closet (yes, it is just a closet), hanging a shelf that a friend gave me, making a kitchen island from an old sewing machine base and hanging the pot rack I bought myself for my birthday. I’ve always wanted one and am very excited about this one (it came from Van Dyke’s Restorers).

The price was unbelievable!! I’ll post a picture when I get it all hung. I am also planning to get to my fall decorating. I think my family is taking me to a favorite local restaurant on Sunday after church....the BIG day, lol.

Happy weekend wishes!! Glad to be back to bloggland!

"Gone Fishing"

Friday, September 4, 2009

We are going to be on vacation to our beloved Minnesota until the 15th. No computers, no blogging, no phones.....Blessed Quietness!

Have a Great Labor Day Weekend and be safe!

Book Review - The Apron Book

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Apron Book by EllynAnne Geisel

I bought this book last winter on the recommendation of my friend and former Pastor’s wife, Sharon. She knows I am a rescuer of all vintage linens but especially aprons. I also love to make aprons. This book lived up to Sharon’s recommendation. I loved it. This next week we will be vacationing in Minnesota and we’ll stay a couple nights at Sharon & Pastor’s home. I have made a special apron to take to Sharon to show my appreciation for her. She is redoing her kitchen in a *French Country* theme and I hope I’ve captured that in the apron.

EllynAnne also has a great webpage and blog Her newest book, The Kitchen Linens Book, Using, Sharing, an Cherishing The Fabrics of our Daily Lives is one I hope to add to my collection soon. I know I’ll love it also. Anyone read that one?

My dear daughter, Jadyn modeling Miss Sharon's new apron.

My apron spot in my kitchen.

I wanted to add a postscript to this post. EllynAnne also has another book called Apronisms: Pocket Wisdom for Every Day. I love this little *pocket book*. I bought several a few months back and have used them as hostess gifts this summer...tucked into the pocket of a simple homemade apron. Look for a giveaway here at Faithfulness Farms soon of Apronisms and a cute fall apron (when I return from vacation). Details to come!

Blessings, Gail