Raspberry Freezer Jam

One of the great inherited aspects of our old house were these amazing raspberry bushes.  This years weather has been a bit tough on them and the bushes are small with less berries than normal, but I'm still making jam at least twice a week instead of every-other day like in years past.  As my freezer door proves, I think we will be ok with a smaller crop of berries than normal this year.

This is the recipe I use to make my jelly and every year I'm amazed at how simple it is really.  Plus, there is nothing quite as amazing in the middle of a Minnesota winter than to open a jar and pretend it is summer again.

Raspberry Freezer Jam
(makes 4 pints)

3 C crushed raspberries
5 1/4 C sugar
3/4 C water
1 box pectin

1.  Crush your berries using a potato masher or food processor.  Don't make a puree or your jam won't set completely.  Add the sugar to the berries and stir well.  Allow mixture to sit for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.  Mix together in a small saucepan the water and pectin.  Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for one minute.  Add to berry mixture and stir for three minutes.
3.  Pour jam into four sterilized jam jars or plastic freezer containers and cover with sterilized lids.  Allow jam to sit on the counter for 24 hours before storing in the freezer.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Just because my life is always so wonderful when it comes to timing, this past week when I was knee deep in sandpaper, dust and polyurethane, my gardens decided to bury me with green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, raspberries and tomatoes too.  I am so grateful for the bounty of my gardens but it was all just so overwhelming!

I decided to throw my kids for a loop by making these really wonderful muffins with some of that bounty.  They were all watching me shred the zucchini and about freaked out when I mixed it into the chocolate batter.  They all loved them, well except for Benjamin who hates chocolate. I sent a dozen to work with my hubby and he said they were a huge hit!  I suggest making them the night before you want to serve them because they were considerably more moist and delicious the next day.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
(makes 23)
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C melted butter
3/4 C canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk
2 C grated zucchini (I will try using more next time)
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 C flour
1 C cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with liners.  Mix together sugar, butter and oil.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.
2.  In separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the liquid and mix until combined being careful not to over-mix.  Scoop batter into muffin liners and sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips on top.  Bake in center of the oven for 12-15 minutes until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Be careful not to over-bake or you will end up with a dry muffin.
3.  Remove from pans and allow to cool.  They are best served after they have been stored overnight in an airtight container.

Feta and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

The absolute torture of having my house torn up while we refinish the floors is taking a small piece of my sanity as each day passes.  Our house is small enough on it's own, but when you take away the two biggest rooms and cram the furniture from those rooms into the rest of the house, tempers start to flare.  I'm happy to report the last coat of polyurethane is on and curing.  The floors look amazing but I just might need some therapy to make it through the week before we can move all the furniture back.

Here is another quick and easy recipe I prepared for dinner.  It was a new one to me and it was really outstanding.  I love pesto and this is packed with flavor that is a great twist on the basic pesto recipe.  I think next time I make it, and there will definitely be a next time, I will add a bit more sun-dried tomato and basil.   I used it over hot whole wheat pasta but I can't wait to slather it on my homemade pizza.....

Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
2 C fresh basil
3 Tb feta cheese
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/4 C pine nuts
1 artichoke heart
2 Tb oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1.  Add tomatoes to food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil, and process until everything is uniformly chopped.  Keep blade running and drizzle in the olive oil.

Southwestern Bean and Barley Salad

I mentioned our 100+ year old house in my last post and I absolutely love living here.  The house is small for a family of seven, but we make it work and it is just so darn cute.  Of course, there is always some form of home improvement going on and currently that takes the form of ripping out old carpet and refinishing the original hardwood floors underneath.  I don't know who thought it was a great idea to lay carpet in a dining room, but they obviously weren't trying to feed my five kids while keeping the carpet clean!  The floors will be absolutely beautiful when I am done, but getting from beginning to end of a project is never as easy, smooth or cheap as I anticipate at the beginning.

Since I have spent most of my week on this latest project, the bit of cooking I have done has been quick and easy, including this great salad.  I've been making this for years and have made many changes to the original recipe that I think enhance what was a great recipe to begin with.  I think this salad is best served at room temperature so when I eat leftovers, I just give it a quick buzz in the microwave.  Don't forget the fresh limes to squeeze on top!

Southwestern Bean and Barley Salad
1 C pearl barley
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can corn, drained
8 green onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 C chopped cilantro
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 large jicama, peeled and diced
Fresh lime, cut into wedges

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tb chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1.  Cook barley according to package directions.  Once it is cooked, quickly rinse in cool water to reduce the temperature of the barley.
2.  Combine all your salad ingredients in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together all your dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.  Toss to combine.
3.  Serve at room temperature and squeeze a generous amount of fresh lime juice on each serving.

Hawaiian Bread

Us Minnesotans (make sure you emphasize that long "o" so you sound local) have been completely spoiled this summer with temps in the 70s and no humidity.  All of that changed this week and I'm grumpy because of it!  I hate being hot, sticky and sweaty but I love being outside so when I have to choose, my air-conditioned home will always win.  My poor gardens haven't seen me any longer than it takes to refresh them with some cool water.  Luckily for me, this heat will only last a few weeks at best and then it will begin cooling off again because fall hits quite early around here.

When it is hot, I can't stand to turn on the oven or really even do much cooking at the stove.  I live in a 100+ year old house and my A/C has a hard enough time keeping us cool without adding to it's burden.  I mostly grill our meals and use my handy bread machine.  Granted, it only makes one loaf at a time which barely lasts us one meal, but I can't beat the convenience or it's minimal heat output!  It has been quite awhile since I made this recipe but boy is it yummy!  The added fruit gives it such a nice sweetness without any chunks in your finished loaf.  I'm sure it will make an appearance once again this week since the forecast looks miserable.

Hawaiian Bread
1/2 C mashed banana
1/2 C crushed pineapple, with juice
1 egg
1/4 C milk
1/4 C butter, softened
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp salt
1/3 C white sugar
1/2 C instant potato flakes
3 C bread flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast

1.  Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select Light setting; press start.

Island Pork Tenderloin

Two summers ago we had the pleasure of sharing a beautiful beach house on Ventura Beach with many families from the Walter side.   It was a memorable trip for countless reasons but the quality of food that was prepared in that gorgeous kitchen definitely ranks up there for me.  We rotated meal assignments through the families so we got a wonderful sampling of all the great cooks and bakers that bless our ranks.  I went home five pounds heavier after that week on the beach!

My cousin-in-law Sherri (don't know if there is officially such a title as that) made this amazing dish during our stay.  I'll be honest and admit that when I saw it and heard the ingredients, I didn't think I was going to like it.  I've had some bad experiences with mango salsas/chutneys but I am so glad I went for it because this is absolutely delicious.  This is one of those dishes that I love to have a bit of every ingredient on my fork because they balance so well together.  The beans have quite a kick to them, but the mango mellows it perfectly.  I have the recipes listed separately, but just throw them all together on your plate!

Island Pork Tenderloin
2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 Tb paprika
1 Tb chili powder
1 Tb dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 C fresh orange juice, about 1 1/2 oranges
3/4 C fresh lime juice, about 4-5 limes
1 Tb garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 habenero or serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 Tb honey
1 Tb olive oil

1.  Preheat grill to medium.  Mix paprika, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper flakes and rub onto tenderloin.  Combine juices, garlic, salt and chile for the mojo.  Set aside 1/4 C for the Mango Mojo salsa.  Whisk honey and oil into remaining mojo for a basting sauce.  Grill tenderloin over medium heat turning and basting until the meat reaches 145 degrees.  Allow to rest for five minutes, slice and serve over rice, beans and mango salsa.

Mango Mojo Salsa
2 C ripe mango, diced (about 2 whole mangoes) 
2 Tb chopped fresh cilantro
Reserved mojo from Island Pork Tenderloin

1.  Combine mango and cilantro with the reserved mojo.  Can be chilled up to one hour.

**Don't know how to cut a mango, check out these instructions for help!

Caribbean Black Beans
3 strips bacon, diced
1/2 C onion, diced
1/4 C poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tb garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Serve with 3 cups hot cooked basmati or jasmine rice

1.  Saute bacon in large saute pan over medium heat for five minutes.  Remove from pan and add onion and pepper to saute in bacon drippings for three minutes.   Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add beans, broth and bacon and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Season beans with salt and pepper.

Cornmeal Pancakes

Vacations are absolutely the best.  The anticipation, the "to-do" list before you leave, the excitement when you finally get there and then enjoying your time away from the normal.  It just isn't fair how quickly the time flies before it is time to go home again.  That is where the magic abruptly ends for me:  empty fridge, piles of mail, piles of laundry, gardens overflowing with weeds and my phone ringing off the hook.  It is such a rude smack in the face after such an amazing time.
So it was with our trip to San Antonio for a family reunion.  We had an absolutely amazing time everyday we were there only to be completely overwhelmed upon walking in the front door.  It goes without saying that this past week very little cooking/baking was accomplished in the Jones kitchen.  These yummy pancakes were about as exciting as it got around here as far as food went but still a tasty treat for dinner!  I make a double recipe for our family.

Cornmeal Pancakes
3/4 C cornmeal (I want to try blue cornmeal next time)
1 tsp salt
2 Tb sugar
1 C boiling water
1 egg, separated
1/2 C milk (I used buttermilk)
2 Tb oil or melted butter
3/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder

1.  Mix together the cornmeal, salt and sugar.  Stir in the boiling water, cover and let sit for a few minutes.
2.  Add milk, egg yolks and oil and stir well.  Add flour and baking powder and stir just until combined.  The batter will be stiff so add more milk until it flows off the spoon thickly.  Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form and fold into batter.
3.  Heat griddle over medium heat and cook 1/3 C of batter for each pancake on one side until entire surface is covered with bubbles.  Flip pancake and continue to cook until other side is golden.