Posts Tagged ‘Homemade’

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

Well this week has flown by.  My little boy has been sick for a few days, so my usual routine has been interrupted.  I absolutely don’t mind the interruption, and like having him home with me all day again, but I just hate it when my little ones are sick.  Since he hasn’t been eating a whole lot (sore throat), I’m so thankful to have frozen broth at the ready for both the ease and the nourishment that it can give to him.  I guess this is as good a time as any to post this recipe, then.

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

Making broth isn’t a new concept, but it seems as though the foodie/health world has rediscovered it lately.  There’s a good reason for that.  Making broth is simple and it offers so many healthy benefits that store-bought versions simply do not.  They also taste so much better.  Make a homemade broth and then do a taste-test with a store brand.  I have.  The difference is stunning.

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

For my beef broth, I start with finding some good, properly-raised beef.  You know I’m a grass-fed beef advocate.  So, I suggest you find some grass-fed beef bones (you’ll want a mix of marrow bones and some with a bit of meat on them) to make the healthiest, most nourishing broth possible.  Soup bones can easily be found at a good co-op or grocery store, your local butcher, or from the farmers market. They’re cheap.  Sometimes they’re even labeled “pet bones”– which is kind of odd.  But trust me, they’ll make a rich broth that you’ll love.

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

The other ingredients you likely already have at home– carrots, celery, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, and some dried or fresh herbs.  It’s a simple process that involves roasting the bones and vegetables first– to really amp up their flavors– then simmering on the stove for hours with water, herbs, and vinegar.  The vinegar is added to, supposedly, draw out some of the minerals from the bones.  I’ve read conflicting information on this, but I finally decided that since I love the flavor it imparts, I’m going to go with it.  Simmer this broth as long as you can.  The longer you do, the more nutrients it will draw out of the bones.

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

The flavor will be good after three hours, or so– but shoot for 8 or even 24, if that’s a possibility for you. Also, after simmering for about 2-3 hours, I remove the bone with meat on it, and trim the cooked meat off. I put the bone back into the broth and save the meat to use another time. At this point it hasn’t been overcooked, but it has still added plenty of flavor to the broth already. If you don’t want to bother, just leave it in the broth for the duration of the time. As long as you hit that three-hour mark, the broth will taste amazing! Use it in soups like this Paprikash that is one of our family favorites. Fill your freezer up with both this beef broth and this chicken broth for quick, healthy soups this winter.

Homemade Beef Broth | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Beef Broth

(makes a few quarts)

about 6 pounds of good quality, preferably grass-fed, beef bones (some containing marrow and some containing a bit of meat)

about 3 carrots, halved

2 celery stalks, halved

1 large onion, quartered

1 garlic bulb (that’s the entire thing), halved and not peeled

3 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

handful of fresh parsley, rough chopped

2 tablespoons kosher salt, or more to taste

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean-up). Place the beef bones, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic on the pan with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Roast for about 40-45 minutes, or until the beef and vegetables have a bit of color. Remove from oven.

Add the beef, vegetables, and any juices (leave the grease behind) to a large kettle.  Top it with the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, fresh parsley, cider vinegar, and enough cold filtered water to cover it all.

Bring everything to a high simmer so that it’s almost boiling, but not quite.  Then reduce the heat with the lid ajar to just a low simmer that is barely bubbling and let it cook away for as many hours as you can.  Three hours for sure, but shoot for more, if you can. If wanting to use the meat from the meaty bone (and you should– it’s great for quick meals and/or snacks), remove from bone after about 2-3 hours, put the bone back in the pot.

After you have finished simmering the broth, remove the large pieces with tongs and strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.  This will give you a nice clear broth. At this point you can put it in jars (or BPA-free plastic quart-sized containers) leaving about an inch of head-space (the liquid will expand as it freezes) or leave it in a large pot and refrigerate until completely cold (this will take hours, so overnight works well) and pour into jars afterwards. This makes removing the top layer of grease a cinch. Once that has been completed, throw a lid on it and freeze.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It! Have a great weekend.




Read Full Post »

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Relishing ItWith the exception of this past warm weekend– a farewell gift from summer as it left– my mind has been drifting towards cool-weather comfort food.  You know, those meals that you can settle in to and cozy up with in the evening.  I’m ready for less running about, more family meals at the table, and that smell that you greets you at the door and permeates the house– when you know something delicious awaits you for dinner.  Yes, I’m ready for fall food.  I’m ready to eat hot soups and sip hot drinks.  I’m ready to braise things again.

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Relishing It

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Relishing It

Enchiladas may seem like an odd place to start, but for me, it’s a perfect seasonal-transition meal.  It’s warm, substantial, and very much a comfort food.  I intended to share this really quick enchilada sauce with you last year, but didn’t get to it.  If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I’m a big proponent of making homemade sauces.  It takes just a little extra effort, and the results are almost always worth it.  They taste so much fresher than store-bought jars, and I like having control over exactly what goes into them.  This homemade enchilada sauce is no exception.  It tastes delicious and comes together in a matter of minutes.  This is a quick enchilada sauce, made from already ground spices, which works well for weeknight meals.  I have a fantastic recipe coming up later in the week for you that uses this sauce. It’s a perfect meal for those crisp, autumn nights.  Be well, everyone.

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Relishing It

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Relishing It

The Recipe: Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

(makes 3 1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

3 1/2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 bay leaf

15 ounces organic tomato sauce (plain)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 dried bay leaf

kosher salt, to taste

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft.  Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaf and blend ingredients together with an immersion or regular blender. Season with more kosher salt, if necessary.  At this point, the sauce is ready to use.  Refrigerate it to use later in the week, or freeze for another time. Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by to say hello or just to peek around!


Read Full Post »

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

I try not to describe things as “the best” too often.  I’ve done it from time to time, but when I do I truly think the recipe deserves that title. This margarita?  It’s the best.  Full stop.  Ditch the store-bought margarita mix, because it doesn’t even come close.  And once you make this sublime cocktail, it’ll be the measuring stick against which you judge all others.  There, how’s that for a recommendation?

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

I’d been planning to make these margaritas for a gathering of some of our dearest friends this past weekend.  We’re a group that has been close since our early college days, but as is often the case, it’s just difficult to get everyone together as we’ve become adults.  It was fantastic being able to sit in the back yard sharing stories, drinking margaritas and eating tacos (more on that in another post), and watching all of our kids run around.  Summer at it’s finest.

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

Now to the margarita.  This one requires a little planning, but don’t let that scare you off– it’s easy to make.  What it doesn’t involve is a long list of strange or unpronounceable ingredients.  Lemon, lime, sugar, and a decent mid-price tequila.  The reason it tastes so damn good is due to the time you should let the flavors meld together in the refrigerator.  I did it for 24 hours (actually a bit more, to be honest).   The lemon, lime, and sugar really have a chance to become one– it takes on an entirely different citrus when you give it the time.  If you’re short on time, four hours will probably work.  Just remember the longer it sits, the better it will be.  I’m planning to keep some in my refrigerator throughout the week, so it’s at the ready when I fancy a good margarita.  Which means I’ll probably be having one every night.  Nothing wrong with living a little, right?  I also made those cocktail cherries that crown the drink– I’ll share that recipe soon, as well.

The Best Margarita | Relishing It

The Recipe:  The Best Margarita

(serves 4-6)

4 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)

4 teaspoons lime zest

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3-4 limes)

1/4 cup super-fine sugar (or use granulated that has been blended in a food processor.  Super-fne sugar is needed so it dissolves adequately)

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup 100% Agave Tequila (make sure it’s a Reposado– a type that’s aged in oak barrels for between 2 months to a year)

1 cup Triple Sec

Note: We tripled this batch.  The juice mixture fit nicely into a quart jar and then a large glass pitcher when we combined the alcohol and served it.  As long as the ice is not combined directly into the pitcher, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator and used when you want. 

Combine all of the ingredients into a pint jar, except the liquor.  Shake and refrigerate for at least 4-24 hours (or longer).   When ready to serve, strain the mixture into a serving pitcher (this will remove the zest) and add the liquor.  Stir.  Serve in a glass that has been prepared using lime around the edge and dipped into margarita salt.   Fill each glass with ice and pour the margarita mixture into it.  Add a cocktail cherry, if desired.  Cheers!

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!



Read Full Post »

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

When the weather changes, I find that my methods for cooking change, as well.  I’ve mentioned before that we live in an old Victorian house (110 years old to be exact).  We do not have central air, so we make-do with our window units.  When it’s a scorcher of a day, I generally avoid using the oven because the air conditioners just can’t keep up.  And this happens often during our Minnesota summers.  Honestly, sometimes it’s even too hot for me to stand next to a grill outside.  I’m painting quite a lovely picture of the hot mess that is me during the summer, aren’t I?  I’m not a fan of the heat, but I try to cope.

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

I love summer pizza, but since I’m unwilling to endure the added heat of firing up my pizza stone– at 500°F for thirty plus minutes– I turn to this skillet method.  A pizza loaded with fresh herbs, fresh mozzarella and all of those fresh tomatoes is my thing.   I used ramps, mushrooms, ricotta, and smoked mozzarella for this version, but you can use whatever you prefer.  If you can get your hands on some morel mushrooms, please do that and think of me when you eat it.  Please.  I’m very particular about my pizza crust.  If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth my time.  I like a nice crunch on the outside, tender on the inside (NOT doughy), and a lovely deep flavor throughout.  Over the years of making homemade pizza I learned something about myself– the longer the pizza dough hangs out it my fridge, the more I like it.  So, I never make pizza dough the day I want to eat it, and rarely even the day before.  I make it a few days prior and the flavor develops beautifully.  The texture is spot on, as well.  It’s loaded with air pockets from the yeast.

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

Using a cast-iron skillet works wonderfully for making pizza.  Use whatever size you have.  I have an old 10-inch.  Coat it with olive oil and let it heat up.  Then place the rolled-out dough in it.  Let it cook just a bit until it has a light golden color.  Add more olive oil, if necessary and flip it over.  Add the toppings and cover with a lid.  Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of the crust is the color that you desire.  I like mine a little on the dark side.  When you get there, place the skillet (no lid) directly under the broiler for a few minutes to darken up the cheese (this will go quickly). Watch carefully, as broilers tend to be finicky.  You may even need to move the pan around for even browning.   Remove when pizza is a deep golden brown.  The entire process takes no time at all and you’re left with a delicious pizza that has an incredible crust.  Speaking of the crust– I jump back and forth from using two favorite recipes.  This one, which I’ve previously blogged about and the one I’m sharing today.  They are both fantastic.  Whichever one you choose,  just try to make it a few days in advance– it really does make a difference.  I like the crust recipe I’m sharing today because it fits wonderfully into a gallon-sized ice cream bucket and because it’s ridiculously easy to mix up.  Dump, stir, done.  You may not use the whole thing in one sitting, but you can either use it within two weeks, or even freeze it in plastic bags.  Enjoy the pizza!

Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella | Relishing It

The Recipe: Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella

(serves 1-2)

Pizza Dough 

(makes enough dough for 3-4 12-inch pizzas and will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator)

1 1/2 cups plus 4 teaspoons  (about 355 grams) water heated to 100°F

1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 3/4 cups (540 grams) all-purpose flour

Skillet Pizza:

(using a 10-inch cast-iron skillet)

3 ounces pizza dough

2 ounces smoked mozzarella, grated

1-2 ramps (or scallions) chopped

6 crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced (or Morels!)

a few dollops of ricotta cheese

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

extra-virgin olive oil

Begin a few days in advance by preparing the pizza dough.  In a gallon-sized ice cream bucket (or anything of that size that has a non-airtight lid) add the heated water, yeast, salt, and olive oil.  Use a Danish dough hook or a wooden spoon to mix everything together.  Then add the flour and give it a really good stir using the hook to really incorporate everything.  You’ll want all of the flour to be wet.  The mixture will look shaggy.  Cover with the lid (I use a nail to poke a tiny hole in the top of mine (this lets the gases escape when it’s refrigerated).  Let it rise at room temperature for two hours.  Do not ever punch this dough down.  Technically, the dough could be used at this point.  But, this particular dough works better when cold.  And tastes a whole lot better after a night or two in the refrigerator.

When ready to make a skillet pizza, remove some dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up for a few minutes, as it is easier to work with.  Dust some flour on the counter and a bit on the dough (don’t be shy with the flour).  Form a ball.  Roll it out to the size of your skillet (if it doesn’t roll easily, just let it rest for a few minutes). Coat the skillet with a bit of olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat.  Shake off any excess flour from the pizza dough and place it in the skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip it, adding more olive oil if necessary.  The olive oil gives the crust a nice crunch to it.  Immediately place the sliced garlic clove, a heavy drizzle of olive oil, ramps, ricotta cheese, mushroom, and smoked mozzarella on top of the pizza.  Cover with a lid (to help it melt) and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.  Then remove it from the stove and place it directly under the broiler (no lid) for a few minutes until the cheese is your desired color.  Move the pan around, if necessary.  Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of good sea salt.  Enjoy!

Pizza Dough adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!





Read Full Post »

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Spring is finally here in Minnesota!  Last week I celebrated “Spring” with my kids, who had a week-long break from school.  We didn’t travel anywhere, which was wonderful.  It was a week full of library trips, swimming, coffee shops, board games, and a general feeling of contentment.  We read a ton of books.  We slept in.  We stayed up far too late.  We played video games (yes, I let me kids play video games, and I love that they do). We enjoyed every minute of freedom, and I enjoyed every minute of being with them.  I try not to get overly personal in this space, instead opting to focus on food and all the wonderful things about it.  But, sometimes I feel the need to say how proud I am of my kids.  They have grown into such incredible little people.  They are kind.  They are hilarious.  They are brilliant– and grounded.  They are compassionate.  I love to be with them, and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing it

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Changing seasons always has me in a bit of flux when it comes to making food.  Some days are warmer than others.  Soup would probably still be fitting, but I don’t want anymore soup for awhile.  Finding inspiration this time of year, in this particular place, can be a bit challenging.  So I wait patiently– hoping that inspiration comes.  It will.  It always does.  Ideas will pour out of my head soon enough, especially when I see the first asparagus of the season.  Or smell the first ramps.  I won’t be able to stop dreaming of moral mushrooms when I eat them for the first time this Spring.  Inspiration will come.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

But, in the meantime– I will go for bike rides and long walks with my kids.  We will get muddy and splash in the puddles fed by the last few melting piles of snow.  I will see green emerging everywhere.  And I will eat this Caesar salad.  Because no matter the season, Caesar salad always sounds delicious to me.  Purchased dressing doesn’t even come close to this homemade version.  As with most dressings, it’s a cinch to make.  It’s as easy as putting all the ingredients into a mini food processor and whizzing it together.  Serve it with chicken, if you like.  Make some homemade croutons (which are also a cinch), or opt for a dusting of toasted breadcrumbs, as I often do.  I make my dressing with a raw egg yolk– I love the consistency it gives the dressing.  I use good eggs from local farmers.  You should use good eggs, too.  It will reduce any risks associated with using raw eggs.  This dressing is bright and a little nutty from the parmesan.  The anchovies give it a wonderful umami flavor that is a telltale sign of a good Caesar dressing.  Don’t skip them, as an important element will be lost.  Whip up this dressing and enjoy it on a bed of crisp romaine.  For added flavor, brush the romaine with a bit of olive oil and toss it on the grill for a few minutes until it is slightly charred around the edges.  It adds a whole extra layer of flavor!  Trust me, you’ll love it.  I’ve got to fly– my daughter wants to go pick up trash around the neighborhood.  True story.

Homemade Caesar Dressing | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Caesar Dressing

(makes enough for 2 salads)

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 small anchovies, minced

2-3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

1 egg yolk (free-range/organic)

1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil ( I prefer California Olive Ranch Olive Oil)

sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients, except the olive oil in a mini-food processor ( if you don’t have one, you may use a large bowl and a whisk.  Just be sure to mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste first.  Then, slowly whisk the olive oil into the other ingredients).  It’s best to wait to season this dressing with salt until the very end–the anchovies will provide much of the saltiness that is needed.  Pulse for a few times until the mixture is uniform and creamy.  With the lid on and the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the small holes on the lid.  Be sure to scrape down the sides, as needed.  When it is creamy and completely incorporated, it is done.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Use immediately (this dressing does not have a long life because of the egg yolks, so use it the day it is made).  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!




Read Full Post »

Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Last week my little blog had an anniversary!  I’ve been occupying this small corner of the internet for three years now.  Goodness time has flown by!  I’m so very thankful for the friends it has brought into my life.  It is such an amazing feeling to find people that share my interests– people that give a damn where their food comes from and believe that it makes a difference.  Making food does more than just nurture my body, it nutures my soul.  Thank you for stopping back week after week to see what I’ve been doing– I am truly grateful.

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

I suppose you’re expecting a celebratory cake recipe, but no, today I’m marking the occassion with…kimchi!  You know I’m a sucker for fermented foods (they are so ridiculously healthy for you)– this  homemade sauerkraut gets made ever month in our house.  Kimchi is along the same lines– it’s also lacto-fermented– but it’s made with a different type of cabbage and a couple of other vegetables. The red color comes from a Korean ground red pepper called gochugaru.  It has a wonderful flavor.  Finding gochugaru can be a bit of a hunt, even in a large city.  Definitely check an Asian specialty store.  I found mine at United Noodles in Minneapolis.  You can also order in online at Amazon.  A package will last you awhile, so you won’t have to reorder very often. Kimchi is easy to make and doesn’t take very long to ferment.  It’s as simple is mixing up a flavorful paste with garlic, ginger, and the gochugaru and tossing it with the vegetables.  If you love kimchi, there is absolutely no reason not to make your own.

Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

The big question is, what do you do with kimchi once you’ve made it?  The possibilities are endless, really.  Toss some into a batch of fried rice, throw some into your stir-fry, put it into soups, eat it with dumplings, or straight out of the jar.  I love to eat it on a pizza with spicy ground pork.  It adds that extra “oomph” that some dishes need.  Make it.  You’ll be happy that you did!

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Kimchi

(makes nearly 2 quarts)

1 /3 cup kosher salt

1 (3 1/2 pound) head napa cabbage, remove core and cut cabbage into 2-inch strips


7 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

12 ounce daikon (white radish) peeled and cut into matchsticks

7 garlic cloves, smashed

3 tablespoons fish sauce (or water, if making vegetarian)

1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

5 tablespoons gochugaru (less to taste)

To prepare the cabbage:  Place the cut cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Massage well so the the cabbage starts to soften and become watery.  Then add enough filtered water to cover the cabbage.  Weigh it down with a plate and then place something heavy on the plate.  Let it stand for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the red pepper paste.  In a small bowl, add the ginger, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and gochugaru.  Mix until uniform.  Set aside.

When the cabbage is ready, rinse it with cold water about 3 times.  You want to thoroughly wash the salt off of it.  Then drain in a colander for 15 minutes and gently squeeze out any remaining water.  Return to the bowl that has since been cleaned.  Add the daikon, green onions, and red pepper paste and gently mix with your hands (use gloves, if you want) to coat all of the vegetables.  Pack the kimchi into clean jars and press down until the brine covers the vegetables.  Leave about an 1-inch space at the top of the jars (you will just be shy of 2 quarts for this recipe, so space shouldn’t be an issue).

Let the jars stand at room temperature for 1-5 days ( I generally do 5 days, but it’ll depend upon the temperature of your house).  There may be some bubbling action and you may want to open the jar to release some of the gas, so it doesn’t bubble over and create a mess.  Taste it along the way, when it is fermented to your liking, put it into the refrigerator.  The flavors will continue to enhance when it’s been in the refrigerator for a while.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from The Kitchn

Thanks for stopping by!


Read Full Post »

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

I grew up in a small town in western North Dakota settled way-back-when mostly by German immigrants. Not surprisingly, sauerkraut has always been a part of my family’s meals. My grandmothers, aunts, and my mom have always made their own.  I can’t tell you how many times in my childhood I had to trudge down the stairs to the cool basement to retreive another jar of kraut from the shelves packed with canned goods. It was always there– an endless supply. I loved sauerkraut as a kid, and still do. I’m that person who orders it on pizza any chance I get.  My favorite way to eat it is simply really cold, in a bowl.  I like my sauerkraut to have a lot of crunch to it.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

I don’t exactly make my sauerkraut the same way the rest of my family does.  My version tastes the same– I’ve nailed down the technique that gives that deliciously tangy and crunchy sauerkraut.  But, I don’t can my batches. There are so many good, healthy things happening when you ferment food, that I just can’t bring myself to ruin those benefits by heating it up too much. Instead, I make small batches and let it ferment for a few weeks at room temperature, and then refrigerate.  If you’re not familiar with fermentation and the health benefits, be sure to look into it.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

I’ve made saurkraut in a traditional crock in th past, which though seemingly fun, didn’t give me the results I was looking for. I loved the idea of the crock sitting out and fermenting for all to smell and see, but there was no crunch when it was all said and done. I’ll find another use for that crock, though.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

I’ve found that my sauerkraut turns out precisely how I want it when I pack it into mason jars and let it ferment on the counter for a couple of weeks.  It becomes deliciously tangy and stays crisp and crunchy.  Every few days in the beginning of the fermentation process, I’ll open the jar to release some of the gas.  It doesn’t take long for the cabbage to take on that tell-tale sauerkraut scent.  The first time or two that you do this, there will be quite a lot of bubbles and fizzing action.  Exciting! After about 2-3 weeks of sitting out at room temperature, I test it out and when it’s the perfect tanginess– I put it in the refrigerator, ready to eat. Then I start another batch, and the process just rolls along. I always have fresh sauerkraut to use in my favorite dishes, such as this Rustic Potato, Sauerkraut, and Beef Galette.  Or mix it into this beautiful Ham, Bean, and Sauerkraut Soup by Fresh Tart.   I hope you give this a try.  It’s ridiculously easy and the rewards are fantastic.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

(makes about 2 quarts)

5 pounds of fresh cabbage, cored and sliced into ribbons (not too thick, not too thin).  Reserve a couple of the large outer leaves to use later.

3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt  (nothing with chemicals, please)

2 sterilized mason jars with lids  (preferably regular mouth jars– the “shoulders” on the sides will keep the cabbage pressed down and submerged in the liquid better)

I’ve  found that if I slice my cabbage too thin, it doesn’t have the crunch that I’m looking for.  Too thick, and it’s awkward to chew.  Using a chef’s knife works the best for me.  Slice it into not-too-thin, but not-too-thick ribbons (use your best judgement and refer to the photos).

Place the sliced cabbage in a huge bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Use a masher, if you have one,  to mix the salt and cabbage together.  Bruising the cabbage a bit with the masher with soften the cabbage up and release some of the water from it.  Inevitably, I turn to my hands and massage the cabbage and salt together.  Let it sit for about an hour, or so.   Keep massaging it a couple of times throughout that hour, or place a plate directly on top of the cabbage and something heavy on the plate to weigh it down.  The pressure will release the water faster.  There should be a pool of liquid that has formed.  Pack it into the mason jars and push down– the liquid should come above the cabbage.  Next, fold the extra cabbage leaf and place on top of the cabbage.  This will push your cabbage down so it remains in the liquid to ferment.  Put the cover on the jar and wait.  After a day or two, open the jar and let the gas out.  There will be a lot of bubbles and fizzing action.  This is good!  It’s beginning to ferment.  Check it again every couple of days.  Occasionally, mold may form on top of the cabbage.  This is fine and normal.   Just scoop it out and continue to ferment.  I’ve found that mold occurs more often when using the crock method, as opposed to mason jars.

 After about 2-3 weeks (depending upon how tangy you like your sauerkraut), remove the cabbage leaf and place the jar in the refrigerator to use.  I’m not exactly sure how long it will last in the refrigerator, as we always use ours before it’s even a question.  It should be fine for a few weeks, possibly a couple months.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!


Read Full Post »

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

Alright everybody, this post has been a long time coming.  We have here one of my most cherished recipes.  It’s the salsa that causes me to miss out on the first few weeks of fall.  I’m busy chopping tomatoes and canning so many batches that I don’t get a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.  Sounds a bit exaggerated, I know.  But, it’s not.  Now don’t let my canning-in-bulk experience deter you from making this wonderful salsa.  Obviously you need not make as many batches as I do, and realistically you should be able to get everything done in one sitting.  That is, until your friends and family get a taste of it…

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

I know that was a bit of bragging, but the truth is, nearly everyone I’ve share this salsa with has loved it.  I started small, giving a few jars here and there to family.  Then friends had a chance to sample it at get-togethers, and suddenly I was spending a few weeks every September in the kitchen making batch after batch.  Even now, I inevitably run out of jars to give away by winter’s end.  For me, all the time spent with boxes of tomatoes and piles of peppers is worth it.  I like to share–it’s like giving a little part of myself to those closest to me.  Sometimes, the easiest way for me to say I care is through food.

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

I started making a version of this salsa years ago– Radd’s aunt shared her base recipe with me.  Over time and many, many experimental batches, the recipe evolved into what you see here.  As you likely know, we like things spicy in our house.  For those less-courageous friends, as well as our kids, I make a much milder version.  The point is, you really have full control over how fiery you want this salsa to be.  If you have questions on how much heat a specific type of pepper adds, take a look here for comparison.  This year I made my mild version, but for my hotter “Inferno” batches I used a pile of habaneros.  And this weekend I tracked down some Bhut Jolokia “Ghost” peppers  (1,000,000+ Scovilles!) for a batch that I hope will be face-meltingly hot for my husband, who is crazy.

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

Aside from control of the heat, you can also vary how chunky you want the salsa to be.  Over the years I’ve changed my method.  I used to roughly chop everything and then use an immersion blender at the end for a very smooth texture.  More recently, I’ve stopped doing that, since I like my salsa to have a few more chunks.  Instead, I pulse everything in the food processor before cooking it.  It cooks down to the perfect consistency for my taste.  If you don’t have a food processor– you can just chop, chop chop!  To be honest, the bulk of the work in making salsa is chopping the ingredients– the rest is a waiting game.  Waiting for it to become the right consistency.  Waiting for it to process in the water bath.  All in all, it generally takes me about 3-4 hours from start to finish.  But it’s well worth the time.  Especially when you get to open up a jar and settle in front of the t.v. during a January snowstorm.

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

Just a few notes on preserving your salsa.  Since this recipe is my own, it obviously doesn’t come from a canning website.  Canning is a big responsibility.  It’s not difficult, but there can be risks.  I’ve poked around the internet to compare this recipe with others for safety purposes.  The amounts and ratios of vinegar, tomatoes, and peppers is typical of many from canning sites.  I’ve made my salsa this way for about 15 years and have never encountered a problem.  Even so, if you do have any concerns, I suggest taking a look at one of the many websites and blogs devoted to canning.

Perfect Canned Summer Salsa | Relishing It

So, for those of you who have been patiently waiting for me to share this recipe– here you go!  I hope you love it so much that you make batches upon batches for your family and friends, as well.  Cheers.

The Recipe: Perfect Canned Summer Salsa

(makes about 14-15 pints.  Though I generally get different amounts each batch.  Much will depend on the water content of your tomatoes and how long you cook the salsa.)

16 cups chopped tomatoes  *measured in a liquid measuring cup after they have been through the food processor  (about 8 pounds) I use big, huge canning tomatoes– no need to peel them

3 large green bell peppers, chopped

3 large white onions, chopped

2 bulbs of garlic, chopped  (not 2 cloves–2 entire bulbs!)

hot peppers, seeds too  (to your liking)  *See Note

5 tablespoons ancho chili powder

3 tablespoons canning salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon of EACH of these:

ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano

1 cup plus a splash extra cider vinegar

15 ounce can of plain tomato sauce- preferably organic and definitely without added sugar  (Muir Glen works well)

Note:  You can make this salsa as hot or as mild as you want.  I would suggest using about 3 jalapeños for a mild version.  I chop the seeds and all.  It won’t be spicy, but the jalapeños will give it a great flavor.  For our favorite version that we call “Inferno”, I use: 12 habaneros, 5 jalapeños, 12 chilis, and 8 serranos.  If you do enjoy hot salsa, I would encourage you to seek out some habaneros, as their unique, almost sweet-like flavor cannot be beat.  When working with the very spicy peppers, it is a good idea to use plastic or latex gloves, if possible.  Be very careful about what you touch.  Also, be careful about inhaling too closely to the chopped peppers.  

Note: Jars and rims can be re-used over and over again.  Lids (the flat piece with a glue-like substance)  needs to be replaced every time you can something.  

You will need:  A very large heavy-bottomed canning kettle to hold all of the chopped ingredients.  Another very large kettle (or two) to process the filled jars of salsa, and hopefully a rack to set on the bottom of it (though you’ll be fine without, too).   A small saucepan to boil the lids and tongs to lift them out of the hot water.  A ladle to fill the jars.  A jar lifter, to remove the processed salsa from the hot water bath.  Paper towels, for wiping the edge of the jars clean.  15-16 pint jars with lids and rims.

Let’s get started!  Use a food processor (or a knife and cutting board) and pulse each type  of vegetable separately.  I do mix the onions and garlic together.  You will not want large chunks and you will not want it finely puréed, but something in between.  Place all of the ingredients for the salsa into a large heavy-bottomed kettle and stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium (uncovered) and let cook for about an hour (or more), or until it is your desired consistency.  It should be bubbling, but not at a rolling boil.  You may need to cook it longer to get it as thick as you want it.  A lot will depend on your tomatoes and their water content.  Make sure to stir frequently, to avoid scorching.

Meanwhile, fill a large canning kettle (or two) halfway full of water and begin to heat.   You will be using this to give your filled jars a hot water bath.  I used to use two smaller kettles for this, but recently discovered that my husbands huge kettle for brewing beer worked very well.  If you can fit a cooling rack on the bottom, do it.  It’s good to not have the jars on direct heat– but, you should be fine if you don’t have one.  At this point, you should have decided how you want to sterilize your jars and rims.  Some people like to dip them in the boiling water to do so.  I use my dishwasher on the “sterilize cycle” and time it out for them to be done just as the salsa is ready to be jarred.  You will also want to fill a small saucepan with water and place the lids in it.  Turn it on low/medium– this is an important step as it not only sterilizes the lids, but more importantly, it softens the glue-substance, so it can seal properly.

When your salsa is ready, begin ladling each jar with salsa.  Make sure to leave about 1/4 – 1/2-inch space at the top.  Wipe the edge of the jar clean with a wet paper towel.  Place a lid (using tongs to grab them out of the hot water), and then a rim on each jar.  Repeat until all the jars are full and the salsa is gone.  Next,  use a jar lifter to gently place the filled jars into the hot water bath.  Fit as many as you can into the kettle.  The jars should be covered with boiling water.  Cover and process for 20 minutes.  Remove using the jar lifter and place on a kitchen towel.  You will most likely hear the seals start to pop within minutes.  This is a good thing.   Repeat until all the jars are processed.  After a few hours, touch the tops of the jars, they should all be flat against the jar and not make a sound if tapped.   If not, it did not seal properly and you should place that particular jar in the refrigerator and use first.

Alright!  You did it– let me know if you have anymore questions.  I hope I covered everything.  Your first canning experience may seen lengthy, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by Relishing It!



Read Full Post »

I guess I’m a liar.  I promised you greens and healthy fare this week, and instead I’m delivering cream and sugar.  I am the worst.  But it is nearly Summer after all, so why not get a little excited for homemade ice cream?  While strolling through a neighborhood garage sale a few weeks back I stumbled across a Krups ice cream maker.  For me, this was like striking gold.  Cool, creamy, delicoius gold.  You see, I’ve been wanting an ice cream maker for some time.  I had a chance to use a friend’s a few times and fell in love with the whole process.  So I gave the ice cream maker a home in my kitchen, and began to dream up flavor combinations.  The one criteria was that I wanted to make something that I couldn’t easily find in a grocery store.  I wanted something unique enough to be worth the effort.

Now to be honest, this peach cheesecake version wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  In fact, it wasn’t even on the list.  This was just going to be a test-run using what I had on hand.  I always have cream cheese, and I knew there were gingersnaps in the pantry.  And there on my counter, were three lonely peaches.  You know the type– they were too hard to eat the first day, we forgot about them on day two, and by day three they were…past their prime, shall we say.  Like I said, this was going to be a test-run.

Well it turns out that my little cobbled-together recipe is dreamy.  The ice cream has a lovely, subtle, peach flavor.  If you want a more powerful fruit flavor, you’ll need to add another peach.  I wasn’t sure the cream cheese was going to work, since it wasn’t going to be perfectly smooth, but it ended up being my favorite addition.  There are wonderful little tidbits of cream cheese speckled throughout the peach and vanilla custard that give this a real cheesecake flavor.  The gingersnaps bring their little crunch for additional texture, and the flavor really marries well with the peach.  As with pretty much all of my recipes, I used the best organic ingredients I could find.  Hope you enjoy the ice cream– and eat a few vegetables before you indulge.

The Recipe:  Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream

(Makes a bit more than 1 quart)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup 2% milk

5 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

3 peaches, puréed to yield 2/3 cup

squeeze of lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, not overly packed

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, and softened/mashed with a fork

1/2 cup chopped ginger snaps

kosher salt, to taste

To make the custard:  Add 1 cup of the cream, milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, a healthy pinch of kosher salt, and the vanilla bean to a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  Make sure to split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife.  Add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan.  Stir frequently to help dissolve the sugars.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until tiny bubbles form around the pan.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse for 1 hour.

In the meantime, peel and quarter the peaches.  Place them in a steamer basket in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Let them steam until they are soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Place them in a small mini-processor with a squeeze of lemon.  Blend until smooth.  Let cool.

When the hour is nearly over, prepare an ice bath by placing a large bowl with ice and water in it, then place a medium -sized bowl into that one.  Pour the remaining cup of cream into the bowl so it becomes very cold.  This will help the custard cool more quickly.

Re-warm the cream mixture until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge.  Remove from heat.  In a steady stream, pour half of the warm mixture into a bowl containing the egg yolks to temper them, whisking them the entire time.  Then pour that mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat.  Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Cook until the mixture thickens slightly , coats the back of a utensil, and can hold a line drawn through it with a finger, about 4-8 minutes.  A thermometer will read 175°-180°F.  Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.

With a mesh strainer positioned over the bowl of cream in the ice bath, pour the hot mixture into it.  Stir the mixture until it cools to  70°F.  Add the peach purée and the softened cream cheese to the bowl. Use a whisk to mostly incorporate the cream cheese.  Some small bits that remain are perfect.  Then put the mixture into the refrigerator for 4 hours to cool.  Now it’s ready for your ice cream maker.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Mix the crushed gingersnaps into the churned ice cream.  Put into the freezer to fully set.  This ice cream is best if let to warm a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Thanks for stopping by!


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: