Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homemade Fruit Leather

Last week I had a tremendous amount of plums, peaches and apricots that were very ripe.  I pitted them and then cooked down the fruit for a couple hours in a covered pot.  After running the cooked fruit through my trusty Foley food mill, I had a huge bowl of puree left.  I added a little bit of sugar and then cooked to hard ball stage.  The plum "jellies" never firmed up enough...they were like a thick, smooth jam.  Delicious, but we already have too much jam.

I stirred in a box of apricot jello and then spread the jammy goo onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Baked at 200 degrees for about 1 hour, then left in the oven overnight.  This morning they were tacky and almost done.  A quick blast of heat and a rest in the oven (about 2 hours) had them ready for peeling and eating.

They peeled off easily and taste so delicious.  I rolled the parchment into long tubes (GIANT fruit roll-ups).  They will not last long with this crew.  Don't have room for a dehydrator, but this method worked really well.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sugar Cookies, Chicken and Dumplings and February Fun

After a long break from sugar cookie orders, I was asked to make some lamb cookies for a baby shower.  The request came from a woman who had tasted one of my cookies about 3 years ago.  SHe is soon to be a grandma and was hosting a shower for her daughter.  

The theme was baby lambs and their color was pink.  I ordered a cutter online and was disappointed when it was much smaller than described.  To remedy the size issue, I used a large 3.5" square cutter with a crimped edge as a base for the small lamb.  Simple marbled royal icing in pink and white was the blue to adhere the iced lambs.  They were darling and quite a hefty portion of cookie when all stacked and "done".

On a savory note, I am grateful that my Grandma Wilder does not have access to the internet as I have discovered a new dumpling recipe.  Her recipe is wonderful and tastes like delicious memories each time I have made it, but I think I much prefer my new recipe.  Adapted from "America's Test Kitchen", these dumplings are beyond wonderful....akin to a tiny fluffy biscuit in savory chicken soup. 

Here is the recipe:

I did omit the peas and thyme.  Will be making again this week with a few changes.  I will post the pictures, too.

My friend and I are going to be planning several freezer meals in the next couple weeks.  In an effort to be healthier, better organized and less stressed (about dinner), I look forward to grabbing a bag of pre-chopped veggies, meat and seasonings that I can toss in the crockpot. 

No big Valentine's dinner this year as I was battling the flu for a week. 

Happy end of February!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Soft Fudgy Cookies

The post should probably read Soft Fudgy, Minty Cookies because C and I added Nestle dark chocolate and mint chips.  When Meijer had their after Christmas sale, there were many bags of these holiday chips left for an insanely low price (86 cents?).  They are now in the deep freeze for my meltaway fudge recipe.

After searching for cookie recipes online, I found one that I decided to change up to increase the chocolate intensity.  Here is our recipe.  (Charlie a.k.a. sous-chef thinks they are delicious.  Then again, he thinks anything edible is delicious).

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 generous tsp. vanilla
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
(chips, nuts, dried cherries)

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add cocoa and mix until smooth.  Add rest of dry ingredients.  Add your mix-ins (optional) last.  Scoop into balls and bake at 350 for about 8 minutes on parchment paper. 

We froze this batch.  I line a 9x13 pan with parchment and scoop balls with my small cookie scoop.  The recipe yielded: 42 cookie balls.  We cover tightly and place in deep freeze.  Once frozen, remove to freezer bags until ready to bake.  Label bags with oven temp. and time.  They will take a bit longer when frozen. 

Yay!  Our freezer will have more cookies.  Right now we only have 2 logs of slice and bake sugar cookie dough that I made last week.

We have had a wonderful and busy 2012 so far but have been thanking God for our overflowing blessings!