Easy 3-Ingredient Raspberry Freezer Jam

raspberry jam

A few days ago I went to a local u-pick and picked a bucket full of raspberries. I intended to make jam with them, but a couple of days later they were still sitting in the bucket in my fridge. The weather has been really warm here, and as I sat in my sweltering apartment I just couldn’t muster up enthusiasm to stand over a boiling water canner all day. Then I remembered a recipe that I saw in one of my cookbooks for freezer jam.

Freezer jam is so ridiculously simple to make. You don’t need any special equipment. You don’t even need to use your stove! It’s perfect for hot summer days when you have a hankering for some jam and there is an abundance of fresh fruit around. From start to finish, you can have your own homemade jam in about an hour. You’ll just want to make sure that you have enough room in your freezer to store the jam when you’re done. If you have kids that like to help this is perfect because it’s easy and you don’t have to worry about them burning themselves or breaking glass jars.

raspberries

Easy 3-Ingredient Raspberry Freezer Jam
Makes about 5 cups

8 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 package freezer jam pectin

  1. In a large bowl, mash the raspberries with a potato masher, one cup at a time. Measure 4 cups of fruit.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and pectin.
  3. Add the sugar and pectin to the raspberries and stir for 3 minutes.
  4. Ladle into freezer jam containers (or other airtight containers), leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
  5. Put the lids on the containers and let rest at room temperature until set, about 30 minutes.
  6. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to a year.

Tomato Corn Salsa

tomato corn salsa

I always relegated canning and food preserving to the elderly or people with too much time on their hands. In this modern age, why bother canning your own food when you can find virtually anything pre-made and ready to eat on the grocery store shelves?

Since I’ve been at home on maternity leave, I’ve been rediscovering the joy of preparing my own meals. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of baking from scratch. I like knowing exactly what goes into my food, and it’s so much more satisfying to sit down to a meal that I created myself rather than something that I bought and reheated. I’ve really enjoyed making my own baby food and experimenting with different flavour combinations.

I was browsing through Pinterest the other day and saw a recipe for rhubarb preserves. It looked so good, but I’d never canned anything before. I was intrigued by the thought, but wary. Wasn’t it expensive to get started? Wouldn’t it take a long time? What about the risk of getting food poisoning?

I started looking into it, and as it turns out, canning isn’t the monumental task that I had assumed it was. There was a bit of a start-up cost for the canner and some jars, but overall the process looked relatively simple. I bought some cookbooks from Amazon, which should be arriving any day now. I’m very excited to learn the process and revive the lost (at least to me) art of food preserving, something that was not a hobby, but a necessity for my ancestors.

The first thing that I made was tomato corn salsa. I had a bunch of tomatoes in my fridge that needed to be used up, and in the starter salsacookbook that came with my canner was a recipe for this salsa. Perfect!

One thing that I have learned so far when canning is that it is important to follow the recipe exactly. If you’re an experimental cook like me, you’re probably prone to omitting an ingredient here or there, or adding extra of something. You can’t do that when food preserving. One of the things that prevents canned food from spoiling is maintaining the correct pH balance. Depending on the food, this may required the addition of an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. If you skimp on the acid, or add more of the other ingredients, you run the risk of throwing the acidity out of balance and potentially creating harmful bacteria. So as tough as it is, when it comes to preserving, follow the rules.

Tomato Corn Salsa
From the Bernardin™ Home Canning Starter Kit Recipe Book

Makes 6 – 500 mL jars

12 cups tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 6 lbs, or 24 medium)
8 cups whole kernel corn (about 2.2 lbs, or 16 ears)
115 g Bernardin™ Salsa Mix
1-3/4 cups cider vinegar

  1. Prepare 6-500 mL jars by placing in a boiling water canner and heating to a simmer. Place the snap lids in a bowl of hot (not boililing) water. For more information on preparing jars for canning, refer to your canner’s instruction manual.
  2. Wash, seed, and chop the tomatoes, then drain off the extra liquid. Measure exactly 12 cups.
  3. If you’re using fresh corn, blanch the corn in boiling water for one minute, then cut the kernels off. Measure exactly 8 cups.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the Salsa Mix and vinegar. Add the tomatoes and corn and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture is heated through.
  5. Ladle the hot salsa into the hot jars, leaving 1/2″ of headspace. With a non-metallic instrument, remove the air bubbles.
  6. Wipe the jar rim clean. Centre the hot sealing disk on the jar, then screw on the screw band just until finger-tight.
  7. Place the hot jars back into the canner and ensure that they are covered by at least 1″ of water. Cover the canner and bring to a rolling boil.
  8. Once the water is boiling, keep the jars in the covered canner for 20 minutes. (If you live at a higher altitude, check your canner for instructions on longer processing times).
  9. After 20 minutes of constant boiling, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the canner. Leave the jars in the canner for five minutes. After five minutes, remove the jars from the canner without tilting them, and place them upright on a kitchen towel.
  10. Cool for 24 hours. Once cooled, check to make sure that the jars have sealed. The snap lids should be concave and shouldn’t move if you press on them. If you remove the screw bands, you should be able to pick the jar up by the snap disk and turn it upside down without leakage.
  11. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

lemon white chocolate cookies

Another day, another lemon cookie recipe. What can I say? I love cookies and I love lemon. Given a choice between a chocolate dessert and a lemon dessert, I’d go with the lemon every time. But then again, why choose?

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the blog Lauren’s Latest. The cookies looked divine and perfect, but I couldn’t help wondering if they wouldn’t be even more delicious with the addition of some white chocolate chips. I’m happy to report that I did not steer myself astray. The result was a tart, sweet, crinkly cookie which is dainty enough for an afternoon tea but fun enough that the kids will eat it. Enjoy!

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until combined. Add in the vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until well mixed.
  3. Stir in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until evenly distributed.
  4. Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball, then roll in the powdered sugar until covered. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
  5. Place cookies on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and onto a cooling rack immediately.

Slow Cooker Turkey, Potatoes, and Gravy

turkey

We did our grocery shopping at Costco last week, which of course means that we spent way too much money buying way too much of everything. One of the things that we bought was a boneless turkey breast roast. I’ve never cooked just a turkey roast before, so it was a total experiment. An experiment that fortunately turned out deliciously well!

I decided to make it in the slow cooker. I threw in some potatoes so that they could roast along with it. The result is a super easy meal that will make it seem like you’ve been in the kitchen all day. Add a salad or some vegetables, and you’ve got a perfect, low-maintenance meal sure to impress your company. Or your family. Or yourself!

Slow Cooker Turkey, Potatoes and Gravy

Makes 4 generous portions

2 lbs. red potatoes, washed and chopped

2-4 lb. boneless turkey breast roast
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
2 tsp. herbes de provence (or similar seasoning of your choice)

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
Liquid  and drippings from slow cooker
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place the chopped potatoes in the bottom of the slow-cooker, spreading evenly.
  3. Place the uncooked turkey roast on top of the potatoes. Baste with the first amount of oil or butter, then rub with the seasoning.turkey
  4. Pour the chicken stock over top of the roast.
  5. Cook on low setting for 8-10 hours. When it’s done, it will be cooked through and if pierced with a fork the juices should run clear. Remove the roast from the slow cooker and let rest for a few minutes.
  6. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the second amount of butter. Whisk in the flour until evenly blended.
  7. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker through a fine mesh sieve and then add to the saucepan, whisking constantly. If you would like more gravy, add some more chicken stock or water. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
  8. Continue to heat and whisk until the gravy is thickened.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

peanut butter cup brownies

Peanut butter and chocolate. Because if you’re going to indulge, do it right. These brownies were inspired by the idea of a peanut butter cup, and although they don’t contain any actual peanut butter cups, I think they mimic the idea just perfectly.

The only leavener in this recipe is the egg, so the result is a dense, fudgy, brownie full of peanut butter flavour.

I used a ganache for the topping, and just poured it over top for a smooth, shiny finish. If you want more of a whipped topping you can wait until the ganache cools, and then whip it up like frosting.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

(Adapted from the Butterscotch Brownies recipe in How to Cook Everything)

Makes around 12 brownies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt

12 oz. dark baking chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square baking pan.
  2. Cream together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add in the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter and beat until well mixed and creamy.
  3. Stir in the salt and flour just until mixed.
  4. Transfer to the greased baking pan. The mixture will be thick, so smooth it out with a spatula to ensure that it is evenly distributed in the pan.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are starting to turn brown. When you take it out of the oven, the middle should still feel a bit soft.
  6. Let completely cool before adding topping.
  7. Once the brownies have cooled, heat the cream in a saucepan on the stove. Warm it just until it starts to steam and it’s just starting to bubble a bit.
  8. Place the baking chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot cream over top. Stir until the chocolate is totally melted and it’s all mixed together. Set aside and let cool until it’s slightly thickened.
  9. Pour over top of the brownies and let set. The longer you let it sit, the thicker the topping will be.
brownies

Mmmm…warm brownie goodness

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

lemon raspberry muffins

I’m on a mission to use up some things in my kitchen. You know how you go grocery shopping every week and food starts to accumulate in your cupboards until you have to start using it in order to fit new food in? Yeah, that’s where I am right now.

I’ve got a bag of lemons that I have no idea what to do with, along with half a container of plain yogurt. I’ve also had a bag of frozen raspberries taking up real estate in my freezer for months. Add to that a late Sunday night hankering for something sweet and you’ve got some lemon raspberry muffins.

These muffins are very low in sugar and fat (for a muffin) and flavourful, but not too sweet. If you like a sweeter muffin, you can increase the sugar to taste. I think that cranberries would work equally well in this recipe in place of the raspberries. If you try it, let me know how it worked out.

muffinsLemon Raspberry Muffins

Makes 12 regular muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. canola oil (or other cooking oil)
1 egg
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tray and set aside.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, egg, yogurt, zest and lemon juice. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Add the raspberries and stir until evenly mixed.
  4. Fill the muffin tin cups about 2/3 full and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Cool in the pan or on a rack.

Spiced Home Fries

spiced home fries

This simple, four-ingredient dish is sure to impress at your next breakfast or brunch. I love making home fries; they are inevitably the one dish that gets gobbled up before any others.

Home fries is really just a fancy way to refer to cut up, pan-fried potatoes. You can make them plain (just potatoes), or with additions like garlic, onion, and bell pepper. The version that I made today contains potatoes and leeks and is spiced with nutmeg.

When buying potatoes for home fries, you want to choose waxy potatoes rather than pulpy baking potatoes. Baking potatoes have a tendency to fall apart once they’re cooked, so you’d end up with potato mash instead of wedges. The potatoes that I used are mini tri-colour potatoes, which are quick to cook and add visual interest, but you can use any type of waxy potato.

ingredients for friesThere are a couple of ways that you can cook your fries. You can use the method that I used, which is to boil the potatoes first, then add them to the pan and cook them until crispy. This method has the benefit of being slightly quicker and requires less time watching the potatoes to make sure they don’t burn. You can also use less cooking fat because they are in the pan for less time. The alternative is to add raw potatoes to the pan, then cook until crispy. This way requires one less step and less dishes, but takes a bit longer. If you choose to use the raw potato method, you’ll want to add the leeks closer to the end of the cooking time, as raw potatoes take a while to cook through and you don’t want your leeks to burn. You should also double the amount of cooking fat called for in the recipe.

If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, they taste like mild onion. They’re very easy to use. Just chop off the top, dark green part of the leaves. Slice the leek lengthwise almost until you get to the root, but not quite. If you look inside the leek, you’ll see lots of layers like the pages of a book. Dirt tends to get caught in between these layers, so wash thoroughly. Then just slice crosswise into thin rounds.home fries preparation

Spiced Home Fries

2 lbs. potatoes
1 leek, chopped
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter

  1. Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for about 10-15 minutes, just until tender (you don’t want them to get mushy).
  2. Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water. Cut into bite size wedges.
  3. Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pan. Add the cooked potatoes, chopped leek, and nutmeg.
  4. Cook until the leek is soft and the potatoes are crispy on the outside., about another 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes to prevent them from burning, but avoid flipping too often in order to help them keep their shape.

Lemon Butter Cookies

lemon butter cookies

Happy Easter! Here in the lower mainland of BC, the weather was spectacular. I heard that it went as high as 21º, which is crazy for the end of March.

This was my wee man’s first Easter. Since he’s only 5 months old, we didn’t buy him chocolate or take him on any egg hunts. We did go to a park and he got to try the swings for the first time, though. He actually giggled and liked it! On Sunday, I went to my mom’s hou002se for a family dinner.

I wanted to bring something along because I hate showing up empty handed, even though we always end up with way too much food. I’ve been craving lemon, as I’m apt to do when the weather turns and spring is on the way. I’ve been doing a lot of baking and cooking lately, and am getting a bit bored of just making everyone else’s recipes. So I wanted to try to make something original and see how it turned out. The result was these cookies, and they were pretty good!

They are super easy, just a variation on a basic butter cookie recipe. I added some lemon zest and used plain yogurt for the liquid (I had some to use up and thought it might add a bit of extra flavour). If you don’t have yogurt, you could use milk instead.

This is a really nice, soft, light cookie that is not too sweet and perfect for Easter. Enjoy!

Lemon Butter Cookies
(Adapted from the Butter Cookie recipe in How to Cook Everything)

Makes 2-3 dozen

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or can substitute 1/4 cup milk)
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
1/4 cup icing sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. Cream together the  butter and sugar.  Add the egg and mix until well blended.
  4. Add the yogurt and lemon zest and mix for a few more seconds.
  5. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, adding about a third at a time.  Beat together just until it forms a soft dough.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn brown.
  7. Remove to a cooling rack and sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired.
 
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