Molasses Syrup

Our family LOVES pancakes and it’s my husband’s specialty! Last week I made some (mostly forgettable) banana nut pancakes and was searching for a quick syrup to make to serve with them. We try to make our own most of the time since I’m not crazy about all the additives in store bought syrup. We do use pure maple syrup (but sometimes at an alarming and therefore expensive rate), however, we usually top pancakes with yogurt, fruit syrups, and/or homemade syrups. So, while I can’t take credit for coming up with this yummy syrup recipe, I was very excited to find it! I doubled Simple Bites Recipe because if I’m going to the trouble I want some leftover for other meals.

In short, this was DELICIOUS! We love molasses cookies and the flavor was very reminiscent of the warm, spicy flavors of a fresh cookie. A few notes – 1) a little goes a long way, 2) this was amazing on hot cereal like oatmeal and cream of wheat, and 3) it stores well and would probably be quite good on vanilla ice cream or gingerbread.

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MOLASSES SYRUP
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1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. salted butter

In a small pot, whisk together sugar, molasses, water, and cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil and continue stirring until ingredients are fully incorporated and syrup thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Cool slightly. Transfer to a pitcher for serving or a glass jar for storing.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups syrup

**Of note, Simple Bites has 4 other great-looking syrups in this post!

The Year of the Olive

I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but then I realize I don’t like beets or most winter squashes or eggplant (I find it squeaky, though I think I could learn to like this one) or raisins (except in cinnamon raisin bread or bagels, but not in quick breads or muffins or oatmeal or cakes, etc.) and I’m quite choosy about my seafoods.

During my college years I set out to teach myself to like coffee and mushrooms. The experiment was successful and I am now an avid fan of both.

I am declaring 2013 the Year of the Olive. Olives are popular and an ingredient in many recipes and great for appetizer platters and supposedly pretty good for you. I want to like olives. So this year I am on a mission to learn to like olives. I’m starting with kalamata olives because they are the kind of olives I’ve sampled in the past and thought, “hmm, I might be able to like these some day.” If I conquer that kind I’ll move on to black olives and finally green olives. But even, if I just learn to like kalamata olives, I’ll be happy.

So, my question to you is, do you have a  favorite olive or olive recipe? Or what is a food you’ve taught yourself to enjoy?

Happy 2013 to you!

Stove-Top Baked Beans

The other night I made these baked beans for supper accompanied by a mixed green salad and biscuits. It was delicious, nourishing, and filling. I usually think of baked beans as a side dish, but we love this recipe so much that it’s our main course (since I first made this a couple months ago, it’s been in regular rotation). And Jeremy happily anticipates the leftovers in his lunch the next day.

I typically soak and cook my own beans, but canned work just as well, feel free to add more beans if you want them a little less saucy–I often do that. I love that this is so full of flavor and spice with just a hint of sweetness. Try this recipe, for a main dish or a side, you’ll be glad to have it in your repertoire.

STOVE-TOP BAKED BEANS
(slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger)
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz can tomato sauce
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (opt.)
1/4 tsp black pepper
15 oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. water

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add all the ingredients up to the beans and whisk to combine. Add the beans and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid thickens, about 30 minutes.

A Tribute

Perhaps you have wondered at our absence of posts this week. In truth, we have been grieving as one of our greatest inspirations slipped away. Our grandma passed away last night. It’s been a long week for us. Her health declined quickly and within one week she was gone. Nothing could prepare us for the depth of sadness – we have dreaded this day. She lived a full life – mother of 5, grandmother of 21, and great-grandmother of 36 (so far). We weep for ourselves – we will miss her. We rejoice for her – she awoke in her eternal home.

Our grandma was an amazing cook. We have fond memories of meals in her home, of wonderful cookies, and of milk poured from a pitcher. Some of our most memorable meals included vegetable beef soup, angel food cake, and molasses cookies. She taught us through her example, inspired with her letters and words, and loved us completely.

Next week, we plan to post some of her recipes as a tribute. In the mean time, we are taking this time to grieve, to remember, and to celebrate her life.

We love her. We admire her. We miss her.

We hope to be as strong and beautiful and loving as she was. She lived life with grace and love.

We appreciate your understanding, thoughts, and prayers.

 

Alaina & Stephanie

Happy Memorial Day

We wish you a happy and safe Memorial Day!

We are grateful for the men and women who bravely and sacrifically protect and defend our country.

We are headed to a family picnic – slow cooker bbq chicken sandwiches, chips & salsa, and lemon white chocolate cookies are our contributions. Looking forward to a day full of good food and even better company!

Market Fresh: Strawberries

I’m so excited that it’s strawberry season and grill season! I combined the two into a Balsamic Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad. This was so delicious and so summery and the colors are stunning! This will definitely make a frequent appearance on our summer menu!

CREAMY BALSAMIC GRILLED CHICKEN STRAWBERRY SALAD
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1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. heavy cream
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Combine first five ingredients. Place chicken in a bag or container and pour marinade overall. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Grill until chicken is fully cooked – juices will run clear.

Salad:
1/2 lb. baby spinach
1/2 lb. strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/4 c. feta cheese (blue or gorgonzola would also be great!)
1/4 c. pecans, chopped

Arrange on a platter or in a salad bowl. Top with grilled chicken. Drizzle dressing over all.

Dressing:
3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients and shake or whisk well to combine.

Superbowl Snack: Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn

To be honest, I wasn’t initially excited about the idea of “peanut butter and jelly popcorn” when this recipe first crossed my inbox. But, the novelty of the idea caught me and since I love food experimentation, I couldn’t help but try this recipe. That’s when I discovered that this popcorn is addictive. Yes, it is. It was nearly as good as caramel corn, but with far less sugar and only a few minutes of time invested. It’s my new favorite.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY POPCORN
(adapted from the Cook It Quick Newsletter)
Print this recipe

1 large bowl of popped popcorn (probably 2 bags of microwave popcorn)
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp. grape jelly (or jelly/jam of your choice — I used strawberry jam)
2 Tbsp. butter

Melt peanut butter, jelly, and butter together in microwave or over low heat.

Pour over popcorn and toss evenly to coat.

Serves 4-6.

Snow Day Must: Marshmallows

We thought this post from Heather was perfect to include today after the hot cocoa yesterday! Homemade marshmallow & cocoa is a wonderful winter treat!

Homemade marshmallows are a new discovery for me and now I can’t sing their praises often enough! Their soft, squidgy texture keeps the store-bought type from even entering the competition. Next time you have a snow day, you must give these a try!

The marshmallows do take at least 2 hours to “firm up”, so be sure to allow yourself enough time for that before you begin.

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
Print this recipe

Nonstick cooking spray

3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for coating
  •  

  • Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.

     

    Add vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or your hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.

     

    Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed sharp knife. Place confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

    Makes about 16.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING

    I hoped to get a post up this week but alas, life has taken over. 🙂 And we wanted to include all of our Thanksgiving recipes last week so you would have plenty of time to plan your menus!

    Yesterday I made Blueberry Pomegranate Jello, Cranberry Sauce, Pear Frangipane Tart, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Crumb Pie, and a rather disasterous Caramel-Cranberry Almond Tart. Today I will be making Baked Brie, Turkey, Sourdough, Apple, Sausage Stuffing, Green Beans w/Cranberry Vinaigrette & Walnuts, Mashed Red-skin Potatoes, Corn Pudding, and Fresh Whipped Cream. The rolls and sweet potatoes will be brought my mother-in-law. All in all, a good mix of new and tried-&-true recipes.

    From Stephanie, Heather,&  Me (and our families) – We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving! May all of your recipes turn out and may you celebrate many blessings over wonderful food. We are thankful for you!

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Market Fresh: Fall Salad

    The delicious toppings for salad during the fall season make some of the best salads. Recently I tried a new dressing on a bed of mixed greens, sliced apples, chopped walnuts, craisins, and goat cheese. It was wonderful! And really, the whole salad was brought together with the creamy, tangy, richness of the goat cheese (don’t skip it!). Everyone enjoyed the combination of flavors and the large salad bowl was empty at the end of the meal.

    HONEY DIJON VINAIGRETTE (I doubled this for a great big salad)
    Print This Recipe

    1 Tb. red wine vinegar
    1 1/2 tsp. honey
    1 tsp. dijon mustard
    1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 minced garlic clove
    2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil

    Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Gradually whisk in  the oil.