Cranberry Orange Marmalade

Tart cranberries, sweet oranges and bitter orange peel simmer away with sugar and cinnamon, and preserved into a chunky Cranberry Orange Marmalade so that you can enjoy fall all year round. 

Tart cranberries, sweet oranges and bitter orange peel simmer away with sugar and cinnamon, and preserved into a chunky Cranberry Orange Marmalade so that you can enjoy fall all year round. 

Today kicks off #CranberryWeek, a super fun week hosted by Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking featuring one of my favorite winter fruits – the cranberry. All week long, you’ll see my blogging friends sharing recipes featuring fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, and cranberry juice. Follow along with us by searching the hashtag on social media, or following the event’s Pinterest Board (which will show both this year and previous years’ recipes). Plus, check out the list of other fun cranberry recipes that went live today, at the bottom of this post. 

Continue reading “Cranberry Orange Marmalade”

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

When it comes to the world of wings and all things buffalo chicken, are you Team Ranch or  Team Blue Cheese?

I am totally Team Blue Cheese, but my husband is Team Ranch. To be honest, I’m not a huge ranch fan in general, but I know he enjoys it. And blue cheese doesn’t go with everything…

This week’s blog posts – two recipes! – came from my husband’s preference for ranch and his general interest in all things flavored with ranch seasoning. It all started with a recipe for Bacon Ranch Cheeseburger Cups, which I saw and knew that he would love. We tried it one night for dinner – my daughter loved helping make “hamburger cupcakes” and even enjoyed eating one (#momwin) – and both enjoyed it quite a bit.

From there, I was on a kick. I wanted to make more ranch-flavored things for my hubby. I started with this recipe today, homemade ranch seasoning. It’s not that the packets of Hidden Valley Ranch mix were bad, but I like the ability to control the seasoning in our foods – using less salt, the ease of measuring a bit more or less than a recipe calls for from a jar of my own seasoning.

Like most mixes, this takes minutes to whip up. It does use powdered buttermilk, so it needs to be stored in the fridge, but it will keep for a while.

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

Tips & Tricks:

  • Some of the spices called for in this recipe are not ones I typically have in my pantry. Rather than buying a whole jar, check out your local organic market (such as MOM’s) where you can buy spices in the quantity you need. It’ll save quite a bit of money and unused spices won’t expire sitting in the cupboard.

Recipe Suggestions:

Worried about making the mix and not having enough recipes to make it worthwhile? Here are a few of the ranch recipes I’ve been making or bookmarking for upcoming kitchen projects!

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

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Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 11 1-Tbs. servings
Calories 15 kcal
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. dry powdered buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried chives
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small, airtight container. Stir or shake to mix well.

  2. Store in the refrigerator until use. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes about 11 Tablespoons of seasoning.

This recipe was barely adapted from Gimme Some Oven.

Super simple Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix is sure to add bursts of bright ranch flavor to appetizers, dressings and dips, and dinners. Mix up a jar in just 5 minutes and stash in your fridge for your next meal. 

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Caramel Apple Jam #AppleWeek

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, the star of a classic PB&J, a compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. 

This post is sponsored on behalf of #AppleWeek. Our generous sponsors, Swiss Diamond, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, Nordic Ware, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Nairn’s and The Spice House have provided us with products for recipe creation and a giveaway for our readers. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, PB&J star, compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. 

Over the past several years, I’ve really gotten to enjoy preserving summer and fall fruits. It’s become an annual tradition where my parents and I take the kiddos strawberry picking. We pick 20+ pounds of strawberries and then make enough strawberry jam to feed our extended family for the year. And then we do it all over again. Sometimes we’ll do blueberry and/or blackberry picking and jam making as as well, but strawberry season is our thing.

Usually, when I can with my mom, we use a canning method that involves sealing the jars with hot wax rather than in a water bath – it’s how she learned to can from my grandmother. I dabbled in freezer jam with blackberry chia seed jam as well. I was initially nervous about trying the traditional water bath method, but to be honest, it’s not hard. You just need to work quickly and carefully. I first tried this method a few years ago when I made apple butter and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was.

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, PB&J star, compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. 

One thing about jam is that it takes a LOT of sugar. For this recipe, and most of the jam recipes I’ve made, I use sugar from our #AppleWeek sponsor Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar has been in home kitchens across the southwest since 1843. Today, the company’s sugar products and sweeteners are 100% natural and non-GMO. You can explore their website or social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) for tons of recipe inspiration, baking tips, and craft projects (sugar scrubs!).

Anyway… back to jam. Caramel Apple Jam, specifically. This jam screams of fall. Because let’s be honest, in terms of food, I pretty much think of apples in early fall, and cranberries in late fall. (Sorry friends, not a pumpkin lover, so no #AllThingsPumpkin on this blog. If you’re into it, search #PumpkinWeek on social media for tons of recipes from my blogging friends.) This jam is made in 3 steps. You’re basically making homemade apple sauce and homemade caramel, and then combining the two to create a wonderfully sweet Caramel Apple Jam.

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, PB&J star, compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. 

Serving Suggestions:

  • On top of toast or an English muffin for breakfast.
  • Mix in with yogurt.
  • Serve with Brie on top of freshly sliced bread or crackers. Or better yet, serve on top of baked Brie (either on its own or wrapped in puff pastry). Or in a grilled cheese with brie. Pretty much any time you use brie, this jam would taste delicious.
  • On a cheese tray. Not only does it compliment brie (can you tell it’s a favorite of mine), but it would also pair well with cheddar.
  • On a lunchtime PB&J sandwich. (Tried & True! My Little Man has been enjoying these sandwiches for at least a month now!)
  • Use in cakes and tarts (new recipe on Friday!)
  • In a mocktail or cocktail – such as a Bloodhound Cocktail or an apple variation of this Moscow Mule.
  • Give as a hostess gift for fall/winter parties.

Don’t Forget!

  1. Be sure to scroll down and take a look under the recipe and check out the other #AppleWeek recipes that went live today.
  2. Check out Imperial Sugar at the links above.
  3. Finally, be sure to enter the #AppleWeek giveaway – for several great prizes – at the Rafflecopter below. There are multiple ways to enter and multiple prizes (description of each prize is listed here) so be sure to throw your name in the ring!
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Caramel Apple Jam

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, PB&J star, compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. 

Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. tart apples such as Granny Smith apples (8-10 apples), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 c. water divided
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the Apple Sauce

  1. Place apples, 1/2 c. water and lemon juice in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmer until apples are very soft. Remove from heat.

  2. Press apples through a food mill, sieve, or (my personal choice) a spider skimmer. You need 5 cups of pulp, the texture of apple sauce. Set pulp aside and discard skins and anything leftover.

Make the Caramel

  1. Place granulated sugar in an even layer in a 6 to 8 quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar starts to melt, gently shaking the pots back and forth if needed but don’t stir. When sugar starts to melt, lower heat to medium-low. Allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until sugar is melted and golden.

Turn Caramel Into Jam

  1. Carefully, add remaining 3/4 c. water to the caramel already on the stove. Beware of mixture bubbling. Caramel will then seize up but keep cooking and stirring until caramel melts again, and is the same consistency throughout.

  2. Add apple purée and brown sugar - again, mixture will bubble. Stir until sugar has been dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow mixture to boil for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (As mixture is boiling, now is a good time to start bring the water for the hot water bath to a boil.) Mixture should reduce to about 6 cups.

  3. Quickly ladle into sanitized canning jars, leaving top 1/4-inch empty. Wipe rims. Put on lids and seal with bands.

  4. Transfer jars to a pot filled with boiling water. Allow to process in boiling water for 10 minutes. If water stops boiling when adding the jars, bring to a boil again and then start 10 minute timer.

  5. Remove jars and set on a towel-lined baking sheet or a wire rack to cool. Check to confirm jars sealed - if any did not, immediately put the jar in the fridge to use immediately.

Recipe Notes

Feel free to make apple sauce mixture and caramel at the same time. I was nervous about burning the caramel (a bad habit of mine) so didn’t.

If the jam doesn't set immediately, allow it to sit for 24-28 hours in a cool place. If the extra time doesn't help, pop it in the fridge overnight. The time in the fridge should allow the jam to set. You can remove it from the fridge and store it normally, once the jam has set.

This recipe was adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

Monday’s Recipes:

Tart Granny Smith apples and sweet homemade caramel come together in an amazing fall jam. Caramel Apple Jam is a delicious topping for morning toast, PB&J star, compliment to appetizer cheese plates, and a surprising mix-in for fall cocktails. @imperialsugar #appleweek

Enter the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s  for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini with Vanilla Pickled Strawberries #SundaySupper

 In season strawberries are preserved with a quick pickling and a little extra vanilla that highlights the berries natural sweetness. Then, Vanilla Pickled Strawberries are used to top herbed goat cheese crostini for an easy but flavorful springtime appetizer.

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini w Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

This post is sponsored by Florida Strawberry in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

Winter is finally fading and I’m hoping that we’ve seen the last of the snow a couple of weeks ago. The weather is gradually warming and we’re starting to see glimpses of spring – buds on the trees, animals and neighbors coming out of winter hibernation. And with that, I’m moving away from winter comfort foods like soups and stews and instead craving lighter, fresher foods.

Since it’s still too cold to get local in season produce in Maryland, I’m thankful to be able to find quality, in season produce from U.S. growers in the south. Thank you Florida, for your warmer climate! In particular, we consume huge amounts of Florida Strawberries, a favorite snack for myself and my kids. Florida strawberries are in season during Maryland’s winter months, December through April, leaving me with only a month or two to get by until Maryland strawberry season starts.

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I really do wish we could pick fresh strawberries all year round. My kids wish that as well. Strawberry picking is one of our favorite things to do as a family. We get up early can check the weather. We put on our comfy clothes and baseball cap (don’t want to miss any of those gorgeous berries with sun in our eyes!). Each kid picks out their own container and we head off to the strawberry fields. It’s taken some time to teach the kiddos that they need to pick only the ripe strawberries – those vibrant red and firm to touch – and to keep the tops of the berries on when picking them and putting the berries into their container. We move methodically from plant to plant, picking all of the ripe berries before moving onto the next. The kids usually leave with smears of berry juice all over their face and up and down their arms. Those are by far, some of my favorite photos of the kids. And after picking? The strawberries are stashed in the car, out of the reach of little hands and of direct sunlight, and we hurry home. The kids usually eat a good bit more once we’re home, but I immediately start washing them and divvying them up for whatever purpose I have in mind for them.

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini w Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

Picking strawberries is just half of the fun. Have you ever preserved them? It’s easier than you think and will make the strawberry season last even longer. And that’s exactly what the #SundaySupper tastemakers are celebrating today – preserving strawberries. Four techniques, 20 great recipes (below) for you to try. You’re welcome. 🙂

There are a couple of different preservation methods you could use. The least intimidating method is freezing clean, hulled strawberries (whole, quartered or sliced) in a ziplock bag. We do this all of the time. Those strawberries usually end up in smoothies, but there are 5 great recipes below that use frozen strawberries that I’m dying to try. The second method is canning. While this could be a bit scary, you won’t feel so after the first batch. My mom got me started canning a couple of years ago and now I look forward to it every summer. For strawberries, I use the recipe that my Grandma taught her that does not require a water bath – the part that scares most people. I have, however, done a water bath once and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. Dehydrating strawberries – slowly removing the water from the berry – is the third preservation method. Strawberries can be dried in the sun or a dehydrator. Dried strawberries are wonderful for snacking on their own, or delicious in breakfast (oatmeal or granola) dishes or desserts. The final method of preservation is pickling. Say what? Yes, pickling. Pickling is a preservation process whereby the fruit is submerged in a liquid – usually vinegar – to extend it’s life.

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini w Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

Of all the ways to preserve berries, I had never considered pickling, but I have to admit, I loved it. It was a very quick process and the end result was deliciously sweet. Vanilla Pickled Strawberries kept the strawberries natural sweetness and added vanilla notes and a tartness. The topping paired beautifully with herbed goat cheese spread – a taste of spring. Bonus? The extra pickling liquid can be used to make a quick, tart vinaigrette after the strawberries are gone.

Now is the time to stock up on Florida strawberries! Which preservation technique are you going to try?

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Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini w Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini with Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

 In season strawberries are preserved with a quick pickling and a little extra vanilla that highlights the berries natural sweetness. Then, Vanilla Pickled Strawberries are used to top herbed goat cheese crostini for an easy but flavorful springtime appetizer.

Course Appetizer
Servings 1 Pint of Pickled Strawberries and a dozen crostini
Author Liz

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Pickled Strawberries:

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. vanilla sugar
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 lb. strawberries rinsed, hulled and quartered

For the Crostini:

  • 4 oz. goat cheese softened
  • 1 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh basil or other herb/mix of herbs
  • 1 batch of Vanilla Pickled Strawberries
  • 10-12 1/2- inch slices of sourdough bread toasted

Instructions

Make the Vanilla Pickled Strawberries:

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Add vinegar. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. When vinegar mixture is cool, slice a vanilla bean in half. Scrape out seeds and place in a clean pint-sized canning jar. Add pods as well. Fill almost to the top with quartered strawberries. Top with vinegar mixture - vinegar mixture should cover strawberries completely.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Use or continue to store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Assemble the Crostini:

  1. Using a mixer or a food processor, combine goat cheese, cream cheese, and herbs until mixture is smooth. 

  2. Spread each slice of bread with a generous slather of whipped herbed goat cheese. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with a tablespoon of pickling liquid.
  3. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

The recipe for vanilla sugar can be found here.  I'd consider it optional, but will give the strawberries a little extra vanilla flavor.

The vanilla pickled strawberries and the goat cheese spread can both be made ahead of time and kept, tightly covered in the fridge, until ready to assemble and serve.

A Books n’ Cooks original recipe.

Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini w Vanilla Pickled Strawberries

Interested in learning more about Florida Strawberries? Follow Florida Strawberry Growers Association on social media: Facebook Google + Instagram Pinterest Twitter YouTube

And don’t forget to check out these recipes for preserving and using preserved strawberries from the #SundaySupper crew.

How to Preserve Strawberries

Canning

Canning

Dehydrating

Freezing

Pickling

Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.

Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.

There are some dishes that I’ve been making for years, but never got around to blogging. Maybe I make it, but don’t measure anything. Or maybe it’s something that I don’t consider super impressive, and therefore, not blog-worth. That pretty much describes this taco seasoning.

It’s so easy and takes only a minute to toss together from ingredients that are always in my spice cabinet. I have been making it for years and always have a jar around to make weeknight dinners easy. Most often, a couple of tablespoons are sprinkled over ground turkey or beef and a little bit of vegetables (corn, diced tomatoes or bell peppers, some hidden mushrooms – whatever I have on hand) for a quick taco dinner. I’ve also been known to sprinkle some on chicken and sliced peppers and onions in lieu of making a separate fajita seasoning. This taco seasoning is also one of the unusual ingredients in our favorite chili recipe.

Do you have an unusual or creative use for taco seasoning? Leave a comment and tell me!

Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.

If you’ve been buying the taco seasoning packets at the grocery store, stop now. You can make it at home in under a minute, and control exactly what goes into your seasoning. No added preservatives. Add a little extra kick or mellow out the heat according to your preference. Chipotle chili powder would add a lovely smokiness if you use that, in lieu of regular chili powder. I’ve also been known to use garlic granules or minced dried onion instead of the powders on occasion.

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Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.

Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.
Course Condiments
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 5 2-Tbs. servings
Calories 43 kcal
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs. chili powder
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. paprika
  • 3 Tbs. cumin
  • 2 Tbs. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl or jar. Stir or seal and shake to combine.
  2. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. Use 2-3 Tbs. per pound of meat.

A Books n’ Cooks original recipe.

Homemade Taco Seasoning comes together in minutes with spice cabinet staples. Turn up or down the heat to your liking.