Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blue Cranberry Applesauce

My love affair with cranberry sauce started in childhood with the jellied version (I still love it) and finally progressed to the real thing. Several years ago I tried my hand at Pear Honey Cranberry Sauce from My mother and I loved it so much that I've made homemade cranberry sauce each year when cranberries come available.

This year I decided to try a combination of two of my very favorites, Cranberry Applesauce on Simply Recipes and Blue Cranberry Sauce from Allrecipes, by using extra cranberries and Ocean Spray Blueberry Cocktail. I love it! It is a tiny bit tart, spicy from the cinnamon, and with a nice tang from the blueberry juice. Plus it looks gorgeous in my Mom's old crystal relish dish.

This made eight cups using my ingredients. I will serve a portion at a luncheon at church tomorrow and the remainder will be used in recipes. It keeps well in the refrigerator and freezes well, so it is great as a do-ahead for Thanksgiving or Christmas; and its vibrant color makes a stunning addition to the holiday table.

Please see the original recipe at Simply Recipes for Elise's version, as well as the excellent recipe for Blue Cranberry Sauce on, and give them both a try, after you've tried my version.

Blue Cranberry Applesauce
inspired by Simply Recipes and

10 peeled, cored, roughly chopped apples - I used Granny Smith and Honey Crisp
18 oz (1-1/2 bags) Ocean Spray cranberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 cups Ocean Spray Blueberry Cocktail Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon honey

Place all ingredients except vanilla and honey in large (5-quart) pot. Bring to boil, lower heat to simmer and cover. Cook 20-30 minutes, or until apples can easily be mashed.

Remove from heat, add vanilla and honey, and mash apples and cranberries with potato masher to desired consistency.

Serve hot or cold.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Earthquakes In Oklahoma!

On November 5, 2011, 10:52 pm CST, Oklahoma was rocked by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the state. I had just gone to bed, and hubby was in his office, when a trembling started and increased to shaking. I jumped out of bed, Buddy the dog got out of his bed and did some woof/snort/barks, and hubby said, "Now that's an earthquake!" I had been wakened at 2:15 am that morning by a 4.7 that felt like someone was stomping around on our deck, but hubby slept through it, so he declared the 5.6 his "first" earthquake.

Earthquakes have become more frequent in Oklahoma during the past few years, and according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, yesterday's quakes were the result of movement along the Seminole Uplift Structure. The epicenter was located just north of Prague, in Lincoln County, and about 50 miles east of where I live.

All I know is it was somewhat alarming. The house literally shook and creaked, our big light/ceiling fan swayed slightly, and dishes and windows rattled for about 20 seconds. Then the movement tapered off to a rocking sensation. It was weird! So far we haven't found any damage, other than our grandfather clock which stopped because the pendulum was swaying so much, and apparently there has been no major damage or injuries reported in the state.

My favorite comment was by an emergency manager in Lincoln county who commented, "It was a pretty ornery little earthquake."

Personally, I'll take the threat of tornadoes any day over the threat of earthquakes!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cherry Streusel Pie

I have a love affair with cherry pie that dates back to my childhood. The recipe I always use for cherry pie is from Betty Crocker's circa 1969 3-ring binder cookbook, because it is the closest in taste to that of the ultimate Pie Queen, my Granny Mitchell. Granny's pies are the standard to which I aspire, and her cherry pie was perfect. This recipe is a streusel topped version. The buttery, cinnamon laced streusel takes the sweet-tart cherry pie to a another level.

My go-to pie crust is from the same cookbook, and I made the 9-inch single crust recipe with butter-flavor Crisco. Hubby, who declared this pie "excellent" in a forceful tone, said it was the best crust he had ever had. Love that man.

For me, the keys to a good flaky-crisp pie crust are to cut the shortening into the flour until it is the size of peas, to add the ice water one tablespoonful at a time, tossing with a fork, to use a very light hand when gathering the dough into a ball, and to handle the dough as little as possible. Butter is the current popular ingredient to use in pie crust, but in my opinion shortening yields a flakier, crisper crust.

After the pie crust is rolled out and carefully placed in the pie plate, I trim off the uneven edges and leave a 1/2 inch overhang, fold the overhang under and press it lightly till it is fairly smooth all around, then crimp or flute the edges.

Cherry Streusel Pie

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 -3 tablespoons ice cold water

Whisk together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into dry ingredients with pastry cutter until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle ice water over flour mixture one tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until mixture is moistened. Gather into ball. Place dough on floured surface and shape into flattened round. Roll into approximately 10 inch circle. I keep my pie plate close and loosely roll dough around my rolling pin, then transfer to pie plate and gently unroll it. Trim overhang to about 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate, tuck under and gently press to form even edge. Crimp with fingertips for fluted edge.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla; toss with fork until easily clumped.

1-1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cans sour cherries (drain but reserve 2 tablespoons liquid)

Toss filling ingredients including reserved liquid together; using spatula to scrape sides of bowl, pour into pie crust. Sprinkle streusel over filling, covering completely.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes; reduce to 375 and bake another 45 – 1 hour, covering top with foil when crust begins to brown. Let cool on wire rack. Cool before serving.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Layered Peaches and Cream Pie

Continuing my multi-post obsession with peaches, this week I made a layered dessert based on inspiration by my fourth grade teacher's Fresh Peach Pie and the old favorite Four-Layer Dessert.

I found my teacher's recipe while browsing an old church cookbook. I was intrigued by her technique: instead of adding flour, sugar, and spices to the fruit and baking it in the pie crust, she cooked the liquid filling first, added the peaches, placed them in a pre-baked pie crust, and topped it with whipped cream. With this in mind, I made a version of Four Layer Dessert using a cookie crust and substituting a layer of fresh peach filling for the pudding layer. The result was a cool, summery treat reminiscent of peach pie but without a pastry crust . My hubby is not a fan of cooked peaches. This dessert, with juicy bites of peaches, tangy cream cheese, fluffy cream, and a not-too-sweet crumb crust, made him go back for seconds.

Layered Peaches and Cream Pie
Inspired by Mrs. Shimp
Serves 4-6

12 Keebler Sandies or other shortbread cookies
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2-4 tablespoons peach preserves, melted and reserved until crust is cooled

3 peaches or nectarines, diced or small slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream Cheese Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Cool Whip

Cool Whip or real whipped cream and a light sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Place cookies into bowl of food processor and process until crumbs form. Place in bowl and mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and salted butter; press mixture into 7-inch X 11-inch baking pan or 9 inch pie plate. Bake 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. When crust has completely cooled, brush melted peach preserves onto crust.

Combine peaches, sugar, and lemon juice in bowl and let macerate for one hour. Meanwhile place cream cheese and powdered sugar in bowl of electric mixer and mix until smooth; add extracts and mix until combined. Add Cool Whip and mix on low speed till incorporated. Spread mixture over crust and refrigerate.

When peaches have finished macerating, drain, reserving juice. Add water to juice if needed to measure 1/2 cup of liquid. Place peach juice with flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in small saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Add butter and vanilla, stir; remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add peaches, stirring to combine, and let cool to room temperature. Spread over cream cheese layer in pan. Top with more Cool Whip or freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate until serving.

Linking to These Chicks Cooked Link Party


Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peach Crumb Bars

Peach-based recipes are so appropriate for this blog, and this one is a keeper. I've had it in my "Make This!" file for some time, and the time was right. Brown Eyed Baker adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and The only thing I added was vanilla, and I love to enhance peaches with vanilla.

I only had a small taste, since I was giving them away, but it was enough to tell me that these bars are rich and delicious with buttery crumbs above and below the jam-like peach filling, and I will make them again. I think cherry filling will be my next version!

Peach Crumb Bars
from the blog of Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 24 bars

3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

5 cups (about 7 peaches) peeled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare 9×13-inch baking pan with baking spray or shortening.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender; add egg and continue cutting until dough is crumbly. Pat half of dough into prepared pan. Place pan and remainder of dough in refrigerator while preparing filling.

Place peaches in large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice; add vanilla and mix gently. In separate bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.

Spread peach mixture evenly over crust. Crumble remaining dough over peach layer.

Bake 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

I linked up to Roz's Fresh Food Friday.


A Well Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rosy Peach Ice Cream

With 17 homegrown peaches ready to use from my dwarf peach tree and relief needed from Oklahoma summer heat, peach ice cream was in order. The tree is a Belle of Georgia purchased at Home Depot last year.

Here it is in a side-by-side shot to show the size difference of the tree: after I planted it last year is on the right and this year is on the left. It was difficult to get an accurate comparison photo, with cucumber vines all over the trunk, but the growth of that little tree is amazing.

When the peaches reached that gorgeous rosy peach color but still weren't soft, I picked them (fear of birds!) and put them into a paper sack to finish ripening. I left them in the sack a day or two too long, because when I peeled them they were very soft, and the insides were almost red, with crimson juice rolling down my wrists and onto the counter as I peeled them. This juice made for a beautifully tinted ice cream.

With Greek yogurt in addition to milk and cream, the flavor reminded me of my favorite frozen yogurt from Berri Licious, a local organic live culture frozen yogurt parlor.

Rosy Peach Ice Cream

1-1/2 lbs ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
tiny pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine peaches and water  in medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peaches are soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; mix in sugar and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Add peach mixture to food processor with remaining ingredients and process briefly. Chill in refrigerator, then transfer to ice cream maker and freeze.
Ice cream was "posed" in a depression era amethyst Newport Hairpin cream soup bowl by Hazel Atlas, circa 1930s.

I linked up to Roz's Fresh Food Friday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fresh Peach Summer Salad With Sauteed Vegetables

There is a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from eating produce from one's own garden that fulfills like nothing else. In spite of the excessive heat and convection oven-like environment, which discourages bees, my organic garden is still yielding herbs and cucumbers, a few peppers, peaches (I picked 17 from my 2-year old tree!), and one squash; and several cantaloupes and a couple of golf ball-sized watermelons are lurking under masses of vines. I also pulled about 25 onions last month. I long for tomatoes, but at this point I will have to wait for cooler temperatures for the blossoms to set. Each treasure I find is welcomed with a feeling of wonder and thankfulness!

Here is a salad that I composed recently using ingredients freshly picked from my garden. The lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and dressing were store-bought. What took this salad over the top in flavor was the addition of a fresh peach and sauteed vegetables. The combination of ingredients still has me salivating just thinking about it - the sweet and juicy bites of peach, the tang of the green olives and Italian dressing, the light crunch of yellow squash, the delicious heat of the peppers, and the cool and mellow tang of Manchego - it was the best salad ever!

Fresh Peach Summer Salad With Sauteed Vegetables
Serves 1 generously

Organic herb and spring lettuce mix - 2 generous handfuls
1/2 cup chopped fresh cucumber
1 chopped fresh peach
4 green olives
6 red cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
1 straight-neck yellow squash
2 small hot red peppers
1/4 cup cubed Manchego cheese
Ken's Light Northern Italian dressing to taste

Place first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Saute onion, squash, and peppers in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil; cool the mixture about 5 minutes, then add it to salad. Top with cheese and dressing, and toss to combine.

The salad honestly does not need much dressing - the vegetables speak magnificently for themselves! To make this memorable meal even more special, I served this to myself in an old glass bowl in which my Mom used to serve her famous Jello salads.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yard Crashers Update

Here are a few photos for an updated look at our back yard, now that our pool is a whopping two summers old.

We could not be more pleased with our blue gem, especially during this brutal summer of 100-plus temperatures and little or no rain. We added a pebble border on one side, because grass kept getting into the pool when my husband weed-eated, and we changed the original "Creepy-Crawly" pool cleaner for The Pool Cleaner.

The pergola has provided much-needed shade and is becoming a popular bird sanctuary. The wisteria I planted last year still hasn't bloomed, but it is growing bushy and beautiful.

The firepit has not been used a lot, but when our grandkids are here, they love to roast marshmallows for s'mores.

Buddy inspects our crape myrtles, most of which survived the winter; we hope their red and white blooms will eventually fill this mulched area.

Although grass between the flagstones is a great natural look, it is a pain for my husband to weed-eat, and it looks puny during the summer heat, so he is contemplating digging it all up and grouting between the pieces.

We have a great view from our deck and feel lucky to have a bit of privacy, as we are separated from the back neighbors by a right-of-way.

Our patio garden is thriving in spite of the heat.

A flagstone path leads to my vegetable/flower garden on the south side of the house.

Here is the "before" version of my garden.

And here it is today.

I widened and lengthened the garden and have been granted permission by the Surveyor of the Kingdom (hubby) to use all the space I want on this side of the house.

Sadly, even though my garden looks beautiful, it produces lots of vines and little or no vegetables in this oven-like atmosphere.

However, my two year-old peach tree has a dozen or so peaches, so my eternal gardener's optimism remains intact.