Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blackberry Bounty 3--No-cook Jam

Did I mention already that my sweet husband brought home quarts and quarts of yummy fresh blackberries he picked himself? Between the two crust blackberry pie and the chilled blackberry pie I made, we also ate berries by the handful, and I had at least two bowls of berries with milk and sugar, one of my absolute favorite ways to eat berries of any kind.

And even after all of that, I still had berries left--enough to make this super easy jam. Because it's not cooked or heat processed, it has to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, hence the other name for this--freezer jam. I made this a few years ago when I bought a whole flat of fresh strawberries, so it works for pretty much any kind of berries and also some other kinds of fruit.

This time around I used a different brand of fruit pectin and a slightly different technique from what I did before, so be sure to read the directions on your jelly-making-stuff.

  • 4 cups crushed blackberries
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 pkg Ball No Cook Freezer Jam fruit pectin
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and fruit pectin. Add 4 cups crushed fruit, and stir at least 3 minutes longer, till sugar dissolves.
In order to get 4 cups crushed berries, I measured 4 cups of whole berries, poured them into a bowl, and smashed them up with my pastry blender. I poured the crushed fruit back into the measuring cup, and kept crushing a cup at a time until I got a full 4 cups. You could also use a potato masher, but my potato masher is in my other kitchen at home in Louisiana instead of with me in Georgia where I need it. That's the story of my life, but, I digress!
For berries and fruit with a lot of seeds, you may want to press about half of the fruit through a sieve or a jelly strainer. I didn't do this step, because I was using the last of the berries and I was afraid I wouldn't have enough left to make my full 4 cups. Also note--you want the fruit to be crushed, but not liquefied-the whole point of making jam vs. jelly is having some body to it.
And that's it! I ended up with three full freezer jam pints, and a little left over. I bought a package of special freezer jam jars (I did have a coupon!) but you could put this in any plastic container with a good seal.
Remember--because this is not cooked or heat processed, it must be stored in the fridge or freezer till you use it!
This goes really well with peanut butter...

Or on homemade biscuits...

And by a big coincidence(!), my super easy recipe for buttermilk biscuits will be coming up next!

This recipe is linked t0:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff

Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family

Click on the links above to see more recipes and links!

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blackberry Bounty 2--Chilled Blackberry Pie

As I mentioned in my last post, my honey brought home lots and lots of handpicked blackberries. The first pie that I made turned out really well, but I wanted to try something different for the second one. This recipe is similar to a fresh strawberry pie that I make occasionally, although not often enough!

  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 pkg blackberry jello (not pictured)
  • 3 c blackberries
  • 1 single crust pie crust

As in the previous post, I used my favorite pie crust recipe--refrigerated ready crust (!). Place crust in pie plate, and prick with fork--this keeps the crust from puffing up where it isn't suppose to.

Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned. Not quite this brown.

While the crust is cooling, mix together sugar, cornstarch, and water. Cook on medium high heat until translucent to clear. Add jello, stir until dissolved. I couldn't find blackberry jello, so I used blackberry/raspberry fusion.

Allow the cooked mixture to cool slightly but not set, stir in blackberries, then pour into baked pie crust.

Refrigerate and allow to set for at least 30 minutes. As you can see, this one held together very well! Top with whipped topping and enjoy!

I didn't like this pie quite as well the first one--part of it may have been the jello--I'm not a big fan of raspberry flavored anything, so I thought the gel filling had a whang that wasn't to my personal liking. I also thought it was bit stiff or sticky--I should have remembered that when I make my strawberry pie, I don't use a whole box of strawberry jello as most recipes call for, I use only about 2 or 3 tablespoons. My husband thought it was a bit "seedier" than the other one, which is to be expected since the berries aren't actually cooked in this one.

Verdict: I would make this again if I could find blackberry or even blueberry jello, I just don't like the raspberry, even mixed with other flavors, and I would add only about 3 T of the jello powder, not the whole box.

This post is shared at:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Foodie Friday at Desgins by Gollum

Recipe Swap at the Grocery Cart Challenge

Click over and fined links to other recipes, and see what's cooking around the blogosphere.

Stay tuned for the easy blackberry jam I made!

Until next time, good cooking and good eating!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blackberry Bounty--Pie a la Mode

My sweet husband has come home from work three days this week with fresh blackberries, picked from wild berry patches growing out around his job site. He stayed late in the heat and picked berries, braving not just the heat but the chiggers and brambles, and brought us home quarts and quarts of beautiful fresh ripe berries. All he requested was a cobbler "like his grandma used to make" with two crusts.

Now you have to understand, I don't do pie. I do make really good peach or pear cobbler, but those involve making a batter that cooks into a thick, almost cake-like top, nothing like the traditional pie crust style cobbler. So I searched out and found this recipe for blackberry pie and decided to try it.

As you can see, I used my trusty regular pie crust recipe--Pillsbury Ready Crust(!)

The other ingredients are:

  • 3 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 2 T butter

The directions stated to put the berries in the bottom crust, then sprinkle with sugar and corn starch and dot with butter.

The top crust I cut in strips and latticed-it---you real pie bakers out there just be quiet, I was really impressed with myself! Then I sprinkled just a little more sugar on top so it would have pretty little sugar crystals on top. I baked it about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is what it looked like after it came out of the oven--my son even said, "Wow, mom, it looks like a real pie!" I was so excited, I could hardly wait for it cool off enough to cut into it.

Unfortunately, we had to eat it out of a bowl instead of on a plate! It tasted good, anyway--not too sweet, but just sweet enough, especially with vanilla ice cream on top!

If I make this again (and I probably will) I'd gently toss the berries with the corn starch and sugar, not put the corn starch on top. Besides not thickening enough, I had a couple of clumps of cornstarch right underneath the top crust that never dissolved. I might even increase the amount of corn starch by another tablespoon.

Verdict--this one's keeper!

Stay tuned this next week, I'll be sharing even more blackberry bounty recipes as I go!

This post is being shared at:

Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life

Recipe Swap at The Grocery Cart Challenge

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Microwave Fresh Corn on the Cob

I bought some fresh corn at the grocery store last week--still-with-the-shucks-and-silks-on-it fresh. One of my favorite ways to cook corn on the cob is to grill it, but unfortunately, the apartment complex we live in while we're in Georgia doesn't allow grills of any kind. I thought about trying to roast a few ears in the oven, but the heat has been so bad, and our apartment, facing the west, is H-O-T enough in the afternoons and evenings without having the oven on.

After a little research into different ways of cooking fresh corn, I decided in the interest of sparing us the heat to try it in the microwave. Even narrowing it down to microwaving left me with several different methods to try--wrapping it in wet newspaper, plastic wrap, steaming it in a little bit of water, all kinds of things.

What I finally decided to try tonight was cooking it still in the shucks. We had already peeled the shucks back and silked it, then folded the shucks back around it. I soaked three ears, with the shucks still attached, in plain water for several minutes. They float, so I weighted them down with a bowl, turning them after awhile so both sides got wet.

All of the articles/recipes I read had different cooking times, so I just picked a happy medium and went with 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per ear. I cooked three ears for a total of 9 minutes, rearranging them on the dish about half way through. After cooling for just a couple of minutes, I peeled the shucks back and easily cut them off, right at the base of the cob.

This turned out really well--the corn was tender, easy to eat on the cob (as hubs and son did) or to cut it off the cob (as I did). We each added a little salt and butter to taste, but it really doesn't need much of anything at all.

Now that summer time is well upon us here in the deep south, I'll be trying lots of things to help us beat the heat while still eating that good old southern-style food.

This recipe is shared at:

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bread Machine Italian Herb Bread

Preface: I made this today and was trying to take pictures, but apparently the batteries in my camera are almost completely dead. So no picture today, but I'll make this again within the next few days and post pictures!

Do you have a bread machine stuck at the back of a cabinet or cupboard? Why not dust it off and join me for a loaf of mouth-watering Italian Herb Bread?

My original Christmas-gift-that-I-hankered-after-for-months bread machine gave up the ghost and was discarded long ago. When I mentioned to my mom that I was thinking of buying another (they're much cheaper these days than they were "back in the day") She let me borrow hers--she has a small kitchen without much counter space and stores hers in the utility room, so like most people, it's usually a case of out of sight, out of mind. I was more than glad to take it make sure it still worked!

One of these days I'm going to learn to make bread by hand, but in the meanwhile, I can keep from heating up my whole kitchen by using the handy-dandy bread machine.

The Italian Herb Bread recipe that I'm sharing today is wonderful with the Pasta Bake recipe I shared a while back, and it elevates spaghetti and meatballs (always a family favorite) to gourmet status.

  • 9 oz warm (not hot) water (this is 1c + 2T)
  • 2 T butter or margarine
  • 3 c bread flour
  • 3 T Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T dry milk
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 t Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t regular yeast or 1 1/2 t bread machine/fast rise yeast

Per my bread machine instructions, I add the water first, then all of the other ingredients.


If you're using the time-delay feature that most machines come with, be sure to push the dry ingredients into the corners to keep the water from seeping up and activating the yeast too soon. It also helps to put the salt in the corner, and the yeast in a little well in the center.

My machine also has a 1 hour cycle which I love--to ensure the quick rise, increase the bread machine/fast rise yeast to 3 teaspoons, and decrease the salt to 1/2 t.

In a pinch I've used the practially-powdered Parmesan cheese that comes in a shaker canister, but if you use "real" Parmesan cheese it adds that lagniappe-that little something extra-that makes this bread even better.

This makes a beautiful, fragrant loaf. One of these days I'm going to make it on the dough cycle and shape it and bake it into a fancy artisan shape, but for now, we just eat the regular squat, rectangular loaves as they come out of the machine.

This recipe is linked to:

Foodie Friday at Desgins by Gollum

Recipe Swap at the Grocery Cart Challenge

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Friday Feasts at MomTrends

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tamale Bake, Revisited

One more re-do! I'm trying, little by little, to re-post some of the recipes that I had originally posted without pictures.

My family loves this, and luckily for me, it's one of those tried-and-true "secrets"--everything can be kept on hand; it's quick and easy; and can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. I've taken this to many family reunions and church dinners, and it's always a hit.

  • 1 can of tamales, drained and unwrapped
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can chili
  • shredded cheese--cheddar, monterrey jack, or taco blend

Unwrap the tamales and place in a greased or cooking sprayed casserole dish. (This is important! I gave this recipe to someone who forgot this step, and they had tamale wrappers in their casserole when they tried to serve it!) You can lay them in rows, or chunk them up, or mash and spread in the bottom--I've done it all three ways.

Spread drained corn on top of the tamales.

Spoon chili (straight from the can, you don't have to heat it up) on top and smooth over the corn.

Top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until heated through and cheese is bubbly and browning on the edges.


You can make this with canned, frozen, and or fresh tamales; I've used all three (Fresh is best, but I don't always have access to fresh made hot tamales, but when I do, I try to buy extra and freeze them!)

You can cook this in the microwave--the cheese doesn't brown on the top, but it's still good. (I've done this when the weather was hot and I didn't want to heat the kitchen up any more than it was already)

If you do double or triple, allow some extra cooking time to be sure it's heated all the way through.

You can use different kinds of cheese--I've used cheddar, American, monterrey jack, and taco or Mexican blend cheese.

Basically I don't think you can mess up this up! I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does!

For more recipes and links, see:

Tasty Tuesday hosted by Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday hosted by Blessed with Grace

Blissfully Domestic

Good cooking, and good eating!