Red Hot Sauce ~ Spicy Pickled Sauce perfect for canning

This is our adaptation of the Red Hot Sauce from the Ball Blue Book; I make just a few small changes but nothing that will alter the ph so as to keep the acidity in line.  The right balance of tomatoes, peppers, and vinegar is important. Charles actually tripled the recipe to make 10 half pint jars. The single recipe indicates it will make 4 half pints but we like it a bit thicker so the quantity will vary by how long you simmer the sauce.

Red Hot Sauce

Charles washed and chopped the veggies and immediately ran through the food mill to remove the skins and seeds and mash everything up.  It works a little easier if you first cook the tomatoes and peppers in about 1/2 of the vinegar for a few minutes to soften them up as the peppers are a bit tricky to get through the hand crank food mills.

Next place pickling spices in a spice bag and in large sauce pan or stock pot place spice bag, tomato and pepper puree, and remaining ingredients.  Simmer for several hours over low heat to combine flavors and thicken.  We like ours fairly thick like a good barbecue sauce, but it you prefer it to be thinner more like a hot sauce that is fine too; you’ll be looking to reduce by about 1/2.  Stir frequently and keep simmering low to prevent sticking. Remove pickling spice bag once desired thickness is achieved and remove from heat.

If canning you will process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes for half pint jars.  Leave 1/4 inch head space in jars and use the 2 piece metal lids and ring bands. Refer to your canner instructions or the Ball Blue Book for details.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Gardening, Canning, Homemade Spice Blends ~ pickling spice recipe!

I grew up on a farm and participated in 10 years of 4-H.  We could pick our projects; being a bit of a girly girl I took sewing, cooking, foods preservation and such.  One thing mom always said was follow the recipe exactly and make sure you measure properly.  She didn’t get the opportunity to cook as a kid so she loved teaching us but was a stickler for doing it exactly as written.  I however am a rebel and like to make up my own concoctions and recipes.  Canning however is a bit more of a science and there are certain things you have to follow; if your acidity isn’t right or it isn’t processed correctly it can spell disaster.

A couple of years ago while flipping though my mom’s ball blue book I found a recipe for red hot sauce.  I love hot sauces but this one called for pickling spice …. weird.  I made it anyway wondering what on earth I would do with it; once I started smelling the sauce I was even more concerned about it.  One day however I was making a stir fry and decided to add it in; it is perfect in chinese style food.  Amazing even; I am sure it will be great on wings. I haven’t had any for quite a while but Charles is making a new batch or maybe 2 to can for the year.  It smells amazing; he’s documenting it as I type so I can share the recipe with you.  Today I am sharing our pickling spice blend.  I have one of those rare pantries with all of the odd herbs and spices so instead of buying a prepackaged blend he made his own.  I use a similar combination for my corned beef which helps me use up the random things like juniper berries and star anise.

Pickling spice recipe

  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves ~ crushed
  • 1/4 tsp dill seed
  • 7 cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 tsp whole coriander
  • 4 juniper berries
  • a pinch of mace
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Oven Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Appetizers

I was doing a little experiment today and I think Charles will be requesting these once he reads my post.  Our schedules conflict a bit on weekends so sometimes I am left to try new dishes all by myself.  I love goat cheese if you haven’t noticed and I finally have gotten some tomatoes from my garden so I couldn’t resist putting the two together.

Oven Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Appetizers

  • tomatoes ~ a small to medium size is ideal
  • goat cheese

Ok, so this is ridiculously simple.  Generously trim core from tomato making a cut out cone shape.

Fill with goat cheese; I left mine plain but you can add herbs such as basil if desired.

Broil for about 8 minutes or until skin begins to blister. This last picture isn’t great but I wanted to show how it looked from the inside.  I pulled the skin off which didn’t make for the prettiest tomato but so easy to eat.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Parmesan Cheese Crisps ~ a fantastically easy elegant treat

These are one of the easiest elegant treats to make.  It dresses up the simplest of dishes.  I used them tonight with some simple spaghetti and sauce.  To be honest I actually used a pecorino romano cheese but parmesan works just as beautifully so use which ever you prefer.

Parmesan Cheese Crisps

  • fresh grated cheese ~ parmesan or other hard italian style cheese

I used 1/4 cup total and made 4 little crisps.  Each with about 1 Tablespoon of cheese; then spread out to about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. They can easily be made bigger or thicker but adjust the cook time accordingly.

Let rest for about a minute before removing from cookie sheet; they can easily be shaped while still warm if desired.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Fresh from the Garden ~ Basil

Just a quick post today.  I’m working on some lasagna which I will share probably tomorrow but I must share with your my favorite technique for cutting basil.  I like to plant a few different varieties of basil; today I used a purple and another that has both green and purple colors. 

First remove any flowers and stems.

Place about a teaspoon of olive oil.  This amount will vary based on how much basil you have; I ended up with about a tablespoon of basil so add more oil if needed.  You just want to make sure all the leaves are lightly coated.

Gently stir around the basil to coat with oil.  Now for the next step.  Stack up the basil leaves; and roll up similar to the picture below.

Using a sharp knife slice the basil in to thin strips; chiffonade if you please.  The olive oil keeps the leaves from bruising. and the rolling of the stacked leaves makes short work of the task.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Grilled Zucchini ~ fresh zucchini with garlic butter

I decided to grill some zucchini today while the coals were hot.  I really enjoyed the garlic butter combination.  I’d actually intended to add some parmesan but forgot by the time lunch was ready! I enjoyed the zucchini cut into wedges; very easy to handle while cooking.

Grilled Zucchini

  • 2 medium zucchini ~ quartered lengthwise
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Mince garlic and combine with butter, salt, and pepper.  Heat to melt butter and set aside.  Over hot coals begin browning zucchini. About 2 minutes each side depending on grill temperature.

Begin basting with garlic butter.  Butter may cause flare ups so be careful while grilling and rearrange as needed.  Continue to cook 2 – 3 minutes longer or until zucchini is desired tenderness.  Brush with remaining garlic butter just before serving if desired.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Strip Steak Smothered with Mushrooms and Onions

Just a quick post tonight about out fantastic dinner.  Charles had picked up strip steaks and was dying to grill after a busy day in the garden.  Sautéed mushrooms and onions sounded like a nice accompaniment so we decided to take it a step further and make a spicy mix to smother on top.  Cook your steaks as desired.  We like ours medium rare and cooked over charcoal; but even skillet seared or baked will work wonderfully.

Strip Steak Smothered with Mushrooms and Onions

  • 2 Vidalia onions
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 12 o.z. Portabella mushrooms
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red ~ adjust according to your taste
  • Steaks of choice grilled to perfection

In large skillet over medium low heat melt butter and bacon fat.  Add onions and mushrooms; cover and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove lid and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Continue simmering over low heat about 5 more minutes.

Serve over cooked steaks; this should make plenty for 4 – 6 steaks. We grilled our steaks to a medium rare finish and made some fantastic potato skins to go along with.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Grilled Leg of Lamb ~ plus a coriander and rosemary rub recipe

Lamb is a rare treat around here.  I don’t often find it at the grocery store so when I found the 8 pound leg of lamb marked down a few couple of days ago I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  I have eaten lamb plenty of times but had never roasted a whole one myself.  I suppose I still haven’t roasted one as we decided to grill and I let Charles do all the hard work today!

Grilled Leg of Lamb ~ plus a coriander and rosemary rub recipe

  • 1 Tbs coriander ~ crushed
  • 1 Tbs dried rosemary ~ crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 7 – 8 pound leg of lamb

Combine first 6 ingredients.

Use as much as needed to coat lamb; rub in well ~ I used all of the rub on ours.

Heat grill to relatively high temperature.  We like using charcoal so begin with hot direct coals.

Sear lamb on all sides ~ this should take about 10 minutes.

Move coals to side and indirect grill until desired doneness; we opted for medium and indirect grilled another 2 1/4 – 2  1/2 hours.

Cooking time will vary by the temperature of your grill.  A charcoal chimney comes in handy for this type of cooking so you can get more coals hot at anytime (you will need them).  Allow roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly


Homemade Pizza ~ Part 3 …. The Results

The pizza turned out great.  We really enjoyed the crust, it was crispy yet not to thin and the sauce was perfect.  Next time I think we’ll make the mozzarella again just to finish out the homemade touches.

I think the key to the crust was making it the day before and refrigerating over night.  It was a very mild dough I used very little yeast so it wasn’t at all overpowering.  I think next time I may up the seasonings a bit.  Perhaps double the salt and garlic or sprinkle the dough with come additional garlic and maybe some parmesan before baking.

I like to bake the crust for 10 minutes at 425 degrees before building.  I think this helps make a crispier crust and keeps from having a doughy center.  I don’t have the ideal pizza stones so I used my 11 X 17 baking sheets.  The dough stretched very well on its own; no need to roll.  Pierce the dough a few times with a fork before baking to keep from getting large air pockets.

Once the crust has been prebaked (it won’t be cooked all the way through) add sauce.  Don’t go too heavy on the sauce.  It will take about a 1/2 cup of sauce to make this size pizza.  Adjust to your liking; my recommendation if you prefer extra sauce would be to toss your toppings with some sauce instead of spreading a thick layer.

Top with your favorite toppings.  I used italian sausage, onion, green pepper, and spinach.  I cooked all of it before topping.  The veggies were a little more cooked than when you toss them on raw but I liked the flavor better this way.  Either works well.  Sprinkle with cheese.  I used fresh mozzarella pearls and grated parmesan.  The pearls are good but they do tend to be a little wet.  I drained them well but still ended up with a little moisture being released as it baked.   Any kind of cheese works great; just pick your favorite.

Once the pizza has been built to your liking bake an additional 12 – 15 minutes depending on amount of toppings used.  This technique works well with just about any crust and sauce so don’t be afraid to give any recipe a try. The leftovers were great too; cold, microwaved and baked; baked of course was the best ~ just bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to reheat slices.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Homemade Pizza ~ Part 2 …. The Sauce

The pizza adventure continues.  Now on to the sauce; I’ve always made a cooked pizza sauce.  Cooking down the tomatoes to thicken and simmering for hours.  I however have noticed a trend toward uncooked sauce and I must say I am a fan.  It’s easy and works very well.  The flavors are crisp and the seasoning was perfectly balanced yet easily adjusted to suit any tastes. It did make more sauce than I needed for the 2 large pizzas I made.  I may freeze the extra sauce or throw together with some pasta in a day or two.

Uncooked Pizza Sauce

  • 1 ~ 28 o.z. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp italian herb seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar

Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Taste for seasonings and adjust as desired.  Everything will mellow together as it sets so taste again after an hour or so in the refrigerator.  You could use a combination of basil, thyme and oregano in place of the italian herbs if desired.  Omit the cayenne if you prefer a milder sauce or use crushed red pepper for an extra spicy kick.

I will wrap it all up tomorrow and let you know what we thought.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly