Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Peach Honey Cardamom Butter

The title tells you pretty much everything that goes into this fruit butter. Fruit butters are like jams and jellies in that they have fruit and sugar. However, butters are more intense, less sweet and beautifully spreadable. In the classic method, fruit is cooked down to a paste and then lightly sweetened. I use a crock and let the slow heat and time do the work of condensing the fruit. If you've never tried making fruit butter before, it's not difficult, it just takes patience and a little practice to get the consistency where you like it. I make it in the crockpot. It's a nice weekend project that you don't have to spend a lot of time with, just an occasional stir. Maybe a little sampling to check done-ness.

Peach Honey Cardamom Butter
8-12 ripe peaches 
1 packet Sure Gel Fruit pectin
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 -1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Wash and roughly cut your peaches. Place in the crock with 1 cup of sugar  and the fruit pectin. Stir and heat on low. Leave the lid offset or propped open with a wooden spoon so the moisture can escape. Stir every couple of hours. I cooked on low about 4 hours. Added a cup of sugar, and cooked on high for 2 hours, stirring every half hour to keep the edges from getting too hot. Then I added the final cup of sugar, the honey, and cardamom and let it cook on low for about 2 hours. When it reaches the desired consistency*, allow the butter to cool.

I let the butter cool a bit and placed in jars. I let the jars cool and put them in the refrigerator for immediate eating. It made about 3 pints. You could can it in sterilized jars with a 15 minute water bath. But as good as this is, the refrigerated butter was just fine. It was gone in a few days and we shared it with family. It tastes great on toast, English muffins, yogurt, and oatmeal.

*To test consistency of any jam or fruit butter, place a few saucers in the fridge. You can place a spoonful of fruit on the saucer and it will cool more quickly so you can see if you need to cook longer or if it's 'just right' as is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Beef Sirloin Stir Fry

© Marcy Can Cook
1 carrot, julienned
1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 8oz package of mushrooms, sliced
olive oil for frying
Green onion, chopped
Red pepper flakes, optional

1/2 c. soy sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar

1/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. Cornstarch
2 T. Minced Fresh Ginger

1 clove garlic, smashed
a few drops of red chili oil

1 c. jasmine rice
2 c. water
1 T. chicken bouillon, granular

Prep vegetables first. Cut steak into thin strips with a super sharp knife. 

In a 4 qt. pot, combine rice, water and bouillon. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and cover pot. Cook 15 minutes on low heat. Then remove from heat and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the food. 

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. 

Heat olive oil one medium heat in a large skillet, add beef and cook until done. Remove to a large bowl and cover with combined sauce, stir well to coat. Add onion, peppers, saute for a minute or two. Add a little water (2 T.) and add all the vegetables to the skillet. Cover skillet and allow to steam for 3-4 minutes until broccoli and zucchini are slightly soft. Add the beef back to the skillet along with the sauce it's been sitting in. Stir beef in with vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. 

Sprinkle with chopped green onion and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Shirley's Snack Mix

We call this Shirley's Snack Mix because it came from Aunt Shirley. It's really delicious and really easy. AND you can customize it using the types of snacks you like. We use the big bag of plain Bugles, oyster crackers, Original Chex Mix, and Ritz Toasted Chips. But you can use up to five different types of your favorite crackers like Goldfish Crackers, Cheez-Its, mini pretzels, you get the idea. It makes a big batch so be sure that you have a large roaster to bake it in, like one you would use to cook a turkey that's big and deep. Don't think too much about how bad this is for you, just make a batch and share it. It's great for Super Bowl, birthday parties, New Year's, even bagged up as little homemade gifts for the holidays.  

Shirley's Snack Mix
1 bottle of Orville Redenbacher's Butter Flavor Popping and Topping oil
2 pouches of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix
5 packages of your favorite snacks 

Heat oven to 200°F. Pour the oil in a saucepan. Add seasoning mix. Stir over low heat until seasonings are relatively dissolved. Place all the snacks into a big roasting pan. Stir to mix. Pour oil mixture over the top. Stir to distribute. Place in preheated oven. Bake one hour, stir twice. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Keeps up to a week. 

(We use 1 big bag of Bugles, 1 big bag of Chex Mix, 1 bag of Oyster Crackers, 1-2 bags of Ritz Toasted Chips.)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Ginger Snap Cookies

Ginger Snap Cookies © MarcyCanCook
I have been making these cookies since I was little. It is a pretty easy recipe and good starter recipe for a young baker. It makes about 4 dozen cookies and they keep well, if they last that long. It's a favorite at our house, during the holidays and all year round. It works well for us and my dairy-free husband because they are made with shortening (Crisco). And we like to go heavy on the spices so all the measurements for 1 tsp. we do as heaping. You can do a level teaspoon to start and see what you like. I use Penzey's spices so I like to double the spices and really kick up the flavor. Real molasses can hold up to the spice so bring it on! I bake for 8 minutes because we like a softer cookie, but by all means, if you like a snappy Ginger Snap, then bake for 10-11 minutes. You can't go wrong!

Ginger Snap Cookies
from my mom, Diane

1 1/2 c. Crisco (or other vegetable shortening)
2 c. white granular sugar
2 large eggs
7 Tblsp. molasses (use Grandma's it's the best)
4 c. all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon* 
1 tsp. ground cloves*
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 pinch of salt
Extra white sugar for rolling.

Heat oven to 350°F. Put the shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is nice and fluffy. Add eggs, molasses and spices on medium speed until combined.  Then add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix on low after each addition. Beat for about 30 seconds after flour is all incorporated. If dough seems a little sticky, you can chill for a while. You'll need to be able to handle it. With a small spoon, scoop a little dough and roll it into the size of a walnut. Roll in sugar and place on pan. Bake for 8 minutes for a softer cookie, 10-11 minutes for a real snap. You want the cookies to be golden and crackled on the surface. Cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. They also freeze well. 

(*here's where you can heap the teaspoons or double if you dare)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Fresh Sweet Bing Cherry Crumb Bars

I had an over-abundance of fresh sweet Bing cherries this summer and I was looking for something to do with them all over the internet. I wanted a small batch of bars that I could adapt to dairy-free. This is my adaptation of a recipe I found (credits below) and it turned out wonderfully. It made just a small 8x8 pan, enough that my family of three could each enjoy three nicely sized bars. And enjoy we did. 

Fresh Sweet Bing Cherry Crumb Bars
Crust/Crumb Layers:
¾ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. ground almonds (I use Bob's Red Mill)
½ tsp. baking powder
½ c. granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg 
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ c. cold margarine* cut into cubes.

Cherry Layer:
2 c. pitted fresh Bing cherries, cut in half (measuring after pitting)
3 T. white sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
1 T raw sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8x8 inch square baking pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Then, using fork or your fingers, combine the margarine and egg mixture with flour mixture until combined. Press 2/3 of the crust mixture in bottom of pan. Set aside the remaining for the crumb topping. 

Toss cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and water. Then sprinkle evenly on crust, then top with remaining crumb mixture. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes. The topping will be lightly brown. Allow to cool completely. Cut into squares.
* Smart Balance also makes a great dairy-free butter that works wonderfully in baking. Check it out here:

(This was adapted to dairy-free from I thank Fiona for the inspiration for these bars that were a huge hit in my house!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fresh Peach Crumb Pie

I had to dig through the old church cookbooks to find a good recipe for fresh peach pie. So many recipes use canned peach pie filling or require a double crust. I was looking for something different and WOW! did I find it. It's exactly the peach pie I would have been looking for had I known what I was looking for. This one I found in a church cookbook from the St. Paul's Lutheran Church of New Ulm published in 1983! I made only slight adjustments to the original recipe (which peeks out a bit in the photo). I cut back a little (a lot!) on the sugar and the almond extract (1 tsp extract in the original recipe which I moved from the filling to the crumb topping!) The final result is honestly in the running for the top spot as our family favorite, the #1 ranking pie in front of apple pie with streusel topping. It's amazing. Get peaches that are ripe and ready to eat and you won't be sorry. 

Fresh Peach Crumb Pie
One unbaked pie shell (I use Pillsbury refrigerated crusts!) 
5 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. white sugar
Crumb Topping:
1/4 c. white sugar

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter cut into cubes
1/2 c. flour (may need extra flour to make the topping crumbly)
2 drops (yes drops) almond extract

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pie shell in glass pie pan. Folding over the edges so they are a little thicker. In a large bowl, combine peaches, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Pour into unbaked pie shell. For the topping, combine sugar and butter using a fork or your fingers, add extract, then add enough flour to make a rough crumb that is not sticky. If sticky add a little flour at a time. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over filling. Put pie pan on a large cookie sheet in case of any spills. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake 50-55 minutes. The edges and crumb topping should be nicely golden brown and the filling thick and bubbly. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Super Bean Salad

This is a super easy, super awesome summer salad. No cooking required. A little chop-chop, mix-mix, and you've got a potluck-worthy salad that won't wilt or spoil in the heat of a summer picnic! It's light and refreshing and has a healthy dose of protein to fuel your summer adventures. I hope you enjoy it. 

Super Bean Salad
1 can cannellini (white kidney) beans (15oz), drained and rinsed 
1 can kidney beans (15oz), drained and rinsed 
1 can garbanzo beans (15oz),  drained and rinsed
 ½ c. sweet Vidalia onion, diced 
2 celery stalks, diced (approx. ¾ c.) 
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (¾ c.) 
1 c. cut sweet corn, cooked and cooled
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

In a large bowl, mix the beans, onion, celery, bell pepper, and corn. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (or add to a mason jar, put on the lid tightly, and give it a shake). Pour dressing over the bean mixture. Chill a few hours to let the flavors meld. Enjoy!