Delicious Preserved Meyers Lemons

Though there are about 100 things to do today, one of them had to be preserved lemons. Whether I’m putting them into my most favorite ever pasta dish or making some Lemon Poppy-seed Cake, I simple love the taste, texture and smell of them.

All said – I had to try this recipe when I stumbled upon it.  What I didn’t realize is that preserved lemons are Meyers lemons, not the typical ones you think about. They really do smell different, a little more flowery, and the rind is thinner.  I can see why they are the preferred chef’s lemon for chicken, cheesecake and more.

They are incredibly easy to make, and cost effective.  A quick google search shows that tiny jars can go as high as $13.00. I picked up 2 bags of 5 lemons each at Shaws for $2.50 a bag. Regular lemons were .59 cents each. I was already ahead. The only other items you need are canning jars and canning salt which are both cheap.  These would be great to make in pint jars and give as gifts, or do as an experiment with kids.

Delicious Preserved Meyers Lemons

  • For liter jar – approximately 10-14 lemons packed tight (there will be room at the top)
  • A couple cups of canning salt do not use table salt
  • Large bowl for salt
  • Knife
  • Large canning jar (liter)

Cut your lemons in half, and then in half again and remove as many seeds as you can easily.

Put a heap of salt in the bowl, a cup or two. Put the lemons in, one at a time, and pack with salt. Be gentle, you don’t want to break the skins and release juices.

Finally, pack them tightly, but not enough to break them the juices out (too much, you want a little) of them, into the jar. Over time they will start to break down. Every day you’ll want to gently turn the jar over, and then back again. This allows movement. Don’t shake it – you don’t want to create air bubbles. They will be ready once the juices have completely covered the lemons – most recipes say about 3 weeks. Keep on the counter for a few days and then put into the fridge.

Make sure to keep these in the fridge, and enjoy in any lemon dish your heart desires.  You can use just the juices when in need, or, pull a whole lemon piece out and dice it up – rind and all. Just follow whatever recipe you’re using them in. Most likely you’ll need to rinse these off pretty good though!  These should keep for up to a year in the fridge, but in my house they won’t last that long.

Happy Preserving!

-Heather

Oh So Risky Hazelnut PB Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

My very favorite cookie happens to be Oatmeal Raisin. To me there is just something about biting in to a warm chewy hunk of oatmeal and raisins. I don’t kid myself they are healthy, but I don’t care. Crumbled on top of french vanilla bean ice cream? Excuse me while I roll on the floor in happiness.

My favorite cookies to make though growing up was a no-bake. This is how I look at it. Oatmeal is good for you. Check. Chocolate is known to make you happy. Check. Peanut Butter has healthy fats. Check. According to most things I’ve read if you’re going to eat sugar or butter, eat the real stuff. Check. Are these healthy? Not a chance. Are they delicious? Absolutely.

So, what makes a no-bake even better when you’re feeling a little risky? In my humble opinion, chunky peanut butter. Tonight I was on a roll. I made Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie. Once that was done I realized we still had some butter left in the house, yeah, like I’m going to let that happen. I mean really, I just used 3 sticks of butter total in the Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie what was one more?

Thus, no-bake cookies. It was the first time I had made them since I was a kid. In fact, the last time I can remember making then was with my Mom in our kitchen growing up and her telling me “quick, scoop them scoop them before it gets to hard!”.

I’ve one upped you Mom – I used an ice cream scoop, even if it starts to set up they STILL drop. (thank you thank you, I will pat myself on the back for coming up with something that everyone else probably does anyway).

As I was deciding to be ever so risky and use the chunky peanut butter, I saw the well-known Hazelnut Spread. Dun Dun Duuunnn *dramatic music*. Let the games begin.

There was no going back.  Trust me on this one, they are delicious. Dare I say….decadent.

10 Minute Hazelnut PB Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (don’t use hot chocolate – it’s not cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup of milk or cream depending how rich you want it, I use 1%
  • 1 stick butter. Oh, you bet. Use the real stuff. Unsalted.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla. Splurge and use the real stuff. (use 2 if you really love vanilla)
  • pinch of salt if you are so inclined, I prefer not to
  • 1/4 cup well-known hazelnut spread that rhymes with schmutella
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter. Chunky PB if you’re feeling particularly snazzy.
  • 3 cups quick oats
  1. In a saucepan (think something can can hold all of the ingredients including all the oats and enough room to stir it all), place sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in the saucepan on medium heat. Gently stir with a whisk until completely combined.
  2. Let come to a rolling boil for approximately 1 minute and remove from the heat.
  3. Add in the oats, PB, Schmutella and vanilla (I like to combine these before hand and dump them in since you have to stir quick once the oats hit…or put in the oats last).
  4. STIR STIR STIR. Get all those oats covered evenly and stir JUST until the PB and Schmutella is melted in.
  5. Using the ice cream scoop, scoop out and drop onto either tinfoil (shiny side) or freezer paper. If you use freezer paper my trick is to use the dull size sprayed with baking spray, not olive oil spray. I stay away from dropping the hot chocolate onto the wax side.
  6. Here’s the very hard part – waiting for them to set up. Give them 15 minutes and you should be good to go.

Now, excuse me while I go stuff my face.

Happy Eating,

Heather

Maple Butter Caramel & Crepes

This morning, I stepped outside into 37* weather and heard the subtle crunch of a light frost under the dogs paws. The wind whipped and settled into my bones, as if it had never left and as it always does in fall, something in me changed. It was, after all, time to whip up a morning fire in the wood stove and get cooking Sunday breakfast. Today that meant making crepes. I had never made them before (surprisingly since I make ployes about once a month, if not more) but I knew I had to try them and today was the day.

Whenever it gets below 40* in the fall, I feel the need to do two things – make warm fires and start cooking Franco-American food. I don’t know the language, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I love everything to do with my heritage – mostly the food. There’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re being hugged tight by someone who loves you very much.

If you research Franco-American cuisine, you’ll find that much of it contains similar ingredients combined in different ways with different herbs. This means much of the food, as my Pepere would say, was what was in the back yard. Money wasn’t exactly falling off trees. People lived off what they raised, hunted, and grew in the garden. This normally meant chickens for eggs and meat, fowl and venison, pork for a fall slaughter, and lots of tubers & root vegetables – like potatoes.

As I was making them I decided that maple butter would be delicious on them – but how to do that? A quick search online (hey, I’m a modern Franco) turned up the easiest recipe ever. As I whipped it the steam came rolling out and it turned into this delicious maple ‘caramel’.(It wasn’t actually cooked into a traditional caramel, but it had the same consistency)

After the ‘caramel’ was done I spread it on the crepes, rolled in some bananas and drizzled the maple butter caramel over the top. Then, I ground some coffee, brewed it up – added a little milk and caramel to it and stirred it in.

Why did I do this all at 8am on a Sunday morning? Besides the aforementioned cold weather settling back into my bones, my fiance has been absolutely wonderful and fixed my car for me the last few days when the breaks got messed up. He’s been helping people all summer long with things he doesn’t have to, and he’s just a really great guy.

What guy like that doesn’t deserve a homemade breakfast in bed on a Sunday?

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Crepes:

  • Mix 1 cup white flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Lightly whisk 2 eggs in a separate bowl and add a splash of milk
  • Add the liquid mixture to the dry and stir together
  • Add more milk slowly until the mixture easily fall off a spoon, but still leaves a slight coating.
  • Place the mixture into a shallow large dish, that your pan you’ll be using for crepes can fit into, and touch the bottom (so you can easily get all the mixture).
  • Heat up a pan with a rounded bottom (this is just my technique, try whatever you want!), flip the pan over. Yep, you’ll be using the bottom of it, and butter it. Dip the bottom quickly (or else it will cook there and make a mess) into the batter and flip back over onto your stove.
  • Your crepe will take a very short period of time to be done on one side. Gently (with a spatula) release it from the edges, and then slowly slide the spatula underneath the crepe and flip it. Leave for a few more seconds and it’s done.  Continue this method, while reapplying butter or non-stick spray for each crepe, until done. Mine aren’t the prettiest, but they were still pretty tasty.

Maple Butter :

  • Bring 1 cup of pure maple syrup up to the hard ball stage (roughly 250-266 degrees F. The closer you get to 266 the closer you’re getting to making hard candy, so be careful. Do this over low low heat.

(Don’t make my mistake of adding in the butter, cold, and before the syrup hits soft ball stage. It cools it down way too much, and butter makes it foam like nuts as you heat it back up)

  • Add in 3/4 cup of butter (you read right, I didn’t say this was healthy, Franco food is meant to keep meat on your bones and supply you with enough calories for a hard days work). I recommend preheating the butter so you don’t bring down the temp of the caramel
  • Either pour into a deep bowl and use a hand-mixer or put into a kitchen aid and go for it. Either way if you stand over it you’re going to get a maple syrup steam bath but you can walk away with a kitchen aid. Let it whip up until it hits butter stage – this can take a bit.

If you want maple butter ‘caramel’ like me, only heat the syrup to thread/soft ball stage and then follow the same process. You will still whip it until thick, but keep checking and take it out when it gets very very caramel like (I let mine go for a while, and it was super thick but never turned to butter. I could still drizzle it).

Spread your maple mixture onto the crepe, fold in your favorite fruit (I used bananas), roll it up and drizzle the maple butter caramel over. Did I take a picture of the final product? Nope – I was too excited to eat it and forgot.

I put the rest in a jar for use in other items, like spreading between a cake, on ice cream or just for a little sneaky dip into it once in a while.

Happy Eats,

Heather

Pickles, Jam & Hot Days, Oh My!

This weekend has been absolutely ridiculous, in such a good way. It felt like a beautiful fall day, even though it’s only early August. Early August also means plenty of produce coming to fruition in the garden, and wild berries in the fields. From the tomatoes, to the peppers, to the blackberries – it’s all coming in.

This plethora of produce means only one thing: canning! I had quarts and quarts of wild blackberries that the Fiance and I have picked over the last couple weeks (with more to come), as well as some Maine blueberries my Dad gave us. Add in some super clearance strawberries which were just begging to be jammed and I was off. Add in some zucchini and cucumbers and that makes for a lot of canning in one weekend! The following was made:

  • 6 Jars Blackberry-Strawberry Jam
  • 5 Jars Blackberry-Blueberry Nutmeg Jam
  • 7 Jars Dill Pickles (cucumber)
  • 7 Jars Bread & Butter Pickles (Zucchini)

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Fall is right around the corner, and there is nothing like it for me here in Maine. Have a great week everyone!

Happy Homesteading,

Heather

Strawberry-Poppyseed Cupcakes

I’m generally a terrible baker of sweets. The truth is, I’m one of those people who cook by throwing “some of this” and “a little of that” in, which doesn’t really translate to baking. I’ve honestly been trying but I always get caught up in a “oh but this would be good with (enter ingredients not called for)”.

For whatever reason I can bake bread, and anything else savory that needs to be baked – but when it comes to cakes, cookies, pastries you might as well just forget it typically.

Despite my complete and total unnatural non-talent for baking, I love it. Yep, you heard me – I love it. In the spirit of bettering my baking skills I decided today to try and make some Strawberry Cupcakes. In all honesty – I *did* do my typical “oh but this would be good with…..” thing. This time, it was poppyseeds. I was looking for baking powder when I pulled them out. I figured they couldn’t screw things up too bad.

The results: DELICIOUS! I actually made something that not only tastes great and has a nice texture but they also look good too! No half caved in, burnt on the outside and raw on the inside cake. I am completely thrilled with myself. So, here you go!

(By the way – thank you Martha Stewart for this recipe, sorry for the poppy-seeds but you could try it, it’s delicious)

Recipe & Directions from Martha Stewart (.com, not herself)

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish
  • (tablespoon or two of poppy-seeds – my addition)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Mix any remaining wet ingredients in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
  3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.