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Category: Recipes

  1. Sunday, February 6, 2022

    Happy 15th Anniversairy, TWFD! Plus Gram’s Homemade Hot Fudge Recipe & Week 737 Weekly Menu

    This Week for Dinner is officially FIFTEEN YEARS OLD. Happy 15th birthday, Blog! To celebrate I have a gift for you all: Gram Maynard’s Homemade Hot Fudge Recipe. This recipe was a big part of the beginning of this journey…

    15 year anniversary - This Week for Dinner

    When I started the blog 15 years ago, I only had one child, blogs weren’t a thing, and I had an old iMac Nate found at work to use in the kitchen (I truly had no idea why I would use a computer in the kitchen). My good camera was a film camera, so I used a point-and-shoot digital camera for the blog (please do not judge the early photography on the blog, it’s mortifying). The blog began with a list of dinners I made on a regular basis and a few weekly menus to share with my brother, who was still in college. 

    Then I noticed a curious thing – people were actually visiting the blog. I decided to design a logo, spruced up my free Blogger blog, and asked friends to share the link with other friends. I promised those who shared a copy of Gram Maynard’s homemade hot fudge recipe. They were asked to not publish the recipe anywhere. It was our little secret. 

    Fast forward to today. I have three children (the youngest of which is TEN), I’m a professional food writer and photographer, I am now an excellent recipe writer, I received all kinds of work over the years through the blog, I met all kinds of people and had crazy amazing experiences, I started a podcast, and I am still posting my weekly dinner menu. Most importantly, you are still here sharing your menus and cooking right alongside with me. I’ve experienced ups and downs personally and, through it all, my family still had to eat. I may not have always been cooking because, well, life. But every week the community on this blog kept the food game going. I have been oh so grateful.

    So…thank you. And to show my thanks, I am finally publicly sharing Gram’s homemade hot fudge recipe! She was such a giver, it’s what she would have wanted anyway. To be honest, it’s good for you I waited 15 years because it’s written much better than it was back when I was secretly emailing it to friends. 

    Homemade Hot Fudge Recipe

    Funny enough, I cannot find my DSLR camera charger, so today’s photographs are done with the modern version of a point-and-shoot, my iPhone. I will probably come back and reshoot this recipe once that damn battery is charged because, man, there’s nothing like a real camera.

    While today is a celebration of 15 years as well as decadent chocolate, I am of course posting my weekly menu! You know the drill…share your menu in the comments below! 

    A note on this recipe: Gram had a few “ors” throughout the recipe, where you could kind of choose which ingredients you wanted to use. I have settled on my choice of ingredients and am sharing my version of the recipe. Also, the heating instructions in the recipe are important for texture, so take your time and follow the directions. This truly is my favorite hot fudge sauce ever. Nothing else ever compares. (Thank you, Gram. I miss you every day.)

    Gram Maynard's Homemade Hot Fudge
     
    Homemade recipe for hot fudge from Barbara "Gram" Maynard, one of the best humans to walk this planet. We miss you, Gram.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 tablespoons butter
    • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
    • ½ cup cocoa powder
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • 5 ounces evaporated milk
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
    Instructions
    1. In a heavy-bottomed small or medium pot, melt butter and baking chocolate over medium-low heat.
    2. Keeping the heat at medium-low, whisk in the sugar and evaporated milk. Sift the cocoa powder into the pot and whisk thoroughly.
    3. Raise heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking almost constantly.
    4. Raise heat to medium-high and whisk constantly until mixture is boiling and sugar is completely dissolved, which will take ~ 2-5 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat. Let cool 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    6. Mix in salt and vanilla.
    7. Serve over ice cream, bread pudding, fresh strawberries, or whatever you like rich amazing chocolate served on.
    Notes
    Store in the refrigerator.
    Makes around 3 cups.

     

    Week 737 Weekly Dinner Menu from This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:

    TUESDAY:

    WEDNESDAY:

    • Rigatoni with Italian Sausage in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

    THURSDAY:

    • Leftovers

    FRIDAY:

    SATURDAY:

    • Takeout night

    SUNDAY:

    Looking forward to seeing your dinner plans for the week! As always, thank you for sharing and for being here!


  2. Monday, June 21, 2021

    Swedish Limpa Bread Recipe

    Top view of loaves of Swedish Limpa bred

    Limpa is a bread that my family has loved and enjoyed for generations. Swedish limpa bread is a rye bread but before you say “I don’t like pumpernickel” hear me out. (And if you do like pumpernickel, you’ll be especially delighted). While this limpa bread recipes are made with rye flour, limpa has a different, more subtle taste than most rye breads . The texture and flavor are a bit lighter and there is a nice sweetness to the bread. I love limpa with a nice thick layer of cold butter, but topping with havarti cheese is another family favorite. Limpa is also lovely as toast and even good for sandwiches with meats and cheeses! If you like baking, I definitely recommend giving this limpa bread recipe a go!

    Swedish Limpa Bread cut in half to show texture of bread

    Our family was able to find limpa at bakeries for many years, but as time has passed and we have all moved to new places, it is increasingly difficult to find limpa. My sister-in-law did the heavy lifting and found a great limpa bread recipe that has finally taken away the family’s sadness around not find a bakery that makes good limpa! This limpa bread recipe is the winner! You can click here to access the original recipe that my Cora found. I have re-written it below with more details around preparation, including substitution information, and have added it here to the blog so I don’t lose it!

    I made this limpa bread recipe last Christmas for the first time myself and it came out beautifully. It was also the first time that Owen (9 at the time) had ever eaten limpa. He took his first bite and declared that his tastebuds were in heaven. I will be making limpa again this week for our family’s Midsummer celebration, a Swedish tradition held during summer solstice. Enjoy!

    Loaves of Swedish Limpa bread

    And in case you are wondering, yes, I am still allergic to wheat. And yes, this week I am going to try making a GF version so I don’t have to be tortured watching everyone else eat wonderful, delicious, beautiful limpa. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Swedish Limpa Bread
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups orange juice
    • ½ cup butter
    • 1⅓ cups dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is fine if you are in a pinch)
    • ¼ cup dark molasses
    • 2½ teaspoons caraway seeds
    • 2 teaspoons anise seed or 4 pods star star anise (I looked EVERYWHERE for anise seed but could not find it. I did a ton of research, and star anise is the best substitute for the anise in this recipe, so feel free to use star of anise in a pinch!)
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 cups cold water
    • 3 tablespoons yeast
    • 4 cups medium rye flour
    • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
    Instructions
    1. Combine orange juice, butter, brown sugar, molasses, caraway seeds and anise seed/star anise in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes.
    2. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then add salt and water. If using star anise, remove pods. Otherwise the seeds remain in the mixture.
    3. When mixture reaches 105º-115º F (which is quite warm but not too hot to touch), add yeast.
    4. Pour into a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer) then add rye flour and all-purpose flour. The dough will be wet and sticky, this is a-okay!
    5. Knead well. If using a stand mixer, with the dough hook knead for about 6 minutes. Again, the dough will be sticky and I highly recommend using a stand mixer if possible.
    6. Cover bowl with a cloth and let rise until double in size.
    7. Divide dough into four equal parts. Shape each piece into a round ball, folding the dough under to make a smooth top. Place on floured board, cover with cloth, and let rise one more time until double in size.
    8. Score the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife. Transfer to a preheated 350ºF oven and cook on a baking stone. Bake for about 30 minutes, until browned and internal temperature reaches 190ºF.
    9. As with most breads, let cool before cutting. Although we always break the rules and cut into just one hot loaf because it is irresistible!

     


  3. Sunday, March 21, 2021

    3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen: Spring Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto

    Years ago I wrote a series for Disney’s website Babble: 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen. Babble has since been closed down and the posts are no longer online, so I have decided to sharing my favorites here on my website! This is a recipe that one of my readers Kelly said had become a favorite in their family but she could not find it online anymore. This one’s for you, Kelly! And thanks for reminding me to start sharing these great kid-friendly recipes once again!

    asparagus and prosciutto risotto recipe

    For this month’s cooking project, I decided to teach my kids how to make risotto. When I told them, they were pumped! And, as it turns out, they had never tried risotto before, so it was really cool teaching them something totally new in the kitchen.

    Risotto seems like an intimidating meal to make to a lot of people, but it’s actually quite simple. It just takes a little time and care to prepare, and, as I just discovered, is actually a great dish to make with kids!

    Choosing the Recipe

    I love risotto but hardly ever make it at home. I hoped that if my kids learned how to do it, we’d be more likely to include it in our menu in the future. It’s also a pretty basic recipe that I would love my kids to have in their kitchen “toolbox” when they leave home one day. 

    Rankings

    This recipe was a big winner in the “cooking with kids” department! They had a lot of fun making it and thought the risotto was delicious. When I asked if the recipe was hard, Anna and Cate confidently declared that it was not at all.

    Top view of risotto with asparagus and prosciutto

    Steps Where Kids Can Get Involved

    This recipe takes about 40 minutes of hands-on cooking time. The three kids rotated in and out of the process, which worked really well. No one got bored and there was plenty for them to do whenever they wanted to participate.

    • Grating the cheese: Owen, my 3-year-old, did some of the grating and when he got bored Anna, my 7-year-old, finished it up.
    • Chopping add-ins: Cate is 10 years old, so she was able to help chop the prosciutto and cook the asparagus. It was good practice for her to work on her knife skills.
    • Stirring Galore: There is so much stirring in this recipe, which is my kids’ favorite thing to do when cooking. Actually, there is so much stirring they got tired of it — something I never thought could happen! The girls also loved pouring the ladles of broth into the rice.
    • The Tasting

    Usually our recipe tastings don’t stress me out, but this one had me on my toes. After all, the final product was dinner — if the kids didn’t like it, I didn’t know what we were going to eat that night! Thankfully all three kids enjoyed the risotto and Anna even declared it her second favorite food ever, second only to boxed long grain and wild rice mixes.

    recipe for asparagus and prosciutto risotto

    The Recipe

    I used The Kitchn’s tutorial for homemade risotto as a guide and made adjustments to the recipe where necessary. I talked to the kids about how risotto is a great blank canvas for all kinds of flavors and add-ins, especially depending on the season. For example, in the fall I sometimes make Butternut Squash Risotto. Since it’s spring, we all decided to go with asparagus, which is in abundance right now. Prosciutto and asparagus are pretty much made for each other, so we had to throw some prosciutto in, too!

    Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto
     
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 6
    Ingredients
    • 6-8 cups chicken stock or broth
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ⅓ onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pushed through garlic press
    • 2 cups arborio rice
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup cooked asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 5 thick slices prosciutto, chopped
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Instructions
    1. Prep all ingredients ahead of time so they are ready to go when you’re cooking.
    2. Heat chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat, then keep warm over low heat while you continue with the rest of the recipe.
    3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a deep 12-inch skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat until they have softened and are translucent. Add garlic and 1 more tablespoon butter and stir.
    4. Add rice and raise heat to medium-high. Constantly stirring, cook rice until toasted. You should start to smell the rice toasting and the grains should look clear on the edges, with some white still in the middle of the grain.
    5. Deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and cooking until wine evaporates.
    6. Add 1 ladle of the chicken stock to the rice. Reduce heat to medium. Keep stirring until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice, then add another ladle of stock. Repeat this process, until the rice is cooked through (taste testing is necessary!). The rice cooking process will take 20-30 minutes. Towards the end of this process, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the risotto. Do a little at a time and taste it as you go — the saltiness of the chicken stock will depend on how much salt you will need.
    7. Once the rice is the texture you like, add the last tablespoon of butter, 1 more ladle of chicken stock, and the Parmesan cheese. Stir and cook until the risotto is a nice creamy texture.
    8. Stir in asparagus and prosciutto and serve immediately. (Feel free to experiment with other seasonal add-ins — risotto is a great canvas for all kinds of flavors!)

     


  4. Wednesday, December 23, 2020

    My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

    Today I am awake before the rest of the family so I can make sugar cookie dough. The kids have a gingerbread house decorating station set up on the dining room table and it seems a shame to just clean it up since it could so easily be converted into a cookie decorating station. So, time to bake!

    favorite cut-out cookie recipes from @janemaynard

    Every year when I go to find my favorite sugar cookie recipe on AllRecipes, it takes me a good five minutes of searching and ultimately panicking before I find the recipe. I am putting an end to the panic right now. This blog is my recipe box and it is time to add this recipe card. This is not my recipe and I literally follow it to a T every year. The recipe is perfect. So, I am giving all the credit to “J. Saunders” on AllRecipes. However, it is time I posted this recipe here on the blog to prevent future heart attacks!

    Also, if you want a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe, click here. And, yes, I am making both this morning.

    Happy Holidays! 

    The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
     
    My notes are in italics below, but honestly this recipe is perfect! Originally posted on AllRecipes.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 5 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    Instructions
    1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. (Jane note: for the stirring portion I just use my KitchenAid mixer on low.)
    2. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). (Jane note: I divide the dough into two and form two large, thick discs, about 2" thick, and wrap them in plastic wrap to refrigerate. It helps to have wet hands when forming the discs. This makes the dough easier to work with after chilling.)
    3. Preheat oven to 400º F (200º C).
    4. Roll out dough on floured surface, ¼- to ½-inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
    5. Place cookies 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheets. (Jane note: I use my silicon baking mats to bake these)
    6. Bake 6 – 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

     


  5. Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    Carne Asada Salad with Cilantro Crema

    Side view of carne asada salad topped with avocado

    As promised, I am sharing my carne asada salad recipe, although it’s more of a guide than an actual recipe. This salad is flexible. If you’re missing something, no worries. Really the only required attendees in carne asada salad are, well, carne asada, salad (you know, the greens) and my homemade cilantro crema. Beyond that, do what I describe below or get creative! The world (well, this salad) is your oyster (except there aren’t oysters in this salad, and, actually, as flexible as the salad is, I would skip the oysters).

    Top view of carne asada salad on a white plate

    This is a great go-to dinner option. The cilantro crema dressing is easy to make, the carne asada (which I get from the butcher at the store) grills up in mere minutes, and the salad is super easy to throw together. Also, all my kids like this meal so that automatically makes it my favorite. But, seriously, Nate and I do love it as well!

    Carne asada salad with cilantro crema dressing

    Carne Asada Salad with Cilantro Crema
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Salad greens (whatever is your favorite!)
    • Sliced, grilled carne asada
    • Beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, whatever)
    • Fresh or canned corn
    • Chopped or sliced avocado
    • Chopped tomatoes (I usually forget these)
    • Fried tortilla strips or broken up tortilla chips
    • Cilantro Crema
    Instructions
    1. On a plate place your greens. Top with carne asada, beans, corn, avocado, tomato, then drizzle with dressing. Finish off with tortilla strips! Enjoy!

     

     


  6. Sunday, June 28, 2020

    Cilantro Crema Dressing Recipe (Also an Excellent Dip!)

    Carne Asada Salad served with Homemade Cilantro Crema Dressing

    This cilantro crema dressing recipe is divine. I first made up this concoction for carne asada salad (a salad we threw together one night that has since become a family favorite dinner) and have made it many times. Using crema Mexicana as the base, this sauce is a wonderful salad dressing but it is also a great dip for chips and raw vegetables. (Kettle crinkle-cut potato chips in the same room as this dip is my new kryptonite).

    Bowl of cilantro crema dressing

    We have also used this cilantro cream as toppings for other savory dishes, like baked potatoes and tacos. It would also be a great sauce to serve on top of a perfectly-cook steak. You get the idea, we’ve been using this stuff on everything.

    Top view of a cilantro crema dressing recipe

    If you’ve never had crema Mexicana, it’s used similarly to sour cream, but it is thinner in texture and doesn’t have a sour flavor. As a result, this cilantro crema dressing recipe makes for very fresh, light-tasting flavor, and the garlic and cilantro give it a nice brightness.

    Cilantro crema dressing recipe in a bowl with a spoon

    That’s about all I have to say about cilantro crema. Enjoy!

    Cilantro Crema Dressing and Dip
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Can be used as a salad dressing, a sauce topping for foods like baked potatoes, steak and tacos, or as a dip for chips or fresh vegetables
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped finely
    • 1 cup Mexican crema (see note below for details)
    • ½ cup avocado or olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • Juice from 2 limes
    • 2 garlic cloves, through a garlic press
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    Instructions
    1. Mix everything together and your done!
    2. The dressing is on the thicker side, but it still works great on salad!
    Notes
    Try to find crema Mexicana that is listed simply as "table cream." Sometimes crema Mexicana will be labeled "agria," or sour cream. While sour crema is still delicious, we like the dressing better when made with the plain, non-sour crema.

     


  7. Sunday, May 17, 2020

    How to Make Crispy Taco Shells (You’re Welcome)

    Two years ago I finally got my hands on fresh masa and learned how to make fresh masa corn tortillas. I thought at that point I had outdone myself when it came to homemade tacos. Then COVID-19 lockdown happened and I wasn’t hitting the tortilleria every week for fresh masa. Because I only had access to already-cooked corn tortillas, I thought to myself, “Self, what could make these store-bought corn tortillas taste better?” And then myself was like, “Self, fry them.” And that is how I figured out how to make crispy taco shells and, honestly, I think it might even be better than fresh masa corn tortillas…and I do NOT say that lightly.  

    Picture of ground beef tacos inside homemade crispy taco shells

    (I must admit that Jack In the Box tacos also inspired me to make these crispy taco shells at home. I know, Jack the bobble head inspired me in the kitchen. I’m as surprised as you are.)

    Top view of ground beef tacos inside homemade crispy taco shells with hot sauce

    For real, please don’t ever buy crispy taco shells at the store ever again. Buy corn tortillas and fry them. They really truly are the most delicious crispy taco shells you will ever eat. And they are fast to make. And unlike most frying recipes, you don’t use that much oil so clean up is easy, too.

    Step-by-step photos for how to make crispy taco shells

    The photos above show the step-by-step process for how to make crispy taco shells, and the details are explained in the recipe below. Below is a photo of what they look like fresh out of the pan! Enjoy!

    Homemade crispy tacos shells on a plate, two empty two with meat

    How to Make Crispy Taco Shells
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Corn Tortillas
    • Oil for frying (something with a high smoke-point and neutral flavor: peanut and vegetable, for example; I used avocado oil and it worked great perfect)
    Instructions
    1. I find the tacos are at their most delicious when you add the taco meat to the taco shell immediately after frying. I like to set up my taco shell frying station like so: Stack of corn tortillas, tongs, pot with oil on the stove, large plate lined with paper towels, taco meat. (This recipe for Cora's Ground Beef Taco Meat is amazing, but you could put any kind of meat for tacos in here: steak, chicken, whatever!)
    2. Add oil to a medium-large pot. It doesn't need to be that deep - it should cover the bottom of the pan and then add a bit more, probably about ⅛" - ¼" deep.
    3. Heat oil over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. A drop of water in the oil should sizzle.
    4. Using tongs, place one tortilla into the oil and let fry on the first side for 5-10 seconds.
    5. Flip the tortilla. Let it fry on the second side for just a couple seconds, then using your tongs sort of fold the tortilla in half. When I do this, I hold the folded half that is out of the oil up a little so you get kind of a flat bottom to the taco shell, if that makes sense. As it fries it will start to hold its shape on its own.
    6. Once the shell is holding its shape (this happens quickly), flip it over. I kind of push the side of the shell that's in the oil down into the oil so that the inside of the shell is frying, too. Just keep flipping and pressing until the shell starts to brown lightly.
    7. Once shell is done frying, remove form oil, let drip onto the paper towels, then set down on the paper towel-lined plate. Fill immediately with meat.
    8. For each shell, frying time total is only around 30 seconds or so. They fry up quickly!

     

     


  8. Wednesday, April 29, 2020

    Pressure Cooker Carnitas Recipe

    One of my most Slow Cooker Carnitas favorite recipes is the recipe I have here on the blog. It’s easy to make, doesn’t have any uncommon ingredients, and is SO DELICIOUS. I mean, honestly, every time I make that recipe I’m surprised at how good the carnitas taste! Since I love the recipe so much, I decided it would be worth figuring out a version for the Instant Pot. And so this pressure cooker carnitas recipe was born!

    Preparing pork shoulder for this pressure cooker carnitas recipe showing the ingredients in the Instant Pot before cooking

    It’s essentially the same recipe but I figured out the right amount of liquid and cooking time for the pressure cooker for you. Also, total cooking time is about 1 hour with the pressure cooker, as opposed to 8 hours in the slow cooker. So, you know, if you forget to prep the carnitas in the morning, throwing it together in the afternoon is totally possible!

    Pork carnitas cooked in a pressure cooker served on a corn tortilla with salsa and cilantro

    I’ve had people ask if the frying step is necessary. No, it’s not. But it makes the carnitas that much better. So, go ahead and choose your own adventure. I think it’s worth the extra step!

    Enjoy this pressure cooker carnitas recipe! I know I do!

    Pressure Cooker Carnitas Recipe
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
    • Salt (kosher preferred)
    • Black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onion, cut into quarters
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, roughly chopped
    • 1 cup of liquid that includes the juice from 1 orange + water to fill to 1 cup total, save orange peels after juicing
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    Instructions
    1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Place pork shoulder in a pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot).
    2. Mix together the oregano, cumin, garlic and olive oil. Spread half of the oil mixture on one side of the pork shoulder, flip over and then rub the rest of the oil mixture on the other side of the pork shoulder.
    3. Place the onion, jalapeno, and orange peels in the slow cooker with the meat. I put some of the produce on top and some around the edges.
    4. Pour the water-orange juice mixture over the meat.
    5. Select High Pressure on the pressure cooker and set for 45 minutes. When it has cooked for 45 minutes and it beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, open the vent, then let it sit for 10 more minutes. Confirm the valve has dropped and then carefully remove the lid.
    6. Note: if the meat is not fall-apart tender at this point, put the pressure cooker on for another 20-25 minutes and you should be good to go!
    7. Carefully remove the meat from the pressure cooker and put in a bowl. Pull the meat apart with a fork.
    8. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Sprinkle pan liberally with more salt. Evenly layer the carnitas in the pan once the pan is hot and cook just one side until you get a nice crispy edge on the meat touching the pan.
    9. Remove from heat, stir together, do a little taste test and add a bit of salt if needed (probably not needed, but check anyway). Sometimes I pour over some of the juices from the cooker over the meat for extra flavor.
    10. Serve with fresh cilantro, salsa, hot sauce and tortillas. You could also add other items to your taco (rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, guac, etc), but Nate and I found that the carnitas were just so good it was better to have a simply-dressed taco.

     


  9. Sunday, April 26, 2020

    Pomona’s Pectin Freezer Jam, My New Favorite

    I have been writing about freezer jam for years. My mom always made it and I have continued the tradition as an adult. I love freezer jam – you don’t have to cook the jam, you can store it in any container you have handy and just pop it in the freezer, and it’s the best tasting jam around (in my humble opinion, at least!). I have a major update to share regarding my annual freezer jam process. I’ve always used Sure-Jell pectin because that’s what my mom always used and it’s what I could find in any standard grocery store. This year, however, I ended up trying Pomona’s Universal Pectin and I am in love!

    Boxes of Pomona's Universal Pectin in front of a jar of jam

    Since I have been limiting myself to just one grocery store per week (thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown), Pomona’s was my only option because that was what was available. I was a little nervous about switching it up, but I will for sure use Pomona’s Pectin over Sure-Jell going forward, pandemic lockdown or not!

    SURE-JELL PECTIN: CONS 

    While I love the freezer jam I have always made with Sure-Jell, there have been a few drawbacks over the years.

    1. Potential of jam not jelling: Sometimes the jam simply doesn’t jell. You’ll follow all the directions precisely and for whatever reason the jam just never jells. So, every batch was stressful. And when it didn’t jell, it was just such a waste of time and fruit. I know for a fact I’m not the only one this happens to, based on years of comments here on the blog.
    2. Recipe misprint: One year Sure-Jell misprinted the freezer jam recipe in the pectin boxes. It is amazing how many years those bad recipes keep turning up for people, ruining batch after batch of jam.
    3. Sugar Content. The classic Sure-Jell freezer jam recipe uses SO MUCH SUGAR. I know, I know, Sure-Jell has a low-sugar pectin option and I’ll admit I never tried it. I’m sure it’s great. But I love the original so much, but it is a heck of a lot of sugar.
    4. Different Recipes for Different Fruits: The recipes for different types of fruit are all different, so you have to be super careful when reading the recipe to prepare your jam or it won’t jell.
    5. Finicky Recipe: The directions are very finicky in general – you have to follow them precisely or else, well, see #1 and #4 for why this is frustrating!  

    Spoonful of raspberry freezer jam made with Pomona's Universal Pectin

    POMONA’S UNIVERSAL PECTIN: PROS

    Enter Pomona’s Universal Pectin. The texture of the jam is a little different from Sure-Jell’s, but it is equally as delicious. I will now address each of the issues listed above as applied to Pomona’s:

    1. Happy Jelling! This pectin is super reliable. I have made many batches now and every time the jam starts jelling instantly. It’s magic. And completely un-stressful.
    2. No misprinted recipe legacy. Pomona’s, however, does not include the freezer jam recipe in the box. You can find it on their website, but it’s kind of buried. So, I will share the recipe below (and re-write it with my notes). 
    3. Sugar Content: Pomona’s freezer jam recipe uses WAY LESS SUGAR and is still delicious. And the jam jells no problem and isn’t so dependent on sugar content. Also, the recipe gives you a range of the amount of sugar to use, so you can adjust to your taste.
    4. The recipe for different types of fruit are all the same. Four cups of prepared fruit per 4 teaspoons of pectin! (Note, there are approximately 9 teaspoons of pectin in 1 box, so don’t dump the whole thing for one batch…make sure you measure.)
    5. Simple Recipe: The directions are simper and seem no fail to me. I would be stunned if this recipe didn’t jell. It’s worked like a charm every time for me!

    So, there you have it. I’m a Pomona’s convert! 

    Looking down into a jar of raspberry freezer jam made with Pomona's Universal Pectin

    FREEZER JAM RESOURCES

    • Click here for my Freezer Jam Fruit Buying Guide. This guide will tell you how many ounces of fruit to buy for different amounts of pectin and sugar. I included measurements for both Sure-Jell and Pomona’s Universal pectins. This guide is a lifesaver for me year after year and I updated it with a nice graphic this year! Note: the guide is only for strawberries and raspberries.
    • Click here for the Sure-Jell raspberry and strawberry freezer jam recipe. Sure-Jell is delicious and some of you may still want to go that route. 
    • Lastly, the Pomona’s Universal Pectin freezer jam recipe! This recipe can be used for many types of fruits, listed below! 

    Boxes of Pomona's Universal Pectin in front of a jar of raspberry freezer jam

    Freezer Jam with Pomona's Universal Pectin
     
    This recipe is for raw freezer jam using Pomona's Universal Pectin. "Raw" simply means you do not cook the jam. The jam can be stored in any air-tight container, in the fridge for 1 week and up to 1 year in the freezer. (Note: I'm certain we've kept it in the fridge longer than 1 week without it going bad, but do what you feel safe with!) Recipe suitable for the following fruits: Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Sour Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Pear, Kiwi, Blackberry, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Nectarine This recipe is from Pomona's Pectin website, but I have re-written it for ease and specifically for raw freezer jam, and have added notes as well.
    Author:
    Serves: 4-6 cups
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups mashed fruit (see step 3 below for preparation details)
    • ½ cup to 1 cup honey OR ¾ to 2 cups sugar (I use sugar)
    • ¾ cup boiling water
    • 3 teaspoons pectin (or 4 teaspoons pectin if using peaches, apricots or nectarines)
    • 4 teaspoons calcium water (plus more if needed, see step 1 below for how to prepare)
    Instructions
    1. Prepare calcium water: Combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (included in the box) with ½ cup water in a small clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Set aside. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use if needed.
    2. Wash and rinse freezer containers. Set aside.
    3. If using Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Sour Cherry, Sweet Cherry, Pear, Kiwi, Blackberry, Plum: Remove hulls/stems/pits/skins as applicable, mash or grind, then measure to 4 cups. Make sure fruit is at room temperature when making the jam. If using Peach, Apricot or Nectarine: Pit/Chop/Mash OR peel/pit/mash fruit - bring to boil in a pan, boil for 2 minutes while stirring then let cool in a bowl, then measure to four cups.
    4. Measure fruit into large bowl. Add chosen sweetener (honey or sugar) to fruit and mix well.
    5. Bring ¾ cup water to a boil. Carefully pour into a food processor or blender. Add 3 teaspoons pectin (note: for peach, apricot, nectarine add 4 teaspoons pectin). Vent lid and blend 1-2 minutes, until all powder is dissolved. (Jane note: I brought the water to a boil, then removed the pan from the heat, added the pectin, and whisked vigorously for 2 minutes and this worked, too.)
    6. Add hot liquid pectin to fruit mixture and stir to mix well.
    7. Add 4 teaspoons calcium water from jar, mix well into fruit mixture. Jell should appear at this point. If not, stir in 1 teaspoon calcium water at a time until jam is jelled.
    8. Fill containers, leaving ½" space at top of container. Store in freezer immediately for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after thawing.

     


  10. Saturday, April 11, 2020

    Modified Funeral Potatoes (That Won’t Necessitate Your Own Funeral Quite So Quickly)

    Ah, funeral potatoes. The classic potato casserole served by the Church Ladies at funerals for generations. The classic potato casserole that may have unwittingly caused a few funerals in the process. Not today, Funeral Potatoes. Not today.

    Funeral Potatoes on a plate with salad and ham

    Last year when I pulled out the ol’ funeral potato recipe for our Easter dinner (hint: funeral potatoes are really good with ham), I decided to live dangerously and CHANGE THE RECIPE. I used the recipe that my grandma always used and, while delicious, is more fat than potato and, while delicious, makes you feel awful after eating.

    Top view of a plate of food with potato casserole, ham and salad

    I didn’t change any of the ingredients, I just changed the proportions. And guess what? Just as delicious. I’m using the modified-still-not-healthy-but-at-least-not-a-murder-weapon version from now on!

    Funeral Potatoes, cheesy potato casserole, on a plate

    Modified Funeral Potatoes
     
    Same recipe as my grandma used to make, just not quite so deadly.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 pounds frozen hashbrowns
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 can cream of chicken soup
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3 chopped green onions
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup corn flakes, crushed
    • ¼ cup butter
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F and thaw the frozen hashbrowns.
    2. Mix all ingredients except butter and cornflakes in a large bowl. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish.
    3. Sprinkle top of casserole with corn flakes. Drizzle melted butter evenly over the corn flakes.
    4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and the top is nice and toasty!