Homemade Strawberry Preserves

My 17-year-old son’s face lit up when he sneaked the first spoonful from the bottom of the Dutch oven. He said these were the best strawberry preserves he ever had. He enjoyed the last of the warm, rich flavors before I took the pot away to wash.

Made from vine-ripened fruit, these preserves catch the fresh full flavor of summer strawberries. With a biscuit and a little butter, you’ve got a bit of Heaven right here.

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Homemade Strawberry Preserves

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed and chopped
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • 2 cups sugar

Place chopped strawberries in a Dutch oven and mash with a potato masher until broken. Add in lemon zest and juice.

Heat strawberries over medium-high heat. Mix in sugar. Reducee heat to medium, and stir frequently until strawberries are “set,” about 15 to 20 minutes. Preserves are set when they do not drip off a frozen teaspoon.

Ladle preserves into prepared mason jars, seal, and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. If you do not wish to can the preserves, place in freezer-proof containers and freeze for up to a year.

 

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Shrimp with Harissa & Squash

In an effort to eat more healthfully using ingredients I had on hand without running to the store, I created this delicious, quick-fix dish featuring shrimp and homegrown squash and zucchini.

We served it over cheese grits, but it would be equally good over brown rice or couscous just on its own.

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Shrimp with Harissa & Squash

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp harissa
  • 2 fresh zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 2 fresh yellow squash, halved and sliced
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled
  • sea salt to taste
  • hot freshly cooked polenta, brown rice, or couscous, if desired

In a skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent; add garlic, chili powder, and Harissa and stir to blend. Add in zucchini and yellow squash, stirring frequently.

When squashes are just beginning to soften, add shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve over hot cooked polenta, brown rice, or couscous.

 

 

 

 

 

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Green Curry Lentils with Spinach

Understanding that diet can contribute to all sorts of health conditions—including rheumatoid arthritis (of which I was diagnosed today), I created this healthful and flavorful meatless meal featuring easy-to-cook green lentils for dinner tonight.

This meal is influenced by the flavors of Thailand and India. It’s packed with all kinds of goodness.

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Green Curry Lentils with Spinach

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Tbsp May Ploy Green Curry Paste
  • 2 cups dried green lentils
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 10-ounce bag fresh baby spinach
  • hot, freshly cooked basmati or jasmine rice

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, and green curry paste until well blended.

Stir in lentils and canned tomatoes and blend. Add hot water and cook until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk until well blended. Right before serving, mix in spinach and stir until slightly wilted.

Serve over hot cooked rice if desired.

Pork Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are easy enough to buy frozen at the grocery store or pick up by the dozen at your local Chinese restaurant, but they’re really not that hard to make. Like most things, they taste even better when made hot and fresh at home.

Here’s an Americanized version of quick-ish pork egg rolls, using prepared materials that you assemble and cook at home. They taste and look like you worked really hard.

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Pork Egg Rolls

  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • 1 pound ground pork or mild pork sausage*
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha (optional, if you want them a little spicy)
  • 1 small bag Cole slaw mix (dressing packet not needed)
  • 1 small bag bean sprouts
  • 1 tsp cornstarch stirred into ¼ cup cold water

In a wok, cook pork, garlic, and ginger until the pork is browned. Mix in soy sauce, 5-spice powder, and chili garlic sauce, if desired; stir until blended. Add in veggies, stirring frequently, until warmed through but not wilted. Place pork mixture in a fine colander and drain any excess liquid.

Place one egg roll wrapper with a corner facing you (diamond-shaped) on preparation surface. Using a slotted spoon, spoon ½-cup pork mixture onto egg roll wrapper. Fold corner over filling, fold in sides, and roll. Spoon a tiny bit of cornstarch water on the remaining corner and seal. Place prepared egg rolls on a cooking sheet, seamside down.

Heat oil in skillet or deep fryer. Gently place egg rolls in hot oil; cook until lightly browned, turning as necessary. Drain egg rolls on paper towels or place on a rack on a baking sheet in a 325° oven for several minutes to remove excess oil. Serve hot with soy sauce and Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce.

* You can leave out the pork altogether for vegan egg rolls, or substitute ground chicken or shrimp.

Award-Winning Homemade Salsa

Our go-to recipe for making salsa at home, this restaurant-style salsa is super easy to make. In fact, it’s so easy that in the summer when tomatoes are plentiful, we make it every day.

This salsa is a winner: It won 1st Place in our parish men’s salsa cook-off. Woo-hoo!

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Award-Winning Homemade Salsa

  • 5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 white onion, quartered
  • 1-2 jalapeño or Serrano peppers, quartered
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • handful of fresh cilantro, washed

Combine first five ingredients in a food processor; process until blended. Add in cilantro; pulse 3-4 times.

Serve salsa with tortilla chips.

 

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil

Warm weather necessitates lighter fare and provides opportunity to showcase homegrown garden vegetables.

This pasta dish features fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden; of course, store bought are fine. These simple ingredients yield surprisingly rich flavor.

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Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 12 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 large basil leaves, julienned
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package spaghetti, cooked
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat oil in a large skillet and add onions; cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to carmelize, about 20 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, and cook, stirring frequently, until juice is let and cooked down.

When sauce has thickened, season with sea salt and pepper; stir in basil. Pour over hot, cooked noodles, and stir gently until blended. Top with Parmesan, if desired. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Pico de Gallo with Fresh Pineapple

On Fridays, our family often enjoys a pre-dinner appetizer while we relax from a hectic work and school week. Chips and salsa are a mainstay in this Texas household, as is good, fresh pico de gallo.

This recipe calls for fresh pineapple, but it’s just as good with fresh mango. Serve it cold with tortilla chips or as a topping for grilled chicken.

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Pico de Gallo with Fresh Pineapple

  • 1 whole pineapple, peeled and diced
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1-2 Serrano or jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ -1 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients except cilantro, stirring to blend. Toss in chopped cilantro. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.