Sangria Plums

P1This recipe is a twofer, as both the Sangria brine and the marinated plums are delicious on their own. Enjoy these tangy plums baked into a simple cobbler or an elegant clafoutis. Enjoy the Sangria, well, in a glass.  😉  These little jars make lovely gifts. Let’s get started!

Note: If you don’t want to bother with canning, no worries. Stop after Step 3 and simply refrigerate your Sangria Plums. As long as you keep the plums refrigerated and completely covered with the sangria mixture, this recipe should stay fresh for at least two weeks. Continue reading

Nalewka Babuni for Beginners

N1Don’t kill the messenger, friends, but the holiday season will be here in the blink of an eye (I know, I know…). A pretty bottle of Nalewka Babuni makes a wonderful gift! Translated approximately as “Grandma’s Liqueur,” Nalewka (pronounced “Na-LEF-ka”) Babuni is Continue reading

Cookbook Giveaway!

cookbook-cover-imageThe Global Recipe Project Cookbook

Contest Ends May 30th

Two ways to enter:
1) Reblog this post!
2) Tweet a link to this post, and include @CrowdedEarthKit
———
Available on Amazon, 100% of the profits from The Global Recipe Project Cookbook will benefit not-for-profit organizations which feed people as a central part of their mission. Cooks and food bloggers from around the world have contributed to this amazing book. Over 170 recipes from 65 countries are included. Pick up a copy today, and support a worthy cause!
8″ x 10″ (20.32 x 25.4 cm) 
Black & White on Cream paper
136 pages
CEK Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0998191607
ISBN-10: 0998191604
BISAC: Cooking / Regional & Ethnic / General

Vintage Post: Dandelion Honey

dandelionThis is a vintage post, but seasonally appropriate and lots of fun. Don’t spray toxins on your lawn… let those dandelions grow au naturel! The beautiful golden color and early summer fragrance of dandelions attracts bees, providing life sustaining nectar this time of year. Bees are HUNGRY in May and June, and if we want them around to pollinate our fruit orchards and vegetable gardens later in the season, we had better provide them with something to eat right now.

You can benefit from dandelions even more directly by making dandelion honey. Give this recipe a try – it’s delicious, and a great conversation starter!

Bookworm Bundle

cookbook-cover-imagesoufflebakeryValentine’s Day is approaching, and we have the perfect token of affection for the food lovers in your life! From now until February 14th, Crowded Earth Kitchen is pleased to offer our Bookworm Bundle for only $19.99 – that’s a savings of over 30%!

Each Bookworm Bundle contains the following items:

  • One copy of The Global Recipe Project cookbook, featuring delicious recipes and photographs from around the world!
  • One author-signed copy of How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, Carly Ellen Kramer’s highly reviewed food fiction novel!
  • One high gloss European Bakery notecard (with envelope) for writing your affections to your Valentine!

Simply click on the PayPal link below to place your order. Bookworm Bundles will ship within 24 hours of purchase.

BOOKWORM BUNDLE!

Perfect Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal

Photo courtesy of Ashley Marie Thompson

This recipe for Perfect oatmeal cookies! was submitted from Canada by Ashley Marie Thompson for inclusion in The Global Recipe Project cookbook. Thank you, Ashley Marie, for your generous contribution to this charitable cookbook project!

Ingredients (Makes about 1 ½ dozen small cookies)

1/2 cup butter, soft

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups oats

1/2 cup medjool dates, chopped, packed

Directions

Step 1) Blend together your butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla with a spatula until even and smooth.

Step 2) Whisk together your flour, soda, cinnamon, salt, and oats.

Step 3) Fold your dry ingredients into your butter mixture until almost completely combined, but not quite.

Step 4) At this stage: add your chopped dates, and continue mixing until evenly incorporated.

Step 5) Place your cookie dough in the fridge (for at least one hour) and preheat your oven to 375 F.

Step 6) After your dough has rested one hour in the fridge- roll cookie balls 2 TB each in size, and squish them down with the palm of your hand on a silicone baking tray or parchment lined sheet pan.

Step 7) These cookies won’t spread much at all so keep that in mind, you can leave 1 or 2 cm between each of them on the tray and have no ‘giant pancake’ issues 😉

Step 8) Bake the cookies for about 6 mins, then rotate the tray and baking approx. another 6 mins depending how crispy you like the edges. Cool on a wire rack 20 mins.

Step 9) To store: place cookies in a sealed plastic bag, suck out some of the air, and seal shut. Keeps about one week!

THE GLOBAL RECIPE PROJECT!

HOORAY! The Global Recipe Project Cookbook is now available!

cookbook-cover-imageFinish your holiday shopping AND support a wonderful cause!

Available on Amazon, 100% of the profits from The Global Recipe Project Cookbook will benefit not-for-profit organizations which feed people as a central part of their mission. Cooks and food bloggers from around the world have generously contributed to this amazing book. Over 170 recipes from 65 countries are included!
Pick up a copy today

, and support a worthy cause!

 ~~~~~~~~~~

8″ x 10″

(20.32 x 25.4 cm) 

Black & White Bleed on Cream paper
136 pages
CEK Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0998191607
ISBN-10: 0998191604
BISAC: Cooking / Regional & Ethnic / General

Canning Jar Cookies

WIN_20160605_110356

Watching my garden grow is making me anxious for canning season to begin! Alas, unless I want to preserve kohlrabi in jars (not very motivated by that idea), I’m going to have to wait for additional vegetables to appear.

Here’s a whimsical idea – canning jar cookies! I found this adorable canning jar cookie cutter and made a batch of “pickle relish” cookies, shown above.

Ann Clark Mason Jar Cookie Cutter – 4.5 Inches – Tin Plated Steel

For Canning Jar Cookies, I started by mixing up a batch of the same dough I used to make cute little snowflake cookies last December. It’s a satisfying sugar cookie dough that rolls well and holds its shape – perfect for these canning jars! I rolled the dough about 1/3 inch thick, and baked these cookies for about 14 minutes.

WIN_20160605_104951Next, I diced up a few green gumdrops to make “pickle relish.” I used a pastry brush to coat each baked cookie with a light icing made from 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I sprinkled diced gumdrops on each “jar” and finished with a few gold dragees near the top for the lids. I would have used silver dragees, but I didn’t have any in my pantry.

Aren’t these canning jar cookies cute? They would make a tasty gift, I think!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

WIN_20160214_175915

What’s even better than sneaking chocolate chip cookie dough from the mixing bowl?

How about safe-to-eat cookie dough dipped in chocolate?

Try this recipe. Happy Monday!  🙂

WIN_20160214_125852Ingredients (Makes 36 truffles)

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

WIN_20160214_1309241/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon milk (if needed)

1 pound milk chocolate bark

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugars.

Step 2) Stir in vanilla extract, salt, flour, and chocolate chips. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If dough is too dry and crumbly, sprinkle up to one tablespoon of milk over the dough and stir until a large ball forms.

WIN_20160214_175302Step 3) Roll pieces of dough into small balls, using approximately 1 teaspoon of dough per piece.

Step 4) Cover little dough balls and chill for at least one hour.

Step 5) Melt chocolate bark over low heat in a double boiler, stirring frequently.

Step 6) Use either a fork or a toothpick to dip each dough ball in chocolate. Set dipped truffles on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Step 7) Chill dipped truffles for one hour, either in a refrigerator or outside, depending upon your climate and the time of year.

Step 8) Store Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

Cinnamon Sandwich Cremes

Don’t forget to enter the 12 Days of Cookies FREE GIVEAWAY DRAWING!

cinnamon cookiesCelebrate your inner child with these Cinnamon Sandwich Cremes. Lightly spiced cookie rounds held together with creamy frosting… well, that’s enough to make me feel like I’m five years old again! These cookies freeze well, if you have the willpower to save them.

WIN_20151102_164629Ingredients (makes about 80 small cookie rounds, for 40 Cinnamon Sandwich Cremes)

1 cup real butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 generous tablespoons cinnamon

For the icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

WIN_20151116_215045Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add egg and mix well.

Step 2) Add flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix by hand; dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Chill dough for at least one hour before rolling 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut dough into 2 inch circles, and carefully transfer to greased baking sheets.

Step 4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Step 5) While cookies are cooling, blend together butter, powdered sugar, ground cloves, and milk to make icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into a plastic sandwich bag, and snip a tiny corner from the bag to make a homemade pastry bag. You should be able to easily squeeze icing from the bag and onto the bottoms of half of the cookie circles. Top with a second cookie circle; bottoms of cookies should be on the inside, by the frosting. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If the icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

VARIATIONS:

  1. For Cinnamon Vanilla Sandwich Cremes, omit ground cloves from icing. Instead, scrape the seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean into the icing. Delicious!
  2. For Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches, omit the icing altogether. Instead, spread 1 tablespoon of cinnamon flavored ice cream in between each pair of cookies. Freeze immediately. Make sure ice cream sandwiches are quite firm before serving.

Speculaas Wreath Cookies

WIN_20151119_140105

Don’t forget to enter the 12 Days of Cookies FREE GIVEAWAY DRAWING!

Speculaas Wreath Cookies were the most popular cookie on my dessert table at a recent holiday event. I do hope you’ll give them a try! Speculaas are Dutch spiced cookies in a wide variety of shapes, the most common of which are better known as windmill cookies. Whether you cut them into wreaths or windmills, these delightful cookies get their signature flavor from a spice blend called Speculaaskruiden. It’s easy to blend yourself (see recipe below). In a pinch you can substitute pumpkin pie spice mix, though the flavor will be slightly different.

WIN_20151102_164629Ingredients (makes about 36 wreath cookies)

1 cup real butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons Speculaaskruiden spice mix (see recipe, below)

For the icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

2 drops green food coloring

Green sugar crystals (for decorating)

Small cinnamon candies (for decorating)

WIN_20151116_215052Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add egg and mix well.

Step 2) Add flour, baking powder, salt, and Speculaaskruiden.  Mix by hand; dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Chill dough for at least one hour before rolling 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut dough into wreath shapes, and carefully transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Step 4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Step 5) While cookies are cooling, blend together butter, powdered sugar, and milk to make icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into a plastic sandwich bag, and snip a tiny corner from the bag to make a homemade pastry bag. You should be able to easily squeeze icing from the bag and onto each cookie wreath, as shown above. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If the icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Step 6) After piping icing onto your cookie wreaths, sprinkle them with green sugar crystals. Place a cinnamon candy on each wreath. Beautiful!

picture1180 Speculaaskruiden Spice Mix (makes enough for three batches of cookies)

Stir together (if using powdered spices) or grind together in a coffee grinder (if using whole spices):

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon star anise

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Store spice mix in a tightly sealed container and store away from heat and light.  Open container and smell whenever you need a smile.  🙂

Top Ten Affordable Kitchen Gadgets (Great Gift Ideas!)

kitchen gadgets

Here you have it – the Crowded Earth Kitchen “Top Ten” list of affordable kitchen gadgets we simply love. There are no status symbols on this list… if you’re looking for a TV show food processor that costs more than many people pay for rent, you’ll need to look some place else.  We’re pretty frugal and low tech around here. Check out the “old standbys” that we use often and highly recommend!

1) CANNING SUPPLIES.  Cooks who learn to preserve food through simple, hot water bath canning save more money than cooks who don’t. Investing in a few basic canning supplies will pay off quickly!

Granite Ware 0718-1 Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit, 9-Piece

2) A STOCKPOT.  You can get away with saucepans and little one-quart pots when you’re living on ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese, but when you get serious about cooking, you need a stockpot.  Yes, you do.

Excelsteel 16 Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot With Encapsulated Base

3) AN IMMERSION BLENDER. I resisted this for a while, and tried ladling soup back and forth from a stockpot to a standing blender. The first time I burned myself, I stopped being (quite so) cheap and bought an immersion blender.

Conair Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-75BC 200 Watt 2 Speed Hand Blender (Brushed Chrome)

4) A BUNDT PAN. I don’t have a huge assortment of baking pans, but I do love my Bundt pan. I use it for everything from delicious, light sponge cakes to decadent pecan rolls. The shape looks fancy – anything baked in a Bundt pan makes a great buffet centerpiece!

Cuisinart AMB-95FCP Chef’s Classic Nonstick Bakeware 9-1/2-Inch Fluted Cake Pan

5) A FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER. Best… coffee… ever! Just add coffee grounds and boiling water – this couldn’t be any easier. It works with tea leaves, as well.

SterlingPro French Coffee Press –8 Cup/4 Mug (1 liter, 34 oz), Chrome

6) INDIVIDUAL RAMEKIN DISHES. These are great for serving appetizers and desserts.

Norpro 6 Piece Porcelain Ramekin Set

7) OIL FREE, MICROWAVE POTATO CHIP MAKER. I wouldn’t have believed it if my mother didn’t buy one first to try it out, but this little gadget is amazing! You can make awesome snack chips out of potatoes and other vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, you name it) without any added fat. How cool is that?!

Joie Healthy Microwave Potato Chip Maker / Slicer / Cooker (Colors May Very)

8) Silicon Mat for Macarons. After several trips to France, I have developed a borderline obsession with macarons. These silicon mats are perfect for beginners, and are less than $5! Recipes coming soon…

1 X Silicone Macaron macaroon Baking Sheet Mat Muffin DIY Chocolate Cookie Mould Mode – 48 Capacity

9) Ninja Master Prep. This blender is absolutely fabulous, and completely affordable! For approximately $30, this blender will do everything from quickly pureeing soups to effortlessly crushing ice. How cool is that?

Ninja Master Prep (QB900B)

10) 17-Piece Tools and Gadgets Set. Look, Everybody needs these things in their kitchen, especially if they’re just starting out. Whether you need to stir, whisk, ladle, peel, measure, scrape, open, or grate, this set does it all.

KitchenAid Classic 17-piece Tools and Gadget Set (Black)

There you have it… a short list of Crowded Earth Kitchen favorites! What’s your favorite gadget in your kitchen? Feel free to comment below!

Caramel Apple Jelly

caramel apple jellyInstead of spending the holiday weekend shopping, why not spend an afternoon making pretty jars of delicious Caramel Apple Jelly for the loved ones on your gift list? Caramel Apple Jelly takes a bit of time to prepare, but the steps are easy to follow and your kitchen will smell wonderful. As an added bonus, Caramel Apple Jelly is a very economical recipe! Pick up a few bags of apples to make applesauce or a festive German dinner, and save the cores for this recipe. You can always cut the recipe in half, to make 4 jars instead of 8.

Ingredients (makes 8 half-pints)

30 apple cores

3 cups sugar

3 cups brown sugar

6 tablespoons powdered pectin

2 tablespoons loose caramel-flavored tea

picture011Directions

Step 1) Place apple cores and tea in a stockpot and just barely cover with water.

Step 2) Bring stockpot to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

picture014Step 3) Place a strainer in a slightly smaller bowl and line with a tightly woven, clean towel (or several layers of cheesecloth) as shown.  It is important that there is room in the lower bowl, below the bottom of the strainer, for juice to collect!

~

picture031Step 4) Carefully transfer the apple cores and juice into the towel-lined strainer.  Be careful to avoid overflow… you may need to ladle a few cups of juice out of the lower bowl and into a second bowl (for temporary storage) right away.  Be patient, and allow an hour or so for all of the apple juice to collect in the bottom bowl.

Step 5) Combine sugars and pectin.  Set aside.

Step 6) Measure 5 cups of apple juice, and bring to a rolling boil in your stockpot.

Step 7) Add sugar mixture to stockpot and, with constant stirring, return to a rolling boil.  This may take a few minutes.  After a rolling boil has been maintained for one, solid minute, remove caramel apple jelly from heat.

picture042 (2)Step 8) Ladle caramel apple jelly into sterilized, half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims clean, and top with lids and bands.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Jars of homemade caramel apple jelly make wonderful gifts.  Remember, making jelly is a fun and economical way to make use of fruit cores!

Holiday Spiced Apples

WIN_20150922_082659Oh, don’t be a scrooge. I know it’s a bit early to use the word “holiday,” but if you’re going to make Holiday Spiced Apples for your own holiday buffet or offer festive jars as gifts, you need to plan ahead. This recipe is easy to prepare, but tastes best after the flavors marinate in the jar for at least two weeks.

8 quarts is a nice quantity for gift giving, and will allow you to save a jar or two for yourself! The same recipe can also be canned in 16 pint size jars, if you prefer a smaller size. Or cut the recipe in half for 4 quarts or 8 pints. If you don’t want to can the recipe at all, simply store your spiced apples in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They’ll last for several weeks.

WIN_20150915_144614Ingredients (Makes 8 quarts)

40 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thick

4 cups cold water

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 cups “red hots” cinnamon candies

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

6 cups sugar

6 cups water

4 1/2 cups vinegar

WIN_20150918_144751Directions

Step 1) Dip peeled apple slices into a bowl containing 4 cups cold water and 1/2 cup lemon juice. This prevents browning. After dipping, set apple slices aside in a large bowl.

Step 2) Combine all remaining ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir often, so that the cinnamon candies don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Step 3) Reduce heat to simmer, and stir until candies are dissolved. Add apple slices.

Step 4) Simmer the apple slices in brine for 2 minutes. Ladle spiced apple slices into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by running a butter knife or a canning tool along the inside of each jar. Wipe the tops of the jars clean with a damp cloth, and top with lids and rims.

Step 5) Process quart jars in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes (pints only need 10 minutes). Do not open sealed jars for at least two weeks, to allow the flavors to blend. Enjoy your spiced apples!

Vanilla Spiced Pears

WIN_20150914_134748Vanilla Spiced Pears are wonderful when warmed for breakfast or served with a slice of pound cake for dessert. Pretty mason jars of these pears make lovely hostess gifts for the holiday season, as well! [If you’re looking for a hostess gift with a decidedly adult flair, check out this similar recipe for Brandied Pears.]

Money saving tip: If you’re buying pears at an orchard or farm stand, ask for “seconds.” Often, growers will only display their perfectly unblemished (No. 1) fruit for sale. Fruit which is still perfectly good for canning but has tiny cosmetic defects is considered No. 2 grade, and is often sold at steep discounts to customers who ask. During a recent orchard visit, I was able to buy pear seconds for half the price of unblemished pears, and the seconds had barely any defects at all (see photo).

WIN_20150914_124111Ingredients (Makes 7 quarts)

27 – 30 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thick

4 cups sugar

*1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1/2 cup lemon juice

8 cups water

*Don’t skimp on the real vanilla bean – vanilla extract is not a good substitute here. You can order vanilla beans to be delivered right to your door, if you wish: Grade A Premium Gourmet Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans , Fresh Prime, Approximatelly 17 Centimeters (Pack of 10)

WIN_20150914_123917Directions

Step 1) Bring sugar vanilla bean, cloves, allspice, lemon juice, and water to a boil in a large stockpot. Boil gently, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Step 2) Reduce heat to simmer. Add pear slices and simmer for two minutes.

WIN_20150914_132059Step 3) Ladle pears into sterilized quart size canning jars. Make sure pears are covered with the vanilla spiced syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Don’t be afraid to really pack the pear slices into the jars!

Step 4) Remove air bubbles from the jars by sliding a butter knife or canning tool along the inside of each jar. Cover jars with lids and rims. Process jars in a boiling water canning bath for 20 minutes.