Easy Homemade Marmalade

With everything going on in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had a lot more time on my hands at home to try out new things that interest me.

Having extra oranges on hand that may or may not get eaten before they got hard, the idea of trying to make my own marmalade so they didn’t go to waste came to mind. Also, a bit of extra vitamin C in my diet wouldn’t hurt, right?

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I personally do not like overly sweet food, so I adjusted the recipe I found to have less sugar than called for by about half.

First, I washed my oranges and lemon, cut the ends off, then cut them into quarters and then into thin strips. Next time I would try cutting them into thin rounds first and then into quarters to see which method is easiest to get the thinnest strips.

Make sure there are no seeds before adding the orange and lemon to the pot. (I saved the cut off the ends of the oranges to make a vinegar cleaner later).

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Add the sugar and water and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

I let the batch set overnight as this gives the orange’s natural pectin time to set. Some recipes called for pectin, which I did not have on hand, so I chose this method rather than wait until the next time I made it to the grocery store (which wouldn’t be for a while given the government’s strong recommendation to stay home unless absolutely necessary).

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The next day, I brought the batch back up to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer for 2 hours.

The next step was to bring it to a gentle boil for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning. The recipe said to use a candy thermometer and bring the temperature to 220 Degrees F – I actually whipped out my candy thermometer, despite my temptation to “wing it!”

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That being said… My batch only made it to about 210 Degrees before it started looking gelled enough, so I took a spoonful of the marmalade out and put it in the fridge for a minute to test how it set up. 

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It was the consistency I wanted, so I took my marmalade off the heat and put it into 3 clean, sanitized pint jars and sealed.

Of course my spoonful to test it was tasty, but I still HAD to try the marmalade with fresh, homemade sourdough bread for my final rating – and let me tell you, this will not be the last time I make this recipe!

It makes for a great breakfast when slathered on top of sourdough English muffins.

I had a friend joke that they call marmalade “old people jam” and it made me laugh; Pinterest already thinks I am an older lady, so why not just embrace it? Haha

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Recipe

4 Medium Oranges, sliced thinly

1 Lemon, sliced thinly

6 Cups Water

4 Cups Sugar (if you like it sweeter you can add another 4 cups of sugar)

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Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat, cover, and leave overnight.

Bring to a boil the next day, reduce heat to a simmer for 2 hours.

Bring to a gentle boil for 20 – 30 minutes. Target heat using your candy thermometer is 220 Degrees F. Test thickness by taking a spoonful and placing in the fridge for a minute; if it is watery, continue to cook. If it gels well, your batch is done.

Fill clean, sanitized jars and seal with hot water bath. 

Makes about 3 pints.

Enjoy!

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Have you made marmalade? Do you plan to give it a try? I would love to hear from you below!

(Published April 2020)

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Fried Tacos

You can never go wrong with tacos! I mean, we even have a day of the week dedicated to their deliciousness!

My family’s taco recipe is a little different than what you traditionally think of when you are planning Taco Tuesday (or TacoS Tuesday, as my niece calls it).

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We actually fry our tacos, which makes the cheese super gooey and extra delicious!

First, you’ll need to fry the ground beef. Once it is cooked, drain excess fat off.

Add salt & pepper to taste as well as 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

Next, spread refried beans on half the corn tortilla. CLICK HERE for the refried beans recipe.

Then add your ground beef on top of the beans and then a slice of cheese.

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Fry the taco, folded over, in a pre-heated pan with oil. Don’t add too much; you just want enough to give the tortilla a nice golden finish.

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Flip to the other side when the first side is golden brown.

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Once both sides have been fried, you add your toppings!

I personally love sour cream, chunky salsa, jalapeños, cilantro, avocado, green onions, and lettuce on my tacos. You can also add Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, tomatoes or cucumbers.

Guacamole is another tasty option too! (CLICK HERE FOR MY GUACAMOLE RECIPE)

They also freeze really well, so I will often make a large batch and freeze the leftover tacos (it seems impossible to have leftover tacos, right?!) to have as a quick, yummy lunch later on.

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Just microwave for 2 minutes from frozen and – viola! Tacos!

What are your favourite toppings for tacos? Drop a comment below!

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Spicy Shrimp Taco Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Street Tacos, and Carne Asada Taco recipes!

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Fried Zucchini Steaks

Try out this creative way to cook zucchini!

I absolutely love fresh, homegrown zucchini!

When the plants start producing, however, it can be hard to keep up with using the bounty before it gets over-ripe or goes bad.

Therefore, I like to have a wide variety of recipes to choose from so we can eat tons of zucchini without getting sick of it.

Fried zucchini steaks are a family classic that I have loved since I was a child!

(I also love my zucchini pizza boat recipe for grilling season)

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Fried zucchini steaks are quick and easy to make – and my husband thinks it smells like KFC! lol (I assume because I use canola oil to fry the zucchini steaks)

So let’s get started on this recipe!

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I begin by slicing the zucchini into thick rounds. This recipe works best with an oversized zucchini.

Next, I beat an egg in a pie pan and coat one zucchini round at a time in the egg.

Then, I coat the zucchini round in flour.

Once I have about 4-5 zucchini steaks coated, I add them to a pre-heated pan with canola oil.

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It should only be enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan; if you use too much, it will splatter and make a mess.

I salt and pepper the zucchini steaks as they fry and then flip them when they are golden-brown on the first side.

How long they should be cooked will depend on you; some people prefer them to be fairly crunchy, whereas other people like their zucchini steaks cooked until they are soft all the way through.

If you would like crunchy zucchini steaks, I recommend cooking them on higher heat so you still have a nice, golden crust on them – but with a shorter cook time.

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If you would like them to be soft all the way through, you’ll likely want to cook them on a medium heat so you don’t burn the outsides while trying to get the insides nice and soft.

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You can serve these zucchini steaks as a main course or as a side veggie.

Make sure to prepare lots if your family loves this dish as much as mine does! We rarely end up with leftovers!

Fried zucchini steaks go well with scalloped potatoes and dilly green beans for a garden fresh meal – or you can throw some actual steak into the mix!

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Recipe

1 large zucchini

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of flour

Salt & pepper to taste

Canola oil, as needed

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Directions

Slice zucchini into thick rounds.

Coat zucchini in egg, then in flour.

Place in a pre-heated pan with canola oil over medium-to-high heat (depending on “doneness” desired).

Fry until golden-brown on both sides.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

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What do you think?

Will you give this quick, easy – and yummy – recipe a try?

Drop a comment below!

Be sure to check out my other zucchini recipes – zucchini pizza boats & garden lasagna!

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Zucchini Pizza Boats

Summer is the time for lazy days at the lake, yard work – or harvesting tons of fresh veggies from the garden!

Here in Saskatchewan, this is the time of year that the zucchini go crazy.

Gardeners use every possible recipe to use up their excess and then start giving zucchini to their friends, family, neighbours, and maybe even complete strangers!

We all want to make sure the produce we have worked so hard to grow doesn’t go to waste.

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So I’m here today to give you inspiration for one more yummy way you can use your zucchini – Zucchini Pizza Boats!

The great part about this recipe is that it is low carb, does great on the grill, and you can use other garden fresh veggies.

Just like with pizza, it is a flexible recipe that you can pick and choose which toppings you would like to use.

I like to start with a zucchini that is borderline too large because the skin will be a little tough, which makes the “boat” hold its shape on the grill better. Plus this gives you a larger hollow to add your sauce and toppings to!

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Cut the zucchini in half long-wise and scoop out the soft, seedy part.

Don’t throw it out, though! We will use the insides in the sauce in a minute.

Next, heat a pan on medium heat and add some butter, a few cloves of garlic, and diced onion.

I personally like to add whole cloves of garlic; once they are nice and soft, I just smash them with my knife and give them a quick chop.

I find that method a lot quicker than mincing or grating them raw.

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Oh! And this is where the zucchini insides get added.

Next, add diced tomato and some chopped oregano & basil.

I like a bit of heat to my food, so I add an entire cayenne pepper (either a fresh, chopped pepper or a crumbled, dehydrated pepper).

Then, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. This really makes the flavour pop!

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And as expected, give the sauce a nice seasoning of salt & pepper.

Allow it to come to a simmer and cook the sauce down until it is no longer watery.

The more tomato you add, the more like a pizza sauce it will be.

Adding the zucchini insides, however, makes the sauce a bit different texture than normal pizza sauce, but hey – waste not, want not!

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Once your sauce has cooked down to the desired consistency, scoop it into your zucchini boats.

Then you get to add your toppings!

I find that the toppings work best when they are added first and then the cheese added on top; when the cheese gets gooey, anything on top tends to try to slide off if the zucchini boat isn’t quite flat.

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You can bake the zucchini boats at 350º for about 40 minutes (depending on their size, time will vary).

My favorite, however, is throwing them on the grill with a bit of smoke!

The flavour is amazing that way, plus if it is a hot day you aren’t heating up your house.

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On a pre-heated grill, it typically takes about 40 minutes on low-to-medium heat to cook the zucchini boats.

NOTE: Be careful how high your flame is; you do not want to char the skin!

You can also use a pre-soaked wood plank to add flavour (and catch any gooey cheese that tries to drip off).

I like my Maple Grilling Plank better for this recipe than my Cedar Grilling Planks because it has a lighter flavour.

I like the zucchini to be soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, but not so soft that it is falling apart.

Some people may prefer their zucchini to be firmer so they are almost crunchy still.

That is completely up to you!

Once you remove the zucchini boat from the heat, allow it to cool for a couple minutes.

Enjoy!

I promise this will become a fast favourite!

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While zucchini is usually served as a side veggie, I like serving this as a main – or even the entire meal because it is so filling!

Recipe

1 large zucchini

1 large tomato

1/2 large onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons butter

1 cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Basil & oregano, to taste

Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

Cut the zucchini in half long-wise and scoop out the soft, seedy centre (reserve for later).

In a pan on medium heat, sauté garlic, diced onion, and diced tomato in butter.

Add zucchini insides along with balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, basil, and oregano.

If you want some heat, add cayenne pepper as well.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Simmer until the sauce has reduced to desired consistency.

Scoop sauce into zucchini boats, then add toppings and cheese.

Bake at 350º for about 40 minutes or grill on low-to-medium heat for about 40 minutes.

Cook time will vary depending on the size of zucchini and desired softness.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

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What is your favourite zucchini recipe? Drop a comment below!

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Easy Biscuits and Gravy

I almost always make eggs of some kind for breakfast; fried, scrambled, poached… you name it, I’ve probably made it!

But, from time to time, it is nice to change things up with something different.

For me, biscuits and gravy are a treat because I don’t make it often.

Don’t ask me why!

Maybe I just get into a rut of making the same things over and over again…

Or maybe I make eggs so much because our chickens have been such prolific producers!

Either way, this biscuits & gravy recipe is always a hit.

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The Biscuits

Start by mixing the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Then cut in cold butter using a pastry blender.

Depending on how flakey you would like your biscuits, you can add anywhere from 1 – 3 tablespoons of butter. The more butter, the flakier the biscuits.

Pro Tip: Using cold butter helps make the biscuits fluffier and flakier.

Next, add the milk and gently mix until the flour is fully incorporated.

Make sure not to overwork the dough.

Then roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into biscuits.

This recipe makes 6 – 2 1/2 inch biscuits, which I find is a perfect serving size.

I use my biscuit cutters from Amazon to get perfectly shaped biscuits with pretty scalloped edges.

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Pre-heat your oven to 400º and bake your biscuits on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I personally like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper so I have as little clean-up as possible.

You can cover the biscuits and allow them to cool or serve them hot!

The Gravy

Mom always used Jimmy Dean Italian sausage, however I recently discovered that a local business carries Mild Italian beef sausage – AND delivers to our acreage!

For those of you who have never lived in a rural location, you likely don’t understand the excitement of actually being able to get delivery…

Where we live, we can’t even get the mail delivered to our house – so this is a big deal.

Oh! And the beef is also high quality and ethically raised.

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While the biscuits bake, start the gravy by frying the sausage until fully cooked, breaking it into small chucks as it cooks.

Salt & pepper to taste (I like to season my meat now and then add more to the gravy later; this gives the meat great taste without the gravy getting too salty).

If you are using pork sausage, you will have plenty of drippings to mix the flour into, however if you are using a lean meat, you may need to add 1 tablespoon of butter.

Once the meat is fully cooked, sprinkle the flour on top of the meat and mix it in.

Allow it to brown slightly, string occasionally on medium heat (this step is the key to good gravy; browning the flour before adding the milk gives it a rich flavour).

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Add 1/3 cup of milk and stir until the mixture has thickened.

Add the remaining cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of beef stock; stir until it is combined and starts to simmer.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Remove from heat once it has reached the desired thickness.

Cut your fresh biscuits in half and scoop the gravy over both halves.

Enjoy!

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Biscuit Recipe

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cold butter (up to 3 tablespoons)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

Directions

Mix dry ingredients, then cut in cold butter.

Stir in milk and incorporate ingredients (do not overwork dough).

Roll out dough on floured surface.

Cut & bake at 400º for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Makes 6 – 2 1/2 inch biscuits

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Gravy Recipe

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 teaspoon butter (optional)

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/3 cup whole milk

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Fry the sausage in a large pan, breaking it into chunks as you stir.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Stir in flour and allow to brown slightly (add melted butter if you are using a lean meat that does not have drippings).

Add 1/3 cup milk and stir until thickened.

Add remaining cup of milk and the beef stock.

Stir until thickened to desired consistency.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Scoop onto biscuits & enjoy!

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What is your favourite breakfast food? Drop a comment below!

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Mom’s Baking Powder Biscuits

What is better than Mom’s home-cooking?!

This is a recipe I grew up on and still love making to this day!

These tasty biscuits are great with butter, hot out of the oven.

Or you can add fresh, homemade jam…

… or you can make biscuits and gravy…

… ooor, you can use the dough to make Pigs in a Blanket!

This recipe is the foundation for so many yummy options.

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Start by mixing the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Then cut in cold butter using a pastry blender.

Depending on how flakey you would like your biscuits, you can add anywhere from 1 – 3 tablespoons of butter. The more butter, the flakier the biscuits.

Pro Tip: Using cold butter helps make the biscuits fluffier and flakier.

Next, add the milk and gently mix until the flour is fully incorporated.

Make sure not to overwork the dough.

Then roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into biscuits.

This recipe makes 6 – 2 1/2 inch biscuits, which I find is a perfect serving size.

I use my biscuit cutters from Amazon to get perfectly shaped biscuits with pretty scalloped edges.

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Pre-heat your oven to 400º and bake your biscuits on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I personally like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper so I have as little clean-up as possible.

You can cover the biscuits and allow them to cool or serve them hot!

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Recipe

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cold butter (up to 3 tablespoons)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

Directions

Mix dry ingredients, then cut in cold butter.

Stir in milk and incorporate ingredients (do not overwork dough).

Roll out dough on floured surface.

Cut & bake at 400º for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Makes 6 – 2 1/2 inch biscuits

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Be sure to join my mailing list to get my recipe for the gravy I make for biscuits and gravy as soon as I publish it!

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What is your favourite way to eat biscuits? Drop a comment below!

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No-Knead Bread

Easy 4 ingredient, no-knead bread recipe

The smell of baking bread filling the house is one of my favourite scents!

On cold winter days, fresh bread with a hardy stew really hits the spot.

This no knead recipe turns out perfectly every time – the main challenge is the patience it takes!

In order to ditch kneading the bread, extra rise time is required.

18-24 hours of rise time, to be more specific.

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I will usually start a batch Saturday morning so we have fresh bread for lunch on Sunday.

Aside from the rise time, this recipe requires very little of your time to prep and bake.

Oh! And did I mention that it only has 4 ingredients?!

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Start with a large glass bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of yeast on top.

Allow the yeast to develop for about 5 minutes before adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 3 cups of flour (if you are in a rush, you can skip the 5 minutes and the loaf will still turn out fine).

Mix everything together until the flour is all incorporated; you shouldn’t have to work too hard and can add a bit more water if you find you still have dry flour.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place on the counter to rise for the next 18-24 hours.

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Unlike many bread recipes, this loaf does not need to be in a particularly warm spot; during the winter months, my concrete counters can be quite cool and we usually keep the heat in the house fairly low.

The extra rise time is to thank again!

Fast-forward 24 hours… Now the dough is ready to bake!

Pre-heat the oven to 450º with your dutch oven inside the, um, “real” oven.

I have an old-school cast iron dutch oven that I scored at a garage sale years ago and it works great!

Lodge EC6D43 Color 6-Quart Dutch Oven (Island Spice Red)

If you don’t have a dutch oven, Amazon has tons of great options. Some even have an enamel coating that helps eliminate seasoning the cast iron and makes cleanup much easier.

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Once the oven and dutch oven are pre-heated, sprinkle some cornmeal in the bottom of the dutch oven to keep the dough from sticking to the bottom.

The cornmeal also gives the loaf a rustic, artisan feel.

Next, gently scoop the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface.

The dough will be quite sticky at this point, which is exactly what we want.

Try to disturb the dough as little as possible; this helps keep that nice, fluffy rise that we just waited 24 hours for.

Gently fold the dough from the right side into the middle, then from the left side into the middle. Repeat with the other 2 sides.

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This helps shape the loaf into a nicely rounded ball.

Once you have shaped the loaf (remember, do not over-work the dough!), place it seam-side down in the dutch oven.

Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. The moisture the lid holds in helps give the loaf the soft, chewy inside and the crusty, artisan exterior.

Remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes so the loaf gets that nice, golden finish.

Once it has finished baking, remove your loaf from the dutch oven and place on a cooling rack; cover it with a towel to allow it to cool at a slow enough rate that it doesn’t get dried out.

When you cut into your fresh loaf of bread, the crust should be fairly hard and the inside should be moist and chewy with large air pockets.

Be sure that your bread knife is sharp so it cuts the loaf well, rather than crushing the bread before it cuts through.

TUO Bread Knife – 9 inch Serrated Bread Cutter Cake Knife – German HC Steel Bread Slicer – Full Tang Pakka Wood Handle -Black Hawk Series with Gift Box

This is by far my favourite one-loaf recipe because of how quick and easy it is! At least “quick” in the sense that I only spend about 5-10 minutes of my time total making it.

And, it turns out perfectly every time!

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You can add different finishes to your crust; this is just the most basic, easiest method to get you started.

Some people will brush the crust with melted butter or an egg wash (before baking) for different effects.

You can also get creative with the ingredients; do you want jalapeño cheddar loaf? Just throw some diced jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese, and some cayenne powder in when you mix up the dough!

Want a garlic rosemary loaf? Add some fresh rosemary leaves and a dash of garlic powder!

You get the idea… This is the building block for all kinds of different options.

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Recipe

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 teaspoon yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups flour

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Directions

Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water in a large, glass bowl.

Allow to develop for 5 minutes.

Add salt and flour.

Stir until incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and set on counter to rise for 18-24 hours.

Pre-heat oven & dutch oven to 450º

Sprinkle corn meal into bottom of dutch oven.

Scoop dough onto floured surface and fold all 4 sides into the middle to shape loaf. (DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH)

Place loaf into dutch oven, seam-side down.

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then another 15-20 minutes without the lid.

Place loaf on a cooling rack and cover with a towel.

Allow to cool, then enjoy!

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Fire Roasted Salsa

As summer draws to a close and fall sets in, my tomatoes typically begin to come ripe in the basket-full!

I use lots of the fresh tomatoes in meals like sourdough pizza, zucchini pizza boats, and chunky salsa – but there is always more than we can use without preserving the tomatoes!

Some of my favourite ways to preserve tomatoes is by making spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes or this fire roasted salsa recipe!

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I often will make a couple of these recipes at the same time; in the photo above, I have a batch of tomato rounds in the dehydrator and the off-cut tops will be used for the fire roasted salsa.

That keeps my sun dried tomatoes in nice rounds, while the flesh left over from cutting the woody centre of the tomato out gets blended into the salsa.

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Why is fire roasted salsa better than raw salsa?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good Pico De Gallo (chunky salsa) on my fried tacos, but fire roasted salsa is much better for preserving because of its thick, even consistency.

Roasting the ingredients before blending them not only brings out the heat in the peppers, but it also enhances the flavour in the tomatoes and reduces the water content (no one wants watery salsa!)

PRO TIP: Using beefsteak tomatoes will also help achieve the desired consistency because they naturally have lower water content than other varieties of tomatoes.

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Start by lining a large baking sheet with parchment paper and cover it with a layer of chopped tomatoes and onions, whole garlic cloves, and whole jalapeños and cayenne peppers.

Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and mix well, then sprinkle a bit of salt to taste.

You don’t want the layer of veggies to be too deep or you won’t get the ideal results of an evenly roasted salsa.

Place the baking sheet on the top rack of a pre-heated oven, set on broil.

Watch your batch to make sure it doesn’t burn and flip once the peppers start to blister and the tomatoes start to brown.

This should only take a few minutes.

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Once the other side of the peppers blister as well, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool.

Next, cut the stems off the peppers and add the roasted ingredients to the food processor, along with the cumin, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro.

Blend well and give it a taste test!

The beauty of making your own salsa is that you can decide just how mild or spicy you would like it to be; if it isn’t spicy enough for your taste, just add a bit of cayenne powder to kick it up a notch.

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This recipe only makes about a pint, so you will need to roast multiple pans of veggies if you want to can large quantities of fire roasted salsa to use up the bounty from your tomato harvest.

If you just want a jar of fresh, homemade salsa to enjoy you’ll find this is the perfect size batch to whip up quickly!

Start to finish, this recipe only takes 15-20 minutes to make – including the roasting time!

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Recipe

2 cups tomato, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, whole

3 jalapeños , whole

2 cayenne peppers, whole

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon cilantro dried or 1 cup fresh

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

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Instructions

Drizzle olive oil on tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cayenne peppers – mix well.

Roast on a lined baking sheet in a pre-heated oven set to “broil” on the top rack.

Flip vegetables when the peppers start to blister.

Remove from oven when second side of peppers blister and allow to cool.

Cut pepper stems off and place all ingredients in food processor.

Blend well.

Add cayenne powder to reach desired spiciness, if it is not hot enough for your taste.

If canning the salsa, place in sanitized jars and process in hot water bath.

Enjoy!

Serving size: 1 pint

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Rhubarb Steak Sauce

Fall-time in Alaska has the richest smell – one that is hard to fully describe to someone who has never experienced the amazingly overwhelming combination of a thousand scents…

The ever-present sappy smell of evergreens…

The musky scent of rotting leaves, scattered across the ground in the chill breeze…

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But most of all, the rich tang of ripe cranberries wafting through the crisp air.

Of all the mountain smells, ripe cranberry is the scent I miss the most!

I have always loved picking wild berries, so much so that my mom would have an extra task on her “to do” list when I would show up unexpectedly with a bucket of berries before I was old enough to process them myself.

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Cranberry meat sauce has been a traditional family recipe since before I was born – and I love it to this day!

We typically would use the sauce when we had fried moose steaks – I mean, how much more Alaskan can it get?!

BUT, living on the prairies is very different than mountain living in many ways.

We lack the wild cranberry plants and I hate buying something I grew up picking, catching or growing (buying salmon is a huge no-no!)

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Plate family original cranberry meat sauce recipe
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Without cranberries, I realized that rhubarb has a similar amount of tartness and decided to give this recipe a make-over to use my abundance of homegrown rhubarb!

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Highbush cranberries have much more water content than lowbush cranberries (did you even know there were other kinds of cranberries than your typical Thanksgiving spread..?) or rhubarb, so I added more water to the mix than the original recipe called for.

I cooked the rhubarb on low heat while I chopped and added onions and fresh celery.

Next came the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and cloves.

But I didn’t have the allspice the recipe called for on hand!

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Oh! Guess what? Allspice can be mimicked by mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg – so I simply added the cinnamon and nutmeg to get the proper taste.

I love the flavour profile some garlic adds, so I threw in a couple cloves.

And while I was changing the recipe a bit, why not add a few drops of liquid smoke?

I mean, I was substituting rhubarb for cranberries anyway – may as well go all in with my intuitive cooking style!

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Once all the ingredients were combined, I brought the mixture to a low simmer and turned it down so it barely bubbled.

Slow and steady wins the race here!

Trust me! If the mixture burns on the bottom, the entire batch will have a dark, burned taste that will ruin the sauce.

Thick sauces are prone to burn easily (even if stirred regularly) if the heat is too high.

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PRO TIP #1: The thicker the bottom of the sauce pan is, the less likely the batch is to burn.

Slowly cooking the sauce down to the right thickness also helps the flavours to blend and enhances the end result.

PRO TIP #2: Place the sauce in a crock pot on low heat to allow it to reduce to the desired consistency.

Once it has cooked down to the thickness of applesauce, place the meat sauce in sanitized jars and process with a hot water bath.

This recipe makes about 2 pints.

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Rhubarb meat sauce pairs extremely well with wild game, lamb, and other meats with its spiced tartness; it can also be used in wine reduction sauces and baked beans.

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Recipe

8 cups rhubarb, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup water

1 onion, chopped

1 1/3 cup white vinegar

2 2/3 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons cloves

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 drops liquid smoke

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Directions

Combine rhubarb, garlic, celery, onion, and water. Cook until soft.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer.

Cook on low heat, making sure not to burn, until mixture has reduced to a consistency similar to apple sauce. (NOTE: this can be done in a crockpot)

Place sauce in sanitized jars and process with water bath.

Serve with wild game, lamb or other meats. Can be used in wine reduction sauces and baked beans as well.

Enjoy!

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What recipe brings a “taste of home” to your cooking? Drop a comment below!

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Devilled Eggs

If you have ever been to a potluck, you know that devilled eggs are the star of the show!

They are usually cleaned out well before the last person makes it through the line.

And the person who brought them? Well, they practically get hero status!

Devilled eggs seem to have a reputation for being a tough appetizer to make, but if you know how to peel the eggs with ease you’re set!

The trick is to cook the eggs correctly.

This is KEY!

If you don’t cook them correctly, you will wind up with shells that don’t want to peel off or over-cooked, rubbery eggs that have green yolks.

It has taken me many batches of practice to get this part down, so here are my secrets to perfect devilled eggs!

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Eggs in the ice bath.
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I grew up believing that boiled eggs need to be started in cold water and brought to a boil.

Not only does this take longer, but the eggs also are difficult to peel with this method.

Pro tip #1: place the eggs in a large pot with HOT water.

Salt the water and bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

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Pro tip #2: simmer for exactly 12 minutes!

I have tried different cook times to find that perfect balance of being fully cooked through to the yolk without getting that weird green tinge.

If you are hosting a Saint Patrick’s day event, green yolks may be a hit – otherwise it just looks gross.

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Pro tip #3: IMMEDIATELY scoop the eggs out and plunge them into an ice bath.

This stops the cooking process and is the key for eggs that are easy to peel.

Allow them to cool fully in the ice bath before peeling.

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Perfectly cooked eggs with bright yellow yolks.
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Pro tip #4: peel the eggs under cold, running water.

Gently crack the egg on the counter (you don’t want to make the shells puncture the egg) so the shell is shattered on all sides.

Peeling the egg under running water helps pull the shell away from the egg.

Plus, you were going to have to rinse the egg anyway to make sure there are no surprise crunches when eating them.

So basically you are getting two birds with one stone… or should I say eggs..?

I find it easiest to start peeling at the rounded end of the egg rather than the pointed part.

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Overcooked eggs with a green rim in the yolk.
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Once the eggs are all peeled, cut them in half and carefully remove the yolk.

Pro tip #5: place the egg yolks directly into a ziplock plastic bag.

This makes for less dishes, which is ALWAYS a win in my books!

Add the Miracle Whip, mustard, salt, and a splash of pickle juice (not too much though, you don’t want the yolk mixture to be runny).

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For you loyal Hellman’s Mayonnaise supporters out there, go ahead and ditch the Miracle Whip for your Hellmans.

Zip the bag shut and mix the ingredients together with your hands until you have an even mixture with a creamy consistency.

Snip a small hole in one corner of the bag and squeeze the mixture into the egg whites.

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Classic devilled eggs.
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Sprinkle with paprika and chill.

Enjoy being the hero who brought the rare delicacy to your next gathering!

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Pro tip #6: egg freshness

I know many people believe that older eggs are easier to peel, and for this method I agree with them!

However, you don’t want them to be too old because the yolk color is so much better and – more importantly – are centred in the egg with fresher eggs!

Older eggs tend to have the yolk more to the rounded end of the egg, which gives you a very thin egg white on that edge to hold the yolk mixture.

If you want the very best yolks, go with free-range eggs.

The difference in color is amazing!

Plus, free-range eggs are packed with nutrients.

Pro tip #7: easy-peel Instant Pot method

If you have joined the Instant Pot fan club, this is another great method to get easy-peel boiled eggs in a short amount of time.

I have also found that it works well even on super fresh eggs, like we get from our chickens here on the homestead.

You can find the full instructions here: Easy-Peel Boiled Eggs

Instant Pot
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Recipe

6 large eggs

1/3 cup Miracle Whip

1 tablespoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon pickle juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Directions

Add eggs to large pot with hot water.

Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 12 minutes.

Immediately remove from heat and place eggs in an ice bath.

Allow to cool fully, then peel under running water.

Cut in half and remove yolks.

Combine yolk, Miracle Whip, mustard, pickle juice, and salt and mix until creamy.

Use a plastic bag to squeeze the yolk mix into the egg whites.

Sprinkle with paprika.

Chill fully, then serve!

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Makes 12 devilled eggs

Enjoy!

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Classic devilled eggs.
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If you liked this recipe, don’t forget to subscribe and check out my potato salad recipe that is a hit for BBQ season!

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