Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Three Berry Honey Jam

If you live in Wisconsin, you know about New Glarus Brewery.

Come to think about it, if you like really good beer and you've spent five minutes in this state then you know about New Glarus Brewery.

New Glarus Brewery is this incredibly fantastic micro-brewery that makes incredibly fantastic beer (Spotted Cow anyone?). They only use locally sourced ingredients, and they only sell their beer in Wisconsin (sorry non-Wisconsinites. Guess you need to come visit!). And while of course they do more classically flavored beers, they also do several fruit beers. They are especially known for their cherry beer.

Well, a couple years ago there was this drought. Remember that drought? Anyway, the cherry crop was practically annihilated, but they had to produce this beloved beer! No seriously, there would be rioting in the streets without their cherry beer. It had to be made, but what could they do without the cherries they needed? Well, they included a few other fruits with the cherries and called in Serendipity: a happy accident. Hot damn it's one of my favorite beers.

So why am I telling you all this? Because it's my way of telling you that this jam is my own Serendipity. My own happy accident.

Three Berry Honey Jam
Recipe adapted from Gastronome Tart
Prep time: Depending on your fruit-prep equipment, allow for an hour  Cook time: 30ish minutes

NOTE: You can use fresh OR frozen (but thawed) berries.

6 cups of washed, hulled, and crushed strawberries (psst! This is done way faster with a food processor)
1 cup washed and crushed blueberries
1 cup washed and crushed raspberries
1 cup honey
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp pectin

1. In a medium-to-large saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients.
I made a double-batch this year using up the remaining frozen strawberries from LAST year.
And yes, I regularly buy honey in 5lb bottles. 

2. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil for 1-2 minutes. Wear comfy shoes because this will take some time. Your patience will be rewarded.
Stirring, stirring, stirring. Patience, patience, patience.

3. Turn off the heat and scrape off any foam. Store in sterilized containers of your choice, whether you intend to freeze it, or can it (I've got a little tutorial on canning in this post).
Foam isn't bad. It's just annoying and not pretty.

It's also bitter. Don't eat the foam.

I like to save my freezer space for Get Ahead meals and the like.
It's more of a time commitment, but canning is the way I prefer to preserve jams.

About two years ago I went to make a third batch of strawberry honey jam. I had some berries left from our strawberry-picking trip and wanted to use them up. And I especially liked this recipe because it used honey instead of sugar, and far less than a classic strawberry jam recipe. When you've got a crazy, energetic child who easily gets high on simple things like breathing air, you tend to think about things like sugar content.

But I didn't have enough strawberries. Craaaaaaaap.

A quick dig through my freezer yielded part of a bag of frozen raspberries, and I'd just picked up a pint of blueberries at the store. I crushed it all up, rejoiced that I'd reached the necessary 8 cups of fruit, and prayed that my berry ratios would be somewhat tasty.

Oh. My. Graciousness.

This jam is hands-down my favorite one. Probably ever. It is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, which I adore! And while the texture of this jam is closer to sauce-like than a gelatinous jam-like consistency, I don't really care because it's just sooooo good.

I eat spoonfuls of it on thick slices of fresh bread. I scoop it into yogurt. I happily use it in oatmeal bars. And it is the crucial ingredient for Berry Whiskey Barbecue Chicken, which if you haven't tried yet then you REALLY REALLY REALLY need to.

God bless happy accidents. :)
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

This Week's Meal Plan

This is going to be my last posted meal plan for a few weeks.

Our June and beginning of July is so crazy, so wacky, so all-over-the-place that for sanity and home security reasons I'm going to keep relatively quiet here about our specific schedule.

I'll still try to post recipes when I can, and of course news of our CSA which starts NEXT WEEK ALREADY (holy crap how did that happen??). But I'll hold off on public meal plans until sometime after the 4th of July.


  • Leftovers. Going on two weeks now with a non-functioning microwave. Which means I haven't been eating them for lunches. Which means we have extra leftovers that neeeeeeeeeeed to be consumed. I dearly hope I get my microwave back this weekend.



  • Experiment! Beast Brats. If you know me on Facebook, then you know we experienced Miller Park's The Beast this week. It's a brat, stuffed with a hot dog, wrapped in bacon, smothered in grilled onions and "Stadium Sauce," all on a pretzel bun. Sounds good right? Eh...it wasn't the flavor and texture happiness explosion I expected it to be. So of course Rob challenged me to do better. Challenge accepted!
  • Hot dogs for the boys
  • Corn on the cob
  • Salad. I'll need some good, leafy greens to combat the main course!


  • Grilled steaks. I might top mine with some spicy arugula.
  • Hakurei turnips sauteed in butter and honey. This is a dish Rob made last year for himself and loved. We ordered some turnips from our CSA farm's store this week so he can finally make them for the boys and me.
  • Baked potatoes


  • New Recipe! Chicken Marsala
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Rice


  • Leftovers. Just in case that microwave doesn't get fixed when I hope it will.


  • Dinner out. I think I've earned it.

Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Get Ahead: Freezer Steak Fajitas

Freezing uncooked meat and vegetables in marinade is probably my new favorite "get ahead" option.

I especially love these freezer meals for quick weekends away. I pull out the bag of raw, frozen whatever and stick it the fridge just before we hop in the car on Friday. By Sunday afternoon when we get home, dinner is ready and waiting to be sauteed or baked or grilled!

And with the way we hem and haw and debate takeout options, this is SO MUCH EASIER. And cheaper. And healthier.

Freezer Steak Fajitas
Recipe slightly adapted from Ree Drummond
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 7-10 minutes  

NOTE: This recipes makes two freezer meals for us.

1/2 cup EVOO
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
One 1.5 lb flank steak, thinly sliced
2-3 bell peppers (pick a color, any color!), sliced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
Oil, for frying

1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the EVOO, Worcestershire, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sugar until combined. Set aside.
Quick, simple, easy marinade with plenty of heat.

2. Using two gallon-sized freezer bags, into each place half of the peppers, onion, and flank steak. Pour half the marinade into each bag.
Why yes, I live in Packer Country and used green and yellow peppers.
What's your point?

It's what's for dinner.
Dun dun dun!

Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER forget to label. 

3. Close the bags and gently toss and massage the ingredients around to coat everything in marinade. Toss in the freezer for later.
Stir, slice, divide, and toss.
It's just that easy.

4. To prepare for dinner, heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pour the thawed mixture, marinade and all, into the pan and cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender and beef is cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Serve in warmed tortillas with toppings of your choice.
Thaw first!

Truly, dinner on the table faster than I can order Chinese.

Now, I do realize that not everyone is in love with freezing things like I am. If you want to make these for dinner this weekend, toss the ingredients into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate at least two hours in the fridge.

Whether you choose to eat this now or later, the flavor of this is fantastic! It's spicy and tangy and all things that good beef fajitas should be. Personally, I don't like soggy peppers so I slice mine pretty thick. I think the thicker slices hold up better to freezing and thawing too. And as for toppings, I use what I keep on-hand, which is usually shredded Cheddar and sour cream. This would be fantastic with some chopped cilantro too if you have some!

p.s. I wouldn't keep these in the freezer longer than about 6 months.
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