Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

When I was in high school, my summer job was to cook, clean, and provide company for an elderly lady in my community who was unable to get out of her home. I must say that she taught me many, many lessons about food and life itself, and that summer proved to be a valuable one for me indeed.

One of the foods that she taught me how to make was strawberry rhubarb jam. 

My grandma makes this using the same recipe that Frieda used, and I believe I once referred to her jam as “liquid gold” when I combined it with a cheesecake recipe. 🙂

I don’t know if there is a better summer combination than strawberries and rhubarb.

So this summer I set out to make some jam of my own.

I did change the recipe up just a bit. The original calls for a can of strawberry pie filling. I wanted to use fresh strawberries instead, so I swapped. Also, I cut the recipe in half, mainly because I was experimenting and didn’t want a large batch if it didn’t turn out. Even with the halved recipe, I ended up with three jars of jam. That amount is about perfect for our family.

One last thing…instead of using boxed gelatin in the recipe, I used Jell-O brand Simply Strawberry because it works just as well and doesn’t have artificial flavors and dyes in it.

I think the result of my experiment is just as tasty as the original. We’ve been having it on toast, and I can’t wait to top a cheesecake with it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups rinsed, chopped rhubarb (I sliced mine using a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 16 oz. carton fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 pouch Jell-O Simply Good strawberry gelatin (a 3 oz. box of regular jello would work, too)

Here’s what I did:

  1. Add rhubarb, water, sugar, and strawberries to a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until fruit is softened and the juices have been rendered out. It should come to a low boil. You will want to stir occasionally.
  3. Once the fruit is soft, and you have a “liquidy” mixture, use a potato masher to break down any large chunks of fruit.
  4. Add Jell-O, stir, and continue with the low boil for a few more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and pour into jars.
  6. Store in the refrigerator.

Eat and enjoy!

We love this jam, and I love that it is easy.

Happy summer!

Now excuse me while I go make some toast…

 

Advertisements

Strawberry-Rhubarb Swirl Cheesecake

Cheesecake. Cheesecake. Cheesecake. We LOVE cheesecake. And this one couldn’t be any easier.

slice

Instead of using pie filling as a topping, I use my grandma’s homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam in the batter. Her jam is pure gold. Love the stuff. I use it to make ice cream as well, but that could be an entirely different blog post. The reason I like to use jam is that it is not as goopy/gloppy as pie filling. jellyNow, if you don’t happen to have grandma’s strawberry-rhubarb jam on hand (which you probably don’t), you can definitely buy some or make some (again, a whole different blog post). Just don’t use the jelly that is so stiff, like a gel. You know the kind…if you took away the glass jar, it would still stand as a cylinder on its own…Your jam should be fluid. You should be able to pour it. This will enable it to be incorporated into the batter.

Here’s what you need to do if you are in a cheesecake state of mind and want to try this:

Ingredients:

  • 9 graham crackers (one sleeve)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6-7 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 14-16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. strawberry-rhubarb jam (you could use any flavor that suits you)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a food processor (or a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin), pulse the graham crackers until they are crumbs. Add brown sugar and melted butter. Mix until well combined. grahamcrumbs
  2. Press crumb mixture into a pie pan. I find that it works best just to use my hands. crust
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and mix until blended.
  4. Add 1/4 cup jam and stir slightly, but don’t incorporate all the way. It’s nice to have that marbled look. swirl
  5. Pour into crust. Add the rest of the jam, dropping a tablespoon in three different areas. Use a butter knife to swirl the jam. beforebaking
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until filling is set. You don’t want the edges to get too brown.
  7. Cool for one hour on a wire rack. Then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours before eating. strawberryrhubarbcheesecake
  8. Enjoy!

Make a Tutu Cake Stand out of a Tupperware Container

cAkecollage

*This was previously published on my northdakotamom.com blog.

As my little miss’s birthday approached, I wondered what I would do for her cake. I like to make my kids’ cakes as it allows me to be creative…and I don’t have to drive to town to pick one up. I found a cake style I liked on BetterBakingBible’s blog and went from there. I knew I wanted a tutu cake bottom, so I bought some pink tulle. I just experimented from that point on… Pink Tulle Roll (12

Here’s what I did for the cake stand:

  1. I used a Tupperware Round Container that I already had for the base.
  2. Then I wrapped tulle around it and tied it in a knot. cakeskirt1
  3. I cut a smaller strip of tulle, stuck it behind the tulle around the base, and tied a knot. cakeskirt5
  4. I continued to do this until the entire base was surrounded by knots of tulle. cakeskirt6

Here’s what I did for the cake:

    • Bake a boxed cake mix in two round cake pans, following the box directions.
    • Once baked and cooled, freeze them so they are easier to frost.
    • The day before the party, I trimmed the top off the bottom layer so the top layer would sit evenly on top.
    • Place the bottom layer on a Cake Container, which then sits on the base, but you could just set the cake on the base you already made as well. I wanted a lid, so I went with the cake container on top of the Tupperware round container.
    • Frost the cake, adding a layer of frosting between the two cake layers.
    • Once the cake is frosted (and if frozen, thawed) place white KitKat bars around the cake. I found that the best way to do this was to press the candy against the cake and slide it down. It seemed to help “glue” the candy in place. I broke each bar in two. (You will need approximately 12 KitKats. I bought 10 right away because I estimated, and then my husband, the engineer, measured the cake circumference, measured the candy bars, and told me exactly what I needed…I should have asked him first. It would have saved him the trouble of making an extra trip to town. Do you know how hard it is to find white KitKats? 🙂 Hint: Target does carry them!) kitkatcake
    • Wrap a pink ribbon around the cake.
    • Sprinkle pink and white M&M’s on top. (I also added pink and white Cadbury mini eggs because it was Easter.)
    • Stick a flag with the child’s age in the middle of the cake. I just printed one using Microsoft Word and attached it to a wooden skewer that I cut to size. kitkatcake2
    • Place cake on top of tutu cake stand. Tada! kitkatcake3

Lemon Oil Removes Gum (Really Well!)

As I was helping my son get out of his car seat one fine day, I noticed a long purple strand stretching from his back to the car seat.

It was gum. And lots of it. It was pressed into the fabric of his car seat.

The only explanation I could think of is that is must have fallen out of his mouth when he fell asleep on the way home from the grocery store. (It’s our little tradition that he gets a gumball from the machine if he does well when we shop…which he usually does…he can’t wait to watch the gumball spiral down the machine and into his hands.)

I have heard of using peanut butter to get gum out.

Didn’t want to do that…

I have heard of using ice to get gum out.

Didn’t really want to do that either…(I wasn’t really feeling the patience of holding an ice cube up to the gum until it freezes….maybe it doesn’t even take that long…I don’t know…)

My sister-in-law uses lemon essential oil to remove labels and their sticky residue from jars.

I grabbed my lemon essential oil, put a few drops on the gum, and let it sit for a few minutes. (I actually went to brush my cat because she is shedding like crazy right now! It’s been so hot out…)

When I came back, I was honestly kind of amazed.

I put my fingernail up to the gum, and it lifted right off.

Needless to say, I found a gum removal remedy that works for me. I will definitely be doing this again should the need ever arise.

Breakfast Pizza

So this is called breakfast pizza, but when we have it, it’s normally for supper.

The main reason for that is I usually am not one to get up early to cook a hot breakfast. So when we have this for breakfast, it’s because we’re eating it left over from the night before. 😉

(It’s honestly pretty good left over, too.)

Back in the day when I was on the high school speech team, we would have to get on the bus extra early in the morning. A teammate’s dad would occasionally make a breakfast pizza for us. I think this is how he made it.

Regardless, it’s how I tried to recreate it, and my family likes it.

If you are planning on making this in the morning, you can make the eggs and meat the night before and put them in the fridge. That saves a lot of time.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough, however you like to make or buy it. I make mine in the bread machine.
  • 1 dozen eggs (or 10, or 11…whatever you have)
  • 6-8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled (or if you are like us, deer sausage)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Here’s what to do:

1. Make pizza dough. (If you are using store bought, you can skip this step.)

Bread Machine Pizza Crust

  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Add liquid ingredients into bread pan. Then add salt and flour. Finally, add yeast on top. Set your bread machine to the dough setting and leave. Go do something fun. My machine takes 1 1/2 hours to make the dough.

2. Prep your meat and eggs. You can do just bacon or just sausage….or both! Scramble your eggs.

I like to cook my bacon in the oven. No worrying about flipping and no splattering mess.
I like to cook my bacon in the oven. No worrying about flipping and no splattering mess. After it’s done, drain it on a paper towel and chop it into pieces.
I'm using sausage, too, so I am just browning it in a pan.
I’m using sausage, too, so I am just browning it in a pan.

Scramble the eggs to your liking.

Scramble the eggs to your liking.3. Prepare pizza crust. I am using an 11×13 pan lined with parchment paper. Parbake the crust in a 425 degree oven for 6 minutes. (Parbaking is optional, but I like to do it to ensure I don’t have soggy crust.)

Roll out the dough. Prick it with a fork if you don't want it to get too puffy.
Roll out the dough. Prick it with a fork if you don’t want it to get too puffy.

4. Assemble the pizza.

Add the eggs first.
Add the eggs first.

 

Next, add lots of shredded cheddar cheese.
Next, add lots of shredded cheddar cheese.

 

Finally, add your meat.
Finally, add your meat.

5. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is done. pizzadone

Serve and enjoy!

pizzadone1

 

 

North Dakota Knoephla Soup

I don’t know if you can get any more North Dakotan than knoephla/knephla soup. If your ancestors were early pioneers to this state, chances are high that you have eaten this soup. (Or if you’ve been to Kroll’s Diner, you’ve probably had it, too!)

Everyone has their own way of making it, each a little different than the other. I used to use store-bought knoephlas, but have since learned that homemade knoephla dough is fairly easy to make. I also never used to add chicken (sometimes I still don’t), but my husband always had it that way growing up, and I must say that it is quite tasty as well.

So, here’s how I make this old-fashioned soup. Keep in mind, it usually ends up a little different every time because I don’t always follow the recipe exactly as written. I’ve made it so many times that it’s just become a make-as-I-go soup, adding and tasting as needed. 🙂

Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 32 oz. carton chicken broth/stock
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • Celery seed, just a few shakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 small potatoes (or 1 large), diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken (or canned chicken breast if you’re in a pinch) *Adding chicken is optional.
  • 1-2 tsp. chicken base
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream (half & half or milk work too, but this is nice and rich)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

Knoephla Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Here’s what to do:

  1. In a stockpot or large sauce pan, combine onions, carrots, celery seed, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Bring to boil.

    knephla1
    The humble beginnings of utter deliciousness and comfort
  2. In the meantime, dice the potatoes. I like to then soak the potatoes in water so they don’t change color. It looks like my three potatoes equal about 1 1/2 cups diced. knephla3
  3. Mix up the knoephla dough in a medium mixing bowl. It might still be a little sticky.
  4. By this time, the carrots and onions should be softened. Add 4 cups of water. Then drain the potatoes and add them to the soup. Return to a boil. (It doesn’t have to be a raging boil.)
  5. Now for the knoephla. Flour your hands and work surface. Sprinkle flour over the dough if it’s too sticky. Take a chunk of dough, roll it between your two hands, thus forming ropes. Flour your hands as needed. Cut each rope into small pieces using a scissors. Let the pieces drop right into the pot of boiling water. Continue doing this until all of your dough has been used up.
    knephla13
  6. Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  7. Turn down heat to low. Remove the bay leaf, and add chicken (optional), pepper, chicken base (add enough to suit your taste), parsley, and cream. Sometimes I will even add a couple teaspoons of butter (I learned this from my grandma). Stir. knephla16
  8. If you are ready to eat, dish up. I like to let my soup sit covered on the burner for 30 minutes or so before serving. I think it just gets better with time. knephla17 knephla22

Yum! On a cold day, this is the best! 🙂

*I have also tried making knoephla using a spaetzle maker. While it was easy and fairly mess-free, I still prefer the taste and texture of the hand-cut knoephlas.

*Store-bought spaetzles are also another great, time-saving substitute for hand-cut knoephla.

I hope you are having a warm and wonderful day.

And if you are going to be eating knoephla soup, enjoy the taste of North Dakota!

 

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think chocolate chip cookies are one of those universal foods that everybody likes.

They taste like home. They taste like memories. They taste like childhood.

My grandma’s were always a little burnt, but were oh-so-good dunked in coffee. My mother-in-law’s are always perfectly uniform with a tiny hint of salt (which I love!).

In college I treated my future husband-to-be and his friends with soft chocolate chip cookies, using vanilla pudding as an ingredient.

And then I discovered these. THE chocolate chip cookie from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Chocolate chip cookies that have cornstarch in them?!

At first it seemed a little bizarre to me, but they turn out so good. They never last long around here.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 & 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Here’s what to do:

  1. Beat the butter for one minute or until smooth and creamy. Add sugars and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Mix in cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add flour until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop cookie dough onto baking sheet by the tablespoon. I like using a cookie scoop for this. That way all my cookies are somewhat uniform.  Press each ball down slightly with the back of a spoon. chocolatechipcookiebake
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are barely starting to brown. Don’t overbake. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  4. Enjoy, and try not to eat them all at once! 🙂 chocolatechipcookies

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclosure Policy.