SANDRA'S INSTANT POT CHICKEN THIGHS, POTATOES and CARROTS with GRAVY

All are cooked at the same time in your Instant Pot;
an easy recipe to learn to cook three things at the same time...


Servings: (4)

Prep: 10 Mins.
Pressure build: 10 Mins.
Cooking Time: 8 Mins. to saute, 13 Mins. under pressure, plus making gravy = 2 mins. longer
Pressure release: 10 Mins naturally, then 1 Min. quick release

INGREDIENTS

Spice Rub Mixture
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1tsp Johnny's Seasoning Salt

For Cooking Chicken Thighs, Potatoes, Carrots and Gravy prep
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Chicken Thighs (I use skin on, bone in)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium Chicken Broth
4 Medium Russet Potatoes peeled, and cut in fourths
3 Medium Carrots scrubbed, and cut in thirds
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

For Gravy (slurry)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

METHOD

Put the spices in a small dish and mix together well. Sprinkle on both sides of chicken thighs.

Press the Sauté button on the Instant Pot. When the display reads Hot, add the olive oil.

Add 4 chicken thighs, skin side down, and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side, using long tongs to do so. Set aside on a plate.

When thighs are browned, carefully remove any remaining oil from the pot, reserving brown bits on bottom. Add broth to pot (still on Sauté mode), then deglaze by stirring while scraping remaining brown bits from bottom of pot.

Add potatoes, and rosemary.

Place trivet over potatoes, add chicken thighs on top of trivet.

Squeeze lemon juice over chicken.

Close Instant Pot lid and set steam release knob to Sealing position.

Cancel sauté mode.

Press Poultry, and use the - button to choose 13 minutes.

When cooking cycle ends, let it naturally release pressure for 5 to 10 minutes. (No longer.)

Turn off the Instant Pot.

Manually release the remaining pressure, (takes about 1 minute) and when the pin in the lid drops, carefully open the lid, facing it away from you.

Carefully remove steamer basket, including the chicken to a plate.

Carefully remove the trivet.

Remove potatoes and carrots with a slotted spoon placed aside from the chicken (not on top).

Make gravy from the drippings, turning the Instant Pot to sauté mode to make gravy.

Add the cornstarch slurry to the liquid in the pot (mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water), and whisk it into the hot liquid in the pot while scraping bottom). Keep stirring, just until it boils and thickens.

Turn off the Instant Pot; serve gravy over potatoes and/or carrots, with chicken thighs along side. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S HOMEMADE CINNAMON-RAISIN SWIRL BREAD

A quick 5-minute no-knead dough to prepare the night before,
then easy to roll out and add swirl filling upon waking the next morning
to enjoy throughout the day...

Yield: (1 loaf)
O/N Prep: 5 Mins./Overnight rise time: 9 -12 hours
Next Morning Prep: Roll/Add Spiral Filling: 10 Mins.
2nd Rise 1 Hr.
Bake 35 to 40 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon active yeast (not rapid or instant)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups slightly warm water (tepid)

--2 teaspoons Mazola oil
(For top and bottom of dough ball so it doesn't stick or form crust while rising in bowl)

Swirl filling
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Brushing top
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

METHOD

Add flour and sugar to a medium-size bowl. Add yeast and kosher salt and stir thoroughly. Add barely warm (tepid) water, then stir thoroughly. The dough will look rough and shaggy.

Lightly oil top of dough using a paper towel, then oil your hands (to prevent dough sticking to them); turn dough in the bowl so the whole ball of dough is slightly coated with the oil.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Throw a kitchen towel over top and underneath of bowl and set it in a warm corner. Leave it alone for 9-12 hours. (Save plastic wrap).

When risen, roll dough into a 8x12" rectangle, sprinkle with ground cinnamon, then raisins. Use the rolling pin to roll these ingredients into dough by pressing across them.  Start at the short end of the dough rectangle and roll into a loaf, and pinch final rolled edge to seal.  Place loaf seam-side down into sprayed loaf pan.

Cover dough with same plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour.

About 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat oven to 375F.

After the full hour, the dough will have risen and nearly doubled in size.

Use the tip of a sharp knife to score loaf top down the middle. Brush loaf with melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes, turn in oven, then bake for a final 20 - 25 minutes (until internal temp reaches 190F).

Remove bread from oven. Brush a final time with melted butter. Remove to a baking rack and wrap loaf in a clean kitchen towel to cool. Slice and serve! ~ Enjoy!


SANDRA'S QUICK HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT with CARROTS

 Absolutely the freshest and best tasting sauerkraut,
in my humble opinion,
which is great on venison or moose Reuben grilled sandwiches
or Smoked Brat hot dogs...
Yield: (3 cups)

Prep: 5 Mins. (more time if shredding your own veggies)
Cook: 45 Mins.
Store: Refrigerated up to 2 wks

INGREDIENTS

1 (16-oz. pkg) Organic Shredded Cabbage and Carrots
--or 1/2 head of medium-size green cabbage thinly sliced into shreds and 1 shredded carrot on large holes of box grater--
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

METHOD

Add all the ingredients to a non-reactive Dutch Oven (or heavy-bottom stainless steel pot).  Stir, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, while occasionally stirring.

Let sauerkraut cool completely.  Spoon into a glass quart-size wide-mouth Mason jar, cover with a plastic lid (not metal), and store up to 2 weeks in refrigerator. ~ Enjoy!


SANDRA'S INSTANT (Ground) CORNED-BEEF-STYLE SEASONING BLEND

A quick and easy method in which to add
a corned-beef
flavor to 3 lbs of cooked (sliced/shredded) venison/moose/beef roast.

I came up with this recipe so I could prepare grilled Reuben sandwiches
any time to my heart's desire...
Yield: (1/2 tablespoon)

Prep: 5 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

--3 lbs sliced/shredded cooked venison/moose/beef
--1/2 cup hot broth (either venison/moose/beef)

METHOD

In a small bowl/ramekin, mix all ingredients.

Whisk spice mixture with 1/2 cup hot broth (venison/moose/beef). Add to 3 lbs. of sliced/shredded cooked venison/moose/beef; microwave for 2 minutes to incorporate spices into meat for a corned-beef flavor. 

Enjoy on your favorite Reuben grilled sandwich, or serve with steamed cabbage and carrots for a main dish!


SANDRA'S HOMEMADE THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

A classic dressing that I've been making for years!

It's my 'go to' dressing to enhance grilled Reuben sandwiches,
moose and venison burgers,
iceberg wedge salads,
as a dip for fresh veggie sticks, etc...
Yield: Appx. 2 cups

Prep: 15 mins.
Chill: 2 hrs. minimum

INGREDIENTS

1 cup prepared mayonnaise (I use Best Foods)
1/2 cup Ketchup (I use Heinz)
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup finely diced sweet gherkins
1 large egg, hard boiled, cooled, peeled and finely diced

METHOD

Mix all ingredients in a small glass bowl. Transfer to a glass wide-mouth pint-size Mason jar, cover with a plastic lid, and chill for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 2 wks. ~ Enjoy!


SANDRA'S EASY NO-KNEAD DUTCH OVEN CARAWAY BREAD

REVISED RECIPE to make "CARAWAY BREAD," as follows:

An easy 5-minute no-knead dough to prepare the night before,
then quick to prepare upon waking the next morning
to enjoy throughout the day...


Yields: (1 loaf)
Prep: 5 Mins.
Total rising time: 9 -12 hours
Bake 45 to 50 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon active yeast (not rapid or instant)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups slightly warm water (tepid)
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds

--2 teaspoons olive oil
(For top and bottom of dough ball so it doesn't stick or form crust while rising)

--Dutch oven (should be at least 4 quarts in size) with its lid.
Note: (Do not oil Dutch Oven, bread will not stick while baking).

METHOD

Add flour to bowl. Add yeast and sea salt and stir thoroughly. Add barely warm (tepid) water and caraway seeds, then stir thoroughly. The dough will look rough and shaggy.

Lightly oil top of dough using a paper towel, then oil your hands (to prevent dough sticking to them); turn dough in the bowl and do so on this side so the whole ball of dough is slightly coated with the oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Throw a kitchen towel over top and underneath of bowl and set it in a warm corner. Leave it alone for 9-12 hours. (Save plastic wrap).

When risen, in the bowl, fold dough over on itself at 3 times, then reform into ball. Using a bit more olive oil on hands and bowl, if need be, to prevent sticking.

Cover dough with same plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour.

About 20 minutes before the hour is up, turn on oven to preheat at 450 degrees. Place an oven-safe Dutch Oven in oven to preheat at the same time as well.

Note: When removing Dutch Oven lid/pot from hot oven, 
be sure to do so using heavy pot holders, 
to a baking rack or stove top 'cold burner' 
as they will be hot enough to scorch standard kitchen towels.

After the full hour, the dough will have risen and nearly doubled in size. Quickly shape the dough into a round ball and drop it into the preheated Dutch Oven (be careful because it's really, really hot). Slash an 'X' on top of the dough with the tip of a sharp knife that's been sprayed w/oil. Place lid on hot Dutch Oven and carefully place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove lid from the Dutch Oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden. Bread is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reads 190 degrees.

Remove bread from oven, and lift loaf out to cool on a baking rack.. To keep warm for serving, wrap loaf in a clean kitchen towel. Slice and serve! ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tips: 

This bread is quite forgiving and can be left to rise from 9 to 12 hours, although the longer you let rise the more yeast flavor you'll end up with.

SANDRA'S ALASKAN 2-HOUR INSTANT POT "FROZEN" VENISON MOOSE ROAST

I like to make my venison/moose roast using this method,
without adding tomatoes and/or veggies,
so I have flavored, cooked and tender meat to use in MANY recipes.

Simply portion out cooked meat into separate Ziploc bags
to refrigerate and/or freeze to use in the future
(e.g., to transform into enchiladas, tacos, burritos, soups, stews,
French dip sandwiches, and more)...


Yield: 3 lb roast
Prep: 5 Mins.
Cook: 120 Mins.
Pressure: Appx build/decrease times at beg/end, respectively = 10 mins ea.; 20 mins. total

INGREDIENTS

3 lb. FROZEN venison/moose roast
--(thaw just enough to remove plastic/paper wrap and/or string);
--trim sinew and excess fat (as fat from venison does not have a pleasant feel on the palete)
1 pkg McCormick Dry Stew Seasoning mix
3 cups hot water
3 teaspoons beef base paste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire

METHOD

Place trivet in bottom of  instant pot, then place FROZEN venison/moose roast on top of it.  Add all the remaining ingredients to a 4-cup glass measure; whisk to combine, and pour over roast in Instant Pot.

Place lid on instant pot, close vent valve. Set to MANUAL; HIGH PRESSURE for 120 MINUTES. (Will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure.)

At the end of 120 minutes, NATURAL RELEASE pressure (will take about 10 minutes). Lift lid, and remove roast. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tip:

You will end up with about 3 cups of stock, which you can thicken to a gravy with a cornstarch or flour slurry, if so desired. 

I like to use my gravy separator, then freeze stock for soups/stews later on.

----I purchased the Instant Pot via Amazon Prime here:

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer


SANDRA'S FAVORITE OVEN ROASTED POTATOES and PERFECT EGGS (for one)


My kind of 'comfort food,'
pretty much any time of the day...
Servings: (1)

Prep: 5 Mins.
Bake: 35-45 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (or powder)
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion (or powder)
2 teaspoons Mazola oil

2 large eggs

METHOD

Preheat oven to 425F.

Spray an ovenproof 6x6" baking dish; set aside.

Place the cubed potatoes, seasoning salt, pepper, granulated garlic and onion, including Mazola oil into a gallon Ziploc bag and shake to combine. Pour seasoned potatoes into a single layer in prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350F.

Crack eggs (individually, into a single layer) atop the hot potatoes. Return baking dish back to oven; continue baking, uncovered, at the lower temperature of 350F for an additional 10-20 minutes, until eggs are set to your liking.

Serve immediately in hot baking dish, with a cotton napkin underneath, placed onto a serving plate. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tips:

1) Most times I like this served 'as is,' although occasionally before serving I'll top with a few drops of Sriracha, or red taco sauce, or sliced pickled jalapenos, or homemade salsa.

2) This recipe can easily be doubled, just bake in an 8x8" baking dish - or - quadrupled, just bake in a 13x9" baking dish.


SANDRA'S ALASKA STEAMER CLAMS in a GARLIC-BUTTER-VODKA SAUCE

Yakutat Alaska white steamer clams
are prepared in a velvety garlic-butter-vodka sauce
to create my infamous side or main dish,
including adding crispy Texas toast dipping...
Servings: 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course

Prep: 10 Mins.
Cook: 20 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 3 equal pats (divided)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onion, both white and green parts
1/2 cup chopped, fresh roma tomatoes
Yes, we ate all the steamer clams
and I ate the small cockle,
but we refrained from eating the starfish ;-)
2 pounds live steamer clams in shells, scrubbed
1/4 cup quality vodka
3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Tip: Prep all your ingredients ahead of time, including laying out your servings bowls.

Also, preheat your oven to 375F, then begin baking your garlic Texas toast, according to pkg directions, about 8-10 total minutes
(it's found in the freezer section of the market).


METHOD

In a large, high side sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons/pats of butter. Add the finely chopped celery and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, green onions and chopped tomatoes, and sauté for 2 minutes.

With pan off heat, add the vodka to deglaze pan by scraping bottom.  Return pan to heat and add chicken broth, parsley, basil, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a rolling simmer, add clams, cover pan, and cook just until they open up, about 3-5 minutes (do not overcook).

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Add remaining tablespoon/pat of butter and gently stir to incorporate. 

Serve immediately in shallow, wide bowls with hot and crispy garlic Texas toast for dipping. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S SNICKERDOODLE BISCOTTI DIPPERS

So satisfying with a nice cup of tea while dipping these tasty jewels,
or coffee, or hot chocolate...it's a win-win! Also, a perfect
tiramisu making substitute vs lady fingers...
Yields: 3 doz (appx)

Prep: 15 Mins.
Bake/Stand/Re-bake: Bake 30 Mins/Stand 15 Mins/Re-bake 10 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Cream Wet
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift Dry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Brush tops of logs (just before baking)
1 egg, beaten

Sprinkle Mix (just before re-baking)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

METHOD

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together 2/3 cup sugar and butter for 5 minutes on low speed. Add in 2 eggs and vanilla, and continue to cream for 2 minutes longer.

Sift through a sieve placed over wet ingredients in stand mixer bowl, and shake to sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 12" long. Place logs on the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly so they are 2-1/2" wide (the will spread slightly while baking). Brush top of each log with the beaten egg.



Bake 30 minutes (turning baking sheet half way through baking), until golden and slightly cracked on top. [Do not turn off oven]. Cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet.



Carefully move logs to a cutting board, and using a serrated knife slice each log crosswise at a diagonal into 1/2 inch slices (I snack on the 4 end pieces that aren't as pretty, but oh so tasty ;). Flip each slice cut side down, and sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture. Place back on baking sheet, and re-bake for an additional 10 minutes (turning baking sheet half way through baking), until toasted. (You should end up with 3 doz. 1'' thick by 3-1/2" wide biscotti after baking.)

Transfer biscotti to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (or freeze up to 6 months). ~ Enjoy!



SANDRA'S ICONIC INDIVIDUAL PEACH CRISPS

A classic family favorite,
the awesome peach crisp
served warm and topped off with ice cold French vanilla ice cream
~ oh so blissful...
Yields: 4 Individual (1-cup) ramekins
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins

INGREDIENTS

Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

Filling
3 cups (1-24 oz jar) Costco sliced peaches, drained, then cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

--French Vanilla Ice Cream (if desired)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 4 (1 cup) ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Place all 4 prepared ramekins on a baking sheet; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Add the cold cubed butter and using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles the size of peas. Fold in the oats and transfer topping to the refrigerator to chill while preparing filling.

Add the peaches to a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with flour and sugar. Stir until all of the peaches are well coated with the flour and sugar (let set 5 minutes). Scoop the peach filling equally into the prepared ramekins (that have been placed on the baking sheet), remove the topping from the refrigerator equally sprinkle on top of filling. 

Ready for the oven...

Bake for 40 minutes, until the topping is lightly golden brown and the juices are bubbling around the edges.

Hot out of the oven, now cooling...



Remove from the oven and transfer ramekins to a wire rack, using an oven mitt, to cool slightly before serving, top each with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tip: This recipe also works using a 9x9x2" square baking dish versus these 4 ramekins!


SANDRA'S ALASKA SOURDOUGH GLAZED COFFEE CAKE



There's no better way to start your day than
with a piece of this incredible sourdough coffee cake
and a nice cup of hot coffee...
Servings: (9)

Prep: 10 Mins.
Bake: 30 to 35 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Cake
1 cup 'fed' sourdough starter  
--[Click this link for "Sandra's Homemade Sourdough Starter"]
1⁄3 cup Mazola oil
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4" cubes

Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2-1/2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract (or regular vanilla extract)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9" square baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add the sourdough starter and oil, whisk to combine.

In another bowl, sift through a sieve the remaining cake dry ingredients; add to sourdough mixture and switch to a spoon to combine batter.

Place batter into the prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, add the cinnamon, brown sugar and flour topping ingredients.  Work in the cold butter using a pastry cutter until crumble-topping resembles the size of small peas. Sprinkle topping crumbles over batter in baking dish.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze in a small bowl by sifting the confectioners' sugar, stir in milk and bourbon vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.  Once cake is done baking, drizzle the glaze over the top while warm.  Let the cake cool, then cut into 9 equal squares. Serve with your favorite cup of coffee. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S LEMON-KISSED HOMEMADE SIMPLE SYRUP


A terrific addition
to smoothies,
hot or iced tea, cocktails, etc.

Yield: 1-3/4 cups

Prep: 5 Mins.
Cook: 2 Mins.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Juice of 1 large lemon

METHOD

In a small saucepan, combine the 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Pour the syrup into a sterilized Mason pint jar and let cool to room temperature, then stir in freshly-squeezed and drained-through-a-sieve lemon juice. This step is necessary to omit any possible lemon seeds and pulp.

Cover jar and store in refrigerator, the syrup keeps up to 6 months. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S HOMEMADE LEMON EXTRACT

The hardest part is waiting 8 weeks,
although with minimal effort
you'll reap rewards many
times over, as the flavors of these
three extracts can't be beat...
Yields: 4 oz. (1/2 cup) lemon extract 
Prep: 5 Mins.
Cure: 8 weeks

--1 (4 oz.) Mason jar with plastic lid (or lid and ring)

INGREDIENTS

1 large, fresh lemon, washed and dried, then zest (do not include with bitter pith when zesting) 
1/2 cup quality vodka

METHOD

Place your jar in a small saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.  Remove jar on a clean kitchen towel to cool and air dry. (If not using plastic lids as I am, be sure to sterilize your rings and lids as well.)

Meanwhile, zest lemon (not white pith as it is bitter) and place into bottom of the 4 oz. Mason jar.  Fill jar with vodka to within 1/4" of top of rim. Place lid on jar and close tightly, shake a few times, label, date and place it in a cool, dark cabinet. 

Let rest for 8 weeks, while occasionally shaking a couple times per week, which will become a darker yellow color over time.

After 8 weeks you can start using your homemade extract in recipes for custards, pies, tarts, breads, desserts, crepes, sauces, breakfast dishes, smoothies, and so on. If you would like some of the zest in your recipe, just shake the jar beforehand. – Enjoy!

-- Click here for: Vanilla Extract recipe


-- Click here for: Vanilla-Bourbon Extract recipe





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tips:  Use as much as you need, and when you have only 20% of the extract remaining you should replenish with more vodka and/or zest, and shake again. In addition, when you're using a fresh lemon zest in a recipe, add any leftover to the jar of homemade extract. If you continue to feed your extract in this manner, the extract will keep forever; simply remove some of the older zest if the jar becomes too crowded.

SANDRA'S HOMEMADE SWEET THAI CHILI SAUCE

A delightful sweet chili sauce I created today in under 20 minutes,
and at the rate we go through this decadent condiment ~
it's bound to be quite the '$$ saver' as well...
Yield: 1 cup

Prep: 5 Mins.
Cook: Appx. 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons quality white wine
3 teaspoons garlic granules (or powder)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes (1/2 TB mild, or 3/4 TB spicy, or 1 TB hot)
--1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons cool water
--2 drops red all-natural organic food coloring

METHOD

Place all ingredients (except cornstarch-water slurry mixture, and food coloring) in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 10 minutes to reduced sauce by half. (The vinegar odor will be quite pungent as it burns off.)

In a small bowl, combine 4 TB water with 1-1/2 TB cornstarch to form a slurry.

Reduce heat to low and add cornstarch-water slurry mixture, and the red food coloring. Stir to incorporate, then continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat and carefully taste-test (I do so by spooning some sauce on a plate to let cool slightly). You should first taste sweet, followed by sour, then spicy and salty hints. If sauce isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If not spicy enough, add more chili flakes.

Pour finished sauce into a 1/2-pint Mason jar, cover, and store in refrigerator (will last up to 6 months).  Serve as a condiment, dip, or marinade. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S TERRIFIC TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE


A quick and easy go-to meal made with ingredients
most have on hand, and it's deliciously addicting...
 

Servings: (6)
Prep: 20 Mins.
Bake: 30 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Pasta:
9 oz. cooked wide-egg noodles, al dente for about 5 minutes (about 3/4 of a 12-oz bag), drain

Filling:
2 TB mazola oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
Assembled and ready for the oven...
1 (4-oz can) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon onion granules
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Johnny's Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
--1/4 cup frozen peas

Sauce:
1 (10.5-oz can) cream of mushroom soup
1 (7-oz can) albacore tuna packed in water, do not drain - however break up pieces
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Topping:
13 ritz crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

METHOD

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a 9x13" glass baking dish.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add all filling ingredients, except frozen peas, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes while occasionally stirring, just until carrots are tender. Add the frozen peas, and cook for 1 minute; set filling aside off heat.

In a large bowl, combine sauce ingredients.  Add the cooked noodles and filling ingredients, fold to combine.  Add casserole mixture to the baking dish.

In a small bowl, add the crushed ritz crackers and melted butter, mix to combine.  Sprinkle casserole with the topping mixture.

Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, just until top turns golden.  Let stand 5 minutes, then serve with your favorite salad and/or garlic bread. ~ Enjoy!


SANDRA'S EPIC ALASKA CINNAMON ROLLS

A family favorite dessert that 's divine to  partake
any time of the day...

Yields: 12 Rolls
Prep: 30 min. + rising
Bake: Appx. 25 mins.

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH:

--Proof:
2-1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm 2% milk

--Additional dough ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar (or light)
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (depending upon your preference)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
--1/2 cup raisins and/or chopped pecans (optional)

FROSTING:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

METHOD

Add yeast and 1 tablespoon honey in warm milk in the stand mixing bowl with the hook attachment; mix to combine and let set 5 minutes to proof.

To the stand mixer with the yeast mixture, add the sugar, butter, beaten eggs, flour and salt; beat on low speed until dough is combined and wrapping around hook. Turn speed to medium to knead dough in stand mixture for 7 minutes.

Place in a greased medium glass bowl, turning once to grease the top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap (underside sprayed) and let rise in a no-draft warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1-/12 hours. (I do so in my oven, no heat.)

In another bowl, mix butter brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

Punch down dough, let rest 10 minutes. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 21" x 16 rectangle. (If dough gets difficult to roll out, let rest an additional 10 minutes, then continue rolling into the proper rectangle size.) Spread the brown sugar filling mixture to within 1/2 in. of edges, then top with raisins and/or pecans, if using. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. (Dough should shrink into a 13" long log when rolling up.) Cut into 12 equal slices; place rolls in a sprayed glass 13x9" baking dish, cut side down and seams facing in. Cover with plastic wrap (underside sprayed), and let rise in a warm place just until doubled, about 40 mins to 1 hour. (Do not over-rise or roll centers will begin to pop up, as they will rise a bit more during baking.)

For frosting, using a hand mixer and a medium bowl; beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until blended; gradually beat in the sifted confectioners’ sugar until smooth, cover; set aside.

When rolls in baking dish have risen. Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, about 25 minutes, turning dish half way through baking.


Cool rolls in baking dish on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  While warm, spread all the frosting evenly over roll tops. Finish cooling completely, uncovered in baking dish on a wire rack, until frosting has fully set. ~ Enjoy!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:

To quickly reheat, simply place a roll on a serving saucer and place in microwave on high for 20 seconds.

SANDRA'S SPECTACULAR SLOPPY JOES

A quick and easy lunch or dinner.

Also, it's a perfect take-along dish if you wish to double or triple the recipe
for functions ~ keep warm in a slow cooker though and serve as sliders!
Servings: (4)

Prep: 10 Mins.
Cook: 15 to 20 Mins.


INGREDIENTS

1 lb extra-lean ground moose (or venison, or beef)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 (8oz-can) tomato sauce
1⁄4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons spicy barbecue sauce (I use Stubb's Spicy)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

METHOD

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground meat, celery, bell pepper and onion.

Stir in remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve open-face style over toasted buns with a side of prepared Sandra's potato salad or coleslaw. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip: I toast my buns in my toaster set on the 'bagel setting,' or feel free to do so in the oven under the broiler.

SANDRA'S CHOCOLATE-TOFFEE ANGEL FOOD CAKE (No-Bake)

An easy recipe that takes only six ingredients and no baking.

It's my makeover from a popular early 1970's dessert
that is ever so scrumptious and decadent as well...

Servings: 12

Prep: 10 Mins.
Chill: A minimum of 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

1 prepared angel food cake (either store-bought or homemade)
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 (8-oz tubs) cool whip
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 full size Heath bars, finely crushed (by pulsing in a food processor)
--Extra unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting top of frosted cake

METHOD

Cut the angel food cake horizontally into three even layers using a serrated knife.

Sift, using a sieve, the cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. Add the cool whip and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. Using a spatula, gently fold in the finely crushed heath bars.

Spread the frosting in between the layers, around the sides (including inside the center tunnel area), and on top of the cake. As a finishing touch, dust the top of cake using a fine-mesh sieve.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving.  Store any leftover cake in the refrigerator. ~ Enjoy!





SANDRA'S CINNAMON-PECAN SHORTBREAD COOKIES

The most amazing buttery and flavorful cookies
so you might consider preparing a double batch,
as they're usually gone in a flash...

Yield: (4 dozen)
Prep: 10 Mins.
Chill: 20 Mins.
Bake: 12-14 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Cream wet:
1 cup (2 cubes) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (no need to sift)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift dry:
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Addition:
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped (I did so using my mini-food processor)

Coating mixture:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

METHOD

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the creaming ingredients and mix just until combined. Take care to not over mix.

Add the sifted dry ingredients, and again mix just until combined. The dough will be rather dense.

Add the finely chopped pecans, and pulse mixer to incorporate.

Pour the dough out onto a 16" piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, then roll up into a 12"-long log. Twist ends of wrap to enclose, and place log of dough in freezer to chill for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Set aside parchment-lined baking sheets (or use silpat liners).

Mix the coating ingredients of sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl; set aside.

Remove chilled log of dough from freezer, cut in half crosswise; cut each half into 6 sections forming 12 discs, then cut each disc into quarters (this will yield 48 pieces). Working quickly, form all pieces into balls (all should end up being 1" in diameter).

Roll cookie balls in the cinnamon-sugar coating mixture. Place balls on a baking sheet about 1" apart and press down slightly; bake each batch for 12 to 14 minutes.  While hot, carefully roll cookies a final time in the cinnamon-sugar coating mixture, and place to cool completely on a wire rack.   Store cookies in an airtight container. ~ Enjoy!




SANDRA'S BANANA-OAT-CRAISIN COOKIES



A newly created incredible cookie that's a synch to prepare and is now my husband's favorite.

What a great method in which to use the ever-infamous ripe bananas,
especially when you have a 'banana lover' in house like my hubby is
so we always have a never-ending supply!

Yields: Appx. 4 doz.
Prep: 20 Mins.
Bake: 14 to 16 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Wet:
3/4 cup shortening (I use Crisco), room temp
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 medium-size ripe bananas, fully mashed (1 cup mashed)
1 teaspoon bourbon-vanilla extract (or regular)

Dry (sift):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Additions:
1-3/4 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup craisins (or raisins), chopped to your desired fineness

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350F. Place aside a baking sheet topped with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together shortening and both sugars; beating until light and airy.  Add the egg, mashed bananas and bourbon-vanilla/regular; mix to combine.

Place a sieve over the mixing bowl; add the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sift over wet ingredients. Turn on mixer to #3 just until all ingredients are combined (do not over mix).

Add the oatmeal and raisins; turn on mixer just to incorporate.  Scrape bowl using a spatula to ensure all ingredients are fully combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let cookie dough rest 15 minutes.

Use a mini-scoop (2-teaspoon measure) to drop cookie dough mounds onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes (turning half way), just until edges began to brown.  Cool cookies 1 minute on lined baking sheet, then completely on a wire rack. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container. ~ Enjoy!






SANDRA'S HOT BUTTERED RUM MIX



This hot buttered rum mix is a tradition that we serve during 
our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. 

This particular mix is delicious with/without the rum 
so everyone can enjoy this warm and comforting drink any time.

Yield: Appx. 1 cup of mix
Prep: 10 Mins.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of kosher salt
--Light Rum

METHOD

Place brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl; blend completely using a smashing-motion. Brown sugar should be completely coated in butter and spices, until it's uniform in color (will take several minutes).

Place unused mix in refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

HOW TO MAKE A HOT BUTTERED RUM:

Preheat an 8 oz. mug by filling it with HOT water, let stand a few minutes, then drain.

To the warmed (empty) mug, add 1/2 heaping tablespoon of Hot Butter Rum Mix, 1.5 ounces of Light Rum, then fill mug with boiling water and give the hot beverage a stir to incorporate all ingredients (a froth will form on top).

Sprinkle hot toddy with a kiss of freshly ground nutmeg. Serve immediately. ~ Enjoy!

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