Friday, August 31, 2018

EASY HOME MADE PEPPERONI

Have you ever read the ingredient list on a package of commercial pepperoni or looked closely at a slice of it and wondered what all those "bits" were? Exactly!! A pretty gross thought isn't it?? 

If you want to know exactly what is in YOUR pepperoni, try this super easy recipe. It's just high quality pork and seasonings baked in the oven at a super low temperature for 6 hours ....and it is delicious, (even picky-picky husband loves it!!)



First of all, keep in mind that when it's all cooked, it's NOT going to be bright red/orange like commercial pepperoni, and it's NOT going to be shaped perfectly round, but that certainly didn't bother us. 

1 pound of ground pork (not sausage)
1 pound of ground beef (lean)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (see notes)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 slightly heaping teaspoons salt (see notes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup ice water

Grind the dry spices together (I used my mortar and pestle) until they are roughly ground (it doesn't have to be super fine).

Mix the meat, flavorings, ice water and liquid smoke together just until combined. (I use my stand mixer). Cover it well, and chill it for 48 hours.

After 48 hours, mix again gently and roll the mixture into 2 logs and place them on a foil lined baking sheet (make sure the baking sheet has a lip).


Bake in a pre-heated 200° oven for 8 hours. If you seriously want round pepperoni, turn the logs every 2 hours, but I never do that.  Your house is going to smell wonderful!! 

After 8 hours, they will look like this:


The "pepperoni" logs will be quite firm to the touch when they come out of the oven. If there is a lot of fat on your baked pepperoni "logs", just wipe it off before you chill them, but I seldom have that problem.

CHILL PEPPERONI BEFORE 
 YOU   SLICE !!

Let the baked logs cool a little, then wrap them in plastic wrap and chill them until they are very cold before you slice them.  Use a sharp knife and slice the sausages very thin.


This treat is VERY easy to make and has a wonderful flavor. 

NOTES: I buy pork butt roast when it's on super sale and just grind it with my stand mixer, but you can also just buy commercially ground pork (UNSEASONED....not sausage!!)


NOTES: Picky-picky husband is very shy when it comes to "heat", so I make this recipe with 1 + 1/4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes and it's just right.  If you like a spicier pepperoni, just add more flakes.

NOTES: A note about the color of this pepperoni. To get a bright red/orange color in pepperoni, people use Morton's Tender Quick which has salt, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite and propylene glycol in it. Personally, it is not important to us to have that bright red color, so I just use table salt instead of the Tender Quick and it works just fine.  I freeze my baked pepperoni.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

EASY TOMATO VEGGIE SOUP

This recipe is a wonderful use for all of those extra garden veggies you have this time of year. Tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, celery and anything else you can think of to add to the soup; this recipe is very versatile (and yummy).


1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes (I use roasted cherry tomatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can ro-tel tomatoes with juice (I use mild)
4 cups beef  or vegetable broth  (not bullion)
1/3 cup uncooked barley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon)
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 can rinsed and drained kidney beans (or your favorite bean)
pinch of red pepper flakes if you like heat (optional)

Spray a large soup pot with vegetable spray and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until the onions turn soft and a little sweet.

Put the undrained can of rotel tomatoes


PLUS the two fresh tomatoes into the food processor and blend until smooth, then add to the pot.

Add everything else to the pot and simmer SLOWLY for 45 minutes, that's it; just stir it once in a while.

I'm SURE this could be easily done in the crockpot as well. This is one of those great recipes that tastes even better on day two.


ENJOY !!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

CHOCOLATE-PECAN ICE CREAM CUPS

These chocolate cups are quite tasty and a real show stopper. Great for company because you can make them ahead and keep them in the freezer. Even when they are frozen solid, they are and not brittle; they are the consistency of a GOOD FUDGE !!!

Great for Ice Cream or 
Chocolate Mousse !!!

All it takes to make these are ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 cup finely ground pecans (I used the food processor)


In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated). Stir until very smooth then stir in finely chopped pecans. Insert paper liners into cupcake pans; spread about 2 tablespoons of this mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the paper liners (made the sides and upper edges nice and thick). 

Freeze for at least 2 hours. Carefully peel off paper liners and fill with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or chilled mousse. Makes about 12 cups.



NOTE: I melted my chocolate with the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave (on high); it took about 30 seconds, stirring half way through.

NOTE: Recipe calls for finely ground pecans. I used the food processor to chop the nuts super fine.

NOTE: Make sure you leave the chocolate at the top edge of the cupcake paper nice and thick, so it doesn't break/tear when you remove the paper. Chocolate cups are not super hard/brittle like other chocolate cups.

NOTE: Letting the chocolate cups sit at room temperature for about 3 or 4 minutes before removing the paper liner, makes it easier.


ENJOY !!!