Spiced Peach Jam

Homemade Spiced Peach Jam | Brittany's PantryWow this jam is good.  It cooks down so much it concentrates the flavor so you don’t just end up with peaches floating in sugar syrup, but thick, all peach syrup with fruit in it.  The cardamom is what takes this over the top.  And if you use it in this recipe and pour it over pork, it may just make your year.  I would definitely step up your game and make two batches, saving some to give as gifts at Christmas.  But only if you are prepared to make it again next year.  Your neighbors may riot of you don’t.

Spiced Peach Jam (Recipe updated July 2013)
Inspired by CCA
No pectin needed!  This cooks down considerably and yields about 6 full pints.

12 c diced fresh peaches, already peeled and pitted (about 6 lbs)
6 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan.  I like to use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this.  Stir to combine and bring to a rolling boil over med heat.  Stirring constantly, boil about 15 minutes till mixture starts to thicken.  If desired, mash fruit with a potato masher till fruit is as chunky or smooth as you like.  Continue boiling for another 10-15 minutes stirring almost constantly.  Don’t let it burn!  When jam is ready, you should almost be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir.  It should be thick, reduced, and not quite hold its shape on a spoon.  Pour hot jam into sterilized pint jars (leaving 1 inch of head space), wipe rims clean, top with sterilized lids and bands and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.  Alternatively, pour into jars and store in the fridge for up to 1 month, or pour into plastic freezer jars and freeze for 6 months.

Dippin’ Biscuits

Quick Dipping Drop Biscuits | Brittany's Pantry - The perfect bread to whip up when you need something to go with dinner!Yummy comfort food.  That is what has been on my mind everyday for the past week.  Its calling to me when I sleep.  Mashed potatoes, savory, slow roasted meats, hot carmel rolls fresh from the oven…its all good.  So the other night I threw together chicken and gravy over biscuits with some fresh green beans.  I made the biscuits with a pinch of herbs to give the whole dish an extra special flavor.  My Mom used to make drop biscuits all the time when I was a kid; as a matter of fact, I don’t ever remember her making them the old fashioned way, rolled and cut.  With a large family, it was faster and less messy to just mix them up and throw on a sheet pan.  Drop biscuits are just what they sound like.  The dough is usually a bit more sticky, and instead of turning it out onto a floured counter, rolling them out and cutting with a biscuit cutter, they are spooned right from the bowl and ‘dropped’ on a cookie sheet and baked.  To be true, they aren’t the smooth, puffy, flaky buns you may think of when biscuits come to mind, but they are a rustic, easy and quick alternative.  And perfect to smother in gravy.   This is what I threw together before dinner and with the addition of sage and pepper, the flavor is perfect for dipping into the gravy at Thanksgiving.  Easy to throw in the oven while the turkey rests and you get the rest of the food on the table.  Wow!  I am thinking about the holidays already?!  Sheesh.  Without the spices, they are just a plain, everyday, all purpose bread.  Add a spoonful of sugar, and you could top them with strawberries and cream.

Dippin Biscuits (note: recipe has been updated since original post)

2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
pinch of salt
6 T cold butter
1 c milk

In a medium sized bowl, mix dry ing. with a fork.  Add butter, cut into small chunks.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender, fork, or two knives till butter is the size of small peas. (Alternatively, pulse all ing in a food processor till butter is the size of small peas.  Dump into a med sized bowl.)
Add milk and mix with a fork just until it comes together.  Dough will be sticky.  Drop dough into 6 portions on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden on top.  Biscuits can be baked and cooled and frozen for up to 1 month.

30 Minute Tortellini & Shrimp

30-Minute Tortellini & Shrimp via Brittany's Pantry…I would like to say welcome back!  To those of you who have been following this, I took a little blog break.  A family vacation (and recovery from said vaca) and a sudden onslaught of apples from a friend have kept me busy, in and out of the kitchen.  I have been thinking alot about the topic of this blog and, I have to say, sometimes I have too many ideas.  I find it increasingly difficult to pick only one thing to chat about.  For example, do I discuss the fact that I had such a craving for smoked oysters today (No.  I am not expecting.) that I have consumed nearly an entire can.  I am justifying this by the fact that even though they are so high in calories and I will be exercising till the cows come home, they are actually crazy high in protein.  Seriously!  5g per oyster.  Or do I confess that I have spent the last two days canning this summers bountiful harvest?  Right now its just applesauce and apple butter, but when I pick up fresh peaches at the farmers market on Thurs, it will be peaches, baking apples, tomatoes and tomato sauce, spicy peach jam, plum preserves and…I think that’s it.  I used to can with my mother when I was a kid and now that she isn’t doing it all that much I have inherited her boiling water canner and equipment.  And a LOT of canning jars.  I love to freeze food and keep a pantry stocked, but there is something supremely satisfying about looking at the rows and rows of brightly colored jars filled with food sealed at the peak of freshness right from my own garden or local farm.  Now, having done this in my family for years, I have some background information and experience about the process that is extremely useful if you plan on canning.  However, there is plenty of information out there and as long as you follow the steps-no deviating, all the steps are very important-the results are worth it when you pop the top on a quart jar of fresh tomatoes in January and the sweet smell of summer makes you close your eyes and sigh.  Not to mention that it just looks cool.  Jars and jars of multi-colored jewels lining the shelves of my laundry room?  Yippee!  Please note that if you are storing any type of food, a warm laundry room is not the place for it.  My cold, dark, basement laundry is an exception.  No danger of heat or brightness.  In regards to the canning, my husband is thrilled, as he frequently reminds me that with the world in the state that it is, a fallout shelter might be a good idea.  And hey!  I could stock that shelter with premium eats!

I would love to include a recipe in this blog entry to highlight the apples I have been using, but so far, I haven’t used a recipe.  When I make applesauce, I just throw the peeled and cored and sliced apples on the stove with a splash of apple cider, some sugar and cinnamon and go from there.  I just keep tasting it, adding cider, and cooking it down till I get the consistency I am looking for.  I do add lemon juice if I am going to can it.  Apple butter I do the same way, except in a crock pot with LOTS more spices and alot more tasting.  My family and I will be eating this homemade applesauce over pan fried pork chops tonight in a fall inspired meal.  Hmmm…steamed broccoli and cauliflower and rosemary roasted potatoes.  Nothing fancy, just a boneless pork loin chop sprinkled with salt and pepper and seared in a hot pan with some olive or canola oil.  Normally I don’t like anything to interfere with the meat, especially fruit.  But in the case of pork, I occasionally make an exception.  Like when I make my killer pork roast with apricot jam-but that’s another day.

While canning will no doubt make a future appearance in the next entry or so, the recipe for today is a super fast meal I threw together last night.  Wait.  Last night we ordered Thai food.  So I guess it was two nights ago.  I needed to get rid of a few things in my fridge and, like many fantastic meals born of necessity, it turned out to be a hit.  I will do my best to give you ingredient measurements, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, unless I am baking, I just don’t pay much attention.  My husband is continually annoyed by this.  I would like to say that the perfectionist in him goes crazy, but in all honesty, I just think he hates it when I make something really great, and then can’t recreate it because I didn’t write anything down.  I tell him notepads would stifle my creative flow, but he is never amused.  I’ll try to do better, honey.  And even though I am holding on to the last days of summer with a ninja death grip, Labor Day weekend and chilly days are right around the corner.  So with the smell of apples and cinnamon in the air and my last swallow of coffee long gone, I am looking forward to my autumn inspired dinner tonight.  Hold the oysters.30-Minute Tortellini & Shrimp via Brittany's Pantry30-Minute Tortellini & Shrimp via Brittany's PantryTortellini with Shrimp, Zucchini & Tomato Cream Sauce
I’ll just write this the way I made it.  Sort of progressive and random.  The sauce turns out wonderfully pink.

1 large pkg refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
Boil pasta according to package directions.  While you wait, saute in a large nonstick skillet:
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Cook over med heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Don’t let the garlic burn or it will become bitter.  Add to the skillet 1 small zucchini, cubed and about 20 med sized shrimp, peeled and deviened.  Saute until shrimp just turn pink, 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 large tomato, diced.  Cook for 2 more minutes, or until tomatoes starts to break down and whole mixture is bubbly and hot.  Add a large splash of heavy cream and cook 2 more minutes.  Toss whole mixture with hot pasta and serve immediately.  Serves 4.