Pork Roast and Apples

pork and apples resizedBoneless pork roasts make a wonderful dinner anytime of the year. Use your favorite marinade to to add extra flavor to the roast. Here is one of my favorite marinades or you can mix a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped garlic, onion and a little sugar. This recipe includes sliced apples for a great pork and apple combination.

Pork Roast and Apples

1 1/2 pound boneless pork roast (approximately)

Marinade (use you favorite or check the link above)

2 apples, sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1. Place pork roast in a plastic zip lock bag. Add marinade and allow to soak for 6-8 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove roast from marinade and place in roasting pan.

2. Bake the roast for 45 minutes. In a bowl, mix together the apple slices, brown sugar, cider and dry mustard. Spoon the apples in the pan next to the roast and pour the liquid over everything. Allow to bake another 30 minutes.

3. Remove meat from oven. Place on a platter and cover with foil. Check to see if apple slices are tender and cook a little longer if necessary.

4. Mix apple slices with drippings in pan. Serve with the pork roast.

pork roast apples 3.jpg

Tumblr Anyone?

tumblr blog resizedTumblr is another blogging platform that is easy to use to post photos, videos, quotes and to share favorite websites. I am using Tumblr as another way of sharing and viewing nature photos. If you have a Tumblr account, let me know and I will follow you. I am always interesting in seeing great photos. Here is the link to my Tumblr. Take a look!

http://alookatnature.tumblr.com/

Sunrise

sunrise 2A colorful morning as we wait for another snowstorm. I am ready for butterflies, flowers and warm weather!

Winter’s Joy

red bellied BB PS (640x399)We are having a cold winter with some snow but the snow is not as deep as last winter. One of the joys of the winter is watching the birds at the feeders. Their color and constant motion add beauty to the cold winter.

bluebird pair 3 (640x373)For feeding we use five main types of food – black oil sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, thistle (nyger) seeds, and a high quality mixed seed blend. The finches, chickadees, titmice love the sunflower seeds. The ground feeders, such as sparrows, juncos and cardinals like the mixed seeds. If you purchase mixed seeds, get a high quality mix or you will find that your birds waste most of the seed. Suet cakes are for the woodpeckers, nuthatches and a variety of other birds. We spoil our bluebirds (and will probably go bankrupt) with freeze dried mealworms. The thistle is for the finches.

bluebirdandfinch 2 (640x424)Just as important as the bird feed, is fresh water. Even if you don’t feed the birds, a supply of fresh water will draw the birds to your yard. In our area, we have to use an electric warmer in the bird bath in order to keep it ice free.

juncoThe birds also mark the changing of the season. We know winter is on the way when the dark eyed juncos and white throat sparrows appear in the yard. The arrive of spring is heralded by the Eastern phoebe with its very distinctive call and the changing of the goldfinches from their drab winter plumage back to their bright yellow feathers.

Here are some of our visitors this winter. Hope you have a bluebird day!

white throat 5 (640x424)red bellied (640x315)hairy cropped 2 (640x424)goldfinch 2 (640x377)titmouse (640x418)purple finch 2 (640x423)

chickadee BB (640x424)

pileated 2 (640x424)

cardinal PS (640x355)

Trust

flyover (640x415)Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
 ~Matthew 6:26

birds of the air

Apple Brownies

apple brownies (640x424)

I love the small and taste of any type of baked apple goodies. This is a variation on  apple cake which is thinner like a brownie. If you want a more butterscotch flavor, substitute the two cups of dark brown sugar for the light brown and white sugar.

Apple Brownies

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups of apples, peeled and chopped

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Stir together sugar and next 3 ingredients.

3. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients; add to brown sugar mixture, and stir until blended. Stir in apples and pecans. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan; spread in an even layer.

4. Bake at 350º for 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cut into bars.

 

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

brocolli cheese soup (640x424)

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 1/3 cups chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

3 cups chopped broccoli florets

1/4 tsp dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

1, In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp of the butter. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute 3 – 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Stir in chicken broth, potatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and cook 15 minutes. Stir in broccoli and cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

2. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture begins to gently boil and thicken, stir in heavy cream. Remove from heat and once all vegetables are tender pour into the soup and stir. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and Parmesan cheese until melted. Serve warm.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

white throat song sparrow (640x424) ps“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

~Civilla D. Martin

Oatmeal Jam Squares

jam bars (640x424)This is an easy recipe for making a quick dessert. Use your favorite jam or jelly for the filling. I had an excess of blackberry jam so that is what I used. Would also be very good with raspberry jam (my favorite!).

Oatmeal Jam Squares

1 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 jar (10 ounces) of jam or jelly of your choice

4 whole graham crackers, crushed

1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the first five ingredients. In a small bowl, mix melted butter and vanilla; add to oats mixture, stirring until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup mixture for topping.

2. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of a greased 9 inch square baking pan. Spread jam over top to within 1/2 inch of edges. Add crushed graham cracker to reserved topping; sprinkle over jam along with the chopped nuts.

3. Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool in pan and cut into squares.

 

Cider Date Nut Quick No Knead Bread

cider date nut no knead bread (640x424)I am enjoying using the quicker version of the wonderful no-knead bread baked in cast iron at high temperature which yields a bakery style crusty bread. The “quicker” version uses more yeast and starts with warm liquid. Here is another version using apple cider for part of the liquid, dried apples, dates and nuts – great for a treat or for breakfast bread.

cider date nut sliced (640x424)Cider Date Nut Quick N0 Knead Bread

1 cup apple cider (warm but not hot)

1/2 cup warm water

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped dates

1 cup dried apples slices, chopped

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Add warm water and cider to a large bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar and let sit for 4-5 minutes till mixture begins to bubble a bit and get foamy. Add remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously until all flour is mixed and a shaggy dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, add a little more water.
2. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.
As the dough is rising preheat oven to 450 degrees. Please cast iron pot and lid in oven to heat (I use the Lodge Combo for my no-knead bread).
3. After rising for an hour, place dough on a large piece of parchment paper which has been sprinkled with flour. With well-floured hands form dough into a round ball. (The dough can be difficult to handle). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 – 45 minutes.
4. Remove cast iron pot from oven. Pick up ball of dough by the edges of the parchment paper and place in the hot pot. Using scissors, quickly trim the extra parchment paper and place lid on pot.
5. Return covered pot to hot oven (Be careful – the cast iron pot is heavy and very hot!).
6. Cook at 450 degrees with lid on pot for 30 minutes. Remove lid from pot and cook another 15 minutes until brown and crusty. NOTE: My first loaf was a little too dark on the bottom so you may want to reduce the cooking time with the pot covered.
7. Remove from oven and slide the cooked bread from the hot pot onto a cooling rack. Cool and enjoy wonderful crusty bread!

 

Chili Con Carne (No Beans)

chili con carne (640x424)There is nothing like chili on a cold winter night. Here is a version with no beans that is easy to make and will warm a snowy evening.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (coarse grind)

1/2 cup green peppers, chopped

1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (8 ounce) tomato sauce

1 cup beef broth

1. Brown beef in a large deep pan.  Drain fat.  Add the peppers, onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add, chili powder, and cumin, stirring to coat beef.

2. Add the tomato sauce and the beef broth and bring to a boil.

3 Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour (add some water if your heat is too high and chili gets too thick). 4. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

yogurt cake (640x423)I had an excess of Greek yogurt in the refrigerator so went looking for a coffee cake using yogurt rather than sour cream. This makes a moist cake with a sweet cinnamon center and topping.

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the streusel:
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

For the cream cheese glaze:
3 ounces softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk, or enough to make it a glazing consistency

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and Greek yogurt. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.

3. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and cut together with a pastry blender or two knives until it forms a crumble.

4. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

5. Let cool on a wire rack. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. To make the cream cheese glaze, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract and milk. Beat until smooth and until you have a glaze consistency. Drizzle cream cheese glaze over cooled cake and serve.

yogurt cake sliced (640x422)

Seeking Early

sunrise (640x424)“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” – Proverbs 8:17

Quick Multi-Grain No Knead Bread

multigrain no knead (640x424)Here is another variation of a quicker version of no-knead bread. This bread uses whole wheat flour, oats and flax seeds to make a chewy bread with a wonderful crusty outside.

Quick Multi-Grain No-Knead Bread

1 ⅓ cups warm water

2 ¼ teaspoons granulated yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup steel cut oats

2 tablespoons flax seeds

1. Add warm water to a large bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar and let sit for 4-5 minutes till mixture begins to bubble a bit and get foamy. Add remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously until all flour is mixed and a shaggy dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, add a little more water.
2. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.
As the dough is rising preheat oven to 450 degrees. Please cast iron pot and lid in oven to heat (I use the Lodge Combo for my no-knead bread).
3. After rising for an hour, pour dough on a large piece of parchment paper which has been sprinkled with flour. With well-floured hands form dough into a round ball. (The dough can be difficult to handle). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 – 30 minutes.
4. Remove cast iron pot from oven. Pick up ball of dough by the edges of the parchment paper and place in the hot pot. Sprinkle with more flax seeds if desired. Using scissors, quickly cut the extra parchment paper and place lid on pot.
5. Return covered pot to hot oven (Be careful – the cast iron pot is heavy and very hot!).
6. Cook at 450 degrees with lid on pot for 30 minutes. Remove lid from pot and cook another 15 minutes until brown and crusty.
7. Remove from oven and remove cooked bread from the hot pot. Cool and enjoy wonderful crusty bread!

multigrain no knead sliced (640x424)

Raspberry Streusel Bars

raspberry streusel bars (640x424)I look forward to summer when I can pick my own fresh raspberries. Until then, I will take advantage of the California berries that are available in the grocery stores. I have posted several different raspberry bar recipes. Here is another version using jam and fresh raspberries and topped with a steusel topping. Enjoy!

Raspberry Streusel Bars

Crust:

¾ cup flour

¼ cup powdered sugar

Dash of salt

6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces

Berry Filling:

¼ cup raspberry jam, with or without seeds

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

1-2 tablespoons flour

Topping:

4 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces

½ cup flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup chopped pecans, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375º.  Make crust by combining ¾ cup flour, powdered sugar, salt and 6 tablespoons of butter. Cut butter into dry ingredients till the butter is the size of small peas (may use pastry blender or even food processor). Sprinkle the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan. Press onto bottom of pan using your hands. Bake 10-12 minutes or till just starting to brown.

2. Make the filling by melting the jam in a small saucepan or the microwave.

3. Gently mix the raspberries with 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.

4. Make the streusel topping by mixing the remainder of the butter, flour and brown sugar using a pastry blender or food processor just till combined and crumbly.

5. When crust is done, remove from oven and using pastry brush or back of a spoon, spread jam over the surface. Top with berries, then sprinkle with streusel topping and chopped nuts.

6. Bake 25-30 minutes or till berries are bubbling and topping is brown. Cool completely before cutting.

This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan.

 

Dutch Crunch Bread (Rolls)

dutch crumb (640x424)These are as great as they look! I saw this recipe online and and immediately wanted to try the recipe as it reminded me of rolls we got many years ago when living in a different area. In some areas, this is also called “tiger rolls”. The unique crust is formed by coating the balls of roll dough with a rice flour mixture. As it cooks, it crackles and makes a crunchy, sweet exterior for a wonderful roll. Great for sandwiches or just to enjoy with a bowl of soup.

Dutch Crunch Bread (Rolls)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Using an electric mixer combine yeast, water, milk and sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Once yeast is dissolved and starting to foam and bubble, add the salt, oil and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and mix on medium speed.

2. Add approximately another cup of flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead (either by hand) or using the dough hook for four minutes.  Place dough in an oiled bowl (can use the same mixing bowl). Turn the dough to coat with oil on all sides. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about an hour.

3. Once risen, remove the dough from the bowl. Pat the dough into a disc and cut into 6 equal pieces (for smaller rolls, divide the dough into eight pieces).  Form each piece of dough into a round roll. Or if you want a loaf of bread rather than rolls, form the dough into a round loaf.

4.  Put the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rise a second time.

5. About 15 minutes into the second rise, start making the Dutch Crunch topping.

Dutch Crunch Topping

Enough for this roll recipe or a standard loaf of bread

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon vegetble oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup white rice flour

1. Mix all of the ingredients together very well with a whisk and set aside for 15 minutes.  The mixture will be similar in consistency to royal icing but will thicken as it stands.

2.  Then using a spoon or your hands, gently spread the topping over the surface of the rolls, making sure not to push to deflate them.  Use all of the topping as it is put on generously.

3. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

dutch crumb 3 (640x424)

Chewy Cherry Almond Bars

cherry bars (640x424)
Use your favorite preserves to make a chewy bar full of oats and almonds. Enjoy!
Chewy Cherry Almond Bars
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 12 ounce jar (1 cup) cherry preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and almond extract until combined. Add flour and mix until blended.  Stir in the oats and almonds.

3. Remove 1/2 cup of the dough and set aside. Press the remaining dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Spread with preserves. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over preserves layer.

4. Bake in the preheated oven about 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Quick Cranberry-Nut No-Knead Bread

cranberry nut sliced (640x424)Here is another adaptation of the no-knead bread that is quicker that the traditional method where the dough rises overnight. The “quicker” versions use more yeast and start with warm water for the sponge. The bread is like the traditional bakery bread with a crusty outside and soft, tender interior. Yum!

Quick Cranberry-Nut No-Knead  Bread

1 ⅓ cups warm water

2 ¼ teaspoons granulated yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

1. Add warm water to a large bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar and let sit for 4-5 minutes till mixture begins to bubble a bit and get foamy. Add remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously until the flour and other ingredients are mixed and a shaggy dough forms (You may need to add one or two additional tablespoons of warm water if the dough is too stiff – or use a little less flour).
2. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour (It is okay if it sits longer than an hour). As the dough is rising preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cast iron pot and lid in oven to heat (I use the Lodge Combo for my no-knead bread).
3. After rising for an hour, pour dough on a large piece of parchment paper which has been sprinkled with flour. With well-floured hands form dough into a round ball. (The dough can be difficult to handle). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
4. Remove cast iron pot from oven. Pick up ball of dough by the edges of the parchment paper and place in the hot pot. Using scissors, quickly cut the extra parchment paper and place lid on pot.
5. Return covered pot to hot oven (Be careful – the cast iron pot is heavy and very hot!).
6. Cook at 450 degrees with lid on pot for 30 minutes. Remove lid from pot and cook another 15 minutes until brown and crusty.
7. Remove from oven and slide the cooked bread from the hot pot. Cool and enjoy wonderful crusty bread!

quick cranberry nut break (640x424)

Apple Cider Oatmeal Pancakes

apple cider pancakes (640x424)The oatmeal adds a rich texture and the cider and cinnamon flavor can’t be beat! The recipe is easy – just mix everything together and drop on a hot griddle. Great for a weekend breakfast when you have a little more time. Enjoy!

Apple Cider Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup flour

1 cup rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

1/2 cup apple cider

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together. Scoop by 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle. Cook on one side until it bubbles, than quickly flip to the other side.

2. Serve warm with some butter and maple syrup. Yum!

Oven Baked Beef Ragout

beef ragout (640x424)Here is a hearty beef stew that is flavorful with herbs and spices. Everything is put in a casserole dish and then bakes in the oven for over two hours. Give it a try for a hearty dinner!

Oven Baked Beef Ragout

2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium red onions, cut into thin wedges

4 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups beef broth

1 cup water

1/2 cup diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon molasses

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

1. In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole combine beef cubes, onions, carrots and garlic; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add broth and water all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in tomatoes, parley, molasses, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Pour over beef-vegetable mixture in casserole.

3. Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Stir stew. Bake, uncovered, about 1 hour more or until beef and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaf.