Chew This! Fresh Orange Brownies 

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday – and Happy Easter! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at http://thecouriertimes.com Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I’ll be happy to help! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

I love brownies and I love anything citrus, so I figured, why not combine the best of both worlds? These have nothing artificial and are packed with real orange flavor. The secret is to use fresh orange juice and fresh orange zest. People go crazy for these!

Also in this column is my “Ask and Answer” feature in which I talk about my “Bake Sale” experience as well as some of my most popular “Bake Sale Tips”. I love sharing this with you!


Fresh Orange Brownies

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/neighbors_features/article_baef3e4f-d389-5582-a2ea-40e08cd5c2d6.html

Enjoy!

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Simple Strawberry Jam

It’s strawberry season in Indiana and you know what that means!? All of my strawberry jam, strawberry pizza, and strawberry shortcake recipes get pushed right to the top of my “to try” list! So far, I’ve had pretty good luck with all of my strawberry “recipe testing” experiments. Matter of fact, right now (in the refrigerator) I have a new recipe I’m trying for “No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Cups”! They look incredible and I can’t wait to test them! (Which IS after all, the best part of “recipe testing”!)

Many of you requested the recipe for the jam I made a few days ago, but I was still “tweaking” the recipe. It’s inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”). I changed a few things in the recipe, (including the sugar amount, the amount of fruit, the cooking time and the liqueur substitution) and I think it’s incredible! DO NOT panic that this recipe calls for a candy thermometer. I have tried this recipe with AND without one, and if you pay close attention…it will work out either way.

I have used the finished product on toast, angel food cake, ice cream…and straight out of the jar! It’s really simple and delicious – you’ll be wanting to make this year around!

Strawberry Jam Blog

Simple Strawberry Jam

3 pints fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar (see NOTE on sugar in recipe)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons orange zest
1 Granny Smith apple (cored and diced)
1 cup fresh blueberries
Candy thermometer

Place the strawberries into a colander and rinse them under cold water. Be sure the strawberries are clean and free of any debris.

Drain the strawberries and place on a paper towel. Cut the tops off the strawberries (hull / clean them).

Cut the strawberries in half – but leave the smaller ones whole.

Place the cut berries into a heavy bottomed pan (Dutch oven). I used a cast iron dutch oven for this, and it worked great. I try and use cast iron when and where I can – big fan!

Pour the sugar in with the strawberries and toss to coat. Be careful not to “break up” the strawberries.

NOTE ON SUGAR – I used the “C&N” brand “Baker’s Sugar” for this recipe, which is “ultra-fine pure sugar”. The difference between this sugar and “regular” sugar is that this particular type of sugar is finely processed and “melts” into the jam better. BUT you can also use “regular” sugar – I’ve tried both and both work well…

Zest the orange FIRST before you try for the juice. I zest the orange right over the pot. Just eyeball 3 tablespoons. If you need to measure, please feel free.

Next, cut the oranges in half (for 3 tablespoons of zest and juice you should need about THREE oranges) and juice them. I use a juicer, but you can also use a fork and “squeeze” the orange around the fork. Do this in a measuring cup – or right into the pot for those who would rather “eyeball”.

Stir the juice and zest into the strawberries and sugar mixture carefully.

Place the pot over a MEDIUM heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once the mixture is to a boil, add the blueberries and apple and continue stirring.

Skim any foam that might rise to the top…

Using a candy thermometer, have the mixture reach 220 degrees. This should take about 30 minutes. IF you don’t want to use a candy thermometer (I have tried this recipe with and without one) watch the jam closely at about 25 minutes. If the color is RICH and DEEP – remove from heat. Trust me…it only takes a second for the mixture to burn! As long as you are stirring the jam and watching for the rich color it will be fine.

Once the jam is dark and rich in color (ABOUT 30 minutes) the jam is done. Remove it from the heat.

Pour the jam into a large container (I used another deep pot) and let it cool to room temperature.

Once it’s cooled to room temperature, place into jars and keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

To keep it longer, place in canning jars and can according to manufacturer’s directions.

Enjoy!

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Ina’s Cranberry Orange Scones

I started this blog with the intentions of not wanting to “share” other people’s recipes, but with this one, I’ve had a change of heart. Ina Garten is by far my favorite food personality (only next to Nigella Lawson) and every single one of Ina’s recipes that I have tried…have turned out perfectly. You might know Ina as the “Barefoot Contessa”.

A couple of weeks ago I sent a friend of mine some food pictures through the mail. One of them that I sent was my Cranberry Orange Scones. About a week later she wrote back to me asking for the recipe, saying that they simply looked delicious. I sent her the recipe and had to explain that it wasn’t “my” recipe that I used…it was Ina Garten’s recipe. I am always thrilled to introduce people to food personalities (such as Ina and Nigella) so I thought I would share it here as well. I followed the recipe exactly as Ina wrote it, with the exception of adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the Orange Glaze… Share this recipe with everyone, explore more of Ina’s recipes and whatever you do – enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Enjoy!

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