Blueberry Preserves

The husband and I went blueberry picking last weekend at Butler’s Orchard and hauled in a little over 12 lbs!

Fresh picked blueberries ~ Erins' DC Kitchen

So you know what that means? JAM! And more blueberry posts :-)

Oddly enough, this is the first time I’ve made blueberry jam on my own versus just helping (loosely) my Mom make hers. (Thanks for peaking my interest in canning!)

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So pretty isn’t it?

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Right after I finished this batch, I had to turn around and leave for a business trip to Newport, RI and didn’t get to try any of it until this morning! It’s was so good, not overly sweet because I opted for a lower sugar recipe, and bursting with blueberry pieces.

Here is the recipe!

Erin’s Blueberry Jam

  • 5 cups crushed blueberries (it took around 9 cups of whole berries to get to 5 crushed)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups sugar (up to 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons Ball powder pectin (or 1 box pectin, 49 to 57 g)

Makes about 7 to 8 eight ounce (250 ml) jars

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids. In a very large pot combine the berries and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add all the sugar and honey at once, then return to a full boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into prepared jars and leave 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Place on lids and bands, boil in the canner for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let stand 24 hours, during which time the lids should vacuum seal.

Enjoy!

- Erin

Need a more comprehensive breakdown of how to make jams? Read my step-by-step, soup to nuts guide to strawberry jam.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

Hi dear readers!

Hope everyone has been enjoying the summer and had an excellent 4th of July.

I went up to the cottage, per usual, and had an amazingly relaxing time with family and much good food (remember doughboys?) You can find more of my 4th of July cottage foods here and here and here.

This year I borrowed my Aunt’s ice cream maker to whip up a recipe I submitted to the Hudsonville ice cream company’s Pure Michigan flavor contest. Sadly, I didn’t win. BUT- my family thought the ice cream was delicious and totally should have won (ok, my emphasis added).

So, what is it? Creamy buttermilk ice cream with lots of lemon zest, swirled with Michigan blueberry pie filling and dotted with cinnamon-sugar pie crust pieces.

Yup, drool.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pie Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Buttermilk Blueberry Pie Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So, want to make it??

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Buttermilk Ice Cream~ Erin's DC Kitchen

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To swirl in pie crust and pie filling, transfer to a large bowl and fold gently with a spatula

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

(Special thanks to my photographer brother, Jeffrey Smith, for the awesome photos!)

Well, I kinda failed to write the recipe down :-( and time has passed and most of it has left my mind. But I’ll sketch it out below, the parts I remember, and then you can fill in the blanks by comparing other recipes or using your best judgement.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

  • 6 to 8 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (really don’t remember if this is right)
  • pinch of salt

For the blueberry pie filling

  • 1 heaping cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of water
  • 1/4 tsp or so cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • single pie crust, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, baked and broken into pieces

For the pie filling: Lightly smash berries and combine with all over ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until boiling, stirring often, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes. Mixture will naturally thicken. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

For the ice cream: Combine the buttermilk, cream, salt, and lemon juice and zest in a large saucepan and heat until just bubbly but not scalded. Stir in sugar and continue stirring until heated through and sugar is dissolved. Temper the egg yolks with a bit of the warm cream mixture, then quickly whisk in the rest of the cream mixture. Add to a large ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacture instructions.

Once ice cream is frozen, but still a little soft and creamy, remove from maker into a large bowl. Gently fold the broken pie crust pieces into the ice cream. Next, dollop the pie filling across the top of the ice cream and gently fold that in, turning only 2 or 3 times max (you want swirls, not to fully mix the berries in, resist temptation to overstir!). Freeze for another 2 hours, of until fully set.

Enjoy!

-Erin

Pink Lemonade Icebox Bars

Lemonade Icebox Bars ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Happy summer my dear readers! June 21st marked the first ‘official’ day of summer on the calender, but we’ve been going full summer down here in DC for a few weeks. Sundresses!

I’ve been wanting to make an icebox-style dessert since I first read about it in Southern Living magazine (I believe). So, when I was asked to bring a dessert to a friend’s BBQ this past weekend, I made this tangy, sweet, citrusy and chilly little number.

Pink Lemonade Icebox Bars ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

It could not be easier to whip this up either. Cool Whip, lemonade mix and sweetened condensed milk are the key ingredients. Plus- the crust! Oh the crust.

Pink Lemonade Icebox Bars ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I crushed pretzels and mixed them with butter and sugar to make this sweet ‘n’ salty crust– amazeballs!

My tip for this recipe is to make sure you have enough time to fully freeze the bars. I had only refrigerated the bars for a couple hours before initially serving them at the party and the texture was not right- it was almost pudding-like and didn’t hold shape. However, once fully frozen, the texture became smooth and silky, and held a perfect bar shape once cut.

Pink Lemonade Icebox Bars

  • 1 8 oz carton Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 12 oz can Minute Maid pink lemonade mix (from concentrate), thawed
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 oz block cream cheese, softened
  • 5 drops pink food coloring
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups well crushed pretzels
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

For the crust: Preheat oven to 375°. Crush pretzels in a food processor until mainly crumbs with some a few small pieces. Toss in a large bowl with white sugar. Melt butter and drizzle over the crumbs, toss to coat. Press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking pan and bake for 10 minutes, just until set. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the bars: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until creamy and well combined. Mix in the pink lemonade mix and the food coloring, beat until combined. Gently fold in the Cool Whip and mix until incorporated fully. Pour into the cooled crust, cover and freeze until set, at minimum 2 hours. (I did mine overnight).

Enjoy!

- Erin

Want more lemonade goodness? Check out my Strawberry Lemonade Cookie Bars!

Strawberry Rhubarb (or Green Apple) Pie

My cousin just posted pictures of loads of beautiful rhubarb jam on Facebook. I’m jealous. I haven’t made any jam yet this year, BUT– I made a pie.

Quick story, when my Dad was a kid he was told  rhubarb pie was “green apple pie”. Apparently he must not have liked the idea of rhubarb, so my Grandma convinced him otherwise by changing the name. Green apples are tart, but I think the resemblance stops there!  Anyways, the name stuck and we still joking call this pie “green apple”.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I love the crimson color of the rhubarb. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie~ Erin's DC Kitchen

What’s that you say? The crust does look amazeballs, thanks! ;-)

The tartness of the rhubarb in this pie is tempered with soft sweetness from strawberries and majorly complimented by an unexpected addition– almond extract. It provides a fuller, richer taste I think. I was comparing recipes before I started baking, and Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts has a recipe for sour cherry and rhubarb pie that seemed fabulous. That’s where I got the idea of adding almond extract.

Rhubarb season will end soon, once it starts to heat up, so if you want to try this recipe out hurry down to your local farmers market (or garden) and pick some up soon!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

  • 3 1/2 cups diced rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp (scant) cinnamon

For the double crust

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (I did the 1/4 cup wheat, the rest white)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • 8 tbl ice cold water or milk

Preparing the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Measure out the shortening and dollop it across the flour mixture (don’t dump it in one lump). Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until it is course. Pile more than half of the flour mixture to one side of the bowl. Measure out a tablespoon of cold water and sprinkle it over the smaller pile of flour and fluff it with a fork to work the water through. As the mixture forms into dough, move it aside. Continue sprinkling a tablespoon of water onto a small pile of flour and fluffing it with the fork, moving aside the dough that forms. You may or may not use all 8 tbl of water. This process becomes easier the more you do it, trust me, and you get a feel for the dough. Divide the final lump of dough into two equal parts and roll them out into circles. Put one circle into the pie plate and add your filling, then put the top crust on. You need 1 inch or more of excess dough to roll under to make the edge. Anything over that you can cut off. Use your thumb and pointer finger to pinch together a pretty edge.

Preparing the pie:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, cinnamon and part of the flour. Let stand while you prepare the crust. Once the crust is ready, stir in the almond extract and the remainder of the flour. Toss to coat. Spoon filling into the pie crust. If there is a ton of excess juice, don’t pour it all into the crust, just some of it.  With a sharp knife, cut a slit into the top of the pie (or a design if you’re ambitious) to let steam out.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, but cover the crust with a crust protector or foil. Pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and steaming (peek into the center slit).

Let cool fully before cutting into, or else the filling will spill out everywhere and you’ll be sad about it.

Enjoy!

- Erin

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A, beta carotene and fiber than regular white potatoes.  Also, my Grandma used to serve them for her and Grandpa, who had diabetes, because it doesn’t spike blood sugar as intensely as a starchy white potato.

This was tonight’s dinner. Yum. My favorite veg, mixed with my favorite starch mixed with my favorite pork product, topped with cheese. What is not to like?

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I was feeling pretty happy, thinking how this looks so pretty with all the colors, and I’m so excited to eat it– and then I realized, I wanted to take a picture.

I haven’t been interested in taking pics lately, or even blogging. Not sure why. Food has been thrown together. I haven’t been feeling inspired to bake.

The one time two weeks ago I made peanut butter brownies with a pretzel crust, the light was so bad and nothing looked pretty on camera I just got pissed off and gave up.

So I grabbed my camera and got ready for taking pics of my sweet dinner. But then, the negative voice. It creeped in. It said nobody cares about a dumb pseudo recipe for loaded sweet potatoes. Stop!

Well, I hesitated but decided to capitalize on my moment of inspiration and take the pictures anyways.  Screw you negative voice.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I’m glad I did. They look fine. It was easy. I was inspired to write this post. And now, after a month away from blogging, I’m back and it doesn’t feel weird. For those of you reading, thanks. I did miss you.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 1 small broccoli crown
  • handful of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes all over and then bake for 1 hour. During last 20 minutes of baking, cut the broccoli into small florets and steam for 12 minutes. Cook the bacon until crispy, drain, and chop into pieces. Set aside. When the potatoes are done, remove from oven and slice down the middle, squeeze both ends to pop it open. Stuff the cooked broccoli inside, top with cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for 3 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

- Erin

Weather Throwing a Curveball? DIY Plant Protection!

Protect Plants from the Cold - Erin's DC Kitchen

Don’t let fickle weather undue all the work you’ve put into your springtime garden; cold weather protection is easy (and cheap)! Why do you need to worry about protecting plants from the chill? Mostly because freezing/frost can kill plants. Also, unseasonably cold weather will weaken and stress tomato and pepper transplants. These are warm weather loving plants and in order to get them growing, flowering, and setting fruit in a healthy manner, you need to avoid stressing the plants.

Plants are really a lot like us- we are not happy when it is 75° and sunny and then the next day you wake up to a bone-chilling 35° morning.  (True story).

So here is a step by step guide to what I did to protect my plants, and it cost nothin’! You need some cheap garbage bags, I used our 13 gallon white Hefty’s– no drawstring or anything fancy- and a pair of scissors.

1)  Place bag on top of the plant cage, the closed bottom facing up.

on top before cutting

2) With the scissors, cut along the bottom seam to open up the bag and gently pull the bag down the cage until it touches the soil. Weigh down the edges of the bag with items found in your garden.

weighing down

3) Tie the edges of the bag in three places to the cage. I did this by tearing 2 inch long vertical strips along the top of the bag and tying  knots at the three places where the ring meets the cage. This keeps the top open to the sun.

Note: The bag is floppy because the edges haven’t been tied yet. Tying prevents floppiness, and it will look like the first pic in this post.

You’re done! Plants will stay safe with the bag warming the air around the plant and protecting them from wind. I leave these on during the day if the temperature doesn’t get to0 high, like above 70º, and of course, keep them on at night when the temp is dipping in the low 40′s and the 30′s.

Another option for covering plants is to use the plastic pot from a particularly large pepper or tomato transplant. Cut the bottom off and place over the plant, like so.

use leftover container

Now here is a picture of one of my marigolds, just for fun, :-)

marigolds

Happy Gardening!

- Erin

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Look at this ice cream. It is decadent, velvety-smooth, and swirled with delicious bites of graham cracker pieces and tart lemon curd. The richness of the whipping cream and cream cheese is balanced by the lemon. It is, not to brag, probably the best tasting ice cream I’ve ever made. :-)  As usual, no ice cream maker is required for this recipe, or my others here, here and here.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

During one of the nearly 90° days in DC last week, I had a spark of creativity; I really wanted something with lemon, but didn’t want to turn on the oven. So, natch, lemon ice cream.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

This is just so pretty, I love it. It tastes good too, this was confirmed by a second source, my husband, who was skeptical of this flavor combination, but ended up eating two bowls once it was ready.

Not to mention, photographing ice cream is actually fun. It is easy to style and is a playful food to begin with; normally taking pictures is not something I like about food blogging. Ironic, no? Am I the only food blogger out there that feels this way?

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

When the weather turns sweltering, you don’t have to ignore your urge to bake- turn to ice cream as your medium!

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temp (I used about 6 oz. ’cause I ate some)
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice from half the lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, at room temp
  • 1 tsp creme bouquet (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
  • 6 graham crackers, broken into small pieces, but not crumbs.

Place the bowl of your electric mixer into the freezer. A very cold bowl will help your cream whip in no time. Meanwhile, break up the graham crackers, zest your lemon, and measure out your lemon curd and set aside. Once bowl has chilled, whip the pint of cream on medium-high speed until fluffy and peaks form. (My Kitchenaid with the whisk attachment does this in no time, I love it). Add in the lemon zest and whip on low briefly, just to incorporate. Set aside.

In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and creme bouquet. Mix for 2 minutes on high. Gently add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold in with a spatula. Don’t mix aggressively, but so the cream cheese mix is mostly incorporated into the whipped cream.

Melt the butter and drizzle over the graham cracker pieces, stir to coat. Dump the graham crackers onto the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture, then dump the lemon curd on top of the crackers. With a spatula, gently fold/swirl 2 or 3 times (only!!)  the crackers and lemon curd into the mixture. This will create pretty swirls and pockets of lemony goodness like you see in the pictures. Transfer to a 8×8 metal or glass pan and cover tightly. Freeze overnight. Let the ice cream sit for 5 minutes before scooping, it’s easier that way.

*NOTE: This ice cream does not require an ice cream maker and if you put it into a maker, I have no idea what will happen.

Enjoy!

- Erin