Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bread Machine Adventures: Jam

bread machine jam

We've had a bread machine for about eight years now. After a few experiments baking different types of bread in it when we first got it, I switched to using it for the dough cycle (especially for pizza dough and cinnamon rolls), since it does the kneading and I don't like the shape and density of the bread when the machine bakes it. I recently decided to get the most use out of it as possible.

Did you know you can make jam in a bread machine? That is, assuming it has a "Jam" cycle, which ours does.

I had to try it, just to see how it compares to making it the old-fashioned way (on the stovetop). After finding that there's no actual jam recipe in my bread machine manual (all it says is that the recipe shouldn't exceed 3.5 cups--I assume this means yield) and after a few internet searches, I settled on the recipe below (which I've included in case anyone reading this has a bread machine and wants to try this). It was also a good excuse to use some berries I had frozen last summer.

bread machine jam
Bread Machine Triple Berry Jam
Bread Machine Triple Berry Jam
Yield: About 1.5 pints (about 3 half-pints)

2 cups total of crushed raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, combined*
About 1.5 Tbsp. lemon juice (I didn't measure it exactly)
2 1/4 cups sugar (could use more--maybe 3 cups?--to try for a thicker set)
  1. Pour crushed berries into bread machine pan, then the lemon juice, and then pour sugar on top.
  2. Close lid and start Jam cycle (ours took 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete).
  3. Pour hot jam (carefully, it splashes!) into clean, warm/hot jars and let cool, then refrigerate. I covered them with a clean dish towel so I could use the plastic screw-on lids you can get for canning jars when they were cool enough.
*If using frozen berries, thaw them before crushing. You could try other berry combinations as well.

bread machine jam

The set is pretty soft/runny, but that makes it easier to spread on bread or to stir into yogurt. By the way, the bread in the photos was homemade using the dough cycle, then baked in the oven--we're totally getting our money's worth out of this machine now. We haven't stirred it into ice cream yet, but we'll have to try that, too.

Plain yogurt with bread machine jam
I also made some jam rolls (with this jam, of course) using a cinnamon roll recipe with the bread machine dough cycle and then baked them in the oven. I saw the jam roll idea on Pinterest. They're good, too.

bread machine jam rolls

More bread machine adventures to come!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Butterfly Birthday Card

I haven't shared a card in a while, so now that spring is almost officially here, here's a sort of spring-y birthday card I designed. I actually came up with it last year, but I wanted to send it to a few people before posting it on here.

butterfly birthday card

butterfly birthday card

The punch makes three butterflies at once (one large and two small). I had one of the small butterflies left once the card was done, so I put it on the envelope:

butterfly birthday card

butterfly birthday card

Supplies Used:
Paper cutter
White card stock
Teal card stock
Glitter card stock
Martha Stewart 3-in-1 butterfly punch
"happy birthday" stamp ($1 bin at Michaels)
Martha Stewart ink (dusk blue)
Push pin (for poking the holes)
White copy paper (for inside lining)
Roll-on glue dots (to attach butterflies)
Double-sided tape (to attach front layer and liner)
White envelope

Monday, March 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Unsweetened Applesauce

Recently, we decided to do an apple tasting experiment--kind of like wine tasting, but without all of the posturing and references to "tones" and "oakyness" and whatnot--since we tend to get the same kinds of apples and don't usually think about how an apple tastes in comparison with other ones (besides if it's tart or not). Braeburn apples were on sale, so I got some and we tried them.

While they tasted pretty good, we didn't like how soft they were. We prefer a crisp apple. Since they were soft, I thought they'd probably work well for applesauce, so I got some more and made some in our slow cooker.

By the way, did you know that "slow cooker" is the generic term and that "Crock-Pot" is a brand name (like "tissue" versus "Kleenex" or "adhesive bandage" versus "Band-Aid")?

slow cooker applesauce

Slow Cooker Unsweetened Applesauce
Yields about 1.5-2 quarts

9-10 large apples (I used Braeburn, but other sweet, not really crisp ones would work, too)
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice (sorry, I didn't measure--just eyed it until I thought it was about right)
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick (or use ground cinnamon)
Optional: Other ground spices, such as nutmeg, ginger, and/or cloves
  1. Peel, core, and cut apples into chunks. Place apple chunks in a large slow cooker.
  2. Pour lemon juice and water in. If using, add ground spices and stir to coat apples.
  3. Place cinnamon stick in center of apple chunks.
  4. Cook on High for 3 hours.
  5. Discard cinnamon stick (if using) and mash (with potato masher or similar) or transfer to food processor/blender until desired consistency.
  6. Cool and store in refrigerator or freeze.
slow cooker applesauce

This came out really well, and it was easy. I just used a potato masher and it was the right consistency (pretty much like store-bought). It made enough to fill one quart jar and one pint jar. There was just enough left after that to fill a small bowl, so I ate it warm. It's good warm and cold, and it's sweet enough without any added sugar or maple syrup, which some recipes call for.

crock pot applesauce

I'm thinking applesauce will have to get added to this year's canning queue.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Random Stuff I Never Posted

Going through some old photos I took, I found a few things I meant to put on here but never did. Enjoy!

1) Check out this ginormous mantis that was hanging out on our front porch wall one morning last fall. I wish I had something to show its scale, but I didn't want to scare it off (or anger it) by getting too close.

2) Occasionally, we get a Clemson-esque sunset up here.

3) We thought this was amusing.