Pear Honey Jam

PEAR HONEY!

My mom and my paternal grandmother made pear honey when I was a child.  It was among my favorite home-made jams.  Plum jam being the other.  Browsing the grocery store ads last week I saw that our local SaveMart had Bartlett pears on sale for $0.29 per pound. I could not pass up such a great deal on one of my family’s favorite fruits.  I bought 8 pounds (about 24 pears) with the idea of making pear honey.

I browsed several websites looking for a good slow cooker pear honey recipe.  Many of them had orange juice or peel, others had cinnamon, and another included star anise (it was a pear butter recipe).  I finally came across one that seemed close.  It was on Mommy’s Kitchen and was from a Paula Dean cookbook.  It consisted of four ingredients: pears, sugar, crushed pineapple and lemon juice.

Now I was on the right track.  I didn’t follow her recipes exactly, I tweaked it to meet my own tastes.  For example, the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar! Yikes, that’s too much, even for me.  Here’s what you need:

  • Fresh pears, 8 lbs or 20 medium size. They should be ripe.
  • Sugar, 5 cups
  • Crushed Pineapple in juice, one can
  • Lemon juice, 1 TBSP
Directions:
  1. Wash, peel, core and dice up pears

    Beautiful Bartlett Pears!

  2. Add the diced pears to the crock pot.
  3. Pour the crushed pineapple into the crock pot
  4. Add the lemon juice; stir it well.

    Everything into the pot!

  5. Set on LOW for 8-10 hours.

    It will turn a golden brown color as it cooks--the color of honey.

  6. Puree using an immersion blender.  If you don’t have one, puree pears in a blender before adding to the crock pot.

    My very handy immersion blender!

  7. When finished ladle into canning jars to process.*
The result was delicious. It tastes very much like the jam I remember.  The 5 cups of sugar were plenty.  In fact, I might be able to cut it down to 3-4 the next time I make it.

Sweeter than honey!

*My yield was 5 pints. I don’t have any canning jars so I put my jam into Ziploc pints with the screw-top lid.  I put one in the freezer, and the rest in the fridge.  I plan to give a pint to my parents, my in-laws and the other two we will use up in no time, I’m sure.  If I had the right supplies for canning it would have been easy to do.

Yield was 5 pints. (16 oz Zip-Lock containers)

Using the crock pot made it so simple.  I was able to set it up and go on with my day. This evening I ladled the sweet golden jam into containers.  I made baking powder biscuits in the morning so we could try out the new jam!

Mushroom Risotto

Add hot broth and stir until absorbed. And repeat. And repeat.

I bought a box of arborio rice a few years ago at a specialty food shop. I wanted to try making risotto, but never got around to it. Until last night. To begin, I selected a recipe from Food Network. I looked over a few and decided to go with one from Emeril.  It seemed easy enough (and was rated as such) so I gave it a shot. It turned out great!

Instead of writing out the long recipe I carried my laptop to the kitchen and placed it on the counter.  What an easy way to cook! I could refer to the recipe without printing it out or writing it onto an index card – who wants to waste all that time if it doesn’t work?

Finished Risotto with shaved parmasean cheese on top.

The recipe called for a few things that I didn’t have on hand, but I improvised.  I used dried thyme instead of fresh, and skipped the fresh parsley entirely. Emeril also suggested using some proccuito as a garnish.  I didn’t have any on hand so I cut some very thin julienne strips of ham to sprinkle on top.  I served some steamed broccoli on the side to complete the meal.

I am pleased with how well it turned out. Risotto seems to be a dish a lot of cooks have trouble with, but if you follow the directions it is really easy to make.  If you’ve never made risotto before, try it, you will like it!

Amazing Comfort Food: Chicken Stew With Biscuits

I was looking for something special to make this week.  For inspiration I visited the Barefoot Contessa page on Food Network to browse recipes by Ina Garten. Among the most popular recipes featured was her “Chicken Stew with Biscuits”.  I had nearly everything needed on hand, just had to get some frozen peas and fresh parsley.

Oh my gosh! This is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. The dish is a little time-consuming to make, but it is well worth the time and effort.

My dish doesn't look as perfect as the photo on Food Network, but hey, this is real life cooking!

To make it, you will roast six chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on.  That takes a good bit of prep time to cook, cool and dice up the chicken. Then you make the stew base of onions, butter, flour, stock, cream. Into that goes the chicken, carrots, peas and pearl onions.  Lastly, you make a baking powder biscuit dough with fresh parsley mixed in.

Enough for a large family (8 large servings).

The recipe makes enough for a large pan 10″x13″, but I don’t have one quite that big, so I ended up with two dishes.  It’s certainly high in flavor (and calories) but wasn’t too salty. The flavor is like a rich chicken pot pie.  It’s such a wonderful cold weather dish. A perfect way to celebrate the beginning of autumn.