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Cherry Swag Bag Giveaway from Northwest Cherries

Cherries in a bowl for the cherry swag bag giveaway.

Earlier this week, I got a box containing a little over 10 pounds of sweet, ripe Northwest Cherries from Washington State. I look forward to this shipment every summer and each time it arrives, I can’t quite believe my good fortune. After all, cherries are among the most precious of the summer fruit.

These cherries come to me as part of my participation in the Canbassador program. It’s an awareness campaign that the folks from Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Fruit Commission run in order to shine a spotlight on their beautiful stonefruit!

This is my seventh year participating in their Canbassador program (wrap your mind around that one!) and over that time, I’ve developed a whole bunch of recipes featuring their fruit.

Next week, I’ll start posting my 2016 recipes, but before we get to those, I have some fun news. This year, I’m not the only one who is going to get a box of delicious cherries. One of my lovely readers is also going to get a shipment of delicious Northwest Cherries, along with a swag bag that will contain a cherry branded water bottle and Oxo cherry pitter.

This cherry swag bag giveaway has a tight turnaround because we’ve got to pick a winner before the season ends (and cherries come and go quite quickly)! Use the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure to tell your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blackberry Lavender Jam on Freshly Preserved Ideas

Ball-Blackberries-Animated-GIF

This summer, I’m teaming up with the folks at Ball Canning (much like I did last year) to help spread the word about the many pleasures of home canning AND their annual International Can-It-Forward Day. You’ll be hearing lots more about the various CIFD events and the fun new tools they’ve made available online this summer over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

To kick off this year’s partnership, I’ve got a recipe for you. I’ve actually developed a series of recipes that will live on the new Tumblr from our Ball Canning friends, called Freshly Preserving Ideas. The first of those recipes, Blackberry Lavender Jam, went live today.

This jam contains a medium amount of sugar, has a mellow hint of lavender, and is just the right balance of sweet and tart. If blackberries are already in season where you live, I encourage you to make this one immediately. And if you’ve still got some time to go, bookmark it for the moment they arrive.

Disclosure: I am a paid ambassador for Ball Canning. 

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Single Skillet Pasta in Viking’s Stainless Steel Casserole Pan

Finished Skillet Dish Viking - Food in Jars

I’ve been cooking dinner on a near-nightly basis for the better part of the last two decades and over that time, I’ve come to understand a few essential things about myself. The most primary is that at my core, I’m a lazy cook. I’m not trading quality over convenience, but I am always making choices that I hope will make life just a little bit easier.

Viking Stainless Steel Casserole - Food in Jars

My inclination to reduce dishes and avoid unnecessary steps means that whenever possible, I opt for soups, stews, and other dishes that only require a single vessel. I will often cram things into a single pan when they might have been better off cooked separately. And any recipe that requires browning in batches is summarily discarded.

Skillet Pasta Ingredients - Food in Jars

Last month, a piece of cookware came into my life that has both encouraged my lazy ways and upped my nightly game. It’s a stainless steel casserole that holds just over six quarts. It is sturdy, has a low, wide profile that makes for quick evaporation, comes with a tight-fitting lid, cleans up beautifully, and it made by Viking (until they reached out about this pan, I didn’t realize they did more than large kitchen appliances). It’s the Viking 3-Ply 6.4 Quart Casserole Pan.

Sautéed Veg - Food in Jars

This pan has been on my stove top on a near-constant basis since it arrived. I’ve made a number of skillet chicken dishes in it (brown chicken in a single batch. Remove. Add onions and veg and cook until wilted. Return the chicken, add a little liquid, cover and braise until the chicken is cooked through). I’ve used it for pancakes, turkey bacon, and a large batch of eggs poached in tomato sauce.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes - Food in Jars

However, I think that the very highest calling for this pan is this skillet pasta dish. The original inspiration for this recipe is the single skillet pasta recipe from Martha Stewart that took the internet by storm a few years ago. This one isn’t quite as simple as just heaping all the ingredients in a pan and heating for nine minutes, but it’s pretty darn close.

Skillet Dish Without Pasta - Food in Jars

You start by heating a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add some chopped onion, garlic, red pepper, and kale and cook until all the veg is tender. Then you add some cubed chicken sausage (I used some that was already cooked through), a cup of liquid (white wine, chicken stock, or water) and a couple cans (or jars, if your pantry runs to such things) of fire roasted tomatoes and get it bubbling.

Adding Pasta - Food in Jars

Then you add eight ounces of uncooked pasta. I used whole wheat elbows, but any short cut variety you have in the pantry does the job. Cover the pan and cook until the pasta is tender. It will absorb the liquid in the pan, making for flavorful pasta and less clean-up for the cook.

Finished Skillet Pasta - Food in Jars

I’ve written the instructions out in an organized fashion for you, but this is more of a technique than a recipe that must be followed to the letter. You could do a version with braised fennel bulb and a pound of pork fennel sausage. A batch with artichoke would also be nice. The options are endless!

What would you make in a Viking casserole like this one?

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Rye Crepes and Apple Cardamom Compote + Anolon Advanced Umber Crepe Pan Giveaway

overhead crepe scene

One of my resolutions for 2016 is to make more crepes. They work for any meal of the day, disguise leftovers beautifully, and can be made in advance and reheated just before serving. They’re also a great vehicle for all manner of homemade jams, preserves, and compotes. Truly, they’re a dream for home cooks.

Recently, my friends at Anolon asked me to develop a crepe recipe using their Anolon Advanced Umber 9.5-inch Crepe Pan. After doing a bit of playing around, I made these Rye Crepes with Buttery Apple Compote.

rye crepe ingredients

I’ve been making crepes for more than 20 years now and have learned a few things in the process. I find that using a blender eliminates any pesky lumps in the batter. Don’t fear the crepe, if one crumples or tears when you flip it, just do your best and keep moving forward. And finally, it helps to have a good pan (like this one from Anolon).

This particular crepe batter is one of my favorites, as the rye flour keeps it tender, and the minimal amount of sugar means you can use it to wrap both sweet and savory fillings. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it work for you!

finished apple compote

Thanks to the kind folks at Anolon, I have one of these Anolon Advanced Umber 9.5-inch Crepe Pans to give away. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter!

For more from Anolon and their Holiday Hosting Campaign, make sure to follow them on social media.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winter Squash Risotto with Leeks and Greens + Lagostina Risotto Pot Giveaway

Risotto Set-up - Food in Jars

I have a weakness for beautiful cookware (some woman collect jewelry, I surround myself pots and pans). The first time I saw the Lagostina Risotto Pot at my local Williams-Sonoma, I nearly swooned. Gleaming tri-ply stainless steel! A wooden topped lid (that fits tightly and doubles as a trivet)! And a thick, heat diffusing base to prevent hot spots and burning!

squash for roasting - Food in Jars

To my very great delight, not long after spotting this gorgeous pot for the first time, I got an email asking if I might like one to use for the development of a risotto recipe. I sent a positive response off as quickly as my fingers could type.

pouring rice - Food in Jars

Since this lovely piece of cookware arrived, I’ve been making a lot of risotto. It’s one of my favorite things to make and eat on chilly days. I love the ceremony of near-constant cooking (though to be truthful, I often put the spoon down for a moment or two so that I can do a little clean-up while I cook) and the comfort that comes when you cozy up to a bowlful.

finished risotto - Food in Jars

Whenever I make risotto, my primary goal is to cram as much vegetable content into the pot. Risotto can be a heavy dish, and so making sure that it’s packed with fresh produce (in this case, aromatics, greens, and roasted squash) helps lighten it and make it a more regular dinnertime occurrence.

plated risotto - Food in Jars

When I make this for me (if I’m making if for Scott, I use roasted carrots in place of squash), I peel and chop all the squash and stir it into the rice. However, if I have friends coming by, I like to reserve some of the roasted squash to serve on top. It brings a little visual and textural interest to the plate and makes it feel like something you might be served as the neighborhood Italian place.

risotto pot - Food in Jars

What’s nice about this piece of cookware is that truly, it’s good for so much more than risotto. The wide base and low profile mean that it’s a great shape for any dish you want to simmer and reduce. It does good work with small batches of jam and I love using to make Marcella’s tomato sauce.

The Lagostina Risotto pot can be found at Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and other specialty shops, and retails for $199.95. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of their glorious Risotto Pots to give away to you guys. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what kind of risotto you’d make in this pot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, December 19, 2015. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, December 20, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this risotto pot to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Maple Bourbon Apple Butter + OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender

Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!

Finished Maple Bourbon Apple Butter - Food in Jars

My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).

OXO Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender - Food in Jars

My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.

Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring an new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed.

OXO Core Clip - Food in Jars

Guys, the OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.

Chopped Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and lets not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.

Cooked Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely OXO immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.

OXO Blending Apples - Food in Jars

No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.

The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.

OXO Blender in Action - Food in Jars

As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter Overhead - Food in Jars

The OXO On Digital Illuminating Immersion Blender isn’t the only small kitchen appliance that OXO has brought to market lately. There’s also an illuminating hand mixer, a pair of motorized toasters, and a line of coffee makers and water kettles (several times lately, I’ve found myself at Williams-Sonoma, petting the 9-cup coffee maker). I look forward to seeing what OXO creates next!

Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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