Orange Peel Candy

recipe for orange peel and chocolate candy

This is a section of our naval orange tree! It is absolutely loaded with sweet and juicy oranges.

When we sell our home and move up to our future homestead, the thing I will miss the most is our orange tree.  For the past 15 years (the tree is about 20 years old) we have been blessed with the sweetest, juciest and most abundant oranges one could ever wish for!  We did plant a Tango Mandarin in a large pot a couple of years ago and this year we will have our first actual harvest!

For years, our favorite dessert in the winter has been to sit down with 1/2 a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bar (yes, we share one bar) and a big, juicy orange.

One bite of orange, one bite of chocolate.

Repeat.

🙂

Recipe for candied orange peel and chocolate candy

A great book – lots of wonderful information and laugh out loud funny!

Over the holidays I read a new book I got from our library sale called The Quarter-Acre Farm – How I kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for A Year.  This is a really good book. Spring Warren, the author, lives in Davis, California, which is smack dab in the middle of Northern California – not far from where I am living right now!  Her writing style is very humorous and I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit!

Anyway – in the book she gives a recipe for Candied Orange Peel dipped in Chocolate.  Holy Cannoli – this sounded like a recipe from heaven and I just had to try it! candied orange peel in chocolate

The first thing to do, of course, is peel your oranges.  The recipe calls for the peel of six oranges…. no problem.  😀  I peeled mine in strips, then scraped most, but not all of the pith off.  The pith is where a lot of nutrients are, and since the peel is being candied, the pith won’t taste so…  well…  pithy.

chocolate covered candied orange peelThe next step is to place the orange peels in a pot, cover with water, boil, drain, boil again, drain and boil once more for a total of 3 times.  I guess this is to get a lot of the oils out of the peel (which can be bitter) and also to soften the peels a bit.  Then, I added about two cups of water and one cup of sugar to the pot, placed in the boiled orange peels, set the pot on the stove at the lowest simmer, and let it simmer for about an hour.

The author warns not to stir the orange peels while they are in the sugar solution or sugar crystals might precipitate on the peel.  You don’t want that.

How to candy orange peel

Then, either set out on parchment paper to dry or place in a dehydrator.  Either way, the orange peels will still be a bit tacky when dry (because of the sugar) but when you bite into them, they taste like a burst of orange flavor!  So good!  The texture is somewhat like a gummy bear, but a bit softer.  And they are translucent!  We almost ate all of the orange slices as they were!

The dehydrator pictured hererecipe for candied orange peel was given to Ray and I a few weeks ago by a wonderful couple, my daughter-in-law Wendy’s parents!  Jack and Donna are two of the most positive and kind people I know. They are always quick to lend a hand and I have always enjoyed spending time with them. I am so glad our son blessed us with Wendy and her family. However, these past few months have seen some trying times for the two, and if you have a moment, Jack needs some special prayer and good thoughts sent his way. Thanks.

As you can see, I also dried some bananas!

candied orange peel in chocolateNow to dip the now candied orange peel in chocolate (the ones that are left!) for the ultimate yum!  After heating some dark chocolate chips in the microwave to melt the chocolate, I dipped each piece and laid it on parchment paper.  I also dipped the banana chips.  I took the banana chips out of the dehydrator before they were totally done, so that they were still pliable and not crunchy.

Now doesn’t that look good!  Let me explain to you how good these are.

Well…  You see…  Hmmm…   No words can describe how good these are! 🙂

And to think I used to throw the orange peel in the compost pile!!!

orange peel and chocolate candy

Now that it’s orange season again, I hope you try this recipe!  Even if you don’t eat too many oranges, save the peel in the refrigerator (scrape off some of the pith first) in a fairly airtight container, and when you have enough you can try this.  You won’t be sorry!  I’m thinking of doing the same thing with lemon peel.  I wonder if it will be as good?

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Harvesting Rosemary

As many of you know, we are preparing our home in the Sacramento Valley to sell, so we can eventually move up to our future homestead.  One chore for dear hubby last weekend was to trim the bushes in our backyard to make it look more tidy, which included the huge rosemary bush that was threatening to completely engulf our pool deck and take a plunge!

Dehydrating Rosemary

A few sprigs of rosemary, ready to be stripped of it’s leaves.

Every year at Christmastime I enjoy decorating with rosemary.  It is a beautiful evergreen bush that smells absolutely devine.  In fact, all I usually do is take a few sprigs (about the same amount in the picture above) and tie a beautiful red ribbon around the top!  Simple, beautiful, elegant.   I also enjoy cooking with rosemary, so instead of throwing all the beautiful herb into the compost pile, I decided to dehydrate some to keep on hand.

Dehydrating Rosemary

The final rinse.

The first thing to do with the rosemary is to strip the leaves off it’s woody stem.  If you plan to barbecue, save the stems to use as  shish kabob sticks!  They add a wonderful flavor to meats (excellent on lamb and chicken) and most vegetables. If you are using them right away, you are good to go.  Otherwise soak them for an hour or two before using them, so they don’t burn.

Next, thoroughly rinse the leaves in cold water.  Then rinse again.  It’s amazing how much dirt the rosemary will give up when washed!  I think it holds onto dirt because of the amount of oils held in the leaves.  Anyway, I washed mine four times before I didn’t see dirty/cloudy water anymore!  Preserving Rosemary

Next, spread the leaves out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or put into your dehydrator.  That’s it.  Seriously!  They dry nicely in a day or two on the parchment paper, or in just a few hours in a dehydrator.  I put mine into a spice bottle, but you can just as easily store yours in a mason jar with a lid.

One of my favorite recipes to use rosemary is in focaccia bread.  The recipe below uses both rosemary, parmesan cheese and sea salt.  It is so good as is, but would also make an excellent pizza crust.  You can cut the bread into strips for dipping into a marinara sauce or perhaps the iconic balsamic vinegar/olive oil mixture.  Or, just eat it plain out of the oven.  If you roll it pretty flat before baking, you can also use the focaccia as a sandwich bread.  So good!

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Rosemary/Parmesan Cheese Focaccia Bread

ROSEMARY and PARMESAN CHEESE FOCACCIA BREAD

1 tsp raw white sugar               2 cups all-purpose flour

1 packet active dry yeast         2 tbsps olive oil

1/3 cup warm water                 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp parmesan/ shred           1 tbsp rosemary, roughly chopped

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Let it stand about 10 minutes until it is frothy.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast mixture, adding water 1 tbsp at a time to make a soft dough.  knead briefly on a lightly floured surface.  Place into a lightly oiled large bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until approximately doubled, which takes about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times.  On a lightly oiled cookie sheet, roll or pat the dough out to an approximately 12″ circle.  Brush with 1-2 tbsps of olive oil, sprinkle salt over, then rosemary, then parmesan.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Enjoy!

Rosemary plants

Three rooted rosemary plants waiting to be planted near our orchard on the future homestead!

Dearest hubby also found that some of the rosemary had rooted itself, so we pulled these up and put into a bucket of water.  The next time we go up to the future homestead, this rosemary will be planted on a downward slope that is right next to our fruit and nut orchard.  Not only will this be a great start of rosemary on the future homestead for eventual cooking, but deer do not like the scent of Rosemary, and doing this will deter them from the orchard.

Preserving Rosemary

Dehydrated Rosemary

Do you cook with rosemary?  An old friend of mine makes cookies with rosemary – I must remember to get her recipe!

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Chicken/Broccoli Ravioli

Making chicken/broccoli ravioli in cheese sauce

Two weeks ago I got a new kitchen toy – a pasta machine!  I bought it from my new favorite web store – Tanga – for less than $30.00.  I have seen pasta machines like this one elsewhere for much, much more, so when I saw this one, I snatched it up!  I am not an affiliate of Tanga – I just love the deals they offer!

One reason I wanted a pasta machine was because dear hubby and I plan to have a small wheat field when we move up to our future homestead, and pasta is one of our all-time favorite foods made from wheat, second only to sourdough garlic bread! 🙂  Growing our own wheat (an ancient variety, not sure which one yet) ensures that we won’t have the gluten problems that one can encounter with modern day wheat due to it’s gluten protein structure.  Apparently you can grow enough wheat in a 10 x 20 foot plot of land to make one loaf of bread every week for a year.

Sounds great!  However, if we have one loaf of bread every week, then what will we make our pasta out of?

chicken broccoli ravioli

Look! A baby almond on a baby almond tree!

As many of my readers know, I have been experimenting with acorn and almond flour.  Acorns are abundant on our future homestead.  In fact, if you aren’t careful, you can turn an ankle on the mass of acorns on the ground every fall.  We have very happy oak trees!

We also planted an All-In-One almond tree last year from Peaceful Valley Nursery (my favorite) and that baby tree has two almonds on it!  So cute!  Along with our purchased almond, our volunteer almond that we have in our current backyard has spawned several other volunteer almond trees.  I potted up those seedlings and we will plant them next fall on the future homestead.

broccoli and chicken ravioli

1-2-3 Flour
1 part acorn flour
2 parts almond flour
3 parts wheat flour

Anyhow…   I have developed a mixture of flour that I find absolutely wonderful, and I call it my 1-2-3 flour.  I call it this, because it uses 1 part acorn flour, 2 parts almond flour and 3 parts wheat flour.  The almond flour offsets the bitter tannin taste of the acorn flour, and with the wheat flour being 1/2 of the mix, I usually get enough gluten to be able to make just about any recipe successfully, including bread!

So, I started with 3 cups of my 1-2-3 flour (you can use all wheat flour), added 3 eggs and 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mixed until a dough ball formed.  I turned out the dough onto my lightly floured counter and kneaded it for a few minutes, until it started to get just a bit elastic.  Wrap the dough in plastic or, better yet, place in an air tight container and let the dough rest.

Homemade ravioli chicken and broccoli

Ingredients for the filling of the ravioli: cooked chicken, broccoli and cheese – one cup of each

While the dough was resting, I made the filling.  I used a jar of the chicken I had canned a few weeks ago.  I chopped up 1 cup of the chicken, to which I added 1 cup of chopped broccoli and 1/2 cup cheddar/jack cheese.  A little salt and pepper, and your filling is ready to go!  This is the mixture I have always used when I make Chicken/Broccoli Manicotti, and it usually fills about 8 manicotti.  However, in hindsight, I found that ravioli does not take nearly as much filling as the manicotti does, and I only needed about 1/3 of the filling that I made.  I also realized that the next time I make ravioli, I need to chop the pieces a LOT smaller!

homemade ravioli

My new pasta machine – I love it!

So, now it’s time to try out my new kitchen toy!  I cleaned the machine just as the manufacturer suggested (with a piece of dough that you will eventually throw away) and boy, did I make a mess!  Apparently my dough was just a bit too sticky!  I had pasta dough in every nook and cranny that the machine had, and let me tell you, it wasn’t very easy to clean out globs of pasta from inside the machine!  Once that was done, I had to try again. This time I figured out that all you have to do is lightly dust each side of the pasta before you insert it into the rollers, and sure enough, it doesn’t stick.  So I started out at the #1 setting and gradually rolled the pasta to a #5 setting, when I thought the dough was thin enough.

After I had several sheets of the pasta lined up, I used my ravioli edge cutter stamp thingy (no idea what it’s called) and measured out the size I would need for each ravioli, and using a ruler, I cut the pasta into 2″ squares.  More or less.

Homemade ravioli

This is the ravioli edger/cutter crimping thingy. Whatever it is, it works well!

I bought that ravioli thingy quite a few years ago thinking it looked really cool, thinking that I would someday make ravioli.  Well…  here we are!

how to make ravioli at home

The filling piled into the middle of the pasta squares. Next time I will chop the filling into smaller pieces.

The filling was placed in the middle of each square, I lightly moistened the edges of each filled square and then placed another pasta square on top.  The ravioli edge thingy was then pressed on each ravioli, sealing the edges and making them look pretty!

Wow, this wasn’t so hard to do, it just takes a bit of time!  I can imagine buying a bottle of muscat (our family’s favorite wine), inviting my sisters Deana and Machell over, and we could have a wonderful party drinking wine and making ravioli!  How about it, dear sisters?  We could make enough for dinner and also for each of us to take home for our freezers!

How to make ravioli

Here they are, taking a bath in the boiling water! Not one of the ravioli broke open! Wahoo!  I call that success!

So now it was time to cook the ravioli and eat it!  Apparently all that is necessary is to place them carefully in barely boiling salted water, and cook them for 6-8 minutes.  So, that’s just what I did.  While waiting for the water to boil, I made a simple cheese sauce for the ravioli by first making a rue with 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour and letting that cook just a bit (gets out the floury taste), then slowly, while whisking, add 3/4 cup of chicken broth.  The sauce will get pretty thick, so now add 1/2 cup of milk, whisking all the while.  When the milk is incorporated, add 1 cup cheddar cheese.  Lower the heat to just simmer and stir frequently until the cheese is melted and the sauce is nice and smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Once the ravioli are cooked, carefully toss them in the cheese sauce.

How to make ravioli recipe

Here are three ravioli, one split open, in the cheese sauce. Yummy!

Holy cannoli, it was really good.  It was fun, too! Hubby gave the ravioli a two thumbs up.

What will I do differently next time?  First of all, as mentioned, the filling needs to be in smaller pieces so it is easier to dollop in the middle of the pasta.  Also, I will go one step further on the pasta machine so the dough is just a bit thinner.  Everything else was perfect!

Do you have any good ravioli filling recipes?  Please – do tell!

 

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BBQ Cheese Stuffed Chili Peppers

The Anaheim Chili peppers are starting to produce – a lot!  What to do with all of them?  BBQ cheese stuffed peppers, of course!  They make great appetizers when you have a backyard BBQ party.  Actually, anytime you fire up the grill, throw a couple of these on!  I have mentioned this recipe before, but this time I am showing pictures!

Lisa, this one is for you!

First, grab yourself some Anaheim Chili Peppers.  I am lucky that last year my son, Michael, gave me one of these wonderful pepper seedlings he had received as a gift.  After I harvested and tasted my first chili from that plant, I was hooked!  Just a little zip, but mild enough that you can actually taste the flavor!  Thank you Michael for passing on the gift!  I liked them so much last year that this year I planted 3, and they are really starting to produce heavily!anaheim chili peppers on plant

Bring them inside, cut a rim around the top, not too deep, so when you pull the top off a lot of the seeds come out with it!  Then go out to the tool box and find some of those really long needle nose pliers and pull all the membranes out with the seeds.  You may have to put the pliers in, grab a membrane, then twist a bit.  Be gentle, you don’t want to break the pepper!  Cleaning out seeds from peppers

When the peppers are pretty much hollow, put them under running water to rinse them out.  This should get the last of the seeds out – which is where most of the “heat” is.  If you like really hot pepper seeds, by all means, leave them in!

Now, stuff in the cheese.  I have found it easiest to just buy those mozzarella cheese sticks, cut them in half, and stuff those in.  You can put any cheese in that you desire, but the creamy, melty type are our favorite.   chili peppers stuffed with mozarella

Clip the ends shut with metal paper clips.  You don’t want to lose any of that wonderful, ooey gooey cheese, do you?  Now throw them on the grill.  Any grill will do, even a well used, well loved, dirty grill like ours!  Watch them closely!  Grill until the skin gets brown and is puffing up, then turn over until the other side is also brown an puffy.  The ones below are getting close, but aren’t there yet.  You can also see what we are having with the stuffed chilis – rotisserie tri-tip soaked in red wine and garlic marinade – mmmmmm…………..grilling stuffed anaheim chili

Once grilled enough, the skin of the chili just peels away easily.  Even if the skin gets a bit over-done (ahem burned), usually just peeling it away does the trick.  I actually like mine on the over-done side!  peeling BBQ chili pepper

Enjoy.  🙂  I let these cool down a bit before I sliced them and took the picture.  But if you eat them when they are hot – beware – the melted cheese can burn your mouth like molten lava!  So we usually peel a few at a time, then eat!  If you wait too long to peel them, however, they can be a bit testy to peel, as the skin tries to re-adhere to the meat of the pepper.  If it will be a while before you eat them, go ahead and peel, then wrap up in foil to keep warm.sliced pepper with cheese

I hope you try these wonderful appetizers. 🙂  You can make them a day ahead and store in your refrigerator – which makes it a lot easier on party day.  When you serve, let your guests do the peeling.  It involves them in the meal and gives everyone something to do and talk about!  Let me know how yours turn out!

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