How to Make Corned Beef

My family loves corned beef, and not just for St. Patrick’s Day. We could probably eat corned beef and cabbage on a monthly basis, but it’s not always possible to find a good corned beef when we get a craving for it. And when you do find it in abundance, especially around March, the price can sometimes be cost prohibitive.


Shop Taste of Home

We like to buy meat in bulk and repackage it into meal-sized portions. We do this with pork loin, ground beef, sirloin when it’s on sale and brisket. We stumbled across a large beef brisket that was on sale, so we picked one up and portioned it into several different meals. With what was left, Kevin decided he wanted to try making corned beef. I have no idea where he found his brine recipe, or I’d link a credit to the site, but the smell of it when he was finished made my mouth water, so I think he found a good one. The brine he used is plenty for an 8-pound brisket.


Homemade Corned Beef

8-pound beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat

2 quarts water

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

Pinch ground cloves

4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped or smashed


Trim beef brisket of as much fat as you desire. Fat does add flavor, so you may want to leave some on the brisket.


corned beef 2


Combine all ingredients except for the garlic cloves in a large saucepot, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cool to room temperature (or cool quickly in the refrigerator).

Put the beef brisket in a large, sealable plastic bag (or use a large plastic container like we did). Pour in the brine, and add the peeled and chopped garlic cloves. If using a plastic bag, squeeze out excess air and seal.

corned beef in brine


Place the sealed bag in the refrigerator for 6 to 7 days, turning the bag every other day. Remove the brisket from the bag, and discard the brine. Cook brisket as desired, or package meat for freezing for a later date.
Start receiving snacks by mail today by signing up for Graze. Join today and get your first box for free!
Simplified Dinners: Make Menu Planning Easy

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Canning 101: Kidney Beans

kidney beans canned 2


Canning isn’t just for summertime and fall when the gardens are overloaded with fresh vegetables. While I do most of my canning then, I also do some canning in the winter. If the guys are lucky to get a deer during hunting season, I’ll often can quarts of venison, which makes a quick meal. Last winter I decided to try my hand at canning dry beans, and since then, I’ve been canning a lot of them. It’s so easy to do, and I can’t believe I’d been canning for over 20 years before I even tried it.


I’ve canned chili beans, pork and beans, black beans, and now I’ve canned kidney beans. The grocery store had packages of kidney beans in its discount bean – why I can’t figure out because dried beans don’t go bad or spoil – and being the frugal grocery shopper that I am, I scooped all they had to can. I came home with five 1-pound packages, each marked down to $0.50 – cheap eats when you consider a single can of kidney beans can be around $1.


The hardest part about canning dried beans is waiting. While you can do a quick boil on the beans the same day that you can them, I like to soak them overnight and process them the next day.


To can any kind of dried bean, first rinse the beans. You’d be amazed at all the dirt, little rocks and other debris that lurks in those packages. Once you’ve rinsed them, pour all the beans you want to can in a large container, and cover them with water, having about 2 to 3 inches of water above the beans. Let set overnight.


The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Place beans in a large stockpot, and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 30 minutes.


While the beans are cooking, prepare pint canning jars, leaving them hot until ready to use. When the beans are ready to can, fill pint jars 3/4 full with the beans. Cover with boiling water, or use the hot liquid the beans cooked in (which is what I do). Add lids and rings, and tighten the rings just until finger tight.


Process pint jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 70 minutes. Once the pressure reduces, remove the jars, and let set undisturbed in a cool place for 12 hours. Test lids. If a jar hasn’t sealed, place it in the refrigerator and use it fairly soon in your favorite recipe.


kidney beans canned


I started with 5 pounds of dried beans, and I ended up with 20 pint jars of processed kidney beans.

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

German Chocolate Silk Pie

I’ve been on a pie kick lately. The other night I made a caramel apple crumb pie, but today I was craving chocolate. So, what’s a girl to do but make a chocolate cream pie.

I love French silk chocolate pie, but those recipes usually use a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in the filling. I had German chocolate on hand, so that’s what I used. It doesn’t matter to me (or my sons) as long as it’s chocolate!


german chocolate silk pie slice


German Chocolate Silk Pie

1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell

4 ounces German chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon good vanilla

4 eggs, at room temperature

3 cups whipped cream

1 chocolate bar (good quality), roughly chopped or shaved


Heat chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second intervals, stirring between, until completely melted. Set aside, and let cool for about 10 minutes until it is room temperature.


In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat the mixture on medium-low speed until completely combined. Add the vanilla, and mix until combined.


Switch to the whisk attachment of the mixer. Add one egg, and beat for 5 minutes on medium speed. Repeat with the remaining eggs, beating the mixture for 5 minutes after the addition of each egg. Pour the filling into a baked pie shell, using a spatula to evenly spread out the filling. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until chilled before serving.


german chocolate silk pie whole


Top with whipped cream, and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie

My oldest son can talk me into making just about anything sweet. One night after dinner, when I hadn’t made anything for dessert, he gave me those “puppy dog eyes” and begged me to make a pie. He knows I hate making pie crust, even though I love pie, and I just got tired of looking at those eyes. He won, of course, and he had pie in a few short hours.

During the summer and fall, I canned both peach and apple pie filling, as our fruit trees were loaded this year. I hadn’t made an apple pie yet with the filling, so this was the perfect opportunity. I did notice when taking the pie filling out of the canner that the ClearJel didn’t make the filling as thick as I’d hoped, so I made sure I had instant tapioca on hand to add to the filling. I had a frozen pie crust in the freezer (thanks Hy-Vee!), so throwing together a pie was pretty quick. Again, since I hate to make pie crust, I decided to use a crumb topping instead of doing the traditional top crust. All in all, it turned out pretty well, and my son savored his victory.


caramel apple pie whole


caramel apple pie half


Caramel Apple Crumb Pie

1 unbaked pie crust (homemade or store bought is fine)

1 quart caramel apple pie filling

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl, combine the apple pie filling and the instant tapioca until thoroughly mixed. Pour the caramel apple pie filling into the unbaked pie crust. Set aside.


In a small bowl, combine the oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and vanilla. Cut in the butter using a pastry knife or fork until you get small crumbs. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over top of the apples.


Bake the pie for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until you see the filling bubbling. Cool before cutting, and serve with either whipped cream or ice cream.


Food52 bread set image

Shop Kitchen Products at Food52

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Pumpernickel Bread and Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

On a winter’s day, I absolutely love having soup for dinner. You only have to dirty one pot, and the possibilities are endless. Pair up a steaming bowl of soup or stew with freshly baked bread, and I’m in heaven.

I love baking all types of breads, but pumpernickel has to be one of my favorites. While I do bake traditional bread recipes, I’ve found that if I use my bread machine, I make bread more often. All I have to do is dump in the ingredients and let the machine do the rest. It’s a time saver, especially when work is busy but I still want fresh bread for dinner.

I usually bake a 2-pound loaf of bread in my machine, but I’ve included the amounts for 1-pound and 1 1/2-pound machines, and I’ve also included the steps to bake the loaves in the oven. This recipe comes from Red Star Yeast, and it’s a good one.

pumpernickel bread loaf

pumpernickel sliced

Dark Pumpernickel Bread

Small (1-pound bread machine)

1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon brewed coffee (room temperature)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon dark molasses

1 1/4 cups bread flour

2/3 cup medium rye flour 

4 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoons (2/3 package) yeast

Medium (1 1/2-pound bread machine)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (room temperature)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons dark molasses

2 cups bread flour

1 cup medium rye flour 

5 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) yeast

Large (2-pound bread machine)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon brewed coffee (room temperature)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons dark molasses

2 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/3 cups medium rye flour 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon (1⅓ package) yeast


Bread Machine Method

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Place ingredients in a pan in the order listed. Select basic or white bread cycle and medium or normal crust. Check dough consistency after 5 minutes of kneading. The dough should be in a soft, tacky ball. If it is dry and stiff, add water, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet and sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time.

Mixer Methods

Using ingredient amounts listed for medium loaf, combine 1 cup bread flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, onion powder, and yeast. (Reserve I cup bread flour and all of the rye four.) Combine liquid ingredients and heat to 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hand-Held Mixer Method

Combine dry mixture and liquid ingredients in mixing bowl on low speed. Beat 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. By hand, stir in rye flour and enough of the remaining bread flour to make a firm dough. Knead on floured surface 5 to 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Use additional bread flour if necessary.

Stand Mixer Method

Combine dry mixture and liquid ingredients in mixing bowl with paddle or beaters for 4 minutes on medium speed. Gradually add rye flour and enough of the remaining bread flour to form a firm dough. Knead with dough hook(s) 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Food Processor Method

Put dry mixture in processing bowl with steel blade. While the motor is running, add liquid ingredients. Process until mixed. Continue processing, gradually adding rye flour and enough of the remaining bread flour until dough forms a ball.

Rising, Shaping and Baking

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease top. Cover; let rise until dough tests ripe, about 1 hour. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. On lightly floured surface, shape dough into a round loaf. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet or in 8-inch layer cake pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until indentation remains after touching (about 30 minutes). Bake in preheated 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Optional: Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch; heat to boiling. Five minutes before the loaf is finished baking, remove from oven and brush top with cornstarch glaze. Sprinkle with caraway seeds, if desired. Return to oven and bake approximately five more minutes until glaze is glossy and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool before slicing.


Food52 copper cookware image

Shop Cookware at Food52



We love to eat at Olive Garden, and one of my oldest son’s favorite things on the menu is the Chicken and Gnocchi Soup. He’s been after me for quite a while now to try to duplicate the recipe, and I think maybe I’ve done it with this recipe. This soup comes together fast. If you have leftover roast chicken, it works perfectly in this recipe.

chicken gnocchi soup in bowl


Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cream

1/2 cup celery, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound potato gnocchi (either homemade or store bought)


If using fresh chicken, dice into bite-sized pieces. In a large stockpot, heat about 2 tablespoons good olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced chicken. Cook until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Remove cooked chicken from the pot; set aside.


chicken gnocchi soup - cooking chicken


In the same stockpot, saute the onion, celery, garlic, spinach and carrots in the olive oil until the onion is nearly translucent.

chicken gnocchi soup - cooking veggies 2


Add the cooked chicken, chicken broth and spices. Bring to a boil. Slowly add the gnocchi into the boiling broth. Turn down the heat, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the cream. Slowly allow the mixture to come to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Garnish each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


chicken gnocchi soup in pot 2


**To make a slightly thicker soup, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the cream, and mix well before adding the cream to the soup.


Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Banana Cream Pie

My family loves pie, and my husband’s favorite one is probably banana cream pie. For all the pies I’ve made over the years, I’d never made one until this past weekend. I’m not a huge banana fan, but I love cream pies, so I decided I’d try to make one.

The concept is really simple. You blind-bake the pie crust, slice up some bananas, and make a custard filling. Nothing hard about it at all. Most of the banana cream pie recipes you find on the Interest and in cookbooks are basically the same and use the same ingredients. For the custard filling, you can use whole milk or 2% milk, but I’d avoid using skim or fat-free milk. You’re making cream pie, for heaven sake! For mine, I used 2 cups of 2% milk and 1 cup of cream.


banana cream pie


banana cream pie half

Banana Cream Pie

1 unbaked pie crust (either homemade or store bought)

3 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter (not margarine)

1 teaspoon good vanilla

4 to 6 bananas (depending on size), sliced

Whipped cream


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To blind-bake your unbaked pie shell, add a layer of parchment paper to the pie shell, and add dry beans or a pie weight to weigh down the parchment paper. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and remove the parchment paper and beans. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the pie crust is nicely brown. Remove from the oven, and let it cool completely.

In a large skillet over low-to-medium heat, scald the milk. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir mixture into the scaled milk. Over medium heat, cook the milk mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by adding about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. When combined, add the egg mixture to the pan of the hot milk mixture, and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the mixture is thick and custard-like.

Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the butter and the vanilla. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Slice the bananas into the bottom of the baked and cooled pie crust. Top the bananas with the slightly cooled custard, making sure to smooth the filling over all the bananas. Refrigerate for several hours to allow the filling to set.

To serve, slice the pie, and top each slice with whipped cream.


banana cream pie slice 2

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks


Food52 image

Shop Cookware at Food52

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Stringtown Shopping Spree

It’s a good thing I don’t live closer to Kalona, or my budget would be in a world of hurt. For those of you who don’t live in eastern Iowa, Kalona has a huge Amish influence, which you can see when you drive from Iowa City to Kalona. Houses dot the highway, and you can tell, especially in the summertime, where the Amish live, as you can see the horse-drawn buggies, beautiful vegetable gardens and windmills in place of electric lines.

While I really enjoy visiting the Amish-run quilt shop in downtown Kalona, which has gotten a lot of my money over the years, the best place to shop, other than the quilt shop, the bakery and the meat locker, is the Stringtown grocery store just outside Kalona. It’s located next to the old cheese factory, which unfortunately closed a few years ago.

I absolutely love this store. If you love to bake or can, this is a dream store. They buy in bulk, and they pass on the savings. You can find homemade pasta (made locally). You can buy bulk macaroni, rice, spices, different flours, pectin and ClearJel for canning, raw honey – you name it, they’ve probably got it. They even have a produce section that carries local produce in season (it’s where I get my strawberries for jam). I even picked up farm-fresh eggs for less than $3 a dozen – they’re over $7 a dozen at HyVee! I’ve gotten other canning and butchering supplies there too, like large-sized freezer bags when we were butchering chickens last year. And they sell canning lids in bulk, something I forgot to pick up today, but I know I’ll making another trip there before canning season in the spring.


stringtown 2


stringtown 3

Today I got jasmine rice, macaroni, homemade egg noodles, lasagna noodles, bulk kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans (to make my chili beans). I found whole wheat pastry flour, high-gluten bread flour, dark rye flour, pumpernickel flour, ClearJel, dry pectin, organic rosehips (for my elderberry cold tinctures), bay leaves, Italian seasonings, hickory smoked salt (for smoking fish and other meats), dried chicken stock, ground cinnamon, raw honey, dark brown sugar, blackstrap molasses and jumbo pasta shells for stuffing. We also picked up some smoked horseradish cheese, a wheel of cheddar cheese and cheese curds (of course) – and all of this was about $100. Bulk shopping is the way to go, and this store blows shopping at Sam’s or Costco out of the water.


stringtown 1


Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Muffin Cups

My family doesn’t do well with leftovers. We have good intentions, although the refrigerator often has lots of foil-covered containers that sit in there for way too long.

Last night I made Italian Sausage Roll-ups, and we only had two leftover rolls, which were quickly eaten sometime in the night (we have mystery nighttime eaters!). However, I had leftover sausage filling after I’d made the roll-ups. This morning I decided to wing it and make some baked egg and cheese cups to use up that leftover sausage filling. For the sausage filing recipe, click on the link above, and adjust amounts according to how many muffin cups you want to make.

sausage egg cheese muffin cups baked


Sausage Egg and Cheese Muffin Cups

Sausage filling (from Italian Sausage Roll-up recipe)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

7 eggs

1/4 cup milk (approximate)

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a regular-sized muffin tin with cooking spray, or use muffin cup liners.

Place about a tablespoon of the sausage filling in the bottom of each muffin cup. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of the sausage.


sausage filling in muffin cups 2


In a measuring cup, scramble the eggs and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and cheese, filling each muffin cup.

sausage and eggs in muffin cups unbaked 2


Bake for 30 minutes, or until the centers of each muffin test clean with a toothpick.

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Italian Sausage Roll-ups

My family loves Italian-style meals, and lasagna is probably one of their favorite choices when I ask them what they’d like for dinner. I don’t mind making a huge lasagna, but I wanted to do something a little different for dinner tonight, so I decided to make Italian Sausage Roll-ups. I’ve made these in a variety of ways in the past, using ground beef, adding spinach and mixing up the different cheeses, but tonight I decided to make them with Italian sausage.

These are really easy to make, although they can be a little bit messy, but in the end, this is a fun dish you can make for your family and when friends come over for dinner. This is also a good recipe to get little hands in the kitchen to teach them how to cook.


Italian Sausage Roll-ups

1 pound Italian pork sausage

1 package lasagna noodles

1 carton ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 jar of your favorite spaghetti or marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Fresh Parmesan cheese for grating


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook lasagna noodles according to package direction. Set aside.

In a skillet, brown the Italian sausage until no longer pink and nicely browned. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add the browned and drained Italian sausage. Mix well.

sausage filling


To assemble, take 1 cooked lasagna noodle, and place 1 tablespoon of the meat and cheese filling on one end. Roll up the lasagna noodle like you would a jelly roll.

lasagna noodle and filling


Place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan, seam side down. Continue with the remaining noodles until you’ve filled the pan.

lasagna rolls in pan

Pour the jar of spaghetti or marinara sauce evenly over the tops of the lasagna rolls.


lasagna rolls with sauce

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the tops of the rolls, and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over everything.

lasagna rolls with sauce and cheese 2


Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is nicely browned and the dish is bubbly.


lasagna rolls baked


Yield: 18 lasagna rolls


Simplified Dinners: Make Menu Planning Easy

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Stuffed Shells

I’m always looking for new ways to use leftover ham. My go-to recipes are ham and beans, which my husband and sons love, and the usual scalloped potato and ham casserole. Tonight I decided to try something a little different. My family loves Italian-style stuffed pasta shells, so I decided to mix it up a little bit and use my leftover ham and broccoli. I think it was a success judging from the few shells left at the end of the meal. This is easy to make, and you can vary the types of cheese and even the veggies you want to use.

ham, cheese, broccoli shells plated

1 package jumbo pasta shells

2 cups leftover cooked ham, finely diced

1 package frozen broccoli, finely chopped

1 package ricotta cheese

1 egg

2 cups shredded Italian cheeses (I buy the prepackaged mix of Italian cheeses)

1 jar Alfredo sauce (or use homemade)

Fresh Parmesan cheese for grating

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large stockpot, cook the pasta shells according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, combine all the other ingredients (except for the Parmesan) in a large bowl, and mix until completely combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 2 9 x 13-inch baking dishes with cooking spray. Stuff each cooked pasta shell with the ham and broccoli mixture, and place the shells in the baking dishes.

ham, cheese, broccoli shells - no sauce


Pour the Alfredo sauce over each shell. You don’t have to completely cover them, but make sure each shell has some sauce. Grate the Parmesan cheese evenly over all the shells.


ham, cheese, broccoli shells with sauce 2

Bake the shells for approximately 40 minutes, or until the cheese on top is nicely browned.

ham, cheese, broccoli shells baked 2


Yield:  About 6 servings (makes about 36 stuffed shells)

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

1 2