Friday, August 31, 2012

Canning Basics... Part 2

It's finally time for part 2 of canning basics.  I got busy, sorry.  ;-)

Today we're going to go over the different types of jars out there.

I use Ball Canning Jars.  It's a brand that has been around forever and I know that they make a quality product.  Ball makes jars in a variety of sizes and shapes. 

The ones I use the most are:

  • The 8 ounce jam jars.  I usually get the quilted ones.  They're fancy looking and the easiest to find in my area.
  • The 8 ounce Collection Elite jars.  These jars are great if you're planning on giving them as gifts.  I like to use them for hot pepper jelly at Christmas time.  It seems like everyone uses pepper jam at that time of year for dips.
  • The 1 pint Regular Mouth jar.  It's the perfect jar to use for sauces and for preserving whole fruits (like pears).

Ball has many different jars so take some time to check out your options but make sure you know what your recipe recommends.  Different jars require different processing requirements.

The Ball jars are the basic 2 part lid jars.  There is a lid and a band that goes around the lid and jar.  There is another type of jar, one that I have no experience with.

Weck Jars differ from Ball jars mainly because they lack the metal lid and band that seal the jars.  I think they are beautiful jars but since I have never used them I would suggest reading Weck's FAQ to make sure that you know what to do and to expect with them.

(picture from the website)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Balsamic Mustard Dressing

I made salad dressing the other night.  I totally made it up too.  It's a nice and tart vinaigrette that still has some texture to it, so it doesn't run off of your lettuce... never to be seen again.

I hate it when that happens.

The recipe was inspired by looking in the refrigerator.  I wanted something simple and I thought that the mix of balsamic vinegar and mustard would work well together.

Balsamic Mustard Dressing:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 large teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Add everything to a container with a tight fitting lid (I used a mason jar) and shake it like a Polaroid picture.  Store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Spiced Doughnuts

I had a craving on Sunday but I had already been to the grocery store and I wasn't about to leave the house again.  I wanted doughnuts and I wanted them bad.  I went on a googling frenzy until I could find a recipe that was made up of items I already had in the house and was baked.

I came across this recipe for fluffy cake doughnuts. I added some more spices to the recipe, including pumpkin pie spice, which is one of my favorites. It gave me a hope that fall is right around the corner.

These don't get the crispy edges that fried cake doughnuts have but they are dang good, and much better for you than the fried versions.

Fall Spiced Doughnuts:
(adapted from allrecipes)


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
A dash of ground ginger
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon caramel syrup or ice cream topping


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a doughnut pan, I used Pam.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in milk, eggs, vanilla, and shortening. Beat together until well blended.

Fill each doughnut cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until doughnuts spring back when touched. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.

To make the glaze mix everything together.  If the glaze is too runny add more sugar, too thick add more water.   I made this version a little on the thin side.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bayou Brownies

My friend Devon hasn't let me down yet.  She's great when advice on cameras, running shoes, and confectionery treats.

These brownies (or are they blondies?) are no exception to the rule.  Holy crap they're amazing... and seriously rich... and seriously easy.  The ingredients are really common and most people have all of them in their pantry.  The other bonus.  Since they're SO rich you can cut them in smaller pieces and make the batch stretch farther (or eat the whole pan, go nuts).

Bayou Brownies:
(The Food Bitch Blog- from Southern Living)


1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325* & line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil. Grease or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together walnuts, butter, 1 egg & cake mix until smooth. Pour into pan & level with hands or a spatula.

In another large mixing bowl on medium speed, mix together remaining eggs, cream cheese & powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over walnut mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until cream cheese layer settles. Let cool on a wire rack & cut into squares.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lightened Up Arroz Con Pollo

I'm going outside of our typical spanish/mexican meal routine today. I have a bad relationship with Southern style chicken and rice.  We at a lot of it as a child and I have trouble eating it now.  I do love chicken and yellow rice though.

I saw this recipe pop up on Skinnytaste the other day and decided that it was time to try a new spin on chicken and rice.  It was an easy one pot meal and the leftovers were even better.  Mr. T even went back for seconds.

I was surprised with how many vegetables went into the dish and even though this is a very flavorful dish it's not spicy so I think it would be a favorite with kids at the dinner table.

Lightened Up Arroz Con Pollo:
(adapted from Skinnytaste- 8ppt+)

8 skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoon sazon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
1/2 garlic powder
3 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion
1/4 cup cilantro
3 cloves garlic
5 scallions
1/2 a bell pepper
1 tomato, diced
2 1/2 cups enriched long grain rice
4 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube
salt to taste

Season chicken with vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sazon, adobo and garlic powder and let it sit 10 minutes. Heat a large deep heavy skillet on medium, add 2 teaspoon oil when hot. Add chicken and brown 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.
Place onion, cilantro, garlic, scallions and pepper in mini food processor. Add remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and sauté onion mixture on medium-low until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomato, cook another minute. Add rice, mix well and cook another minute. Add water, bouillon (be sure it dissolves well) and remaining sazon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Taste for salt, should taste salty enough to suit your taste, add more as needed.
Add chicken and nestle into rice, bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low until most of the water evaporates and you see the liquid bubbling at the top of the rice line, then reduce heat to low heat and cover. Make sure the lid has a good seal, no steam should escape (You could place a piece of tin foil or paper towel in between the lid and the pot if steam escapes).
Cook 20 minutes without opening the lid. Shut heat off and let it sit with the lid on an additional 10 minutes (don't peak!!!) Fluff with a fork and eat!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Broiled Tilapia

We eat a lot of tilapia.  It's delicious and it goes on sale a lot.  That being said I tend to make tilapia the same 3 ways every time we have it for supper.

This recipe came off of the Weight Watchers website and it super easy and tasty.  These ingredients are things everyone has around the house.  If you don't have garlic herb seasoning just use garlic and onion powder (but I suggest getting some Mrs. Dash, I use it all the time).

Broiled Tilapia:
(Weight Watchers- 3 pp+)

4 tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon garlic herb seasoning

Preheat broiler and spray a roasting pan with non stick spray.

Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.  Place the fish in the pan, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with the garlic and herb seasoning.

Broil until the fish is fork-tender, about 5 minutes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chipotle Avocado Black Bean Burgers

I think that I might be mastering the veggie burger..... finally.

I've been exploring the world of the black bean recently and the black bean burger has been been leading me astray.  These patties have made up for all my heartache.  (That sounds like a bad country song)

The chipotle sauce and the avocado make this burger delicious.  The best thing about these burgers is that you can make up a bunch of them and throw them in the freezer for future enjoyment, or for food gift giving. 

Chipotle Avocado Black Bean Burgers:
(Adapted from Skinny Taste- 9ppt+)

6 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice

16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoon chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick oats
1 small avocado


Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chipotle peppers, set aside.  Slice your avocado, place it in a bowl and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to keep it from browning.

Make sure the black bean are really dry and mash them up with a fork.

In a food processor, chop the bell pepper, cilantro, onion, and garlic, then add oats, then the egg and spices. Combine with the mashed black beans.

Divide the bean mixture into patties (I got 5), put them on a sheet pan, and freeze overnight.  When you're ready to cook them up, pull them out of the freezer, and cook on a sprayed skillet for about 7 minutes on each side.

Top the burgers with some of the chipotle mayonnasie and avocado slices.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Peach Cobbler

I've been canning all weekend.  I have 1 quart + 19.5 pints of peach jam sitting on my counter.  Even after all of those jars of jam I still have 5 peaches in my fruit bowl.  To be frank, I'm tired of making jam so in order to use those last few peaches I decided to make a cobbler.  It's a classic dessert and easy to make.

There is something comforting about a cobbler.  It was my grandma's go to dessert when I was a kid and we always looked forward to it.

Peach Cobbler:
(basic cobbler recipe, measurements from Food Network- cause Grandma never measured anything)

Cobbler filling:

4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour

Cobbler crust:

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon brown sugar, for topping


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Place the sliced peaches in the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. Mix gently and spread evenly again. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough.

Remove fruit from oven and drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top. Sprinkle with last tablespoon of brown sugar and return to oven. Bake about 20 minutes, until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown.