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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Canning Spaghetti Sauce (part 2)

If you are not planning on canning this, but are instead freezing it, just follow all of the instructions except after the sauce is done, let it cool completely then put into quart size freezer bags and lay flat in your freezer (remember to leave some space for it to expand).

(remember, these are not exact. cooking is not a science, it's a passion)

20 lbs of tomatoes
1 c olive oil
2-3 onions, minced (you may like more, I just hate onion)
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 green bell peppers, chopped
1/4 C dried basil (or if you use fresh, which I love, you'll need twice as much)
1/4 C dried oregano
1/4 C dried parsley (1/2 C for fresh)
1/2 C white sugar (I would start with less and add if you think you need it)
1/4 salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 sm cans tomato paste

1. Prepping the tomatoes will be the most time-consuming and labor-intensive part of the whole thing. (Surpassed only by planting the actual garden). You will need to blanch, peel, seed and chop all of the tomatoes. (Make sure you have TONS of large bowls and lots of ice for the blanching). Now set them aside for a few minutes...
2. Heat the oil in a LARGE pot. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and saute until the onion is translucent.
3. If you like a chunky sauce, add the chopped tomatoes now. However, if you are like me and the texture of tomato skeeves you out, this is where you would need to process all of the chopped tomatoes. This will take awhile and it will be messy. Be very sure to hold the blade onto your food processor very tightly when removing it from the base to dump in the pot. Otherwise, it will be EVERYWHERE and you will swear like you've never sworn before. I promise.
4. Once all of your tomato is added, add the remaining ingredients. Your sauce will be pink to start out with. It needs to simmer for a few hours, but you'll need to stir it very frequently. (plus it's really nice to open the pot and smell it)
5. When your sauce is done (leave it on the burner at all times. it needs to stay simmering for canning) start to heat up the water in your canner (remember you'll need the jars to be covered with at least 1 inch of water). Then, sterilize your jars in the oven or with hot water and heat up your lids and rings in a small pot on the stove.
6. Once the water in your canner is boiling and everything is sterilized, you can fill up the jars leaving an inch of head space. Obviously, a canning funnel/jar filler is absolutely necessary with spaghetti sauce, otherwise you'd have one hell of a mess. Be sure to clean off the top of the jar with a wet rag after it's filled. Place the lid and ring on tightly. Once they are all done, put them in the canner (add more water if you need to. if I need more, I use the water from the lid and ring pot b/c it's already heated up). A tip here is that if you don't want your canner to get all discolored on the inside, add some vinegar to the water before you add the jars. They will need processed for 25 minutes in a pressure canner or 40 in a water bath canner (I would recommend just using the pressure canner. better safe than sorry). Once they are done and the pressure is out of the canner, you can remove them with the jar lifter. Now you just have to listen to make sure they all "pop". If one doesn't seal, however, you can stick it in the fridge and use it within 24-48 hrs. But don't get too anxious, it could take an hour or two for them all to seal.
Like I said yesterday, you will need to check out the instructions on your pressure canner to make sure you are doing it right and to see how many psi you need (I believe it's 1000, but I can't remember for sure).

Making homemade spaghetti sauce is clearly not easy, but once you taste it, you can never go back to store-bought sauce, there is just no comparison. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel from growing your own vegetables (and I do basil too) and creating something delicious with it to enjoy all year long.

Makes about 7 quarts

Once I make my first batch (probably in the next couple days) I'll add some pictures for you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to can spaghetti sauce (part 1)

OK, so it's been awhile since I've posted over here. I am so sorry for that, but I am ready to get back to it. We have a pretty huge garden again this year. And by we, of course, I mean Josh...and the girls because Lord knows they love their worms (I know this because they bring some to show me almost every day...in the house). So anyway, my part in the whole deal is to cook and/or can what we get from the garden. My most famously delicious recipe being my canned spaghetti sauce, so I thought it would be a good place to start (also, because I'll be doing it in the next couple days).

I want to prompt this recipe with the fact that I don't use recipes for things like this. It is all a matter of taste and you either know how to cook or you don't. It takes time to develop a feel for it. I will give generalizations and a basic list of ingredients and the instructions I use for canning tomato products, but you may not like what I like, so please feel free to adjust at will. Just taste as you go and you will eventually end up with something you like. My advice on the subject is to write down what you start with and then whenever you make changes, make note of it. So next year you will have a better place to start. Also remember that certain tomatoes make the sauce taste differently. The best tomatoes for sauce are roma. They are meatier and have the best flavor. Cherry tomatoes are (in my opinion) not to be used. First of all, they are way too sweet. I used some last year (we got the plants for free so we squeezed them in later in the season) and I can taste which batch of sauce has them and which doesn't. Also, they take forever to peel and you end up squirting juice EVERYWHERE.

I also, want to make note that it's best to start small and work your way up. I mean this in every way possible. If this is your first time, it might be better to make a smaller amount for dinner one night just to gauge what you like. And the second way I mean this, is that you can't take away but you can always add. I mean, this is a general rule in cooking anyway, but it's especially important when you are taking all day to make 7 quarts of sauce. If it gets ruined, it's really hard to correct (unless you have an endless supply of time and ingredients and you are using a gigantic pot).

As with anything canned, you need to check the instructions on your canner to make sure you are doing it correctly. The last thing you want is to go through all the trouble and end up having to pitch it because of botulism.

I hope you've found this helpful. I'll follow up tomorrow with the actual "recipe".

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Asian pork & noodle skillet

Ok, the credit to this one is going to the Pampered Chef, however I made some changes of my own (as usual).

What I actually did here, was make about 3 lbs of pork tenderloin in the crock pot (on low for about 8 hours with about 2 cups of water and some salt and pepper). When it was done, I shredded it. So with half (or maybe a little more) I made this recipe and with the rest, the next day, I removed the liquid and added BBQ sauce and made shredded BBQ pork sandwiches. To me, it was easier than the recipe and obviously, it's really nice to have dinner for two nights done in one.

2 medium carrots, peeled
1 medium red bell pepper
5-6 green onions
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp asian seasoning mix (I had no idea what they meant here, b/c my grocery store didn't have anything like that in the seasoning isle. so I bought 2 packets of fried rice seasoning (in the asian foods isle) and that worked great)
4 pkg oriental-flavor ramen noodles (I actually used 6 packets b/c we prefer a lower ratio of meat to noodles, in general)
1 tbsp veg oil
4 cups water

Cut carrots into julienne strips (i just slice them in half lengthwise then slice them on the diagonal). Cut bell pepper lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Slice green onions.

Add vegetable oil to 12-inch skillet. Heat over med-high heat until shimmering.

***The actual recipe calls for 2 lbs pork tenderloin to be sliced lengthwise and then cut into thin strips across to make small bite size pieces. Then mix with the sesame oil, seasoning mix and 2 of the ramen noodle packets. Add half the pork to the skillet, cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove and repeat with the remaining half. I did the same thing but with the precooked pork so I only needed to heat it for a minute or two and I did it all together. Either way you end up with an empty pan and cooked/seasoned pork, so it really doesn't matter.

Add carrots and bell pepper to skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add water and remaining ramen seasoning packets. Stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add ramen noodles and green onions to skillet. Cover, bring to boil and cook 4-5 minutes or until noodles are softened. Add pork, stir to break apart noodles. Remove skillet from heat, let stand, covered 3-4 minutes or until pork is heated through.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pesto Chicken Pizza

This is another one that I just threw together for dinner a couple nights ago and wanted to share with you because it was really good and super easy.

1 refrigerated pizza dough
1 pkg refrigerated pesto sauce
1-2 C chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 pkg mozzarella cheese (either 2 or 4 cups depending on how much you like)
Parmesan cheese
I'm thinking this one is kind of self-explanatory but I'll spell it out for you anyways lol.
Unroll your pizza dough
spread the pesto on the dough
Top with the chicken and the mozzarella cheese
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top.
Bake according to your dough instructions (mine was 400 for 15-20 minutes)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mini meatloaf....or something along those lines

OK, so I haven't posted on here in a month...which is barely better than on my regular blog. Sorry for the hiatus. Either way, I'm back and I've got a few posts lined up for ya.

Today's is an entire meal (main dish and side dish). This was something I just made up a couple days ago and it ended up being pretty good....actually REALLY good.

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground turkey

Italian seasoning

1/2 lb mozzarella cubed

1 jar pizza sauce

I mixed together the meats and the Italian seasoning (I NEVER measure my seasoning, so I have no idea how much it was, just use common sense and your own taste). I then added a little bit of the pizza sauce (I'd say about 1/4 cup). Then I sprayed Pam on a muffin pan and divided the meat amongst the sections. I then pressed a cube of cheese into the middle of each and topped them with the remaining sauce. I put the pan on a cookie sheet (very important b/c it WILL spill over the sides). I baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.

This side dish is something that I do A LOT. It's really easy, everyone loves it and I love things that cook all together (less clean-up). It's also nice because you can make as little or as much as you want.

Wash and chop fresh broccoli (I use the whole head and that gives us some leftovers). Lay it out on a baking sheet (I use my pampered chef stone and it works great b/c nothing ever sticks to it).

Wash then chop/dice (pretty small so that they cook through) red potatoes (you can use any kind, but I prefer the smaller red potatoes). Spread them out amongst the broccoli. Drizzle with a good amount of EVOO then sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Roast in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.

And this is what you'll end up with.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One-pan chicken potato bake

This one is super easy and it's definitely a good weeknight meal. It takes about 10 minutes to put together and It's made with food that almost anyone has in their house on any given day.

4 bone-in chicken pieces
4 potatoes, cut into spears or wedges
1/4 C (approx. I just drizzle it over the entire thing) any salad dressing (I use Italian or a vinaigrette)
1/4 C parm cheese

Preheat oven to 400
Place the chicken and potatoes in a 9X13 pan.
Pour dressing over the top.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 1 hr or until chicken is fully cooked.

4 servings
440 calories
18g fat (5g sat fat)
33g carbs
4g fiber
36g protein

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creamy one-pot pasta

I have to give the credit for this recipe to The Pampered Chef.

4 lg garlic cloves peeled and minced

1 jar (7 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil (undrained) I would say this is optional, because I have never used them since none of us like them.

3 cans chicken broth (5 1/4 c)

1 lb penne pasta

1 head broccoli I use a little more than this because I don't do the tomatoes and we like broccoli

2 medium carrots, peeled

4 oz reduced fat cream cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

grated fresh parmesan cheese and snipped fresh basil

I add in chopped cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast so that it's a complete meal (since we aren't vegetarian). I usually cook it in some olive oil and add some Italian seasoning. Then I just add it at the end. But you could also use smoked sausage.

1. Heat garlic on med heat with 1 Tbsp of the oil 2-3 mins. Add broth and heat to boiling. Add pasta and cook 8-10 mins.

2. Meanwhile, slice carrots on a bias and diagonally. Chop broccoli, slice tomatoes and cut cream cheese into cubes.

3. Add vegetables, cream cheese, salt and pepper (and meat if you are adding it) to stockpot with pasta. Stir until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook an additional 2-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Mine generally needs to rest a couple minutes for the sauce to thicken a little. Top with parmesan and basil if desired. I actually stir it in so the cheese melts.

6 servings (the nutritional value does not include the addition of a meat)

410 calories

11g fat (4g sat fat)

65 g carbs

15g protien

1000 mg sodium

5g fiber