Category Archives: Canning

No Bake Pie & Growth

20161221_203956.jpgHello Lovelies,

I wanted to share with you a highly popular dessert my mother always made in our household.  I made this no bake pie during the holidays and it is such a hit! It is super easy, can be made in a pinch, and requires no baking! It’s so delicious especially when the berries are really in season and are plump, sweet, and juicy.  Now, in March, berries are out of season and most farmers are beginning to plant seeds or starting to plant starters depending on where in the world you are.  But in these off months, I buy whole strawberries frozen.  Thaw them out and cut into pieces and it works like a charm.  I’ve tried raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries and mixed.  The best part of this recipe besides the no bake factor, it is cheap! You can make every other ingredient besides the berry from scratch.

You will need:

  • Graham Cracker Crust or a Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 box Vanilla Pudding
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Container/Can of Whipped Cream or 3 cups homemade whipped cream
  • 1tsp Vanilla or Homemade Vanilla Extract

My favorite recipe for homemade whipped cream:  20161221_200152.jpgpour heavy whipping cream into a bowl or mixer and add a pinch of sugar, and 1tsp of vanilla extract.

20161221_200600.jpgWhip until light and fluffy.

To make homemade vanilla extract:

vanilla-extractGet a glass container or bottle with a tight fitting lid. I got a really inexpensive bottle from Ikea.  Get one bottle of good but inexpensive vodka and four whole vanilla beans.  Cut each vanilla bean lengthwise without cutting it in half. Simply fill a jar or bottle with vodka and the vanilla beans. Store in a cool, dry, dark place. When it turns the traditional amber color and your desired strength it’s ready!  Mine took about 60 days to get a good Vanilla flavor and deep amber color.

My recipe for a graham cracker crust:  Combine finely crushed graham crackers with cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter until it is slightly moistened.  Press mixture firmly in a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.  This will ensure that the filling doesn’t make the crust mushy.

If you are using boxed ingredients: Make the vanilla pudding according to package instructions.  Combine the pudding and sour cream together and mix until smooth. Put a layer of the pudding mixture at the bottom of the graham cracker crust, layer sliced berries (in my case strawberries), then a layer of whipped cream, and so on. Finish with a layer of whipped cream and decorate with any leftover berries. Put in the freezer for an hour if you are close to serving.  It freezes really well and defrost on the counter an hour or two prior. It doesn’t contain high fat ingredients and overall is a low fat pie!

*Due to the berries containing water, this pie will get liquidy the longer it sits at room temperature or if kept in the fridge for more than a day.
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Now that the chaos of the holiday is long gone and the start of the New Year is in full swing, we embark on Spring.  Growth will be abundant in the upcoming weeks as Mother Nature awakens and I cannot be more excited.  Not only do we grow each year personally, but our skills continue to grow, our goals continue to grow, and so does our To Do List!  I haven’t been really good at setting goals and sticking to them primarily because these past two years have thrown us some major twists and turns making it difficult.  This year though, is showing us that we need to slow down further and really hone in on the goals we’ve set not only for ourselves, but as a family.  I redid our goal lists this year and made it much more attainable.  It is so easy to be really eager and then create goals that are just too ambitious.  So this year we are focusing on growing.  Perfecting the skills we have, making more use out of skills we do know, and getting a handle on my ever dreaded gardening.  Stay tuned for a step by step tutorial of building a raised garden bed.

We have seeds to plant, raised beds to make, and lots of prep work ahead.  I worked all winter feeding our DIY compost bin so I’m hoping to have some really nice composted soil to use when we get our garden ready.  The seeds have been started and are coming along nicely.  They are nice and cozy. No nasty little flies this time, you can read my seed fail from last year here.  Or our planting too early post here.  Thankfully, I canned my heart out all last summer for this past winter and am now running low on key staples. You can find canning information here or some of my recipes from the Canning Menu.  I did find that I didn’t do enough of one thing and overdid another. Canning and food prep is very much a learning experience through trial and error in regards to “how much” you stock.  I did can up 3lbs of potatoes last night and still have 3lbs to go. I will to can more pinto and black beans this week as well.  I’m hoping to get some good use out of our homemade rocket stove this year for some canning as we come into the season of yummy produce.

I’ve been a busy bee making soap and getting that side business off and running. I’ve cut back some DIY projects for the house as we’re concentrating more outside.  Babydoll is trying so hard to be home more, helping with the garden, and yard work.  So much to do and the time is upon us.  Time to get crackin!

How are you doing this time of year?  What are some tasks on your agenda? I’d love to hear!

 

Winter Prep and Football

Hello Lovelies,

I have had the best few weeks! My auntie came to visit us for 10 days and my Lord we never stopped. Canning, building our rocket stove pit,  baking, you name it. I think i gained a few pounds 😮. My son started football as a defensive line man and is in his 8th season of soccer as a goalie so needless to say this mama’s busy. I have to say watching him play football is really unbelievable. At his first game, I was at the bottom of the bleachers and spotted him on the field and yelled “Oh my God he’s beautiful!!” Just a little too loud. Thankfully HE didn’t hear me. But seriously, I cannot believe how old that moment made me feel when I finally sat down. 18 years ago, I was standing on the field in the same school colors cheering my heart out, feeling the rush of excitement as our boys ran on the field.  I did get a ton of video though and even my dad got excited watching them and going over the play with my son telling him where he went wrong. It made my heart smile. In my family, my sister and I were very involved with school especially cheerleading. We both helped coach the Pop Warner girls when we were in high school and for me I cheered nine years! Pop Warner, high school, and college.  Our dad played in high school and coached Pop Warner football so it was in our blood. Now, I’m on the other side of the fence. The funniest part of this, is that I can remember most of their cheers haha.

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I managed while my aunt was here to teach her how to pressure can. It was so much fun and I think I even raised an eyebrow once or twice! Ok! I call my pantry gorgeous and I jump with delight when my jars pop okay! 😊 I’ve gotten our pantry and fridge stocked with nearly 200 jars of jams, pickles, beans, meats, sauce, veggies, potatoes, soup, butters, and pickled veggies. We also dehydrated minced onions and bell peppers. It’s amazing how much water content is actually in peppers because the end result of a 6 bell peppers yielded less than half a cup dehydrated.

Winter’s coming shortly and we still have a ton to do. My fall decor is finally up! Fall is my most favorite season and reminds me a lot of home. Pumpkins, apple spice, pies, squash, soups, chilis, fire pit, and hot apple cider. Heaven on earth. So because the weather is cooling a bit or at least enough so the heat doesn’t kill us, we need to get ready for winter. The bushes need to be trimmed down, lawn needs edging, weeds pulled, sticks gathered for the fire pit, then there is inside. Canning, dehydrating, rug shampooing, and out comes all my cinnamon and candles! Yankee Candles of course. 

My auntie went home this weekend and already our home feels a little less full. Thankfully, babydoll is still home. My son had great saves as goalie of his soccer team yesterday during their first game! He was so pumped, it also made my heart smile.  He is truly beautiful and I feel so blessed. My son’s accomplishments,  my aunts visit, Fall is here, and life abundant.  
Happy Sunday Lovelies

Homemade Enchilada Sauce for .87?!

Hello Lovelies,

Mexican food is a lot easier to make yourself than people realize. Sauces and condiments are even easier.  All it takes is the usual suspects like onions, peppers, garlic, mixed with additional ingredients that make it unique, and patience. I’m the kind of gal that refuses to get basic dishes at a restaurant because with a little effort, I can make it myself.  Yes, I’m a picky restaurant eater 🙂 that is when the opportunity arises.

The one thing I love about any Spanish food in general especially favorites is that almost all of the ingredients or at least major ones you can grow yourself.  My garden this year failed miserably yet again! If I can’t grow my own, I buy bulk when in season and I can it. But besides seasonings, this type of cuisine is extremely frugal because it uses a ton of fresh produce.  This is also a fantastic pantry meal.

You will need:

-12 Fresh or Dried Mexican chili peppers

-5 cups of diced onion or 4 large onions

-4 cloves of garlic diced

-6 cups of fresh, canned or home canned tomatoes

-2 tsp of cumin

-2 tbsp chili powder

-1 tsp red pepper flake

-1 tbsp oregano

-2 tsp salt

-1 tbs of olive oil

-2 cups of boiling water

-1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

-1 bottle or can of good beer

First, soak your dried peppers if you opted for dried for at least 30 minutes.  If you used fresh you can either blister them over a flame or grill or simply roast them in the oven.  A little trick I learned is that this original recipe called for using a cup of the water that you soaked the peppers in.  This liquid can be very bitter giving you the typical canned enchilada sauce flavor.  Replace this liquid in cooking with a bottle of good beer! I used Shiner Boch.  I don’t care for blonde or pale beer so I used an amber beer, but any will work.

Sauce the garlic in olive oil and add onions.  Sweat your onions until soft.  Sweating means your not browning the onions just making them soft. Add 1 cup of beer and drink the rest 🙂 tomatoes, and brown sugar and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the soaked peppers which have the stems and seeds removed along with all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil for another 25 minutes until slightly thickened and reduced.  I love heat so I kept all of the seeds. You can tweak this recipe anyway you want depending on your taste.  If its too sweet for you, you can add more acidity and red pepper flake.  I ended up adding another tablespoon of salt. If this is too thin you can puree it in a blender or food processor.

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Canning:

Leave 1 inch head space in your jars and process in a pressure canner for 50 minutes. For very basic information on canning click here.

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Total Cost:  Under $7 for me as I had most on hand in bulk.  For 8 pint jars it is about .87 which is much cheaper than a can in the store. My family of 3 uses one pint per meal.

Meal Ideas:

-Enchiladas

-Add ground beef and serve over rice

-Condiment for tacos

-Dipping sauce

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce 

Hello Lovelies, 

I’ve done a ton of canning, cooking, and freezer meals over the summer and am posting slowly 😯.  Time always gets away from me. Summer was a blast, my boy’s back in school, and soccer and football are just starting. But aside from all of that I’ve been building up our pantry and food supply. I’m at about 93 jars of canned food including broths, jams, pickles, sauces, beans, butters, veggies, and raw packed meat.

One of my favorite recipes lately is a sweet thai chili sauce. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist two things. Sushi and Chinese food. Recently, we’ve been playing around with various recipes and this one is amazing!

You will need: 

– 6 cups apple cider vinegar 

– 1/2 cup fresh diced garlic

– 6 cups sugar

– 1/2 cup red pepper flakes

– 1 tsp kosher salt

In a large pot combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. That’s it! If you want it thicker, I’ve heard of some people using Clear Gel. I kept this as is and it’s fantastic.  I marinate chicken with it and use it in stir frys. 

To can this, process in a water bath canner or large pot for 20 minutes. Be sure to cover your jars with water 1 inch above the lids. 

This by far is so much cheaper making it yourself than to buy in the store. On average it would cost about $3 to buy pre-made. I estimated that this recipe costs about $4 for 15 pints. 

Garden Update & Canning

Hello Lovelies,

Happy Sunday! Babydoll leaves out this afternoon so today’s my cleaning day. My garden is looking super sad but it’s surprising me. We planted mid February which was a mistake because we had two frosts and what felt like a typhoon of rain. I wrote about our rain issue in a previous garden update.  I lost almost everything.  A week or so ago I realized, maybe not! We’ve had really great weather which probably helped.

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My strawberries keep growing the berries but the plants are the same size as they were in February.

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“I think” this is my cherry tomato plant which shocked me when I first saw it. It’s blooming with flowers and 4 tomatoes.

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Cabbage mystery! I don’t know where this came from, but I did plant some last year. Hmmmm.

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I have 7 onions which made it through the floods lol. They are about tennis ball size if not a little smaller. Yay!

Despite my gardening failures, I’m pretty happy. I even got some canning done. I made more chicken stock because my last batch was made in January and I’m already out. I had some sweet potatoes and leftover blackberries too so I canned the potatoes and made blackberry preserves. 

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Now I’m relaxing on my patio watching in amazement the conversation happening from every rooftop near me and on my fence. Haha!

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What is everyone else up too on this beautiful Sunday?

North Dallas is gorgeous and sunny 82 degrees.