Spaghetti Sauce for Canning

So, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has this great recipe for Spaghetti Sauce, but it calls for 30 pounds of tomatoes. My CSA, Graber Organic Farms, sells their bulk tomatoes in 20 pound boxes. So, I used the Recipe Resizer to convert the recipe to one I can use & I'm preserving it here so that I don't have to constantly look it up. Hopefully it helps you, too.

This makes about 4 quarts or 8 pints.

NOTE - Do not increase the proportion of onions, celery, or peppers. 

20 pounds tomatoes
1/2 + 1/8 c onions, diced
1/2 c sweet bell peppers, shopped
1/8 c celery, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 T salt
2 T oil (for cooking the veggies)
1/2 T oregano
1 1/2 T parsley
1 1/4 T black pepper, ground
2 1/2 T brown sugar
  1. Wash, peel, & core tomatoes.
  2. Boil uncovered for 20 minutes. 
  3. Put through food mill or sieve (I press mine through a metal colander, which is a real pain!)
  4. Saute onions, celery, and peppers, until tender. 
  5. Add garlic & saute just until fragrant.
  6. Combine veggies and tomatoes
  7. Add remainder of spices, salt, and sugar. 
  8. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until it is your desired thickness . (I like to reduce it by about half.)
  9. Fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. 
  10. Pressure can at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

Berry Peachy Balsamic Sorbet

This was a real hit at my house! Since I beat air into in one of the last steps, it ends up being a bit softer than typical sorbet. It's great plain on a super hot July day, but I bet a scoop would be just as good floating in vodka as a festive holiday drink!

4 c fresh berries
1 c water
1 c sugar
1 T lemon or lime juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 c Ripe Peach Balsamic Vinegar (from The Olive Twist)
  1. Mix berries, water, sugar, & lemon juice in a medium pan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir until sugar is well dissolved, pressing lightly to help berries release their juice.
  4. Boil about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture through a strainer into a metal mixing bowl, reserving the juice, pressing lightly on the seeds & pulp to extract as much juice as possible.
  6. Sprinkle the packet of gelatin over the hot juice & let sit 5 minutes to "bloom."
  7. Stir gelatin into the mixture well & add the vinegar.
  8. Place bowl in freezer about 1-2 hours until slushy.
  9. Remove from freezer & beat well with an electric mixer.
  10. Return to freezer for 1 hour.
  11. Beat well until mixture is lighter in color & volume has doubled.
  12. Return to the freezer until well frozen 

Bread Flour Substitute!

So, I don't keep bread flour around, but I do keep wheat gluten handy for making seitan or adding to whole wheat breads. It turns out that you can make a great substitute using all purpose flour & wheat gluten. It turns out great in pizza dough & here's how you make it.

  1. put 1 T wheat gluten in a 1 cup measuring cup
  2. fill remaining cup with all purpose flour
  3. use just like 1 cup of bread flour!

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

I have been getting quite a bit of zucchini in my Graber Organic Farms CSA boxes & it has been really great to come up with new ways to serve it. This has been one of my family's favorites! I use exclusively oils from The Olive Twist (they'll ship to you!), but you can use what you have. Sauteing the veggies in the Tuscan Herb oil & massaging the garlic oil into the raw zucchini really added a flavor pop that I would have to recommend though!

4 zucchini 
4 oz panchetta
4 oz seitan (wheat meat), chopped
4 spring onions, chopped (white & light green parts)
1 red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, chopped
1 T pesto (if you've got it)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 c seasoned croutons, smashed to crumbs
olive oil
  1. Halve zucchini & scrape out insides leaving about 1/4 inch wall around the exterior (save & chop the scrapings)
  2. Heat some olive oil & pan fry the panchetta, bacon bits, & seitan until the panchetta is toasty & browned.
  3. Add the zucchini scrapings, onions, & sweet pepper to the pan.
  4. Saute until lightly browned & fragrant. 
  5. Remove from heat, add the garlic & pesto and stir until just fragrant.
  6. Lightly oil and sprinkle each zucchini half with pepper 
  7. Place zucchini cut side down on a hot grill.
  8. Grill about 5 minutes until dark char lines appear.
  9. Remove zucchini from grill.
  10. Add cheese & croutons to the meat & veggies and stir until combined.
  11. Stuff each zucchini shell with meat & veggie mix.
  12. Place back on hot grill until cheese is bubbly & delicious.

Blueberry Vanilla Lavender Jam

I got a plesant suprise in this week's CSA box...BLUEBERRIES!  After munching on about half of them, I decided that I needed to come up with a way to preserve (and share) some of them. I liked this recipe because it doesn't require any pectin (blueberries have lots of that) or any other special equipment.

2 c blueberries
2 T water
1 vanilla bean
2 c sugar
3 sprigs lavender
1 T bottled lemon juice

  1. Combine the blueberries, vanilla, & water in a pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Mash & muddle the blueberries a bit to get them to release their flavor.
  3. Add the sugar & lavender and stir to dissolve.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Boil, stirring frequently, until the desired gel is achieved (remember, the sugar will set up more in the jar!)
  6. Remove from the heat, remove lavender & vanilla, and let jam cool about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To can, use the boiling water method.  Leave 1/4 inch headspace and process for 5 minutes.

Gingered Beef Stir-Fry

Until we tasted our first fresh, ripe, local veggie, my family & I were not veggie fans. As such I haven't many veggie-full recipes. Since then, I have been bale to participate in a lovely, local CSA from Graber Organic Farms. This is what I did with my most recent box of fresh veggies from them!

1 lb steak, sliced thin against the grain
2 T olive oil
1/4 c water
2 bunches broccoli
2 c sugar snap peas
3 spring onions, sliced thin
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
1 yellow summer squash, roughly chopped
1 T candied ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed

3/4 c chicken broth
1/8 c red wine
1/8 c brown sugar
2 t olive oil
2 t cornstarch

  1. Heat oil in a wok or large pan until smoking.
  2. Sear beef quickly in oil.
  3. Add broccoli, peas, & water.
  4. Cover pan & steam veggies for 3 minutes.
  5. Uncover pan & let water evaporate, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add reaming veggies, ginger, & garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
  7. Whisk sauce together & add to center of pan, stirring until thickened & veggies are coated.
  8. Serve over rice or fresh spinach.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

I made a delicious Maple-Bourbon grilled pork loin to slice & serve on top of salad, & I was looking for a dressing that would go well with it. This is it! It would make a great dipping sauce for chicken as well & it helped to cut the bitter flavor of some of my greens, which had begun to bolt before they were picked.

1/3 c maple syrup
2 T chopped spring onions (you could use shallots or chives, too)
3 T Grey Poupon
3 T vinegar (I used Traditional 18-year Aged Balsamic from The Olive Twist, but their Fig Balsamic would be amazing, too.)
1 T olive oil (I used Arbequina from The Olive Twist)
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t salt (I don't add this, but some of us thought it needed it)

Peach Jam Margarita

Canning season is rapidly arriving & I have so many jars of delicious peach freezer jam left, that I'm having a hard time making room for this year's batch. This recipe is helping immensely & I imagine it would work well with just about any sweet jam.  The recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups. How many people that serves really depends on the day at my house!

8 oz. Peach jam
4 oz. water
2 oz. tequila (My favorite is Margaritaville Gold, but you could also use vodka or rum)
2 c ice

  1. Puree until smooth (in your Ninja Master Prep if you're an infomercial junkie like me)
  2. Enjoy cold!
Substitute 6 ounces of black tea for a non-alcoholic treat.

Vodka Sauce (Penne alla Vodka)

Never mind the long ingredient list & huge number of steps, this sauce is e-a-s-y & fast! It is quite flavorful as it is & is already muted with cream, so you can even skip the sometimes obligatory sprinkle of Parmesan.

2 cans petite diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz each
1 onion, diced
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c red wine
2 cloves garlic, pressed
pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 c vodka (or red wine, or white wine, but probably not beer)
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 lb. pasta, cooked

  1. Heat oil in a large pan.
  2. Drain & puree one can of tomatoes.
  3. Drain the other can of tomatoes & add them to the puree.
  4. Saute the onion & tomato paste until the onion edges are starting to get brown & there is a good bit of fond in the bottom of the pan.
  5. De-glaze the pan with half of the red wine & continue to cook until the wine has evaporated & more fond has developed.
  6. De-glaze the pan again & cook until the wine is thick & nearly evaporated.
  7. Add the garlic & red pepper flakes, cooking 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.
  8. Add the tomatoes & vodka & bring to a simmer.
  9. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, until the alcohol cooks off, 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. Add the cream & cook until hot all the way through.
  11. In a large pot, combine the sauce & pasta and cook until sauce is slightly absorbed (about 2 minutes)
  12. Served sprinkled with fresh basil.

Candied Roasted Pecans

This should work with other nuts as well, but I don't know. I just l-o-v-e pecans & I look forward to that time of year when the smell of German Roasted Pecans fills our local mall. Now I can get that same flavor any time of year right in my own home!

2 egg whites
1 T vanilla extract
2 1/2 c pecans, whole or halved
1/2 c turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw)
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
sprinkle of cayenne pepper for heat, optional
paper bag, oatmeal container, or other covered container
  1. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Whip egg whites & vanilla together until foamy but not fluffy (about 2 minutes with my handheld mixer)
  3. Fold in pecans
  4. Pour sugar, salt, cinnamon, & cayenne pepper into paper bag & shake to mix.
  5. Add coated pecans to bag & shake to coat
  6. Spread pecans onto parchment paper in a  rimmed baking sheet 
  7. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes
  8. COOL PECANS 30 min before eating (THEY ARE HOT!)


My mom always made this sweet corn meal drink for us after we had been playing in the snow. I remember it as being the remedy for the bone shattering Indiana cold & boy could I use it today! Back then, she had to have it sent to use from our relatives in Colorado, but now you can find blue corn meal from Bob's Red Mill right at Walmart! Sometimes, she even whipped some up for us as a warm morning breakfast. Mmmmmmm!

I like to use turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw) instead of piloncillo, but I feel like piloncillo is more "authentic." Sometimes you can find it in the produce section at Walmart or in the "Mexican" section. Sometimes you can even find it with other sweeteners. If not, don't fret, my mom just used plain white sugar.

1/4 c blue corn meal (harina de atole)
2 1/2 c milk
1/8 c piloncillo or turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw)
1 t vanilla extract
sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
  1. Mix atole, milk, sugar, & extract in a pan, whisk well to eliminate lumps
  2. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened (about 15 to 20 minutes)
  3. Serve hot with a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired
I've heard that you can use regular Masa Harina instead of Harina de Atole, but I've never ever tried it. Comment me if you give that a try & let me know how it goes.

Black Bean Soup

We're digging out of a major blizzard today & nothing sounds better than some thick & delicious soup. The best thing about this is it is cheap, cheap, cheap! If you don't have ham, just leave it out. Mostly it just adds some salty flavor & could probably be subbed out for a tablespoon of bacon bits if you were really desperate to have it in there, but to make a meatless meal, just leave it out.
I didn't get a pic with the sour cream & red pepper flakes on it.
The fam dug in before I could get that done!

1 pound black beans
8 oz ham, chopped or cubed
1 bay leaf
8 c water
1/8 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T butter, melted
1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
3/4 T cumin
3 c chicken broth

  1. Boil the beans, ham, bay leaf, baking soda, & salt in a large pot until beans are cooked through (about 90 min) adding more hot water as necessary.
  2. Sauté the onions, celery, & carrot in the oil & butter until onions are lightly browned.
  3. Add garlic & cumin to the veggies & cook until very fragrant but not browned, 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add cooked veggies & chicken broth to beans & heat through.
  5. Serve topped with sour cream & a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Mama Johnson's Game Day Beer Sausages

Mama Johnson would be my husband's stepmother.  My husband remembers these tiny sausages in a beer & tomato sauce from his childhood at her home & occasionally craves them. He finally called her for the recipe & then we tweaked & tested it until we came up with the flavor he remembered.

4 pkg Lil Smokies
12 oz tomato paste
15 oz tomato sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t Salt Seasoning (or 2 T Lawry's Seasoning Salt)
1 t Frank's Red Hot sauce (sub Tabasco for hotter sauce)
24 oz beer (we used Bud Light, but you may prefer a darker beer)
  1. Toss everything in your crock pot
  2. Cook on low all day or until game time

This recipe appears on The Exec Moms blog. Click here for more recipes that are so easy you can make them even if you can't make toast!

Salt Seasoning

A couple of years ago, we started having annual blood tests done & were horrified by the results. One of the first things I did was to stop adding salt to our food. It was rough going at first, but we don't miss it at all now. In fact, we can taste salt in the strangest places!

I used to use Lawry's seasoning salt so much that I had to come up with a homemade, salt-free version to use. After researching, trying, & combining a few recipes, this is what I got. If you want the salt in it, add about 1/2 to 2/3 cups salt. Otherwise substitute this at about 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of Lawry's salt your recipe calls for.

2 T sugar
1 T cornstarch (you can leave this out if you want. It's just for thickening & to prevent clumping when stored)
1.5 T ground celery seed
2 T paprika
1 T onion powder
2 t garlic powder
2 t ground mustard powder
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground oregano
1/4 t ground thyme
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t ground cumin
1 quick sprinkle ground cinnamon (less than 1/8 t)
1 quick sprinkle cloves (less than 1/8 t)

Soda Jelly

So, at this point I'm pretty much addicted to Throwback Pepsi. The mouth feel is just so different from the regular variety that I can't help but love it, & my daughter is the same way about Dr. Pepper. When I was making all of my Christmas gift jams & jellies, she mentioned how much she would love to get a Dr. Pepper flavored one & I set out to find out how to get that done.  Well, here's how...

8 oz. your favorite soda (do not use diet!)
3 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 pouch (3 oz)  liquid pectin

  1. In your biggest pot over medium heat, combine soda, sugar and water. 
  2. Stir to dissolve sugar. 
  3. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly. 
  4. Add the liquid pectin once a full boil is reached.
  5. Return to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Boil 30 seconds, still stirring constantly (set a timer on this one).
  7. Remove from heat & skim any foam.
  8. Ladle hot jelly into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. 
  9. Place lids & rings on jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Boiling water should cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches.)
  10. Remove from water bath, cover with a towel (to prevent drafts from causing breakage) & cool 24 hours.

Vanilla Martini

I think this would be a nice winter warmer if you added just a dab of peppermint extract to it. Maybe even top it with a candy cane or put two scoops of ice cream in it so it looks like a snowman.  This recipe makes just one, but I'm sure you can scale it up for a crowd!

1 oz homemade vanilla extract
1 oz good quality vodka (I use Sky or Grey Goose)
1/2 T simple syrup (make it with vanilla sugar and/or add a bit of vanilla extract)
A tiny scoop of frozen vanilla infused heavy cream (or vanilla ice cream)instead of an ice cube.