Friday, July 11, 2014

Canning Green Beans

Last week, we had a big green bean day. Several of us ladies got together at a friend's house to prepare six boxes of green beans for canning. Three boxes belonged to me and three belonged to another friend.

Here, some of the children are swimming in an old water
The children had a grand time playing and making big messes in the house as we ladies cut and snapped and cackled all day long.

Imagine my friend's surprise as she turned back her sheets and found green beans and chips in her bed that night! Bless her for letting us in her home!! :)

In the middle of us working our way through the mounds of bean, our blue berries arrived unexpectedly early! I have never been a big blueberry fan, but this blueberries are sooo good!

Despite having arrived at 9:30 that morning, I left after 7:00 with a ton of beans still left to be cut. My hand was killing me when I finally went to bed late that night. I had gotten so frustrated with the never-ending beans, I just stuffed everything into the refrigerator until the next day! Oh, goodness! Talk about being overwhelmed! I didn't know which way to turn!

I finally decided the next morning to start canning some beans while I finished cutting the rest. I am still finding green beans popping up in the most unexpected of places! After two full, long days of canning, I had a total of 68 quarts of green beans! Despite being exhausted that first day, what an absolute blessing!!!  Thankfully, my friend Mari had kept a few of my beans at her house to finish cutting. Imagine my surprise when I learned she had not only cut, but had canned them! She had another 16 quarts of my beans waiting on me at her house! What a double blessing!!! We won't mention how her prankster husband nearly gave me a heart attack when I went to pick them up!

If you have never canned green beans, they are very easy.

Pack your jars to one inch headspace with the beans.

Add 1 teaspoon of kosher or canning salt to one quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon to a pint jar of beans, if desired.

Fill the jars with boiling water or broth to one inch headspace.

Using a flat, non-metal utensil, remove the air bubbles. I just use the magnetic lid grabber.

Wipe the rim of the jar clean, and seal the jar with a two piece lid and ring.

Place the jar in the pressure canner with simmering water and repeat the process until the canner is full.

Process quarts for 25 minutes or pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Make sure to adjust the pressure for your altitude if needed.

*Follow USDA canning guidelines to ensure safety of all home-canned foods.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Canned Beef Stew

We are gearing up to head back to Texas, where my husband works, in the next couple of days. My husband has requested that I bring some of the items I have canned or frozen this past year. I also wanted to take along some meals that were already done so that he could just heat and eat when the children and I return home, leaving him without a cook! :) This is one I know he will enjoy! This is an easy recipe to throw together and can to have quick meals at your disposal! It was the first time I had made this recipe. Next time, I would like to double it.

4 lbs. beef roast of your choice, cubed (I used chuck roast.)
3 c onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 c carrots, sliced
3 c celery, chopped
12 c potatoes, peeled and chunked
12 c beef broth
1 t Kitchen Bouquet, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Makes about 8 quarts
Brown meat in a large pot. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Ladle stew vegetables into jar leaving a one inch head space. Using the cooking broth, ladle the broth over the vegetables, leaving a one inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims clean, and close using two piece lids. Process quarts for 90 minutes and pints for 75 minutes at 10 psi. Make sure to adjust psi for your altitude.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chili Seasoning

Today, I made a pot of chili and some Gluten-free Southwestern Style Cornbread. To make the chili, I had to first make a batch of chili seasoning.  I hardly ever use seasoning packets.  Who really knows what is in those things? Yuck!  Anyway, as the different seasonings went into my jar, I thought it was so pretty, and I wanted to share it with you!  :)

Yep!  I got a little messy!  :)
Chili Seasoning
1/4 c all purpose flour (I didn't add this since I have started to cut gluten out of our diets for a while.)
3 T chili powder
1 t crushed red pepper
1 T dried, minced onion
1 T dried, minced garlic
2 T white sugar
2 T ground cumin
2 t dried parsley
4 t salt
1 t dried basil
1/4 t ground black pepper

Grind ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  I used my small Ninja chopper to combine my ingredients together.  See the picture below.  To use, add 3 T to equal one packet of chili seasoning mix.

I always make a double batch of chili.  

To make it, I brown 2lbs ground chuck.  Sometimes I chop a small onion and cook it with the meat.  Then I drain the grease.  To that, I add 2 cans of kidney beans.  Do not drain.  For this batch I used one can of white kidney beans just for the fun of it.  :)  Also add 1 24oz can of crushed or petite diced tomatoes.  Add 6 tablespoons of seasoning mix, and mix well.  Simmer at least until beans and tomatoes are heated through. I let mine simmer for about an hour.

Ooops!  I forgot to take a picture before I started eating
when the bowl still looked decent!
This recipe is best eaten with a friend you haven't seen in a very long time who dislikes doing dishes as much as you!  ;)

This is one amazing friend who is going through so much
right now.  Hope she doesn't mind her photo on the blog!
She's been on here before!
Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Craft in the Kitchen

Recently, there was a wedding.  I had an idea of what I wanted to give the couple, but then they ended up having a food shower.  We were asked to bring a meal or ingredients to make a meal that could be given to the couple.  I wanted to put the casserole I made into a nice dish that could be kept and reused, but I was a little short on money to buy something really fancy, so I did the best I could.

I love my glass bakeware, so I decided that was what would use.  (Not mine, but new, of course! heehee!) I had a sudden brainstorm in the middle of the night at how neat it would be if I could put their monogram on it
somehow.  Vinyl!  The only problem was that I had no way to cut my own, and time was too short to have someone to do it for me.  Luckily, I thought of the vinyl numbers and letters that are made for car windows! They are sold in my local supercenter in the automotive department.  It worked like a charm!  I was so excited! Now I want new dishes with lids so I can monogram my own!

This is the result!

I had to look up the proper way to add the husband and wife's initials, lol!  I hope this helps someone else!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Georgia Jambalaya

In my last post I shared my journey to this recipe.  The only trouble with getting to the recipe was that I couldn't figure out a name for it so that I could share it.  Georgia Jambalaya was the best thing I could come up with.  Now, please understand, I have never had jambalaya.  I don't have a clue what is in it or how it is cooked.  I even have to type the word into the Google search bar just to figure out how to spell it!  I just know it is a popular dish in Louisiana, and I have seen pictures of it.  That's it.  Please don't judge this dish by your Grandma's famous jambalaya.  You have been warned.  :D  You hereby know this dish gathered its name simply from desperation and the fact that I know jambalaya can have chicken and sausage and rice in it, and it resembles what I made in appearance.  heehee!

To make this recipe, you will need one pack of bratwurst, about two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I trim excess fat.), 1-2 tsp olive oil to coat bottom of the pan, one small onion chopped, three large cloves of garlic minced, 32 ounces of chicken broth, 2 tsp browning and seasoning sauce, 1 T dehydrated bell pepper (can use 1/4 - 1/2 cup of fresh), 1/2 tsp Rotisserie Chicken spice, 1 tsp salt, enough Louisiana spice to coat chicken well, and 2 large bags of instant rice.

First, cut chicken in to one inch cubes, place in the insert of your electric pressure cooker (If you don't have an electric pressure cooker, see the instructions at the end.), and coat with the Louisiana seasoning.  I put a little olive oil in the bottom first to keep chicken from sticking.  This is mostly important if you want to brown your sausage first.  I didn't, but I added it anyway.  :)

Next, cut the sausage into one inch slices, chop the onion, and mince the garlic.  Add them to the pot. Note: sausage can be browned before to add color, but it is not necessary.

Add the remaining ingredients.  Close the lid, select the high setting, and set the timer to 5 minutes.  Make sure the valve is set to closed.  On mine, it is the circle with the dot being lined up with the raised line.

Goodness! I didn't realize how dirty it was! It is just dried
water from quickly releasing the pressure, but still.  :)
Use this time to clean up the minimal mess, or eat chocolate.  :)

When the time is up, use the quick release valve to release the pressure.  Hot steam will release quickly causing some water to sputter.  This is not the contents of the pot, but be careful!  It is hot.

Open the pot, and this is the beauty that awaits!

Open the two bags of rice, pour them in, and stir.  Close the pot and valve again.  Select the low setting, and set the timer for four minutes.  I release the pressure and let mine sit for a few minutes after the timer goes off to thicken a bit more.  My cooker automatically goes to the keep warm setting when the timer goes off. Please check your cooker's instructions before leaving it.

This is the pot of delicious treasure inside!  Don't tell anyone, but I ate it for breakfast this morning too!  It really is that good!

If you don't have a pressure cooker, don't fret!  This recipe can easily be modified for a slow cooker.  Add all the ingredients except the rice to the slow cooker, and cook on high until done.  Again, you can brown the sausage first.  Add rice and cook until the rice is done.  I am guessing it would take no more than 3 or four hours depending on how fast your cooker cooks.  Mine seems to cook really fast.

I hope you try it and let me know what you think!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Electric Pressure Cooker

Eeek!!  Friends, I am so excited!!  I have a new best friend in the kitchen!

In June of last year, my husband started working in Texas.  He lives in a hotel full-time, and he doesn't get to come home often here lately. :(  BUT...the children and I get to go out to visit.  The only problem with that is there is no kitchen in his room, only a tiny counter with some cabinets, a tiny sink, and a tiny refrigerator. Have you ever tried to feed a family of four two meals a day when eating out each time???  OUCH!  It hurts the wallet!  I knew after our trip in November of last year that something would have to give.  Enter my new best kitchen friend!

Her name is electric pressure cooker!  I love her SO much!  You can tell from her dirty lid that she has already proven to be such a hard worker!  She makes cooking so quick, easy, and fun!

I bought this pressure cooker several weeks ago before going back to Texas.  I knew it would allow me to cook good, wholesome food quickly, easily, and without much space.  To be honest, I have turned on my stove very few times since purchasing it.  I have been having too much fun testing new recipes in it!

We are currently looking for a place where all of us can be together more comfortably for longer periods of time without so much expense.  More news on that will follow when we know exactly what we will be doing.  :)  Whichever option we choose, I know this appliance will continue to prove its worth many times over!

For now though, I would love to share a sneak peek at a dish I came up with on our last visit out.  You know how some people have a hobby like drawing or painting?  That person has a hard time going into an art supply store simply because it can be so exciting and stimulating, and that person could spend forever looking at things that would totally bore others and cause eyes to roll.  Ummm...I have suddenly realized that person is me, except that is the experience I have in the grocery store, especially on the spice aisle in Texas close to the Louisiana border!  Oh, dear, it is true.  I must be developing a sad cooking hobby.  They have so many exciting new things and spices I have never seen before like shells you clean and bake snails in! Yes, I know, it's escargot, but we just don't have that sort of thing here in the sleepy, little towns of central Georgia!

Well, anyway, I had the crazy idea to throw some chicken and bratwurst in the cooker with some chicken broth and spices and a few other things.  Oh, my!  By pure accident and experiment, I created something I can't get enough of!


turned into a delicious pot of this,

and I can't get enough of it!  As you can see, I had to make it again when I got home!

I had every intention of sharing the recipe in this post, but if I do, the post is going to be super long.  I promise the recipe will be in the next post!  Stay tuned!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine Cheese

There is something that happens to my brain at this same time every year.  Every time I enter a store, I have these goofy sayings running through my head that would make a great idea for one of my cheesy valentine gifts.  Such was the case when I went grocery shopping the other day and had to pick up the last few items for our activities.  I just had to share, you know, just in case you didn't already have enough ideas of your own! ;) ahem...

It happened first when I was walking down the aisle, and a cute little pack of sushi erasers caught my eye.  I immediately thought of my little girl.  She loves sushi as much as I do.  As I looked closer, I noticed the erasers were also puzzles.  And it of those goofy phrases ran through my head!  Agh!!!

Then, I headed over to the video aisle to pick up a movie I needed.  The first movie my eyes rested upon wasn't the one I needed, and it happened again!  I never did find the original movie I went after, so guess what came home with me along with another goofy phrase?

I decided to head directly to the groceries, and keep my eyes straight ahead to avoid any random cheesiness running through my head.  Alas, I was halfway through and feeling quite accomplished when I fell into random cheesiness over squeezable applesauce.  Sigh...Surely I will recover soon.

Here ya go!  Enjoy this moment of cheesy bliss brought to you by yours truly...

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!