Archive for ‘Homemade’

March 4, 2011

Strawberry Jam

Wow!  I really feel like I’ve accomplished something here!

My very first attempt at canning seems to be a great success.  We’ll have to wait to see when I open my first jar for the real test, though… tomorrow morning!


The recipe I used is straight out of the Ball Blue Book.  It took me, from start to finish about 2 hours.

My kitchen isn’t all that big, very, very little counter space and even though my stove is a normal size, the size of the canning pot is huge which made my cooking space a bit tight, too.  I was thinking since I do have a smaller pot just like the canning pot, if there are smaller canning racks?  If there is, a small batch like this (which only produced 4 jars) could be done in the pot I heated my jars and lids in.  Saving lots of space – on the stove, anyway.

All in all, it work out.


  • Two Quart packages of strawberries (paid 2 for $3).
  • One package of no sugar needed pectin
  • One cup of water (I used bottled)
  • Three packets of Stevia (A natural sugar substitute) (Optional)
    Note: By using the No Sugar Needed Pectin, you can use no sugar, sugar to your taste or a sugar substitute.  The choice is yours.
  • 4 – 6 Ball Pint Jars (This batch got 4)

Wash Strawberries, cut off leaves, wash again.


Slice.  The instructions said to smash them but, I don’t have a potato masher so I put them in my food processor.  My serving fork just wasn’t cutting it!

Put jars and lids into a pot to sterilize (not boiling).


Start another pot of water for your ‘filled’ jars for processing.

In a smaller pot put strawberries, water, pectin and sugar or sugar substitute if using.  Like I mentioned, I chose to use Stevia and ended up using 3 little packets.

Bring to a boil that will not stop by stirring.  Once boil is achieved, start your one (1) minute.  You will see it start thickening.  If thickening is achieved before the one minute, it is done.  (Mine went the full minute).

  • Use thongs to lift out one jar while dumping out water back into the pot.
  • Take your canning funnel and place on jar.
  • Use a ladle to scoop hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  • Wipe rims with a damp paper towel.
  • Use your lid lifter with magnet to lift a lid out of the hot water.
  • Place on jar.
  • Screw on second piece of lid.

As each jar is complete, place sealed jars into canning rack already in hot water.  Do not allow jars to cool.  Put right into pot of hot water as soon as each one is filled and sealed with two piece lids.

Repeat with all jars until strawberry jam is all used.

Once all jars are in canner, put lid on pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, start your ten (10) minutes.

Lift jars one at a time out of pot onto a kitchen towel.  Leave two inch space between jars.  Do not let them hit each other.

You’ll be tempted to wipe off water on top of jars.  Don’t!  Leave it alone until jars are cooled off – 12 to 24 hours.

Can’t wait to try my home canned strawberry jam!




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December 29, 2010

Mac-N-Cheese

When my kids were small, I remember maybe a handful of times I may have bought the packaged stuff.

Even though I don’t see myself as a ‘good cook’, I wasn’t ever that bad.. no one ever died!  Even so, I would always make whatever it was from scratch.

Recently though, I’m really getting into it.

One of my old favorites, Mac-n-Cheese was always made with Velveeta until I visited someone who made it with white Extra Sharp and I was hooked.  It’s been years since Velveeta.

Last week shopping at Sam’s, I came across a 3-pack they had.  I don’t remember if it was the price or convenience, but I bought it.  Two sharp yellow and one sharp white.  Have to be honest – wasn’t real thrilled with the 2 yellows.

Tuesday nights I usually go out so it’s a ‘quickie’ meal and thought Mac-n-Cheese doesn’t take that long and made it right off the box of noodles.

With it just being the two of us, I split the recipe in half.

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 8oz Sharp Cheese (I used 10oz)
  • 1/2 Box Noodles

Growing up, everyone I know rinsed off the noodles in cold water to stop the cooking but also to rinse off the starch.

Not long ago Mike’s daughter was over.  I was rinsing the spaghetti and she said, “you do that too?’  I was surprised.

She said that when she does that (which she’s always done, too), people ask her why and they’ve never heard of anyone doing that.

So, I don’t know.  Was I (we) raised different?  Wait, don’t answer that!  Anyone that knows me knows I’ve always been different, but we’ll keep it to the noodles right now!

Anyway, whatever you’re used to – go for it.  I’ll keep rinsing.

  • Cut slices of cheese, then in half and then quarters.  The smaller the pieces the quicker the cheese will melt.

Boil your noodles per the box.  (I just ordered a pasta machine so in the next month or so, you’ll be able to see me learning how to make my own).  Can’t wait!

Melt the butter, stir in the flour and add the milk.

Add your cheese and keep stirring!  It doesn’t take long at all.  Stir all the way to the bottom of the pan so you know all the pieces are melted.

Once all the cheese is melted, pour into baking dish over noodles.  Mix well.

I like to sprinkle some bread crumbs on it.  I came across some whole wheat, seasoned bread crumbs and really like them.

Cook it at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes.

It really came out good, but I did forget the salt & pepper.  Oh well.   Something you can add later – no biggie.

Yummy!

Don’t buy box Mac-n-Cheese anymore!!

This can’t be any more simple, cheaper and much healthier for you to make it yourself.

This is like 4 servings for the two of us which cost probably about $2.50 all together to make?  $.65 a meal (2 people – .325 cents each)… can’t beat it with a stick!

December 28, 2010

Banana Nut Loaf

Okay, okay! Who doesn’t know how to make Banana Nut Bread, right? Well actually, I never have.

At risk of being put in the trash soon, I searched for something to do with my browning bananas.  I love bananas but don’t necessarily care for them in muffins, breads or actually, have never been crazy about them any way except strait-up or in cereal.

Knowing there is just no way I’m going to eat these four bananas, I had half of one in my cereal this morning and decided  to use my 3 others in a banana nut bread.

Seemed easy enough with a recipe I found in my BH&G Complete Step-by-Step Cook Book and happened to have everything needed.

Lightly grease 9 x 5 pan and preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of flour
  • 3/4 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup of Shorting
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp of Finely Shredded  Orange Peel
  • 2 Ripe Medium Bananas – Cut Up
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts or Pecans

Directions:

In one bowl mix together ~

  • Shortening
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Orange Peel

In another bowl ~

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • baking soda
  • baking powder

And in a third bowl ~

  • 2 smashed bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp Milk

Alternate adding both the flour mixture and the banana/milk mixture into the shortening mixture until well blended.

Turn in the walnuts or whatever nuts you’re using.

Put into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes and here’s your result.

Turn out of pan onto wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

(Wish my wheat and raisin breads came out like this!)

December 11, 2010

Apple Roll-Ups & Dehydrated Bananas

Success!  Well, close.  Okay, it’s like being a little pregnant!  You either are or aren’t.   They need a little work, ha!

My apple, yogurt roll-ups came out very tasty.  They were a little too thin.  For being my first attempt, I’m very pleased.  They may not have been perfect, but as long as they are edible, I’m happy… for now.

What I learned:

First ~ Using plastic wrap was a little bit of a challenge.  The heat from the dehydrator ‘shrunk’ it, kind of.  In Tammy’s video, she used a zip lock bag while taping it down with duck tape.  I just tucked it under the tray screen and had to adjust it a couple of times – I’d like to avoid this in the future.  Next time, I’m going to use the duck tape (once I buy some).

Second ~ Wish I had watched Tammy’s video again right before because I did miss ‘most’ of her steps:

  1. I didn’t cook my apples!  You don’t have to, but I think I would like the results better.  Today’s blueberries will be cooked.
  2. I didn’t add corn syrup or lemon juice (although, I did spray them with lemon juice right after sliced).
  3. When they cooled just a little, I rolled them up with plastic wrap which was fine.  Personally, I do like Tammy’s using wax paper and will do that from now on.

Here’s a picture of my sickly looking dehydrated roll-ups:

My banana chips came out great.  Didn’t put them in until 11am and took them out around 9:30pm or so.  I could have taken them out sooner.

Before I left for my jewelry demonstration, I did feel they were okay but chose to dry them some more and hoped they would still be fine.  Did a taste test and they are.

Have them now in a jar for snacking

Now my concerns are freshness and shelf life.

Just received my Oxygen Absorbers on Wednesday and after some research on them, I’m finding out that once you open your package of absorbers, they activate immediately… all of them.

Since that is the case and I’ve ordered a package of 200 at a pretty good price of under $19, including shipping, I want to be sure to take as good a care of them as possible.

Before I start, I want to have my vacuum sealer, little baggies and vacuum bags ready so to do this as quickly as possible to preserve my oxygen packets.

What I plan to do is use snack sized sandwich bags placing 10-15-20 in each.  Place all my little baggies back into the original vacuum packed bag it came in and place that into another larger vacuum packed bag.

Will this preserve my unused oxygen packs?  I don’t know.  We’ll have to learn as we go.