Sunday, August 30, 2015

Homemade Tomato Powder

Waste not, want not. That saying has never been truer. After canning 2 batches of whole tomatoes, we were left with a large amount of skins. So we looked up and found a way to preserve the skins and use them in other things like tomato paste. 

1. Take skins and dehydrate over night.
2. Put skins in a processor and process. I also put mine in the bullet to get to a powder.

Canned whole tomatoes

One of my favorite things to make is my fresh salsa. The recipe calls for whole tomatoes and since we have an abundance this year we ran two batches.

Canned Whole Tomatoes

6-10 pounds tomatoes (about a half of a 5 gallon bucket.

1. Clean tomatoes
2. Blanch them for 1-2 minutes. Depending on how ripe the tomatoes were. The riper they are the less time it takes to blanch them. 
3. Immediately put them in a ice bath.
4. The skins should immediately peel off. Save the skins and click here to see how to save skins.
5. Sterilize your jars and boil the lids.
6. Add the whole tomato to your jars. Pressing down pack it full, leaving about 1/2" head space. 
7. Put jars in a pressure cook. Allow them too cook for 25 minutes at 10 - 11 pounds pressure.
8. Remove jars and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

With our tomatoes in producing at a fast rate we have been canning them every night and looking for new recipes to try. This one is by far my favorite because it left our house smelling heavenly and it was a way to use all those cherry tomatoes we have! This is great in the Tomato Basil Zucchini Noodle recipe!



Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

2.5 gallon of Roma Tomatoes
2.5 gallon of Cherry Tomatoes
Olive oil
3 garlic bulbs, peel and separate the cloves

Preheat oven to 425*F
1. Clean all tomatoes. Cut the top off the Roma tomatoes and slice in half and place in 9 x 13 pans or a roasting pan. We used 2 9 x 13 and 1 roasting pan. (Do not use the tin pans that are disposable. They are not very sturdy.)
2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add on top.
3. Drizzle olive oil on top
4. Add the garlic cloves, basil, salt and pepper on top.
5. Put into the oven and let bake for 1 hour.
6. Take out of oven and put into blender. I use the Ninja blender which works amazing!
7. Pulse for 10-15 seconds, or until smooth. (If you are not planning on canning you can freeze it or use it now, it should last for a week. We have always canned ours)
8. Put into a large pot and keep warm.
9. Sterilize jars and boil lids.
10. Add sauce to jars.
11. Put into pressure cooker. Cook at 10-11 pounds for 25 minutes.
12. Take out and let sit and wait for the "popping" sound!

Enchiladas with Creamy White Sauce

This is a favorite in our house, it is not that healthy but it is so good and simple.

6-8 whole wheat tortillas (enchilada size)
1 beer can chicken (rotisserie chicken works too), shredded
1 can sweet corn, drained
4 cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese or Mexican Blend Cheese
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup chicken broth (vegetable broth can also works and cuts back on the salty taste)
1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup (cream of chicken works too!)
1 cup sour cream
1 can mushrooms, drained
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350*F
1. Fill the center of each tortilla with chicken, corn, and cheese
2. Roll each and place seam side down in a Pyrex 9 x 13 baking dish
3. In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk into a thick paste
4. Add chicken broth, cream of mushroom, sour cream, mushrooms, salt and pepper
5. Whisk gently for about 5 minutes until warm and smooth
6. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. 
8. Back for 25 to 30 minutes and serve warm

adapted from:

Garden Zucchini

Since I am monitoring the pressure cooker on the whole tomatoes, I thought I would use this time to update my blog.

Our garden is doing so well and we had extra Zucchini so I searched the internet for recipes other than the usual Zucchini Bread (which is delicious).

Monday night we had Stuffed Zucchini Cups. They were a huge hit!

2 Large Zucchini (we used a yellow and green)
2 tsp + 2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 Green Bell pepper finely chopped
2 Sweet banana peppers chopped
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1lb Ground Venison
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 pack of Taco Seasoning (optional)
2 cups pasta sauce
2 cups low fat mozzarella or other cheese
Paprika to taste (optional)
Garlic powder to taste (optional)
Italian Seasoning to taste (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 350*F
1. Chop the onion, green pepper and banana pepper
2. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan, sauté the onion and peppers until they start to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Make sure to not over cook the garlic it should not turn brown. Put the vegetable mixture into a bowl and set off to the side.
3. In the same pan, add the additional 2 tsp of olive oil and cook the venison with the taco seasoning. When meat has cooked, add the vegetable mixture and quinoa. Stir together and let cook for a couple minutes. Add the pasta sauce and simmer until mixture has thickened (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
4. While the venison mixture is cooling, clean and cut the zucchini into about 2 inch sections. Using an ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop out the inside of the zucchini leaving about a 1/4 inch along the sides. We seasoned the inside of each cup with paprika, garlic powder and used Italian Seasoning in a couple and they turned out delicious.
5. The venison mixture should be cooled, add 1 1/2 cups of cheese to the mixture and spoon into the cups. Press down slightly to pack. I add a little extra to each after that.
6. Bake for 20 minutes and then add extra cheese. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to the real world

I was reading on Facebook and scrolled past a picture that simply stated "August is the Sunday for teachers." And boy is it true. It is hard to work full time and have a decent meal on the table before my husband gets home and we don't have kids yet. That is one thing I look for in recipes. I want something that is fast and easy.

One of my favorites is Cheesy Chicken and Rice. It is a Crockpot meal. If you do not have a slow cooker get one and I really suggest Crockpot with a timer. This crockpot has made cooking that much easier for me. I set the time go to work and when the timer is up it trips itself to warm! If you shop at Costco they sell this exact model with the lil dipper in a package deal. The lil dipper is great for dips like my buffalo chicken dip.

This recipe is super simple and easy. I have made if many time and often do it without looking. I have changed multiple things and added things throughout the different times I have made it.

What you need:
4 chicken breast (raw) (I throw mine in frozen and it still works)
1 Onion (optional)
1 10.5 oz can cream of chicken (I prefer cream of chicken and mushroom)
1 can green beans, drained (optional)
1 can mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 8 oz. box of Zatarain's yellow rice (cooked) (I have used white rice and it works just as well)
1 cup of cheddar cheese (but I normally use 2-2.5 cups, who doesn't like cheese)
1 can corn whole kernel, drained

How to make it:
Place chicken on the bottom of the Crockpot. Add onions and spoon the cream of chicken overtop.
Half way through I like to add the green beans and mushrooms. You can add them in the beginning. 
Cook on Low for 4-6 hours or High for 3-4 hours.

About 5 minutes before serving throw in the cheese, rice, and corn. Stir to combine. Serve hot.

Note: My husband and I both agree that this is one of our better the next day meals. For some reason the next day it tastes even better. If you go to the link for the original recipe you will notice green beans and mushrooms are not on there. We have a mushroom rule, we add them to almost every meal.

If you tweak this recipe please share at the bottom! I love trying old recipes with new ingredients!

We used some of our yellow squash in place of the corn. It was so good. All we did was take the squash and dice it into very small squares and put it in the cooker around the same time as the green beans and mushrooms.

Original link:

The first post

I am really hoping to accomplish a view things with this blog:
1. Get better organized in my cooking
and 2. Share my journey through cooking.

I never cooked... NEVER, before I met my husband. I was a frozen dinner kinda girl. Once I met Calvin I wanted to impress him with my cooking. So the first meal I ever really cooked was a homemade calzone and I even made the dough myself. That was four years ago now.

I am not a Betty Crocker type that can just go into the kitchen and throw a bunch of stuff together. I have to have a recipe.

I have grown to enjoy cooking and baking. The baking especially. Making bread is a great thing and really easy.

We did a huge garden this year (and my first ever). It was a complete success and has been really nice when I need an onion or pepper to just go into my back yard.

Here are some picture of our garden:

I hope to help inspire you to cook along with me.

But I do have one question. My husband asked me a question that I had really never thought about: "Do I cook because I like it?" Its a yes no for me. Would I cook if he wasn't there to eat, no. Do I enjoy cooking for him, yes.

So my questions for you is, what makes you want to cook?