Saturday, September 6, 2014

Garden Tomatoes - Canning Salsa

The fruits of my labor have finally - and literally - paid off!  I planted all tomatoes in the garden this year in the hopes that I would have enough to can.  I weighed all the ripe ones and I had 13 pounds!

I decided to make me some salsa.  I found this post from Boastful Baker in which she raves about finding the best ever salsa recipe.  So, naturally, I had to give it a try.  The recipe itself, comes from Simply Recipes.  The only substitution I made was to use poblano peppers instead of Anaheim Chiles.  Tomatoes from my garden and poblano peppers and jalapenos from the farmers market - hard to beat that!

Here are all the beautiful ingredients.

And all the utensils one may need on a canning adventure.  I was going to use the chopstick to get bubbles out of the side of the cans, but there ended up not being any bubbles.

Unfortunately, our induction stove top did not like my pressure cooker pot (induction needs non-aluminum metal).  Joshua hooked me up with his big propane burner outside so I could still use the pressure cooker pot for the water bath.  I use this pot because it is the biggest I own and it has a steamer rack on the bottom to hold the cans off the bottom of the pot.

Before roasting the peppers and the tomatoes, I got all the other ingredients measured out and in the pot.

Also got the lids and rings ready to go in their pot.

Then I roasted the jalapeno and poblano peppers on the grill till their skins were nice and dark.  They need to steam after roasting so the skins come off easier.  I got a nice shot of them steaming.

While the peppers steamed, I roasted the tomatoes.

 They came out looking mighty fine  :)

Here's a look at how I got the pepper skins off.

I then chopped them up beautifully.

 The skins of the tomatoes came off very easily.

Once the tomatoes and peppers were added to the pot, it was go time!  Here is my operation.

Hello Salsa!

The burner with the water bath was conveniently outside the back door.  Throw in a pretty puppy and life is good :)

In total, I made 11 cans.  I doubled the recipe.

As I set them inside I started counting the pops.  Each one of them made a popping noise  :)

Can't wait to crack open one of these jars on a cold winter day  :)  My next canning adventure will be with the $21 worth of peaches I got from the farmers market today.  What should I make?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

80th Birthday Party Cake

My cake idea came from Pinterest.  A Big 8 - 0 Cake!  Check out these sweet instructions for number cakes.

I went to my go-to cake blog Sweetapolita.  I made her Autumn Delight Cake for the zero and her Strawberry & Lavendar Buttermilk Cake for the eight.  As far as scaling the recipes, I doubled the frosting and 1.5X the cake recipe.  I figured I needed more frosting for decorating, and the portions of cake and frosting turned out very close to perfect.

After baking the cakes using the cake instructions above, and making all the components of the cake, it was assembly time!  For the cake base, I used a cutting board and 4 9" cake circles.
I cut a semi-circle out of one and fitted it into the other.  This worked out very well!

Down went the 1st layer of the Autumn Delight Cake.

Then the filling and candied pecans (which you won't see in the photo because I accidentally put the 2nd layer on forgetting to add the pecans and then had to freak out and carefully take the 2nd layer back off to add the pecans).

For the Strawberry Lavendar, I cut off about 1.5" of the bottom of each circle.

And placed them by each other.

Then the layer of frosting to keep in the fillings.

Whipped Cream Filling
 And strawberry compote....mmmmm

Topping with 2 more cut off cake circles.



We surprised Grandpa by sending him out on the pontoon for a boat ride while the guests arrived and we decorated.  They pulled up and he was already dancing around the boat, before he knew the party was for him :)

Joshua's parents were in attendance   ;)

Here is the cake in all of its glory.

The Birthday Boy! 

Yum....I want to eat it all over again! :)

A quick shot of the beautiful cake baker  ;)

After dessert, the birthday boy and his brother took a loop around the property in the golf cart.

We had a great 4th of July vacation hanging at the lake with family and friends.

 Is it time for another vacation yet?  It is currently 64 and rainy outside....booo!

Monday, July 28, 2014

4th of July Retreat Menu

Ahhh blogger, how I have a love/hate relationship with thee.  I typed up 75% of this post and then lost it  :(  So, here we go again..

For the 4th of July week, we went up to my parent's cabin on Wixom Lake.  The first night, we indulged at the Corner House in Gladwin.  We got the PIGS PLATTER!  I have dreamed of this my entire life.  If you eat it all yourself, then you get your name on the wall.  Joshua let me split one with him.  No name on the wall, but 5 scoops of ice creamy goodness with 2 bananas, 5 toppings and whipped cream  :)

I think it took us about 15 minutes  :)

Also on our agenda for the week was training for our Mountain Bike Relay Race.  Let me introduce our team: The Four Flying J's!

And to jump around even more (sorry..) lets take a look at my car.  We packed the kitchen up - ok, ok, only half of the kitchen - and headed north.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough room and had to leave something behind.  That something was my 2 cases of beer...

Onto the food!  We had a big get together on Sunday and it was Mexican themed.

We had homemade tortillas (with my new tortilla press(CucinaPro 1443 Flatbread and Tortilla Maker), which I spent far too long researching about before purchasing).  I made both corn and flour tortillas.  The flour was MUCH easier to make.  From the corn tortillas, I also made some yummy cinnamon sugar chips for dessert - Fruit Nachos!!

In total, I made:

  • Toppings Party Dip
  • Fajitas
  • Enchiladas
  • Corn & Flour Tortillas
  • Corn Nachos
  • Flour Dessert Nachos
  • Fruit Salsa
  • Guacamole

And then we celebrated with some Rum Chata....ymmmmmmm

Monday brought 3 pizzas made with this pizza dough.
BBQ BLT Pizza  (made with "chicken")

Good Ol Mushroom Pizza - just tons of fresh mushrooms, fontina cheese and pizza sauce

Margherita Pizza

Tuesday morning, the real magic happened.  After seeing all this hype about Taco Bell Breakfast, I had to try to recreate them myself.  I didn't have high hopes on taste, but I thought the presentation would be awesome.  Check out these waffle tacos!
They turned out tasting SOOO good!  Waffles + Scrambled Eggs + Vegan Sausage + Hashbrowns + Cheddar Cheese + Maple Syrup = mmmmmmmmmm

We also had fruit tacos.  Fruit + Nutella||PeanutButter + Waffles = mmmmmmmmm

Tuesday's dinner was great as well.  We had Creamy Mushroom Pasta (with homemade fettuccine!!) and The Best Shredded Kale Salad.

Wednesday brought Hawaiian BBQ Salmon Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries.

Then Thursday I had my bestest friend to the cabin w/ her 3 cute lil kids.  We went tubing, swimming and then I tried to feed them some exciting kid friendly food.  Turns out I have a lot to learn when it comes to picky eating kids!

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad made with Root Beer Can Chicken
I also made a Peach Caprese Salad.

The rest of the week I made a gigantic cake for my Grandpa's 80th birthday party.  No time for cooking!

But, before I go, let me share the beauty that is 2 EREV cars hanging out side by side  :)

YAY for plug in vehicles!  :)