Strawberry Jam!

I am NOT a “canner” when it comes to jam. I literally had one of those small flats of strawberries that I bought off of my friends that were called “jam-berries” because they were quite ripe and DELICIOUS! The cost is about half price of what a normal flat is too! (check your local strawberry farm to see if they do that there too!)

So, I had to find a couple of recipes and BLEND them. I can’t ever do things the way can I? HA!

Here’s the 4 links for the jam that I made, and then I will post what I actually did.

Ina Garten Strawberry Jam
Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Jam
Martha Stewart’s Quick Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Jam

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I don’t think that I exactly made it in the traditional way… but I’ve gotta say, it turned out WONDERFULLY!!! My entire batch is delicious…!!!

Disclaimer: I DID sanitize my jars, but in the dishwasher and then heated them up in the sink, not by boiling them. Follow whatever instructions that it shows on the above recipes for the proper way to do so.

Strawberry Jam:

5 cups crushed/hulled strawberries
1 1/2 cups organic granulated sugar
2 1/2 TB powdered pectin
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon

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Directions:

  1. Put a small plate in the freezer. Place the mashed strawberries, lemon zest and lemon juice in a nonreactive 10-quart stockpot set over medium-high heat. Stir in the pectin until dissolved. Bring the strawberries to a strong boil.

  2. Add the sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), and then return the mixture to a full (violent) boil that can’t be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds. Skim foam off the top.

  3. Perform a gel test: Place a spoonful of jam on chilled plate, and return to freezer. Wait 1 to 2 minutes; remove plate from freezer, and gently press jam with fingertip; it should wrinkle slightly.

  4. After jam passes the gel test, remove from heat. Pour warm jam into jars; seal, label, and refrigerate up to 4 months.

  5. Fill the jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top. Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.

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And there you have it! That recipe made 1 LARGE jar (the size of a spaghetti sauce jar) and one small jar full (the size in the pictures above). Try it, you’ll like it!!! You can add sugar and reduce pectin, or vice versa. I honestly made it that way because I completely RAN OUT of sugar!!! AAAH! 🙂

Turned out good though!

God Bless!

And now, for the song of the day:

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Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread (with a #vegan option!)

So, we spend a lot of money on bread around our house. Like, it’s ridiculous. Because of my son with food allergies, I am very picky about what brand and what ingredients are in the bread. We have been buying bread from Trader Joes for about $4.00 per loaf (or more… can’t quite remember) because I like the ingredients, and it doesn’t have any allergens in it. But… that much money per loaf and I buy 6 loaves of bread every 2 weeks… that’s a LOT of money for bread! So, I’ve decided I need to make more of my own bread. My mom has a bread machine that I can use… but I don’t like my bread BAKED in the bread machine. So, I make the dough in the bread machine, and then bake the bread in the oven. This recipe came out PERFECT! It’s got a nice crispy crust with a soft and slightly doughy inside… DELICIOUS! I don’t want to buy bread again! My mom also had some FRESHLY GROUND wheat flour. Like, not store bought… she had Wheat Berries, ground them in her Grain Mill, and gave it to me! WHAT?! Yes!!!!! Freshest you can get! I used half of this fresh flour, and half of the all purpose flour (I use Lily Flour…. I also have used King Arthur).

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Doesn’t that look delicious!!??

For 1 loaf, so double for a batch of 2.

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup warm water (NOT hot! You don’t want to “kill” the yeast)
2 tsp pure cane sugar (organic is preferred)
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 TB local honey
2 tablespoons butter , melted (you can use Earth Balance for the VEGAN option!)
3/4 tsp kosher sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus possible extra White Lily All Purpose Flour

3/4 TB bread machine yeast

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IF you have a bread maker this will be quite easy! If not… BORROW ONE!! HA! It just makes it soo much easier! If you WANT one, check out this awesome and ON SALE breadmaker: Cuisinart Breadmaker

Load your bread maker in the order the ingredients are listed. Wet ingredients first, and ending with the bread machine yeast. Then, set to the DOUGH cycle. Do NOT select a bread cycle. You want dough only. Mine was a 1 hour and 20 minute cycle. When the bread machine is kneading the dough, I watch it to make sure it’s only slightly sticky, but still is being kneaded around by the machine and not sticking to one side of the pan. If needed add 1 TB of all purpose flour at a time until it’s just SLIGHTLY sticky… but not too dry! If it’s too dry, add 1 tsp of water at a time. Get a bread pan (glass or aluminum, didn’t matter… I tried both) and grease it either with a bit of butter, or cooking spray and set the bread pan aside.

Once the timer goes off and your dough is done, butter up your hands… or flour them… 🙂 … so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands when you take it out. Remove the dough (it will deflate, that’s fine!) and make sure the paddle of the bread machine does not stay in the dough! Kind of knead it down a bit, and shape into a rounded rectangle. Place into greased bread pan and then set a damp kitchen towel over top and allow to rise for 30 minutes. At this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes, the bread dough should have doubled in size. Remove the towel, and place into the preheated oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It should be golden brown with a nice crispy crust and chewy moist bread inside!

I cut it right away and me and my 2 kids ate a nice thick slice just dripping in melted butter… OH MAN!! It was DELICIOUS!!!

If you would like some homemade bread… give this one a try! It’s the best recipe I have ever made for homemade sandwich bread! And believe me, I’ve tried MANY!

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And now, for the quote of the day:

If the world were to come to an end today and all of the people who believed in the Lord our God as their Savior were taken to Heaven to be with Him for eternity… do you know for sure if you would be with them?!

Revelation 21:4- the incredible hope and promise that can only Jesus Christ can provide!!!

Chicken Quinoa Enchilada Crockpot Meal

This is an incredibly easy dish that everyone in the family will love! It’s easy and makes your whole home smell delicious as it cooks throughout the day! Cheesy, warm and filling, packed full of protein!
Crockpot meals aren’t just for the winter! You can definitely make good use of the trusty Crockpot during the spring and summer as well! You can use it to make tender meat for a taco, or  a filling enchilada dish like this one so you don’t have to heat up your kitchen when you turn your oven on!
Definitely toss this in your Crock-Pot and give it a try! The leftovers were even amazing!

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Chicken and Quinoa Enchilada Crockpot Meal

INGREDIENTS

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen or fresh whole kernel corn
2 cups homemade enchilada sauce (recipe follows)
1 15-ounce can of Organic Diced Tomatoes, Fire Roasted with Medium Green Chilies

1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 chicken tenderloins
Handful of grape tomatoes
1 cup un-cooked White Quinoa
+ ½ cup water
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper)
1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
optional: chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream and a but of lime squeezed over top

Enchilada Sauce

1 1/2 TB oil (I used olive oil)
1 TB chili powder
2 cups chicken broth
6 oz. Tomato paste (1 small can)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper

Stir together until well blended (with small wisk if you have one) and pour over other ingredients listed above.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Add beans, corn, chicken tenderloins (mine were frozen), 1/2 of homemade enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes and chiles, quinoa, water, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to the greased slow cooker. Stir everything together.
Pour remaining can of enchilada sauce on top, then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on high or 5-7 hours on low.
Uncover, top with tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and chopped cilantro and serve.

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And now for the quote of the day:
I’ve got glitter growing outta my head! 😉

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Italian Orecchiette Pasta Bowl with Homemade Meatballs and tomato sauce

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So after John’s recent cravings (not unusual) for spicy and Mexican food… I’ve been craving pasta!!!! And lots of it! I have had low to no carb recipes here lately too, so had to get my craving satisfied for some Italian food! So, I went to Giada on FoodNetwork.com. Where else would you go for a good Italian meal?! I mean, seriously!! Here is her original recipe that I changed up a bit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/orecchiette-with-mini-chicken-meatballs-recipe.html

So, I liked her recipe, but I am not a ground chicken or turkey kind of person. I just cannot do it. So, I made my own usual meatballs that I usually make for Levi. They are dairy and egg free, and one of his absolute FAVORITE meals!! Then, I slightly adapted the rest of her recipe to make it my own, and it was absolutely delicious! This one will go in my book as a “We will make this again!”. I just have to figure out how to boil orecchiette pasta better, because if you’re not careful (like I wasn’t) it all sticks together! UGH! I’ve gotta figure out a trick for it! If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

So, homemade meatballs first:

Ingredients:

1 lb. 85/15 grass fed organic ground beef (my preference)
3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
2 TB rice milk (or similar… this is just what I use)
1 TB worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix all together in a large mixing bowl until well integrated. In the mean time heat 1 TB olive oil (or use cooking spray to coat the pan) in a large skillet. Once all of the meatball ingredients are well mixed and there are no dry breadcrumbs hanging out in the bottom of the bowl, you will start to shape the meatballs. Take a melon baller, or a chefmate cookie scoop and scoop out the meat mixture. Then, roll into 1-2″ balls. Then, place into skillet and start to cook. All of mine fit in to the skillet at once. I cook the top, then the bottom, for about 2-3 min each, and then sear all of the sides to “seal” in the juice. Once this is done to all of the meatballs, you will be adding the chicken broth and the can of diced tomatoes listed below:

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Orecchiette Pasta Bowl

Ingredients:

1 lb. orecchiette pasta
1 1/2 cup low sodium organic chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted diced organic tomatoes (no salt added)
1 clove garlic minced (I put it into the garlic press)
1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
6-8 basil leaves chopped
1 zucchini sliced and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 small ball of fresh mozzarella
2 TB shaved parmesan cheese

Directions:

Now, add the chicken stock and tomatoes to the skillet with the meatballs from above. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. During this time add the minced garlic, basil, rosemary, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the zucchini to the meatball mixture in the skillet and toss until slightly softened and coated with the tomato sauce. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil into the bowl of the pasta. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil and a drizzle of pesto.

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This one was GOOD!! Craving Italian food and don’t want to spend the $$ to go out?? Make this one! I have a feeling this one will be crave-able!

Enjoy!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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My FAVORITE homemade Salad Dressing Vinaigrette!

The juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. grated parmesan cheese
Equal parts olive oil (or a lighter oil) to lemon juice
2 TB fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
1 TB honey
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard

Blend together. I have a Pampered Chef salad dressing mixer that I use. You can also wisk it and store it in an old jam jar or mason jar. You can store it for 10-14 days in your refrigerator.