Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Canning Adventure: Tomato Sauce

Over the last few weeks I have been channeling my inner 80 year old. For Lent I took on working on my kneeler for church. Yes, that's right, I needlepoint. So going with the old lady theme, I decided to take on canning. I have been super fascinated with it lately! After reading a million books on the techniques and tricks, I decided to give it a whirl.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert canner. This is my first attempt. EVER. I have not poisened anyone yet but no one has tried any of my sauce yet either! So forgive me if the science and amounts or anything is not up to par.

The first step in canning is getting the equipment. I started off by reading tons of books! I reccomend the Ball recipe book since they are in fact the canning experts. Also the book on the far left is wonderful as well! I bought mine on Amazon! Book One, Book Two, Book Three


Next comes the actual hardware. From all the sources I read you need a stainless steel stock pot. Other materials will react with your sauces. Copper is good too, but crazy expensive. I bought my big ole pot on Amazon. It is the Cuisinart kind that I knew I would use for other things as well as canning.


As far as canning supplies go I ordered this kit also found on Amazon. It comes with tongs, funnel, timer, stirer, magnetic lid placer and jar lifter tongs. 
I also went ahead and got a basket that dips the jars into the hot water bath...more on that later.
Ok, so now onto the actual food. I wanted to make a basic tomato sauce--one that could be turned into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or whatever you want!

This recipe makes 3 Pints

First you need 10 lbs of tomatoes. I bought roma. Luckily, my Kroger had a scale so I could weigh them! Cut off the ends and quarter them. Peel out the seeds with your fingers. Be prepared. It is A LOT of tomatoes. I watched some Pretty Little Liars while cutting :)

Here is where I veered a little from my recipe...they wanted me to heat everything and THEN puree it...instead of pouring hot tomatoes everywhere I pureed them first (don't worry, I found another recipe where someone did this).
Set all this aside. Dice up 2 small onions, garlic (I cheated and used the minced kind in a bottle) and about 2 tablespoons of basil.
In your big pot. Pour in some Olive Oil and cook your onions and garlic until translucent.
Add the pureed tomatoes and the fresh basil.
Now you cook and cook and cook. Bring it to a boil and then turn it to simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced by 1/3. It turns to a darker color too.
In the meantime, get everything else ready. In your big ole cheap pot (mine is from walmart) for the canning, put in tons of water to where it will be about 1 inch above the jars. Simmer the jars so they are hot for the sauce. I read a rule that says hot things go in hot jars and cool things go in cool jars.

In a separate little pot simmer the lids (not the rings).
When your sauce is done, use your tongs to pull out the jars and dump out the water. Put them on a clean towel to protect your table/counter. Using the funnel, fill your jars with sauce leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
In each jar you need to put a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. Fill all the jars. Use the magnetic lid lifter and place them on the jar. Put on the rings and tighten them to just finger tight. When all the jars are ready, lower them back into the big pot with your rack. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 35 minutes.
After the time is up, pull up the basket and set the jars back on a towel and do not touch them for at least 12 hours. You will hear a popping sound when the lids seal. Touch the top after 1 hour and see if they pop in and out. If they do then yay! they are sealed. If not, then you need to refrigerate them ASAP!

Aren't they so cute?!?

Here is the original recipe from Ball for Basil-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

My final word on this is that it is not nearly as scary as I first thought it would be! I am sooo excited to try it all! Yum!









Friday, February 22, 2013

Ideal Protein Update

It's that time again...the time where I update you all on my crazy whirlwind of a diet. I started Ideal Protein on November 2nd and with only one real cheat month (birthdays, Christmas, etc) I have lost 41.4 pounds. I am in utter shock. If you have been reading for a while. you know I have tried just about everything! (I have not tried Weight Watchers so I will not comment on that) But nothing has worked for me...until now! I have lost 20 inches total. 20! That is the length of a new born baby!

So here is a basic day of eating for me:

Breakfast:
5 pieces of turkey bacon
1 Ideal Protein oatmeal

Snack:
Ideal Protein Cappuccino

Lunch:
2 cups of veggies (cucumbers)
4 ounces of homemade turkey meatloaf

Snack:
Protein Bar

Dinner:
2 more cups of veggies (zuchinni)
4 more ounces of protein

Right now I am averaging losing 3 pounds per week. But since I re-started this on last wednesday for lent I have lost 10 lbs! In 8 days!

I feel like a whole new person! 41 pound is a LOT of weight. I still have about 20 or so more to lose! But I am more than 1/3 of the way there!

I really suggest checking out the Ideal Protein Site so you can get the scoop on what they do! It is really quite phenomenal!

Maybe I will get gutsy enough to show you my before and after picture soon....It is quite scary to look at though!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vanessa Craft Erin Condren Giveaway

From one OCD organizer to another...

Vanessa Craft (who has a SUPER cute blog) is doing a $25 Erin Condren giveaway! I think you all know my obsession with Erin Condren, right? So you should know that this is an incredible act of kindness for me to tell you about this giveaway because I WANT IT! So please don't enter so I can win....ok ok fine, you can enter too. Go HERE to enter to win! GOOD LUCK!




Saturday, February 9, 2013

Super Bowl Spread

This Super Bowl I went as healthy as I could. I took my favorite recipes: buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and spinach dip; and made them healthy but still tasty. My splurge? Baked Brie. Was it worth it? Duh. Plus it is cheese. Is it really THAT bad? Shhh! Don't answer that...


On the menu:
Baked Buffalo Wings

After reading lots of recipes on both pinterest and food network I ended up creating my own based on all of the recipes that I read.

Ingredients:
1 package boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup of skim milk
Spices and seasonings--I used cavenders, paprika, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder
1 bottle Frank's Hot Sauce
Lite Blue Cheese Dressing

Preheat oven to 375

In one bowl combine the eggs and milk. In another combine the flour and all your spices. I LOVE cavenders. It goes in just about everything I make. I also just added (about a tablespoon) of onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Play around with this. I think flavorful flour makes a flavorful chicken bite.

Dip the chicken in the egg and shake off excess. Dredge it in the flour (the lighter the better) and place on a baking sheet. Do this with all the pieces.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden. Flip halfway through.

Place cooked chicken in a big bowl and pour the hot sauce over. Give a good stir and serve hot!

I used Lite Blue Cheese dressing as a dipping sauce. You could use light ranch too.
How yummy do they look???

Skinny Spinach Dip

This recipe I found on SkinnyTaste--a yummy blog with healthy food!

Here is her recipe:
Hot Spinach Dip
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes 
Servings: 10 • Serving Size: 1/4 cup Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts

Calories: 92.2 • Fat: 6.8 g Carb: 3.0 g Fiber: 0.7 g Protein: 5.3 g



  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 5 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • fresh pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Place in an oven-proof dish and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted. Serve right away.

 Click HERE for her full blog with pictures and all! Mine turned out really well! I served them with Baked Scoops.


Baked Mozzarella Sticks
These were by far the FAVORITE of the party. I found them on Pinterest. But it turns out they are from Skinny Taste too! Quickly becoming my go-to resource for food. Click HERE for the full recipe with pictures!

Basically you cut the cheese sticks in half (I used the weight watchers ones) and put them in the freezer. When they are frozen, roll them in flour, dip in egg and them dip in a mixture of Panko and Italian Breadcrumbs. Bake in the over at 350 for 20 minutes--turning once in between. SO yummy!!!

My brother (who is NOT so in to healthy foods) LOVED these! And asked me to make them again the next night. I call that a success.

Easy Baked Brie
This is one of my go-to party pleasers. It is SO easy and so yummy.

Ingredients:
1 Round of brie
1 can of crescent rolls
Jelly/Jam of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350.

Unroll the crescent rolls. Place the brie (white skin on) in the middle of the crescent rolls. Start wrapping the rolls up the sides, but leave the top open. Spread your favorite jam (I love raspberry) on top of the brie. Continue to cover in the crescent rolls.

Place in a round oven safe dish with a lip because when the brie is hot it will leak. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with nice crackers (we use Breton) and apples and/or grapes.

So there it is! My super bowl spread. It was so delish we ate it all for days!