Thursday, July 31, 2014

Canning Green Beans

Canning Green Beans
 
 
Summer is here, and we are having an abundance of beans!
So, I thought I would blog canning our green beans! 
 
In the beginning of our marriage I was the one who did the canning, and now
my hubby and I do it together.  I enjoy the time we spend together each season.  He is the one that gives me the inspiration to continue doing it! 
 So, I just wanted to take a moment to give him credit here.....I know if it wasn't for him
 I probably wouldn't pressure can like we do. 
 
 
On to the Project....
 
 
I realize I may not do this the 'correct' way, but this is how we do it!
 
First, of course, you pick the beans.......that is the fun part!
 
 
 
 2. Crack the beans.  We take both ends off, and then break them
in usually 3 pieces.  You can do it anyway you want.
 
 
 
3. Wash the beans.
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Then you get all the supplies around that you need.  We use basic items such
as a plate, towel, fork, funnel, salt, and of course you will need the lids and rings to               your jars that you will be using.  I also use a glass 4 c. measuring cup, which
is not pictured.
 
 
 
We are canning in quart jars, but you can use pint jars if you would like.  Make sure all of the jars are free of any chips. 
 
5. To sterilize them we put them in the dishwasher on Saniwash. 
 
 
 
 
6. Pour 2 qts. of water in your pressure cooker. (This is a very important step)
 
 
 
 
 
7. In the meantime I put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  You
will use this hot water to pour over your beans before placing
your jars into the pressure cooker.
 
 
 
 
 
8.  Place your lids in a small saucepan filled with water and simmer
 on low the entire time you are canning.
 
 
 
 
9. Using your funnel place the beans in your jar
leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  You don't want to over
pack your beans....Just loosely fill the jars.
 
 
 
 
 
10. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each jar.
 
 
 
 
11. Pour the boiling water over your beans.
 
 
 
 
 
12. Using your fork lift the lid out of the simmering water.
 
 
 
 
 
13.  Wipe the rim of the jar with your finger, place the ring on the jar and tighten snuggly.
 
 
 
 
14.  Place your jars in the pressure cooker, which has been put on
your stove already. You aren't going to want to move it after you
place all your jars in it.
 
 
 
 
15. Fill your canner with jars.  I believe most large pressure canner fits 7 quarts.
 
 
 
 
 
16.  Place your lid on the pressure cooker and put the pressure valve on to 10 pounds. 
 
 
 
17.  I have a gas stove, so it is easy to regulate.  I start off on
high, and wait until it starts to "rock" and make noise.  As soon as I hear it, I
start timing it for 35 minutes.  I then start to turn it down slowly, letting it rock
until it is down to low and wait for the duration. 
 
 
 
18.  After your pressure cooker releases pressure (usually a good half hour)
you can gently take each jar out and place on a towel.  Then you can
hear the "sweet sound of success" as my mom called it as the
lids start to 'pop' as they seal. 
 
*********************************************************
 
I absolutely LOVE canning beans...it is truly simple and I think it
is so rewarding!  Our children help us plant the seeds for the garden,
and they help us weed it.  They also help us pick the beans, help us through the
entire process of preserving them, whether we freeze or can them.  In the
middle of the winter when we are enjoying our harvest.... I just love it when
they recall our time spent together in the garden!  I thank God for the times like
 these and I am able to realize that a simple life is something I appreciate so much! 
  I believe that something as simple as canning green beans can give a child (or adult)
a sense of what is truly important in life! 
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Avocado & Chia Banana Bread

If you are looking for an awesome banana bread recipe without feeling guilty about eating the whole loaf by yourself (I'm not suggesting you do this, but I know it happens...to some people.), look no further! 

In this recipe, the wonderful avocado replaces the oil/butter, and chia seeds replace the egg! (I also used raw cane sugar instead of refined granulated sugar, but if that's all you have, you can go ahead and switch it.) This bread is scrumptious and moist and, don't worry, you cannot taste the avocado. :)

*Note: It also makes pretty awesome muffins if you prefer mini baked goods over a big loaf. :)


Ingredients

6 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 c. raw cane sugar
1 medium avocado
3 overripe bananas
6 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir chia seeds and water together. Set them in the fridge for 15 minutes.
While the chia seeds are "gelling up", place the avocado in a food processor.
Blend the avocado and cane sugar until smooth.
Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Place the bananas, almond milk, gelled chia seeds, and lime juice in the food processor.
Blend well.
Add it to the mixing bowl with the avocado mixture and stir well.
In a small bowl, mix the flour and baking soda.
Add it to the wet mixture and stir just until combined. (Do not overstir.)
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
(My loaf pan was pretty full so I filled 4 muffin cups, too.)
Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
(The muffins take about 20-30 minutes)


************************************************************************

(Directions with Pictures)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir chia seeds and water together. Set them in the fridge for 15 minutes.


While the chia seeds are "gelling up", place the avocado in a food processor.


Blend the avocado and cane sugar until smooth.


Transfer to a mixing bowl.


Place the bananas, almond milk, gelled chia seeds, and lime juice in the food processor.


Blend well.


Add it to the avocado mixture.


Stir well.


In a small bowl, mix the flour and baking soda..


Add it to the wet mixture.


Fold it in just until combined.


Do not overstir.


Pour into a greased loaf pan.
(My loaf pan was pretty full so I filled 4 muffin cups, too.)


Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.


Let cool before slicing...if you can wait that long. :)







Friday, July 25, 2014

Spicy Rice "Hotdish"



Hollering down the stairs to my husband, I asked, "What am I supposed to call this!?!?"  After stating he was as clueless as I was, I sat for a moment.  How do you name something you literally threw together at 11 
o' clock at night after having a couple beers. ( Don't judge ;)
Then it came to me! Growing up, "hotdish" consisted of throwing a bunch of stuff together. I don't know how, but it seemed like every time--VOILA! Yummy.  Well--that's how it was for my Mom, any way.  I'm working on it.  My man had more input on this than I did, but I am going to take the credit.  Shhhh....Don't tell him. :)
Anywhoooo--this is what we came up with.  We decided it was going to be a staple in our house.  It is so quick to make, very filling, and the ingredients will be on hand for one of those "quick meals". 

Please note:  We enjoy spicy food.  This does have a little kick to it.  As I noted below, to tone it down a bit, substitute poblano peppers for the jalapeno peppers. 

 SPICY RICE "HOTDISH" 

1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium or 2 large jalapenos (if you want it less spicy, substitute poblano peppers), chopped
3/4 red pepper, chopped
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 c. frozen corn
1 can-15 oz. black beans
4 servings of jasmine rice, according to the package directions. 
(I used 1 c. rice to 1 3/4 c. water)

1.  Chop your onion, jalapenos, and red pepper.  Set aside.  Rinse your black beans. 
2. Bring your water to a boil for the rice. Follow instructions to make 4 servings. 
3.  At the same time, heat 2 T. olive oil in a large saucepan.  When hot, add chopped veggies and garlic. 
4. Saute until tender.
5. Sprinkle seasonings.  Once again, you can decrease the cayenne if you don't want it too hot. Add a little water when you need it.  It steams out pretty fast.
*  The rice is almost done by the time your veggies are sauteed.  *
6.  Add frozen corn.  Stir for 1 minute. 
7. Add rinsed black beans. Stir. 
8. Set aside.
9.  Check rice.  If done to the consistency you prefer, fluff. 

Place a bed of rice on your plate and top with "hotdish!"





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spinach & Tortellini Salad

Okay, enough of the sweets. For now. I'm not sure what it is lately, but it seems like every post for me is something that will cure your strongest sweet cravings, as well as reduce the number of skinny waists out there.

 That will change now. I just have to share with you guys this recipe that I think is amazing! Not only is it the opposite of sweet, it's a SALAD. I know. I'm losing it. I don't think I've posted a salad since the Southwest Chicken Chop Salad back in March of 2013. Don't worry...I'm pretty sure I've eaten my fair share of salads since then. We just haven't made any that are worth posting. Generally, I think a salad is pretty self explanatory. You grab your greens, toss in some veggies, and pour a little (or a lot) of dressing on top. Good to go. (Are your salads any different?) That's basically what this recipe is, but it's got pasta in there, too. Hence, I'm hooked.

  I'm not huge on spinach salads, but this one... I love. The dressing has the perfect zing, and the tortellini really tops it off. We didn't eat it all for dinner, so we put the leftovers in the fridge. I wasn't sure how the spinach would hold up, but it was still good the next day! Win.

    Recipe Adapted from Food Network


Ingredients

9 oz. pkg. tortellini
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. garlic paste
1/4 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Directions

Make the tortellini according to package directions.
Rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, and salt & pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss spinach, artichoke hearts, red pepper, and onion.
Gently toss in tortellini.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


For the tortellini, we chose Buitoni's Whole Wheat Three Cheese, but you can use whatever you prefer.
After it's cooked, we spread it out on wax paper so it could cool without sticking to each other.


I love how simple this recipe is!


Doesn't the dressing look delicious??


Be sure when chopping the artichoke hearts, that you remove all the tough skins. They are usually pretty soft, but sometimes there are still a few toughies in each can.


Sooo delicious!


Enjoy!!






Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

Have you ever heard of making brownies with black beans?? Whoever came up with the idea is a genius. When I first heard about black bean brownies, I imagined dry, cakey "brownies" (of course they can't be real brownies!) that were bland, beany, and, honestly....gross.

I was wrong.

They are chocolatey, just the right amount of sweetness, and absolutely the opposite of dry and cakey. These brownies come out thick and fudgy! You can't taste the beans AT ALL. You even get the little melted bits of chocolate chips throughout the brownies that make it the perfect combination with the ooey, gooey deliciousness.

Best part? They are made with whole wheat flour! No eggs! No oil! 
Can I get a "whoop, whoop!"?

My husband says they taste too "healthy", but I seriously think it's all in his head since he knew BEFORE he tried one that they were made with black beans. I should have thought to try the whole "trick my husband" routine and not tell him what the ingredients were until after we ate the whole pan. :)



Ingredients

1 can black beans
*water
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/4 c. raw cane sugar
1 1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. ground coffee (ground very fine)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. water
1 c. chocolate chips


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
Rinse and drain the black beans until the water runs clear.
*Return the beans to the can and fill with clean water.
Pour the beans and water in a blender and blend until smooth. (You don't want little bean bits. Ew.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee grounds, salt, and baking powder.
Add the pureed beans, vanilla, and the 1 cup of water.
Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely before cutting.





Monday, July 21, 2014

Crunchy Caramel Popcorn



Ingredients
4-5 quarts of popped popcorn
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 Tbsp molasses 
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Step 1: Heat oven to 225 degrees. Place popcorn in cake pan. set aside

Step 2: Mix together brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses and salt in a thick-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat... stir in baking soda. The caramel will foam up a little and turn a lighter color when you add the baking soda.

Step 3: Carefully pour the hot mixture over the popcorn in a large pan. (If you would like peanuts with your popcorn, sprinkle the salted peanuts over the caramel sauce at this point.) Using a wooden spoon, stir until all popcorn is coated. (Be careful not to let the caramel touch you... it's very hot.) Place in oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir to more evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel sauce. Immediately spread caramel corn out onto waxed paper.
 Let cool completely. 



Hope you Enjoy!!! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars

Okay, I've already given you the recipes for the oh-so-scrumptious Peanut Butter Bars and the Chocolate Coconut Dream Bars. Now it's time for the final recipe of the bars we served at my brother's graduation party! Though my little sister decided that her favorite ones were definitely the Peanut Butter bars, these Chocolate Caramel Oat bars were MY favorite. Let's see what you choose. :)

Drum roll please...


Ingredients

1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. butter, melted
2 c. chocolate chips
64 caramels, unwrapped
1 c. heavy cream


Directions

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda in a large bowl.
Pour melted butter over the mixture and mix until well combined and crumbly.
Press half of the mixture in an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.
Place pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, pour the cream over the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.
Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until smooth and creamy.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the baked crust.
Pour the caramel evenly over the chocolate chips.
Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the caramel.
Bake another 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
Let cool completely before cutting.
Store and serve at room temperature.


(Directions with Photos)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda in a large bowl.


Pour melted butter over the mixture and mix until well combined and crumbly.
(Sometimes you may have to use your hands to combine it all well enough. Just sayin'...)


Press half of the mixture in an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.


Place pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.


While the crust is baking, pour the cream over the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.
Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until smooth and creamy.


Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the baked crust.


Pour the caramel evenly over the chocolate chips.


Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the caramel.
(You can just sprinkle it over the bars. However, I like "oat chunks" on my bars, so I usually grab a handful of the mixture, give it a good squeeze, then sprinkle it over the top.)


Bake another 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.


Let cool completely before cutting.
Store and serve at room temperature.