Monday, September 29, 2008

Ways with Tomatoes (an answer to a comment)

photo courtesy of World Community
Here is a question I received in a comment section here on my site.

"how do preserve sauce from tomatoes in garden,freeze it?"

That is a very good question. It is very easy to answer. I would never freeze tomato sauce even though you could; to me it gets very watery after it is thawed and I do not like watery tomato sauce. I would just can it like any other fruit or vegetable you would can.

Tomatoes are very versatile in the canning department. You can make tomato sauce, tomato puree, spaghetti sauce, salsa, soup, and so much more. My favorites when I have a ton of tomatoes is making spaghetti sauce and canning it so I have a good supply all year round since we eat quite a bit of pasta. You can even process plain tomatoes to be used for something else later; it is very easy.

Here are my tips for canning tomatoes:

1. Pack tomatoes in halves or quarters in pint or quart jars and use the hot water bath canning procedure. Tomatoes are so simple; you just wash, peel, cut, and fill the jars. You can either can with raw pack (simply cutting and packing in jars) or you can do a hot pack.
To do a hot pack, you just cut as directed for raw pack; but, then you will boil the tomatoes for about 2 minutes to get them hot and pack liquid and all plus 1/2 tsp salt for each pint jar and 1 tsp salt to every quart jar and process in hot water canner.

2. You can can any spaghetti sauce recipe when you put it in hot jars, just process for 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts.

3. Tomato ketchup can be made from many recipes and then process them for 5 minutes for pints and 10 minutes for quarts. If you find you use alot of ketchup at home, you can make your own ketchup and save bunches of money and it is better for you too. Roma tomatoes make excellent ketchup because the puree is thicker because Romas contain less water than other tomatoes. (Romas are also excellent for tomato paste because of this reason).

4. Salsa is great to prepare ahead and process in a canner. It is similar to a chutney in preparation and processing times. Normally salsa takes about 15 minutes to process both pints and quarts.

5. Get a good canning cookbook so you can see all kinds of varieties of ways with tomatoes. They are inexpensive and are a huge resource about canning just about anything. I use Putting Food By and it is a wonderful book for canning and freezing food. There are many others available but this is what I have found to be quite comprehensible.

That should get you started for now on tips, if anyone needs anything else, do not hesitate to ask! Thanks for your question!


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

4 lb chuck roast
6 garlic cloves
1 can (10.5 oz) beef broth
1 can (10.5 oz) condensed French Onion Soup
1 can (12 oz) Coca-Cola
6 french rolls or soft deli style rolls
2 Tbsp butter or margarine

Trim excess fat from roast. Make 6 slits in the roast, and place a garlic clove into each cut. Place roast in crock pot.

Add beef broth, french onion soup, and coca-cola. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Split french rolls and spread with butter or margarine. Bake 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through.

Slice the meat and place on rolls. Serve with sauce for dipping.

*I also put cheddar cheese on the sandwiches, we like cheese.
*For something different try it with cream cheese and cheddar cheese on the rolls, it is very yummy!


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Take Advantage of Kraft Foods Website

This is one of my favorite websites. It is Kraft Foods and I subscribe to receive my free Kraft Food and Family magazine which is a wealth of quick and easy recipes for any time, you get 5 of them a year for free!

You can even submit recipes to their recipe exchange, and they even pick some of them to feature in print for their magazine. Sounds good to me! Here is the link to the Recipe Exchange: Kraft Recipe Exchange

Here is the link to the subscription for their food and family magazine. You do have to sign up but you can click if you do NOT want emails so that you can get their magazine in the mail. I love this magazine and use them frequently since it is everyday food for the everyday cook and most recipes are so easy to make. Find that here Kraft Food and Family Magazine and Kraft Community signup They even have a cool archive where you can see the recipes from past issues which is a nice tool to have on hand.

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My Favorite Food Links

Here are my favorite food site links as I find them; they are all food related in some way so enjoy what they have to offer. I know I sure am enjoying it!

If you are a webmaster and would like your link displayed here; first link to my site and then email me at and let me know where you placed the link and I will be checking before I add yours here. If you do not place my link or delete my link, yours will be deleted automatically. Let's all play fair and do a nice link exchange. And, remember, only food related sites please.

1. My Chocolate Garden
2. Treats for the Sweet Tooth
3. Cakes, Cookies, Brownies Recipe and Desserts
4. Gourmet Cakes and Easy Dessert Recipes
5. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Gallery
6. Simple Daily Recipes Blog
7. Diners, Drive-Ins, Roadhouses, Joints, and Dives If you want to eat across America, this is where you go!
8. WannaBe TV Chef Check out Kevin Ashton's fantastic cuisine and recipes.
9. Malaysian Food Lovers
10. Homemade Jam and Jelly Recipes
11. The Recipe
Many free, easy and great tasting recipes for any occasion, including family meals, parties and gathering with friends. An array of categories with delicious recipes to choose from.
12. Free Online Recipes offers hundreds of free online recipes, as well as, tips and tutorials to help you in the kitchen.
13. Once a Month Cooking World: Learn how to save time and money with our step-by-step instructions and free once a month cooking recipes.
14. Recipes by Mom: Food to Nourish Your Soul

Recipes by Mom is your one-stop source for free, quick and easy recipes that have been family tested and approved.
15. Pickles and Spices World
16. ezRecipe-Zee Complete recipes and sharing community - ezRecipe-Zee is your one stop for all recipes to tryout and share with friends and family. From backyard grilling, home, and restaurant style cooking.
17. Tooth Fairy Recipes - Lots of Delicious Food to Choose From
18. Online CookingA free cooking website full of articles, recipes, cooking shows, and more.
19. Save time and money!
20. quick dinner recipes
Yummyfood provides many recipes, quick to prepare for all your cooking needs. Recipes are well categorized and rated by users.
21. Mexican Recipes - Mexican Cooking - Southwestern TexMex Food
Free, authentic, Mexican recipes suitable for the home cook with average to little cooking experience.
Remember These Candies is about old fashion candies, a 4lb. gift box, candy history, recipes of chocolate candy, caramel apples, different types of fudge, and sugar-free candy, also crafts made with different types of candies for the holiday.
23. the recipe swap shop
Welcome to The Recipe Swap Shop. An interactive forum including such topics as cooking, baking and household helpful tips. We also have a wide variety of recipes to choose from. Take a recipe, leave a recipe.
24. piu' - Introduce Italian typical products(Italian food) and information of enogastronomy tour(wine & foods) (this is written in Italian but looks like a good site)
25. Your Apple Pie Apple pie recipes
26. - Family Cooking Made Easy!
27. Best Burger Recipes

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tips for Canning Peaches

Here are my tips for canning peaches that will make life a little easier while trying to preserve all those peaches you can get at the end of summer. Any freestone peach is great for canning, which include Elberta and Angeline peaches. Freestone peaches fall off the pit easily which makes them ideal for canning. Try to avoid Clingstone peaches as they basically do what the name implies: They cling to the stone, meaning they are really hard to get away from the pit. Ask your local grower or farmer's market which peaches are freestone so you get the right ones.

Now that you have your peaches, here are a few tips to make this whole process easier.

1. DO get everything together before you start canning. Make an assembly line of where you boil them, peel them, slice them, fill jars, etc. This makes the whole job so much easier when you know exactly what you are doing and when.

2. Dip peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and then put in cold water because that makes the skins just fall off without having to actually peel them by hand.

3. Use firm and ripe peaches. If they are overripe, they will be mushy in the jar and if they are under ripe, they will be hard in the jar. You want firm peaches that feel firm but not rock hard and not at all mushy feeling.

4. To keep peaches from turning brown, place peeled peaches in a solution of 2 Tbsp each of vinegar and salt to each gallon of water. Do not soak for more than 20 minutes and always rinse them before putting them in the jar. There is nothing more un-appetizing than brown peaches in a jar, yuck!

5. Use the lids that are self sealing. That means that when they come out of the canner and start cooling off, you will hear random popping which means the jars have sealed. Push the jar lids lightly and if they do not pop back, they are sealed. Any jars that have not sealed after 30 minutes of being out of the canner can be opened and re-closed and placed back into the canner to try to seal again. If the jar(s) still do not seal, just place the jar in the refrigerator and eat within about 2-3 days.

With these tips, your job of canning the peaches should go without a hitch. They help me out a lot when I can peaches.


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Tomato Basil Soup

If you like soup, especially tomato soup; then, this is for you. I love tomato soup in any way shape or form. I make soups with a tomato base all the time, especially in fall and winter when the weather is getting colder. This particular soup is time tested in my kitchen and it is the hands down favorite of my family as far as soups go, with the exception of Broccoli Cheese Soup (which is another post entirely).

Enjoy my creation based on a soup we had at a restaurant here in Olympia called O'Blarney's. Those who live here are very familiar with this old favorite, it has been in Olympia for years. While I did not get the total recipe (I was told it was a secret), I had to try to improvise and make it on my own. This is pretty close although there is one thing missing from O'Blarney's soup, but I cannot quite put my finger on it. But, this is close enough and the family loves it, so I will stop with what I have here. Enjoy and be sure to not forget the grilled cheese sandwich when you have this for lunch or dinner.

Tomato Basil Soup

2 Roma tomatoes (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced or pressed)
1 can of tomato soup plus one can of water
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese + some extra for garnish on top or if you want extra cheese in the soup
salt to taste

Saute tomatoes and garlic until done, about 3 minutes. Add basil. Stir. Add soup+water and salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cheese and simmer until melted and incorporated throughout.

Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired.

*you can substitute milk for water for a creamier soup*


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sandwich Cookies

Next time you make homemade cookies, here is a twist on just having plain old cookies. Sometimes when I bake cookies, my kids and husband want something more than just plain old cookies, so we make sandwich cookies. Some ideas are below of how you can make quite a few different types of sandwich cookies.

1. Frosting in the middle- The kiddos like vanilla frosting in between 2 chocolate chip cookies. Or you can use chocolate frosting between 2 peanut butter cookies.

2. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies- make peanut butter cookies and put your favorite flavor jam or jelly in between 2 cookies. Or, make shortbread cookies and put peanut butter and jam in between cookies.

3. Peanut butter in the middle- I have found that when you make a good fudge cookie, put some peanut butter in the middle and it is like having a Reese Peanut Butter cup in a cookie.

Just some food for thought next time anyone wants a sweet treat for dessert. Similar to the ice cream sandwich idea. Enjoy! If you come up with any other type of sandwich cookie idea, please let me know by leaving a comment here.


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