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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Basil Harvest

What do you do when your basil plant is out of control?  Harvest time!  How do you preserve fresh basil?  Dry it? Takes too much time.  I deceided to freeze mine and here's how...


Go out and gather all your basil.  Pull off any flowering parts and seeds and stick them into the ground, they will grown new plants.








Wash your basil throughly 2 or 3 times.  Then use your wonderful salad spinner to remove the water



Wash, rinse and spin!


Chop basil and add just enough olive oil to cover the leaves.  I used my food processor and pulsed it until desired size.  Now I am going to put the basil into ice cube trays to freeze.


After they are frozen, pop them out and put into a freezer bag.  Now you will have fresh basil to add to your sauces and soups this winter.  


I wish you could smell how fresh this is when I opened up this bag to photograph the frozen cubes.  It smells just like it did when I chopped them up the other day.  Can't wait to use them.  

Happy Eating!





Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eight Ball Squash

I picked up these cute little eight ball squash at the farmers market in Dallas and thought what a neat presentation these little jewels would be in any dish.  So as usual, I stuffed them.  OK, I know I stuff a lot of things but this is going to really good and fun to serve to your family or guests.





The Players!




Using a grapefruit knife or spoon hollow out each ball, reserving some of the pulp to add to the stuffing (1/4 cup chopped)



Place squash in a baking dish with 1/4" of water in bottom.  Cook in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.




Brown 1 lb. ground beef along with 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped red and yellow bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped pulp from squash, 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  When meat is browned and vegetables are tender, add in 3 tablespoons tomato sauce and 1 cup of grated 
sharp cheddar cheese to make the filling.



Stuff each ball with filling and return to baking dish.


Top each ball with remainder of the grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce.  Add remaining tomato sauce with 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.


Makes a nice meal all by itself or with a side salad.


Look how luscious and savory!



Another savory bite for you!
Happy Eating




The Recipe:

Eight Ball Stuffed Squash

5 eight ball squash (softball size)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup red and yellow pepper mixed, finely chopped
1/4 cup squash pulp, finely chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce, divided

Using a grapefruit knife or spoon hollow out each ball, reserving some of the pulp to add to the stuffing (1/4 cup chopped).  Place squash in a baking dish with 1/4" of water in bottom.  Cook in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.

Brown 1 lb. ground beef along with 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped red and yellow bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped pulp from squash, 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  When meat is browned and vegetables are tender, add in 3 tablespoons tomato sauce and 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese to make the filling.

Stuff each ball with filling and return to baking dish.  Top each ball with remainder of grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce.  Add remaining tomato sauce with 1/2 cup water to the baking dish.  Cover with foil and 
bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

Remove from oven and serve on a plate with some of the broth in the bottom of the baking dish.  

Happy Eating!



Monday, September 13, 2010

Canning Green Beans

Our next adventure is canning green beans!  We can't use our water bath method on these and I am not happy about it.  We have to use the pressure cooking method.  I have never ever used a pressure cooker and frankly a little frightened about the possibility of it blowing up in my kitchen.  After much debate on freezing or canning I deceided to give it a shot.  Keep your fingers crossed and hope it all comes out ok!

"Canning Green Beans Year 1"

Buy a pressure canner at Walmart (they are not a sponsor of mine nor do they know who I am).  I found them cheaper there and it had a lot of good reviews.  


She's a beauty!




I used 5 pounds of beans from the farmer's market.  Make sure the beans snap and are not limp.  Snapping means fresh!


Wash your beans really well in soapy water.


Rinse.


Dry...

Now  trim the ends of beans and cut into whatever length you want.  

Follow the directions of your pressure cooker for the rest.   Mine could be different than yours and I would hate for you to have a bad experience.


After all the stress over the pressure cooker I found that it was very easy to use and my beans turned out great.  Now I moving on to corn next.  My goal is to remove all the tin can foods from my pantry and go fresh!

Happy Eating!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Real Water Bath Canning of Tomatoes



Wash your tomatoes while bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Prepare a large bowl of ice water for par-boiled tomatoes.  Cut an x on the bottom of each tomato and place in hot water for 30 seconds, then into the ice bath to stop the cooking.  Continue until all tomatoes have been through this process. 




Now core and peal tomatoes.  Wash all jars, lids and rings.  You can either boil the jars, lids and rings or process through your dishwasher.  They just need to be sterilized before use.  (I do this ahead of time).
 

When jars are ready, put tomatoes into the jars pressing down to get as many in as you can leaving a 1 inch head space.



Now add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each pint jar (2 tablespoons for quart jar). 


Wipe clean the edges around of the jar.  With  a plastic knife, poke down around the inside edge of jar releasing any and all air bubbles.  When you see no bubbles add the lid and ring and tighten slightly.  Do not over tighten! 


Now they are ready to go into the caner.  
The caner should have a rack and boiling water in it before adding the jars.  
If your pan does not have a rack, improvise, use jar lids in the bottom.  
Just make sure your jars do not touch the  bottom of the caner.  Now pour more hot boiling water of the top of the jars at least 1-2 inches over the top.  Bring water to a boil, lid on the pot and start processing for 40 minutes from the time the pot begins to boil.  Keep an eye on the pan as it tends to boil over and you will have to re-adjust your heat.


When the 40 minutes are up remove the lid form the pan and slowly remove each jar to a flat surface covered with cup towels.  Let them rest 12 hours or over night.  You will hear them pop and hiss a little, do not be alarmed, this is normal.  They are sealing the lids.  When totally cool, next morning, tighten the rings if they are a little loose. 


This is our second year of canning tomatoes and look how many we have this year.  16 quarts and 13 pints!  Figures out to be around 64 pounds of tomatoes!  Where did we get them?  We went to our farmers market and asked for the really ripe tomatoes and the ones they can't sell and make us a deal on them.  We purchased them for around $30.  We did have to get rid of the bad spots and threw away about 10% but we have a lot of tomatoes for the winter.


Happy Eating!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Canning Tomatoes

It is that time of year again!  The end of summer and the end of summer harvest.  Better get to canning before all those wonderful summer vegetables are gone.  As you can see I have a lot of tomatoes to put up this year with the help of my trusty business partner, Gena Kay (that's a good ole southern name!) (pssst - that's Momma D's daughter).  You remember Mama D.  It was that really big snow storm and we made her snow ice cream.  That woman knows her stuff!  She was very proud to hear that we were canning again this year.  Fresh tomatoes vs. tin canned tomatoes!!!!






See what I mean!  Five large cookie sheets full of tomatoes washed in soapy water and rinsed, ready to start?


We have three pots this year, hoping not to take seven hours.  Find out tomorrow and see what happened....

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