Sunday, October 19, 2014

canned applesauce

Yummy note: This summer I've been all about preserving my garden goods (aka, lots of tomatoes) by freezing, canning, and even tried pickling. Last year, I canned zucchini salsa, and that was my extend; this summer I've made several salsas, canned seasoned tomatoes, froze tomato sauce, and even canned some apple pie filling. What else could I try and preserve while I was at it... oh, ding ding, cue in my Secret Recipe Club October blogger -Brooklyn Locavore- for my answer. Melissa from Brooklyn Locavore had some fantastic choices to pick from in regards to preserving local produce. Her main focus is dedicated to living local and only purchasing local ingredients. With that in mind, I wanted to use the same "rule" for my blog post this month. My tomato crop had come down to a halt, so I decided to visit a local apple orchard in hopes to make fantastic tasting applesauce. I selected a small family owned apple orchard, Plank Road Apple Orchard, where I spoke with the owners and they were wonderful in helping pick just the right variety of apples. In fact, they said they put five different varieties of apples in my bag! Melissa noted on her blog, "most important is to use a blend of apples for the best flavor" and "keeping the sauce simple." So true...this applesauce was one of the best tasting ones I've made, and I didn't even have to add any additional sugar or spices. It was pretty amazing that these hand-picked apples were just the right mix of sweetness and tartness to make this applesauce perfect.  

Canned Applesauce 

About 15 lbs or so of a variety of apples*  (yields roughly 8-9 pints)
few tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cup water

* Note: When you go to an apple orchard, ask about the best varieties they have for making sauce and baking with. Baking/sauce varieties might consist of Gala, Spartans, Empire, Jonathans, and/or others. Also ask about "seconds" - apples which are slightly imperfect. These "seconds" are fantastic for cooking or baking with, not to mention they are often a fraction of the cost, perfect for buying in bulk to use for canning or freezing. 

Prepare apples by cutting them into quarters and remove the core. Place apples in a large stockpot and add about a cup of water, along with maybe a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the pot. On medium to high heat, bring the pot of apples to a boil. Closely watching the apples, keep stirring the pot and smashing the apples with a potato masher to prevent apples from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Keep simmering the apples until they get very soft. It will probably take a good 20 minutes, depending on your apples. Once all of the apples appear to be mushy, transfer them to a food mill to remove the skins. At this point you have your applesauce, if you wish you could freeze it or begin the canning process. To can the applesauce, make sure you have your waterbath canner started and the water is boiling. While the waterbath canner is getting ready, put the applesauce back into the large stockpot to keep it warm while you prep your canning jars. Keep the applesauce simmering on low, as you want to keep the sauce warm while you are filling the warm canning jars. Ladle the warm applesauce into the canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles in the jar, wipe the rim clean, and place the lid and fasten the ring to the jar with a fingertip tight fit. Process in your waterbath canning for about 20 minutes. Remove the jars and let cool for about 24 hours before you check the lids for proper seals.

Plank Road Apple Orchard was so helpful in helping me find the perfect combination of apples to use for my sauce. Oh, and I HAD to get one of their apple cider spice donuts before I left. Yum

Apples heating away in a large stockpot turned to mush! Just right for pushing through the food mill. Using a food mill is simple enough so that my 3 yr old can be a big kitchen helper. Round and round we go
This food mill pictured here was one from my grandma that we used many years ago. I am glad we were able to find it after she passed away so we could be able to use it and keep it in the family now.  
Don't be afraid to try waterbath canning! It is fairly easy with just a few tools. Make sure to check the Ball® website for additional canning tips for starters.

Recipe runner-ups- Even though the canned applesauce recipe won out for this month, I really want to go back and try this strawberry/rhubarb jam, as I have some rhubarb I froze from earlier this year tucked away in my freezer.  Also, my daughter wants me to make these fresh mint chocolate cookies as we have a bunch of chocolate mint that she planted this year and we are not quite sure what to do with it all!   

Please take some time and visit all of the other great bloggers in the Secret Recipe Club Group C that have taken the time to share these recipes! If you want to learn more about the Secret Recipe Club or join the fun, check us out at
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Iced Banana Cookies

Yummy note: I came across this recipe for Iced Banana Cookies this last month from one of my bloggers in the Secret Recipe Club. Oh boy, was it a hit, these banana cookies were almost classified as breakfast-on-the-go for my youngest kid. They were fantastic and will most definitely be making them again soon. This recipe came from Julie over at the Texan New Yorker blog. Her iced banana cookies were very moist, cake-like and flavorful, and such a nice way to use up those brown bananas! They tasted almost like banana muffin tops, perhaps more than a cookie, either way they were super delicious and the kids couldn't stop eating them. 

Iced Banana Cookies 

1/2 cup butter or non-dairy spread, softened
2 1/2 cups flour, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
*optional handful of chocolate chips

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
up to 3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter or non-dairy alternative for about 30 seconds, until it begins to cream. Add in 1 cup of the flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla to the mixing bowl. Mix well and then add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour. Finally, add in the mashed bananas to the mixture and mix well. Using a cookie dough scooper, drop dough on a prepared baking sheet with either a silpat or parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 9 minutes. Next, mix up the glaze, by adding the powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and begin to mix in a few teaspoons of water at a time. Begin to mix together until a thick glaze forms. If you accidentally add to much water, just add in a little bit of powdered sugar to thicken it back up. When the cookies are done, let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Frost banana cookies with glaze and enjoy!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yummy note: I looked into my freezer the other night and gasped... omg, I ran out of my frozen cookie dough balls! How can that be, it looked so bare, cold and empty, oh so sad. :(  They are like my secret little addiction, I will take out a frozen cookie ball and eat it like that or pop it into the microwave for a few seconds and par-bake it before devouring it before anyone notices. lol. Shh...mommy needs a treat at night too. So, I needed to change that empty cookie dough container immediately.  Luckily for me, I had just been doing some reading up for my Secret Recipe Club assignment and Julie from The Texan New Yorker had plenty of good stuff to choose from that might just fit. Cookies were on my brain that's for sure, so I had noted a few... I do love my sweet potatoes... never made those before- Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies, or wait a minute, Duck Fat Cookies - woah, looks awesome to try, but not sure where I'd find the duck fat, but it would be a refrigerator style of cookie that would hold up to the freezer. Then I saw these, Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies; it had been awhile since I've made cookies with butter. Yes, butter is a like an evil word around here, since my youngest is allergic to dairy, it is a treat when I use it. So why not, I'll just keep these tucked away in the freezer for myself to enjoy ;-)  

Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies 

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter (make sure you have atleast 1 stick at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp molasses
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips

Julie notes a great tutorial here to view if you've never browned butter before. That is the first step of making these cookies. Place 9 tablespoons of butter in a stainless steel pan or skillet and heat over medium heat. Melt butter. Once the butter completely melts, it will froth, bubble and begin to crackle. It starts to begin to smell delicious, too, haha. At this point, keep a close watch and make sure it doesn't start to burn or blacken. This is basically the water being cooked out of the butter, as then it begins to brown. This happens very quick, it can go from golden to brown in minutes, so be careful. 

Once the butter has browned, remove from the heat and pour into a different container to cool. Make sure to scrape all of the brown butter bits at the bottom of the pan out too. Next, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons of room temperature butter with the granulated sugar. Cream for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and molasses. Next add in the cooled brown butter and brown sugar. Cream until well mixed and add in the egg and the egg yolk. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Once eggs have been mixed in, then add in your flour mixture to the batter and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks by hand. Cover the bowl and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once dough has chilled, scoop cookie dough using a tablespoon scoop and bake on a silpat or parchment-lines baking sheet. Bake cookies for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside. The inside will still be slightly soft in the center when the timer goes off, so make sure to let cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to cool.  

Brown the butter first, then mix up the rest of the cookie dough. 

At first, I wasn't sure if these cookies were going to make it out of the oven. The dough itself was nibbled on quite a bit. I loved the caramel-almost nutty flavor tones in these cookies. 

The cookies were slightly crispy on the outside, and yummy gooey inside. 

Golden brown butter chocolate chip cookies, looking pretty perfect. 

All ready for the freezer to keep my cookie dough stash nicely stocked!

Oh, and I felt a little guilty for enjoying these delicious Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies all by myself, so I had to make some other cookies to share with the kids. I made some of Julie's Iced Banana Cookies as well. They were so moist, cake-like and flavorful, and such a nice way to use up those brown bananas! They tasted almost like banana muffin tops, more than a cookie, and they were super delicious and the kids couldn't stop eating them. I will post that recipe later this week as well, as I don't want to loose that recipe! :) Thanks again to the Texan New Yorker for these scrumptious recipes I got to try this month for the Secret Recipe Club!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Margherita Bagel Pizzas

Yummy note:  I've really appreciated tomatoes more this summer than ever before probably. Our garden produced some larger varieties this year and they were much tastier for eating than some of my smaller Roma tomato varieties in the past. I do enjoy my Roma tomato variety for the sauces I make, or the cherry ones for salads, but the big boy variety is more fun to eat in big ole slices. Mm, slightly warmed cheese covered tomatoes is a small lunch perfect enough for me. My kids, they like their bread, just like me, haha, and we really love to make quick bagel pizzas. I make a wide variety of bagel pizzas -- a dairy-free variety for my youngest, then typically my daughter likes a meat-free cheese only pizza, and then my husband and I usually like more meat and toppings on ours. Then came along this simple margherita pizza, one night when I ran out of tomato/pizza sauce and they really wanted bagel pizzas. It is just the right amount of flavor to enjoy a simple, yet delicious pizza! 

Margherita Bagel Pizzas 

4 bagels, halved (can use regular sized or mini bagels)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or shredded mozzarella 
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 basil leaves, sliced 
Few tablespoons olive oil for drizzling 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the bagel halves on the baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil and place a slice of tomato on each bagel slice. Top with fresh basil and mozzarella.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Enjoying my wonderful tomato crop this summer by making fresh bagel pizzas!  
Layer up the tomato, basil and mozarella! 

After about 2 weeks of enjoying these little guys, I realized one of my pint canning jar lid rings was the same size about as a bagel. It made for a fantastic cheese ring funnel thing, lol. Not sure the name I'm looking for, but it was handy to contain the cheese when sprinkling it on my bagels. 

Golden brown cheese covers this nice warm tomato. 


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tomatillo salsa

Yummy note: It's been fun to watch our little garden boxes flowering nicely with zucchini and pumpkin flowers this summer, and the fact we are finally getting some produce is even more exciting. :)  My neighbor and I have been working together to keep it all alive, and critter-free, lol, while my husband and kids enjoy checking out our garden boxes every morning to see what new things have popped up overnight. We have had a nice run of tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis. We've been making zucchini bread, zucchini salsas, and next on my "fun" list to try is some zucchini "cheese," but, first, I had to try this fresh recipe for tomatillo salsa from my SRC assigned blogger. The Savvy Kitchen was this month's selection from the Secret Recipe Club group C. Amy's blog- The Savvy Kitchen has some fantastic quick and easy recipes that are super family-friendly, too. Speaking of family, she has an adorable little toddler that she features on her Tiny Tot Tuesdays, really, how cute is he?! So this tomatillo salsa, it was a bit tangy, zesty, yet mild compared to your traditional tomato salsas. This fresh tomatillo salsa has similar flavors of salsa verde, but the zucchini and corn added some great texture and crunch to the salsa, instead of the smooth green sauce-like salsa verdes. This is really a fresher approach to traditional salsa verde, and with the inclusion of zucchini, it was a fun dish to try out. 

Tomatillo Salsa 

1 lime, juiced
11 oz. of fresh tomatillos or 1 can of whole tomatillos, drained 
1 zucchini, peeled, seeded, and diced (or cut into small cubes)
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped 
1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 cup of sweet corn, cut off the cob (about 1 ear of corn)
1 tsp. of minced garlic
Black pepper, to taste 

Prepare tomatillos by chopping them into smaller pieces and slice off corn from the cob and place into a large bowl. Add the chopped zucchini, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients well together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to eat.

Yummy notes: I couldn't find canned tomatillos in the store, so I used fresh one for this recipe. I unfortunately ran short of the 11 ounces of fresh tomatillos, so I improvised and added a small red tomato to the mix to equal 11 ounces. Also, I have a slight allergy to raw zucchini, so I sauteed up a bit of the salsa on the stove, basically just enough to soften and start cooking the raw zucchini so I could eat it. My husband got to try the fresh version, while I got to enjoy the partially cooked one. 

My neighbor and I working in the garden boxes.

Such a fun fresh dish of tomatillo salsa! 

My portion of cooked tomatillo salsa, not as colorful, but just as tasty as the fresh counterpart.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sweet Smoked Zucchini Salsa

Yummy note: For the last few years, I've been lucky enough to grow a small box garden. We've been blessed with numerous zucchinis actually, a few pounds of tomatoes a year, and a few pumpkins. Last summer is when I first got this zucchini salsa recipe from our family friend, Holly. She actually had an abundance of amazing ripe tomatoes that I was like "yes, please! I will use them!" with my zucchinis and try and make this salsa you make. This salsa recipe was actually one of my very first real canning experiences, so it was pretty exciting to try it out. Scary and exciting, as I've never done a venture like this by myself; let alone a recipe that takes 2 days to finish! Yikes, luckily it really is pretty easy and the first day is really just prep, while the second day is the processing. I summed my husband into the kitchen for back-up for some of the prep and then jarring the next day. The first time I made this I think I cut down the recipe into thirds, as the recipe called to make 24 jars and that seemed scary. But in hindsight, I totally should have beefed up my ingredients then and just bit the bullet and made a full batch, as earlier this year, we were like, "I wish I had more salsa left." lol. Ah, live and learn. So this salsa is a combination of many flavors making it delicious! Sweet from the brown sugar, smokey from the liquid smoke, and just a little spicy from the onions, peppers, and jalapenos. It is a summer garden harvest in a jar!

Sweet Smoked Zucchini Salsa

Makes about 24 jars 
(Yummy note: This recipe can be easily halved or even done in third if you want a much smaller batch of salsa.)
Day 1: 30 cups shredded zucchini 12 small onions, shredded 6 green peppers, shredded 6 red peppers, shredded 3/4 cup pickling salt
Day 2: 3 tbsp dry mustard 3 tbsp ground garlic 3 tbsp cumin 2 tbsp red chilli powder 3 tbsp liquid smoke 6 cups white vinegar 2 1/4 cups brown sugar 2 cups cilantro, chopped 10-15 jalapeno peppers, chopped 3 tsp ground pepper 15-20 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (leave skin on) 3-4 tbsp cornstarch 3- 12 ounce cans tomato paste
Instructions Day 1: Prepare and shred ingredients. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2: Chop tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro. Rinse and drain the zucchini and onion mixture well. Put into a large pot with all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour hot mixture into cleaned, hot jars. Put lids on, but make sure they are not too tight. Process them for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. If the jars do not seal properly or you didn’t hear any pings throughout the process, place the jars in refrigerator and use within the next few days.

Yummy note:The Ball brand website was a big help, besides a few phone-a-friends and relatives on how to can successfully. Check here for some tips -

Day 1 - the prep
Beautiful big tomatoes!!
The start of Day 2 is to chop the tomatoes.
Day 2 - Process salsa ingredients. 
Salsa simmering away while we start the water bath canner. 
Hot mixture going into the jars! Again check this site for awesome canning tips and tutorial for help on this part if you are new to canning. 
Process jars in the water bath. 
Sweet Smoked Zucchini Salsa ready for storage! 
The finished product is a slightly chunky textured salsa with a mild, sweet, smokey flavor.  

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Monday, July 21, 2014

And the winner is...

The winner of the Red Gold Tomatoes prize pack is Wendy Klik! Thanks to all that commented and entered this giveaway! Congrats to Wendy and enjoy your new apron and tomatoes! 

Wendy- You may message me from my Facebook page and let me know your email and address and we will get your prize pack out to you shortly! Thanks!! Heather from It's Yummy to My Tummy

My prize selection committee helped me cut and assemble the entries in a box and then my beautiful assistant picked one by random to ensure fairness :) 

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