Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I've Officially Entered the Canning World

Even though I've been canning quite a bit this summer...I feel like I've finally earned the title of a home canner because last night I did a whole session of canning all by myself. I didn't have anyone there to get opinions/advice from and no one to help keep me on task and no one to help with the labor (and canning is labor intensive).

I picked the pears by myself (a big thank you to the Tibbetts) a couple of days ago...

I got the fruit ready to be canned all by myself...Thanks to this awesome new peeler (thanks to Adam and Lara for a rockin' b-day present), the prepping part went quite quickly.

...and, last but not least, I canned and processed it all by myself...

I also made this really awesome Caramel Spice Pear Butter that turned out amazing (Lara found this recipe on RecipeZaar.com).

Some of the fruits of my labor...it's always so fun to line up all of your beautifully preserved food and admire your hard work and labor :)

Some other canning that happened this summer that has not been mentioned on this blog yet that needs to be mentioned is PEACHES!

A few weeks ago Carol made canning all of these beautiful peaches possible. She is a great teacher! My canning information and experience has come from my two moms and the internet... I just have to say it is actually easier than it looks. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll see if I can help.

Also, speaking of FOOD STORAGE...I went to the Macey's Case Lot Sale last week. Can you tell?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Magic Anti-Crayon Potion

So, last week a red crayon "snuck" into my last load of laundry and after going through the dryer decided to splotch itself all over my colors batch...YIKES!

By "snuck" I actually mean that Jane is in the phase where she likes to put things in her pocket and she must have had a pocketful of crayons when I started the wash. I found a few crayons in the bottom of the washer, so I checked all her pockets before transferring the wet clothes to the dryer, but I must have missed one...

This is the scene of the crime:

Anyway, after a minor freak out moment and a quick call to my mom, I got online and found a magic potion for getting crayon out of laundry.

1 cup of Borax
1 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of laundry detergent

Wash the load in hot water with the extra rinse cycle on.

After washing it once most of the spots were gone. So I washed the load again. This time I put Spray 'N' Wash on each of the remaining spots (I wouldn't have done this the first time around because there were too many little spots, but this second time there were only a couple on each item of clothing). I mixed up my magic potion with the hot water and then put the clothes into the washer and let it soak for several hours before closing the lid and letting the washer run its cycle. That did the trick! (There were only two items of clothing that had a little red left on them and it must have had something to do with fabric type).

It came out looking like this:

As Jane would say, "That's SO magic!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Raspberry Adventures!

So, on Friday we went to Payson to The Raspberry Patch of West Mountain. If you pick your own raspberries they are only $2 per pound which is a lot cheaper than like the $8 per pound you pay at the grocery store. Well, between about 5 adults, we ended up picking about 20 pounds!

We had only been there a couple of minutes before Jane and Caleb realized what the berries were and how good they tasted. Luckily, they also liked the idea of putting the berries in the jugs. Also, there was a cat that they had fun chasing most of the time we were there which distracted them from wanting to eat the berries.

On Saturday morning we made the raspberries into a bunch of awesome freezer jam.

Here's the recipe we used for Raspberry Freezer Jam:

8 cups smashed raspberries
3 - 3 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Thick Gel

We also made a rockin' raspberry shake and now the raspberries are gone...so sad. We may go back in October and get more. Not only because raspberries are wonderful, but because the whole experience was a lot of fun. The kids had a lot of fun running around and getting dirty and it was a lot of fun to pick the raspberries even though it takes a long time because they are so small. All in all I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smoothie Central!!

So, we've gone a little smoothie crazy in our house...I make a big one about every other day or so and my girls love it!

I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but it's a great way to get kids to get their servings of fruit...and their vegetables servings. Here's what I usually include in my smoothies:

-2 bananas
-1-2 unpeeled carrot
-a handful of spinach or a half cup of spinach puree (warning: makes the smoothie a weird color)
-whatever fruit I have on hand (like pineapple, apricots, peaches, pears, etc.) or...
-some of my frozen fruit mix from the freezer
-a Nature Valley granola bar
-fruit juice or sometimes milk or water, but usually...
-oranges or orange juice (especially recommended for smoothies with spinach in them)

I fill up their straw cups and away they go! My girls love them, they can't get enough of them. And it makes me so happy because with each gulp and swallow, I'm thinking about all of the wonderfully healthy things going into their bodies...and with no struggle or convincing. The granola bar makes it more filling and the carrots and spinach provide lots of awesome nutrients. Another tip I've heard is putting flax seed into the smoothie as well, which provides Omega 3 (more for mom than the kids).

So, drink up and enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Apple Pie Filling and Applesauce Muffin Recipes

I've had a few recipe requests from my recent posts...so here they are:

Apple Pie Filling

6 quarts fresh apples, sliced 1/4" thick
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Thick Gel
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)
2 1/2 cups cold water
5 cups apple juice
3/4 cups bottled lemon juice
7 drops yellow food coloring

Peel, core and slice apples; place in water containing ascorbic acid. Blanch no more than 2 quarts at a time for 1 minute in boiling water and keep warm (see * note). Combine sugar, Thick Gel, and spices in large kettle with water, apple juice, lemon juice, and food coloring. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Fold in drained apple slices. Fill jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level). Increase processing time by 5 minutes for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Yields: 7 quarts.

*Note: To blanch apple slices in the microwave, fill a 2-quart casserole dish full of loosely-packed apple slices and cover. Do not add water. Microwave just until apple slices change color and begin to lose their crispness (6-8 minutes).

Applesauce Struedel Muffins


2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp margarine or butter


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup squash or carrot puree
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

To make the topping, stir together the oats, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the margarine.

To make the batter, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl or zip lock bag and stir or shake to mix. In a second bowl, mix the applesauce with the milk, vegetable puree, sugar, oil, and egg with a wooden spoon. Add the flour mixtrure slowly, stirring until just moistened. Do not over mix -- the batter is supposed to be lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake until the topping is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean with enserted into the center of the muffins, 18-20 minutes. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and serve warm or cool.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monkey Backpack!

We got Jane a new backpack/leash...and guess what? It's a monkey!

Jane loves it! Especially because Dora has a backpack that she keeps all of her treasures in, and now Jane has one too.

"Backpack, backpack, backpack, backpack. I'm the backpack loaded up with things and nic nacs too. Anything that you might need I got inside for you."

I love her backpack because now she can't run away from me when we're out in public and she wants to run around...yeah!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All Things Apple - For Real This Time

So a couple of weeks ago we were up to our elbows in apples. We were basically "swimming" in them...

We made lots of apple sauce...

...and apple pie filling...

...and apple chips...

...and apple fruit leather in the dehydrator...

...also (not pictured here) we made apple butter (like apple jam) and it is awesome...

We had a lot of fun, but were very ready to be done by the end of the week. Now we just get to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Let me know if you want any of these recipes or if you have any apple canning questions...we got a lot of canning experience this week and Lara and I are becoming pros.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Deceptively Delicious

So I found this pretty AMAZING cook book at Costco a couple of weeks ago called Deceptively Delicious. It has all of these great recipes with vegetable purees in them (and the cook book shows you how to make the purees).

The reason that it is called Deceptively Delicious is because this is a sneaky way to get your kids to eat vegetables without turning it into an issue, because the puree totally blends in with the meal and you can't tell that there are sweet potatoes or squash or spinach in it.

What's great is how inexpensive this whole process is because you are buying the vegetables in their whole forms instead of specially packaged. For example, $4 worth of squash from the grocery store makes over 5 cups of puree (more than 10 1/2 cup portions; 1/2 cup is the typical amount called for in these recipes). For $2-3 you can buy a head of cauliflower which will make 4-6 cups of puree. Also, if you think in terms of baby food (because baby food is basically what these purees are)...Gerber baby food costs around $1 for two small (maybe 2 or 3 oz.) portions.

Spinach and beet puree:

Anyway, I've been using it for about a month or so now and so far my family (especially the girls) and I have loved everything we've tried. Also, I have gotten comfortable enough with the concept that I've started just putting these purees in all of my regular recipes. I've taken a bunch of pictures so that you can see how great all of this food looks.

Scrambled eggs with cauliflower puree.

Applesauce strudel muffins with squash (or carrot) puree.

Cheesy chicken wraps with squash and carrot puree.

Kraft macaroni and cheese before adding squash...

Kraft macaroni and cheese after adding squash puree...notice no real difference in appearance.

Lasagna with sweet potato puree in the red sauce and cauliflower puree in the cheese mixture.

Carrot cake cupcakes with carrot and cauliflower puree.

A carrot cake cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting.

Brownies with spinach and carrot puree.

All I know is I feel like a better mom when my kids are getting their vegetables. It's easy to get kids to eat fruit, but vegetables are another thing...especially all of these awesome vegetables like broccoli and sweet potato and beets. A lot of these are vegetables that I would rarely buy and prepare in my normal cooking. In some of these recipes you can taste the vegetables a little bit (like in the scrambled eggs), but I actually think that's good because then your children get familiar with the taste of vegetables and they will more likely enjoy eating it when they are served that vegetable in its normal form.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have started putting these purees into my normal recipes which has been my favorite part so far. Last night I made my famous chicken enchiladas and I put squash puree in the filling and sweet potato puree in the topping. It was awesome and made the enchiladas extra creamy and saucy. Tonight I made mashed potatoes and added cauliflower puree and they were so rich and creamy. I took them to a Young Women's activity (I got called to be a beehive advisor about a month ago) and everyone loved them.

It's so funny because I'm so excited about this that I end up telling everyone that I talk to about it. Sorry if you've heard it more than once (particularly Bradley), I feel a little bit like a sales woman selling people this concept. Anyway, it's fun to be so excited about something that really works. Let me know if you have any questions or if you want any of these recipes so that you can give it a try yourself!

Let's all get healthy and eat our vegetables. Let the deception begin...