Jammin’ in June

Holy heck this month is flying by, why I thought things would slow down in June is beyond me……

I was seriously afraid that I wasn’t going to get any strawberry jam done this year, thankfully, I had one day that I could devote to jam making!

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I bought one flat of berries and made a total of four batches, two of strawberry and two strawberry lemon.   I had hopes of making more, but I am just not sure I will have the time before the season ends.  Hopefully I can start another batch of Bachelor’s Jam,  but it will depend on if I can get back to the farm stand before they run outta berries.  Wish me luck!

The end is in sight….

Whew, it has been a crazy two weeks, I have been working non stop for days.  I have worked the last fourteen days straight, six of those days have been 15+ hour days and five of those I have had less than a six hour turn around.  To say I am tired is putting it mildly!  The good news……one graduation ceremony is done, I have one more to go and then I get FIVE, count ’em, FIVE whole days off….IN A ROW…. I can’t seem to contain my excitement.

Anyway, I have been trying to eat well, since sleeping well doesn’t seem to be an option right now, and I have been doing fairly well.  I made a really large batch of quinoa salad and took that with me to work to eat for lunch, and the occasional dinner.

mexican quinoa

I will admit, I took a lot of help from the store on this one.  I bought two different kinds of fresh made salsa and dumped them into a batch of cooked quinoa.  It was tasty, colorful, filling, and best of all HEALTHY!   It really saved me from eating cookies from the vending machine this week, thank goodness, and I didn’t have any of those horrible sugar crashes. Win/Win situation, if you ask me!

December Birthday Lunch

We only have one December birthday baby in our office, and she was very clear that the only thing she HAD TO HAVE for her birthday lunch was a store bought ice cream cake.  She was leaving the rest of the menu up to me because there isn’t anything she won’t eat.

Because of my insane work schedule, I knew I needed to make something that was easy to prepare, that I could make with my eyes closed, and preferably only one hot item so I didn’t have to bring in a ton of equipment.   My original thought was chili, I could bring in some cornbread muffins, a ton of toppings, and call it a day, but we had chili at our tailgate the weekend before and I didn’t want to eat the same thing twice in one week.

On my way home one night, I thought, heck, the sloppy joe’s I just made are awesome and I could pair that with some coleslaw, macaroni salad, some chips and dip.  I called Courtney and asked if she liked sloppy joe’s and got a resounding YES!

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We have one vegetarian among us and I knew I could make the same meal for her, just use soy crumbles instead of meat.  I had two pans going on the stove, one with beef, one with soy.  It worked out beautifully, I was able to chop and drop into both pans and while they simmered, I threw together a batch of macaroni salad and coleslaw.   I was really thankful she wanted a store bought ice cream cake.  I had actually picked that up a few days before and stashed it in the freezer at work.  I brought in my slow cooker the day before the lunch and picked up two different types of dip, several bags of chips, and some potato rolls.

The sloppy joe’s were a big hit!  When I got to work, I poured the beef joe’s into my crock pot and set them on low to heat through before lunch.  The vegan joe’s I was able to heat in the microwave just before serving.  Two of our work study students were in the office so we invited them to join us.  It was a lovely way to spend our lunch hour, enjoying good food and good company.

I say this with peace and love, THANK GOODNESS THERE ARE NO JANUARY BIRTHDAYS!  We have quite a few February birthdays so it should be an exciting lunch, I wonder if they will all agree on a menu or if it will be a mismosh of food items.  Stay tuned…..

 

 

Gazpacho

For the August birthday lunch, our co-worker couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted me to  make.  I finally took matters into my own hands and settled on a make your own salad bar, gazpacho, bread, and chocolate chip cookies.    I love gazpacho, but the hubby despises cold tomatoes so when the opportunity to make it for work came about, I jumped at the chance.  Besides, it would use up a lot of my garden and CSA vegetables, which is always a plus.

gazpacho

I pulled up a few recipes on the internet, I didn’t find one that stood out to me, so I ended up winging it, with fantastic results, if I do say so myself.

Gazpacho

1 Cucumber, seeded and finely diced

2 Peppers, seeded and finely diced

5 Tomatoes, seeded and finely diced

1 Red Onion, peeled and finely diced

3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and finely diced

1 Jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

5 Cups Tomato Juice

Juice of One Lime

Take half the vegetable and half the tomato juice and put it in a food processor.  Pulse until everything is smooth and uniform.  Pour into a serving bowl, add the rest of the diced vegetables, the lime juice, and the rest of the tomato juice. Taste, season with salt and pepper.  Chill for a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight.  Serve with a garnish of thinly sliced scallions.

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Everyone at worked loved it.  The fact that it was made with fresh picked vegetables, it was both vegan and fat-free made all of the girls very happy.  We had nothing left for me to put away when lunch was over.   Now that is what I call a winner!

Bread and Butter Pickled Jalapeno’s

Last week I got a huge bag of jalapeno’s from our CSA, it was exactly what I was waiting for, I couldn’t wait to make Bread and Butter Pickled Jalapeno’s again this year.   I made them for the first time two years ago and they were delicious, sweet and hot. I ended up putting them on all sorts of things, but my favorite way to use them, was dicing them and adding them to a batch of cornbread.

pickled jalapeno

As with any pickle recipe, it is a whole lotta prep and wait.   You clean the jalapeno’s (wear gloves….unless you like pain, then, by all means, tough it out), and put them and some sliced onions in salted water for a few hours.   After four hours, you drain, rinse, and drain the vegetables.  While they are draining for the second time, I went ahead and boiled my jars and started the brine.   As soon as the brine comes to a boil, you add the vegetables, cook them for a short time, can them and then process.  It goes fairly quickly once the brine comes to a boil.     I found the recipe on the Simply Recipes site.   I have used quite a few of their recipes, with wonderful results, and this one is no exception.   If you get a chance, check them out, and by all means, make these pickles!

Hoagie Spread

I am still amazed that the recipe and post that garners the most attention on this site is my hot pepper hoagie spread.   It is the single most searched for post on my site and drives the most traffic to my site from search engines.  Who knew people were so fond of hot peppers!

Well, I had amassed quite a few hot peppers between my CSA and the garden, so early Sunday morning I threw together a quick batch and canned it so we would have it for the next few months.

hoagie spread

It couldn’t be easier to make, you just cut the stems off the hot peppers and cut them in half.  For every two cups of peppers, you add one cup of apple cider vinegar, one diced onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  You bring everything to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and let it cook for approximately 20 minutes.  Once is has cooked down and the vegetables are tender, I dump the entire pan into my food processor and give it a whirl.  I pack the hot vegetables into hot jar, then process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.   It is a fat-free, salt free, vegan condiment that goes beautifully on a hoagie, but honestly, I love it with eggs, especially on an egg sandwich.  I take onions, peppers, and potatoes and saute them, I add eggs and scramble everything together.  I toast up a nice crusty roll and lay a piece of provolone cheese in the roll before topping it with the egg mixture and finally a nice dollop of hoagie spread.  It really wakes you up in the morning!

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Whenever I have a huge batch of tomatoes, I simply cut them in half, lay them cut side down in a baking dish and drizzle a bit of olive oil on them.   I slowly roast them in the oven, sometimes adding herbs and garlic, sometimes just roasting the tomatoes plain.  It is super easy way to use up a bunch of tomatoes in a short amount of time.  Besides, I hate canning tomato sauce, I don’t like adding the required amount of lemon juice to get the right level of acid, I would much rather roast the tomatoes to bring out their sweetness, then skin and freeze them for use later in the year.

Anyway, for this batch, I added several sprigs of fresh thyme from the garden and one whole head of garlic.  I cook the tomatoes at 350 degrees for about an hour, until the skins are starting to brown.  I let them cool enough to pull the skin from the tomatoes, I discard the thyme stems, and I put them in a container to freeze.  I didn’t add the garlic to the tomatoes this time.  I simply squeezed it from its papery shell and froze that separately.  I have a recipe for spaghetti with garlic three ways, and one of the ways is roasted garlic, so I will be making that recipe in the near future!

oven roasted toms

It is a great way to preserve your tomatoes when your garden is into over drive and it means that one night in the fall when I am craving chili, the tomatoes from my garden are already roasted and ready to be turned into a lovely autumn meal.  I love extending the summer season by preserving the harvest, plus I am able to control what we are eating, no ingredients I can’t pronounce, which is really the way I prefer to eat.  I want to be in control of what goes in my body and having frozen and/or canned items in the house means I know exactly what I am eating.