Oct 282015

Before I get to the peppers, I want to start with pickles. If you remember, I made some pickles this summer. I tried two different types of recipes. The first one was a cooked brine recipe. The second was a simpler pickling recipe (not cooked). The first batch I made (in the above link) was FANTASTIC except for one thing…the flavor was fabulous, the crunch was PERFECT. Michael said they were the best. The problem? They were too salty! Like nearly inedible too salty (at least for me, Michael said they weren’t that bad). I was so disappointed that my pickles didn’t work out. I was glad I was able to nail the crunch and the flavor, but what about the salt? How do I fix that? I followed the recipe…

So I decided to give it another go with a packet of dill pickle mix that I bought. I want to at least get one batch of pickles correct before I experiment with other flavors and methods.


It was super easy. Boil the vinegar, water and pickle mix, then ladle it into the jars and then can the jars. The canning took 10 minutes (much quicker than other canning recipes–like tomatoes for example). The mixture smelled really good. I added some sliced jalapenos into a few of the jars to see if they turn out spicy dill pickles. 😀


On a side note, a friend gave us some sweet pickles that were pickled with sliced jalapenos and OH MY GOD. It’s like spicy candy! So good! I need to get her recipe for that because that’s my next experiment.

The Verdict

I think I’m done with pickles. I’ve tried three different recipes and so far, no go. This one was okay– the flavors were perfect and they weren’t too salty like the first two attempts. The problem? They weren’t crunchy! I like crunchy pickles and I’m annoyed they didn’t work. But if you don’t mind non-crunchy pickles, the flavor is really great.

The Peppers

We’ve had a zillion, bazillion jalapeno peppers this summer. And we didn’t plant as many plants as we did last year when we got a zillion bazillion peppers! We still had pickled jalapenos from last summer’s batch when this year’s started to ripen. Oy vey.

I finally convinced Michael to give away some of last year’s batch and we made some room in our garage fridge for this year’s batch. Michael worked tirelessly to slice and pickle the jalapenos. We still had tons. We gave his mom three huge ziplock bags of peppers so she could pickle her own (they are from Texas, they put hot stuff one everything!).

Well it turned out one of the pepper plants I got was a random cayenne pepper plant. No idea how that happened. The pretty little shriveled red peppers grew in like crazy and I had no idea what to do with them. I started drying a batch of them and then decided I should try my hand at make some hot sauce, too.


I poked around to find some different recipes. I was looking for easy recipes and ones that I could either pickle or can to keep longer. I found a few different options and decided to give this one a try.


Here is the recipe I used:

Hot Pickled Peppers Sauce

From: http://remcooks.com/2012/09/30/hot-pickled-pepper-sauce/


  • Ripe cayenne peppers, stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • purified water (not tap water)


  1. Sterilize a 1 pint jar and lid.
  2. Add the cayenne peppers and garlic to the pint jar filing it as best you can.
  3. Add salt.
  4. Cover the cayenne peppers with bottled spring water or water filtered through reverse osmosis. Now, some of you are asking why bottled water? Well my friends, tap water contains Chloramine to prevent disease causing bacteria and pathogens. Chloramine (as CI2) is formed when ammonia is added to water containing free chlorine. So if you remove the chlorine, the ammonia stays. This will inhibit the production of lactobacilli bacteria and create other issues when you pickle something. So don’t use tap water. If you must use tap water, add 1 tsp white vinegar to the brine to help “kick start” the fermentation process.
  5. Place lid on top and tighten securely. Place in a cool (68 – 75 F), dark place. Now, here’s the hard part. LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 2 WEEKS!
  6. After 2 weeks have passed, place chiles, garlic and brine in a blender and blend at its highest speed for 1 minute.
  7. Pour into cute jars for later use. Enjoy!

This website had a few different variations on making the hot sauce, too, so if you’re interested check out the link and read through the alternatives. Since it was my first attempt I went with the original, simple version. Chopped up some garlic, de-stemmed the peppers, a little salt and the bottled water and that’s it.

Basically I pickled the peppers for a few weeks and then when I found the time, I got down to making the sauce!



A few weeks later…After sitting in the dark pantry for a bit. Put it in my bullet and blended! I ended up just doing one jar. The 2nd jar looked a little…funky. There was a white film growing in it and maybe that was normal? But it looked iffy to me so I tossed it. I blended everything up in the Bullet until smooth. If you want it less watery, don’t use all the water from the jar (I did).


The Verdict

Holy fire! SPICY as hell! Great flavor, great smell, really garlicky. But it is HOT. A little bit of this will go a long ways. Per the website I used for the recipe, it will keep in the fridge for 6 months.

Sep 082015

The original plan for Labor Day weekend was for us to go to Seattle and spend time with friends and see Faith No More at Bumbershoot. In the end I ended up staying home and Michael went to Seattle. I was torn and wanted to see our friends, but I knew that sitting in a car in holiday traffic for 4+ hours was not a good idea for my back. While my back is much better, sitting for long periods of time is not good. I was bummed to be missing out on the fun, but it gave me a chance to get some stuff done at home.


I started my day with the gym:


Then Bella and I hit the road to meet my friend Erika at Laurelhurst Park (where I recently ran my 5k!) for lunch and a walk. Bella sniffing me as we sit at a very long light (she gets antsy when we just sit):


It was a slightly chilly day but we found a picnic bench and ate lunch and talked. While we ate lunch it drizzled on us a teeny bit, but it wasn’t too bad. The park was full of people playing, having BBQ’s and birthday parties and there was even a wedding about to take place!


I’d been craving pasta salad lately so that’s what I made for my lunch. Bowtie high-fiber pasta with chopped carrots, black olives, red peppers, tomatoes from my garden and Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian dressing. I had a string cheese and a plum with the salad. After lunch we walked around the park for a bit, saw this guy practicing tight rope walking:


And then walked around the neighborhood. I found my new house:

I bet that house has a library in it! 😀 We finished up our neighborhood walk and said our goodbyes and it was just in time, too, because it started to downpour! When I got home I got set baking chocolate zucchini bread.


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

From: http://www.asweetpeachef.com/bread/healthy-chocolate-zucchini-bread/


  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for greasing loaf pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups finely shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan with coconut oil and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, 2 tbsp. coconut oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract. Whisk together until well-blended.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir to combine, taking care not to over-stir.
  5. Add the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips and fold into the mixture until well-blended.
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan and spread evenly.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest in for 10 minutes. If desired, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I liked healthier options for baking things like this. I would have liked to find one that used less sugar, but 3/4 cup of sugar was the least amount of sugar I was able to find in a recipe. I also love using applesauce in baking recipes! It makes the bread moist and fluffy in my opinion. I actually made 4 mini loaves of bread in my mini loaf pan.

The house smelled amazing as the bread baked! Yum yum. I gave one mini loaf to a friend and I froze two of the loaves for later. I carved into the last one for dessert!


It was SO good. Spongy and moist, slightly sweet but not overly so and just plain delicious. I loved this recipe. It’s a keeper!


Sunday was elliptical and yoga time. Then I came home and got lunch ready for Bella’s foster mom who was coming over for a visit. Lunch was cheese and crackers (smoked gouda and pepper jack), cantaloupe, pasta salad, salami and tomatoes. Then some zucchini bread for dessert.


She brought her dog, Kona, so the two pups could race around the yard and play. It was so cute to watch them! Bella LOVES her mama Jen. She gets so excited and spazzy when she sees her. It’s amazing to watch.




Bella was in HEAVEN. The dogs raced in the yard, Bella had zoomies for hours, she was so freakin’ happy! The dogs played for a few hours, we had lunch and chatted and Jen had some ideas for Bella’s latest issue. Jen has done some dog training courses and she’s seriously like the dog whisperer. We’ll see how things go. We have some good ideas on things to try for Bella.

After they left, Bella sat in the window kind of bummed–missing her buddies. Then I got to making tomato soup from the tomatoes from my garden. First I roasted the tomatoes with onions and garlic. Then I cooked it all down for a few hours. I used this recipe.


I used the recipe as a base. I let the roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally. It thickened up and I used my immersion blender (I LOVE that thing!) to mix everything up until it was smooth and creamy (and didn’t have to remove the skins because it all blended up nicely. I added salt, pepper, seasonings, some vegetable broth, tomato paste and mixed it again. Then added a few pinches of sugar.


Let it simmer a little longer and then put the tomato soup into freezer containers for this winter. I can’t wait to have this soup! When I defrost it I will probably experiment with adding some cream to it and it may need more tomato paste once I reheat it. We’ll see. It tastes good though!



Got two 42 ounce plastic tubs of tomato soup (for freezing) and a small tupperware full for my lunch one day this week. How was your holiday?