Aug 252014
 

We got roma tomatoes this year in order to make salsa. It was a little early for tomatoes. I had about one bowl full of ripe tomatoes which came out to be almost 2 pounds (almost 5 cups, which the recipe called for. I was 1 cup off so I added one can of diced tomatoes to make it 5 cups). The jalapenos and anaheim peppers also came from our garden. I had a mixture of green and red jalapenos.

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I found this recipe online and it turned out to be very similar to the recipe in the canning cookbook that came with my kit. I had 6 new jars for canning. I followed the instructions and ended up filling 5 jars (and two of them weren’t as full as they could have been). It was weird that there was a discrepancy between the servings it created. But anyways, here is the recipe:

Zesty Salsa

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

From: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/zesty-salsa

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 13 medium)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 2 large)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped onions (about 3 to 4 medium)
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped seeded chili peppers, such as hot banana, Hungarian wax, serrano or jalapeño (about 7 medium)
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, optional
  • 3 (16 oz) pint or 6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
  2. COMBINE tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce, if using, in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. LADLE hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
  4. PROCESS both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
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It was very time consuming but fun. I put on some music (which may or may not have been Miami Sound Machine and Cyndi Lauper) and got started. First I prepped the stuff I needed to chop. I diced the onion (using red and yellow), minced garlic and then got some latex gloves (smart! smart!) to dice up the jalapenos.

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Then came time to clean and prep the jars. I let them simmer to keep warm while I took care of the tomatoes. I had no idea it was so difficult to skin the tomatoes. I went to Google and found a video that showed some tricks and used one of them: add the tomatoes to almost boiling water, let them sit in the hot water for a minute or two then add them to a bowl of cold water. They were super easy to peel then.

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Once everything was chopped and ready, I put the mixture into another pot and cooked it for like 10-12 minutes or so, per the instructions.  It smelled so good! Our jalapenos are very spicy, so I bet the salsa is gonna be spicy…even so, I did add a small splash of Aardvark sauce to the mixture (it said you could add some hot sauce). I mixed it constantly while it cooked.

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I also added a little bit of this stuff:

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It’s a salsa mixture meant for canning. It basically has some spices (onion powder, garlic powder) and dehydrated green bell peppers. It smelled pretty good. I mixed it all in and once it was done cooking it was time to ladle the salsa into jars. This was the hard part, honestly. The jars were flaming hot, the openings were really small and too small for the ladle. I put on my oven mitts and that made it even harder to hold onto the jars. But despite that, I was able to get everything into the jars.

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I put the jars into the giant pot to seal. When I took them out after 20 minutes only one of the four was sealed properly. I was super bummed out and then a minute later, POP. The other three sealed. It was very weird! So they all sealed properly. I let them cool all evening and then into the pantry they went. One jar that I did not seal went into the fridge for later testing. :D I also made some more of those amazing pickled red onions I did and sealed them in the canning kit to have later this winter.

How was the salsa?

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It smelled amazing! I was excited to give it a go so Michael and I made nachos for dinner. Just simple nachos with Colby Jack cheese, black olives, and pickled jalapenos from the garden. Had some sour cream and my salsa on the side for dipping.

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The salsa was GREAT! It tasted so good and wasn’t too spicy, something I worried about using our jalapenos (which are exceptionally hot this year). Loved the salsa! It was definitely a success. Action shot:

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Yum! The salsa was great, or in the words of my future husband “that salsa was fucking awesome.” I am excited that it was a success and plan on making more. The one downside is that it is SO time consuming. It took me about 3 hours to do the whole process and only got 5 jars out of it. I think once the tomatoes are all ripe, I’ll do another batch of salsa and then focus on just canning the tomatoes whole to make sauces with later.

Do you have a favorite canning or salsa recipe to share?

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Aug 202014
 


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Seriously, it’s coming out of our ears. SO MUCH ZUCCHINI. The plant has taken over the raised bed and every day there is more zucchini. I guess the heat wave we had recently made our plant flourish. I needed some creative ways to eat the zucchini. With so much, just having it as a side dish with every dinner gets old quick. By the end of summer I plan on shredding a bunch of zucchini and freezing it like I did two summers ago. It was nice being able to make zucchini bread in the winter.

Zucchini Boats

This was the first recipe I tried. I went off this recipe from Skinny Taste, Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats, but really just used it as cooking instructions. At some point I will try the actual recipe because it sounds delicious. But I had some leftover cooked ground beef and onions and homemade spaghetti sauce that I just mixed together and used for this recipe. It made it a quick and easy meal.

I cut the zucchini and used a spoon to scoop out some of the seeds and innards. Then I boiled the zucchini for about 2 minutes.

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In a bowl I mixed together the spaghetti sauce, beef and onions. I added a little bit of salt and pepper to it and then put the meat in the zucchini “boat.” I topped the meat with shredded Colby Jack cheese (it was all we had). I baked them at about 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Michael and I split one large zucchini for dinner and it was plenty of food. It was so filling and I love that it was low in carbs. We both agreed that it definitely needed some spice to it. Next time I’ll add some red pepper flakes or maybe use spicy ground sausage instead of beef.

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Yum! Yum! Love the concept of this recipe and will definitely try it again.

I’ve done a couple other dishes using zucchini, but not really using a recipe. One of my favorites was gnocchi topped with homemade spaghetti sauce and sauteed zucchini. I love the combination and it was really delicious and filling!

Low Sugar Zucchini Bread

I used this recipe for zucchini bread. Even though it was low in sugar, it was still a little high for my liking. I reduced the amount by using 1/2 a cup of Splenda and 1/2 a cup of unsweetened applesauce. By doing that I reduced the calories per serving by over 100 calories. I also used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free flour.

Zucchini Bread
 
From: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Low-sugar-and-whole-wheat-chocolate-zucchini-bread-309432
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Stevia In the Raw Granulated Sweetener, Splenda, or other sweetener
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or use 1/3 cup more sweetener, but I like a small amount of brown sugar in this)
  • 6 T grapeseed oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C. (I used a toaster oven so it didn't heat up the house.) Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, sweetener of your choice, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Stir in the grated zucchini.
  3. In a slightly larger bowl, mix together the white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just enough to combine. Then fold in chopped walnuts or pecans. Scrape the batter into loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. (I also used the rubber scraper to spread the batter to make the top of the loaf even.)
  5. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan, then slice and serve.

 

The batter was a little on the soupy side and I was a little worried but it turned out great! I baked them in my mini loaf pan (which I absolutely love) for about 35 minutes and pulled them out. I was really surprised at how light and fluffy the loaves were considering they were gluten free. Usually gluten free baking is really dense and just not great…

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This recipe was great! Michael had it for breakfast a few times, it worked great for that because it wasn’t overly sweet. I had skipped the nuts and I think next time I will add some. The bread needed a little bit of texture to it.

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I was impressed with the subtle flavor and the airy texture. I would definitely make this recipe again and it was a great use of zucchini! I might even add a little more zucchini than the recipe calls for. With my alterations and using the mini loaf pan, I estimated about 18 servings…so that makes the calories around 129 per serving.

Do you have a tried and true recipe to use up zucchini? Pass it on to me!

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