I started eating walnuts last year. For awhile I was eating them as dessert. I’d have fresh berries, walnuts and whipped cream. It was a good lower carb option for dessert for me. I kinda stopped doing that for awhile, no idea why, but I wanted to revisit the idea of eating “real food” more often.
Walnuts, especially, are really good food you. They are the best nut you can eat. Better than almonds, much better than peanuts. And I’ve been finding that they are pretty filling! The downside is that like all nuts, they are pretty high in calories so I have to watch how many I eat!
Last week my lunches were:
Green and red leaf salad with:
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
The salads were really filling and I felt good after eating it. I will be doing a variation of this for my lunches for awhile I think.
Last Friday night, Michael and I also tried a pre-made cauliflower pizza crust. I got it at Whole Foods. It was really expensive (like $5.99) for a small pizza (4 slices total). But I wanted to try it as an alternative to regular dough. (We usually use the Trader Joe’s dough for our homemade pizza nights.)
The good thing about the cauliflower crust pizza, it’s lower in calories and carbs. The bad thing? It’s a pain in the butt to make, time consuming and doesn’t always work well. We had a LOT of failures when we first tried making it ourselves.
So how was the Whole Foods Cauliflower pizza? Really good.
We topped it with cheese, pizza seasoning, pepperoni, olives, Mamas Lil Peppers and baked it a little longer than it suggested. It was crispy and delicious and had great texture.
The pizza was great but it’s NOT low carb. It’s actually pretty high in carbs. But it IS gluten free, so that’s good if you need that. It’s low in calories, which is nice. But it’s also small. (Four servings total, so enough for 2 people.)
I’d like to try Trader Joe’s cauliflower crust pizza next.
Amazon currently has a deal on the Kitchenaid Spiralizer and we got one! We are really excited to try it out. The deal is really good, so check it out before it’s done. I planted one zucchini plant in our veggie garden this year and I’m looking forward to lots of zoodles.
Finally, in meal prep land — for lunches this week I made this beef and broccoli:
Michael and I met with the wedding coordinator and caterers at the venue. It was for the final walk-thru and planning session. It was a lovely, sunny day and we had so much fun! We figured out the placement for everything and finalized all the details. The venue was set up for another wedding and it looked similar to what we plan on doing for the layout (with a few changes). It was cool to see it set up and not just a big empty room. It made it feel more real somehow.
I have to admit, I got a little nervous standing in the middle of the room there, imagining how it will look in a little less than two weeks with all our friends and family around us. Butterflies!
The next day, I went to the gym and did my old traditional workout. Most Saturdays I’ve been hitting the Warrior Room for my workout but this weekend the ladies were off on their bachelorette party so the Warrior Room was closed. I got in my own kettle bell workout at my gym, did a bunch of other body weight exercises and free weights. Then I went up to the cardio room and ran on the treadmill. It wasn’t a great run. My legs felt heavy and I finally called it quits after a little over a mile.
After that, I had a ton of kitchen stuff to do! Our garden exploded with the hot weather lately. So many jalapenos, so many tomatoes. I spent the afternoon making jalapeno jelly and then canning tomatoes. First, the peppers. I found a recipe that used a pound of jalapenos, which was good because we probably have about 6 pounds right now. And that is after we pickled half a dozen jars of them!
I followed the instructions to the letter because this is the first time I’ve ever made jelly before and the first time I’ve ever worked with pectin. You know what else is scary? Measuring out 6 cups of sugar.
Yikes! Slightly terrifying seeing that much sugar for a recipe! It’s a shame you can’t use sugar substitutes for stuff like this. But I know that’s a no-no when making jam.
3 packets liquid pectin (measure out 2½ packets and have ½ packet ready to go if needed)
½ teaspoon butter, if desired
Sterilize jars by running though the dishwasher or boiling in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
Combine 2½ packets liquid pectin (4 oz) with ½ cup sugar. Set aside.
Rinse, deseed and rough chop the jalapeños.
Puree jalapeños in a food processor or blender, adding about ¼ to ½ cup cider vinegar to smooth out.
Combine jalapeño puree, remaining sugar, vinegar and butter in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so as to prevent burning.
After boiling for 10 minutes, add sugar/pectin mixture.
Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Skim foam if any.
Test for thickness by scooping a half a spoonful of the jelly with a cold spoon that has been resting in ice water. If it is to your desired thickness after coming to room temperature, then proceed to the next step. If not, add the remaining ½ pouch (1½ oz of pectin) to the sauce pan and bring back to a hard boil for one minute.
Carefully ladle jelly into jars, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.
Secure the lids and rings to the jars then add the jars to boiling water using tongs or a canning basket. Make sure there are at least two inches of boiling water covering the top of the jars.
Process (boil) for 10-12 minutes.
Carefully remove the jars to dishtowels to cool (you will probably need to process a couple of batches, depending on the size of your canning pot or basket).
After cooling for a couple of hours or overnight, check the seals on the jars by pressing the middle of the lid. If it springs back, it is not seal properly. Refrigerate and use within a few weeks. If it doesn’t spring back, then it is sealed properly and can be stored in your pantry for 12-18 months.
I added the other 1/2 packet of the pectin like the instructions said and the consistency still wasn’t quite right. I added a little bit more, but alas, my pepper jelly wasn’t to be. 🙁 I still sealed the jars just in case it took awhile for the pectin to set?! Yeah, still didn’t. 🙁
While the jars were cooling I got started on the tomatoes. I picked about four pounds of tomatoes and did a quick method of peeling the skin off, similar to what I did when I made the salsa a few weeks ago. I boiled it for like 30 seconds and then put the tomatoes in ice water. The skin came off so easy. Here is the tomato recipe:
3 lb whole, halved or quartered tomatoes per quart jar
Ball® Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
(32 oz) quart or (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to loosen and crack. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored portions. Leave whole, halve or quarter.
ADD ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. Add ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
PACK raw tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding tomatoes. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 85 minutes for both pints and quarts, 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.
I wanted to do it this way so that I have whole tomatoes this winter to make different sauces and stuff. This was a very fast, easy way to preserve the massive amounts of tomatoes we have! It was seriously so fast and easy. I’m glad I did this recipe because if it works well when I open one of those jars in January to make homemade spaghetti sauce, I will be one happy camper. That means next summer I will most likely get the bigger jars and can more tomatoes for sauce.
I thought it was a little weird that the tomatoes “shrank.” Anyone experienced with canning have this happen? I suppose I should have shoved as many tomatoes in as I could since they would shrink in the jar. Oh well, live and learn!
On Sunday after yoga I checked the jelly. It was better than the night before but still not set all the way. I looked around online to see what I could have done differently or what I did “wrong” and came across this website. It actually gave instructions about how to fix runny jelly. I followed the instructions the next day to see if it would work. I had about 1/2 an envelope of pectin leftover so I used that.
And it worked! I am glad I took the extra time to fix the jelly. I added the rest of that pectin packet and resealed everything. It was a bummer I had to throw away all the lids and use new ones but I am glad I did it. The jelly set perfectly and I had a little sample…it was DELICIOUS and perfect! And spicy!
The rest of the weekend was spent doing little details for the wedding…making name cards, programs, finalizing stuff and packing things I will need that day!