Jenni’s Heirloom Marinara

The funny thing about being a gardener is that the vegetables don’t care how you feel. When they’re ripe, it’s time to can them or throw all your hard work away. It was a horrible year for my garden, so I am a slave to canning any and everything as soon as it’s ripe.

Yesterday, it was the marinara I’ve perfected after 20 years and I’m going to share the recipe with you in the hopes you will enjoy it as much as we do.

IMG_8662

Also it means I won’t lose my recipe again. 🙂

IMG_8643IMG_8644

IMG_8649

img_8648.jpg

Enjoy ♥

Salsa for Canning Recipe

salsa

This is absolutely my favorite recipe and it’s taken a decade to perfect. Enjoy!

Heirloom Salsa

10 c chopped tomatoes

5 c bell peppers

5 c onions

2 1/2 c peppers. (Be sure to remove the seeds if you want to keep your salsa mild!)

1 1/4 c lime juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

3 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 can of tomato paste (optional)

This is so easy and so ridiculously time consuming… but worth every minute spent until you’re placing the jars in your pantry! Throw all your ingredients in a stock pot and let simmer on low until the flavors are combined and your salsa has thickened to your liking. Fill sterilized canning jars, adjust lids and process in a hot water bath canner. 20 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for salsa

tomatoes

I can’t recommend highly enough to mix and match your flavors. I made a batch of Brandywine tomato & habanero pepper salsa this week that is amazing, and my Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato & jalapeno mild salsa is equally as delicious. You can tailor this recipe to fit your heat preference and favorite flavors. Be sure to remember that salsa continues to get hotter after canned if you leave the seeds in the peppers!

Happy dipping!

Mmmm…. and this is why.

My hands are destroyed a little… it’s going to take some effort to return them to server hands. My nail polish is destroyed, my cuticles are ragged…

BUT!!!!!!!!!

A quarter of the garden is weeded and mulched. I’m exhausted… but it’s finally coming together and I’m finally getting it on auto-pilot. We’ve had a slow & cool summer so things are SO far behind.

BUT!!!!!

The arugula is gorgeous. The strawberries are going strong… and the golden raspberries are coming on. I found a dozen peas and 3 baby potatoes… I thinned the beets & the carrots…

Arugula, Strawberry & golden raspberry salad with roasted baby potatoes & baby beets.

This is why I knock myself out to grow my own veggies… so that when I’m having a crappy day, I can kick my shoes off at the gate, wiggle my toes into the dirt and feel better instantly.

More than that? I’m a food snob. I love things that taste good and I’m determined to grow them myself if I can’t get them locally. My mama ruined us early on.. she always had a huge garden and I knew from a tender age that potatoes didn’t taste as good as when you dug them yourself.

There’s a bit of love that comes through. It’s why I can Raspberry & Strawberry jam… it’s why I pickle beets and carrots & beans…. all this effort and all this work turns into something truly amazing…

and it feeds the people I love for the rest of the year.

I love a good day in the garden. I thrive in a dress & knee pads. I’m happiest with flowers in my hair and baby peas & carrots in my apron pocket.

Mmm. Bliss. Sweet, fantastic domestic bliss…

for 1. lol…

I hate to be a martyr but I fucking hate cooking for 1. I’m ready to start leaving food on the neighbors doorstep, just so I can truly enjoy cooking again.

Sigh…

Humor me… cook with me 🙂

If you’ve never attempted to make your own salad dressing, now is the perfect time to start! Here’s my favorite recipe for a quick easy vinaigrette.

Honey Bacon Dressing

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 pcs. bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Candied walnuts
Combine & shake like hell. Simple & yummmmmmmmmmy.
Throw the arugula in a bowl, dice the strawberries & throw the raspberries in. Add the candied walnuts & crumble bleu cheese & bacon over the top. Toss with the dressing & enjoy 🙂

Yummy

What’s a self respecting sun worshiper to do? I’m FREEZING to death. Ok so perhaps that’s a tad bit dramatic, but still… it’s ridiculously cold and I hate it.

Thankfully I have the answer… and it comes in a glorious 9X13 Pyrex pan of coconutty goodness. Behold!

My very own toasted coconut marshmallows… and because I love you all so much, the recipe.

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

Soften 4 envelopes of gelatin in 3/4 cup cold water in your mixer. Give it a half hour or so before you start with the cooked mixture.

(If you don’t have a mixer, you can’t have marshmallows, sorry.)

In a saucepan, combine:

3/4 cup water

3 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup corn syrup

Bust out your handy dandy candy thermometer (again… not optional) and clip it securely on the side of the pan. I’m not messing around when I say securely- I melted my flip flops to my foot once because I was being careless and the sugary molten lava spilled. Ouch and a half… oh and weeks wearing the same melted shoes because anything else bothered the blisters. Do not be careless making these, you will suffer as a result if you do.

Cook the combined ingredients to 244*. Pay attention. Too low a temp will result with you having a ridiculous amount of marshmallow cream. Too long and they’ll be tough and chewy. Eww. Do not walk away and leave them, although it will feel like forever while you stand there, it happens in seconds when you’re not paying attention.

Pour the lava into your mixing bowl and start slow, then build up (without a lava shower) to the highest speed on your mixer. Let it whip for 8-10 minutes.

Add (slowly)

1 tsp vanilla (and don’t buy the cheap stuff, sheesh!)

1 tsp coconut flavor.

Oil a 9X13 Pyrex pan while you wait for them to blend (you can color them too if you want at this point).

Dump the heavenly sticky goo into your pan and top with toasted coconut. Then wait.

Overnight. 😦

My daughter came home while I was making them yesterday and said

I- I wish I had two mouths right now so the mouth explosion was doubled. I wish everything could taste this good.

She’s not exaggerating, they’re THAT good.

Dust your entire life in powdered sugar and cut them with an oiled pizza wheel, being sure to dust each marshmallow on all sides or else your hard work will result in a giant disastrous marshmallow snake. Bag them up and enjoy.

The smell of coconut wafting through the house is almost as good as smelling it on your skin after a day in the sun with tanning lotion. The taste is enough to transport you back in time to your favorite pina colada. They are divine.

Make some, enjoy… and don’t forget to toast one. If you think you’ve had smores before? You haven’t until you’ve made them with a toasted coconut marshmallow.

Mmmm. Yummy…. and let’s all look on the bright side, Punxsutawney Phil says an early spring is on the way!

God love that strange little animal for not seeing his shadow.

Sad Mommy Soup

I woke up this morning hoping it would rain… please… please, please. I’m heartsick and sad and don’t want to stare at the stupid sun. I want to clean the house until you can eat off the floor… pick vegetables… and snuggle with my little princess in front of a movie. To hell with a dress… I’m in my ultra loud strawberry pajama pants and my favorite ugly sweatshirt… hell even my socks don’t match.

But I’m soft- warm and so sad… so I’m enjoying the hell out of the Sad Mommy uniform. Which is just one more reason I don’t want a boyfriend… I love days like these every once in a while. I can’t even tell you how many times the dirty hippie tried to steal my favorite sweatshirt. Fucker- there are rules about favorite clothes… and I’m thankful I managed to keep it. Yes… I know it’s a horrible shade of pink… and it’s at least 3 sizes too big… but I liken it to a hug from my Dad… it’s big, perfectly broken-in, and I can paint the house or weed the garden in it.

Being in a relationship should never mean sacrificing your favorite clothes. Ever.

I’m surrounded by vegetables. Buckets and buckets of potatoes, garlic EVERYWHERE… not to mention hundreds of shallots. Tomatoes on the counter, laundry baskets full of basil, bowls of baby zucchini & carrots, and beets ready to be pickled. I’m drowning in veg… and in my own sadness. I really blew it this weekend- and I’m gloomy sad.

Soup to the rescue (because it works every time.)

This is my very favorite easy soup recipe… and a more heart felt apology, of sorts… because I don’t share it and once you try it… you’ll know why 🙂

Husband Soup, named by my girlfriend who swears I can’t give this to men recklessly or I’m liable to end up in captivity again.

8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, but the store bought variety works almost as well.

8 cups peeled & cubed potatoes

3-4 shallots, peeled & diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 tsp salt (I salt to taste, but start here)

1 tsp pepper (you can use white pepper if you’re uptight about seeing the pepper in your soup)

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (and buy Philadelphia, it tastes better, I swear.)

2 cups of each of the following: mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, celery, etc, anything you want really.

  1. Combine broth, potatoes and spices.
  2. Saute your other veggies separately.
  3. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  4. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.
  5. Reduce to low heat.
  6. Add your sauteed veggies.
  7. Add cream cheese.
  8. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

It really is amazing- and easy enough you can make it in minutes, even if you’re not feeling like cooking and you’d rather order pizza. There’s something amazingly soothing about peeling potatoes… and dicing them into tiny cubes. The entire act of cooking something you grew… is pretty obscenely fabulous. More than that? You can’t feel sorry for yourself when your babies eat themselves sick on soup & homemade bread.

You can embrace your gorgeous domestic self…and smile yourself right back to happy.

Mmm Spinach Soup… my favorite.

So I’m going to share. Nice, huh?

Spinach Soup

1/2 cup butter

2 onions or shallots, chopped

5 cloves garlic, diced

4 large potatoes, peeled & chopped

1 46.5 oz can chicken broth

1 giant tub of organic baby spinach (I think it’s 1lb?)

4 cups water

Fresh ground nutmeg

Ok, ready?

Chop & dice your onions & garlic- and throw in the stick of butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces.

Cook until translucent, add a little salt & pepper.

Get out your Titan peeler, and if you don’t have one… buy one. It’s one of those kitchen tools you’ll love so much you wont be able to imagine your life before it. Seriously. Peel your potatoes, and chop them into fairly small pieces. You’re going to blend them in, so you want them small enough that they cook quickly & evenly.

Add the chicken broth, put the lid on your stock pot, and let it simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Pack the entire container of spinach into the pot- turn the burner off, and put the lid back on. Let it sit for another 10 minutes, or until you can see the spinach has softened. I have a serious lack of patience when it comes to this soup- and it always comes out perfectly.

Soft spinach- ready to blend!

Now the fun part 🙂 Get out your immersion blender and start blending. If you haven’t bought an immersion blender yet, I wholeheartedly recommend them.  I paid $1.99 for mine at the Goodwill so it doesn’t have to be expensive. They’re $20 retail, and the amount of stress & clean-up time they eliminate will more than justify the purchase. I used to make this soup with my food processor and I can’t tell you how much easier it is with the immersion blender. I’ve used it for everything: potato leek soup, whipping cream, Hollandaise sauce, even mixing orange juice concentrate.

After it’s blended to a smooth & brilliant green (I’d show you a picture but the camera got all steamy) add your 4 cups of HOT water. Blend a little more, grate a little fresh nutmeg on top…and….

Voila! Heaven in a bowl… with enough leftovers to freeze some 🙂 It’s especially good with Indian Flatbread… 🙂

Enjoy!