Canning “Crushed” Tomatoes

Tomato season is here.  I’ve canned quite a few diced tomatoes already, and am spending some time this week canning “crushed” tomatoes.  I don’t know about you, but I have a good number of recipes that call for them, and they are so easy to do, especially in the crock pot. 

You will need:

Roma tomatoes (these are meatier tomatoes and you will have less juice)

Your awesome crock pot

Rinse and chop your tomatoes.  Add to crock pot.  Cover and cook for an hour on low.  Then stir, and turn up the temperature to high and cook for another hour and a half to two hours. 

Skim off three to four cups of the juice.  Then, run your immersion blender through the tomatoes to get the consistency you like.  These should be fairly thick. 

Then, can your tomatoes as you normally would.  You can use my quick and easy method from last week’s blog as well. 

I use the crock pot for these tomatoes because it allows me to get more “crushed” tomatoes out of each batch.  I can’t get as many tomatoes in my regular pot. 

Enjoy your summer bounty all year long!!

One Skillet Chicken and Tomatoes

This is a quick and easy weekday meal, and also one that you can make ahead of time and freeze.  Love this at my house.

You will need:

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts

Almond flour

Parmesan cheese

Italian seasoning

Crushed or diced tomatoes or spaghetti sauce

fat of choice

First, take a couple of handfuls of almond flour, some parmesan cheese, and mix with Italian seasoning in a ziplock bag.  (We are gluten free, but if you wish to use regular flour, that works, too.)  Add in your boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, seal bag, and shake to coat.  Heat olive or coconut oil in skillet and brown chicken on both sides. 

When chicken is golden brown, add in seasoned diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes or the spaghetti sauce of your choice.  The tomatoes should almost cover the chicken.  Add in additional Italian seasoning if you are using plain tomatoes.  Cover, lower heat, and cook for 25 minutes.  Check for doneness.  Most of the time, I use chicken thighs, and they are done in 25 minutes and the sauce has thickened. 

Serve over noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cauli-rice, or just by itself.  Enjoy! 

Peachy Orange Ice Cream

This quick and easy dairy free ice cream recipe is a breeze.  Freeze several batches ahead of time to make preparation even easier. 

You will need:

Oranges – juiced

Peaches

Unsweetened coconut milk

A blender

Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits.  Place them in a freezer bag and add the juice from your oranges.  Freeze the bag until the fruit is icy, but not frozen solid. 

Add the fruit to the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add coconut milk to the mixture and blend again.  You can add more coconut milk to get the level of creaminess you like. 

Enjoy! 

Going to the Games!!

When I went to the kidney center last summer for my one year, post-donation visit, my new donor advocate handed me a flyer for the upcoming transplant games.  Based on my current crossfit program, she said that I had to be able to compete in at least one of the events.  I looked over the handout – table tennis, bowling, track and field, ballroom dancing, and several other events I had no business entering – thanked her for her confidence in me, folded it and placed it in my notebook, and did not think about it much after that. 

Fast forward a year to now, and I am a year and a half into crossfit and five months into working on improving my running.  With the guidance of my ever helpful coach/cousin, I had run four miles this weekend in less time than my best 5K time.  I’ve made progress. I jokingly told her that at this rate, I should sign up for some 5K’s in the fall, and this time I might be able to get across the finish line in time to get snacks. 

Do it, was her response. 

So I got on the running calendar for my area looking for races in the fall.  What I found, was again, the transplant games, but this time, there was a 5K listed.  I could enter this as a living donor. 

I can do this. 

So I did.  I entered. 

I’M GOING TO THE GAMES!!

So I have a month to train.  The course is hilly, so I have to work that out.  I know I can do this, but deadlines freak me the heck out.  I have no rational explanation; they just do.    

But I am going to the Transplant Games! 

This is going to be awesome! 

Quick and Easy Tomato Canning

I love canning my own tomatoes, but did not like the heat in my kitchen from them.  It was very much a love/hate thing, until I was let in on a secret. 

I was at a festival with a pretty hefty folk life section – spinner, makers of soap, carving, and a nice lady who was demonstrating how to make sauerkraut in a crock.  I started talking to her and, holy cow, was she a wealth of information.  And she was the one who let me in on the secret.  I did not question a woman whose story started with, “When the boys came back from the war” and ended with a woman of her age still butchering her own meat.  That says something – she knew what was up. 

Her secret changed my entire view of canning tomatoes.

You will need:

Tomatoes – make sure they are ripe and you have quite a few of them

Lemon juice

Canning jars

Screw bands

New canning seals (Do not reuse these.  You can reuse the jars and screw bands, but not the seals.)

First, clean the tomatoes, cut off the tops, and then cut the tomatoes into pieces.  These pieces do not have to be small.  I do not peel or de-seed my tomatoes; to me it does not make a difference in the taste.  Put all of your tomatoes in a large pot.  Cook on medium high heat until the tomato juice is visible and getting close to the tops of the tomatoes.  Then, set your timer for five minutes and let the tomatoes simmer in their own juice.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 250 degrees. 

Fill a sink full of hot water and heat your jars, screw bands, and seals.  This will keep the jars from shattering, so this is not optional. 

When your timer sounds, turn off the stove.  Give the tomatoes a minute to stop bubbling.  Then, pulling one jar from the hot water at a time, fill it with tomatoes (if you don’t have a canning funnel, invest), add lemon juice (1 tbsp for pints and 2 tbsp for quarts).  Seal the jar making sure the rim is clean first.  Place jar on rack in the middle of the oven.  Repeat with remaining jars until you run out of tomatoes. 

Set your timer for five minutes when you place the last jar to tomatoes in the oven.  When the timer sounds, turn the oven off and go away for a few hours.  You can even leave the jars cooling in the oven overnight.  You will hear the sound of your jars sealing.  When the jars are cool, remove them from the oven, check to make sure everything sealed, and enjoy the beauty of your freshly canned tomatoes. 

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  1.  If you have an oven with a fan that cools it after you turn it off, this will probably cause your jars to shatter.   Please spare yourself the misery of having to clean glass and tomatoes out of your oven and use the stovetop hot water bath.  Trust me on this one. 
  2. I’ve used this technique for years since I learned the secret, and in those years, I can count the number of jars that did not seal on one hand.  And I do can quite a number of tomatoes – sometimes over 50 lbs a year.  Be sure, however, to check everything carefully to make sure it has sealed.  If it did not, refrigerate the tomatoes quickly, and use them in a dish in which they will be heated thoroughly. 

Quick Chicken Salad

It is picnic time…or maybe you just need something to do with that leftover chicken.  Whatever the reason, here is a quick recipe to help you.

You will need:

Cooked chicken (use your food processor or chopper to cut it to the size you like)

Dill relish (seriously, why cut up pickles?)

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Cranberries or chopped pineapple

Spicy mustard

Mix the chicken, dill relish, and fruit of choice together.  Add enough sour cream or yogurt so that the mixture sticks together but is not soupy.  Add some spicy mustard to your mixture to give it a little extra kick. 

Let the mixture hang out in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. 

Enjoy!

Buffalo Bites

This is another variation on the mini-meatloaves – super easy and quick!

You will need:

Ground buffalo

Dried canberries

Cooked and crumbled bacon

An egg (one for each pound of buffalo)

A handful of almond or coconut flour

  1.  Mix all of the ingredients together. 
  2. Scoop the mixture into the muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 23-25 minutes. 

Serve with veggies. Enjoy!

This is also a great recipe to make ahead and freeze for quick lunches and suppers.