Fantastic Strawberry Jam

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Strawberry jam is so easy to make if you have the right recipe and method.  For years I  tried all different kinds of these recipes, without much success.  Needless to say I was sceptical of this recipe but I thought I would give it a try. There was no looking back. My daughter-in-law and her friend decided to make strawberry jam and asked me to show them how I made mine.  I quickly agreed.  You see I had an ulterior motive.  I could take pictures of the process for my blog without having to make it myself. This is an easy method. I encourage you to give it a try.

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Wash your jars and their rings in the dishwasher.  It’s also ok to do them by hand, remembering to rinse them really well.  Preheat your oven to 170 degrees farinheit.  Place the jars into the oven where they will remain until you will be ready to use them.  Also place a spoon in the freezer.  Trust me on this one.

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Hull your strawberries and place them into a large bowl.  I challenge you not to eat these while performing this task.

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With a potato masher, mash them to the consistency you like.  I like mine with a lot of lumps.  I wouldn’t use a food processor.  It would make them too watery.  Oh gosh they smell heavenly!

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Place the berries into a pot.

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Add your Certo Crystals.

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Place the pot on your stove on a medium-high heat, stirring continually until it comes to a boil.

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Add your sugar

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Lower your heat a little after mixture of berries, certo and sugar comes to a boil, retaining a smaller boil.  Stirring often, allow mixture to boil about 40 minutes.  Careful not to burn the jam.  The house now smells ssssooooo good.

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After 40 minutes skim off the foam.  It will have reduced quit a bit and will be thicker.  Can you smell the strawberries?  Oh I can.  Mmmmmm!

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Then take out spoon from freezer, dip quickly into jam.  If the spoon is coated your jam is ready. If it runs off spoon just cook a bit longer.  Remove pot from heat and continue stirring 5 minutes.

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Into a pot with water, place 2 sealing lids, bring them to a boil and boil them for 6 minutes.

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Take only two jars out of the oven at one time.  Oops, sorry for the glare.  It’s all about not having enough arms to do two different things.  Taking a hot jar out of the oven and taking a picture of it at the same time.

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Insert wide END of a large funnel into the jar, proceed to fill jar and repeat with second jar.

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Take a clean and damp tea towel wiping the very top of the jars.

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With another dry clean tea towel, wipe the same edges to ensure they are dry for a good seal.

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Remove the sealing lids from the boiling water 1 at a time.  Wipe in a dry clean tea towel, making sure it is completely dry.

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Very carefully, place sealing lids are on jars.

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Take the rings putting them on the jar but place finger on sealing lid to ensure it doesn’t move while tighting.

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Take the two jars, placing them on a flat surface that have a very thick towel on it, covering them with another thick towel.  Don’t they look like you know what you are doing?

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I like to use nice thick beach towels.  Don’t they look pretty? Repeat with other jars. Only uncovering when 2 more jars are ready to be placed under towels.

When you have finished filling all the jars and have placed them under the towels, leave covered overnight.  They should be sealed next morning.  Any jars not sealed properly, use now or refrigerate .

Well I knew this would happen.  I had no intentions of doing jam this year.  After helping the girls and doing the blog, I’ve decided to do some jam.  So off to the market I go tomorrow.

 

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups hulled, mashed strawberries

1 box certo crystals, (57 grams)

3 cups sugar

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

Place mason jars in the oven at 170 degrees.

Hull the strawberries and mash with a potato masher. Only doing 4 1/2 cups at a time. NEVER do more then  this at one time because the jam won’t turn out.

Mix certo crystals with fruit in a large pan.

Place over medium-high heat and stir continually until it bubbles.

Add 3 cups sugar.

After berries, certo and sugar come to a boil, again continually stirring, lower heat a little but maintain a smaller boil.

Stirring often allow mixture to boil 40 minutes – careful not to burn jam.

Place teaspoon in freezer for 15-20 minutes-using a frozen spoon, dip quickly into jam and set aside for a couple of minutes.  If jam sticks to spoon, then it is good to go.  If not then it needs a few more minutes to cook.

If jam is set, take pan off heat and remove foam then stir for about 5 minutes.

Pour jam into heated jars. Make sure sealing lids are clean and dry place the sealing lid on the jar and the ring, tighten.

Place jars onto a flat surface covered with a thick towel. Then cover the jars with another thick towel and let sit over night.  Each jars top will pop as it cools. This will create a good seal. You will be able to see that the lid will fall and if pushed will not move. If any jars have not sealed, use now or refrigerate .

Each quart or 4 1/2 cups of berries makes one jar of jam.

There will be times when the jam is too hard or too soft because the berries are soft from a lot of rain or they are small and hard from not enough rain.

Just feel a sense of accomplishment because of what you have made but most of all enjoy the fruits of your labour.  Ha ha, get it?

Thanks Sarah and Jenn, you’ve just given me more work to do at home.

 

Iced Coffee (OMGosh)

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If you love iced coffee, you’ll love this.  To me this is better then Starbucks Double Shot Coffee that I order.  I have been trying to make an imitation copy of  the Double Shot but I always seem to fall short.  Seems to lack in taste till I made this .  I just didn’t have the time to be brewing espresso shots when I wanted a coffee so I thought, what if I just put the grounds into a jar with some water.  The first time I made this I of course eyeballed it, went to bed and fell asleep.  Next morning when I came down into the kitchen there it sat on the counter.  I thought it would be ruined. Not wanting to dump it, because my espresso is expensive I strained it and placed it in the fridge.  Hoping there would be nothing wrong with it when I decided to make a coffee. Well guess what, it was fine.  I now have a new best friend which I have discovered, you can use not just in baking but in drinks.  Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Oooohhhh, is it ever good!  When you marry these two ingredients together, it’s a match made in heaven.

To my surprise cruising recipes one day on different websites didn’t I find a recipe similar to this.  It was on Pioneer Women.  I was flabbergasted.  Here I was trying to make shortcuts for myself and thinking I’ve come up with a new way of doing something and it was already out there. Amazing!  Well here is my version.

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My coffee of choice is espresso.  You can use what you like.

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I placed the coffee into a jar and added the water.

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Then I gave it a stir to make sure all the grounds were in the water.  Placed the lid on the jar and left it at room temperature.

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After 8 hours, I place a sieve over a pot because that’s all I had.

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Placed some paper towels into the sieve to act as a filter.

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Then poured the coffee into the filter from the jar.  Sorry, no picture but it’s a little hard to pour the coffee, hold the sieve and take a picture.

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From the pot I poured the coffee into a jar that would seal.  Again no picture, I need another arm to take the pictures.  Then I placed the jar in the fridge.

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When I finally had some time to have an iced coffee, I filled the glass up with ice and added the coffee.  Don’t you just love these little jars?  You could also use a mason jar.

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Next I added the Sweetened Condensed Milk.  This stuff I could eat with a spoon.  Funny thing is, I never have sugar in my coffee.

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I then put a lid on the jar and shake it until it is combined.

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Ooohhh it looks good!

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I place a lid with a spout on top and the ring for the jar, inserted my straw and I’m mobile to go where I please, with my coffee in hand.  This for the fraction of the cost that I use to pay at Starbucks. Oh, the lid with the spout was purchased at Canadian Tire.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces Espresso

4 cups of Water

Sweetened Condensed Milk

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

In a jar combine espresso and water.  Cover and let it sit at room temperature.  I left it overnight when I first made it so now I follow that process.

Line a strainer with paper towels and pour the coffee through into a pot. From the pot into a jar with a lid that will seal. Place in fridge use as needed

ICED COFFEE

Fill a glass with ice.  Pour your coffee in and add the Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Cover with your lid and give it a good shake.  You could also add some other milk of your choice if you like with the Sweetened Condensed Milk. A good solution if you find the coffee to strong.

Enjoy!

 

Low And Slow Flank Steak

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I love recipes that I can do in advance.  This for sure is one of them.  You can do much of this ahead or just parts of it.  It’s all up to you.

Flank steak is usually a tough piece of meat but cooked properly it will be soft.  It is fun to challenge yourself to see what you can do with a rather inexpensive cut of meat.  The first time I made this recipe I was taking it to my sons birthday party.  It was going to be buffet style and I thought it would make a nice addition.  Though, never having made it before, when it was ready to go I did hesitate, thinking people would not take to it.  So I thought I would jazz it up a bit by adding spices in a marinade.  Well I was overwhelmed at the response.  I was asked for the recipe a number of times.  I don’t think there was one person who didn’t compliment me on it.  The ultimate compliment came from a friend of my sons and his wife, Jenn.  Her little guy being only 3 years old, is a real picky eater and she said he loved it and asked for more meat.  Thanks Lucca.  I knew that I had a winner with this crowd.  It just doesn’t stop there.  Whenever I make it people are always making this sound when they eat. MMMMM, OOOOO, even the guys will say, this meat is delicious or this is awesome! People always asking for the recipe.  So guess what?  I decided to post it.

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I started by grating the rinds of the lemon and limes I was using, then adding them to a container.  Next came the juice.  I like to use some type of jar with a lid.

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Next I added some cumin.

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Then some fabulous chilli powder.

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Salt

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Pepper

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And sugar because I wanted to.

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I love the taste of Worcestershire, so I added some of it.

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Then came the mustard.  Using whole grain because that’s what I first had seen when opening the fridge.

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Next I grated fresh garlic.  I don’t think that you can ever have too much garlic.  Though my husband disagrees, so I have to limit what I use.  Though, sometimes I do sneak some extra in.

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Finally the oil.

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Give the container a good shake and there you have it.

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Now I place my steaks, which I slashed, into the pan that already had some marinade in it. I poured more marinade on top of the meat, covered it with foil and placed it in the fridge for 24 hours, while flipping it a few times , making sure it was well coated.

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This was the result. Into the oven it goes. When baked and cooled place it in the fridge covered overnight.

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Next on a cutting board thinly slice the steak with an electric knife.

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Place it in a clean pan, I’m funny that way. I added beef soup, but you can certainly add the marinade.  This is so the steak won’t dry out when reheating.  Cover with foil and place it in the oven.

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Now we can take care of the veggies.  Slice your onions.

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And your peppers.  It’s hard not to nibble here.  The colours are amazing.

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Line a pan with foil.  Add olive oil and spices.

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Then add veggies and using the best tools in the kitchen, your hands. Toss veggies till well coated.  During the last minutes of cooking your steak, add the veggies and you can adjust your seasoning.  Look at the colours. Amazing!

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Remove steak from pan, place on platter, surrounding it with the veggies.  I mean really.  How could you not want to eat this?  I just love the colours.

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Place the meat and some veggies in some buns or just on your plate. Looks good enough to eat.  So what are you waiting for?

 

 

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

2 whole Flank Steaks

1 Lemon Rind Grated And Then Juiced

1-2 Lime Rinds Grated And Juiced

4 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

4 cloves Garlic Grated

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Pepper

1 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Chilli Powder

1/4 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 Onions, Sliced

1 Green Pepper, Sliced

1 Red Pepper, Sliced

1 Yellow Pepper, Sliced

1 Orange Pepper, Sliced

Olive Oil, For Coating Pan

Fresh Buns

Feta Cheese (opt.)

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

In a container mix together lime juice and grated rind, lemon juice and grated rind, cumin, chilli powder, sugar, salt, pepper, grated garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and olive oil until well combined.  Pour half into a pan.  Place steak on it then add rest of marinade making sure the  steak is well coated.  Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours.  You could do it for less time, but I love the flavour during the longer marinading time.  I have even left it for 24 hours.  During this time turn the steak a few times to ensure that each side sits in the marinade.  After marinading is complete you can bake all as is in a 325 degree oven for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Let it cool and place in fridge until the next day.  I find that this process allows you to cut the meat easily without it shredding.  Next day slice the steak with an electric knife and place in a clean pan.  You can use the marinade or what I like to do is add some beef stock to the pan, cover it and place it in a low oven 275 – 300 degree oven for 1 hour or so. Making sure it is heated right through.

During the time that the steak is being heated, line a baking pan with foil.  Pour your olive oil on it, add cumin, chilli powder, salt and pepper to the oil. Place your vegetables on top and toss until the veggies are well coated.  During the last 20 – 30 minutes baking time of your steak add your veggies to the oven.  Bake them to the crispness that you prefer.

Remove all from the oven.  Place the already sliced meat down the middle of a serving platter then around the outside of the meat, arrange your veggies.  It looks gorgeous.  Good enough to eat, as they say.

You can eat this served on a bun of your choice with a little feta sprinkled on top, even some dollops of sour cream or just as is.

This is such an easy recipe to make ahead of time, so when your guests arrive you can spend more time with them.

ENJOY!

Quinoa Caprese Salad

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Well everyone it is summer and to me that means salads.  This evening my husband was working. This means I can make something to eat that he wouldn’t touch with a barge pole and quinoa is right on the top of the list.  I love to make it because it is such a complete food.  It has also been called a superfood.  High in protein, contains fibre phosphorous, magnesium, and iron.  Also is a source of calcium and considered to be gluten free. It is easy to make and I always think if it contains all those nutrients I don’t have to have anything else with it.  Which makes my meal so uncomplicated, quick and easy.  Noticing when I opened my refrigerator, I had tomatoes and buffalo mozeralla that I wanted to use up.  Caprese salad was my first thought, then I thought why not add the quinoa.  I was on my way.  Here is what I came up with.  Always remember I make more so I leftovers for the next day.

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Prepare your quinoa  according to package instructions and place into a bowl.  Allow to cool.  To be honest I omitted that step because I was hungry.  Didn’t matter to me if it was a bit warm.

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Chop your Roma tomatoes, mozzarella ball and basil leaves.

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Add your olive oil.

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Salt

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Pepper

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And your red wine vinegar.  When I got to this stage I decided to change it up.  I added balsamic vinegar instead.

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Next add your tomatoes, mozzarella ball and basil.  Gently toss it.

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Give it a taste to see if you need a little extra of something.

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Doesn’t that look yummy!

 

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

3 cups Quinoa

1/4 – 1/2 cup Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper To Taste

Red Wine Vinegar To Taste

3 – 4 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped

1 Large Ball Buffalo Mozzarella Ball, Cubed

A Bunch Of Basil Leaves, Finely Chopped (chiffonade)

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions.  When ready allow to cool.  The quiona may be prepared ahead of time and place in the fridge, covered. To prepare the salad place the quinoa into a bowl, add your tomatoes,mozzarella salt, pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Gently toss then add your basil.  Give it a taste and add what is needed according to your taste.

I love it and had enough for two more meals.  For lunch the next day I added cucumbers green onions, strawberries and a secret ingredient, tabasco sauce.  That’s something else my husband won’t eat. That’s ok I just add it when he’s not around.  It was YUMMY!!

 

COBB SALAD – MY WAY

There are so many ways to make Cobb Salad.  I think it all comes down to what your favorite ingredients are and you just apply them to the salad.  That’s what cooking is all about.  Putting your own spin on everything , your  signature so to speak.

This is my version.  I hope you like it.  Please forgive me because I was deleting some of my pictures and I lost some of my images.  When I make this again I will retake some of the pictures.

imageToday I decided to use  chicken thighs in my salad. You seasoned them with salt and pepper.  Place them in a fry pan cook them on both sides……and slice them up.  You should let them cool first.

imageNow on a broiling pan nicely place your bacon and place the pan in the oven under the broiler to cook.  This I had to do twice.  I mean really, you can never have to much bacon.  This is also the ingredient, well at least in my kitchen that gets tasted the most. Lucky to have any left by the time you need it.  Next you place it on a cutting board a proceed to chop.  Once your done, place on a plate and set aside but not before you have a nibble.  Please forgive me for some of the shadows in the pictures.  When I noticed it was too late.

imagePlace your eggs in pot and immerse them with water, boil them until they reach the hard boiled stage.  Whether it’s right or wrong, I boil mine for ten minutes, place them under cold water and immediately peel them from the wider end.  My father told me that they are easier to peel that way and he was right.

image Slice or chop them, whatever floats your boat.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

imageCut your lettuce into bit size pieces.   Place in a bowl, set aside.

imageSlice strawberries, green onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumber……

imagePlace in container, set aside.

imageDon’t forget your avocado.  Such a nutritious fruit that is so under used……Place in a bowl, set aside.

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Grate some cheese.  Then line up your ingredients, choose your plates and start to assemble.  You can do this process in a bowl, on a platter, in a casserole dish, any way you like.  I have chosen to serve it on individual plates.  First, place your lettuce on your dishes then in rows of each  item per row, eggs, cucumbers, strawberries, bacon, cheese chicken,  place your prepared and waiting items.

imageSprinkle with green onions! Top with your favourite salad dressing and your good to go.  I did one other simple thing.

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I toasted some bread.  Rubbed both sides with garlic…….

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Poured some olive oil on them, sliced each piece and served it along side of the salad.  You’ll love this salad.  It has become my favorite.  I ALWAYS make extra everything when I prepare for it, so I have everything sitting in a container in the fridge and when the mood strikes me I can make it without starting from the beginning.  My husband is not big on salads but will eat this one and even take it to work for his lunches.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Fried And Sliced

Salt And Pepper

Olive Oil

1 Clove Garlic

2 heads of Romaine Lettuce, Cut Into Chunks

10 whole Hardboiled Eggs, Peeled And Sliced

2 Packages of Bacon, Broiled Until Crisp

1 1/2 – 2 Cups of Cherry Tomatoes Sliced In Half

1 – 2 Cups of Strawberries Sliced

1 – 2 Avocados, Removed From Skin And Diced

3 Green Onions Chopped

1 Cup Of Shredded Cheese – I Used Marble

Salt And Pepper To Taste

3 – 4 Slices Of Toasted Bread, Rubbed With A Garlic Clove

Dressing Of Your Choice – I Used Kraft Poppyseed Dressing

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a heavy skillet drizzled with olive oil and fry chicken until the meat is no longer pink inside.  Remove from pan and set aside to cool.  Broil your bacon in the oven until crisp, also set aside to cool.  Cut both the way you like.

Arrange lettuce on plates, platter or bowl then place chicken, bacon, eggs, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, avocados, grated cheese in rows, one item per row.  Sprinkle with green onions and salt and pepper.

Serve with toasted garlic bread and salad dressing of your choice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things That Make Me Happy

I have just recently discovered the repurposing of Mason Jars really makes me happy.  In years gone by I use to do a lot of canning.  Tomatoes, tomato sauce, pickles, stuff peppers with cabbage, peaches, pears, cherries, all different kinds of  jams and jellies, small onions, oh gosh the list could go on and on. I have all of these Mason Jars sitting around gathering dust and taking up space, so now I have discovered new uses for them.  I love the look of them sitting on the table filled with napkins, cutlery, flowers or just filled with your favourite drink.  Also to my surprise there is a lid with a little spout for the jar that you can drink out of.  It sits on the opening of the jar just as a sealing lid would. You then take the metal ring and place it on the jar as you would as if you were canning and this glass becomes mobile.  Off you go with your drink in hand.  So simple!  I don’t know why someone didn’t think of this years ago.  Maybe they did.  It’s just that I found out about it now. I set out to find these little wonders and found some on line.  Expensive and then you had to pay shipping costs.  I called and went to a number of stores. Frustration started to set in, so I settled for some I found in a health food store in our area.  Feeling like I accomplished something I purchase two of them.  As my husband was with me at the time, he complained that they were way to expensive.  I thought so too but they were the same ones as on line but without shipping costs.  The next morning he had some errands to run and when he came home he handed me two packages with four of these lids in each package, plus straws.  I was afraid to ask him what he paid for them because I knew it would be a bargin. Well I paid $10.00 for one lid and he paid $7.00 for 4 with straws.  I couldn’t believe it.  I also was in that store but at a different location and the lady said they didn’t carry them.  Needless to say mine go back tomorrow.  Great job Bargain Man!

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Now isn’t this a great idea?  I love it!

Jarrad Saul

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