Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dump It Soup

My sister called yesterday and said she needed a soup recipe.  I told her I would get on that, so here you go the best go to soup recipe EVER!!!
Dump It Soup
1 lb browned hamburger or turkey
1 large onion chopped
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can great northern white beans, undrained
1 can cut green beans, DRAINED
1 can corn, undrained
1 qt. diced tomatoes
3 large carrots, sliced
1-2 c. beef bouillon
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. thyme
½-1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
Fry hamburger and onion.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook in a crock-pot on low for 8 hours or for one hour on top of the stove. 

Ok, that is what the recipe SAYS, but now lets talk. 

The thing I like most about this soup is it is poor man’s soup, you really can put whatever you want in it!  It really doesn’t have to be exactly what the recipe says.  I don’t know about you, but last week I spent my grocery money on Black Friday deals.  Why buy food when I can get Christmas gifts for a great deal!?!  So on a day like today I have to go to the food storage to see what I have. 

You can see in my picture I have Garbanzo Beans and White Kidney Beans---the recipe calls for Great Northern White Beans and Kidney Beans.  I don't care, the hubby and I are not picky and we will eat whatever.  Beans are beans and this is fine.  No worries!

Now the recipe calls for 1 large onion and carrots.  My fridge is so sad right now I don't even have an onion or carrots.  Oh well, fake it 'til you make it!  I found some green onions in the back of the fridge so I cut those up.  We really like green beans so I dumped another can of green beans in since I couldn't think of anything else to replace the carrots with.

Oh and I like to add tomato sauce to my soup.  Just a personal preference.  

Just dump it all in the crock-pot and forget about it!  The recipe says 8 hours, I think that is really long.  I usually just cook mine for about 5 hours.  The meat is all ready cooked so you a mainly just waiting for your carrots to soften up and letting all the ingredients blend with each other.  

About 15 min before we eat I add all the spices.  I don't even use all the ones listed in the recipe and I never measure spices.  Just start dumping a little bit of this and a little bit of that in.  I will tell you my secret...I usually dump in a couple Tablespoons of brown sugar.  It gives it a little bit of a sweet kick that I really like.  
Here's my soup that I have in the crock-pot cooking right now.  Try it out, it's not a bad dinner.  Oh and it is a great recipe if you have canned items that are going to expire and you need to use them, put them in the soup.  Well, if it makes sense to put it in the soup.  I have some pineapple that I need to use but I don't think I am going to dump that can in my soup!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Canned Salsa Excellente!

I finally made SALSA yesterday!!!  The other day when we were up the canyon looking at the leaves I just kept thinking it’s not officially fall unless we can something.  My mother-in-law is a big time canner and last year I took the plunge and did my first batch of canned Salsa.  Canning salsa isn’t hard it just takes a LONG time.  Literally, you have to do it on a day where you have at least 8-10 hours just to spend on it.
So here is the recipe, then I will take you step by step with pictures. 
Canned Salsa Excellente!
Combine in extra large pot:
6 quarts (1gallon and ½ or 24 cups) Tomatoes peeled and cut
4-5 Onions finely chopped
3-4 Bell Peppers coarsely chopped
3 Large Anaheim Peppers
2 Yellow Waxed Peppers
4 Jalapeño Peppers
1 Habanero Pepper    
1 Tbsp. Sugar
4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp. Garlic Salt
4 Cloves Garlic pressed
Finely chop all peppers.  To make salsa non-chunky put all contents through the blender or food processor.  With the Bell Peppers, you can do any kind of color combination: green, red, yellow.  To make your salsa “MILD” do not add any seeds.  To make it hot and spicy, add the seeds.
When all contents are chopped, cook on medium high heat until boiling.  Reduce heat and cook for 2 hours.  Stir often.  Fill sterilized canning jars then boil the filled jars for 25 minutes each. 

The first step for us is going out into the garden and seeing how many tomatoes we have.  
 I put them in my apron when I pick them, it makes me feel a little more country! :)
 Our tomatoes have been really slow this year, most of them are still green.  My mom is great, she donated a ton of tomatoes to this project, thanks mom!

You have to prepare the tomatoes.  You DO NOT want the tomato skins so you have to peel the tomatoes.  Last year was my first time and when I heard this I was picturing myself peeling tomatoes with a vegetable peeler over the garbage can.  Luckily before I did it I asked my mother-in-law and she told me you boil them.  You boil the tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes and their skins loosen up and you peel them right off.  
 You can see mine in the pan and their skins starting to crack.  They don't all crack, sometimes you have to poke into them with a knife, but after that they peel right off.  Easy!
 I just peeled mine over a bowl and dropped the skins right in there.  Then I put the tomato right into the blender.  Most of my tomatoes where pretty big, so I would put 3 tomatoes at a time in the blender.
My hubby and I like chunky salsa so I would just pulse the tomatoes up a little bit.  Then I would pour it out into a measuring cup and I would keep tally marks of how many cups I had so I wouldn't get confused.  I would pour the cups into my large pot and I had it on low heat.
I did pretty well.  I needed 24 cups and between my tomatoes and my mom's tomatoes I was able to get 21 cups, not bad!  To make up the rest I just used canned tomatoes.
 Can you see around my thumbnail, it is an orange tint because I had been dealing with tomatoes for like 2 hours!  Good times!  Now the tomatoes are set, lets talk peppers.  Here is a photo review so you know what the peppers look like.  Last year I had no idea what half of these peppers looked like and I felt stupid when I went to the store and had no idea what I was looking for.
First the easy ones, the bell peppers.
You can use any color you want, I like the yellow ones especially because they add a lot of color.
 This cute little one is the Yellow Waxed Pepper.
This guy is the

Habanero Pepper!
It is the hottest pepper and if eaten by itself it will make grown men cry...well unless you are just a crazy and eat the hottest of hot stuff and are used to it I guess.
It grows well in our area so we grow it in our garden.  
    These are the
Jalapeño Peppers.
They also grow well in are area so we just use the ones from our garden.  You can use them when they are red or when they are green.  
 This is the Anaheim Pepper I bought from the store.
 This is the Anaheim Pepper my husband showed me out in the garden.  I didn't realize we had some of these out in the garden, I told him it looked really different than the one from the store.

Since we had so many peppers in the garden, I didn't follow the recipe exactly when it came to the peppers.  I just added whatever I felt like.  However, I did learn a very important lesson from last year.
 Last year my skin was on fire after cutting up all of those peppers.
This year I wore gloves and didn't have a problem at all.  
I think every year when I can salsa and cut up the peppers I will wear gloves!

After I added all the peppers I added the vinegar, sugar and garlic.  At this point my salsa was about ready to overflow so my hubby helped me split the salsa between 2 pots.
 I added the onions.  Holy cow, they were so strong my eyes were going crazy.  I ended up wearing my swimming goggles, they helped a ton!  My husband was making fun of me because I looked dumb, but after 5 minutes of being in the living room his eyes started to water too so he left.  Onions are powerful little things, they can make people disappear! 

Once all of my ingredients were ready, I boiled the salsa for 2 hours like the recipe says.  During the last hour I was getting the jars ready.  I washed the jars in really hot water and I boiled the lids and rings.
 When it was time we poured the salsa into the jars, put the lids on and put them right into the steel waterbath canner.  
I didn't understand all of this last year, but I bought an awesome canning book called the Blue Book Guide to Preserving and on page 6 it does a great job explaining this.  It says:

Food naturally high in acid and acidified foods having a pH of 4.6 or less may be processed in a boiling-water canner.  The boiling-water method is essential for safely canning fruits, soft-spreads, tomatoes, pickles and other acidified foods.  Filled jars sealed with two-piece caps are submerged in water to cover 1 to 2 inches.  Water in the canner must maintain a boil,
212°F, during the entire processing time as specified by a recipe tested for canning.  Heat is transferred through the food by convection.  High-acid and acidified foods must achieve an internal temperature of 212°F when processed at or below 1, 000 feet above sea level.  

Basically, if you do not do this your food is not safe.  This is a very important part to make sure the molds and yeast are inactivated by the boiling-water process.  The actual recipe I got said to do this process for 20 minutes, but all the other tomato recipes I read the minimum I saw was 25 minutes.  I am kind of a paranoid person when it comes to stuff like this, so I did all of mine for at least a 1/2 hour.
 This is a day after shot, there isn't any water in my water-bath canner, but I just wanted to show you what it looks like and show you the awesome canning tongs.  You have to have them, imagine scalding hot boiling water all around the jars.  The only way to get them in and out is with the tongs.
Hooray, canned salsa!
I got 18 jars out of this recipe.  But take into consideration my jars are not all the same size.

When I serve my salsa I add chopped cilantro and
a drained can of white shoepeg corn and a drained can of black beans.  
Sometimes I even put in splashes of lime, but it just depends on if I have any or not.

Holy yummy goodness, I want to bust open a jar and have a little salsa fiesta!

If you have a gazillion tomatoes, try it!  It isn't hard like I said, it just takes time.
Good luck!