Sunday, September 16, 2012

Low Fat-Sugar Free Banana Bread

This is my go-to recipe when the bananas start turning brown - the kids even love it and it is good for you, too!
  • 2/3 cup Splenda
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened (you can also use applesauce instead, which I frequently do)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup water (or milk)
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

I don't usually lay out all my ingredients ahead of time - I'm not sure why not. But, I've kind of gotten used to doing it for you and may not ever be able to quit now. lol

This recipe comes out PERFECTLY in a {kitchen tool company} Stoneware Loaf Pan. I've made it for many years in a glass and metal loaf pan and never did it turn out as well as it does in stone. Usually in my glass or metal pans, the outside was too brown and the inside middle was dough-y. Yuck. If you don't own any other piece of stoneware, this one would be the one I'd recommend. Or a pizza stone because it's so versatile, but I still use my loaf pan more.

OK, back to your banana bread - cream your butter (or applesauce) and sugar (Splenda) together. I do it in a KitchenAid stand mixer (because I <3 that thing) but you can do it in a {kitchen tool company}
batter bowl with a hand mixer, too. Pictured is the adjustable Measure-All measuring cup which you'll see me using a lot because I can keep re-adjusting it for each ingredient instead of pulling out a clean measuring cup from the drawer.

Add the vanilla, eggs, bananas & milk and blend together. Mix in the baking soda, salt, baking powder & flour just until moistened.

 Pour the mixture into a loaf pan. It come out better if you use stoneware. The thing about stoneware is that it is naturally non-porous so things don't stick to them while cooking & they cook so much more evenly. The more "seasoned" they are, the better they actually work. It's kind of impossible to make them look new again (and you never EVER wash them with soap) but that's also what makes them work so well - they become a natural nonstick surface over time. If yours still looks pristine, you may want to bake some meatloaf in it a few times before using for breads or brush the inside with oil before baking. It won't take long to season it so you only have to do that a couple of times and it's ready to go!

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. See how beautiful it turned out? The outside has a nice crisp crust and the inside is soft & sooo good!

Moist and delicious and already half gone :) You can double the recipe and freeze one loaf if you've got two stones (or rinse your first one after it cools and bake the next one). It keeps really well especially if you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it inside a freezer bag. I also wrap it in a layer of foil before putting it in a freezer bag and it stays nice & moist for months.

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com

Party Chili

Fall is fast approaching around here, the leaves are starting to lose their green coloring and the tomato plants are starting to die. As soon as the weather cools, a bowl of hot chili is just what my family is looking for. We've got a birthday party coming up so I'm making it all now and freezing the rest for the party. I adapted this recipe from Ladies Home Journal & it will serve 12 (makes about 18 c.)

Since we still had some tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic, jalapenos and chili peppers from our garden, I only needed a few things to whip up a batch.

Here's what you'll need:

3 lbs. ground beef (I already cooked mine when I did the other 3 pounds for this weeks dinners)
3 med. onions, finely chopped
1 green pepper, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
3 jalapenos, finely diced (optional)
2 chili peppers, minced (optional)
5 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. tomato juice, V-8 or brewed coffee
3 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes w/juices
3 15 oz. cans of kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Cook your burger with the onion, garlic & green peppers. I used the {kitchen tool company} Food Chopper to mince it all up - I always use fresh garlic because you get so much more flavor as opposed to jarred & it smells amazing while cooking. Drain the fat from the burger and dump it all in your stockpot.

Next, add all of the powder spices. Anytime you have the opportunity to grind your seasonings (like the coriander) instead of buying them already ground, do so. The difference is incredible even in just ground pepper and it keeps better without losing potency.

I chopped up my little jalapenos and left the seeds in this time (but I still wore gloves!) for a little more kick.

I also chopped up some chili peppers that we grew using the Food Chopper. I just hit it a few more times to get the peppers chopped really fine.

Stir in the tomato paste (I freeze the rest & use it later), tomatoes and tomato juice. I frequently use V-8 instead of tomato juice here & the recipe in the magazine recommends trying coffee instead but I've never tried it that way - if you do, let me know how it turned out!

Rinse & drain your kidney beans - you can use light or dark (or both) but I recommend rinsing them in addition to draining just because whatever they pack them in is so ucky.

The Easy Read Measuring Cup is perfect for measuring water because you don't have to keep bending over the sink to see if you've got the measurement right and it holds 2 cups so no more teetering cups of water as you run across the kitchen.

Let it simmer on low for at least a half an hour. Stir in the vinegar and salt when you are ready to serve.

 I made some quick cornbread muffins & sliced a few bricks of cheese. Top your chili with crushed tortilla chips or shredded cheese and enjoy.

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com

Friday, September 14, 2012

Apples Apples Everywhere - Canning Chunky Homemade Applesauce

If you are lucky enough to have apples coming out your ears (or fortunate enough to know someone who does) then this is a must try recipe for canning homemade chunky applesauce. We made the sugar-free kind and it was delicious! Either way you make it, it is WAY too easy with a {kitchen tool company} peeler/corer/slicer as shown here. It will literally cut your time in HALF. If you don't have one yet, email me (or if you need to process them now, grab a paring knife or peeler and get to peeling!)

You can also make this and eat it fresh and/or freeze the rest. Applesauce freezes well and keeps indefinitely in a good deep freezer. The trouble (for us anyway) is having enough freezer space!

For canning, you need:

Jars & seals with lids
Funnel (I like the Ball brand collapsible funnel but it's really up to you)
Jar lifter
Large stock pot
Fruit Fresh or 3/4 c. lemon juice
Apples (kind doesn't matter but we mixed reds & greens)
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 c. Splenda

Wash your apples and prepare a large bowl with water and Fruit Fresh in it (to keep the peeled apples from browning). You can also use 3/4 c. lemon juice per 1 gallon water. Insert the stem end of your apple on to the {kitchen tool company} Peeler/Corer/Slicer (shown here with stand). You can adjust the peeler part to the thickness of skin of what you are peeling. Apples are pretty thin-skinned so adjust that as necessary.

Turn the handle and the peeler will begin removing the peel in strips. As you keep turning the handle, the apple will go through the corer as it is being sliced. It is amazingly easy to crank so remember that those parts are very sharp and keep your hands away from them. :)

Here is a nearly finished apple. Once the apple stem is completely through the corer, pull your peeled, sliced & cored apple off the apple core and put it in your Fruit Fresh (or lemon juice) water. Release the rod and slide it back to the beginning. Your apple core will likely shoot across the table at that point and hit the person next to you. Fun for the whole family!

Here's a finished apple - perfectly sliced, peeled & cored (in about 20 seconds)! You can also make perfect spiced apple rings with a few additional ingredients. SO easy.

Back to the applesauce, once you have a bowl full of peeled, sliced & cored apples, you will want to trim off any remaining bad spots, peeling at the top & bottom and any brown spots.

You'll then slice the apple in half and throw it in your large stock pot with about 2 pints of water. If you are making less or don't have this big of a stock pot, adjust the water accordingly. The apple slices are pretty thin so they cook down fairly quickly but you'll still be simmering for at least an hour, stirring so the bottom apples don't scorch.

Here's what it looks like on the stove after it has been cooking a while. We started out on medium and then went to low when it started simmering. A full batch of applesauce is a large stockpot about 3/4 full of sliced apples. They will cook down to where the stockpot will be a little less than 1/2 full. You can add 1 cup Splenda (or sugar) to the apples while they are cooking but don't add the cinnamon until right before you're ready to jar it. Also, you don't have to add sugar at all if your apples are sweet so omit it if you'd like!

This is what it will start looking like after simmering for at least an hour. It still needs another 20-30 minutes or until it starts "looking" like applesauce. You can use a potato masher or a {kitchen tool company} Mix & Chop to speed this along but the apples won't break apart until they soften & that takes time.

Finally ready to jar! Add 1 T. of cinnamon in the last 5 minutes of cooking and stir well.

Heat your sanitized jars in warm water or pull them out of a freshly run dishwasher. Boil a small amount of water in a saucepan and put your lids & seals in there after you shut off the heat. The water should be very hot but doesn't need to continue to boil.

Use a funnel & ladle your applesauce into the jars, leave at least 1/2" of head space at the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim with a clean washcloth and place your heated seal on top and attach the lid to secure it all down.

Process in hot-water bath in the canner for approximately 20 minutes. Use your jar lifter to remove the finished jars and place them away from open windows or fans and let them cool. You should hear a POP noise for each jar but it one doesn't seal, you can just eat it now. :)

This recipe makes approximately 6 quarts - if you have any leftover after filling your jars you can keep the extra in the freezer (applesauce freezes well) or just put it in the fridge and enjoy! If you have leftover uncooked apple slices, you can add your favorite seasonings and freeze for pies, cobblers & crisps.

You can also make the smooth kind of applesauce by using a food mill but since we don't like that kind, we didn't make it in this batch. A food processor would also work if you aren't doing very much otherwise it would be very tedious work doing a quart at a time.

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

I already had some chicken stewed & shredded from when I made Buffalo Chicken Dip earlier in the week so I whipped up some enchiladas. Remind me to post the dip recipe for all your tailgating festivities this fall because it is ah-mazing.

Here's a picture of all the ingredients and products I used for this recipe plus my little helper again:)

About 2 C. Cooked Chicken
2 C. Salsa (recipe in previous post or use pre-made)
Pkg. Flour (or corn) Tortillas
1/4 C. Sour Cream (I use light)
Cream Cheese (I use light)
1/2 Can Whole Kernel Corn
2 C. Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 t. Cumin
1/4 t. Oregano
1/4 t. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cream together softened cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in 1/2 C. of the salsa & 1/2 of the cheese. I'm using the {kitchen tool company} Collapsible Serving Bowl and I LOVE them. This is the medium one (there are 3) and they include the lids. These are especially awesome for the camper or for those of us with small kitchens that have no storage. They collapse almost flat but have no "give" to them when you're using them. Plus, they're dishwasher safe so we are good friends, those bowls and I.

In a different bowl mix your seasonings and then toss in the chicken & corn. Combine the two and mix it up. I didn't get them pictured here, but, in the first picture you can see the {kitchen tool company} measuring spoons & adjustable measuring cup I used. The awesome thing about the measuring spoons is that they nest together but easily pull apart so you always have them at hand and don't have 5 others dangling (and dripping) down your wrist. Also, they sit flat on the counter so you won't spill liquids and they're clear so you can get the correct measurements every time. The adjustable measuring cup isn't stocked anymore and that's probably because it's easy for liquid to escape out the back hatch and if you didn't catch it in time, you might pour a cup of oil into your recipe when you only needed 1/4 c. :)

In a 9x13 baking dish, spread 1/2 C. of the salsa over the bottom. This will keep the enchiladas from sticking to the bottom of your dish and keeps them moist while baking. I use a Pyrex baking dish but these would be great in stoneware also, I just have a fear of them so I use glass ones that I can stick in the dishwasher. :P

Fill your tortillas, roll and place in the dish (seam down). Repeat until you are out of mixture then top the enchiladas with your remaining salsa. Sprinkle with the last 1/2 of the cheese and pop them into the oven at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

You can prepare these ahead of time and stick them in the fridge so they are ready to bake when you take them out. Very nice for busy school nights.

Stay tuned for our adventures with making & canning homemade applesauce!

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ha-Cha-Cha Salsa! Making & Canning Your Own

I was originally taking these pictures for a friend who had never canned before and after my epiphany (see previous post) decided to post them here for y'all. I used some of my very favorite products to make this and honestly can't imagine getting the job done easily or very well without them. The best thing to do if you are planning to can salsa or put up tomatoes next year is to plant your own. Romas are the best for salsa. Green, Banana (or Anneheim) & Jalapenos for your peppers & some homegrown onions and you are all set!


1 T canning salt
1/2 C. vinegar
1 pkg. Mrs. Wages seasoning
12 C. chopped tomatoes
2 T. minced garlic (about 8 cloves)
1/2 C. Anneheim (or banana) peppers
2 medium onions (about 1 C.)
1/4 C. jalapeno peppers
1 C. green pepper (about 2 med.)

The most important thing you need of course, is a helper. :)

And a big canning pot with the metal rack/insert that keeps the jars off the bottom of the pan, and at least 4 qt. jars or 8 pint jars, with lids & seals. The jars will have to be sanitized in the dishwasher before you put anything into them. Leave them in there until you are ready to use them or store them on the counter upside down on a clean dishtowel. They will not seal if everything isn't perfectly clean. On top of the jars in the above picture is a must-have canning tool and I'm not sure what it's name is besides jar-picker-upper. I can't think of anything you could use instead of this thing so be sure and get one if you don't have one already. It'll be next to the canning stuff at Target or Wal-mart called something smarter than jar-picker-upper-tong-looking-things.

Here's a picture of the canner on the stove:

 Pictured is the canning salt you need (don't use table salt, it leaves sediment in the bottom of your jars) and the salsa seasoning packet. We use and recommend Mrs. Wages.

You'll also need a big stock pot to cook all this in and a small saucepan to get your water hot for the lids & seals. And a funnel - it doesn't have to be like mine, but mine is a Ball brand one specifically for canning and it's flexible and collapsible which means I can store it in a drawer when I'm done. It also fits perfectly into the mouths of regular & wide mouth jars.

Next you'll need to start chopping up your vegetables. I love the 7" Santoku knife for this job but I'm basically just opening them up and cleaning out the insides. My secret trick for saving LOTS of time when cutting peppers is......a melon baller. The one shown below is very sharp and works like a dream. The smaller end has little teeth in it and it's excellent for removing stems or the insides of a little jalapeno.
(I cannot stress this enough - when you are cutting jalapenos, wear gloves. Seriously)

Also in this last picture is the food chopper I'm having a love affair with. I don't think I'll ever cook without it again. It is so easy to use, so versatile and so easy to clean that I use it for everything, it will finely dice garlic and chop tomatoes with the same blade. It's amazing. The best part is there are only 3 parts so you just take it part, throw it in the dish washer and you're ready for next time. It was my first {kitchen tool company product} and I've been in love with it ever since! I chop everything pretty fine but it's really a personal preference. After you par-boil your tomatoes (dip them in boiling water for a minute or so or until the skin splits), drop them in ice cold water and pull off the skins, it's really up to you how finely or coarsely to chop them. Since Romas are a smaller tomato, I can usually fit a whole one under the food chopper, push it down about 5-6 times and it's perfectly sized.

Pictured above is another time saving must-have product and that is a flexible cutting mat. Cutting boards are great for lots of things but you can't really pick them up and dump your stuff very easily. These are the small cutting mats and are perfect for this job. The measuring cup thing is adjustable and can be flipped over and used to measure liquids too. The end I'm using is designed so all I have to do is press in the other end and it completely expels all the stuff out so it makes measuring peanut butter for instance SO much easier. Pictured next is my little garlic mincer. For salsa, I don't like my garlic pulverized otherwise I would use the {kitchen tool company} garlic press because it really is cool - you just stick the clove in there, skin and all, and press. For this one, you fill the little hopper with your cloves...


I don't know whose idea that was, but, it's genius.

You will need to fill your canning pot a little over halfway with water and get that boiling. I used to boil my seals and rings also but current canning wisdom says no boiling, just soak them in really hot water. So now I boil the water in the saucepan and then turn it off after I put my lids (rings) and flats (seals) in.

Once you have all of your veggies chopped and diced, put them all in the stock pot with your vinegar, salt and seasoning and put it on to boil for about 10 minutes or so. It needs to be heated through and simmering before it's ready to be jarred. I use a {kitchen tool company} Mega Scraper for this job because it's huge and it's kind of flat on the end so it gets everything mixed up and scraped off the bottom. PERFECT

My sister and I deviate on this last part - she also heats her jars in hot water in the sink before filling them and putting on the seals & lids. I tried it and it was too hard for me to keep them upright and trying to fill them while they were floating away so I used slightly-warmed-because-the-kitchen-is-blistering-hot-by-now jars and that worked too.

Once your salsa is cooked and your water is boiling in the canner, it's time to fill the jars. You need to leave about 1" headroom at the top and wipe down the rim if you get anything on it (or touch them) before placing your (hot) seal on and twisting on the ring. You don't want to set your hot jars near an open window or under a fan and actually, I cover mine with a dishtowel while they are cooling just to slow it down a little.

The final step is to go back to your normal life and then wonder what that popping noise is in the kitchen. If any of them didn't seal (no pop!) then just stick it in the fridge and eat it now. Usually there's a little leftover anyway so I put it in one of my 1 cup prep bowls because they are glass (and metal or plastic is not the place for tomato anything) and they have seals. I use these little things ALL the time.

Enjoy! And be sure to let me know how you did :)

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I wanted "Cooking with Little People" but apparently it was already taken.

I decided to create this blog for a couple of reasons. The main reason was because I was taking pictures of the steps involved in canning your own salsa for a friend and it occurred to my husband that it looked like a {kitchen tool company} Party in there. I realized that since I had decided to obtain a new {kitchen tool company} career about a month ago, there are only a handful of people who know it. When I thought about why that is (because usually consultants are usually soooo perky and LOVE to tell you about the business opportunity) I knew it was because I didn't want to be one of *those* people. Not just {kitchen tool company} consultants per se. I can't stand fakeness or insincerity and I wouldn't buy something from someone who was. I didn't want to shove it in people's faces or post things on Facebook every 6 hours either so I thought why not bring you along while I demonstrate some recipes using kitchen gadgets (mostly {kitchen tool company}, some not) you may already have or didn't know what to do with? I can cook, you can pull up a chair, grab a glass of wine and come along for the ride. I solemnly promise *not* to be perky. (Or at least not fake perky.)