Sunday, January 10, 2016

(How to) Can Fabulous Salsa

Last summer my dad grew more tomatoes than I can even describe to you. No lie. Buckets and buckets.

This is my Bitty Baby. She's 19 months old. Hurts my heart. 
I was thrilled. I made tomato sauce and froze it. We ate fresh tomatoes every day. I made fresh pico all the time. And (drumroll please) I canned salsa!

Canning salsa has been on my bucket list for quite some time. (Remember, we're not to judge others' bucket lists.)

You're gonna wanna do this, peeps. Eat it with a spoon, drink it with a straw, just get it in your mouth.

I shared it with my family and my brother said it was the perfect amount of "sweet and heat." Mission accomplished.

Once I became a pro at canning salsa, I went to town canning pears & apples from our orchard. By next summer, I'm going to be a canning machine. Watch out. It's juicy, messy & sloppy but so worth it.

Here's how I did it.

(How to) Can Fabulous Salsa

8-10 cups of peeled, chopped & drained tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes & plum tomatoes)
2 large sweet onions, chopped
2 green peppers
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 T cumin
2 tsp pepper
2 T kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
15 oz. can tomato sauce
12 oz. can tomato paste
Juice of 2 limes
Bunch of cilantro, chopped fine

Place all ingredients except for lime juice & cilantro into a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to create the consistency you want. I like it pretty pureed (though not completely). Taste it and see what you think. You can always add more heat, salt, sugar, whatever, to suit your taste. Stir in the cilantro & lime juice. Ladle into canning jars, seal with lids and cook in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

*Just a canning tip: the jars may not feel completely sealed on top when you remove them from the water; if the lids don't pop after the jar has cooled, you know you have a good seal. If it still pops, process in the water for another 10 minutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Barbecue Chicken Nachos

I just noticed that I last posted in September. That was four months ago. It's now 2016. I'm not even going to ask you where my life is going because I know you don't have an answer either.

So. What's happened in the last 4 months. Matthew and I stayed awake ALL THE WAY TO MIDNIGHT on New Year's Eve!!! This is news, people. We haven't rang in a new year since we had children.

Exciting item #2. We acquired a new family member. It is a baby kitten! Ugh. Kittens one of God's cutest creations. We named him Tubby. He's clearly a smart cat since he chose our house to come howl in front of. And I'm a total sucker for animals. And my dad is a vet! Told you Tubs is smart.

It was a dark and stormy evening (for real), my dad dropped Matthew off from their afternoon of hunting and we heard a kitten crying in the bushes. My dad and I hunted around in the bushes, using our flashlights because it was dark as night and raining and calling "here, kitty" about a thousand times. We caught him and the rest is history. Tubby is adorable and sweet and positively adores our children. Well, he adores the two older girls. The two littles are a bit rough with him. He's sweet and tolerant anyway.

It goes with the territory. I just remind Tubby that he picked us. He loves our dogs, he loves our other cat, Harry, and I'm sure he will love the bunny we're getting this spring when Mary Beth turns 8. (We're on our way to a petting zoo. Just how I planned it. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Christmas break was wonderful...I love all of my kids home with me. I considered not sending them back to school this semester. Learning is overrated, no? (Matthew does not share these thoughts. Hence the reason children need mothers AND fathers. That is not a political statement. It's just a factual statement.)

Christmas break...where was I...oh, yes, these nachos. Um, yum is all I can say about these. My sister-in-law makes these and my brother loves them and she told me all about them and I said yes I'll be making those soon and so I made them in December. Matthew and I LOVED them!!!

Quantities are approximate because it simply doesn't matter. (Plus, I don't have time to measure anymore. I just empty out the refrigerator and dump stuff in. Things turn out okay. Usually, anyway.) A pile of chips, a pile of cheese, chicken, bake. Top with green onions, sour cream, BBQ sauce & pickled jalapeno slices. Devour.

So easy. Please make these. And by all means, use Neely's BBQ sauce recipe (I tweaked it a bit and blogged it here). Bottled BBQ sauce is just too...gloppy. Neely's is perfect. You'll lick your plate, despite your New Year's resolutions!

Barbecue Chicken Nachos

Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheese (I used a combo of Pepper Jack & Cheddar)
Cooked chicken, chopped (I used grilled but sauteed or even rotisserie would work!)
Black beans (I just used canned, drained & rinsed)
BBQ Sauce

Sliced green onions
Sour Cream
Pickled jalapeno peppers

On a large baking sheet, spread a layer of tortilla chips and top with cheese & chicken. Spread another layer of chips on top with cheese & chicken. Bake in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melty & bubbly. Remove from oven and generously top with BBQ sauce. (If you put the BBQ sauce on the chips before you put it in the oven, the chips get soggy. Just FYI.) Sprinkle green onions on top. Top each serving with sour cream and jalapenos.

My mouth is watering. Can't wait to make these again.