Perfect Peach Freezer Jam

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While I have always been a traditional jam and jelly maker, I’m thrilled to find so many new products on the market that are meant to make jelly making so much easier and less time consuming. One such product is the instant pectin that Ball has developed specifically for freezer jam. I’ve made several jars in as little as 30 minutes. Those of you with young children can let them take a bigger role in the jelly making as there is no cooking involved. And the process is quick and simple. I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for home made goodness that is quick and simple.
I have included several screen shots of the peach freezer jam recipe calculator from the Ball/Fresh Preserving website so that you can see just how easy this is.
First, go to the Fresh Preserving website…
Here you will find a pectin calculator for your chosen jam or jelly flavor.
Now, find the fruit that you wish to use for your jam or jelly.

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Once you have chosen a fruit, choose whether you would like to make jam or jelly.

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Next, choose the type of pectin you will be using.

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The calculator will then calculate a recipe for you to follow. Super simple!

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Remember, you’ll want to use Instant Pectin…

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Also, this process is only meant for freezer jam. Store these jars in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Store them in the fridge after opening.

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

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This week my cell phone chirped as I sat in my office finishing up some paperwork. It was M. She called to report that we were nearly out of all-purpose flour and she wanted to make zucchini bread. A co-worker had brought in a few beautiful zucchini and laid them on the lunch table announcing she had harvested way too many zucchini and we should take whatever we might use. Naturally, I snatched up the largest I could find as I love to bake zucchini bread and freeze it through the winter months.
Reporting back to M, I asked her to look through my file of old recipes kept in the kitchen desk, to find a quick bread recipe that would use only the ingredients she had on hand. To my delight, when I returned home from work, M had made oodles of muffins and quick breads to share with the family. She had used up most of the overly ripe fruit and veggies that she found on the counter top and in the crisper drawer. M’s a resourceful child and it makes her happy to turn to baking to relax and enjoy time on her hands for the summer. It won’t be long before the school bell rings and the race begins all over again. I’m glad she has found a relaxing hobby as she follows in her mother’s footsteps.

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup wheat germ ( with extra for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a (9x5x2 3/4″) loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugars, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flours, baking powder, soda, salt, wheat germ, and cinnamon; stir to combine. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle a teaspoon of wheat germ over the batter.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Oh My Goodness Oat-n-Nut Blueberry Scones

20140803-092840.jpgAfter a busy week of meetings, county fair obligations, car pools, and laundry, I finally found time for a little early morning baking. Yesterday, while the house was quiet and the family was still sound asleep, I brewed a cup of coffee and popped a few batches of scones into the oven for a light and fancy breakfast. As the children woke and entered the kitchen, I could see their eyes widen as they caught a whiff of the delicious scones while they finished baking. The almond extract, pecans, and blueberries all lent a hand as their enticing aromas danced through the house. Gosh, I miss the days when I could find time to bake nearly every day. Times change and busy schedules prevail. Still, it was wonderful to find time this week to enjoy the pleasures of early morning baking and cherished time spent with the family over breakfast.

20140803-093000.jpgOh My Goodness Oat-n-Nut Blueberry Scones

1 1/2 cups whole oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine oatmeal, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks and cut in the butter with the flour mixture until crumbly and well blended. Stir milk and extract into the flour mixture until just combined. Lightly fold in the pecans and blueberries. On a lightly floured surface, collect the dough into a ball and pat into a large circle about 1″ thick. Cut into 8 wedges, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Super Healthy Kids Whole Wheat Waffles

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M recently went on a cooking rampage and spent the day making healthy meals and snacks. She made several loaves of fresh zucchini bread, mini cupcake frittatas, and a load of flavorful whole grain waffles. One of her favorite go-to websites is called superhealthykids.com so M rifled through their pages to find what she thought would be a delicious breakfast recipe. She settled on the whole wheat waffle recipe. Earlier in the week, M and I had visited a local farm stand where we picked out loads of beautiful berries. She thought they could be used to add a bit of pizzaz to her breakfast accompanied by a hefty dollop of creamy Greek yogurt.
So if you’re in the mood, head on over to superhealthykids.com and check out this great recipe for waffles. Dress them up with your favorite healthy toppings. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer and pop one in the toaster for a fresh baked taste every morning. As you know, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day!

Super Healthy Kids Whole Wheat Waffles

2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
3 cups fat free organic milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, batter will be lumpy. Fill 1/4 measuring cup with batter. Pour onto hot, greased waffle iron. Cook batter until golden brown. Remove from waffle iron and top with berries, yogurt, peanut butter, or other fruit.
(Adapted from the recipe found on Superhealthykids.com

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Italian Nut Medley

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When looking for a salty snack, I usually reach for a jar of nuts on the pantry shelf. Recently, I scoured my cookbooks for a recipe that might change up the taste of my everyday snack staple. Most recipes I found included a good dose of sugar which was definitely not the direction I was headed. I stumbled on a recipe in my Best of Country Cooking Cookbook from 1999. I had all of the ingredients on hand so I whipped up the quick recipe. What a yummy, crunchy, surprise! The four ingredient recipe calls for a mixture of Italian spices, a bit of butter and soy sauce mixed in with a few cups of quality nuts. After tasting this flavorful crunchy mix, I’m sure this will become a staple recipe in my snack folder.

Italian Nut Medley

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups quality mixed nuts ( cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add nuts; cook and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle with salad dressing mix, stir to coat. Immediately transfer to a baking sheet and spread thinly to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from The Best of Country Cooking – 1999.

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Bountiful Blueberry Bread

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As the steamy months of July and August set in, blueberry season is upon us. Farmers all over the Midwest have sent out postcards to local residents reminding them to stop by the farm for a taste of the season’s best.
Several farms in our area sit just a few minutes from our home. Making the daily drive back from work, I usually stop by for a large 5 lb. box of fresh picked berries.
Years ago, our family used to picnic at the local blueberry farms as we would spend the early morning hours picking blueberries that would be eaten or frozen for future use. As my children grow older and our days a bit more busy, we have difficulty finding the time to pick berries as we once did. None the less, we still seem to find time to enjoy the flavor of these beautiful little gems.

Bountiful Blueberry Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries, coated with 2 teaspoons of flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spry with cooking spray a loaf pan.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir yogurt, milk, oil, egg, vanilla, and almond extract into flour mixture until batter is just blended. Gently fold blueberries into batter; pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad

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It’s always fun to use up fresh garden veggies by throwing them into a big bowl of tender, herb-spiced pasta. While I have a variety of fruits and vegetables planted in my summer garden, it will be a while before they are ready for harvest. In the meantime, I just love heading out to the local farmer’s market to pick up a healthy dose of garden fresh vegetables for some of my lite warm-weather recipes.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier. Use your favorite vegetables, cheese, or meat to mix into this cold pasta salad. A tall glass of iced tea and some whole grain crackers can round out the meal as the sun shines, the heat sets in, and we welcome the lazy days of summer.

Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad

14 ounces pasta, uncooked
1/2 cucumber, chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, finely chopped
1 cup zesty Italian-style salad dressing
3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water, bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in pasta, return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool by running cold water over the pasta in a colander set in the sink. Coat with a small amount of dressing to prevent pasta sticking together. Cool completely.
2. Combine pasta, vegetables, and herbs in a large bowl. Pour the remaining Italian dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese before serving.