We Be Jammin’

Homemade Jam

After paying close to six dollars for jam that was organic and didn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it or dye, I decided that my house would only have fresh jam. I could spend the 45 minute drive and $6/pint for this great jam at a nearby farm or I could learn to jam myself. With it being summertime, I couldn’t ask for a better season to start creating jam with all the fresh berries around.

I read on how to do it and purchased the mason jars needed. However, I could not locate pectin to save my life. I’d ask and look in the baking section and every place else but right next to where I bought jars. Finally I had my pectin and luckily enough for me, Bountiful Baskets had a raspberry add-on one week and I took full advantage.


I had bought pectin and no cook pectin to try them both. After experimenting, my conclusion is – use the original pectin. No cook made it liquidy and much more of a jelly consistency.

Recipe for jam:
– 1 1/3 c. fruit
– 1 1/2 tbsp. pectin
– 1 c. sugar

The recipe above makes two pints, so I tend to multiply
it, but warning try to not make more than ten batches at once. After I tasted how good the raspberry jam tasted I fell in love and wanted to try my hand at more flavors. I bought some strawberries from the store and that went well, so a couple weeks later BB had a strawberry add-on deal and I took advantage. That week we also got a bunch of kiwi in our baskets. Hrm, kiwi/strawberry jam, why not?! It was great… My favorite so far is blackberry/strawberry and raspberry/kiwi.

So here’s whatcha do …
Put all your fruit you are using in a pan on the stove and turn on the heat to medium-high and mash the berries. I use my Braun Hand Blender, which blends it well yet leaves some good chunks of berries.

Smashing Berries

Add the pectin in three batches and after each one, mix well. I use a whisk for this and the rest of the process and it works well. Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down, then add sugar all at once. Whisk well and make sire there are no sugar clumps. Bring to boil to a point where again, it can’t be stirred down and then boil for one minute.

Adding Sugar

Once done, laddle jam into mason jars leaving 1/2″ headspace and can using the water boil method. I add labels for easy reading and because jam makes for great presents. I also use them for donations and have sold some, which helps recoup the mason jar expense.

Flavors thus far: Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Black/Raspberry, Straw/Raspberry, Mixed Berry, Strawberry/Kiwi, Raspberry/Kiwi, Straw/Raspberry/Kiwi, and Black/Strawberry.

Homemade Jam

Cinnamon Crumb Blueberry Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

blueberry muffin

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
cup milk
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Cinnamon topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine the first four ingredients into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl add egg, milk and oil. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and mix well making sure no clumps are left. Fold in blueberries and fill muffins 3/4 full. I use the big muffin cups which yields 8 muffins. Top muffins with cinnamon crumb miixture and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the batter seems thick, it is.

Topping: combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together. Add butter chunks and either use a fork or your hands and just mix the butter around and it will begin to form cinnamon chunks. Once done, sprinkle on top of muffins before going into the oven.

Cinnamon Crumb Blueberry Muffins

The Evil High Fructose Corn Syrup

What is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)?

Only the most evil ingredient next to trans fat to enter our food and so many of them. Manufacturers are always finding cheaper ways to produce foods unfortunately it’s usually to the detriment of our health. HFCS is no different. “High-fructose corn syrup is produced by milling corn to produce corn starch, then processing that starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose, and then adding enzymes that change some of the glucose into fructose.”

So what foods have HFCS?

Many of our everyday food that we eat and give our children have HFCS in it, from breads, cereals, condiments, to yogurts and so much more. Because it’s used to save money, you’ll find HFCS in generic brands more.


  • Breads, the one I get that doesn’t have HFCS is Orro Wheat brand.
  • Rolls, I get the Hawaiian Rolls to avoid HFCS (and they are so good!)
  • Yogurts, including Yoplait however Dannon does not.
  • Relish, could not find a brand that didn’t have it in there.
  • Ketchup, yep gotta spend the extra money on Simply Heinz.
  • Croutons, Texas Toast ones do not but better yet, make them yourself!
  • Sodas, of course.
  • Granola Bars, Nature’s Valley plain and PB do not.
  • Cereal, almost all of Kelloggs
  • Capri Sun
  • Prepackaged sides like rice, pasta, stuffing
  • Candy bars, cookies, cake mixes, ice cream
  • Jams and jellies
  • Cough syrups
  • Crackers
  • Salad dressings, BBQ sauce
  • And so much more

This is one of the ingredients that led me to start making more from scratch and canning. It’s healthier and saves money.

Sources: http://www.accidentalhedonist.com/index.php/2005/06/09/foods_and_products_containing_high_fruct


Noisy Pinto Beans

I’ve been experimenting with beans in my pressure cooker and through some trial and error I have made wonderful pinto beans with various meat.  I first made some with peppered bacon and the latest I created included ham.

First, I soak the beans overnight. Then, using a hot mason jar, add beans to a little over half way. Then this is where you can mix it up.  In the pic below, it includes ham, onion, garlic, jalapeños and black pepper and I do not add salt. When I go to use the beans that’s when I add salt.  Once you have your raw ingredients in, fill up the rest of the jar with boiling water leaving 1″ head space. I’ve also tried it with peppered bacon as well as vegetarian and so far the bacon is the house favorite.

Pressure can for 75 minutes at 11 pounds.

Raw ingredients loaded into the jar:

Pinto Beans with Ham

After being pressure canned:

Pinto Beans with Ham

Pizza Stuffers

We had these on Christmas Eve as a little snack and they were tasty!

Take a pizza dough and roll it out, then cut it into 10-12 squares depending how big the dough is and how much you are going to fill it. Once cut up, add your favorite toppings but no marinara sauce! That will be used on the side for dipping. I didn’t have much in the house, so this was pretty simple – pepperoni, cheese and onion with some seasonings, but you can really use anything.

Pizza Stuffers

Once you have your insides on the dough, fold the corners over and tuck in. In a sprayed, round pan, lay the folded side down. Once you have them all in place, sprinkle some Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese on the top and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Pizza Stuffers

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

I had a bunch of leftover veggies from our Bountiful Basket one week, including these gorgeous rainbow carrots. I got some stew beef at the market and put that in the crock pot with some flour and made sure the meat was lightly coated in flour. I cooked the meat a bit then added in broccoli, rainbow carrots, white potatoes, chunks of corn on the cob, onion, celery, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper and two cans of beef broth. I then just let it cook all day long in the slow cooker. You may have to add more liquid throughout the day, I just use water at that point. The meat fell apart in the stew it was so tender. I was able to store the leftovers for another quick, easy meal.

This past weekend, I made this again and used up the veggies from my basket which included brussel sprouts and fresh green beans. My kids and husband had no clue they were eating brussel sprouts, loved it!

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

Bountiful Baskets Co-op

My realtor had told me about a produce co-op she participated in by our house. I had been meaning to check it out but got busy with coaching soccer season #3. One of my player’s parents was telling me about their experience with it as well and so I decided to make sure I tried it. Two weeks later I had tried it for the first time and I fell in love. I have now been a faithful, weekly participant of Bountiful Baskets for over a year and I still love it.

Bountiful Baskets is a completely volunteer run co-op that offers “baskets” of produce for only $15. Every Monday at noon, I eagerly log onto BB and order my basket to pick up the following Saturday. Each week different items are in the Bountiful Basket, they base the basket contents on what is in season, high quality, good value, and local. It’s generally 6 fruit items & 6 vegetable items. While normally there are traditional fruit and veggies we have all heard of, we often get something unique from fennel to rainbow carrots to persimmons.

Each week they also have varying “add-ons.” If you purchase a basket you can also purchase add-ons which vary in price. Last week, I picked up 12 pounds of RAW, local Arizona honey that I paid $37.50 for. That’s a smokin’ deal! During the summer months, they often do boxes of berries and I tend to take advantage of those to make jam or freeze for smoothies. Other add-ons include tortillas, granola, beans, fruit packs, olive oil, tomatoes, holiday packs, etc.

This co-op has led our family to a cheaper and healthier eating lifestyle and has opened me up for new recipes and methods. I have recently started to can and I absolutely love it!

I have a bunch of pics that I have taken of the various baskets I have gotten, here are just a few …

All of this for $15 …

Bountiful Baskets

Granny Smith Apples add-on, this made for a lot of applesauce.

Granny Smith Apples

Chewy Granola Bars

These are pretty tasty and cost effective, given granola bars without trans fat or dye are about $3.99-4.99.  I get the majority of the ingredients at Sunflower in their bulk section.  Also, where I have almond slices and cranberries, feel free to experiment just use the same measurement.  I’ve used chocolate covered peanuts and even added peanut butter.  The almond/cranberry is probably the healthiest though.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 c oats
1 c almond slices
1/2 c honey
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c dried cranberries

I put this all in my bread machine and just let it mix it up.  You can also do it by hand, just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Depending on how thick you want them will dictate the pan size you use.  Spray the pan lightly and put in granola mixture.  Press down to flatten and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Granola Bars

Granola Bars

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t look like the prettiest thing, but boy were they tasty!

Preheat the oven on BROIL – HIGH.

I use about six scallops between the four of us and get the thick peppered bacon from the meat department. Cut the bacon pieces in half or have them wrap around twice, up to you depending how much bacon flavor you want. I suggest to start out just using half. Wrap the bacon around the outside of the scallop and put in a toothpick to hold it. Lightly sprinkle cayenne pepper on top.

Place the scallops under the broiler for two minutes, flip and cook for two more minutes. They should be golden brown on the outside and the bacon will be cooked.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Coconut Layer Cake

This recipe can be used to make any type of cake or cupcake that you want, you don’t have to layer it.

Easy Yellow Cake Recipe

Prepare the cakes and put in two 8″ round pans. Remove from pan and let cool completely on racks.

2 c. flaked coconut
4 tbsp. butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. milk
3 1/2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add coconut; stir constantly over low heat until golden brown. Spread coconut on absorbent paper to cool. Cream 2 teaspoons butter with cream cheese. Add milk and sugar alternately, beating well. Add vanilla; stir in 1 3/4 cups of coconut. Spread on tops and sides of cake layers. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.


Coconut Cake