Monday, September 26, 2011

Canning, Freezing, Harvest Celebrations & Recipes

Hello there!  It's been a while!  Let's begin with what is going on here....

I have been so curious about canning and talking to women young and old who have done it before.  I finally made a date with a neighbor to can some of my Roma tomatoes.  She came over to see what I have to work with, and.....I don't have enough tomatoes to start the canning process!  Ack!  I was so bummed!  I was looking forward to canning!  She recommended I puree and freeze the tomatoes I have.  So, I get over the disappointment of not canning this year and think to myself..."I know how to freeze...That's easy!"  Then, I get excited at how I can allow myself off the hook for canning (this year) and proceed with something I already know how to do!  Win -Win.  Come on over here to learn more about freezing.  This website is a great resource, you may want to consider keeping it in your favorites! 

The family and I have been checking out local farms - there are so many Harvest celebrations going on as we enter fall!  We found out there are farms close to us we never would have known about if it weren't for these celebrations.  Needless to say, we are having a blast and learning about our community.  We also are signing up for classes at these farms too!  How about a Worm composting class?  Anyone?  Well, I'll take it and get back to you!  And a Rain Barrel class?  Come on!  I know you want to take this class!  No?  Okay.  Mr. Eco and I will take it and save our rain water to water the garden next summer while others **clearing throat** are paying to water their garden.  Seriously, how cool is Mother Nature to provide us such savings and bounty to keep us fed, healthy and happy.  I love that ol' girl :) 

There are two marinara recipes, one crock pot (just scroll down until you see it) and one roasted (at the top), and a salsa recipe I have been using.  I love all three of them!  I encourage you to pick one and try it :)  Don't worry, it's FUN and healthy!  Get the kids involved too!  They love to eat things they help make :)

The library contacted me and I was able to pick up a copy of Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson.  So far, I really like it.  It is practical and the best part (for me) is that I have many of the tools needed to start.  I will let you know my thoughts on the book as I continue to read it. 

That's about all folks, for now.  My life can be summed up in three, little paragraphs. 

Oh well!  I'm smiling :) 

Before you cozy up on the couch and enjoy the crisp fall evenings in front of the television, don't lose momentum on your garden!  Pick the tomatoes, zucchini and all the other yummy things growing in your garden.  It's hard, I know!  But SO worth it! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pizza Swirl Bread = A Delish Treat

I know, I know, this blog is a place to find all things healthy and what we can do in our own homes to make our footprint on this Earth smaller, UNTIL....I found this recipe!  How Sweet It Is is another blog I follow.  She sends out recipes almost daily and the morning I read this one, I couldn't get it out of my head.  So, this last trip to the grocery store included buying cheese, pepperoni and pizza dough!  Healthy, eh?  I must secondly admit that I cheated and did not make the dough from scratch - I bought it!  Shh....don't tell, it will be our secret :)  The final product had me making a HUGE piggy of myself - I was hoping my 6.5 year old wouldn't want seconds...she did, of course because it was THAT good!  I did my best at making it as healthy as it can be by using my Homemade Roasted Marinara Sauce and serving it with a huge green and fruit salad :)  Enjoy!

Pizza Swirl Bread
[adapted from martha]
makes one loaf
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces provolone cheese, freshly grated
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
20-30 slices pepperoni, or however much you would like
1/3 cup tomato sauce, or more if desired
1 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1. In a small saucepan, combine milk and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Heat until bubbles appear on the sides then turn off heat and set aside.

2. Measure out 1/4 cup of warm water and combine it with yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Optional: while yeast is is dissolving, stick pepperoni in the microwave on a paper towel lined plate for 30-40 seconds to remove a bit of grease. Lightly butter an 81/2 x 4 x 2 loaf pan.

3. Gently whisk the egg with the milk/butter mixture. In the bowl of an electric mixer (using dough hook attachment), combined flour and salt and lightly mix to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add in milk/butter mixture, then yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed until dough comes together, about 5-6 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and lightly flour your workspace, then knead by hand for a minute or two. Add a few more teaspoons of flour if dough is sticky until it becomes smooth.

4. Melt the two tablespoons of butter. Brush one tablespoon all over a bowl, then place dough in bowl and coat with butter. Cover the bowl and set in a warm place to double in size for about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. After dough has risen, punch out the air bubbles, flour your workspace again, and roll into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread tomato sauce on first, then minced garlic, then provolone, then pepperoni, then Parmesan, then Italian seasoning. Starting at one of the short ends, tightly roll dough into a loaf. Place in loaf pan and brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes, then remove from pan.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Got Tomatoes? Make Salsa!

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you...this post even trumped the post I had written for today!

You guessed it folks, this salsa ROCKS!  The pictures don't do it justice - you have to make it and taste it for yourself!  What I love about this recipe is that you can tailor it to suit your own taste buds; although, this is a great base recipe and perfectly delicious all it's own without any changes/additions. 

OK, down to the nitty-gritty... the recipe shared by a dear friend ... Thank you Lizz Pulido! 

Blended Salsa - made approximately 2 cups
by Lizz Pulido

5 Roma tomatoes
2 Jalapeno peppers
Diced (Red) onions - [I used about 1/4 of the onion, not chopped up, I let the processor that care of that :)]
Handful Cilantro, chopped -  (I did not chop up, I put it in whole, stems and all)
2-3 Garlic cloves
dash of Cumin
Salt to taste
(1/4 Fresh squeezed lime juice)

1.  Put tomatoes and jalapeno peppers (whole and in tact) in boiling water.  Boil until the skins on the tomatoes start to crack (about 7-9 minutes at rolling boil). 

2.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop tomatoes out into blender or food processor.  Using same spoon, scoop peppers out and cut off the stems (quickly as they are hot!).  Place in blender/food processor.

3.  Blend tomatoes and peppers with onion, cilantro and garlic until desired consistency. 

4.  Add cumin and salt to taste.

5.  Squeeze 1/4 fresh lime and stir. 

Viola!  You've got salsa that is fresh and to die for! 

Again, Lizz Pulido, many thanks, you rock!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roasted Marinara Sauce...10+

This year when considering my garden, I wanted tomatoes for pasta sauce and salsa.  Sooo, when I saw this recipe on a blog I follow, Frugal Living NW, right when the tomatoes in my garden were turning red, I had to make it! 

Roasted Marinara SauceThe amounts listed in this recipe are just a good place to start.  Adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes.
Yield: around 22 cups (5-6 quarts) (Mine made 24 cups)

8 c. cherry tomatoes or 24 medium tomatoes (I used a mixture of both. TOP: 4 c. cherry BOTTOM: 16 romas)
2 medium onions, quartered (Used one large)
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled (Used garlic press)
olive oil
basil leaves
garlic chives
small zucchini, yellow squash, a few leftover cooked carrots
1-3 cans tomato paste, optional (Used 1 small can) + 1/2 cup Homemade Almond Pesto - could add more if you like pesto!
  1. Wash and stem the cherry tomatoes or wash and core (remove stems) the whole tomatoes. Split them evenly, in a single layer, between 2 9×13″ baking dishes. The larger tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process. Toss the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves evenly between the two pans. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt. Sprinkle the basil leaves over the top of the tomatoes.
  2. Roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes. (I roasted for 40 minutes and my house smelled amazing!) The timing isn’t an exact science. The combination will smell incredibly fragrant, and the tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred. Remove the pans from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Place a large collander inside a large bowl and dump the pans into the collander to strain out the juice. Set the juice aside.
  4. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender or food processor until it reaches the desired consistency. Dump the pureed tomato sauce into the reserved juice and stir until thoroughly combined. You could also add tomato paste if you desire a thicker sauce. Taste. Season with more salt, if needed.
  5. Serve immediately over cooked pasta or freeze in plastic containers or bags for later use.

**I have MORE tomatoes and plan on making this again!  Next time, I plan on using the spices in Kelly's recipe at Onceamonthmom and adding them to the above recipe and tasting what happens :)

Marinara Sauce a la Seaton


Kelly @


  • 5.5 cups diced tomatoes, organic canned
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


1) Place all ingredients into crock pot, and cook on low and uncovered, for 8 hours.
2) Once finished, blend until smooth with an immersion blender. Or place small batches into a regular blender and blend until smooth.
3) Place into a bowl and set aside until use.

Freezing Directions:

After cooking, let cool and place in freezer ready containers or a plastic bag, let the air out, and freeze until ready. To serve, simply re-heat on the stovetop for use with your favorite Italian dishes.

Servings: 6 Cups

I will post on how it turns out.  I have a feeling it will be nothing short of amazing! 

Did you notice the other vegetables around the baking dish?  We ate dinner at my parent's house to celebrate 39 years of marriage bliss!  Yes, you read that right!  Thiry nine years!  They are such an inspiration and show true love, patience, and kindness to each other and those they love. 

The extra bounty is from their neighbor's garden...corn, squash, tomatoes, mouth is watering!  Organic and freshly picked, it does not get any better than that!   While we were there, my Mom took my oldest berry picking.  I followed them down with my toddler who unknowingly would have ended up in a twine of berry thornes without my hovering! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Powerful Movies = Must See

We watched the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead recently after watching Forks Over Knives the night before.  Wow!  Both are incredible films about what we eat and how the body reacts to the food we are putting in it.  Rather than give you a synopsis of the movies, I'd rather talk about the changes we are making since watching the movies. 

Mr. Eco and I researched the benefits and concerns of eating a plant based diet.  The conclusions we reached at this point in time are:
  • Everything in moderation.    We are not ready to cut red meat out of our diets completely; however, there is room to significantly cut back!  We would also like to eat more fish.   

  • Try to be more healthy in the choices we make for food products.  Grass-fed beef, free-range, local chicken and eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, growing more types of plants in our home garden.

  • Be more sustainable in our own yard.  More garden beds, fruit trees, rain catchers attached to the rain gutters...heck, we have even talked about a tilapia pool! 
Juices and juicers were a topic of research today!  Inspired by Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, we are interested in trying the Reboot Program and going on a fruit and vegetable only diet!  I can only commit to 5 days; Mr. Eco wants it bad and it is setting his goal at 10 days!  We need to acquire a juicer to proceed and follow the instructions laid-out for the week prior to Rebooting.  I will have to stop drinking coffee!  I think I am having the hardest time with that one instruction.  I laugh about missing the CoffeeMate more than the coffee.  It's really not funny and I probably am addicted to the stuff! 

Lastly, I am going to leave you with the following postcard from the movie, Food, Inc.  When I read the ten things I can do to change the food system, I noticed some points that I could work on.  There is always room for improvement!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Follow Your Passion!

I love Eco-Amie!  This is a true passion of mine: our Earth, our impact on her and how we can do our part to exist gently on her so she is preserved for our children and generations to come as well as just plain being healthy.  Whether it be eating healthy, exercising, cooking, baking, you get the drift!  I have so many ideas in my head, I am constantly living blog posts and it has been a little overwhelming!  Good. And overwhelming. 

Last night, I opened a book I having been taking my time reading, Off The Mat: Confessions of A Yogini, Book 7: The Crown Chakra by Dana Layon.  Dana owns a yoga studio in the area I live in and also writes Weekly Oms.  I have subscribed to Dana's Oms for almost a year, and every Friday I read words that inspire me and make me think on levels that are usually unchallenged.  Dana recently had her Om's published and they became a series of seven books, one for each chakra. 

So tonight I put my feet up against the wall and started reading my book feeling like I needed direction with Eco-Amie.  I started reading words that described my life and how I am feeling at the moment...good, overwhelmed, and a sense of knowing that I am going the right direction.  Dana says, "Take the seed you just planted within you and cultivate it slowly...Plant the seeds.  Watch them grow.  Do it for you and then see what kind of garden you get out of it." 

I will continue to water, tend to my garden and watch it blossom into whatever it will be. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A trip to Butcher Boys!

I went to my local butcher this morning.  Butcher Boys is the name of the shop we go to.  They have been around since 1969 and live up to their reputation daily!  Butcher Boys was recommended to us by a dear friend who knew we were looking for local meat two years ago. 

After watching the movie, Food Inc. by Michael Moore, Mr. Eco and I decided we would NEVER buy meat from the grocery/warehouse store again!  If you have not watched Food Inc. yet, I highly encourage you to do so!  The movie makes you think about where our food comes from…something the average American probably doesn’t think about too much!  I know I didn’t!  You have to know as a friend and blog-follower that Food Inc. changed the way I feed my family and think about the food in the grocery store aisles. 

I am so thankful my friend told us about Butcher Boys.  We have been going there for meat ever since and have grown to know the staff – who gives my kids a pepperoni stick or hotdog to eat while I place my order!  SCORE!  They know what it takes for a mom to be able to place her order in peace! 

The chicken they sell comes from Draper Valley Farms.  They are local to my area and do not use hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives.  The chickens are fed a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal fats or by-products.  The chickens live in a stress-free environment, are humanly raised and housed with natural light and ventilation.  Natural light and ventilation – you think to yourself, aren’t Tyson and Foster Farms chickens raised the same way?  NO THEY ARE NOT!!!!!  Again, if you haven’t watched the movie, Food Inc., please do yourself a favor and watch it. 

Another thing I like about the chicken I get is that the chicken breasts I buy come together, yes, I mean two breasts connected together, just as nature intended!  That was and still is something I think about when I walk through the meat section at the grocery store where the breasts are cut apart and sold individually.  I never thought anything about that until we started going to the butcher shop for meat.  At first it was weird, now I think it is weird to sell chicken breasts individually! 

The pork and some of the beef comes from Carlton Farms.  Again, local to my area, antibiotic-free, grown by a team of farmers who respect their animals and the environment.  The hogs are fed a grain-based vegetarian diet with no animal by-products.  They even brought in Dr. Temple Grandin (an amazing woman who happens to have autism and found her passion in animal welfare and autism advocacy) to train their staff and design farm equipment for them. 

In a prior blog post, I talk about starting to introduce grass-fed beef to my family.  That is my goal in the near future.  I would love nothing more to get even healthier meat for me and my family!  Once I get us off grain-fed beef and onto grass-fed beef, I will continue to purchase chicken and pork at Butcher Boys.