Strawberry Freezer Jam

My husband’s family is well known for amazing cooks. This recipe is from one of those ladies. Aunt Mary, as she is affectionately known by everyone in the tri-county area, turned 100 years old this year. She is still sharp as a tack and one of the sweetest women you will ever meet. Everyone that knows her loves her. She makes the most delicious treats, and until just the last couple of years, she would always send you home with a sack full of something fabulous. My mother-in-law taught me how to make this jam, and I am not sorry! It tastes so fresh and is so easy to make, you will never buy store bought again. When I say it’s easy to make, I really mean easy to make! Now that strawberries are at their best is the time to make a batch (or two or three)!! ~Kathy

StrawberryJamLogo

  • 2 c. strawberries
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 box Sure Jell Original Fruit Pectin (1.75 oz)

Wash and remove stems from the strawberries. Place in blender and pulse, leaving a few smaller chunks (a little texture is okay). Measure blended strawberries to reach amount needed. Place in large bowl.  Add sugar.  Mix well.   Stir every few minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.  (This could take up to 45 minutes).  This is important to make sure you do not have grainy jam.  Once the sugar has dissolved, proceed to the next step.

In a medium sauce pan, add water and whisk in pectin. Bring to a boil, and keep at a boil for one minute. Immediately pour into strawberry/sugar mixture. Stir gently just to combine.

Pour into prepared pint jars, leaving a little room in the jar as it will expand a bit as it freezes.  Wipe the rim with a damp cloth; then seal with the lid and ring.

Allow to cool then place in the freezer. Will keep in the freezer for months.

Yield:  About 3 pints

 

 

Classic Waffles

 

Though the weather isn’t exactly cooperating, Monday is the first official days of Spring Break for us.  Aside from trying to squeeze in a few extra visits with family, we don’t usually travel much for Spring Break, but we do manage to get in some special foods!  School breaks are a time that I can spend a little extra time planning and making those things that school mornings don’t allow for.  I readily admit, that one more press of the snooze button is usually more important than cooking something.

These Classic Waffles are one of my favorite things to indulge in for a late breakfast or brunch.   They are super easy to make and can be frozen to pop in your toaster or air fryer when you’re back to your normal work day rush.  ~Tracy

Classic Waffles

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour (you can also use all or part wheat flour)

1 3/4 cups milk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1 T. sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions:

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs just until fluffy.  Add milk and vegetable oil and stir to combine.

Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, and beat until smooth.

Generously spray your waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and heat to manufacturers instructions.

Pay attention to your waffle iron’s instructions about the amount of batter to cook at one time.  My waffle maker makes fairly large waffles and can hold about 3/4 c. of batter per waffle.

Cook waffles in iron until golden brown or until steaming stops.  Many irons also have a ‘done’ feature light.  The number of waffles made will depend on the size of your iron, but my waffle iron can make 5 or 6 waffles with this recipe.

Serve immediately.  I love these the classic way, with butter and syrup, but they’re also great with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Chicken Club Pasta Salad

CB147387-4EB4-4780-8D8E-FFA2E5F16DD9

Sometimes things “hit me” at random times.   Like in the shower or while driving.   This recipe was born one day while I was driving to work and dreaming of warmer weather.   I made a few notes on my phone (thanks to talk-to-text) and ended up with this great spin-off of a deli classic. It has a great balance of fresh and crunchy mixed with the creamy dressing and avocado.  This are finally starting to warm up a little here in my neck of the woods, and I think this Chicken Club Pasta Salad will be one of the first things you’ll want to make as Spring finally arrives.  ~Kathy

2 c. cellentani (cork screw shaped) pasta, uncooked (whole wheat for lower point option noted in WW info.)

2 c. cooked, diced chicken breast

5 slices center cut bacon, cooked

4 T dill pickles, chopped fine

2 T purple onion, chopped fine

1/3 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

2 c. chopped napa cabbage

1 avocado, diced

½  c. plus 1 T  light miracle whip

1 T mustard

2 to 3 T 1% milk

1/8 tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

Dash of each of the following:  onion powder; black pepper; and paprika

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions.   Drain, rinse and set aside to allow to cool.

Once the noodles are completely cooled, transfer them to a large mixing bowl.  Add chicken, bacon, pickles and onion.  Toss to mix.  Add tomatoes and napa cabbage.  Toss gently to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together miracle whip, mustard, milk and seasonings.  Add more milk if needed.  It should be a slightly thick mixture.  Pour over the pasta mixture and stir to coat.

Add avocado and gently mix to coat, trying not to smash the diced avocado.

Allow to chill for one hour.  Serve alone or with your favorite crackers or toasted bread.

WW Info.:  Makes about 6 cups.  Each serving is 11 Points on the WW Blue Plan, 11 on Purple Plan, and 12 on Green Plan.  For a far smaller point tally, on purple, using whole wheat pasta drops it to just 4 points!

Cider Donut Bundt Cake

9135CA94-62C7-4753-8812-FCEC2EC65AF4 (1)

My closest friends are people who know and understand that it is totally acceptable to eat cake for breakfast!  I first had this Cider Donut Bundt Cake when a friend served it at a brunch.  It has the perfect mild apple flavor to have with a piping hot cup of coffee. Giving the recipe the perfect flavors for fall are the touch of wheat flour and the hint of spices that mix with the apple. And while I have been quoted as saying that “cake is simply a vehicle that enables the consumption of frosting,” you really can’t go wrong with this cake and a dusting of cinnamon sugar. – Tracy

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¾ c. sugar

1 c. apple cider

¾ c. light vegetable oil (I use canola oil)

¾ c. unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 T. melted butter

For Cinnamon Sugar Sprinkle:

1 T. cinnamon

2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk together both flours, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, combine sugar, cider, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  Add egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a very well-greased and floured bundt cake pan.  If using a flour cooking spray, spray generously.

Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

While cake is baking, remember to mix 1 T. of cinnamon with 2 T. of sugar for the sprinkle and set aside.

Place cake pan on a wire rack upon removal from the oven and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before turning cake out onto plate.  Be careful turning out the cake as the pan itself may still be very warm.

Lightly brush cake top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Spinach and Basil Pesto Spread

293570C8-B198-4A42-BE29-3614C86114BE

I love a good pesto sauce, but it’s always been one of the things that my kids (and honestly, my husband) aren’t usually very excited about.  And let’s face it…pesto sauce can often be very oily, high in calories, and can sometimes be a bit ‘in your face’ in flavor.  So, I needed a way to satisfy my pesto craving in a little more healthy fashion, while not listening to anyone complain.  Isn’t this the basis for fifty percent of the new recipes created by moms?  I’m just over here looking for a way to eat what I want, without continually expanding my waistline, and without having to listen to anyone gripe about it!  This Spinach and Basil Pesto Sauce fits the bill on all fronts.  You can freeze it too, and have fresh basil flavor all year round! ~Tracy

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 2 c. fresh baby spinach
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ c. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, pausing occasionally to scrape down sides.

IMG-5351 (1)

Use this pesto as a spread with cream cheese or just by itself on a cracker.  It also works wonderfully on pizza and with grilled chicken.

IMG-5381

This recipe makes approximately 1 ¼ cup and is 2 WW Freestyle Points for a 2 Tablespoon serving.

Blueberry Bagels

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of 2-Ingredient Bagels.  I’m not sure where the recipe originated but it can be found on many, many recipe sites.  The basic recipe consists of equal parts nonfat, plain Greek yogurt mixed with self-rising flour… brush with egg wash and sprinkle with toppings (sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, etc.) if your heart desires.  They are tasty and I make them often.  I even have a Savory Bread Pudding recipe that uses 2-Ingredient Bagels!  If you haven’t made it yet, what are you waiting for?!

Whether or not you know and love the classic version, I have something even better… my Blueberry Bagels.  These Blueberry Bagels are like the regular 2-ingredient bagel’s classier step-sister.  They are sweeter, prettier, and fancier.  They are the Cinderella of all the homemade bagels, with only a couple extra ingredients required beyond the normal two.  Worth it?  Slather one with a little butter or cream cheese and you’ll see it’s definitely worth it.  ~Erin

20190606_143018.jpg

  • ½ c. Blueberry Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt, stirred
  • ½ c. self-rising flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ c. blueberries
  • Cooking spray
  • Egg white, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Using a spoon or rubber scraper, begin to mix the yogurt, flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  When it’s nearly mixed, incorporate the blueberries and combine thoroughly.  Divide the dough into two sections.

Spray your clean hands with nonstick cooking spray and, working with one section of dough at a time, form it into a ball and then roll into a snake.  Connect the ends to make a circle and place on the parchment-lined sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush with egg whites.  Return to the oven and bake 5-10 more minutes, until golden brown.

Let the bagels cool to room temperature before slicing.

WW Freestyle Info.:  Makes 2 bagels.  Each bagel is 4 SmartPoints.

20190606_152234.jpg

Instant Pot Peach Butter

Summer is finally here and I plan on taking full advantage of my time off. This will be my first summer off in 10 years!

Sidenote:  My sister, Dr. Robin, who is a strong advocate for teachers, will want me to remind you that a teacher’s summer off is NOT paid time off.  We are only paid for contract hours worked, though most schools will distribute your pay over 12 months, to make budgeting easier.

Anywho, my first year back was great and I’m looking forward to spending the summer with my family.  What’s on the agenda, you ask? Lake time, a cross-country road trip (more on that later), pool time, lazy mornings sleeping in, baseball games, lots of cooking, and frequent trips to the farmers market for fresh produce and eggs.  

I love the farmer’s market.  The produce is so much more fresh than you’d find at the grocery store and, to me, it tastes better.   I love to see what I can find there each week, and I can’t wait for peaches to come in season! Peaches are one of my favorite fruits.  I always pick up plenty because they freeze well and they are so versatile. I use them in pies, of course, but I also love to make peach butter!  This Instant Pot Peach Butter is the perfect combination of sweet peaches and warm spices… it’s my favorite summer toast topper. So quick and easy to make in your electric pressure cooker, you’ll never buy the prefab stuff again.  ~Erin

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. peaches, peeled and pitted
  • ¾ c. water
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • ¼ to 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • ½ to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves, optional
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice, optional

Cook peaches and water at high pressure for 20 minutes; natural release.

After all pressure has been released, turn off the pressure cooker, open the lid, remove the pot, and carefully pour off ¾ c. water.  Return the pot back to the cooker.

Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

Add cornstarch, lemon juice, brown sugar (I used 1/3 c. but start with ¼ and add more if too tart.), and spices to taste, if desired; continue to blend well with immersion blender.

Turn the pressure cooker to simmer mode and simmer for 3-5 minutes, with the lid off, to thicken.  It splatters a lot so cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, if needed, and monitor closely.

Turn off cooker and allow the mixture to cool.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.  This can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

WW Freestyle Info.:  This recipe makes 18 servings (about 2 ¼ cups).  Each 2 Tablespoons serving is 1 SmartPoint.

Breakfast Enchiladas

Confession:  I hardly ever cook breakfast…especially not at breakfast time.  I do, however make breakfast for supper a lot.  Why?  Because I love breakfast food but I do not love mornings.  I am not, nor ever shall I ever be, a morning person.  I’m a night owl by nature…I come by it honestly.  I don’t think my mother has ever been in bed before midnight in her adult life.  She always said when we were kids that it was the only time she could get anything done.  I get that, for sure!  I think all moms do.  Anywho, these are the reasons that, if we have a homemade breakfast-type meal, it’s usually in the P.M. 

If, on the rare occasion, I want to make something special for breakfast, I look for things that can be prepped in advance – like after the kids go to bed the night before.  That led me to these enchiladas.  I loved the idea of Breakfast Enchiladas but I wasn’t crazy about the couple of recipes I tried.  So, I did what I often do, and made up my own version.  It’s superb, if I do say so myself.  Packed with taters, veggies, sausage, and cheese, then covered with a creamy “sauce,” these Breakfast Enchiladas will fill you up, yet leave you wanting more.  Enjoy!  ~Erin

Ingredients

  • 4 c. frozen O’Brien hash browns with onions & peppers (the cubed kind – not shredded)
  • 2 c. cooked turkey sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Turkey Sausage Crumbles.)
  • 4 oz. (about 1 ½ c.) reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese (I used Kraft 2%), divided
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 c. fat free half & half
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas (I used La Banderita Carb Counter Whole Wheat Wraps but any 1-point tortilla will do.)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray, and spread the hash browns in an even layer. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until they just start to brown.  Set aside to cool.  Turn off the oven.  This step can be done in advance and hash browns refrigerated until ready to use.

Once cool, transfer the hash browns to a medium bowl and combine with the turkey sausage, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and most of the green onions (reserve ½ c. cheese and some green onions for topping).

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Assemble the enchiladas by filling each tortilla with a heaping half cup of the mixture, until all the filling has been evenly distributed among the 8 tortillas.

In the same, now-empty bowl, beat the eggs with the half & half, salt, and pepper.  Pour the mixture over the tortillas evenly and cover with foil. 

At this point, preheat the oven to 350°F while the enchiladas soak up the egg mixture for at least 15 minutes; OR these can be refrigerated overnight and cooked in the morning.  If refrigerated overnight, set the enchiladas out to come to room temp while the oven preheats.

Bake 30-32 minutes, until egg mixture is set; remove the foil and top with remaining cheese and green onions.  Bake 2-3 more minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is melted.

WW Freestyle Info.:  This recipe makes 8 enchiladas.  Each enchilada is 6 SmartPoints.

Chile Rellenos Breakfast Bake

I love a dish that is versatile.  My favorite foods are those that you can eat any time of day …. breakfast, lunch, dinner. This twist on a Mexican classic is perfect for any time of day, whether you just want something easy and yummy to eat, or you’re looking for something to have for your next brunch or baby shower!  Anytime of day you make it, it’s guaranteed to be a hit. Generally breaded and fried, the chili relleno is loaded with flavor, but who has time (or the allotted calories) for fried foods? In this dish the green chilies add the perfect amount of flavor, but they are not spicy. This recipe mixes up quickly and bakes while you accomplish other things on your to-do list. Served alongside fruit salad or a green salad it is totally delicious!  ~ Kathy

Ingredients: 
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ c. Greek yogurt*
  • 1 c. Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 T 2% milk
  • 1/3 c. Bisquick baking mix
  • 7 oz. can mild, diced green chilies
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Dash garlic powder
  • Dash onion powder

Instructions:  

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. In a large bowl crack 6 eggs, add Greek yogurt and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the baking mix, milk and remaining two eggs. Combine well and ensure there are no lumps. Add to egg mixture in the large bowl.
  5. Stir in cheese, green chilies and seasonings.
  6. Pour into greased baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for approximately 30 more minutes, or until completely set in the center.
  7. *If you do not have Greek yogurt, you can substitute sour cream, but this will change the WW Points.

WW Freestyle Info.:  This recipe makes 6 generous servings that are 4 points each. With reduced fat cheese, you can reduce that to 3 points!

    Waffle Muffins

    Valentine’s Day – some people aren’t big fans; others love it.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I like the holiday.  In fact, I like practically any reason to celebrate.  I like the idea of a day devoted to expressing love…and I like the gifts too, of course!  My husband and I don’t do big gifts for Valentine’s Day though.  We usually get each other a card and he usually picks me up some flowers or candy at the grocery store.

    This year, with his work schedule, I knew we wouldn’t see each other much on Valentine’s Day past breakfast time so I wanted to make something for him more special than his usual bowl of Lucky Charms.  The problem is, I’m not a morning person.  Not even a little bit.  Plus, Valentine’s Day this year was on a Thursday and that’s a work day.  Ain’t nobody got time to make breakfast on a work day.   The solution to this problem was to cook breakfast the night before and reheat it quickly in the morning.  I decided to make these Waffle Muffins, boiled eggs, and bacon, all of which was easily reheated and enjoyed quickly before getting ready for work.  I reheated the muffins and the cooked bacon in the air fryer and the eggs in the microwave.  Worked like a charm!  He was impressed that I had made breakfast on a weekday (Frankly, so was I!) and it was delicious – worth getting out of bed a few minutes early!  ~Erin

    Ingredients:

    • 10 Eggo Nutri-Grain Low Fat waffles (1 box)
    • 1 c. fat-free half & half
    • 4 large eggs
    • ½ c. brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • Maple syrup – for serving, optional

    Instructions: 

    1. Toast 5 of the waffles.  You can toast them all but I decided I wanted a mixture of different textures so I didn’t.  Plus, I’m lazy.  Cut the waffles in bite-sized pieces; set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the fat-free half & half, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-combined.  Stir the waffle pieces into the egg mixture, making sure they are all moistened.  Let them soak about 20 minutes while the oven preheats, stirring occasionally.
    3. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 12-hole muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  When the oven is preheated, stir the waffle mixture one last time and, using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, disperse the mixture evenly in the pan.
    4. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (I usually leave mine in the full 30 minutes), until golden brown.
    5. Serve with maple syrup of your choice, if desired.

    WW Freestyle Info.:  4 points for one, 9 points for two muffins.