Canning Tomatoes

One of my goals last year was to learn how to can tomatoes. It's no secret that I have a love affair with them (specifically Romas) and for years I depended on my mom for my addiction because she cans a bajillion at a time. Every time I went to visit, I'd steal one or two (or more) jars and take them home with me. Well, that simply needed to stop. I'm a grown up that should be able to do this on my own, don't you think?

My mom was gracious enough to plant lots of tomato plants last spring so that's what I was originally going to go with. But then, I had quite a few dollars left in my CSA share so I bought two loads of tomatoes for $40. Sweet. That left me with QUITE a bit of canned tomatoes. (24 pints, 9 Pint and a halves and 16 Quarts). For most people, that'd be enough to last them for a LONG while, but you know me :) When I was pregnant with Jack, I had quite the tomato craving and went through every single one of the pints and most of the pint and a halves! No joke, I had the same tomato meal every day for quite awhile. I am happy to report, however, that I still have 9 quarts left!

I do plan to can some more this summer and here is the recipe I'll use:

Boiling-Water Canning (taken straight from BH&G's You Can Can)

Step One - Prepare the food
While you're the food to be canned, heat water in the canner. Fill the canner about halfway with water and position the rack. Set jars in the canner to sterilize.

A. Score the tomatoes - Make an X in the blossom end of each tomato with a small sharp knife.
B. Blanch - Heat a large kettle of water to boiling. Drop in the tomatoes to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
C. Cool and Peel - Immediately plunge the tomatoes into icy water to loosen the skins. The skins will slip off easily. Cut out the stem ends with a small,sharp knife.

Step Two - Fill the jars

A. Fill - Pack the jar as tightly as you can with the food without crushing it. Top with any hot liquid as specified in the recipe.
B. Remove air bubbles - Insert a special canning tool or a thin, flexible spatula down along the sides of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Measure headspace, adding or removing liquid as needed.
C. Wipe - Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue that might interfere with the seal.
D. Put on lid - Set lid  on jar and screw on band no more that fingertip-tight, just tight enough that you could turn the band another 1/4 or 1/2 inch tighter. This is important for a proper seal.

Step Three - Process the jars
Submerging the jars in boiling water heats and sterilizes the food inside and is the first step in creating a sealed jar.

A. Place jars in canner  - As you fill each jar, set it back in the canner filled with simmering water.
B. Process jars - When all the jars filled, they should be covered with 1-2 inches of water. Add more boiling water if needed to achieve this. Start processing time from the moment water starts to boil. Keep at a low, rolling boil.
C. Remove jars - When the processing time is up, turn off heat and remove jars.

Step Four - Cool
Remove jars from canner and set on a wire rack or towel on the counter (cold, bare countertops can crack jars). Do not tighten bands. Allow to cool for 12-24 hours. After that time test the seal by firmly pressing your finger n the center of the lid. It should not give. If it makes a popping sound, it is not properly sealed. Store in the fridge and eat the food soon. Otherwise, store jars in a cool, dry place for up to one year.


What's For Dinner {34} - Hobo Dinners!

Over the past year, my sister Bridget has given us not one, but two of our newest most favorite meals ever. Yes, that's a pretty big deal so THANK YOU, Bridget! (I'll post the second favorite in the near future - it's another great option for grilling!)

The first was a meal brought back from years ago. I'm pretty sure I had this a number of different times growing up but didn't have it for years before Bridget and Drew reintroduced it last summer. There's nothing better than family, a meal over the campfire and smore's in the summer!

Easy Hobo Tin Foil Dinner Recipe:
(Makes 4 dinners)
1 pound ground beef (we used 80/20 - ground chuck)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced or cubed
1 onion, diced (we love yellow onions)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce
Sauce of choice (I didn't use one but Gary liked BBQ sauce)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Use a large square piece of aluminum foil for each tin foil dinner. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Separate ground beef into 4 equal patties and place in the center of each piece of foil. Divide potatoes, carrots and onion evenly between all 4 dinners and place on top of meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce on top of each dinner and fold foil up tightly around the entire meal. Cook on a grill on medium-high heat or an open fire for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables and meat are cooked through. We don't actually own a grill so we bake ours in the oven for at least 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Open foil carefully and top with sauce and shredded cheese.

We had to drain some of the fat too....doesn't sound appealing but we like the meal well enough it doesn't bother us to do that!


Shut Up & Dance with Me

Gspice and I have a new favorite song! Whenever this plays on the radio, the volume goes up and we start belting out the lyrics. We've played it for the boys too - Owen wiggles and giggles and Jack smiles up a storm!


Baby Jack {Three Months!}

Our little peanut is officially three months old! Time truly flies when you have a little baby and toddler to consume your life. I wouldn't change it for the world but man it's exhausting! Try to take them both on your own anywhere and it becomes the worst idea of your life! Trust me, it's now happened at least twice; once at the doctor's which you've already read about and the other at a trip to Noodles and Company. Don't even ask. Somehow, I don't even think about how difficult outings are going to be until we're already out and about. Luckily for me, going for walks with the boys is incredibly easy and going to the grocery store is incredibly easy. That is enough for me :)

Jack is still doing remarkably well at daycare. I am constantly surprised with how much he sleeps! I have to keep reminding myself that my children are their own selves and have and will continue to do things differently. But man, I'm pleasantly shocked every single day! 60+ minute naps multiple times a day? Wow. We RARELY saw that with Owen! Though he sleeps well, Jack did end up getting a cold after a week or two at daycare. It's not quite the cold that Owen had but he is pretty congested and developed a productive cough last week. Regardless, I'm pretty sure he's kept up his eating relatively well (Thankfully!!) If he's not, then I anxiously await to see what his new "normal" eating habits are. Gary and I are ready to give up a feeding or two in the middle of the night!

Likes: kicking and squirming about, stretching every morning for 5+ minutes (the absolute cutest thing!), snuggling, watching his big brother, listening to people singing and being danced around, cooing, tracking our voices and movements and lights, being held so he can look over our shoulder, walks with mommy, car rides and daycare.

The first time Jack really took to his brother was during a trip to Walmart. I had decided to finally get out the BinxyBaby that I bought before he was born that's used for grocery carts. It basically allows you to keep most of the space available in the cart by not needing to place a huge carseat in the way. Well, by putting him in this, Jack is quite a bit higher and can actually see and hear his big brother. Big brother can also reach and touch little brother so that was a little difficult but seeing Jack constantly smile up at Owen was the most precious thing I've seen yet. I wish I would have taken a photo!

3-Month Mommy Guesses
Weight: 13 lbs 9 oz
Height: 24.25 in

2-Month Appointment (5/8/2015)

Weight: 12 lb
Height: 23.75 in

Mommy-wants-a-weight-check-kinda-visit (5/1/2015)

Weight: 11 lb 9 oz

Add'l Doctor Visit (4/16/2015)
Weight: 11 lb 

2-Week Appointment (3/26/2015)

Weight: 9 lb 8 oz
Height: 21.5 in

Newborn (3/6/2015)                  
Weight: 8 lb 14 oz           
Height: 21.5 in

Owen wanted to crash Jack's monthly photo shoot. I'll allow it :)