Yup it’s Pumpkin time

As you surely will become inundated with pumpkin recipes since it is now September, I’ll start you off with my favorite. Not that I’m a huge pumpkin aficionado, but it just so happens that I just ran out of my favorite spice: Pumpkin Pie Spice. 

I’m in the process of making my Apple Pie Jam and this spice is my key ingredient. I tend to make a big batch that will last me quite a while but I’ve written the recipe so that you can easily decide how much you want to make.

But for reference I use Tablespoons as my base measure, you could easily do teaspoons, etc…

Pumpkin Pie Spice 

  • 4 parts Ground Cinnamon 
  • 1/3 part Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 part Ground Ginger 
  • 1/8 part Ground Allspice 
  • 1/8 part Ground Cloves 

Canning In the Fog

Summer is the best and worst time to can all those yummy fruits and vegetables. It’s the best because everything is so beautiful, ripe and abundant, from berries to stone fruit to cukes and beens. 

 It’s the worst because not only is it a hundred degrees outside but it’s a hundred degrees in your kitchen as well. What with the water bath boiling, the jar lids simmering and your preserves going at a rolling boil it takes a bit of crazy to can in the summer.

My crazy is the nighttime. I absolutely love staying up late to can or prep the kitchen for canning. Everyone is asleep and I can have whatever movie or music I want blaring on my kindle (without headphones:) There’s a peace that comes with the methodological process of canning. Once you’ve been doing it for so long you almost don’t have to think about any of the steps. 

This time though I did have to refer back to an old recipe of mine from my first version of this blog, for Baldamic Fig Jam. I haven’t made it in a few years and I’ve been craving it for a while. I almost even bought some fig preserves at the store but really wanted that Balsamic which adds a richness of flavor.

Luckily I happened upon Trader Joes this weekend and they have 2lb containers of figs for $4.79! Woot woot! I bought 3 of them, 2 for jam and 1 for us to enjoy. Maiyo loves them so that’s always a plus!

Here’s the jam recipe and as always I have some for sale (I’ll update my webstore soon!)

  Balsamic Fig Jam

Makes ~ 48oz

2 lbs Figs (Chopped)

2 1/4 C Sugar (Divided)

1/2 C Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 Tsp Kosher Salt  

1 1/2 C Water

2 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp Low-Sugar Pectin 
-Combine Figs, 1 cup Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar & Salt in bowl, cover and let macerate in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

-Combine 1/2 cup Sugar & Pectin in small bowl, set aside. 

-Add water and 3/4 cup Sugar to mixture and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring, until it boils rapidly for about 10 mins.

-Add in Pectin/Sugar and bring back to a rapid boil for 1 minute.

-Lower heat to low and let sit another 5 mins. 

-Poor into sterilized jars and process in water bath 10 mins or store in refrigerator.

When our hearts hurt

The last few days have been an emotional turmoil for my adopted community of Santa Cruz county. It’s been difficult to imagine the awful truth of what has come to pass with the tragic death of such a young innocent being.

Most difficult for me to hear has been the blind judgment of strangers over the poor baby’s mother. To be honest, this is the main reason I was not going to have kids. The horror of loosing a child did and still greatly does scare me to no end. I don’t know if I would have the strength to survive that and I ache for a mother who has to go through this. 

With a tragedy such as this, let’s open our hearts to the ache and celebrate the life lived.

Maddy’s song by Nick Gallant

10 pounds of ground

About 14 years ago I invested in the one kitchen gadget I knew I could not live without, my Kitchenaid Professional 600 6 quart Stand Mixer. This model mixer was not very readily available back then. I was a struggling college student and everyone said I couldn’t afford it but I knew how much this thing would get used and abused and I wanted to make sure I bought the very best non-commercial I could find. Lucky me, I happened to stop in a Williams Sonoma store just window shopping when I came across my mixer, and better yet it was on some fluke sale at $240, that was over $300 off original price at the time. I immediately had the store clerk put it on hold while I went to the bank to clean out my checking (I wanted to pay cash) and went back to the store. I was so happy when I purchesed it, I think I called all of my friends, yes they thought I was crazy:-)

Well here we are, 14 years later and my monster is still my most beloved kitchen gadget I own. I have used this thing to make all kinds of goodies; baby shower cookies, wedding appetizers, seedless blackberry jam.

But one of the uses I never imagined doing was to make my own ground meats. When I bought my food mill attachement, it’s purpose was for seedless jams, but it also came with meat grinding blades. Well let me tell you this has been one of my favorite perks of this thing! I buy bulk chicken breast on sale and then chop’em up and grind through to make my own ground chicken! It’s super easy, although a little time consuming, but I end up saving $3 per pound doing this AND my ground chicken is super lean because I only use chicken breast meat! Since I absolutely hate ground beef (I don’t think I’ve bought any since I was in high school) I tend to eat a lot of ground chicken around here so this handy attachment has been a lifesaver and super penny pincher for us.

So if you have a mixer that has a ground meat attachment I highly recommend grinding your own as it’s totally worth the time and money!

Ground Chicken:

2-3 lbs of Chicken Breast

Tray lined with waxed paper

Stand mixer with grinding attachment or stand alone meat grinder

Ziploc freezer bags 1 quart size

Cut your chicken breast into long strips of about 1 inch in diameter. Lay on a tray lined with waxed paper and place in freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Run through meat grinder and then place in Ziploc freezer bags. A three-quarter filled bag will roughly equal 1 pound of chicken meat. Freeze for up to six months. To defrost just a place in refrigerator for about half a day since ground chicken defrosts really fast! Use in place of any recipe that calls for ground beef and enjoy.

Strawberry Margarita. Have one on me!

Well here it is. It’s taken me countless Margarita Sunday’s to actually remember to write down my recipe amounts. I’m so sorry for the delay, so here it is nice and simple.

Strawberry Margarita. Have one on me!

Strawberry Margarita. Have one on me!


3 C. Frozen Strawberries
1/2 C. Lemon Syrup
3/4 C. Vodka
3/4 C. Water
Kosher Salt


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until all strawberries are purified. Add water as needed.
  2. Add Vodka for a stronger drink or Strawberries for a lighter one.
  3. Place Kosher salt on a dish.
  4. Dip drinking glass in lemon syrup and then in kosher salt, fill with Strawberry Margarita and enjoy!!


A little quilting my way

I’ve been pretty busy getting Maiyo shuffled from one preschool to another, while ours is temporarily closed for summer:( I never knew how a slight schedule change can cause so much chaos! 

Today, on my day off, I’m sans Maiyo while he’s visiting with his grandma, and I’m hoping to get his excess of toys under control (and donated.) I know, it’s nothing news worthy but just thought I’d let you know that I’d much rather be quilting so here are some projects I’ve worked on recently and am very proud of. 

A queen quilt for Ben & Goldi


A wall hanging quilt 


The right & bright one is a quilt I made for a class we gave at work


A wall quilt for Goldi


A baby quilt for sale


This one that I’m having a hard time finishing…


And this is a quilt & pattern that I created and is for sale at my work, my first published quilt pattern!!!

And later I hope to go for a leisurely bike ride, the first, I’m sad to say, of the year, but definitely not the only:)

Strawberry Margarita Post#2 Freezing your berries (and other fruits!)

My second margarita post is more about freezing fruit than margaritas, though frozen berries are the key to my strawberry margaritas:-)


 My absolute favorite summertime activity is to go to different farms and pick fruit. It’s such a great way to be outside and soak up the summer sun rays. Plus you get to sample the fruit as you’re picking, which makes it even more fun and it’s a great kid activity to teach your child about nature, farming and respecting where our food comes from.

There’s nothing like fresh fruit. If you aren’t close enough to a farm that allows community pick your own days, then your local farmers market is the next best thing. As a matter of fact, I get mostly fruit rather than vegetables when I do go to my farmers market.


 Freezing fruit is easy and a great way to save fruit before it goes bad. If we still have berries in the fridge 3 days after buying them, they go straight to the freezer! I just keep tossing them into my fruit bag until I’m ready to use them. 


 To freeze berries (or any fruit) make sure they are washed, don’t have any mold, and brown spots are cut out. Then just cut up and place on a waxed jelly roll pan (any flat dish will do) and freeze for an hour or two then transfer to your fruit bag (I use the ziplock freezer gallon bags). This works great for:

Any berries (including blueberries,) all stone fruit (peaches, plums, cherries,) bananas, grapes, pineapples, melons, etc. 

Strawberry Maragaritas Post #1

As some of you know, during the summer months my Comadre Goldi and I can be found occasionally enjoying Strawberry Margaritas on Sunday evenings. Well, it’s been so warm lately that strawberries have been hitting the local farm stands super early and of course that means it’s time to use up our frozen strawberries from last season.


With that said, I’ve decided to finally post my strawberry margarita recipe and this first post will be about the lemon simple syrup which has become a necessary staple to the recipe. It’s something Goldi’s husband Ben thought up last summer, and of which I probably should’ve thought of years ago, and has made our lives so much tastier. Every time we have an abundance of lemons we call each other to let the other person know that we have a batch of the syrup ready and available for a mixing of strawberry margaritas. Yum.

Lemon Simple Syrup:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Sugar (I use Zulka unrefined non-GMO)

In a sauce pot combine equal parts lemon juice and sugar. Using medium heat dissolve sugar in the lemon juice and heat through for about 10 minutes. Let cool and pour into 1/2 cup containers or any freezer container that you choose. Store in freezer until ready to use.


Chocolate Chip Banana Pumpkin Bread

Well, I miss all of you but I’ve been so swamped with preserving all kinds of goodies, running bike races and taking care of Maiyo that I haven’t had much time to blog or even post on my facebook page, of which I’ve been neglecting as well. But I did post some pictures two weeks ago of a recipe I made up at the request of a friend. I took three favorite recipes of mine (Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Muffins and Banana Bread) and came up with a Chocolate Chip Banana Pumpkin bread that came out pure heaven, and all within 10 minutes! That’s a first for me! This bread is very moist, sweetened perfectly by the mix of overripe bananas with brown sugar and an easy one bowl batter. The only tweak I would make to it is to exchange most or all of the oil with applesauce. I’ll try it this weekend and get back to you.

Chocolate Chip Banana Pumpkin Muffins

I would highly recommend this bread as a gift giving bread for the holidays, your friends and family will certainly love it!

Chocolate Chip Banana Pumpkin Bread

Yield: 60 Muffins or 2 Loaves

Chocolate Chip Banana Pumpkin Bread


2 Over-Ripe Bananas (place ripe bananas in the fridge for 1-2 nights)
8oz Pumpkin Puree
1 C Oil or 1 C Applesauce
3 Eggs
1 C Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Vanilla Bean Seeds
2 1/2 C Flour (All Purpose, Whole Wheat, Cup-4-Cup)
1 Tsp Ea: Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt & Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
8oz Chocolate Chips or 1/2 C Chopped Nuts


  1. In a large bowl mash the Bananas.
  2. Add in the Pumpkin Puree and mix with an electric mixer.
  3. Add Eggs one at a time and mix in.
  4. Add in Oil (or Applesauce), Vanilla Extract & Beans and mix in completely.
  5. Gently Sift in all dry ingredient except Choco Chips/Nuts.
  6. Fold in Choco Chips/Nuts
  7. Bake in mini muffin cups at 350 for 12-14 minutes or in a loaf pan for 35 mins.