Tominach Pasta

I made up the name by combining tomato with spinach, so that is how it is pronounced. It was a sneaky way of getting one child to eat spinach without whining. (And we all need less whining and more eating)This is another dish I lovingly refer to as a Dump Recipe. That means I really do not measure a single ingredient, I just dump it all into the pan. I learned ovenr 20 years ago how easy it was to make a homemade version of Hamburger Helper and have used that technique here. That makes it an easy dish for a busy night’s dinner.



1 pound ground Italian sausage

1 pound pasta

1/2 cup dried spinach dip mix

1 small onion sliced

2 cans diced tomatoes


favorite herbs

4 ounces Feta Cheese (more if you like!)


Begin by cooking the sausage and onions thoroughly. Drain off any grease. Add the pasta and tomatoes. Fill the cans with water and pour on top. Mix in the dry spinach dip. I buy it in bulk from Azure standard so it has other vegetables already mixed in.


Now the herbs will depend on what you like, if you used tomatoes with other ingredients and even what was in the spinach dip. This time I used basil, garlic, salt and pepper. You can also use parsley, oregano, Italian seasoning and even pepper flakes.


Cover and cook over medium heat till pasta is tender. I check occasionally  to stir and make sure it does not need more water. When it s ready add the feta cheese, stir and serve.




Cube Steak with Gravy

Cube steak (or minute steak) is partly a cut of beef but is also identified by how it has been tenderized. It begins as Top Round or Top Sirloin, both of which are rather tough cuts of steak. It is tenderized by pounding the bejeebers our of it with metal prongs. You can buy cube steak at the market or purchase the aforementioned cuts of beef and tenderize it at home. Some will use a maillot but I personally don’t think it does the job right. A blade tenderizer is a single use device but definitely worth buying if you want to make your own cube steak at home.

Just one of several versions available to purchase
Just one of several versions available to purchase


2-4 pieces if Cube Steak

1 Medium onion

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup



Black Pepper

2 tsp Garlic Powder


While your frying pan is heating, season your steak. This is one time I feel the meat really, really needs salt. Also season with black pepper. Sauté the onions until soft and lightly brown. Add the steaks and brown on both sides. Push everything to the side and add the soup. Fill the soup can with milk and combine in the pan to deglaze and form a gravy. Add the garlic powder. Spread the steaks even in the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.


i prefer to make this dish in my electric skillet as it cooks evenly and I don’t have to keep coming back to stir. Depending on your pan and burner, check occasionally to make sure the gravy isn’t sticking. Check the steak to ensure it is as tender as you prefer. The thicker the cube steak, the longer this will take.

if you really like mushrooms, sauté some with the onions.


My family loves this best with mashed potatoes. Tonight I served with home canned carrots for a little color. A tough bit of steak is so tender I can cut it with a fork.


Italian Green Beens home canned

There are certain vegetables I think taste better canned than frozen, and green beans is one of them. There are so many ways to add flavor in the canning process that making small batches works perfectly. There are two ways to can green beans, raw or hot pack. Raw pack means the beans go into the jar raw and are then processed. Hot pack has you boiling the beans for 5 minutes and then packing into the jar. Hot packed beans allow you to get slightly more in the jar and since they are already cooked you won’t increase your head space. The batch of beans I made over the weekend was done raw pack, but when I do more this coming weekend I will do them hot packed so you can see th difference.

Ingredients for quart jars
Green Beans
1 tsp Canning Salt
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 c Sliced Onions
Hot Water

Canning beans requires that they be as fresh as possible. While there are many foods that can sit around for a while, beans go limp quickly. I really prefer to can them within 48 hours of being preprint the beans, give the kids a bag and a bowl. Yes,this is a project I make them do because it is easy and they can do it while watching NCiS on Netflix. Snap off both ends of the bean, just the very tips. Sometimes the sting down the middle will start to peel off and I just finish the task, but don’t work about it if it doesn’t start when strapping the ends.


Canning salt is always used because it doesn’t have the additives that your Mortins salt will have. These can add flavors you don’t like and will cause the water to become cloudy. Keep I mind that salt is not required, but the amount is significantly less than you will find in store-bought canned beans. It is added because when cooking with salt, it amplifies the flavor of the foods being cooked.

This is for quart sized jars, but can easily be adjusted for pints. I like quarts because while we won’t eat a whole jar in one meal, the leftovers will be eaten a few days later. So why not do pints? I can can twice as much intense same time and use half as many jars to store.

While you can place the garlic cloves whole, I prefer to smoosh them a little first. This releases the oils and infusing the beans with more flavor.

In each jar place all the ingredients and top with green beans. Or, you can put the onions on top as I did in a few jars, you just need to save room. Everything will get mixed as they work in the pressure canner. Heck, half it it gets mixed up as you work out the air.


Be sure to remove all air bubbles. This is much harder with raw means than ones that have been cooked. You literally have to jam your utensil down to find air pockets. If you don’t remove all the air when you are done processing you could be stuck with jars that only have liquid covering half your beans. Leave one inch of head space, wipe the rims and place in the pressure canner. Process pints 20 minutes and quarts for 25.


To figure out how many beans you should out up, think of a pint as one can of beans from the store. Approximately 10 pounds of green beans will make 5 quarts. When opening the jar make sure the lid is still indented and fully sealed. Be sure to bring the beans to a boil before eating and enjoy!

Cherry Lemonade

Gee whiz, it must be cherry season, right? I know, another cherry recipe, but I may as well share it now so you can use it, right? If you have made the Strawberry Lemonade this is very similar.


8 cups Cherry Juice

4 cups Sugar

8 Cups Lemon Juice

While you can buy the cherry juice, I got it from fresh cherries using my juice steamer. You can also use an electric juice but you need to remove the pits first. My steamer lets me to throw it all in at once.


Mix all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.


To mix, add 1 quart if concentrate to 1.5 quarts if water, I know this is more than the strawberry lemonade and we even used less sugar, but the cherries are sweeter, hence the change,

See, easy peasy! You can freeze the concentrate as well if that works better for you. Just leave two inches for expansion in Your jars. Now enjoy a taste of Summer all year long.


Use a Steam Juicer to make Cherry Juice

It is that time of year when certain fruits are producing. You gotta act fast because you have a short window before they are rotting on the trees. Cherries fall into that category and I have been putting things up left and right. This year I was gifted a steam juicer and an I just say I am in LOVE. It is the gosh durn easiest way to get juice and is FAB-U-LOUS!

A steam juicer comes in three parts. The bottom holds the water, the middle holds the juice and the top is for fruit. The coolest part is that you do very little prep work to the fruit before placing in the steamer. For cherries this means no pitting! Wash the fruit and place in a pot of water. This allows you to check for any fruit that floats,which should be tossed as it may have a worm. Next place into the strainer. That is it, I promise. Fill that sucker up full and get ready to cook it down into a pulp.


Place the strainer into the middle piece which collects the juice. The middle piece will have  a tube attached, this is how the juice is drained. Be sure that it is clamped shut or you will have juice leakage. The bottom piece sets directly onto the burner and is filled with hot water. Place the other two pieces on top and crank the heat up to high.


As the fruit cooks, occasionally stir it but do not press down. Pressing will push it into the juice and you will need to strain it later. If cooking a look of fruit be sure to occasionally check the water level. New fruit can be added on top and just mixed in with the pulp. I made 3 gallons of cherry juice this day and this was all that was left of what I had put in the pot.


If some pulp does slip through use a pear towel to wipe away before draining out the tube. The juice can be drained into a plastic jug for freezing, a pitcher for easier handling or straight into jars ready to waterbath.


There are many things to do with your cherry juice. You can mix up cherry lemonade concentrate, cherry jelly or reduce it to make Gremadine. This batch I just bottled the juice straight so I can add it to pitchers of juice over the year for custom blended flavor. If you don’t can, it freezes well. A friend goes through a lot of distilled water as three family members uses c-pap machines so it get clean jugs from her I use for freezing juices. Those I freeze ready to drink.

How cool is that? So much easier than an electric juice and it produces clear juice without pulp. I hope you give it a try.

2 Ingredient Cherry Extract

When baking people look at several factors before starting, what is the cost, do I have all the ingredients handy and how healthy is it. Extracts today fall into 3 categories. They can be completely composed of artificial ingredients, made with real ingredients but other things have been added or 100% pure extract. The last group is the most expensive but tastes the best. What if you could make your own at a fraction of the cost? The process is the same whatever flavor you want to make, but this time I am making cherry.

This tiny bottle costs almost $12!
This tiny bottle costs almost $12!


Vodka 750ml

Cherries 1 cup

I purchase the cheapest vodka I can find, I don’t think it  makes a huge difference to buy the pricier brands. I will add that I don’t drink so if you know a particular brand is significantly better, use it by all means.

Allow cherries to set in water and toss any that float as they ,ya have worms.
Allow cherries to set in water and toss any that float as they ,ya have worms.

In this case I am only making up a single jar, but if I were to make some for Christmas gifts I would do several. Pit cherries and cut in half and place 1 cup into a quart sized Mason jar. Cover with vodka until full and place on the lid and ring. Get it good and tight because you don’t want I to leak.

This sized bottle makes a perfect quart of extract.
This sized bottle makes a perfect quart of extract.

Do not toss the vodka bottle! Once the extract is ready it will be strained and out back into it. This makes using it significantly easier than taking it out of a quart jar. If however you intend to give it as gifts, small bottles can be purchased online.

Place the mason jar into a brown paper bag and leave it in a cool and dark place. Ever few weeks give it a good shake. Allow the cherries to flavor the alcohol for at least 3 months. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor will be. Use as you would any cherry extract purchased from the store.

So many recipes so little time.
So many recipes so little time.

Stay tuned for other extracts you can make at home.

Strawberry Lemonade

There are certain foods that I always associate with Summer. While we had a row of strawberries in the garden, I loved going to u-pick farms and eating as I worked.


As a kid the Country Time Lemonade commercials got my attention but the powdered mix just never held a candle to the real thing. A cold glass of lemonade on a hot day just hits the spot.


You can understand how mixing the two is just natural for me. I canned the concentrate but it can also be frozen or used immediately.


6 cups Strawberries

4 cups Lemon Juice

5 cups Sugar

Rinse and hull the berries and remove any bruised parts. Purée the berries to desired consistency. The more you purée it the more it blends with the juice, but some people may like to leave a few chunks.


Place the berries and sugar in a pot with the lemon juice. While you can certainly use fresh squeezed, bottled works as well.


Heat the mix until it reaches 190 degrees. If it boils you will have a foamy mess all over the stove. Ask me how I know?

The original recipe from Ball calls for 6 cups of sugar but we found that to be too sweet for our tastes. Another option is to use raspberries instead of strawberries.


i used quarts but pints work as well. Fill to 1/4 inch headspace and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

When freezing be sure to allow 2 Inches of headspace.

If making for immediate use, it can be made the day before.



To use the concentrate mix it 50/50 with cold water. If you want punch I suggest adjusting it to 25% water and 25% Sprite. You can also top with strawberry ice cream to make it really fun.


Have a cool Summer!