Can-It-Forward Day & Giveaway!

Every year Jarden Home Brands, maker of Ball jars and canning products hosts the Can-It-Forward Day. It’s a good reminder to learn more about preserving, discover their new products and do a little canning. 

This year you'll find The All New Ball Book of Canning and PreservingIt’s the biggest book they’ve ever put out with over 350 recipes for canning, jamming, pickling and preserving.

There are so many cool recipes in this book! Harissa, Worcestershire sauce, fermented Ginger Bug, Citrus Vanilla Bean Marmalade, Whole Grain Thyme Mustard, even Cold Cured Salmon with gin or vodka. There are also guides to dehydrating, freezing and canning fruit and vegetables. It has beautiful photos from Hélène Dujardin

This year I canned cherries for pie, using a recipe from the new book. It was easy as pie! If you’ve never canned pie filling I highly recommend it. It might be the easiest introduction to canning ever. 

The recipe instructs you to combine 6 cups of cherries with 1/2 cup sugar and cook it for just five minutes. You add some flavorings—2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. The mixture gets poured into sterilized jars which you then process for 30 minutes. Done! There are also instructions for how to use the filling in pie.
Ball sent me their latest jars, they are wide mouth pint jars in a pale turquoise blue.
Whether or not you use these pretty jars, I encourage you to tune in on July 22nd to watch live canning demonstrations on Facebook Live from 10-3:30 EST. There will be chances every hour to win prizes. You can also ask canning experts questions on preserving or canning via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM EST on July 22nd. Feel free to share your own creations on Pinterest and Instagram and don’t forget to use the hashtag #canitforward


Leave a comment telling me what you last canned or preserved OR what you plan on canning or preserving next, and I will choose one winner who will receive: 

A copy of The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
A case of Elite Wide Mouth Pint Jars in turquoise blue
A $5 off coupon to use at the 

In order to win you must have a US mailing address. Be sure to enter your email address in the field where it is requested. Do not leave your email address in the body of the message.  Contest ends on Monday July 25 the 2016 Contest courtesy of Jarden Home Brands.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving, a set of four wide most pint jars and a $5 Ball canning supplies gift certificate. 

Slow Cooker Smoked Chicken Recipe

Recently I was working on some recipes for a client and was tasked with making “faux barbecue.” By faux, I mean no smoker, no grill. In fact, all the recipes were to be made in a slow cooker. I don’t use a slow cooker very often so I wasn’t sure the recipes would even work. Boy was I wrong!
If you are looking for an easy way to cook chicken, this is it. It stays tremendously moist and flavorful and the meat is particularly good for using in sandwiches, salads or even tacos or enchiladas. One of the secrets to this recipe is dry brining the bird. That just means sprinkling it with salt before cooking. Salting it 24 hours ahead is fine, but 48 hours is even better. 
Don’t freak out over the use of 1/4 cup of liquid smoke. It does not actually touch the bird so you’re not ingesting it at all. In any case, liquid smoke is a natural and safe ingredient. Experts agree you'd have to ingest 3 whole bottles to cause any harm. 
This recipe in particular didn't go to print because it uses a whole chicken. My client wanted a recipe using just breasts. I rarely buy anything but whole chickens because they are so much more economical and you should too. If you’re afraid of ending up with too much chicken, by all means store some of it in the freezer. But I urge you to get in the habit of buying whole chickens. Invest in good kitchen shears and you’ll find it’s easy to break it down into pieces before or after cooking. Even if you only want to eat chicken breasts, you can use the rest of the bird to make homemade chicken broth or stock and still save money. 
Slow Cooker Smoked Chicken
One young chicken, about 5-6 pounds
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt per pound of chicken
1/4 cup liquid smoke
2 Tablespoons paprika, preferably smoked but sweet or hot is fine
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pat dry the chicken with paper towels and sprinkle the bird all over with salt. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator at least overnight and up to 2 days before cooking. 
When ready to cook, in a small bowl make the seasoning mix by combining the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper. Pour liquid smoke into the slow cooker, place a rack inside and set to high. If you don’t have a rack that fits, fashion one out of a coil of crumpled aluminum foil
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and coat evenly on all sides with the seasoning mix. Add more paprika if necessary. 
Place the chicken breast down in the slow cooker on top of the rack. Cover and cook on high until it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F in the thickest part of the thigh, about 2 1/2 hours. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker. If you want the chicken to have crispy skin, broil it for about 10 minutes. Let the bird rest 10 minutes before carving to let the juices reabsorb. Note: Remove the rack and discard the liquid in the bottom of the pot.


Food & Drink Non Fiction & Fun

I meant to post about these books in the Fall but somehow the post got lost. These books are each a lot of fun and good no matter what the season. 

Drinking the Devil’s Acre A Love Letter from San Francisco & Her Cocktails. 

If you love San Francisco you will be absolutely charmed by this book. Author Duggan McDonnell is something of a renaissance man—a barkeep, author, historian, a teacher and has been involved in the introduction of a pisco and Jardesca. He’s also a wonderful writer. The book details secret bartender formulas, stories behind classic and contemporary cocktails as well as recipes, stories from many eras in our city by the bay, and so much more. Learn why so many cocktails in San Francisco use citrus, why San Franiscans love the negroni and all things bitter, how tequila made its way to California etc. It’s a pure pleasure. 
The Mad Feast An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food
This book is an “anti-cookbook.” It is a series of surprising essays about iconic but sometimes notorious foods associated with different states. These are not just happy-go-lucky tales but often decidedly wacky untold stories about the pecularities of our culture and its intersection with food. Read about how the lack of traditional ingredients led to the California roll, the link between the Marionberry and slavery and cannabalism, and personal stories from the author about love, life and his experiences here there and everywhere. For a culinary book, it’s truly a wild ride. 
Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese
I thoroughly enjoyed Gordon Edgar’s first book, Life on the Wedge. His humor and his worker perspective make his writing about cheese unlike any other. Cheddar is a bit more academic and esoteric, there are whole sections on arcane agricultural history and cheesemaking that dig deep, but all in all, it did make me see cheddar in a new light. The book helps to set the context for a cheese that’s become so commonplace that we barely give it a second thought. My favorite bits were about different cheddar cheeses, cheesemakers, and anecdotes about his road trips and judging competions. Interestingly enough a book about cheddar ends up telling us something about ourselves and our own relationship to culture, if you’ll pardon the pun. 
Eatymology: The Dictionary of Modern Gastrononmy 
As a wordy girl, this book makes me happy, it defines 100 new words that relate to food. Will you take a janopause next year? Visit a cat cafe? Sure you know what umami is, but kokumi? If not, you need this book. It’s a really fun read and definitely something you will want to work your way through before the aporkalypse. Written by the creator of the Twitter sensation “Ruth Bourdain.” 
Disclaimer: I received these books as review copies and this post includes affiliate links. 

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe & Giveaway!

cherry bbq sauce

I’m happy to once again be participating as a Canbassador. I received some sweet dark red cherries that are as delicious as the season is fleeting. Preserving them is the best way to savor them a little bit longer. Last year I canned some cherries with bourbon. I can’t find the recipe I used and frankly I put the jars so far back in my pantry that I forgot about them until a couple of weeks ago. I just opened the first jar and they turned out to be delicious. I probably got the idea from

This year I used my cherries to make one batch of cherry pie filling and jars of cherry barbecue sauce. I looked at a couple of recipes, but mostly my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home magazine. While the technique is the same, I switched up the seasonings, decreased the sugar and blended it smooth.

The sauce is really good on pulled pork. You can try it with this super easy recipe I developed for preparing it in the slow cooker. But it would also be great on ribs or brisket. It's rich and has just the right balance of tangy and spicy notes–so much better than anything you can buy in the store!

Cherry BBQ Sauce 
Makes about 5 pints


1 Tablespoon mild flavored oil such as canola or rice bran
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons ground black pepper


In a large saucepan heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five minutes until soft but not brown. Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the black pepper. Simmer the ingredients for 20 minutes then blend in a blender or using a stick blender, until smooth. Add a teaspoon of pepper and then taste. Add more pepper if desired.

Pour sauce into sterilized pint jars, seal and refrigerate or process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.



As a canbassador I am happy to offer 3 swag bags including a fun cherry branded water bottle, a red Oxo cherry pitter and of course, a big shipment of fresh Northwest cherries! You must have a US mailing address to win. Please leave a comment telling me what you'd like to make with cherries. Please enter your email address in the requested field and NOT in the body of the comment. Winners will be chosen on Friday July 15th.


Disclaimer: I received a shipment of cherries and Northwest Cherries is providing the giveaway. I was not monetarily compensated for this or any other post. 

Pintxos Party! A How To Guide

Grazing is my favorite form of eating. I would happily give up meals in favor of all day snacking. That’s what's so great about pintxos. The Spanish tradition of eating little bites and sometimes larger “raciones” of food to go with drinks is perfect for a snack or a meal or even a party.

If the idea of lots of cooking for a party doesn’t appeal, that’s another reason to consider pintxos. These nibbles, often piled on little slices of bread or speared on toothpicks, use a variety of ingredients that for the most part, don’t need to be cooked.

Thanks to a care package from Donostia Foods, I put together a little pintxos party of my own. I relied on a variety of conservas, or preserves. In Spain they preserve olives, fish, seafood and vegetables. Combined with fresh vegetable, cheeses, fruits and a few other things, you can whip up party fare in no time. While we often wax poetic about fresh ingredients, preserved products add another element altogether. Think succulent canned tuna belly in olive oil versus fresh tuna. Or silky roasted piquillo peppers in jars.

Pintxos lend themselves to creativity. Basque cities San Sebastian and Bilbao even hold annual Top Pintxos contests and give awards.

Here’s how I transformed the conservas into perfect party food. Let my suggestions be a guide and come up with your own ideas too.

Anchovy + Tuna on bread
The salty slippery anchovy complements the richness of the tuna

Mussels in escabeche + fresh ricotta on bread
Escabeche is a sauce of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, bay leaf and pepper as welll as other spices, especially pimentón. The ricotta provides a slightly sweet and mild backdrop to the tender but intensely flavored mussels. This idea was inspired from a Recipe & Serving Suggestion Guide from Donostia.

Sardines+ sautéed onions + piquillo peppers on bread
This was my most creative effort and possibly the most successful one. I simply sauteed thinly slicedo onions until they were caramelized and soft. I sliced the sweet piquillo peppers and slipped them on top of the bread. I piled a spoonful of onion on top of the pepper and draped a sardine on top. of the onions. Perfection!

I also created a few other pintxos, not using conservas…

Manchego + apricot preserves on bread
I wanted to add a cheese pintxo, and so I cooked some apricot halves in a saute pain with a bit of honey to make a rich spread to pair with the satly dry cheese. The tangy quality of the fruit offset the salty cheese nicely.

Potato + chorizo on skewer
Nothing could be easier than a chunk of cooked potato and a chunk of good Spanish chorizo

Roasted asparagus + coppa
For something fresher, I rolled roasted asparagus in slices of Italian coppa, but slices of jamon would have been even better.

Tortilla Española
Not really a pintxo, but fun to make, especially this adapted recipe from Ferran Adria that uses potato chips


1. Start with great quality ingredients. Splurge on some great quality conservas, a little goes a long way in terms of flavor.

2. Mix up ingredients, contrasting textures and flavors when possible to create more interest

3. Add some fresh but simply prepared fruits or vegetables like roasted asparagus, sauteed stone fruit,

4. Let your imagination be you guide! I have had amazing pintxos with sliced mangos, foie gras, fresh shrimp and even quail eggs

5. Have fun! This is not fine dining although the pintxos can be as sophisiticated as you like. The emphasis should be on quality, variety and most of all, enjoyment.

Disclaimer: While I purchased some of my own ingredients, I also enjoyed a lovey supply of conservas from Donostia Foods