My Last Day of Christmas Break

This summer, I purchased a pressure canner. It has become one of my favorite tools. I had wanted one for years, and after making too much corn on the cob for the 4th of July, I really wanted to can the leftovers because my freezer was full. I had used a water bath canner for years, but was excited to spread my wings challenge myself to canning meats, beans, vegetables, soup, etc.

I went and bought it, yes, I went that night and bought it! It was already 8:00pm by the time I got home.  I canned that corn until 1:00am, loving every minute of it. Yes, I am insane! Now, six months later, I have over 100 jars of food in my reorganized basement pantry. I have a variety of beans (kidney, garbanzo, and pinto,) corn, green beans, red cabbage, peaches, blueberries, barbecue sauce, pickles, potatoes, jams, chicken, pork, sloppy joes, and just a few days ago I canned chicken soup. I plan to can chili, more meat, and some more jam in the months to come.

But today is the last day of Christmas Break, and my family needs something yummy and healthy to eat. Enough with over-indulgence. We need to get back to the weight watchers meals and drop some more pounds! So I decided to make banana bread? Yes, I had 12 frozen bananas taking up too much space in my freezer, so I whipped up 3 large loaves of banana bread, using my new cast iron loaf pan for one. That loaf turned out the best!

One of my loaves. It looks slightly burnt in the picture, but it wasn’t. 

The banana bread will be perfect for my little girls to eat for breakfast. And if we save up enough points during the day, we can also have a slice. I figured that each slice is about 6 – 8 points. Without butter. Yeah, it’s pricey, but ohh so good!

My official start time = 4:30pm

Zesty Peach Barbecued Chicken Breast 11800587_10153237943459737_6789009821850634242_n.jpg (800×800)

I put 4 chicken thighs and 4 skinless chicken breasts in a baking tray and slathered on some of my homemade zesty peach barbecue sauce from the Ball Canning recipe. I covered the meat and baked it at 350 F for 30 minutes and then checked it. I slathered on some more sauce and baked it uncovered for 45 more minutes until the internal temperature was 165F.

Meanwhile, the banana bread also baked away in the oven. I made some rice in my rice cooker, and heated up my homemade canned green beans with mushrooms. This recipe is from my new Ball Canning Book.


When the chicken and rice were done, and the green beans were heated up, we sat down for a wonderful meal. We added even more of the zesty peach barbecue sauce, and served up some canned peaches to help take away from the heat of the sauce. Supper was wonderful.

Our goal is to stay around 15 smartpoints per meal. The sauce was 5 points per serving, the rice was 4 points, the chicken was 3 points, and the peaches were 4, for a total of 16 points. That was close enough to our goal of 15 to make us happy eaters! I cleaned up the table and baking supplies and returned my kitchen to normal.

My kitchen was closed at 7:17 pm

So, in less then three hours I had three loaves of yummy banana bread and a healthy meal of zesty peach barbecued chicken with rice, green beans and canned peaches. I also had all of the dishes in the dishwasher and the kitchen was returned to normal. I’d call that a pretty good night!

Now, back to work!

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Crumpets for Breakfast!

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Several years ago I tasted my first crumpet. I was in a bigger city and saw a package of them in the grocery store. I had always wanted to try one, so I bought the package and warmed them up when we got home. Oh, man! Sometimes British food can be so surprising! Why hadn't I grown up on these? They were fabulous!

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about those crumpets and wishing that I had a big store in my little neck of the woods where I could buy some more. But, sadly, after searching every grocery store within 30 miles, I came up empty (there are only 5 different stores to check). No crumpets anywhere. Well, I'd prefer to make my own anyway.

Not one to give up, I searched the Internet and YouTube for a recipe and found this King Arthur Flour Crumpet recipe . I followed it to the letter, and …. FLOP! They were hard and solid on the outside, and raw inside. I knew what the problem was. My yeast was old. I also didn't have muffin rings, which would have helped a lot. They aren't necessary, but I knew that I wanted some.

I made a trip to the store for some new instant yeast and a new lease on crumpet making, I also purchased these Crumpet, English muffin rings and went to bed filled with dreams of the perfect crumpet. I was ready to try again!

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Crumpet Rings… a multi-purpose tool.

I mixed the dough, and from the very beginning I could tell that this time, things would be different. This time, it just might work! The dough rested for 1 hour and doubled in size just like it should (funny what fresh yeast will do)!

Next, the new rings were greased up, the pan was set on low, and I poured in the batter. After 10 minutes, it looked like this:

Crumpets after 10 minutes of cooking.

I was giggling, I was so happy. Waiting ten minutes to flip them was BRUTAL!

I constantly wanted to check them, fiddle with them, and adjust things, but my head kept telling my heart to, "Be patient." That battle paid off.

Crumpets flipped for the final 4 minutes.

After the first round, I turned down the heat a bit. Big mistake. Three rounds later, I finally had the heat set at the best temperature so that I could replicate my first round results.

They were a hit! The kids each ate three of them with jam right away and so did my husband. They were eaten as fast as they came off of the frying pan. Even the burnt ones!

Here is a record of my results:

Round 1 – perfect

Round 2 – undercooked (the pan seemed too hot so I turned down the heat)

Round 3 – undercooked

Round 4 – burnt (I turned up the heat because the last two rounds were so pale)

Round 5 – perfect (set the heat to low AND LEAVE IT ALONE!)

Round 6 – perfect – but needed to leave them in a bit longer than the 15 minutes.

Last one – I added water to thin the batter and see how that  would work. WOW! THE PERFECT CRUMPET!!!!

The three on the left were from Round 6 and the one on the right is the final crumpet. You can really see the difference!

A review of the recipe:

This is NOT something you want to make at the last minute. While the batter mixes up quickly, it sits for an hour before cooking, and each batch you make takes from 15 – 20 minutes. Total time cooking from beginning (mixing the batter) to the end (cleaning up) was 3 hours. I could do things while each round cooked (like write this blog post), but I needed to stay in the kitchen.

My final crumpet was the best, making me think that I will add water to the batter after it has risen next time. Rounds 1 – 6 were  a thick batter that had to be scraped out of the measuring cup when putting into the rings.  The rings are a MUST! The first time I made them, my batter spread and sometimes connected to another crumpet. You can make your own rings by using tuna cans and removing both top and bottom lids, or I have seen a picture of someone using canning jar lids. After 4 minutes of cooking in the ring, I giggled when each ring could be removed cleanly! So much fun!

The temperature settings need to be low, but sometimes the pan cooled too low. The original recipe called for a setting of 325 F on a griddle. I don't have a griddle, so  I am left to  wonder if that would have solved the problem. Maybe this will be a last minute item for my gift list?

Considering everything that went into making these, the time they took from beginning to end, the ease of mixing the batter, and the fact that my family devoured them as soon as they came out of the pan, I will make them again! In fact, my husband and both little girls at home asked for them again next weekend! Rule, Britannia!




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