I make dinner 5 – 6 times a week. Many of these meals are ready in 20 minutes or less. Even though I love to cook, not everyday. Over the years I developed some practices to make it work for me. Whenever I make a special meal, I make twice as much and freeze a meal for later. I enjoy shopping and when I find the great deals, I buy extra. My time counts when I’m in the kitchen. I stock up, if it makes sense.
I use peppers and onions in lots of recipes. When I have time, I buy a lot, do the prep (slice or dice) and put them in the freezer. When it’s time to cook, much of my prep is already done. I also love mushrooms and buy at the best price. Saute a large container, cool them and lay them flat in a zip bag and freeze.When ready to use, I can get the exact amount I need.
In 2009, I was part of an international cooking competition for Saladmaster. Many countries were represented and we won! I’ll be sharing that recipe next time. This time I want to share one of the key ingredients in the dish and how to make it from scratch. When we won the contest, we used Harry & David’s Pepper and Onion relish (classic recipe).A few years later I decided to try to duplicate the recipe, with the help of the Internet. After several trys, this is very close to the original recipe. During one of our cooking classes, we learned to make the recipe. We even learned how to can and process.
Sweet pepper onion relish
6 C.tomatoes (skinned, diced & drained) or 4 large cans(diced)
6 large red bell peppers, diced – 4 C. sugar (white or brown)
2 T. salt – 3 C. white vinegar – 1 t. cayenne pepper
4 Jalapenos (seeded & diced) – 3 large onions(diced)
1 envelope Pectin
Mix all the ingredients except Pectin and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and
let simmer 2-2 1/2 hours, until thickened. Whisk in the Pectin and continue
to simmer 1 minute; Pour into sterile jars and process. yields 12 jelly jars.
One of the benefits of making your own relish is cost and the other is being able to make it your own. The real jars sells online for $6.99 and our recipe is about $1 per jar. Being able to make it your own means, you can change the spice level and the flavorings. My daughter Cynthia and I have always made something special for family and friends for Christmas. One year our “Sweet pepper onion relish” was one of our special gifts. The relish is a great ingredient in many dishes, including the Awesome dip. The recipe can also be made in a slow cooker over several hours. We got the canning kit at WalMart and it included instructions and all the tools we needed. It’s really easy, the jars, rings and lids need to be sterilized. You boil everything for the required time. Next drain to remove any water. Fill each jar and the instructions tell you how full, wipe away anything spilled, top with the rings and screw on the lids, but not too tight. Next you place the jars back in the boiling water and process the amount of time specified. For the relish, I leave ¼” space at the top of the jars, seal them and process for at least 5 minutes. When I pull the jars out of the water, I place them on a kitchen towel and as the seal forms there is a popping sound. Once they have cooled, I tighten the lids and store in the original boxes with the dividers in place.
The Awesome dip is just 2 ingredients – 1 jar of relish and 8 oz. of cream cheese. Blend together and it can be stored in the original jars. It is great with crackers, veggies or chips. (really good party food)
Some of the other foods always in my freezer; grated cheese( I grate it, bag it & freeze it) cooked bacon (wrapped in paper towel), all the nuts go in the freezer to preserve freshness. I have hamburger patties, packages of butter and leftover dinners.
The leftover dinners are also perfect for lunches, I bag them in 1 meal servings and put all the bags into a larger zip bag. Since, I don’t use a microwave, I thaw and heat my lunch in a skillet and put it in a Thermos or it goes on a plate for my dinner. Next time, we’ll make the Award winning recipe.
Remember to Be Nice, Be Kind and Be of Service!