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Giveaway: “Make Your Own” Cleaning Kits from The Optimist Co.

Homemade cleaning products, compiled in my kitchen using the kit from The Optimist Co. have been in regular use in my kitchen for nearly two years now. They are effective and, thanks to the clear instructions on the bottles, incredibly easy to make. Plus, I love the fact that instead of carting home new spray bottles from Target or CVS, I’m reusing the ones I’ve already got.

Recently, The Optimist Co. founder Devin Donaldson (who started the company after conventional cleaning products left her with a nasty asthma attack) got in touch and asked if I might like to try a second kit. At first, I was confused because I’ve been entirely pleased with the first kit and the two products they make.

But Devin reminded me that it’s possible to do more than just make Time to Shine and Bright Side with the goodies in the box. And so I started thinking about other cleaning products that might be useful in the kitchen.

The first thing that popped to mind was a bottle of pre-made produce rinse. With farmers market and CSA season rapidly approaching, I know that very soon I will have a lot of pretty dirty produce on my hands. Instead of regularly filling the sink with a little white vinegar and water, having something that I can spritz over lettuces, zucchini, and strawberries sounds pretty darned appealing.

For this one, I used 12 ounces of water, three tablespoons of white vinegar and ten drops of the lemon essential oil from the kit (for both the sunny scent and the extra boost of antiseptic that it provides). A quick shake before using and my produce has never been cleaner.

The second thing that occurred to me was something that would help out with cleaning the kitchen floor. As many of you know, my kitchen is pretty tiny. Because there’s so little floor real estate, I rarely pull out a mop to get the job done (to be honest, I don’t think I even have a mop anymore). Instead, I do a lot of after-dinner spot cleaning (supplemented by the occasional, all-out, hands and knees scrub with a sponge and bucket of soapy water).

For that cleaner, I used 14 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of castile soap, and 7 drops of the eucalyptus essential oil. It’s powerful enough to help cut through splatters of cooking grease, but not so soapy that I have to follow up with several rounds of rinsing. And I love the earthiness of the eucalyptus (we had eucalyptus trees in our back yard when I was very young and as a result, their scent forever feels comforting and home-like to me).

In order to encourage the Food in Jars community to think DIY and explore what The Optimist Co. kit can do in your homes, Devin is offering up three of her Make Your Own Cleaning Products Kit for this week’s giveaway. Please use the widget below to enter!

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Giveaway: Cuppow & BNTO Jar Adapters

Want to up your packed lunch, picnic, and snack game? This week, Cuppow is offering five $20 gift codes up to the Food in Jars community! Use the widget at the bottom of the post to enter!

During the winter months, I can happily spend week after week working away at my dining room table or perched at my desk (located behind the television), without feeling even a little bit restless. Many a day has passed when I haven’t so much as stepped toe outside my apartment building. But as soon as the weather begins to warm and the days lengthen, I start to feel squirrelly.

Lately, staying inside has made me feel fidgety, as if the walls of my apartment are a particularly itchy and confining wool sweater. And so, I’ve been changing my patterns and heading outside.

Some days, I only go as far as my neighborhood coffee shop or the covered concrete patio that juts off on the west side of my apartment building. Other days (far more infrequent than I’d like), I blow off work entirely and visit a friend who moved about an hour away this time last year and had a sweet baby boy back in December.

The one thing that all these outings have in common is my devotion to always packing a snack. As someone who tries to eat well most of the time but is highly susceptible to bakery cases and bags of chips at the check-out counter, being prepared is hugely helpful in avoiding temptation.

Lately, I’ve been reaching for my stash of BNTO jar adapters from Cuppow to help me pack up portable and waste-free snacks (because even when you do find a relatively virtuous snack in the world, the amount of packaging is enough to drive an environmentally minded person a little bit crazy).

On the particularly day pictured here, I filled jars with carrot sticks, apple slices, and yogurt with a dollop of quince jam. Into the BNTO adapters, I put peanut butter, hummus, and a bit of granola (embarrassingly, it was not homemade). Some homemade cold brew went into a wide mouth pint, with one of my original Cuppow lids secured on top for easy sipping.

With picnic season upon us, I encourage you all to spend a few minutes thinking about how you pack up your sandwiches, snacks, and treats. Perhaps a new BNTO or two would make the process more streamlined and less wasteful!

To that end, for this week’s giveaway, our friends at Cuppow are up five gift codes worth $20 a piece. Five lucky Food in Jars readers will each win one code to redeem over at the Cuppow website. You can choose from Cuppow lids, BNTO jar adaptors, Mason Taps, and CoffeeSocks! Use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Cuppow is a Food in Jars sponsor and are providing the codes for this giveaway at no cost to me. Products pictured were sent for review purposes. However, all opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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Giveaway: Pint & Half Jars from Fillmore Container

Of all the Ball jars out there, the Pint & Half has always been my favorite. It holds 24 ounces, has straight sides, and always feels like just the right amount. I reach for one whenever I’m putting away leftovers, pouring a smoothie, stashing pantry staples, and making extra-long pickles.

When I first started canning, the Pint & Half was not currently in production and so I haunted thrift stores, antique shops, and eBay in order to amass a small collection. Then, in early 2012 Jarden Home Brands announced that they were bringing the Pint & Half back. I cheered! I wrote blog posts! I bought several boxes.

Today, I come bearing sad news. I’ve learned that the Pint & Half is going to become a collector’s item once more. Ball Canning has discontinued this useful vessel (cue the weeping). I am heartbroken that my favorite jar is soon going to become scarce.

I’ve teamed up with my friends at Fillmore Container to send this noble jar out with a bang. They still have a goodly supply in stock, but it won’t last forever. So this week, they’re sponsoring a celebratory giveaway featuring the Pint & Half.

One lucky winner will get $100 credit* at Fillmore Container, one case of the Pint & Half jars, and
two wide mouth iLids for easy access to your smoothies, quick pickles, and dry good (winner will choose lid color). What’s more, Fillmore Container is also giving away two more cases of the Pint & Half jars over on their blog. You have so many chances to win!

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! And when you’re done with that, head over to Fillmore Container’s blog to enter their giveaway!

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*Store credit can be used for product or shipping, but once the $100 is used the winner is responsible for anything more than $100 including shipping.

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor and so does pay a monthly fee to display a banner ad on this site. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed within this blog post remain entirely my own. 

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Giveaway: Stainless Steel Storage + Sprouting Lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

I’ve been a regular mason jar user for nearly two decades now. In addition to canning and fermenting food in them, I fill them with dry goods. I use them to pack lunches. I macerate fruit for jam in the big ones. They are filled with dinner leftovers, sourdough starters, smoothies, brewing kombucha, and more. Somewhere in our apartment, there’s a even a jar filled to the brim with LEGO minifigures.

Though there has been a steady increase in jar accessories and adapters over the last four or five years, to my mind there has always been a void in the marketplace. A one-piece storage lid that didn’t rust, was easy to clean, didn’t leak, and wasn’t prohibitively expensive.

Happily, the folks at Mason Jar Lifestyle have arrived to fill that void. They recently started selling one-piece stainless steel lids that are fitted with silicone seals that are easily removable for cleaning. They are leakproof, non-reactive, dishwasher safe, and so much more affordable than anything else I’ve seen.

They are ideal for salad dressings and vinaigrettes because the lids don’t leak when you give them a good shake. I don’t mind using them on my jars of dry goods because they’re affordable enough that I don’t feel like I need to save them for special things. And they’re easy to put on and off the jars.

The storage lids come in both regular and wide mouth, and are sold in packs of five. And if that’s not enough to meet your needs, Ryan and Maggie at Mason Jar Lifestyle offer discounts on higher volume purchases (buy 100 or more and you’ll get 40% off your order!).

You can also use the code “fij10” now through March 31 to get 10% off any order at Mason Jar Lifestyle. Right now, my favorite thing they sell is the silicone sleeve designed to fit the 24 ounce Pint & Half jars. Paired with a drink lid and a stainless steel straw and I am ready for iced coffee season!

For our giveaway this week, two lucky readers will each receive a five pack of the regular mouth stainless steel storage lids with silicone seals, a five pack of the wide mouth stainless steel storage lids with silicone seals, and one stainless steel sprouting lid and band like you see pictured above (because sprouting is fun! Look for a blog post on the topic in the near future).

Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Mason Jar Lifestyle is a Food in Jars sponsor. Their ad dollars helps keep this blog running. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Chicken, Leek, & Preserved Lemon Pasta + Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole Giveaway

It’s become popular in recent years to keep a gratitude journal. Often no more than a simple notebook, this practice allows one to list and enumerate the many things for which they feel grateful. I’ve often considered adopting this habit, but have never quite managed to commit to that kind of journaling (sometimes it’s all I can do to keep up this website).

However, I have much that for which I am grateful. And if I were to start making lists, near the top would be my gratitude for my dinner making abilities. It might sound silly, but I am grateful that it’s something I have both the means and the skills to do without a whole lot of heartache or struggle.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve picked up an assortment of know-how related to making dinner. How to make soup. How to roast vegetables. How to toast grains in a little bit of butter before adding water to increase their deliciousness. And how to make a one-pot pasta dish.

I’ve made a number of these pasta dishes over the years (here’s a memorably delicious one) and their original inspiration is always the single skillet pasta recipe from Martha Stewart that took the internet by storm a several years back. This one takes a bit longer than the Martha version, but most of the time is hands off, so it still manages to feel blessedly simple.

This particular one-pan pasta dish features a whole bunch of leeks, braised boneless, skinless chicken thighs, baby spinach, creme fraiche (for creaminess), and several tablespoons of diced preserved lemon peel (about three-quarters of a small preserved lemon).

The resulting meal is hearty, bright, and really comforting. It reminds me of the casseroles of my childhood, only without a can of cream of mushroom soup.

I made this dish this weekend particularly to feature the Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole. A few months back, a rep from Lagostina emailed and invited me to participate a promotion/giveaway to show off the goodness that is this pan.

And it is good. The wide cooking area and non-stick surface makes for quick cooking and even speedier clean-up. The tight-fitting lid makes a nice braising environment. It’s oven safe (in case you want to crisp the top of your pasta). And it’s pretty enough to go straight from stovetop to the table.

The Lagostina Nera Hard Anodized 5 Quart Casserole is valued at $49.99 (a steal for such a sturdy pan) and can be found exclusively at Macy’s. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of these lovely casseroles to give away. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this casserole to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Giveaway: New Ball Canning Products for 2017

Despite the fact that most of the Eastern seaboard is hunkering down for a massive storm (they’re predicting 11-17 inches for Philadelphia!), spring is really just around the corner. And in anticipation of the coming canning season, I thought today would be the perfect time to feature all the new goodies the folks from Ball Canning are rolling out this year.

First up are the new Spiral Jars. I’d seen a sneak peek of these a month or two ago on Facebook, but was uncertain whether I liked them or not (my initial thought was, why do we need our jars to spiral? What’s wrong with the classic shape?).

However, having now seen them in person, I’ve changed my tune. These are really great jars. The twisting shape feels good in the hand and I like how simple the branding is. The sizing on these jars is a little different from what we’re used to. The smaller jar is a traditional 16 ounce pint, but the larger jar clocks in at just 28 ounces rather than a full quart.

I can already tell that place where these jars are really going to shine is when it comes to to canning slightly taller things. I can’t wait to can up a batch of dilly beans or pickled carrot spears in these jars, knowing that there won’t be as much trimming involved.

I took a picture of the spiral jars side by side with a regular pint and quart so that you can get a better idea of the new height. And if you do plan on canning in the taller spirals, make sure to measure your canning pot to ensure that you’ll be able to keep them fully submerged during the canning process.

Next up are the new Sharing Jars. I’d not seen any previews of these jars before I opened up the box for this post and so they were a really fun surprise. These eight-sided jars are a charming addition to the Ball Canning line-up and they have a charitable component. Newell Brands (the new Ball Canning parent company) will donated four meals to Feeding America for every package of these jars purchased.

The sharing jars are only available in a regular mouth 16 ounce pint size and come with a little Feeding America ribbon tied around the neck of the jar.

Last up are the new Sure Seal Bail Storage Jars. Designed to hold dry goods, these jars seal tightly with a lid that locks into place. They come in two sizes, 14 ounce and 38 ounce. I must confess that in comparison to the rest of the new jars, these feel a little clunky. Jars from Ball normally have a certain elegance that these two are just missing.

Finally, the spices and accessories. The drink lids are one piece devises that screw onto jars without the aid of a ring (they’re more like those made by iLids and less like the ones from Cuppow) and allow you to use mason jars as travel mugs. A package comes with two lids and two straws and you can get them to fit either regular or wide mouth jars.

The spices are particularly fun. Made in partnership with McCormick, they are designed to make it easy for home canners to make and preserve things like tomato salsa, bread and butter pickles, fruit salsa, and pasta sauce.

Now, for the giveaway! One lucky winner will get a set of everything featured in today’s blog post! Please use the widget below to enter.

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