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Pasta and Kosher Dill Pickle Salad

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Yesterday, I showed you how to make the Kosher Dill Pickle Spears from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. These spears are my ideal pickle in both form and flavor. They are brightly flavored, have a hint of sweetness, and thanks to the addition of Ball® Pickle Crisp, hold on to their texture nicely.

These pickles are good for so much. They are obviously perfection alongside a sandwich. You can nestle one into the bun with a hot dog or grilled sausage. And they make a really delicious addition to all manner of summer salads.

This version of pasta salad takes some elements from classic macaroni salad, but tweaks it so that it’s less sweet and more vegetable-forward than the versions you get at your local deli.

I use just 8 ounces of pasta with 1 1/2 cups of pickles, along with chopped celery, red onion, hard boiled egg, chopped parsley, and a dressing made from mayo and pickle juice. It can be served warm or chilled and is the perfect thing to make ahead and keep in the fridge for a week of easy meals.

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Kosher Dill Pickle Spears from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Last month, I teamed up with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands to share their recipe for Honey Cinnamon Pears and the Honey Cinnamon Pear Sorbet I made with it. (Back in May, I did their Mixed Berry Jam and made Jammy Baked Oatmeal.) This month, we’re talking pickles.

Kosher Dill Pickle Spears, to be precise. These pickles are the exact image my brain conjures when I think of a classic kosher dill and they live up to their name in both form and flavor.

This style of pickle is one of the most versatile in the homemade pantry. They are great with sandwiches, tucked Chicago-style into hot dogs, or diced and stirred into dressings and relishes.

It’s an incredibly easy pickle to make. You start (as with most canning projects) by placing your jars in a canning pot, filling it about two-thirds full of water, and bringing it to a low simmer. While the canner heats, grab a few pounds of pickling cucumbers, trim the ends (make sure to remove the blossom end!), and cut them into spears.

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once the canning pot has come to a simmer and the jars are hot, remove one jar. Working quickly, place dill, garlic, Pickle Crisp®, and spices into the bottom of the jar. Pack the cucumber spears into the jar, fill it with the hot brine to 1/2 inch headspace, and wiggle out the air bubbles (top with more brine if the level has dropped below 1/2 inch).

Wipe the rim, apply the lid and ring, and return the jar to the canner. Repeat the process with the remaining jars. Once all the jars are filled, process them in the boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. When the time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the jars stand in the hot water for an additional five minutes

Once the jars have finished cooling in the water, remove them from the canning pot and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. These pickles like to have at least a week in the jar to allow the flavor to infuse before you open them up. Check in tomorrow for a recipe that will show you how to use them in a most delicious way.

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Honey Cinnamon Pears from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Last month, I teamed up with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands to share their recipe for Mixed Berry Jam and the Jammy Baked Oatmeal that I made with it. This month, we’re talking pears.

Honey Cinnamon Pears, to be precise. In this recipe, quartered pears are briefly simmered in a syrup made from apple juice and honey before being packed into Ball® Pint Jars with a cinnamon stick, topped with the syrup, and processed in a boiling water bath. It’s a really easy and approachable recipe (no peeling!) that produces perfectly sweet pears kissed with a hint of cinnamon.

To make these pears, start by getting your jars warming in the canning pot (for this project, I used the Ball® Sharing Jars). Fit your canning pot with a rack, place the jars on top and fill both the jars and the pot halfway with water. Bring it to a simmer over low heat and keep it around 180F until you are ready to fill the jars. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water and set them aside.

Once your canning gear is all set, you turn your attention to the pears. Wash them well (make sure to remove any stickers!), cut them into quarters, and cut away the cores.

As you work, place the cut pears into a bowl of acidulated water (that’s a fancy word for water spiked with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh) to prevent the pears from browning.

Once the pears are prepped, make the syrup. Combine water, apple juice, and honey in a large saucepan (you want to use something large enough to eventually hold all the pears.

When the syrup comes to a simmer, add the pears to the pot and let them stay in the syrup just until they’re heated through (too much time in the syrup will lead them to overcook and fall apart, so stay attentive).

As soon as the pears are warm, it’s time to fill the jars. Remove a single jar from the canning pot and place it on a folded towel or cutting board. Place a cinnamon stick in the bottom of the jar and funnel the warm pear quarters into the jars. Use a chopstick to help settle them into place (I found that I could get 6-7 pear quarters into each jar).

Top the pears with the syrup and remove any trapped air bubbles, taking care to maintain a headspace of 1/2 inch. Wipe the rim of the jar, place a lid on top, secure it with a ring (finger tip tight, please), get that jar in the canner, and repeat with the next jar.

These pears are good to eat with yogurt or cottage cheese. You can warm them and serve them over pancakes or waffles. Or you could turn them into sorbet. Check back tomorrow to learn how to do just that!

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New Amber Jars from Ball Canning + Discount Code from Fillmore Container

Curious about the new amber Ball jars? Use the code “BALL5%OFF” on Fillmore Container to get 5% off all Ball jars.

Spring is here! The birds are chirping. Daffodils are blooming. New-born lambs are gamboling. And this year’s line-up of specialty mason jars from Ball Canning are now available.

This year, these specialty jars come in three sizes (pint, quart, and half gallon) and are made of sturdy amber glass. Unlike previous colored jars, these amber ones are designed to block 99% of harmful UV rays, which can help maintain quality, color, and fragrance in preserves, dried herbs, and tinctures.

One thing I like about these jars is that they glass is so opaque that it doesn’t appear to discolor the contents of the jar, it simply conceals (unlike previous generations of colored jars, which left your preserves looking a little sickly).

I also appreciate how thick and sturdy the glass feels (while I haven’t pulled out a measuring device, I believe that the walls might be a bit thicker than in other Ball jars). The only downside to their opacity is that if you use them for canning, you really need to label the jars well, because you’re not going to be able to intuit the contents without opening the jar.

This week, I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container, to show you how these jars perform in a canning situation and offer a discount code (read on!), in case you want to get some of your own. I cooked up a batch of this strawberry ginger jam and processed two of the three pints the recipe made in these new amber jars.

The reason I chose to use these jars for strawberry jam is that it’s a preserve that is notorious for its tendency to discolor, particularly if made with lower amounts of sugar. My hope is that six months from now, these jars will still be vividly bright.

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container to tell you about these new jars, rather than with Ball Canning. The reason is this. Ball isn’t selling jars or appliances directly to consumers anymore. If you’ve been over to Fresh Preserving lately, you might have noticed this.

However, Fillmore Container has one of the largest selections of Ball jars available online (and they are a family-owned company based right here in Pennsylvania), making it easy for you guys to get your hands on these jars.

This week, you can use the code “BALL5%OFF” to get 5% off all the Ball Jars that Fillmore Container sells. This coupon is valid April 23, 2018 through April 30, 2018. You do need to be logged into a user account on the Fillmore Container site for the coupon code to work (an account is free to set up) and the discount does not apply to shipping.

I definitely feel like these amber jars have a place in my kitchen and pantry and I’m happy to have them as an option. What are your thoughts?

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor and provided the jars pictured in this post at no cost to me. 

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Loaded Baked Potato and Cauliflower Soup from Healthyish and OXO

Back in January, before I entered the “all work, all the time” stage of my book writing process, I said that I would participate in a blogging challenge with OXO. This one featured the new cookbook Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt and an array of OXO tools. I opted to make the Loaded Potato and Cauliflower Soup and soon after, received a copy of the book and some of the tools necessary to make a batch.

I unpacked the book and the tools, took some pretty pictures, and then got swept away in my own book frenzy. However, with the post deadline approaching, I did the hard mental work of switching gears (I’ve been so singularly focused that I’m fairly certain that my brain made a loud, screeching sound as I opened the book) and planned to make some soup.

I read the through the recipe, made a grocery list, and walked to pick up the ingredients I needed. Back home, I chopped, stirred, and pureed. As I worked, I realized that making someone else’s recipe was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have to take notes, measure the size of my dice, or pay close attention to the exact duration of the cooking time (when I develop recipes, I often run a stop watch to ensure that I exactly capture the timing).

It was also a pleasure to have some new OXO tools to use. I’m been in such a rut with my gear that the new equipment brought a really pleasurable lift to the act of cooking.

Here’s what they sent:

  • The Pro 8 inch Chef’s Knife – Wickedly sharp right out of the package and the perfect weight for flying through vegetables.
  • The Swivel Peeler – Grippy, sharp, and put my stained Y-model to shame.
  • The Wooden Corner Spoon – Made of solid wood and carved to the perfect angle for getting into the corner of the pot.
  • The Kitchen and Herb Scissors – Perfect for slicing the bacon into slivers for garnish, and the blades come apart for easy cleaning.
  • The Coarse Grater – This grater laughed at my hard cheddar and reduced it to shreds with ease. It’s also far simpler to clean than my ancient box grater.
  • The 12 inch Tongs – They are now the longest reaching tongs in my kitchen. They’re good for flipping bacon, retrieving toast, and grabbing boxes of crackers from on top of the fridge.

We ate this twice for dinner and each time I was reminded of the importance of taking time to eat good food and relax a little, even during the most action packed times. I look forward to cooking more of the recipes from Healthyish (though probably not until the book is turned in).

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Coconut and Cracked Brown Rice Pudding

Earlier in the fall, I got an email from the folks at Goya. They were writing to tell me about one of the ways that they’re working to reduce hunger and asked if I’d be interested in helping spread the word. You see, every time someone has bought a can of Goya Coconut Milk in November and December, Goya has been donating products to Feeding America.

The donated food is then distributed to hungry families through local food banks across the country. This ‘Can Do’ campaign is part of Goya Gives, a national initiative committed to supporting local communities through social and environmental causes. By the end of the year, Goya will donate at least 600,000 pounds of food (the more you buy, the more they give).

They asked if they could send me a few ingredients with which I would develop a recipe featuring coconut milk. Of course I said yes (anything to help feed more people). The only problem is that I missed one word in the email. Savory. They wanted me to create a savory dish that could be served for dinner (makes sense, since Meatless Mondays was also part of the partnership). I blame the amount of space my new book is currently taking up in my head.

I made rice pudding before I reread the email and realized my mistake. And I just didn’t have time to create something new. So I’m here with a recipe that’s only in partial keeping with the campaign. But if it encourages you to head out and buy some Goya coconut milk, then I will still have done my job. And if savory is what you want, here are some other recipes to try.

I still encourage you to try this recipe. It’s lush, not-too-sweet, and is the perfect foil to bright, tangy jams. It’s cooked in the oven and only stirred occasionally, so it’s wonderfully hands off. The only trick is that you need to blitz the rice in a blender or food processor before combining it with the rest of the ingredients, to ensure a truly creamy texture.

This oven cooked technique borrows from recipes published by Laurie Colwin, Jane Grigson, and others. I use lengths of lemon peel to help balance the richness of the coconut milk, but you could also try lime or even cardamom pods. This time of year, a few cloves and some clementine peel would also be nice.

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