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Giveaway: Printable Jar Labels from Worldlabel

Looking for affordable, beautiful labels for your canning jars that you can easily customize and print at home? Look no further than Worldlabel!

I confess that when it comes to labeling jars, I can be a bit lazy. My first line of labeling defense is typically a quick scrawl with a permanent marker. I write the contents of the jar and the month and year it was made across the top of the lid. This is done to ensure that I keep things like tomato jam separate from the pizza sauce (two preserves that look nearly identical once in the jar).

Often, my first act of labeling is also my last. I’ve been known to give these unadorned jars to my cousins and neighbors without a second though. However, as I move further into my life as a canner (this is my 11th active canning season! The mind boggles!), I find that I do really like having the option of giving people preserves with more detail on the label.

I’ve also been considering the possibility of making limited edition batches to sell, which would require nicer labeling that I currently can muster.

Happily, just as I was pondering ways to up my label game, I got an email from the folks at Worldlabel. They sell a huge assortment of blank labels that can be endlessly customized. They’ve got lots of templates that you can use to design your own labels, or you can use their assortment of free, pre-designed printable label templates.

I wanted to keep things simple for my first attempt at creating my own labels and decided that I would simply make Food in Jars logo stickers that I could use to dress up my jars (and potentially also use to dress up the packages of books I occasionally send out).

The folks at Worldlabel sent me 2 inch round labels (in both white and craft) and rectangular shipping labels (also in white and craft). I opted to try the white rounds first and headed over to Worldlabel to find the right template. They offer them in a variety of file formats (Word, PDF, Illustrator, etc) and identifying the one I needed was really easy.

Once I had the right file, I opened it up in Word (I am not a designer), and dropped in my logo file. I had to do a little bit of tweaking, but it wasn’t hard. Then, it was just a matter of saving and printing.

I’m pretty pleased with how approachable it was and how cute my labels look.

Now, if you don’t have a cute logo to drop into a template, fret not. The folks at Worldlabel have a really robust assortment of already-designed labels that you can download and print at home. They also curate a highly useful Pinterest page where they collect free printables that will work with their labels.

I think my finished labels turned out really well and I can’t wait to start using them. And while the company did send me this package of labels at no cost so that I could play around with them, 100 sheets of these labels costs just $18.75. That works out to less than $.19 a sheet, which is pretty darn accessible for even the tightest budgets (far cheaper than the name brands you get at office supply stores).

Because Worldlabel wants to help canners feel empowered to create their own labels, they’re also sponsoring a giveaway. Five lucky readers will each win 20 sheets of labels that they can customize. Use the widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Worldlabel paid to appear in this space and provided the labels pictured above at no cost to me. All thoughts and opinions are honestly conveyed and entirely my own.

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Sponsored Post: Meet McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies

I’ve learned a lot about gear in my years as an avid home cook and canning teacher. Nothing is more useful than a freshly sharpened knife. Always bring extra jars and containers to classes. And most of the time, the best place to buy durable, portable, affordable equipment is your local restaurant supply store.

Recently, the folks from McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies reached out and asked if I might be interested in dedicating a post to some of the tools they sell that are just as useful at home as they are in more professional food settings. Of course I said yes!

First, a little about McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies. Founded in 1994, they’re based in the New York metro area and carry more than 20,000 items for restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, supermarkets, catering companies, and home cooks.

If you visit their 25,000 SF showroom in Brooklyn (open M-F, 7am – 7pm; Sat, 8am – 2pm), you’ll find professional cutlery, food prep tools, kitchen hand tools, mixing bowls, cookware, and extra-sturdy commercial grade dinnerware (great for households that are hard on their dishes). Home mixologists will find shakers, muddlers, cocktail prep tools, and kits that can help raise their cocktail game to the pro level.

Now, on to the gear!

  1. Giant, polycarbonate measuring cups – These big, indestructible measuring cups are amazing tools for canners. You can easily see how much produce you’ve prepped, they’re relatively light, and they can go in the dishwasher. For maximum versatility, get both the 2 quart and 4 quart versions.
  2. Stainless mixing bowls – They come in a huge range of sizes, but I like the 8 quart for holding produce and mixing salads.
  3. Stainless steel skimmers – These are the best for lifting foam from the top of your jam and scalding tomatoes and peaches for peeling.
  4. Rasp-style zesters – These are a quarter of the price of the name brand zesters and work just as well.
  5. Large, polycarbonate food storage containers – I use glass in my kitchen wherever I can, but there are times when nothing serves quite as well as a really large, plastic container. I use my 4 quart square poly tub for leftover soups and stews all the time. It may well be the hardest working vessel in my kitchen.
  6. Waterproof digital thermometers – I reach for my thermometer on a near-daily basis and use it to test for doneness in jams, loaves of bread, roast chicken, and even the honey syrup I use to hold my homemade granola bars together. So useful, and when bought from a restaurant supply store, so cheap!
  7. Jars – McDonald Paper carries some cute jars that I’ve not seen at other outlets. I think there’s a road trip to Brooklyn in my future!

That’s just a short list of some of my hardest working gear from restaurant supplies stores. Do you guys have any favorites?

Disclosure: McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supplies is a Food in Jars sponsor and contributes to the upkeep of this site. All thoughts and opinions remain my own. 

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Sponsored: Fennel Gruyere Gratin + Anolon Vesta Baker Giveaway

The last couple of months have all been leading up to this week. The first draft of my next cookbook is due to my editor on Friday, just as the yearly conference for the International Association for Culinary Professionals begins. This is typically the only conference I attend each year, and it’s a chance to see friends and colleagues, as well as make new connections that will hopefully lead to more work and opportunities.

Originally founded in 1978 by a group of cooking school owners and instructors (including Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Anne Willan), over the last 40 years IACP has become a robust professional organization for food writers, cookbook authors, bloggers, editors, food tour guides, and others.

As part of the lead-up to the conference, I was asked by the folks at Anolon (they’re a dedicated IACP sponsor) to dream up a recipe inspired by one of the organization’s founders. I chose to look at Anne Willan’s life and work as a starting place for my dish.

I met Anne briefly at my very first IACP conference in 2012 (just before Food in Jars came out!), when she was promoting her amazing book The Cookbook Library (if you love cookbooks, you must check out this book. It covers the four centuries of cooking and recipe writing that led us to the point of culinary literacy where we are today). I remember thinking that I would be incredibly fortunate to have even half the career that she has had.

Starting with the knowledge that Anne was the founder of the La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, I knew my dish would need to be grounded in French cooking. I took a wander through her website and paged through the copy of La Varenne Pratique that I inherited from my Aunt Flora, and decided I’d make a Fennel Gruyere Gratin.

The thing I love about a gratin is that it is versatile and relatively easy (a necessity as I approach my deadline!). We think of gratins as being heavy dishes that are full of cheese, but they can actually be relatively light. I only use three ounces of cheese in this particular version. For a side that produces between six and eight servings, that’s not overly cheesy at all!

I used fennel as the primary ingredient because it brings a lot of flavor to the dish and I can almost always get really fresh, beautiful fennel at my local produce shop. However, you could apply this same technique to zucchini, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, or various root vegetables.

I used an assortment of Anolon tools while creating this dish that you’ll see pictured throughout this post. They sent me a trio of blazingly sharp and easy-to-handle knives, a sturdy teak cutting board, and the Vesta Stoneware 9 x 13 Baker in Umber. I was particularly excited to use the Vesta baker because I’ve been on the lookout for a good, deep 9 x 13 pan. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Thanks to the folks at Anolon, I have one of these lovely Vesta Stoneware 9 x 13 Baking Pans in Umber to giveaway to one of you! Please use the widget below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Anolon paid me to write this post and develop the recipe you see below. They sent me the baker, knives, and cutting board to feature in this post. And, they are providing the stoneware baker for giveaway. However, as always, the words and thoughts expressed here are entirely my own.

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Blue Apron During a Busy Work Season

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

In a little less than three months, I will be turning in the manuscript for my 4th(!) cookbook. This book focuses on cooking, baking, and otherwise transforming homemade preserves. Over the last month or so, I’ve been deep in the recipe development phase. This means that I might spend a full day in the kitchen and end up with nothing that can be eaten for dinner

Occasionally, I pre-cook strategically for those days when the recipe development schedule leans sweet and have some leftovers ready to go. Other nights, a bag of salad and a grocery store chicken is the answer. And during one recent busy week, Blue Apron swept in and saved the day by delivering three meals directly to my doorstep, so that I could easily cook dinner without having to plan, shop, or waste a drop of food.

You might think I’d be tired of being in the kitchen after a day of recipe testing, but as long as I don’t have to make any additional decisions or hit the grocery store, I don’t mind it a bit. Blue Apron does all the choosing and thinking for me, which transforms the process of making dinner into something pleasurable. Each week, they offer up eight new recipes that are designed to satisfy eaters of all stripes (including vegetarians!).

We can just add this to the list of ways that Blue Apron meal kits have saved my bacon. They’ve also helped me be a good houseguest,  avoid take-out while preparing for a conferencebumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut, and made it possible for me to hand off dinner prep to my husband.

This time around, our 2-person box (there’s also a family plan) included ingredients for Seared Steaks and Mashed Potatoes (cheesy mashed potatoes!), Soy-Marinated Chicken Tenders (yellow sweet potatoes! delicious!), and Spiced Chicken and Garlic Rice (I loved how the roasted squash was tossed with the rice before plating).

As always, I was impressed by the food I found in the box. The quality of the ingredients was top notch, the portion sizes are perfect for two people, and the chef-designed recipes were approachable, educational, and delicious.

One of the concerns that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I continue to be impressed with how the amount of packing materials seems to reduce with every order I receive (and most of it is recyclable). If you can’t recycle the materials in your area, you can also opt to return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

This blog post is the last one in my formal blogging partnership with Blue Apron, but I plan on continuing on as a Blue Apron customer. I don’t plan on ordering every week, but will opt in during my busy times because it allows me to skip the grocery store and still eat high quality, home cooked food. They add dishes to the rotation on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to try.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first 50 readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get $30 off their first Blue Apron order.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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The Dinnertime Hand-off with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

Over the last year, I’ve had several opportunities to write about my experiences with Blue Apron meal kits. I’ve shared how I used them to be a good houseguest, how they helped me avoid take-out while preparing for a conference, and how they bumped me out of my weeknight dinner rut.

This time, our box of three meal kits (we get the plan designed for two people. Bigger households might like the family plan better) made all the difference during a week when I down with a rotten cold. Here’s why. Most of the time, when I make dinner, all the information lives in my head. I don’t follow a lot of recipes and often simply improvise with what we have.

This is an approach that works well for us when I’m functioning at the top of my game. But on those nights when I am sick, tired, or have to teach a class, keeping everything in my head makes it hard for Scott to step in and make dinner happen.

However, when we have a Blue Apron recipe to make, the hand-off is seamless. We’ve already got all the high-quality ingredients necessary, so there’s no shopping necessary. Then, I can start things, tell him exactly what I’ve done, and he can simply pick up where I’ve left off. Being able to surrender dinner responsibility to him without worry made all the difference for me this week. It was magical.

Another really exciting thing that happened for us with this Blue Apron box was the fact that one of the recipes helped push the boundaries of Scott’s culinary comfort zone. The chef-designed recipe for Chicken Tagine with Cherry Tomatoes, Dates, and Couscous initially did not speak to him (he’s not typically a fan of dried fruit in savory dishes). But after his plate was clean, he said he enjoyed it and would happily eat something like it again. Score one for Blue Apron!

In addition to the Chicken Tagine, we also had these Heirloom Tomato, Lamb, and Beef Burgers with Loaded Cheesy Potatoes (the burgers were really good, but those potatoes were amazing!) and the Fairytale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza (another winner).

One of the worries that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I continue to be impressed with how the amount of packing materials seems to reduce with every order I receive (and most of it is recyclable). If you can’t recycle the materials in your area, you can also opt to return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first fifty readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get three meals for free on their first Blue Apron order.

Oh, and if you want to take a peek at more of the possible meals you’ll get from Blue Aproncheck out their recipe page.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Canning Peaches with True Value

I’m partnering today with True Value to share some canning tricks and recipe for canning peaches in syrup. Make sure to read through to the end for a chance to win a $50 True Value gift card! 

As someone who does a lot of canning, I am often asked about my favorite places to get canning jars and equipment. One of my favorite places to recommend is True Value hardware store. Most locations carry the canning basics (though it’s always a good idea to call your local store and ask about their stock before hopping in the car).

If they don’t have it in stock, you can almost always order the jars online and use their ship-to-store option. That way, you can get exactly what you need, you don’t have to pay for all those heavy jars, and you support a local business.

For this post, I took a little field trip out to a True Value location near me. They had a wide range of jars, as well as pickling salt, basic canning tools, a copy of the latest edition of the Ball Blue Book, and even a replacement pressure canner weight (while it looked like it had been there for awhile, those things don’t expire, so it was still good).

I came home from my outing with three cases of jars (regular mouth half pints, wide mouth half pints, and some of the new smooth-sided pints). I also picked up a new utensil set, some extra lids (because while jars and rings can be used over and over, the flat lids can only be used once), and some pickling salt (I was out!).

Any time you tackle a canning project, you want to take stock of what you have. You’ll need a large pot to serve as your boiling water bath canner (you can find more detail about that here), as well as a rack to drop in the bottom. This lifts the jars off the bottom of the pot and allows the water to circulate. I often use the flexible silicone trivet pictured above, but a round cake cooling rack is also a really good option.

You also need the tools that come in the canning Utensil Kit (jar lifter, wide mouth funnel, and headspace measure), and a heatproof spoon or spatula with which to stir.

When you’re ready to get started, take the jars out of their packaging. Remove the lids and rings and wash the jars, lids, and rings in warm soapy water. I’ve been in the factory where Ball jars are fitted with lids, boxed, and sealed and it not a sterile environment. Those jars my look clean, but they’re filled with factory dust and residue. Wash them.

Once your jars squeaky clean, fit your rack into the bottom of the canning pot and arrange your jars on top. Fill the jars with warm tap water and then fill the pot up to the rims of the jars.

Set that pot on the stove, add a healthy splash of white vinegar (this helps keep your jars and pot clean, and if you have hard water, will prevent any minerals from depositing on your jars). Bring the pot to boil and reduce the heat to your lowest simmer, to keep the jars warm.

The rule of thumb is that hot food needs to go into hot jars. While mason jars are designed to withstand temperature changes of up to 90 degrees F, any more of a change could cause thermal shock which will lead to breakage.

Now that your jars are ready, it’s time to start making your preserve. We’re in the midst of peach season here in Philadelphia and so I opted to make a small batch of preserved peach quarters, packed in a light syrup. For those of you concerned about the amount of sugar, know that it doesn’t really sink into the peaches too much, and will greatly help prevent the peaches from browning. However, if you prefer, you can also pack these peaches in fruit juice.

First, make the syrup. Combine 3 cups of water with 3/4 cups granulated sugar in a 4 quart saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice (this is present to help prevent browning) and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar dissolves.

Cut three pounds of peaches into quarters, remove the pits, and arrange the peaches in a heatproof baking dish (it’s best to do this in your sink). Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Once it is hot, pour it over the peaches and let them sit for 2-3 minutes.

When the time is up, run cold water over the peaches. Provided that the peaches were ripe enough (peeling underripe peaches is torture), the peels should lift off easily. As you work, gently slide each peeled peach quarter into the hot syrup so that the amount of time the peaches are exposed to the air is limited.

Once all the peaches are peeled and in the pot, bring the syrup to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove the pot from the heat. Pull the hot canning jars out of the canning pot and arrange them on a folded kitchen towel. Position a wide mouth funnel on top of a jar and use a slotted spoon to portion the hot peach quarters into the jars.

Top the jars with syrup and use a utensil like a wooden chopstick or the bubbling tool that comes in the utensil kit to ease out any trapped air bubbles. Fill the jars with syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. Center a clean lid on the jar and apply the ring. Tighten it only until it meets resistance. You don’t want to overtighten it, as that could cause the lid to buckle during processing. Place the jars in the canner, put the lid on, and bring the pot up to a rolling boil. Process the peaches in your canning pot for 20 minutes (if you live at elevations above 1,000 feet, you’ll need to increase your processing time. Check out the chart here).

When the time is up, turn off the heat, pull the canner off the hot burner, and remove the lid. Let the jars cool in the canning pot for five minutes (this helps prevent liquid from siphoning out of the jars and produces a stronger seal). Once that time is up, remove the jars from the pot and set them back on the folded kitchen towel.

Let them cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Once that time is up, check the seals. If the lids are concave and seem strongly adhered to the jars, you are good. Wipe any sticky residue off the jars and store in a cool, dark place. For the best quality peaches, eat them within a year.

This post was written in partnership with True Value hardware. As part of our agreement, they gave me $100 to spend on canning gear at my local shop. I only ended up spending about half what they allocated and so I’ve decided to share the remaining $50 True Value gift card with one of you! Please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of True Value. The opinions and text are all mine.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of True Value. The opinions and text are all mine.
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