August 2016

Chips and Homemade Salsa

How to Can Salsa


Here are my top 10 reasons to can your own homemade salsa:

1.       You will save money

2.       You will always have a quick appetizer to grab off your shelves and bring to a party or to open up for your family game night

3.       You will avoid (un)”natural” flavors and preservatives that come in the jar of salsa from the grocery store

4.       You could give them out as gifts at Christmas time

5.       You have control over the spice level in your salsa

6.       You will have something to do with all of those tomatoes growing in your garden or the ones that everyone else is giving you because they have too many tomatoes growing in their garden (it’s too bad you can’t make a salsa with all of those cucumbers and zucchini piling up on your counter….maybe Joe will write another post about canning pickles so that you can use all of those cucumbers and zucchini everyone has been giving you!)

7.       You will enjoy hours of fun in the kitchen with whichever loved one you have convinced to do the canning with you

8.       You may or may not have to clean salsa off the ceiling when you are done….oh wait, that’s not necessarily a good thing, is it?  Well, at least you’ll have a good story to tell! 

9.       You will have something to talk about during visits with your 99-year old grandmother

10.    You will feel really good about yourself and what you have accomplished…see below…


I always feel really good about myself after canning tomatoes because we use the leftover tomato juice in the bowl to make a homemade Bloody Mary that is like none other that I have ever tasted.  So fresh and delicious…and did I mention that it makes you feel good about life? 😉

Homemade Bloody Mary using leftover tomato juice after canning salsa


Here is the recipe that Joe and I use every year to turn tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic into a homemade salsa that we can enjoy all year long.  Last year, we started with 30 lbs of tomatoes and canned 30 pints of salsa.  So you can roughly count on a 1 lb-to-1 pint ratio. 


We hope that you enjoy it as much as we do!


Homemade Salsa
  1. 14 c tomatoes, washed and cored (no need to peel, chop, or drain them)
  2. 3 c onion, quartered
  3. ½ c chili peppers, optional
  4. 3 c green, yellow, or red sweet peppers
  5. 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  6. 1 c tomato sauce
  7. 1 c ketchup
  8. ¾ c vinegar
  9. 10 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  10. 2 ½ Tbsp salt
  11. 1 Tbsp chili powder
  12. 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  1. Place tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic in a large food processor and process until chopped. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cook just below medium heat for 30-60 minutes, until the sauce is thick and dark.* Remove from heat. Add chopped vegetables to sauce and stir until combined.
  3. Ladle salsa into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at the top. Seal with sterilized lids and process jars inboiling water bath for 35 minutes.**
  1. (Makes 10 pints.)
  2. *If sauce is not thickening up at this point, add more cornstarch or arrowroot powder, stir and cook some more until thickened.
Life From Scratch

**NOTE: If this is your first time canning, it would be worthwhile to either check out Canning 101 on the Ball website or one of the Ball canning books.  We have this one and refer to it every year but it looks like a new version came out earlier this year so you could also try that one. 


homemade blueberry cookies

Blueberry Cookies


As I’ve mentioned before, we love to eat blueberries in our family and so we try to pick as many as we can in the short summer blueberry season and freeze them to use throughout the year.  We had the chance to stay overnight at my aunt and uncle’s blueberry farm this past weekend and woke up early on Sunday morning to go out and pick some of the last blueberries for the season.  This year, our youngest son switched over from his “I’m going to eat every single blueberry that I pick” mentality to a “look how many blueberries are in my bucket!” mentality.  It was great!  Usually when this happens with the kids, I like to encourage their newfound industrialism by letting them choose what to do with their bounty.  When I asked Matt what he wanted to do with his two pounds of blueberries, he decided they would be best enjoyed in cookies.  And as many times as I tried to convince him that blueberry muffins would be delicious and fun and the best choice for fresh blueberries, his mind was made up.  Okay, blueberry cookies it is then, kiddo.


blueberries hand-picked by Matt

Matt’s blueberries!


Of course, I have never actually made blueberry cookies before and did not see a recipe for them in any of my seasonal cookbooks.  I found plenty of versions of a blueberry cookie online but I decided it would be more fun to create my own recipe instead.  So I started with an old family favorite – applesauce cookies – and altered the recipe a bit to what you see below.  (I didn’t have any fresh lemons on hand but, if I made this recipe again, I would definitely include some lemon zest because it pairs so well with blueberries.)  I plan to use some of my blueberries to make up a batch of blueberry iced tea to enjoy with the cookies!  Yum!


Hope you all enjoy these last weeks of summer with something fun and delicious!


Blueberry Cookies
  1. 1 ½ c wheat flour
  2. ½ tsp baking soda
  3. ¼ tsp salt
  4. ¾ tsp cinnamon
  5. 1 egg, beaten
  6. ¾ c agave
  7. ½ c coconut oil, melted
  8. 1 c applesauce
  9. 1 tsp vanilla
  10. 1 lemon, zested (optional)
  11. 1 ¾ c rolled oats
  12. 1 c fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, agave, coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest (if using). Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in oats and blueberries. Spoon onto a cookie sheet greased with coconut oil. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating pan halfway if necessary.
  1. (Makes 3 dozen cookies.)
Life From Scratch