Apricot Jam

apriotjam1I present to you, the first collaboration ever in Claire’s Kitchen! Apricot Jam. I feel the help I received really was due to the fact that Brad knows I HATE reading directions, oh , and he has muscles. I’m more of a ‘skimmer’ or a ‘wing-it’ kind of person.I think  he really just felt the need to step in and make sure I didn’t burn myself with boiling water, which is a safe bet.

I’ve never canned… we should can. We canned.

I grew up with both my parents canning pickles, salsa, and tomatoes. Brad’s grandparents were canner’s of peaches. The difference between the two beside the fact that neither of them involved jam…. Brad paid attention, I didn’t. Several internet sites and recipes later, Claire has a recipe, Brad has boiling water and a pair of tongs. The beautiful start to a long marriage. HA!

An extra trip to the store for jars, and a kitchen full of boiling water, and 2 hours later… we had apricot jam! We had about 15 cups worth of apricots donated to us the other day and we’ve been popping the tasty fruits for snacks over the course of the weekend. However… two people are incapable of dominating 2 entire Target bags filled to the brim of apricots, I checked.

I know you’re wondering, but it takes about 45 minutes to remove the seed and dice 15  cups of Apricots. It was horrible, and sticky. Also, who can slice, dice, or dismantle any kind of fruit with popping bits and pieces in your mouth. I did not feel like a million dollars after the occasional (constant) sampling of Apricots as they were being diced. #fruitissues

Apricot Jam

1 box of 12 4 oz Ball jars

4 cups of Apricots, seeds removed and diced

3 cups of sugar

1 packet/box of pectin

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp of cinnamon

1.Prepare you canner with boiling water: we used a dutch oven because we haven’t got one yet (wedding gift anyone?!) Heat your lid and jars in the water, but do not bring to a boil. (leave the bands set aside)

2. Combine your apricots, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar. Bring mixture to a full boil (rolling boil) stirring continually. Once up to a full boil, add the 3oz box of pectin stirring continually. (do not turn down heat, this needs to be at a boil the whole minute)

3. Remove apricot pan from heat, then remove your jars from the warm/hot water and fill each jar with jam leaving 1/4” of headspace. Ball makes a tool for $1 that measures different increments of head room on jars. (green stick, got mine at Wal-Mart) Also works good to stir the jam before you seal it.

Once Apricots have been ladled into the jar, wipe rim!!, then place the lid centered on the jar, take the heated metal band, and secure tight!! If you don’t have a handyman                         around the house, you can also buy a lid tightener (Wal-Mart also had these in their Ball jar canning section)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          **You need to work as quickly as possible because the jars need to stay warm.

4. When you remove the jars from the water to fill with Apricots turn heat up to boil water again

5. Place the jars back in the canner(or your dutch oven) of boiling water. Start at boiling the jars for 10 minutes. You will need to add minutes according to the elevation time chart if you are canning 1000 ft above sea level:

1000-3000 ft : 5 minutes

3001-6000 ft: 10 minutes

6001-8000 ft: 15 minutes

8001-10000 ft: 20 minutes

I boiled for 15 minutes due to my location in the ol’ NE.

6. Remove jars and allow to cool. After about 15 minutes you’ll the hear the tops of the jars start popping/snapping. Allow 24 hours to pass and check the seals, the lid should not be able to pop up and down. If it does your jar did not seal. You can either retreat those jars or refrigerate them for immediate use.

Chocolate Swirl NO BUTTER Banana Bread

choccban1So apparently people REALLY hate ‘bread and butter’. No butter rules the world, at least here at ClairevsKitchen and Google. It is now the #1 item on Google when searching for ‘no butter banana bread’. I like this!

No Butter Banana Bread is the President. According to my site stats, it receives 98% of all my hits. The people have spoken, you want Banana Bread, and you sure as heck don’t want butter in it. Got it.

Although I’m not a chocolate candy lover, I am devoted, to cocoa powder. Chocolate: cake, ice cream, cheesecake, brownies, pound cake, muffins, cupcakes…banana bread. I’m in. I have taken ClairevsKitchen’s most popular post, and tagged it with some chocolatey goodness, not too much, just the right amount, you don’t want to cover up the banana.

Every time I make a banana bread I get inspired to try to turn it into French Toast…so “Chocolate Swirl NO BUTTER Banana Bread French Toast” will probably take up most of my kitchen testing time Saturday morning, I know…sooooo terrible.

We are 6 weeks from wedding bells this weekend, so clearly I haven’t been in the baking zone lately, which is a total shame. But my butt thanks me, it has to be in a wedding dress. I think there should be a written rule in wedding planning that you get to take a mini vacation 7 weeks out from your wedding day to cool off, re-gather, and de-stress. We are so busy and there is never a non-busy or dull moment anymore.  By the time we get home, done with a workout, working on the house, finalizing more wedding plans, and grilling dinner (yay summer) we sit down to eat and it’s after 9pm. Once we do sit down we usually end up dozing on the couch shortly after. With all this  stress, shouldn’t I be losing weight? I usually dro lbs like it’s my job when I’m stressed. 7 lbs away from my goal weight, come on?!  Haha stupid girls.

FROZEN BANANAS! Several weeks ago there was a banana sale.  A $0.38 per lb sale, that’s nuts. So clearly I bought tons…and 5 days later, they turned brown, that’s cool. I took my first swing as freezing bananas. I know there are several techniques, but I didn’t bag them, I didn’t peel them, and I didnt….anything them. I just threw them in the freezer. Every time Brad went to look for Pizza Rolls or Ice Cream…BAM Bananas! He thinks the brown bananas starring at him every time he opened the door were creepy, I thought it would be a pizza roll repelant: I was wrong.

Chocolate Swirl NO BUTTER Banana Bread

The other PERFECT Bread

1 cup sugar

3 mashed bananas (about 1 cup, a little over wont hurt)

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 container of Greek Yogurt of single serving 5.3oz (I used plain) (sour cream or apple sauce works too!)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp boiling water

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1. Thaw out your bananas, this will take a few hours. Place them in a strainer or colander with a bowl underneath, this will allow the water a place to drain. When you’re ready to use them, peel them and then squish them in the strainer, you want to get rid of as much of the water as you can. Be careful not to lose too much of your banana by pushing too hard.

**Preheat oven to 350 and grease your pan with cooking spray, then flour it as well.

2. With a wire whisk , add your sugar and oil together (I used a 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup canola oil, but you can use all veg oil)

3. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla until blended. If you don’t spend extra time making sure your bananas are mashed well I would recommend using your mixer to work it more.

4. Slowly add your flour, followed by the rest of your dry ingredients just until everything has combined, do not over-mix.

5. Take 1/3 of your batter and place it another bowl. Boil your water and add your cocoa powder, then add it to the 1/3 batter mixture.

6. Pour the original batter into pan,then dollop the chocolate batter in. I used a small spoon and took some of the original batter and scoop some small amounts on top of the chocolate make a swirl effect. If you try to swirl it with a toothpick or a knife, I found it just mixes the batters together instead of swirling them.

7. Bake for about 40 minutes. I always check mine with a toothpick 5 minutes early and wait for it to come out clean.

chocbanana1