Great Canning Recipe Site from Ball, of course!


ImageOn the Ball jar website you can find great recipes for canning. I appreciate how they have it set up with a left side bar where you can select the produce that you currently have to help narrow down the recipe search as well as the ability to refine a search by recipe difficulty. You can find some wonderful recipes such as Cherry Espresso Jam, Almond Delight Jam and Brandied Apple Rings. Who doesn’t need a little Champagne Blush jelly in her cupboard anyway? I love exploring recipes and why I didn’t think of the Ball site long before now I can’t answer! But I’ve gone there now so let the exploring and creative musing of canning begin!



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Bay Leaves

bay leaf

Next on the list of Spice Explorations is Bay Leaves. The aromatic leaf coming from an evergreen tree is usually used in dry format for culinary pursuits.

There are several different types of bay leaves used in cuisines around the world.

The most common bay leaf, also called Laurel leaves, are native to the Mediterranean area. The ancient Greeks wove them into wreaths to give to winners of the Olympic Games, as well as celebrated poets and heroes of the day. This variety has a very mild flavor. Bay leaves are bitter taste if eaten whole. Dried, the herb is slightly floral, and lightly reminiscent of oregano and thyme.  Bay leaves contain the essential oils eugenol, and myrcene which is used as an essential oil in many perfumes.

The California bay leaf, or Oregon Myrtle leaf is similar to the Mediterranean bay leaf only stronger in flavor.

The Indian bay leaf is similar in appearance to the Laurel leaf but has a different flavor, more similar to that of cinnamon.

There are yet 3 more bay leaf varieties that are the Indonesian bay leaf, West Indian bay leaf and Mexican bay leaf and are not widely used outside their native areas of growth.


Bay leaves are commonly used whole in soups, chowders, pickling, steaming, poaching and taken out before serving. Bay leaves can also be used as wonderful additions of flavor to tomato based foods, marinades and dressing. Try adding several bay leaves when steaming your next batch of vegetables or add several to the water if boiling the vegetables.

(photo credits: Wickopedia)

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Firehouse Pear Jam


Firehouse Pear Jam


5 cups of peeled, cored, chopped pears

1/2 c water

2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice

2 cups sugar

2-3 teaspoons of chipotle powder or if you wish to use fresh hot peppers finely mince 3-4 tbsp of your favorite fresh

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 box powdered pectin


1.)  Prepare canner, jars, lids and rings. Place several large metal spoons (larger soup spoons work great here) in the freezer.

2.) Cook pears, water and lemon juice until pears become soft and translucent, remove from heat and add the chipotle and cinnamon powders. Mash mixture with a potato masher until powders are well mixed and the pear chunks become a pulp. The degree to which you mash the mixture is up to you depending on how much texture you wish the jam to have.

3.) Return the mixture to heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning and whisk in the pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and add the sugar. Return mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring all the while, and boil hard for one full minute. Remove from heat.

4.) Ladle jelly into hot, prepared jars leaving 1/4″ head space. Wipe jar rims, place lid and screw ring on to finger tight pressure.

5.) Place jars in a water bath with 1″-2″ water covering jars, when water has reached a boil process for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn off heat source and remove water bath canning pot from that burner. Let jars stand in water bath for 5 minutes before removing, then place on a cloth towel on the counter to cool fully.

Be Creative:

If you like the taste of pears but aren’t too fond of heat try instead 2 tsp of powdered ginger (leaving out the hot pepper powder, cinnamon and nutmeg) and replace the water with 1 cup of your favorite white wine or use the combination of 1 Tbsp of vanilla flavor and 1/2 cup of your favorite whiskey (plus 1/4 cup water).

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Basil…”Herb of Kings”


Basil is native to India and the North Mediterranean counties. In ancient Greek times it was called the “Herb of Kings” and was worshiped in ancient India. It comes from the mint family and is used in many forms both fresh and dried.  At times it is called the “tomato herb” as it pairs so well with any mixture containing tomatoes. A distinct but not over powering herb it combines nicely with other herbs for more complex flavors. Basil comes in many varieties, green, purple, Thai, sweet, lemon, and others and is used in many cultures around the world.

Some ideas for the use of basil include adding it to butter to create a compound butter for use on breads, basting, over pasta or rice or in salad dressings as the “oil” component of an oil/vinegar mixture.

Add it to any number of soup, stews or stock mixes or use it to add flavor to plain noodles, rice or quinoa.

Add with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to green vegetables in any form, cooked and fresh for an added taste of freshness.

Add to biscuits or scones for a more savory treat or any salad, lettuce, pasta, rice, they all benefit from the addition of this flavor.

Some of my ancestry must hail from those ancient worshipers as I love walking by fresh basil plants, picking a leaf and eating it as is. It’s bright summer flavor is one I never tire of and love to add it in great quantities to lettuce salads. It is here that I could go on and on as basil is indeed one of my favorite herbs! If you have unique and delicious ways that you delight in using basil please write me a comment-I’d love to hear your ideas for this wonderful herb!

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Lemon Honey Jelly

Oh Winter-just be done would ya? I searched out today for a sunny and bright recipe that is as close to summer in the food world as I could think of, and though not at peak season they are still available with decent quality during these cold winter months—the loveable Lemon! Bright, zesty, tangy, sunshiny lemons!


This recipe is a jelly, not just a flavored honey. Some times canning with honey can be tricky. Too much honey and the flavors don’t unite, the balance with honey is some times difficult between not enough and too much. The recipe finds that perfect balance and it’s simplicity is probably one of the things that makes it so delicious. It can be personalized in a number of ways which will be indicated after the recipe below in Make It Your Own. I hope you enjoy and keep your flip flops handy, summer will be coming, promise!

Lemon Honey Jelly


3 large lemons

1-1/2 c water

3-1/2 c sugar

3/4 c honey

1 pouch of liquid pectin (3 oz)


1.)  Prepare canner, jars, lids and rings. Place several large metal spoons (larger soup spoons work great here) in the freezer. This recipe makes 5 half pints.

2.) With a vegetable peeler peel off the outer yellow skin from 2 lemon beings careful to not cut into the inner white layer. Cut these peels into thin strips. (see * Note in step 3 to decide if giving the peels a short burst or 2 in a small food processor is something you want to do right now.) Juice the remaining lemons to achieve 1/2 c juice. (Use the remaining juice and lemon pulp for any other kitchen uses you can think of!)

3.) In a large heavy pot combine the lemon peel bits, lemon juice and water, stir. Add in sugar, stirring constantly cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the honey (At this time add any of the Make It Your Own options as noted at end of recipe.) and bring to a full rolling boil. Add in the one pouch of liquid pectin and boil hard for no less than 1 minute stirring quickly and constantly. Remove from the head and skim off any foam with a metal spoon. (*Note: at this point you can remove the lemon strips from step 2 if you don’t want the texture in your jam. If you want to leave the strips in your jam for added texture and bits of flavor burst then consider using the food processor for smaller pieces as noted in *Note of step 2.)

4.) Ladle hot jelly into prepared jars, leaving 1/4″ head space, wipe jar rims and place rings on jar.

5.) Process jars in boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes. (Timing starts when water starts to boil.) Remove jars from water and cool on wire rack.

Make It Your Own: All would be applied in Step 3.

Do you enjoy lavender and lemon? Lavender and honey? Consider adding a Tablespoon of lavender.

Do you love lemon and vanilla? Add 2 tsp, or the pods from a vanilla bean and cook the bean with jam removing just prior to ladling into jars. Want a bit of vanilla present for visual texture in the jelly? Using a kitchen shears cut a 3/4-1″ chunk of the vanilla bean and place in each of the jars.

Are you more of a savory lover? Consider putting in 1 Tbsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Enjoy the flavors imparted when cooking with a little bourbon? Add 2 Tbsps of your favorite whiskey, bourbon or scotch.

Want an added bit of zest? Add 1-1/2 Tbsp of finely grated ginger.

Want to turn up the heat? Add 2 Tbsp of dried chili flakes.

Thinking Beyond The Toast:

These combinations would make the most lovely meat glazes (hello ham…come here chicken) or toppings for brie or cream cheese on a cracker plate or cheese spread.

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Bacon Bourbon Brownies with Pecans

Perhaps the name of this blog should of been called Recipes Unexpected because I can’t help but share this one! As I do more research and look at dozens upon dozens of recipes every once in a while one stands out. This one comes from Food & Wine, I don’t have a picture because I haven’t made them yet but the recipe sounds so intriguing that I had to post it anyway! If any of you make this reply back and let me know what your thoughts are on the recipe; I’d love to hear from you.


Bacon Bourbon Brownies with Pecans


1/2 c pecans

1/2 pound sliced bacon

8oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

2 oz chopped unsweetened chocolate

1 stick + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 c granulated sugar

1/2 packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp bourbon

4 eggs

1 tsp salt

1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/2 c all purpose flour


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable spray. Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet or pie plate and toast in oven for about 8 minutes, cool, then chop.

2) Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, drain on paper towels, cool and finely chop. Reserve 3 Tbsp of the bacon grease for use later.

3) In a saucepan combine both of the chocolates with the butter and stir over low heat until melted. With an electric mixer beat in both sugars and the reserved bacon grease, then add the bourbon, finally beat in the eggs and salt until the mixture is smooth. Sift the cocoa and flour into the mixture and mix until blended.

4) Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with the chopped pecans and bacon. Bake for approximately 50 minutes until the brownies are set around the edges but still a little jiggly in the center of the pan, a toothpick should have a little bit of batter on it when doing a toothpick test.

5) Transfer to a cooling rack, let cool completely before lifting brownies out of pan via the parchment paper to cut.

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Jam Cake!

Hello Everyone!

As I get things sorted out after the holidays and some other tasks done that were long overdue I’m back to the jamming. Here is a recipe for Jam Cake that I found on line courtesy of (photo is to their credit as well) Check out this website. It is organized wonderfully on the right hand side and everything I took a look at looked absolutely delicious!

I’ll soon get back to posting my own stuff but for today this one I had to share! You could use any kind of jam you wanted—whatever is your favorite! 


Blackberry Jam Cake

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 cups of cake flour
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 cup of blackberry preserves (do not use jelly)
1/2 cup of blackberry preserves
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 12 cup bundt cake pan with non stick baking spray. In a bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and scrape down the bowl after each egg. Add in the vanilla and beat until combined. Add a 1/3 of the flour into the butter mixture alternating with1/2 the sour cream beating after each addition. Fold in the blackberry preserves. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 300 for 15 minutes then increase the heat to 350 and bake for 40-50. Or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn it out onto rack to cool completely.
Once cooled heat the 1/2 cup of blackberry preserves in a small sauce pan until melted and then remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar. Do this to the consistency that you desire so you can use more or less of either ingredient.

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A Thank You to patient Canning Unexpected supporters!

Dearest Canning Unexpected Supporters!

Thank you for your patience through the holiday season while the site has been inactive. I’ve been working on job hunting and my lovely photographer has been really under the weather. Though I haven’t blogged about it I have been working on canning stuff behind the scenes…with 11 new jam books for Christmas. Part of the book proposal is to examine how this book will be different from what is already on the market. And there is some good stuff out there! I’m excited and love my new books and looking forward to the day when I can join their ranks! 
Thanks again for all your patience and don’t give up on me—I will get the ball rolling again soon!

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New Year Wishes & Bacon Jam!


Happiest of New Year wishes to everyone! May many hopes and dreams and much good fortune shine upon your heart in the coming year! 

Today I am doing Take 3 on Bacon Jam throwing a lil’ bourbon in there for good measure and a holiday salute! 

Cheers to all! 

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Best Wishes!


Today I spent time in the kitchen making a whole array of things: bacon wrapped chicken with a peanut dipping sauce, beef stew, chicken and smoked pepper mac & cheese, breakfast lasagna, habanero/queso meatloaf and a scratch white cake. For me the act of cooking and providing is such a satisfying and loving feeling. Whatever it is that you did today I hope that your heart is full and your life is blessed. May many wishes and dreams come to your door this holiday season and in the exciting new year to come!

Cheers to All!

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