Quick & Tasty GF Tuna Pesto Pasta

I realize that this sounds Wrong… GF (for gluten-free) and “pasta” are not typically found in the same sentence. However, our family absolutely loves the brown rice pasta from Tinkyada, and we use it interchangeably in recipes calling for pasta. This recipe is a family favorite and super quick to put together for lunch or a lighter supper.

Tuna Pesto Pasta

1 can tuna (or pint jar canned fish), drained

1/2 cup prepared pesto

1/2 cup ranch dressing (we make our own, with kefir replacing buttermilk)

1 package gluten-free rice pasta (or any pasta if you do not eat GF)

1 can black olives (or any other olives you have around – just make sure they are pitted)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine and serve! We like this either warm or cold. It’s great on a bed of mixed greens for a salad; we also just eat it as-is.

Salsa for Home Canning

8 cups tomatoes (chopped roughly – I do not peel my organic tomatoes)
2 cups onions, minced (we prefer the sweet onions)
1 1/2 cups green bell peppers, de-seeded and chopped
1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped (de-seed if you prefer less heat… and wear gloves!)
10 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 12-oz jar or can of tomato paste

* Mix all ingredients together in large stock pot; bring to slow boil for 10 minutes.
* Ladle into hot canning jars; seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes (at 3000′ elevation).

I’ll be honest… salsa is one of those things that lend themselves very well to the “fast and loose” approach I have to recipes, even canning recipes. As long as you maintain the ratio of tomatoes (acidic) and apple cider vinegar (to tweak the acid level even higher for food safety) to vegetables by about 3 to 1, your food should be safe. For example, have other types of peppers than just jalapeno? Red bells instead of green bells? Like lots of garlic? Hate cilantro? Make those changes and keep the ratio.

I mentioned that I don’t peel my organic tomatoes; if your tomatoes are not organic, or you prefer them peeled, by all means peel away! Dip them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, scoop out with a big slotted spoon and dip in ice water. The skins should slip off fairly easily.

And never, please, NEVER chop up peppers without rubber gloves!! My first experience with my beautiful canned jalapeno peppers back in 1997 later involved wrapping my fire-filled fingers with wet cloth, taking Tylenol, and struggling through the night trying to sleep. :) There is a very good reason why the best, strongest deep-muscle pain relief creams involve capsicum, the active ingredient in peppers… it’s strong stuff, and your skin and anywhere you accidentally scratch will rue the day!

Why I Would Never Force my Kids to go to Church

Why I Would Never Force my Kids to go to Church.

One of the best blogs I’ve read in some time! Take two minutes and challenge yourself with this thinking… if you already agree, pass it on to a friend or neighbor!


Canning Trout

This gallery contains 15 photos.

  My kids *LOVE* to fish, especially my boy. He’ll wake up talking about it after dreaming about it at night. Can spend hours drooling down the fishing aisles at local sporting goods stores. Tells stories about it (he won … Continue reading

Incredible Ranch Dressing

Can’t do storebought ranch dressing. Just can’t do it. Soybean oil is bad enough, let alone the host of other ingredients (many of which are unpronounceable). I’ve tried several recipes for ranch dressing, but never knocked one out of the park like this one did! The unfortunate thing is that I have no remembrance of where I originally saw it online… so I can’t give credit where it is due! :( But I have to share it, it’s JUST THAT GOOD.

Incredible Ranch Dressing

3/4 cup mayo (we like Real or Hellmann’s brand – you can make your own if you’re awesome like that)
1/2 cup milk kefir
1 tbs minced parsley (fresh or dried)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder (or fresh cloves, minced)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (we use RealSalt, never the bleached stuff)
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Optional: 1/4 tsp dill, minced

Combine in a cool jar and shake like the dickens. It’s better after it’s had a chance to rest awhile, and lasts for about 2 weeks unless your children decide to let their supper swim in it and eat the entire jar in one sitting. Or you have a really huge, fresh, crunchy salad for supper. :)

The Way

I was studying this verse and thinking about Jesus, when He said, “I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

One of my favorite Bible study tools is the www.BlueLetterBible.org. Wonderful way to research! So I discovered that the word Jesus used in this verse was the Greek word “hodos”.

Strong’s G3598 – hodos

“You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I AM the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:4

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. Hebrews 9:8
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised us is faithful.” Hebrews 10:20-23


Looking in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for the way is “derek”… check out the interesting thing I discovered in the NIV text note!

Strong’s H1870 – derek

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.   Isaiah 35:8

NIV text note: Isaiah 35:8 “the Way of Holiness: the way set apart for those who are holy; only the redeemed (v9) could use it. In ancient times, certain roads between temples were open only to those who were ceremonially pure.”

So by his instruction to Thomas, Jesus was not only showing that He was the Way into the presence of God – formerly the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place – but He was fulfilling Old Testament scripture again, by referring to Isaiah 35:8-10. He is the prepared Way, the “highway” to God’s temple in Zion, which the unclean/unredeemed may not walk upon. Only the ransomed, those walking His Way, will enter Zion with singing, everlasting gladness and joy, with no more sorrow. Sound familiar? Sounds like Revelation…

Pressure Canning Organic Dry Beans

To start off I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this nifty idea… just found it elsewhere online. But wanted to share… it’s fantastic!
I have previously been frustrated with my efforts to pressure can dry beans. Whether pinto or turtle, garbanzos or Great Northerns, the silly things always come out terribly messy and mooshy. The currently accepted method of home canning beans involves pre-soaking and then cooking for 30 minutes before loading into hot jars. By the time you finish the suggested 90 minute processing time, your beans are pre-fried. :) Yuk. Not that I don’t enjoy refried beans as well as anyone who ever lived in Texas, but, I want my chickpeas/garbanzos to LOOK like chickpeas/garbanzos. I want a Great Northern to have a shape, a navy bean to salute, a black-eyed pea to wink at me. Well, you know what I mean.
Enter the PREVIOUSLY accepted method of home canning beans.

Ready for the canner

Ready for the canner

Yes, those beans are dry, uncooked, unsoaked… or they were, before they were loaded 1/2 cup at a time into clean pint jars (warm from a recent scrubbing bath, but not boiling hot), had seasonings added (in this case, the green-tinted jars had 1/2 tsp summer savory added), then boiling water poured over them. Seal them with your warm lids and rings, load them up in the canner.
Placed in pre-heated pressure canner

Placed in pre-heated pressure canner

Process according to pressure cooker directions (full steam vent for 10 minutes, apply weight – in my case, 15# due to elevation here in Montana, then begin timing) for 90 minutes for pint jars. I haven’t tried this with quart jars yet, as I expect that the more densely-packed beans may take longer to absorb liquid. Let the canner cool down on it’s own and release pressure before removing lid.

I just can’t bring myself to pay over $3/can for organic beans… but I use beans ALOT. And I like to cook what inspires me, so pre-planning and going through the process of cooking a pot of beans in the morning (having soaked overnight, or done the 2-hour quick soak method) doesn’t always work for me. I like to have beans to make a quick soup (or to bean-up the soup I’ve already made, or stretch leftovers), to top a salad, to provide a fast side dish… beans are inexpensive (if you’re not buying them already canned) and great for us. So spending an afternoon running the canner saves me time and money later.
From start (with equipment, beans, clean jars all assembled) to finish (pulling the bubbling jars from the cooled-down canner) takes me about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Since I have two canners (I’m rich! I’m rich!!) I can get 18 pint jars of beans in the same length of time! But even with a single canner, 9 pints is an excellent return on the investment of your time, since you can easily do other things while the canner is roaring away on the stove. It’s a great way to spend a wintery day… do try to keep outside doors opening and closing to a minimum, as you want to maintain a steady temperature in the kitchen to prevent pressure changes within the canner… these can result in liquid boiling out of the jars during canning.

Now that's a bean!

Now that’s a bean!

Pressure Canning Dry Beans

1/2 cup dry beans (of any type)
1/2 tsp sea salt or other canning-type salt
seasonings as desired (garlic, savory, black pepper, etc)

1 – Add ingredients to warm pint jars.
2 – Cover with boiling water or broth to 1″ from rim. Be careful to be no more or less than this for best results!
3 – Process for 90 minutes at pressure recommended for your elevation (10# for sea level, 15# above 3,000).

Remember when you reheat your beans to eat them that they love a little fat for best digestibility – a nice glug of olive oil, for example! Bon Appetit!