Adventures in Canning: Salsa

SalsaI’ve wanted to try canning for couple of years. I finally tried it canning some blueberry syrup for making homemade soda’s and pancakes. Homemade sodas is new obsession but more about that later.  The blueberry syrup experience went well so I decided to try canning salsa. I’ve played with idea of canning my salsa to use as gifts and just have it on hand. Being from Texas salsa is a staple in our house. What I made is a combination of my basic salsa and Ball’s Fiesta Salsa and Jalapeno Salsa. I got a copy of the Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Ball also has a guide to canning complete with videos on their website. The Fiesta Salsa recipe in the book is different from the website. I would suggest buying the book and using the website as to supplement the instructions in the book,

You will need to prep your jars, bands and lids before starting. I used the water bath method of canning.


  • 3 cups tomatoes, seeded
  • 4-6 jalapenos, banana peppers, Anaheim or other peppers seeded
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro — I cut off the leafy part
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons of chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  1. Pulse tomatoes in food processor until desired consistency. Add to a large sauce pan and heat on medium.
  2. Pulse onion and peppers in food processor and add to tomatoes.
  3. Pulse cilantro and garlic. Add lime juice and pulse another 10-15 seconds. Add to tomato mixture.
  4. Add vinegar, cumin and chilli powders. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. From Blue Book Guide to Preserving: Ladle hot salsa into jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling water canner.

Review: Pepe’s Mexican Cafe

pepesquesoburritoThe Big Guy is from Bryan, Texas. One of the places that makes our must visit list is Pepe’s Mexican Cafe. Pepe’s has been an Aggieland tradition since 1969. It is locally owned. The food is fast, fresh and cheap. They have a great salsa, it may be the best in Bryan. One of my favorite items is the queso burrito. It is a burrito topped with queso, onions and blacked olives and of course served with a big bag of chips.


Food: Very good. Food is fast, fresh and cheap.

Selection: Great. Typical Tex-Mex fast food plus some original items as well.

Service:  Very friendly. Pepe’s has great customer service as well. If they make a mistake they go out of their way to correct. By the way mistakes are very rare.

Atmosphere: It is a dive but that is part of the experience. Did notice on our last visit that the dining room had been painted. Maybe they will get better booths.

Allergy Rating: Good. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions.

Overall: Very Good. One of our favorites.

Grilled Chicken With Tropical Salsa

chickenwtroppicoIn honor of Cinco de Mayo thought I would share a recipe with a Tex-Mex flair.

For Chicken

  • Either 6-8 chicken pieces.
  • 1 cup pineapple pieces with juice
  • 1/2 cup mango juice — use the kind without corn syrup for better results.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 TBS brown sugar
  • 1-2 TBS sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • black pepper
  • Tortillas — 2 -3 per person

For Roasted Veggies

  • squash — yellow  or green
  • potatoes
  • 1/2  med yellow onion
  • 1/2 red onion
  • mushrooms
  • other veggies
  • fresh rosemary
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 TBS butter — melted
  • foil pan, grill pan or basket

For Salsa

  • 1/2  med yellow onion
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2-3 peppers — jalapeno, Anaheim , or whatever you have
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • cilantro
  • 3-4 pineapple slices
  • cumin
  • chilli
  • mango
  • lime juice


  1. Make marinate for chicken — mix pineapple, garlic, brown sugar, sweet chilli sauce, olive oil and pepper in food processor or blender. I prefer to use my Ninja.
  2. Place chicken in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. Reserve about about 1/4 cup to of marinate to use for cooking. Pour the rest of the marinate on chicken and cover. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. 1 hour is better.
  3. While chicken is marinating cut veggies for roasted veggies.  Make a foil packet with peppers, garlic and onion for salsa. Slice pineapple large enough that it won’t fall through the grating of the grill. Wrap tortillas in foil packets. I usually put about 4-5 in a packet.
  4. Once the grill is fired up and ready. I usually do this one on the gas side of my grill. Place veggies for salsa and pineapple on grill for about 3-5 minutes. Just until it starts to char. Remove from grill and allow to cool before assembling the salsa.
  5. Next add chicken and roasted veggies to grill. Check the chicken about every 5 minutes flip when done on first side.
  6. Once the 1st side of the chicken is done throw the tortilla packets on the grill for a few minutes.
  7. Assemble salsa: Roughly chop peppers, pineapple, onion and mango. Toss in a bowl. Smash garlic and toss in bowl. Mix  veggies. Next add spices, lime juice and stir.

Cheese Enchiladas

2013-07-04 19.49.57One of my go to recipes for a quick meal is cheese enchiladas.


  • 16-20 corn tortillas
  • Enchilada sauce canned or homemade (see below)
  • 16 oz of cheese, I use a mixture of cheddar, jack, queso blanco, queso fresco or cream cheese
  • 1/4 to 1 cup chicken broth

Enchilada Sauce

  • 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 2-3 TBS taco sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder for smoky flavor. For smoky flavor without heat use paprika.
  1. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat chicken broth in a small skillet or medium sauce pan.
  3. Heat or make enchilada sauce. To make sauce heat tomatoes and spices. Stir until well mix. Heat until warm.
  4. Crumble cheese into a small bowl.
  5. Set up an assembly line with tortillas, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, cheese and baking dish.
  6. Start with dipping in broth until warmed, next dip in sauce, add a scoop of cheese mixture. I use a 1/4 cup scoop for this.  Place in baking dish roll side down. Pack enchiladas into pan as tightly as possible.
  7. Top with remaining sauce and extra cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.



chilliI’ve had some requests for my chili recipe.  It is really more of a method than a recipe.  It is adaptable to what I have on  hand as long one simple rule is follow: Chili does not contain beans or other weird vegetables. Don’t ruin a good bowl of red with unneeded vegetables. Chili does contain meat, peppers, cumin and other spices. It is also acceptable to include onion and/or tomatoes.


  • 1-2 pounds of a good quality of ground or chopped beef and/or a mixture of venison.
  • 1 onion chopped
  • At least 2 peppers of your choice seeded and chopped. Leave the seeds in for more heat.
  • Spices: I either start with spice mix like Wick Fowler’s  2-Alarm or Williams Chili Seasoning Mix, Grind up 2-3 dried chillies, and/or make my own spice mix using a mixture of cumin, chili powder, chipolte  powder (for the smoky taste or a milder taste use paprika) and Cayenne powders
  • Enough tomatoes products: I like to use a mixture of crushed and diced to fill the crock pot.
  • Other things I through in:
    • barbecue sauce
    • If it is a little hot add a tablespoon of something sweet like Dr Pepper Reduction (must use the kind with real sugar) or brown sugar.
    • If it is too thin about 1-2 tablespoons of masa harina or corn meal.
  1. Turn slow cooker to get warm.
  2. Brown meat in a skillet. Add about 1/2 chili mix to the meat while it is browning.
  3. While meat is browning chop onions and whole peppers. Add enough olive oil to the slow cooker to barely cover the bottom. Through in onions and peppers to brown.
  4. When the meat is browned drain and add to the slow cooker.
  5. Next add enough tomato products to fill pot. I leave about an inch from the top. Mix well.
  6. Add the rest of the seasoning or as much as you care.
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.
  8. After the chili has cooked for a couple of hours add other ingredients as needed.

Salsa Fresco

I was looking for ways to try out my new Ninja. We were having fajita’s for lunch.


  • 3-4 tomatoes depending on size and amount desired
  • 1/4-1/2 small onion
  • 1-2 jalapenos — seeded
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • Cumin — start with a teaspoon (eating kind not measuring) fill most of the bowl. Add more to taste.
  • Black pepper
  • at least 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • either paprika (mild) or chipolte for smoky taste


  1. Seed jalapenos.
  2. Peel garlic.
  3. Juice lime — I just juice it into the Ninja.
  4. Toss ingredients into Ninja or food processor.
  5. Pulse until it is chunky.

Pancho’s Sopaipillas

Yes, I know this recipe is really from Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, TX. Before I get laughed out of blogdom for owning much less posting a recipe from Pancho’s let me explain. First, I had a reader request for more of the restaurant recipes my mom collected from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Second Sopaipillas is one of the few things Pancho’s does or used to do well.  Yes, I will admit that as a child Pancho’s was a one of my favorites there was something appealing about raising the little flag to get more sopaipillas. Then attempting to fill the delightful little puff with as much honey as possible before the honey was confiscated.  This was also during the time when Colonial Cafeteria was another favorite because they gave me extra whipped cream on jello. Hey, what can I say I was a pre-schooler.

  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1 TBS baking powder, slightly rounded
  • 2 ½ TBS shortening (DO NOT USE OIL)
  • 2/3 C water
  1. Combine dry ingredients and work shortening evenly into mixture. Add water and mix thoroughly. Form dough into a ball and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Dust with flour. Roll to a thickness of ½ inch and cut into 2-inch squares.
  3. In a deep-fryer, melt enough shortening to provide a depth of 2-inches and bring it to 350 degrees. Drop squares into shortening, a few at a time, to avoid overcrowding. Cook only until lightly browned, turning once to cook evenly.
  4. Serve hot with butter and honey.