tossing ingredients into a 20 quart pot

Alternative to Canning Tomatoes

An easy alternative to canning tomatoes.


Canning your own sauce is awesome for the freshness, but I hate canning. It’s hot, messy, and time consuming. Not to mention, buying the tools gets expensive.

An old friend of mine taught me this alternative way to canning tomato sauce. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s easy, I love it, and I want to share it with you. Even if you don’t have an overflowing garden of tomatoes (I don’t), go to your local farmer’s market and grab a bunch. That’s what I do.

Side note: I was playing around with Photoshop’s watercolor tool. Not sure I like it, but the photos kinda look artsy.

You’ll Need

18-20 quart stockpot
Immersion blender
8 gallon size freezer bags
20 pounds of fresh tomatoes (I used heirloom), quartered
1 1/2 cups of EVOO
2 large Spanish onions, quartered
1 (8 oz.) jar of marinade already peeled garlic, or 30 cloves of garlic
1 cup of basil, packed
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of Sea Salt
1 tablespoon of Pepper

Let’s get started…

washing tomatoesTomato washing. If you buy from a farmer’s market, I wouldn’t worry about using any special vegetable wash. They usually do not use chemicals to help the growing process, but it’s always a good idea to ask. I just use warm water and a paper towel to wipe each one clean.

chopping onions in quartersThis recipe is also great for ‘no more tears.’ Instead of dicing your onions, chop your onions and tomatoes into big quarter size pieces.

fresh basilNo need to chop up or remove the stems from your basil, and I will show you why.

jar of peeled garlicFresh is best, but the point of this recipe is saving time. I use already peeled garlic to help me accomplish that goal.

tossing ingredients into a 20 quart potToss it all into an 18 to 20 quart stockpot. On the stove, bring it to a boil on high heat. Cover and reduce to medium heat. Let the tomatoes cook down for about 10 minutes.

using an immersion blender in hot liquidBy using an immersion blender you save time…

  1. No fine chopping
  2. No skinning the tomatoes
  3. No long hours for it to all cook down

Using your immersion blender, start to blend all the ingredients together while it cooks. Warning: Do not lift hand tool out of the sauce while in use. Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way. Sigh.

using an immersion blender in hot liquidContinue to blend for about five minutes.

Once everything is smooth and blended, bring sauce back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. If needed, add more salt and pepper to taste.

finished tomato sauceMake sure your sauce is smooth. If not, take the immersion blender back through the mixture.

Remove lid, and let cool until easy to handle.

storing tomato sauce in freezerI don’t know about you but I do not have much freezer space.

I like that the baggies can lay nicely on top of each other. Take a black sharpie and write on the gallon size freezer bags, Tomato Sauce and the date.  Put four cups into each bag. Sauce will store in your freezer for about six to eight months.

Recipe makes eight baggies. That is equal to eight 26 ounce store bought jars. This saves me $20, and the freshness is well worth the effort. This is an all purpose sauce to be used for any recipe needing tomato sauce.

Little time. Little money. Little mess. No preservatives. A fresh alternative.







Top Secret’s Benihana Ginger Salad Dressing by Todd Wilbur


Recently, our friend Val sent in a request,

“Dear Girl, I just love the ginger dressing you get from Hibachi restaurants.  Any ideas?”

Why, yes I do! Whenever I eat at a Japanese restaurant, I look forward to the ginger dressing; always requesting extra. I even use the dressing for dipping crusty breads, and sometimes I use it to marinade my Sunday roast, or pork chops. Yummy!

I’ve never been to Benihana, but I have tried “Top Secret Recipes version of Benihana Ginger Salad Dressing” by Todd Wilbur. It is the best dressing. Even better than the average ginger salad found in your local Japanese restaurant.

It’s easy to put together. Todd’s instructions say to use a blender. With using a blender, I’ve found that you need to do a little fine chopping. However, since finding my Immersion Blender, I toss the roughly chopped ingredients into a pot and go at it with my handheld wonder stick. Less clean up too (our least favorite effort to cooking).

Todd has a ton of great recipes to try. You should check out Top Secret Recipes for lots of cool ideas and tips.

Hey Val! Let me know if you try it. This is definitely a win-win dressing.

You can find this recipe here: Top Secret Recipes version of Benihana Ginger Salad Dressing” by Todd Wilbur.


Silicone Muffin Pan


One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is this silicone muffin pan. It’s easy to clean, and it’s hard to burn your muffins.

The pan is very versatile. It can be rolled up for storage. The pan can be used in the freezer, the microwave or the oven, and is dishwasher-safe. It takes only a minute or two to cool down after use. Another cool thing I like is that silicone bake ware is non-porous so it doesn’t retain odors or flavors.

Helpful Hint: The pan is flexible and should be handled with care. I place it on a tray or cookie sheet before filling it and taking it to the oven. Taking a filled muffin pan to the oven without doing so is very challenging to say the least.