Easiest Blackberry Pie

BLACKBERRIES!  Nature’s sure sign that Summer’s in the air…..with the abundance of blackberries in my area, it would be a sin if you didn’t make something with blackberries!  Here is a simple, yet scrumptious recipe for Blackberry Pie…..

YUMMY bowl of blackberries!

YUMMY bowl of blackberries!

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 TBSP. butter, softened
4 cups blackberries, fresh or thawed completely, if frozen
2 Frozen premade 9-inch, deep dish pie crust; thawed

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt; toss in the blackberries. Fold the berries together with the flour/sugar mixture, being careful not to break the berries. Pour the berries into one of the thawed pie crusts. Dot evenly throughout with the softened butter. Using the other pie crust, loosen it from the baking pie pan and cover the berries completely encasing them.

Top crust is another premade pie crust, flipped onto the pie....

Top crust is another premade pie crust, flipped onto the pie….

Adjust the crust to fit and crimp the edges slightly; it doesn’t have to be perfect, this also gives the pie a rustic look. Beat an egg with a TBSP. of water and brush the top and edges of pie carefully. Cut decorative slits to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden. Remove the pie from oven and allow to cool completely!! DO NOT cut the pie right away as the juices will not have cooled off and thickened a bit.

Once the pie is completely cooled, cut into serving slices and serve it up with your favorite Vanilla ice cream…..NOM NOM!

Beautifully baked Blackberry Pie.....

Beautifully baked Blackberry Pie…..

Beef Vegetable Soup with Rice Vermicelli (Soup Tan Candelaria)

When I think of “comfort food”, this soup comes to mind!  I remember growing up and coming home after school to a huge bowl of this soup.  With it’s simple ingredients, it warms the tummy and just makes you feel good all over, AHHH!

Beef Vegetable01

1 Onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. oil
2 1/2 – 3 lbs. Chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. Salt, adjust again after done cooking, all to your taste
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Beef Base
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
2 teaspoons Accent, (optional, but I notice a difference if I don’t use it)
2 teaspoon Sugar, (helps with the acids of the tomatoes)
1 SMALL Bay Leaf
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced Tomatoes
12 Cups Water, (YES this much)
1 lb. bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 lb. bag Frozen Corn
3 Potatoes, peeled and diced (I sometimes use canned potatoes to cut done the cooking time)
2 – 3 pkgs. Rice Vermicelli, soaked and cut into sections (how ever much you want)


Soak the noodles in a bowl of water.  In a large stock pot, heat oil and saute onion.


beef vegetable3










Add beef and brown slightly. Add ALL the seasonings and bay leaf. Stir to combine well.



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Add diced tomatoes and water. Let come to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to about medium and cook for about 40 minutes or until beef becomes tender, skim off fat and scum in between cooking time. Add the potatoes and cook 15 – 20 minutes more. Add the mixed vegetables, corn, and rice vermicelli noodles. Cook for about 10 more minutes. Taste and add seasonings accordingly. Serve and enjoy!!



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*NOTE: The more noodles you add to the soup, the more it will expand and soak up the soup. So if you want more soup, do not add more than 3 individual packages of noodles.

*Substitute canned mixed vegetables, canned diced potatoes, and canned corn for a “quicker” version.  I’ve done this before.  Just make sure to drain the vegetable.



Beef, noodles, and veggies, Mmmm!

Beef, noodles, and veggies, Mmmm!

The bean threads I use.....

The bean threads I use…..

My Adventures in Canning…..

I’ve got to admit, I have never been afraid of trying something new in the kitchen except for canning……everyone says it’s SO EASY but I could never get passed the fact that I was preserving food for my family to eat and what if I didn’t do it right or if it’s spoils or gets contaminated?

Since growing a garden though, I’ve had such great success and an over abundance with my harvests and would give them away to friends.  I needed to find a way to preserve some of it for later use.  CANNING was the only thing that came to mind.  After numerous readings, watching youtube, and asking people who canned, I said “I can do this”; and set out to buy my “equipment”.  I wanted to make sure I did this and did it RIGHT!

The very first on my list was canning cucumbers to make Dill Pickles.

Beautifully canned with fresh Dill from my garden.

Beautifully canned with fresh Dill from my garden.

SUCCESS!  We opened a few jars up a while ago and they were DEELISH! Still crunchy and not overpowering with its sourness.  After that success, I’ve since canned Pickled Squash, Sweet Pickles, Jalapeno Jelly and Peaches.

Sweet Pickles

Sweet Pickles

Pickled Squash

Pickled Squash

Last night, I wasn’t tired at all and knew I needed to do something with the jalapenos I picked from the garden that day; I decided to make some Jalapeno Pepper Jelly!  It was a process but I was able to make 6 (1/2 pints) with the recipe.  Here’s what I did:


jalapenos weighed3/4 – 1 lb. Jalapeno Peppers, washed with membranes removed

2 cups Apple cider vinegar

6 cups Sugar (YES 6!)

2 (6 fl. oz. pouches) Liquid Pectin (I used Sure Jell Certo)

Green food coloring (optional)

Wash your peppers and remove the membranes and seeds.  If you’d like the jelly with a little more “kick”, keep some of the membranes and seeds.  Add the peppers to a food processor along with 1 cup of the cider vinegar and process them until pureed finely.

Peppers and vinegar being processed.

Peppers and vinegar being processed.

jalapeno jelly boiling

Sugar, vinegar, and pepper puree boiling hard.

While that is going, make sure to be sterilizing your jars according to the manufacturers instructions.

Sterilizing my jars....

Sterilizing my jars….

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup cider vinegar and heat that on the stove top to dissolve the vinegar, add the pureed peppers to the sugar/vinegar mixture and bring this to a boil.  Boil for a good 10 minutes and continue to stir constantly! Stir in a few drops of green food coloring if using.  After the 10 minutes, add your liquid pectin to the mixture and continue to stir.  Allow this to boil hard for 1 minute.

Add your liquid pectin after 10 minutes of boiling.

Add your liquid pectin after 10 minutes of boiling.

Liquid Pectin, this is what's used to thicken your jam or jelly.....

Liquid Pectin, this is what’s used to thicken your jam or jelly…..

Remove from the stove top.  Remove your sterilized jars and place them onto a CLEAN towel.

Carefully ladle the jelly mixture into your clean sterilized jars, making sure to leave a headway of about 1/4 – 1/2-inch from the top.  Because I did not “puree” my peppers too finely, I had larger bits of pepper that I really didn’t want in my jelly.  I used a strainer to remove MOST but not ALL of the bits.

Straining some of the pepper pulp.....

Straining some of the pepper pulp…..

Using a clean dish cloth, dipped a part of it into the boiling water used to sterilize your jars, and wipe the mouth area of the jars clean, making sure that there is nothing on it to prevent the jars from sealing properly.

Wipe off any residue to get a good seal.....

Wipe off any residue to get a good seal…..

After doing this, add your sterilized lids and rings but do not tighten the rings too tight.

Cover with sterilized lids and rings.....

Cover with sterilized lids and rings…..

Bring your water bath back up to a boil; place your jars of jelly into the water bath and process or boiling for 10 minutes.  Do not start timing until it’s come to a hard boil.

Once the time is up; carefully remove your jars and set them onto a clean towel to cool off completely.

Bring the water up to a boil and then start your 10 minute timer.....

Bring the water up to a boil and then start your 10 minute timer…..

This will be about the time your start to hear those wonderful “PINGING & POPPING” sounds, which tells you that your jar has processed and sealed properly.  Leave them on the counter overnight, do not bother them.

In the morning, remove the rings and holding the jars by the lids, try to lift them off, if it doesn’t come off easily, it’s properly sealed.  You can store them without the rings this way.  Place them into a cool dark area, I used a cabinet in my kitchen.  Allow them to sit for about 1 week, and then you’re ready to use them.  If you’ve processed it correctly, they can keep for up to a year unopened.  If it did not process properly, place it in the refrigerator to use right away OR you can reprocess in the water bath again, but remember to add a NEW lid; lids are not reusable like the rings and jars.

I hope this helps you with your fear of canning, I know that it’s helped me……HAPPY CANNING!

I was able to make 6 (1/2 pints) with this recipe....

I was able to make 6 (1/2 pints) with this recipe….

Picked a Peck of Pickled Jalapenos…..

With all the rain we’ve been receiving lately, I was getting worried about my jalapeno peppers literally drowning.  I decided to harvest the big beautiful ones but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them?  I wanted to make a batch of Jalapeno Pepper jelly, but I didn’t have any pectin on hand, so the next best thing was to pickle them……

Harvesting Jalapenos....

Harvesting Jalapenos….

Here’s a bit of trivia for you:  The seeds in a jalapeno are NOT the HOTTEST part of the pepper…..

For years cookbooks have been telling home culinarians to remove the seeds from their jalapenos if they want to reduce the heat. Capsaicin, the chemical that causes the burning sensation on your tongue, stimulates the same nerve endings as heat from temperature. This is why you mouth perceives it as hot. The seeds actually have the smallest concentration of capsaicin in the entire pepper.

The truth behind it: The highest concentration is actually found in the white pith that holds the seeds to the inside of the pepper. For example, if the pith contained 100 parts of capsaicin, the flesh of the pepper would contain 6 parts. The seeds?   Get rid of the white pith, and eliminate the heat.

Jalapeno peppers but into 1/4-inch pieces....

Jalapeno peppers but into 1/4-inch pieces….

Here’s a recipe that I used to pickle my peppers:

3 – 4 lbs. Fresh Jalapenos, washed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 1/2 cups White vinegar (5% acidity)

4 1/2 cups Water

3 teaspoons Pickling salt

4 large cloves Garlic, whole

4 Bay leaves

Sterilize 4 pint jars and lids according to the manufacturers instructions.  While the jars are boiling, cut the peppers into 1/4-inch pieces, discarding the stems; making sure to never touch your eyes!  In a saucepan, combine vinegar, salt, and water; bring this mixture to a boil.

Remove jars from boiling water and place a garlic clove into each jar and 1 bay leaf.  Pack the jars tightly with the peppers, leaving about 1/2-inch headspace.  Cover the peppers with the hot vinegar/water solution, again leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Seal with lids and process jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove jars from the water bath and allow to stand, undisturbed at room temperature for 24 hours. Check the seals by removing the screwed on bands, and press down on the center of each lid.  If the lid doesn’t move, the jar is sealed! If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar IS NOT sealed.  Store properly sealed jars in a cool dark place up to 1 year.  Refrigerate after opening.

4 pints of Pickled Jalapenos.....

4 pints of Pickled Jalapenos…..

Toscana Soup that warms the bones…..

Brrr, that rain today has my bones chilled, so I made a batch of “COPYCAT ZUPPA TOSCANA”

1 1/2 lbs. ground Italian sausage, mild or spicy
3 – 4  large russet baking potatoes, unpeeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 pkg. Bacon, chopped

This will warm your bones.....

This will warm your bones…..

2 tsp. Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 – 4 cups kale, chopped (I ❤ Kale so I used a lot)
2 (8 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large soup pot, fry bacon until crisp, set aside. Brown the ground sausage, add the onions and cook until translucent. Return the bacon back to pot. Add the unpeeled and sliced potatoes, stir. Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat. Add the kale and cook another 10 minutes, add cream. Heat through and serve.

NOTE: I left the peeling on the potatoes, I just cut it in half, and then into 1/4″ slices. I used HOT ground Italian sausage, and I also added a bit of Accent. DO NOT USE the “SWEET” Italian sausage, I did once and I did not like the taste.



My large hairy beasts…..

OMG! What a BUSY day I’ve had at work today! I’m so tired but still come home and tend to my garden! As many of you know, I’ve really taken off with my 4 raised beds that now I’ve expanded my garden to 10 raised beds, ALL 4×16 feet each.

Raised bed filled with "garden gold"

Raised bed filled with “garden gold”



Unfortunately, my German Shepherds have been on a digging spree lately and thought my newly constructed raised beds were there for their digging pleasure, NOT!  I had to get someone out quick to build a fence around my garden, otherwise I would be dealing with replacing dug up plants on a daily basis, “Ain’t got no time for that”!

I spy doggy prints....

I spy doggy prints….

So, it’s a relief to know that my precious veggies will be shielded from the digging paws of these large hairy beasts…..


post are setting

Posts are set in and cemented…..



So happy with the progress; now if the weather would just cooperate long enough to get everything done……




Until next time on my garden adventures……

My large, hairy, beasts....

My large, hairy, beasts….

Pedro “PoP” Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Pedro Aguon, affectionately known to his family and friends as “PoP”, was a decorated Navy veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

pop's bread pudding2

Pedro "PoP" Aguon

Pedro “PoP” Aguon

According to PoP’s daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, “PoP” was a personal Master Chef for 11 Navy Admirals. One of the admirals was James Morrison (yep, the father of Jim Morrison of the Doors). This was Jim’s all time favorite dessert that PoP would spoil the family with. It is famous wherever it is served. Word has it that a chef in New Orleans actually has PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding on his 5 Star Restaurant Menu.”

PoP was an inspiration to many, not just for his service to our nation, but for his love of life. This recipe posting is dedicated to PoP’s memory, and to his desire to keep the Chamorro culture alive through the sharing of one our island’s treasures ~ our food.

Rest in Peace, PoP. You are greatly missed.

PoP Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Recipe by: Pedro “PoP” Aguon
as shared by his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon
"PoP" Aguon's World Famous Bread Pudding

“PoP” Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

PoP’s daughter, Arlene, says this about making PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding:

“Please note that my father DID NOT measure his ingredients, so I am attempting to record what I saw. He usually prepared a huge banquet sized pan of pudding for our gatherings so you can downsize as needed.

An IMPORTANT PoP Aguon SECRET: for 1 cup of cubed bread, use 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. This will be the foundation for your bread pudding custard base.”


1 loaf of FRESH bread (white, wheat, whole grain, according to your taste). Break it down to small 1/2 inch cubes or torn pieces. Lay the bread pieces in a prepared buttered or Smart Balance/Pam sprayed heavy pan. (One loaf = 12 cups of bread pieces).

Bread Pudding Base:
  • 12 cups of cubed/torn bread (layered loosely in your pan)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 12 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of sugar or more to your taste
  • 1/4 cup of pure vanilla extract (don’t use imitation)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Custard Topping:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg
Directions for Bread Pudding Base:

1. Slowly beat your eggs, butter, salt and gradually add your milk and mix until fully incorporated. Add your vanilla. Gently pour your wet custard solution over your bread in the pan. IMPORTANT: Do not push down the bread. Let the bread NATURALLY soak up the wet mixture for at least 15-20 minutes.

2. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for an hour and a half. Your bread pudding base will puff up to a soufflé texture. DO NOT PIERCE OR TOUCH! The soufflé texture will be jiggly. Remove and set on a rack to cool. As the bread base cools the soufflé texture will start to compact and settle.

pop's bread pudding5

Directions for Custard Topping:

1. Whip the eggs, butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup of milk in your blender or with an electric mixer. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan on low heat, warm the rest of your milk on a low setting (DO NOT SCALD your milk on a high setting). Gradually add your mixture into the warm milk and constantly stir, so your eggs will be tempered. Stir from the sides and bring to the middle of your saucepan to prevent lumping.

2. Once the custard starts to thicken and bubble, cook to the desired consistency. PoP did not make his thick like Latiya. He made it a little runny so it will seep into every nook and crevice of the bread pudding base. Remove from heat and add your vanilla extract. Cool for at least 15 minutes then pour the custard over the bread pudding base. Remove from the heat and add your vanilla extract. Cool for at least 15 minutes then pour the custard over the bread pudding base. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and ENJOY.