Friday, May 29, 2015

Chef Tess Video Segment on Good Morning AZ! Turning ANY fruit into freezer jam (3 ingredients)

Thank you again Good Good Morning Arizona! It was a blast being on the show again! 3TV | Phoenix Breaking News, Weather, Sport

Basic Recipe for Turning ANY fruit into freezer jam
4 cups of crushed fruit
1 ½ cups sugar (or  sugar free use 3/4 cup granulated organic Pyure-Organic-Stevia natural erythritol stevia all purpose sweetener)
1 Pouch of Ball Fruit Jell® freezer jam pectin OR 3Tbsp of Instant Pectin 

In a large glass 2 quart bowl, combine the pectin and sugar. Mix until well combined, about 1 minutes. 
Add the fruit, mashing well and combine 3 minutes. until well mixed. Add your choice of spices and flavorings. 
Put into 1 cup containers leaving 1/2 inch head space if you plan on freezing it. This recipe yields 5, 8 oz. freezer jars. Allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes until jam sets. 
Freeze up to one year in freezer containers or just put in the fridge and use within 3 weeks.

There you go darlings! Keep it simple!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Easy Freezer Jam and My New Book is Out! Canning Cents!

 My new book is out! 
 Canning Cents, The Money-saving Whole-foods Handbook
Canning just makes sense… and dollars! My latest book teaches you how to get that fresh, farm-to-table taste by preserving your own organic produce and whole foods. Whether you're a canning pro or novice, this book is sure to become your go-to guide for canning foods with remarkable flavor and gourmet flair!
 Treat your family and friends to fresh organic produce, whole foods, and healthy choices—at a fraction of the grocery store price! 

With tons of helpful tips and instructions, I walk you through the process of preserving your own foods. It’s easier than you think! 

Stock your pantry with the delicious flavors of:

Whole Tomatoes with Herbs 
Mango Jalapeño Jam 
Peppery Grilled Onion Relish 
Mountain Man Beef Stew 

Once you’ve done the prep work, you’ll have a variety of ready-made meals your family will love. Invest in your health without spending a fortune.

The biggest money-saver is the section on homemade condiments including barbecue sauces, ketchup, and more...

Save dollars a jar when you make homemade jams and preserves.  
Spiced Peach butter is my favorite...
 I give out some of my gourmet dessert sauces and spreads too! 
You won't want to miss the blueberry lemon sauce. 
I'll help you learn the basics on canning acids foods like these vanilla cherries...
 Homemade pickles like my bread-n-butter pickles...
 There's also tons of recipes for remarkable relish and pickles galore...did I mention pickles galore?

Tomorrow I'll be on Good Morning Arizona, 3TV Phoenix with my easy jam recipes. 

Chef Tess Bakeresse Freeze Jam
No Cooking involved, just a few simple ingredients and you're on your way to fresh and delicious homemade jam!

Basic things to know:
  • Most freezer jam uses a natural product called Freezer Jam Pectin.
  • All freezer jam can also be made for fridge use, as long as it is used up in about 3 weeks.
  • No special canning jars or equipment are needed for freezer jam!
  • You can make it today at a very low cost by using seasonal produce.

ANY fruit into freezer jam basic recipe:
4 cups of crushed fruit
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Pouch of Ball Fruit Jell® freezer jam pectin

In a large glass 2 quart bowl, combine the pectin and sugar. Mix until well combined, about 1 minutes. Add the fruit, mashing well and combine 3 minutes. until well mixed. Add your choice of spices and flavorings. Put into 1 cup containers leaving 1/2 inch head space if you plan on freezing it. This recipe yields 5, 8 oz. freezer jars. Allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes until jam sets. Freeze up to one year in freezer containers or just put in the fridge and use within 3 weeks.

Chef Tess' Sugar Free Poached Pear and Pineapple Freezer Jam
2 cups cooked (or extremely ripe, fresh) peeled pears
2 cups crushed sugar free pineapple
1 pouch (2 in a package)Ball Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin
1 1/2 cups spoon able xylitol, 24 drops of stevia, or Spenda
1/2 tsp each, LorAnn vanilla bean paste, LorAnn sweet dough emulsion, and Chef Tess Wise Women of the East Spice blend

In a large glass 2 quart bowl, combine the pectin and spoon able xylitol, stevia or Splenda. Mix until well combined, about 1 minutes. Add the fruit, mashing well and combine 3 minutes. until well mixed. Add the spices and flavorings. Put into 1 cup containers leaving 1/2 inch head space if you plan on freezing it. This recipe yields 5, 8 oz. freezer jars. Allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes until jam sets. Freeze up to one year in freezer containers or just put in the fridge and use within 3 weeks. It's that absolutely easy! Crazy right?!

There you go darlings!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bread of Life: Being Yourself Anyway

Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.

Tuesday of this week I got the chance to go back to TV. It was a personal victory. 

It had been a few months since my last segment, due to a heavy work schedule and also some struggles with body image and know...stuff. I talked about it a few weeks ago here, but I didn't really go into details. Suffice it to say, that the producer asked me to come back on the show again in a few days and it was a huge boost to my confidence.

I had to swing by work on the way home and ran into some dear friends that I had not seen for several years...and we ended up having lunch together at the bistro.  It was great to see these dear ladies again and share an hour or two. 

 There is something incredible about spending time at a delicious meal surrounded by genuine warmth of friendship that has spanned the course of two decades. I am so grateful to the gloriously real women who let me sit down to their table at lunch and walk away at the end of our time together feeling deeply encouraged in heart, renewed in spirit and empowered in purpose! Ladies...thank you for being real! I love you!

One of the gals said something, "Did it help to share your struggle with body image on your blog?"  I've thought about it...and yes it does. It helps a lot. 

There's a certain part of me that would just rather not ever be in the public eye. It is the same part of me that wants everyone to like me and be my friend. I assume that because I have an open heart and love everyone I meet that everyone else should be the same. I would rather ere on the side of common courtesy than try and say hurtful things about anyone. Even then, there are always going to be a few who just stink it up wherever they go and say horrid things. You and I will never please everyone.  Everyone will not like you or me. I'm learning to accept that and move on. It is hard to do!

 That brings me to to this week's thought for Sunday.  You will always be too much of something for someone. Be yourself anyway. 

The masses will have contradicting opinions of you:
Too fat, too thin, 
too tall, too short, 
too happy, too serious, 
too righteous, too imperfect, 
too much something...

Haters will hate. They'll say incredibly rude things about you. If there's merit to the critical words, take them, but don't dwell on them.  That's hard to do. It's an extremely mature person who can take a criticism and judge if it is justified. Sometimes they cut to your heart because you know they can be fixed or they are faults you are working to fix. Take a hard look at yourself.  It might be hard to shake it off but here are my thoughts today...

Listen to the people who believe in you and your dreams. 

Listen to those who know you, cheer for you and stand with you. 

Listen to those who will publicly defend you and their alliance with you! 

Be humble, but don't be too sensitive. 

Trust in the Lord and live as a true example of a believer.  
Remember He had critics who crucified him and he was innocent and perfect. 
You're going to get grief if you're trying to be good.
Don't judge others. 
 Move on.
 Let it go. 
Be yourself anyway! 

There it is.
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Tess

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Easy Fresh Berry Brownie Pie

 Every single day I bake pies. I know. It's awesome!   At Bistro 'a la mode, they change every single day as the pie Du jour so I have the chance to come out with remarkably delicious concoctions. It's an Evil Think Tank every day of the week. I wish you all could be there with me! One of the pies from this week was the fresh berry brownie pie. Usually we serve the Black Forrest Brownie Pie where there is a full enshrinement of flaky buttery crust around the brownie and pie filling. Usually people freak-out and cry tears of joy at the warm brownie and tart cherry filling with nuances of citrus and amaretto. I always, always get asked how I bake a brownie inside a crust like that. It's top secret my darlings. 

This week I just baked the brownie in the pie shell open so I could top it with gobs of ridiculous dark chocolate orange truffle ganache and bury luscious fresh berries in the gooey ridiculousness.   It was quite successful. 
 The top secret trick? Bake your brownies first.  I use my  Tried and True Evil Brownies topped with the ganache from the original recipe on the blog. They are always moist and remarkable. When chilled, they cut up perfectly and the ganache has its own distinct layer of love. See?

My Chef Tess Brownies
1 1/4 cup butter
4 cups sugar
1T vanilla,
2 tsp rum extract
1 T cinnamon
1 T orange zest
1/2 tsp ground Cayenne pepper
8 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 T salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter,sugar, eggs, vanilla, and spice until light. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt, mixing 2 minutes. Pour int a lightly greased bar pan (at least 9inch by 13inch by 3) Bake 40-45 minutes--slightly under-cooked is better than overdone and dry. Cover with ganache and toasted almonds:

16 oz. high quality chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp orange zest

1 tsp almond extract 

Directions: Boil cream with the zest and almond extract. Place chocolate in a metal bowl and pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over brownies when they are cool. Allow to cool...if you can wait that long and cut into squares.

For the pie, cut into squares and strips and mold them into the bottom of an unbaked pie shell. See: My perfect pie crust recipe there's also a tutorial there on how to make my crust. 
 Bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the brownie ganache has melted. The brownie will appear to have been baked in the shell. 
 Top with fresh berries of your choice.  I used fresh strawberries, rasberries, and blackberries and then I drizzled them with Melba sauce. 

That's it! Easy and delicious!

Have an amazing Memorial Day weekend my darlings!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good Morning Arizona TV Segment and Recipes!

Tomorrow morning I will be visiting my darlings on Good Morning Arizona with some great side-dish ideas for the upcoming memorial day weekend!  Here are the recipes for all of you to enjoy!
Tess' Red White and Blue Caprese Salad
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • ½ lb fresh mozzarella balls, drained
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • ¼ cup balsamic glaze
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • chopped basil (optional)
  • Smear pesto on the bottom of a large serving platter.
  • Arrange cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and blueberries in stripes or artistic design over pesto.
  • Drizzle with balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped basil if desired.

Chef Tess Sweet Corn and Avocado Salsa (Cowboy Caviar)
This recipe uses the bounty of the garden and is great with chips or as a side salad

Yield: 2 to 3 cups
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 15 oz can diced fire roasted tomato, drained
  • 1 ½ cup fresh corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, well drained
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds in)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (2T dehydrated)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1T Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning (optional) OR Taco Seasoning


  • Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado.
  • Add the corn kernels to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered.
  • Just before serving, add the jalapeño and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

There you go! Have an absolutely awesome Memorial Day!  Remember to think of those who gave all for us to be free this weekend. Memorial Day is to honor their memory and sacrifice.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Seasons Change...

Today marks the end of a really long unbelievably difficult season for me.  
The catering company I'm part of has successfully finished our busy "wedding season."   I have not been at all vocal about the real struggle for sanity that has been taking place here in my life or the seemingly endless work hours I've been putting into things here in this side of the universe, but I just want to go on the record and say that there have been some really remarkable things going on behind the scenes and I'm extremely grateful today for those who have been cheering us onward.  I also have been taking a long break from blogging because of it.  

Though I've missed you here,  I can't even count how many of you have come by Bistro A' la Mode  during the last few months to show your support!!  It has made me feel so honored and humbled. Given the struggle of last year and the lack of employment, this has been an awesome change! 

No complaints!
 I want to be clear also in saying that I'm not at all complaining about working long hours, though I'm exhausted most days of the week. Management is a lot of work.  It is also remarkable to see a winning effort from our team and I love seeing the crew come together to get things done.   I'm extremely thankful for a job that supports our family and for the ongoing sweethearts at the bistro and catering kitchen who have been my family away from home over the last few months. My apprentice Aubrey has been a God-send.  Love her!!

The biggest strength has come from home and Faith.  
Most days I've stumbled from my car at the end of a long day and been met at the door of my home by loving children who whip off my shoes and socks to rub my feet. They have given me courage.  I'm away from a desk in the kitchen.  It is a full marathon. It is loud. It is hot.  It is awesome. I'm usually at it anywhere between 10-15 hours a day and I often receive messages from Ace letting me know he just said a prayer for me or that he just needs me to know he loves me.  I've begged the Lord for strength and felt his unseen arm on my shoulder lifting the weighty challenges.   Aren't those messages from far away the ones that keep us going?

Some have asked me if this has been a,"dream come true" since opening the Bistro? 
 Yes. Yes. Yes. It has been.  I've also been incredibly aware of the fact that it was not going to be easy, nor will it ever be easy to have anything worthwhile become successful.  So, I'm not even going to pretend that it has been an walk in the park the last few months balancing work and home life.  I'm tired. My feet hurt.  I miss a lot of stuff at home to to make things happen at work. It hurts on a deep level.  I knew when I started that this would be part of the deal but the reality is still difficult to bare at times. Sometimes...I just want to sit on a beach. I'm incredibly thankful for a husband who takes care of the home front.  I don't know how I could do it all. I don't want to even think about it. That being said, I'm not complaining. Not at all.  

You know what else?  I always get to the end of the day and smile. It is harder than I ever thought it would be, but I love it. You know what I love most? The sense that I'm deeply loved and needed where I work. 

Someone recently asked me, "Why haven't you been on TV lately?"  Personal reasons...but a lot to do with my own body image and struggling with feeling pretty. I know that sounds shallow. I feel lame for even voicing it.   I'm pretty sure in my heart I'm a beautiful person and people who see me know it ( I hope). Truth is,  I'm struggling with some health challenges that have added a few pounds to my figure. Nobody worry...I'm here for a while (I hope) I just haven't been in the public eye like I have in the past.  I'm working through it. From this side, just know that I will get through this...and that big things are still ahead.  Oh, yes. I'm a strong woman. You can count on that. 

What now?
Now as we are at the end of the wedding season, we're gearing up to expand things in the restaurant, I'm excited! I'm ready for the next challenges.  I'm getting really giddy about new menu items and changes.  I'm back to a more normal schedule for the summer. I'll see my kids more. I am able to blog a lot more and I'll be adding a lot more here than you've seen. Thank you all for  your continued love and support.  I can't express how thankful I am for your cheers and words of encouragement.  

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess