Friday, February 28, 2014

Homemade Tomato Soup

 
Last year, in a desperate attempt to get caught up on preserving chores, I decide to can a bunch of whole tomatoes in addition to my typical salsas and sauces. I didn't know exactly what I would do with them but I figured this winter I'd figure out SOMETHING to do with them. 

Because let's face it- when your kitchen looks like this for the day: 


...you don't need to have anything in mind.  You just need to get to work.  And fast.

Well, winter is here and I just so happened to find a great use for them.  Homemade Tomato Soup.

I never thought that I would prefer homemade tomato soup because I grew up on Campbells and my tastebuds have grown used to the sweet, vague taste of tomato that the can of Campbells provides. 

I didn't stray too far from the Plain Jane version (you may add dill or cilantro or other herbs if you like) only because I wanted to try to recreate the storebought version.  I was pleasantly surprised that even a properly brainwashed tongue like mine would appreciate and love the taste of this homemade soup.

This soup is creamy.  It is fresh tasting.  It does not contain high fructose corn syrup.  It uses up those quarts (and quarts) of whole tomatoes.  And it is ready to eat in five minutes flat.

 SCORE!

(This soup does have seeds in it- which I thought would bother me but it doesn't at all. There is your forewarning. )

Homemade Tomato Soup
(this recipe makes enough for four bowls of soup.  Double it to feed 6-8 people.)

~ I QT jar of whole canned tomatoes
~1/3 cup tomato paste (or 1/2 of 6 oz. can)
~1 cup water
~1 t. minced onion
~ 3 t. lemon juice
~ 1 T. sugar
~ 1 1/2 c. milk

Combine all ingredients except milk in a saucepan over medium high heat until boiling.  Add milk.  Use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes and make the soup smooth.  

Enjoy!


Homemade Ketchup




For the month of February, I gave myself a challenge: Don't buy any groceries except dairy products for the entire  month.

And then, within just a few days...I had run out of ketchup and I was cursing myself for being so dumb.  WHAT was I thinking?

Then, I realized that trying out homemade ketchup has been on my to-do for a very long time and I just had never gotten around to it.  Now seemed the perfect time since it was either go without for an entire month or get it done.

I got it done. 

And then Matt tasted it.

And now I will probably have to 'get it done' for the rest of my days.

This is a winning recipe...tastes delicious.  Lacks the high fructose corn syrup. Whips up in about five minutes or less.  Uses simple ingredients that you likely already have in your cupboard. 
Makes about 1 1/2 pints.

I give you~

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup honey (you can also just use sugar)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homemade Toothpaste


Because you asked:  my recipe for HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE

There are a ton of recipes out there, with a ton of variations, but this is mine.  I don't actually follow it anymore (because then I would have to find the paper it is written on!) but rather add things until it tastes 'right' and you should do the same.  Taste the sweetness and +/- xylitol or stevia.  Taste the peppermint oil and +/- the concentration.  Start with my base and make it to your liking!

1/2 c baking soda
1 t. salt 
1-3 T. of xylitol or a few drops of liquid stevia (many people don't use this, but I think it tastes a WHOLE lot better!  And homemade shouldn't equal torture in my book.)
15-20 drops of peppermint oil.  (Minty fresh breath is an essential for me.  If my toothpaste ain't minty, it just aint' toothpaste.  I like my toothpaste VERY minty so I hover around the larger number.  When I first began making toothpaste, I didn't know where to find peppermint oil so I tried peppermint extract instead.  I used a LOT more of it and it worked ok.  Then I found true peppermint essential oil and tried that out and it rocked my world.  SO MUCH BETTERDo yourself a favor and just invest in some essential oil.

3-4 T. Vegetable Glycerin (use as much as needed to make a thick paste!)


Stir it up and use it up!

All ingredients can be found at your local healthfood store or grocery.

* I may try to replace the vegetable glycerin with coconut oil in the future... coconut oil is good for you and your teeth and I happen to have a bunch of it (so I won't have to buy more glycerin)...but in the meantime, I love this recipe just the way it is.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies




This recipe makes BEAUTIFUL cookies, especially when understated with a simple white frosting.  These cookies are elegant looking and tasting- they aren't gaudy and sweet but more subtle and deep flavored. They are on the drier side and so, are best suited to eat with a nice hot cup of cocoa, coffee or tea.


You'll need:

5 T unsalted butter, softened 
1/3 c.solid vegetable shortening 
1/2 c. (packed) dark brown sugar 
1 egg
1/2 c. molasses 
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 T ground ginger 
2 t. ground cinnamon 
1 t. ground cloves 
1 T baking soda 
1/2 t. baking powder 
1 t. salt

What you do:

1) Cream brown sugar, shortening and butter.  Add egg, mix well. Add chocolate, mix well.

2) Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl if you want.  Or in the "wet" ingredients if you are lazy.  (I won't tell.)  I usually DO use a separate bowl for this sort of thing since I want the spices to be uniform throughout.  You can mix the dry ingredients into the wet in two different steps to keep flour from flying.
 
3)  Form dough into a ball, over with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

4) When thoroughly chilled, roll out dough to baout 1/4 inch- cut with cookie cutters and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until the tops look dryish.  

5) Let cookies cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  

6) Decorate as you see fit.  I used my buttercream frosting made a bit stiffer with more confectionary sugar (because I don't care much for the flavor of royal icing). 
 

Farmhouse Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

 
These cookies are delicious.  
They are sweet, but not too sweet; soft, but still crispy on the outside.   Best of all, this recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies, give or take (depending upon the size of your cookie cutters), which means there will be plenty to snitch and plenty to serve.  

The addition of sour cream lends a delicious depth of flavor- but also makes for a bit of a moister dough so you may need to add a bit more flour to the dough if it becomes to sticky.  But not too much!  Too much flour, too dry a dough is never a good thing when it comes to cut-out cookies.

You'll need:

1 cup shortening
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla
4 1/2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda

What you do:

* Mix first five ingredients until thoroughly creamed.

* Add rest of dry ingredients.  (You could mix them together in a separate bowl and then add them...but I never do.  Why dirty another dish?  Am I right, or am I right?)

* Chill for about an hour.

* Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, using a sprinkling of flour on the table and rolling pin and cut with your favorite cutters.  OR roll in a log shape, refrigerate for 2 hours and then slice.

* Bake cookies on greased cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven until edges are just the slightest bit golden brown.  Cool for a minute or two on sheets before moving to cooling racks.

* Slather, smear, and bejewel the cookies with goodness.  I use buttercream frosting, but you can do as you like. 

Buttercream Frosting


Until I get a better photo to post, this downright messy picture of buttercream frosting IN ACTION will have to do.  But, the fact is....this is buttercream frosting in all its' glory.  On the fingers and lips of children.  Making the world a colorful place.  A happy place.  A delicious place.

* Beat 1/3 c. butter until fluffy.

* Add 2 c. powdered sugar- but until fluffy.

* Slowly add 1/4 c. milk and 1 1/2 t. vanilla.

* Beat an additional 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar.

(At this point add more milk or sugar to reach desired consistency. if necessary.)

* Color as you see fit.

PS.  To make enough icing for my Farmhouse Cut-Out Cookies, I double this recipe.

PPS.  If you add a bit more confectionary sugar to the icing for stiffness, it makes a lovely substitute for royal icing.  One that actually has flavor!  (In my opinion.)

PPPS.  If the icing is to be piped, I sift the powdered sugar when adding it to the bowl.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mint Chocolate Ribbon Ice Cream



This was BY FAR the BEST ice cream from the self-inflicted Summer Sundae challenge.  Mint chocolate is one of my favorites though- so it is no wonder.

Many of the homemade ice creams I have made have needed a custard base- which can be tricky to do and results in a thicker homemade taste, not to mention is a lot more time-consuming to do.  This one,  however, requires no such thing and because it is made with half milk, half cream it is lighter and fluffier than other homemade ice creams.  I swear this stuff tastes like it is from Mr. Perry himself.

So, so, so good.



Mint Chocolate Ribbon Ice Cream *****

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk (I used 2%- but you can use whatever.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 t. peppermint extract
3-4 drops food coloring (optional.  White mint ice cream is just as tasty I'm sure.)

1 cup chocolate chips
2 t. oil, shortening or butter (I used coconut oil)

Directions:

Mix first 7 ingredients together with a mixer for a minute until thoroughly combined.  Add to an ice cream maker and churn until soft serve. (follow directions on your ice cream maker)

While it is churning, put the dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable bowl and microwave in increments of 30 seconds until melted and smooth.  (Or you can make it super easy on yourself and use mini chocolate chips, or mint oreo crumbles or brownie bites...I won't tell.)

Put a layer of  ice cream in a freezable container , followed by a dollop of melted chocolate- spread around thinly.  Continue the ice cream and chocolate layers for the rest of the ice cream and chocolate. Freeze ice cream until hard.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Ripple and Chocolate Covered Peanuts

Since there were no eggs to temper and custard to make, this ice cream was SUPER FAST to make. Really, just a push of a few buttons here and a plop or two there.



 This was a BIG hit with the children.  They couldn't stop raving.  Matt said it was like eating cold fudge.  (They all give it five stars...)  I, on the other hand, didn't care for it too much.  I'd give it three stars, max.  I couldn't help but think there was a very oily undertone.  I guess that is to be expected, it being made with peanut butter and all.  If you like, make it and decide for yourself!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Ripple 
(and garnished with Chocolate Covered Peanuts) *****
yield: 1 quart



You'll need:
3/4 c. peanut butter
a heaping 3/4 c. sugar
2 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (or half and half if you want to be less naughty)
pinch o' salt
a splash of vanilla

1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 cup peanuts

In a food processor or blender, puree' the peanut butter, sugar, cream, salt, and vanilla until smooth.

Chill thoroughly in fridge- then freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

While it is churning, put the dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable bowl and microwave in increments of 30 seconds until melted and smooth.

Put a layer of peanut butter ice cream in a freezable container , followed by a dollop of melted chocolate- spread around thinly.  Continue the peanut butter and chocolate layers until you have about 1/4 cup of melted chocolate left.  Freeze ice cream until hard.

Add peanuts to the bowl of remaining chocolate, coat.  Spread on wax paper until cooled.  Serve atop or on the side.  Or just eat them.  That works too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I thought it was high time I made a more traditional ice cream.   Matt's favorite ice cream outside of cookie dough is vanilla bean, so I thought this was a good place to start.  Besides, I still had some blueberry pie to finish and it was just begging to be a la mode.



Vanilla Bean (Custard) Ice Cream *****
yield: 1 1/2 quarts

You'll need:

1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream (divided)
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Here's How:

Warm milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt in a saucepan over medium.  Scrap the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and then add the beans too.  You just want to heat the mixture up- not boil it or anything.  After it has heated, remove from heat, cover and let sit and steep for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, heat again until warmish hot.

Wisk the egg yolks (this is done easily in a stand mixer, if you have one.)  With the motor still running, slowly splash little splashes of milk/sugar mixture into the eggs-(This tempers them so they don't scramble!).  Do this, little by little until the whole thing is in the eggs.  Once tempered, pour back into the saucepan and put over medium heat again.  Cook over medium heat, constantly stirring, until mixture thickens and coats spatula.

Put the remaining 1 cup of cream in a bowl with a strainer on top- pour the custard into the cream, straining any bits of egg that might have formed.  Stir the strained custard into the cream (still keeping the bean in it) and add the vanilla extract.  Put in a waterbath to cool it and put it in the fridge to chill thoroughly. (A few hours- or even overnight. I put plastic wrap on the top to keep a film from forming on top.)

Church using your ice cream makers' directions.  Eat soft serve or toss quickly back into freezer for several hours for hard ice cream.



*Remember!*  Hard ice cream should be brought out of the freezer for five minutes or so before serving- homemade ice cream is much harder than storebought!  For an example of this- photo one is straight from the freezer, photo two was kept out for a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nectarine and Honey Frozen Yogurt

This past week I wanted to try something a bit more healthy than full blown ice-cream so I opted to experiment with frozen yogurt.

I happened to have four nectarines a bit too bruised to be appetizing for a raw fruit snack (and it is a rare thing indeed for me to even BUY them, so I couldn't waste the last few, spots or no spots.)

Thus, Nectarine Honey Frozen Yogurt was born.  

The idea was to be a bit healthier than last weeks' ice cream because it is YOGURT for goodness' sake!  Never you mind about the maple syrup and honey...it has YOGURT in it!


Nectarines and Honey Frozen Yogurt  *****

I used:

 1 quart of my homemade vanilla yogurt.  (I make my yogurt using this recipe. Note, with this recipe, my yogurt is already somewhat flavored with maple syrup and vanilla.)  You could use storebought too, of course.
4 nectarines, divided
1/2 c. honey (this was VERY honey flavored and sweet.  You could get away with less, especially when starting with a sweetened yogurt.)
1 splash lemon juice

How I did it:

1) Peel 3 of your nectarines, cut them into hunks and add to a food processor or blender with honey and splash lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

2) Add puree' to yogurt and freeze in your ice cream maker, following their instructions, until frozen to soft set.

3) Cut fourth nectarine into chunks and add to frozen yogurt during soft set stage.

4) Pour into freezer-safe container and freeze until hard, a few hours.

*  I have discovered that you ought to take homemade ice creams, yogurts and sorbets out of the freezer about 5-10 minutes before serving so that it becomes softer.   Straight from the freezer, it is rock hard and flaky and much less appetizing than storebought frozen treats.  This is because commercial machines can 'whip' the desserts with more power and more speed, thus adding more 'air' and softness- not to mention additives included to do so.  If left out of the freezer for 10 minutes before serving, your homemade treats will be a wonderful consistency.  Promise. *