Monday, January 28, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

Homemade Granola!

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola


2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey or brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup rolled oats
Pinch of ginger (optional)
Pinch of allspice (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan or skillet melt butter, peanut butter and sugar.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice and vanilla.  Stir in oats.  Make sure the oats are fully coated with the peanut butter mixture.
Spread oat and peanut butter mixture on a cookie sheet.  Bake until the edges are brown (about 20 minutes).  Remove from the oven and cool.
Break cooled granola into pieces.  Store in an air tight container.
Melt butter, peanut butter & sugar over medium heat

Stir in oatmeal and spices
Spread the mixture on a lightly oiled cookie sheet (or sil pat)

Fresh out of the oven it smells DIVINE!
Allow the granola to cool and break into pieces

This granola is great over ice cream or homemade yogurt!

Homemade Yogurt Topped with fresh granola


For more recipes, click HERE!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Ketchup

Refill an empty ketchup with this yummy homemade version!


There are probably about a million homemade ketchup recipes out there in cyberspace. This one just happens to be my personal fav. It's been tested and reworked to perfection.



Homemade Ketchup Recipe (Small Batch)

• 6 ounce can tomato paste
• 1/3 cup tap water
• 2 tablespoons vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 pinch cloves
• 1 pinch allspice
• 1 pinch chili powder
• 1/3 cup brown sugar

This is simplicity itself. In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients with a wire whisk. Blend well. Scrape the mixture into a pint-sized, resealable container. Chill overnight, to blend the flavors. Use wherever ketchup is desired.

To reduce the sodium content simply omit the salt.

As written this recipe makes 12-ounces or 24 servings, 1-tablespoon each.

The recipe freezes extremely well. When I have a time I make up a very large batch, place it in a Ziploc bag and freeze. When our ketchup supply runs low I simply thaw the frozen supply over night. Then I snip the corner of the Ziploc bag and squeeze it into an existing ketchup bottle.

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The only of the downside of making my own is #1-it can be tricky getting it into the bottle and #2-if I'm short on time it can be a pain in the neck to find and measure out everything I need. So I have come up with a solution to solve both problems.

I have created for myself a "ketchup spice mix". Basically I mix all of the dry ingredients in a Ziploc bag ahead of time. When I need a new batch of ketchup I add the wet items and I'm good to go.
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First, I gather all of the spices that I will need to make a big batch. I usually make enough to fill a large ketchup bottle (approx 20 oz.).

Next I put the brown sugar and all of the spices to a Ziploc bag.



That's it for the first part! I label the bag of spices and store them in a cool dry place; namely my kitchen cabinet!
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Now I don't know about your house but at my house we ALWAYS need more ketchup. I have 4 sons who enjoy a squirt of the red stuff on EVERYTHING!!! So when our ketchup bottle is getting a little light I pull out my bag of ketchup spice and get to work.


To the bag of spices I add: 2 large (12 oz.) can's of tomato paste, the water and vinegar.


Next I gently release all of the air from the Ziploc bag and seal. Squeeze to mix. Be careful not to burst open the bag.
Next lay the bag flat on the counter and squeeze the ketchup away from one corner. Use scissors to clip the tip of the bag.


Now gather the end of the bag together to form a spout.
Slide the spout down into the your empty ketchup bottle.
From the top of the bag gentle squeeze the ketchup into the bottle.


That's it!

Depending on how large a batch of ketchup you make and the size of  the bottle that you're refilling, there may be some leftovers. Place the Ziploc containing the ketchup in a container or inside of another bag and freeze.


Homemade Ketchup - Big Batch!

2 - 12 oz cans Tomato Paste
1 1/3c. cup tap water
1/3 c. vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (seasoning salt works well too)
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 cups brown sugar


Mix and enjoy!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread



Basic Swirl Bread (1 loaf)


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup uncooked plain oatmeal
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon oil
1 envelope of yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/8 cup warm (NOT HOT) milk (room temp milk is fine)

Swirl: 1 Tablespoon melted butter, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 1/8 cup sugar

Make the sponge by combining 1 cup flour, oats, sugar, salt oil, yeast and milk in a large bowl. Mix well. This mixture is called the sponge.

Sponge



Stir in remaining 1 ½ cups of flour.


Dough


Cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rise in a warm draft free place. I usually just leave it on my counter top. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Risen dough



Once the risen dough, grease 1 loaf pan and set it aside.

Turn dough onto a floured board or counter.

Turning risen dough out to knead


Knead the dough about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.


Kneading dough




Done kneading


Using a well floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is a ½ inch thick rectangle.


Ready for the swirl


Add the swirl:

Spread melted butter over dough rectangle. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle evenly over melted butter.


Butter, cinnamon and sugar added


Starting at the long end of the dough, to roll it as tightly as you can.


Roll the dough tightly


The roll is too long for the pan. 

Tuck the ends under so that the loaf will fit snugly into the loaf pan.


Tuck the long ends under the dough



Now the dough fits in the pan



Waiting to rise

Cover and set aside to rise. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. (About 1 hour)

1 hour later, the bread has risen



Once dough has doubled in size, bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Fresh from the oven!


Remove from pan immediately. Set on a cooling rack.

Once cooled, slice and eat!



Variations:

For plain white bread: Don’t add the swirl (butter, cinnamon or sugar)

For pesto swirl bread: Use fresh or store bough pesto instead of cinnamon and sugar

For Garlic bread: Add 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder to sponge

For Wheat Bread: Make the sponge using 1 cup of wheat flour and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Once the sponge is mixed, add 1 ½ cup all purpose flour.

For Honey Oat Bread: Substitute honey for sugar in the dough.

For raisin bread: add ½ cup of raisins to sponge.

Special notes:

- If your milk is too hot it will kill the yeast and your bread won’t rise. Use room temp or slight warm milk for best results

- If you add oatmeal to the dough it will be a little wetter than usual. Don’t panic. That’s normal. Use a little extra flour when kneading and rolling.

- Be patient! As long as you didn’t kill the yeast, your bread should rise. It usually takes an hour or so.

- Don’t let the dough sit all day to rise. If you forget about it for a long time (4-5 hours) then come back, your bread will have risen and then fallen.



Chore Chart



For months now i've been trying to find some organized way to get the kids to remember their chores.  The problem is that everyone forgets and at the end of the day my hubby and I end up doing everything.  That plan is seriously no bueno!

As with most creative tasks, my first stop was pinterest.  I needed some (indestructible) way to assign new tasks each day.  It needed to be in my small kitchen, but not in the way.  Finally, there needed to be some easy way for the kids to indicate their their chores where complete.

I got all of that and the whole project cost less than $10!

I took a plain cookie sheet and decoupaged red and green scrapbook paper to the front.  Strong magnets are attached to the back.

Mini craft sticks with magnets on the back completed this project.

The new rule is our house is:  Chores in red means STOP, you've got chores!  Once all your chores are in green, you can go play!


Mini craft sticks and strong magnets for chores
Strong Magnets for the back of the cookie sheet

hot glue back magnets in place


Move Chores to green when they're all done!

UPDATE:

Since I first created this chart, LOTS of new chores have been added.  They beauty of this project is that it is easily adjustable.  When I first made this chart there were maybe 10-15 chores.  Now there are 20-25.  It's become a habit.  Each morning I assign chores.  Everyone knows that all chores must be completed by 5pm.

DIY Activia Yogurt




As a middle and woman I understand the trials and tribulations of occasional irregularity.  Geeze - I feel like an old lady just saying the words "occasional irregularity" but, it is what it is.

Gone are the days fast food burgers and fries it's strictly healthy eating for this girl!  Even still, from time to time I need a little Activia to get gets going in the right direction.  Here's my recipe for DIY Activia yogurt!

DIY Activia Yogurt

For this recipe you will need:

1 8 oz. container of your favorite yogurt (store bought or homemade)
1 teaspoon Psyllium husks  (Metamucil or it's generic equivalent)

Stir together.




That's pretty much it!!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Crazy Easy Homemade Yogurt (Small Batch)

Homemade Yogurt with Granola

I’d been wanting to make homemade yogurt for years.  After MUCH trial and error I finally figured it out (thanks to the One Good Thing by Jillee blog).  I took Jillee’s recipe plus comments posted under the recipe and I had the perfect recipe for me.  The only problem is that the end product was too sweet for me and there was too much of it. 
I needed a small batch of unsweetened yogurt.  Now I have it:

Homemade plain yogurt (Small Batch)
For this recipe you will need:
2 cups of non fat milk
½ cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons of yogurt with live and active yogurt cultures
Food thermometer
Microwave
1 clean, dry bath towel
Mix milk and powdered milk in a pan.   Heat to 180 degrees.  Remove milk from heat and allow it to cool to 110 degrees.  Whisk in yogurt.  Pour mixture into a container (I use a Ball canning jar).  Heat a cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes.  This step is to raise the temperature inside the microwave.  Wrap the milk jar in a towel and place it in the warm microwave.  Close the microwave door and leave it closed over night (or approx. 12 hours).  
Add powdered milk to regular milk
Heat Milk to 160 degrees
Cool the milk down

Use plain yogurt with Live and Active yogurt cultures


Wrap warm milk in a towel

Place towel wrapped container in the microwave overnight

In the morning it's ready to eat!



Banana’s Foster
1 medium ripe (not over ripe) banana – sliced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon milk or soy milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon
Heat bananas and butter over medium heat until butter is melted.  Make sure that all bananas are coated with butter.  Sprinkle brown sugar on top of bananas.  Stir until the sugar is melted.  Add milk and remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla and salt.  Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Homemade Granola




There is ALWAYS granola in my house.  For this recipe I simply garnished with a handful of my standard peanut butter granola.  Here's the recipe.

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola


2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey or brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups rolled oats
Pinch of ginger (optional)
Pinch of allspice (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan or skillet melt butter, peanut butter and sugar.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice and vanilla.  Stir in oats.  Make sure the oats are fully coated with the peanut butter mixture.
Spread oat and peanut butter mixture on a cookie sheet.  Bake until the edges are brown (about 20 minutes).  Remove from the oven and cool.
Break cooled granola into pieces.  Store in an air tight container.

 For more Recipes, click HERE!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My favorite meal



Rice and Veggies cooked in olive oil

Once upon a time my favorite meal would have included fried foods, saucy foods and a nice rich dessert.  Then I hit middle age and my digestive
tract turned 90.  These days what I can digest varies from day to day but certain foods are always OK.  Basically speaking, my stomach is always OK with Weight Watchers Core diet.  That is to say lean meats, whole grains, low/no fat daily, fruits, vegetables and healthy oils.  Whole grains are fine as are non-cream soups.  It's healthy and profoundly boring.  No chocolate or nuts, little sugar, no artificial sweeteners and nothing fake.

Given these limitations, it was difficult to find good, happy, filling food.  Then I discovered eggs and rice!

This is an easy anytime that i enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Here's the recipe:


Fried eggs with salt and pepper


Eggs and Rice

1 c. cooked medium grain rice
1/2 c. frozen green beans
1/2 small onion chopped
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Saute frozen green beans and onions in the olive oil until both are fully cooked and brown on the edges.  Add cooked rice to the hot pan.  Toss with veggies until rice is warm.

In a separate pan fry 1-2 eggs over medium.  Cook the eggs until the whites are done but the yolk is still runny.

Place the rice on a plate.  Top the rice with the eggs.

I enjoy this meal with iced tea and orange slices.

Enjoy!

Yum!
A word about rice

Since there are so few foods I can enjoy I've become a bit of a rice snob.  I only heat medium grain rice.  Cooked properly it's soft and fluffy and doesn't get hard when its cold. 

I usually make a big batch on Sunday and use it in recipes all week.  Here is how I cook it.

2 cups uncooked medium grain rice
4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Put everything in a pan.  Cook uncovered until water boils.  Cover boiling pot and reduce heat to low.  Continue to cook on low heat until all of the water is absorbed. (about 15 minutes)  As soon as the water is absorbed, remove lid, remove from heat and stir.

This method will give you fluffy, flavorful rice that's not too sticky.