Saturday, December 10, 2011

White Chocolate Candy Cane Bars

A dangerously addictive natural treat for the holidays. I use candy bar molds for this recipe; however, you can just as easily spread the chocolate into a pan and break it into pieces when it is done.

  • 1/4 cup crushed homemade candy canes
  •  8 or 10 oz Ghirardelli white chocolate (2 bars or 1 bag of chips)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp natural vegetable shortening
Break up chocolate bars and melt in a double boiler over medium and then low heat. Make sure mixture is not exposed to steam since this will make the chocolate clump.  Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the shortening and then remove from heat. Stir in peppermint oil and crushed candy canes pieces. Pour chocolate into the molds. Tap the molds to assure the chocolate settles and then place in the freezer.  After 5 to 10 minutes, the chocolates should be ready and will pop out of the molds easily.  All measurements are approximates so mix in as much of the crushed candy cane as you like. Chocolates will become soft at room temperature so it is best to store them in the refrigerator.

Return to Homemade Chocolates Page

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Sweet Catchup

Homemade catchup without the high fructose corn syrup is definitely worth the extra work. Althought making homemade catchup from tomatoes can be a bit time consuming, the process is quite easy. Since most of the recipes I found involved extremely large volumes of tomatoes for making and canning catchup, I decided on my own ration and ingredients. 

  • Approximately 3 quarts of fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and squeezed will make 1 quart)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 small onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 yellow, orange or red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 small clove of garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar 
To remove tomato peels:
Bring tomatoes to a boil for one minute and then plunge in an ice cold water bath. Tomato peels will fall off.

Quartering and Seeding tomatoes: Cut tomatoes in quarters and remove seeds with your fingers. Squeeze tomatoes and place them in a strainer so more water will drip off. Reserve all that is strained and removed from the tomatoes and then strain in a cheese cloth for fresh tomato juice.

  1. Add squeezed tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, & celery salt to a pot and simmer over medium to medium high heat until tomatoes are soft.
  2. Run mixture through a sieve or food mill to remove remaining seeds and peels.
  3. Place the resulting liquid in a pot, add the vinegar and return the liquid to a simmer.  Continue to cook until the liquid thickens into the consistency of catchup.
Note: this recipe will make about 1 cup of catchup and can be refrigerated up to 3 or 5 days.

Return to Homemade Condiments Page

For larger batches and photos of the process, refer to the following recipes:

Mom's ripe tomato Catsup
Homemade Catchup Recipe

    Homemade Mayonnaise

    Making homemade mayo is just as fun and rewarding as making homemade butter. After reading several recipes for homemade mayonnaise, I decided on the following ingredient ratio, which worked great.

    • 1 cup light in flavor olive oil
    •  2 egg yolks
    •  1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
    •  1/4 tsp salt or to taste
    •  dash of pepper
    1. Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice/vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth.
    2.  Add a couple of drops of oil and whisk well. 
    3. Continue adding oil in small amounts; each time making sure that the mixture is smooth. Adding oil gradually and mixing well in between adding oil will assure that the mixture begins to emulsify. Once the mixture appears to thicken, begin adding more oil in between stirring. Once all the oil is mixed in, the mixture should be emulsified and should have the texture of mayonnaise.
    4. Mayo can be stored safely in the refrigerator up to 3 or 5 days.
    1. If the mixture is thickening but not fully emulsified, try whisking in another egg yolk and then gradually adding another half cup of oil. 
    2. If the mixture is still very runny toward the end of the process, the mixture most likely did not begin to emulsify and it is best to start over.
    3. A food processor or emulsifying blender may be used in the place of a whisk.
    Return to Homemade Condiments Page 

      Monday, December 5, 2011

      Quick Homemade Tomato Juice

      If you've just made tomato sauce, catchup or any other recipe that results in an abundance of tomato juice, you might be wondering what to do with the excess tomato juice you've strained and saved.  Here is a fresh tomato juice recipe you can make in under a minute.

      1 glass of fresh tomato juice (strained)
      1/2 Tbsp sugar
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp pepper

      Stir sugar, salt and pepper into your glass of fresh tomato juice and enjoy.  Stir on occasion to assure the spices don't settle on the bottom of the glass.

      Sunday, December 4, 2011

      Making Homemade Condiments

      Homemade Mayo
      One of the last things we may consider when making unprocessed foods is the possibility of making condiments.  However, if you think about it, its silly to put all sorts of work into making unprocessed foods and to then turn around and flavor our healthy food with processed condiments.  Of course learning how to make each condiment may take some time.  So I started out by seeking natural condiments in our local coop and whole foods to hold us over until I learn how to make each recipe.  Here are some good recipe ideas for making your own condiments.

      Homemade Catchup

      Basic Condiments

        • Ranch Dip: There are a lot of good recipes out there, but here is a ranch dip recipe that is pretty easy to make.
        • Salsa: There are many different recipes out there, but here's a link to one of my favorites.

        Homemade Margarine

        If you are looking for a low cholesterol butter substitute, the best thing is to make your own margarine since this will not include trans fats as most store bought margarine does.

        2 Tbsp Real Butter
        2 Tbsp Light in flavor olive oil

        To make margarine, melt the real butter and stir in an equal amount of light in flavor olive oil.  Let this mixture cool and it will solidify into margarine.  Since vegetable oil is not great for diets, its best to use light in flavor olive oil instead.

        Another option, which is much easier, is to substitute 1/2 of the butter called for in a recipe with light in flavor olive oil.  This way the butter taste will remain in the recipe but it will have less cholesterol. It is the same effect as using margarine but easier.
        Zero fat diets are actually counterproductive.  If you are looking for a low cholesterol butter substitute, the best thing is to make your own margarine since this will not include trans fats.  To make margarine, melt 1 part real butter and stir in 1 part vegetable oil.  Let this mixture cool and it will solidify into margarine.  Since vegetable oil is not great for diets, you can use light in flavor olive oil instead.  Another option, which is much easier, is to substitute 1/2 of the butter called for in a recipe with light in flavor olive oil.  This way the butter taste will remain in the recipe but it will have less cholesterol.

        Return to Homemade Condiments Page

        How to Make Homemade Fruit Syrup

        Making Fruit Syrup at home can be quite easy.  A lot of people like to make big batches and then can them.  However, I like making one to two jars at a time, which requires no canning and takes a little under an hour to make.  I can have some syrup going in no time and let it cook while I am doing dishes.  Here's a quick syrup recipe that will work with most types of fruit.

        1 cup water
        1 cup sugar
        10 - 16 oz frozen or fresh fruit

        Stir water and sugar together in a small pan until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to medium and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in fruit and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture has the consistancy of syrup. I test this by letting the liquid drip off a spoon into the pot. If it pours quickly, it is not thick enough, but if it drips slowly, it is ready.

        Pour syrup into a clean jar, put a lid on it and place it in the refrigerator.  Since you are making only one jar, there is no need to waste an unused canning lid. Use one which has already had the seal broken.

        If you end up with more than one jar, be sure to clean and sterilize the jar and lid you will use to can the additional syrup. Pour the syrup into the jar while it is still boiling. Leave at least half an inch of room at the top of the jar. Thoroughly, wipe and dry the top of the jar before placing the canning lid on top. While holding down the canning lid, screw on the lid ring snugly but not tightly. Wrap the jar with dish towels to keep in the heat. Let sit over night and then check the seal on the lid by pushing down in the middle. If it pops, the seal did not form and it is best to refrigerate.

        Alternately, some people feel safer using a boiling water bath for canning.  If you have one or two jars, simply place the jars in a regular pot that is high enough that the jars can be submerged at least one inch in water.  Boil water with the jars in it for about 35 minutes.  This time will be increased for high altitudes.

        Homemade Mango Syrup Recipe

        Make Your Own Eggnog

        Making homemade eggnog is quite easy and definitely healthier and more economical than buying it in the store.  There are plenty of recipes out there, but the eggnog recipe I used appeared to be one of the easiest.  Even though, I left out the alcohol and didn't beat the egg whites separately, the eggnog turned out great.

        Quick Eggnog: (based on recipe link above)
        Pumpkin Spice Eggnog
        4 eggs
        1/3 cup sugar
        1/5 quart whole milk
        1 cup heavy cream
        1 tsp nutmeg
        *1/2 tsp vanilla or pumpkin pie flavor extract (optional)

        Separate Eggs. Beat Egg yolks until the color changes. Gradually mix in the sugar. Mix in milk, heavy cream and nutmeg. Add egg whites and beat on medium for 1-2 minutes. If you are making vanilla or pumpkin pie eggnog, beat or stir in flavor extract. Drink immediately or refrigerate to chill.

        Raw Egg Concerns
        If you are concerned about the possible dangers of consuming raw eggs, the best thing to do is to use the freshest eggs you can find. Sometimes the free range and organic eggs will not be the best choice since these eggs tend to sit on the shelf longer.  Also, if you prefer pasteurized eggnog, there are instructions for making cooked eggnog in this recipe.

        Eggnog Recipes
        Aside from sprinkling in some nutmeg and drinking it plain, here are some ideas for what to make with eggnog.
        1. Eggnog latte or cappuccino: Turn your espresso drinks into a holiday treat by steaming eggnog in the place of milk and adding a sprinkle of nutmeg.
        2. Eggnog ice cream: Try using Eggnog in the place of milk and heavy cream, or better yet, google "eggnog ice cream recipe."
        3. Vanilla Eggnog: When making your homemade eggnog, mix in a tsp of vanilla. The same can be done with other popular eggnog flavors.
        4. Eggnog as an alcoholic drink: Stir in bourbon, brandy or Irish whiskey.
        Taking Advantage of Low Milk Prices