Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Make: Instant Oatmeal


A while back I had saw a blog post talking about the prices of a box instant oatmeal, compared to an entire pound of oat. The blog post talked about it being no more difficult to turn on the stove and make the real thing instead of the processed box version which often was full of sugar, additives and very little fruit. The blogger showed how he just boiled it away on the stove top for a few minutes and that was that. This, I thought, was a great idea! My husband loves oatmeal in the winter time and will eat two packages of the instant stuff at a time. When you go through two boxes a week at about $4 a pop for the organic stuff, it gets a little pricey! So I told him that I was going to buy regular oats that he could just cook in the pan in the morning. This was met will all sorts of heartache. He hates to cook and he certainly didn’t want to find a pan, measure the oats, measure the water blah blah blah. Basically he was telling me it would be to much work for him. So, I set out to create an instant oatmeal that was just like his packets. All he would have to do is add water and pop it in the microwave. What I came up with is so much cost effective then those pre-made boxes, and better for you too.

One Year Ago: Plum Crumble

What You Need: (Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal)
9 cups quick oats
1/3 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c raisins
2 tbs cinnamon

What To Do:
Remove 2 1/2 cups of the quick oats and place into a food processor. Pulse a few times until they are broken down, but not quite to powder form.  Stir the raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon into it and then combine the whole thing together with the rest of the quick oats. Once combined thoroughly, store in an air tight container, making sure to label it. One heaping 1/2 scoop is equivalent to one packet of the store bought stuff. Just add about 3/4 c water and place in the microwave for 1 minute. If this isn’t sweet enough for you, add in some honey, maple syrup etc, after cooking.
Not a cinnamon raisin fan? Make a chocolate version by adding in some cocoa powder and dried milk, maybe some chocolate chips? Omit the raisins and add in a bit more sugar for a cinnamon roll version. Add dried apples instead of raisins. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Product Review: Crisco Olive Oils


As part as the Food Buzz Taste Maker program, I received 3 bottles of crisco olive oils. I received a light tasting oil which was good for frying or baking, a pure olive oil which is great for marinating or sautéing and my favorite, extra virgin olive oil which is perfect for dipping bread. I really enjoyed each of them but my favorite was the extra virgin. I combined it with some garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It went perfect with the crust bread I served it will.

Each of the olive oils have a great taste that has complimented everything I’ve done with it. It is definitely worth giving a try.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How To Make: Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar isn’t something hard to make. In fact, it’s no harder then making alcohol. It’s about the fermentation process. It doesn’t require very much skill and it’s a great way to use every bit of something that you buy. To make apple cider vinegar all you need is apple scrapes (peels and cores), and water.  Where I live, I am able to compost. I also have chickens so very little gets thrown away in my house. If it doesn’t end up in the compost pile, it ends up being eaten by my chickens. So when I made an apple crumble last week, I almost brought the scrapes to my fine feather friends. What stopped me was the fact that I go through a lot of ACV (apple cider vinegar). I use it often in cooking and for it’s great health benefits. If I could make it with my scrapes, I’d save some money and have the really good kind. So I set out to do it.
One Year Ago: Sweet Potato Hash
Here’s what you do:
Make sure you’re using organic apples that have been washed in warm water to remove and dirt. Do not use apples that are rotten. Do not use conventionally grown apples like you would find in the super market. These apples are coated in a wax to make them look pretty, not to mention the chemical fertilizers and sprays used to keep bugs away.  Use the apples to make pie or fritter or whatever you want, just make sure to save the cores and the peels. Let the peels sit out at room temp for a few hours or until they turn brown. This is a good thing!
Place the peels into a large, clean glass jar. I used an old cookie jar we’ve had kicking around but mason jars would work nice too. Cover the peels with water and then use either cheese cloth or a paper towel secured with a rubber band to cover the opening of the jar. This allows the jar to breath and bacteria (yeast), to get, but not dust or debris.
Set into a warm, dark place and wait. Soon you’ll see a white frothy looking substance forming on top of the vinegar. This is okay. It’s excess yeast and means that fermentation is taking place. If you see any other colors such as green or black, this is not yeast and your mixture has spoiled. Dump the contents, clean the jar very well and try again. Some times it happens.
The fermentation process will actually happen twice. The first time, it turns to wine. The second time is when it turns to vinegar. After about a month, give it a taste. You’ll notice that fermentation is starting. It can take 6 to 7 months for it to turn to vinegar. Taste it once a week or so and when it’s strong enough for you, drain and bottle.
That’s it! You now have apple cider vinegar!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How To Make: Homemade Apple Butter

Since last week was all about pumpkins, I thought that this week I would do nothing but apples! Apples are another great part of the fall harvest. There are so many varieties of apples, each of them having specific properties. Macintosh for example, are bright red with a sweet white flesh that becomes pretty soft when cooked. Gala apples are widely grown because they keep well and have a nice sweet flavor. This year, I have some apples called Duchess of Oldenburg. These are an early season apple, originating from Russia in the early 18th century and is considered an Heirloom variety.  These apples are great for cooking and is what I’ve been using this year because it was available from my favorite local farm, Blue Marble Farm.  If you can’t get your hand on these beauties, mac’s are the next best thing.  My version of apple butter is made in a crockpot. This allows me to cook the apples overnight without paying any attention to them. Then in the morning, the lid comes off, the temp goes up and they get stirred every so often. The crockpot helps prevent scorching that can occur when you cook it down over an open flame.

What You Need:

Several apples, cored and quartered
1/2 c apple cider, apple juice or water
1/2 c honey
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp cloves

What To Do:

In a large, 6 quart crock pot, mix all the ingredients together. Put the lid on, turn it to low and cook for 10-12 hours.  I do not remove the skin from my apples. It gives the finished apple butter a bit more character. If you don’t want skin floating through your apple butter, peel them and save them for making apple cider vinegar. (I’ll tell you how in a post later this week.)
In the morning, remove the lid and turn the crock pot to high. At this point, I remove some of the apples and blend them in my blender so that they are bit finer in texture. This is not a step you have to do unless you’ve used an apple that holds there shape when cooked.
Continue cooking on high with the lid removed for most of the day. By remove the lid, you let some of heat escape which in turn helps to prevent from scorching. You’re apple butter is done when it’s nice and thick and there is no more liquid. Pack into sterile jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

To Be, or Not To Be


That really is the question. Just recently, I had to write a comparison essay for an English class that I am taking. My choice of topic? Food of course! Well, really I compared the differences of a locavore to that of a traditional food consumer. I wanted to share this essay with you because it is something that I am passionate about. Plus, with October being unprocessed challenge month, this essay fits right in. Please understand that this essay isn’t done in my typical writing style. Normally, I’m writing to you, my readers and I address you as such. However for class, everything has to be in third person. I would really love to know what kind of eater you are? Has this essay made you think about what you buy? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Traditional, Locavore, In-between?

There is a food movement sweeping the United States. Americans have decided to take their food into their own hands locally. However, most people have never heard of the word Locavore, let alone know what one is. It is important, now more than ever, to understand the differences between a traditional food family and a Locavore family. Why? Well, most of our food has become highly processed, full of chemicals instead of real ingredients. Our food also comes from all over the world where standards are not as high as those in America. This has caused several issues with the American food supply. Just recently, for example, there was an outbreak of listerosis involving cantaloupe from a farm in Colorado ("FDA"). To make better food choices, it is important to understand the differences between a Locavore and a traditional food consumer.

Most American are traditional eaters. This basically means that they go into a grocery store, or several stores, compare prices and buy whatever looks good that day. They may go in with a list of items that they need for the week and they tend to stick to that list. They might pick up chips, soda or pop, bread, meats or vegetables, without giving a second thought to where it comes from or what ingredients are contained within. Americans are all about conveniences and therefore, they fit the traditional consumer category. Americans want fresh tomatoes in the cold winter months, or oranges in August. With traditional food shopping, there is no such thing as what is in season; almost everything is available year round for our cooking and eating pleasure.

A traditional food consumer is not concerned with the fact that the red tomatoes they pick up off the shelf didn’t start out that way. In fact, those red tomatoes were picked and loaded onto a truck or airplane when they are still green. Traditional food consumers are not concerned that those rock hard red tomatoes from the store are actually green ones that have been gassed to look red. The grocery store tomatoes do not have any flavor and often taste bad. A traditional food consumer is only concerned with the fact that tomatoes can be purchased year round for a salad or other dish. To ask a traditional food consumer where the tomato came from and the answer is likely to be unknown.

The direct opposite of a traditional eater or consumer, is a Locavore. Locavores know where the tomatoes purchased came from. Oxford dictionary defines a Locavore as “a persons whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food” (Oxford Dictionary). The term is still a little generalized as it can mean buying or eating food grown in varying distances from where a person’s home is. Some Locavores consider food grown or produced in the United States as local, while others on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, hyperlocavores, only buy or eat what comes from the neighborhood they live in (McLellan). The majority of Locavores however, eats or buys foods produced within 100 miles from where a person lives.

To be a Locavore also means to know about the community. A Locavore knows what farms have available at certain times of year. Locavores learn to can or preserve produce or how to store things properly so that the food can still be eaten during the colder months when produce isn’t available. Being a Locavore isn’t just purchasing produce locally. In most areas a Locavore can find meats, eggs, milk and cheese that are all grown, harvested and produced close to that persons home (Maiser). Since Locavores know where the food comes from, Locavores often understand that eating locally is also better for the environment as it creates less waste and great reduces a person’s carbon foot print.

Of course a person doesn’t have to be one or the other. Several people are Locavores when fruits and vegetables are in season. Locavores purchase vegetables, fruits, eggs and other goods from farmers markets or through CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), during the harvest seasons in the communities where they live. In the off season, goods are purchased from a local super market or grocery store, always being mindful of where the goods are coming from. Traditional food consumers are not concerned where the goods are coming from. Traditional consumers will eat tomatoes in winter and oranges in summer. Now that the facts have been presented it is time to decide. Is it time to continue on the path of being a traditional eater or is it time to make the change and become a Locavore, not to just become a healthier eater, but to help create a better environment as well.

"FDA warns consumers not to eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms." FDA. N.p., 14 Sep 2011. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

Maiser, Jennifer. "10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore." PBS. N.p., 02 Nov 2007. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

McLellan, Liz. "100 Reason."Hyperlocavore (The Blog). 20 Jan 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <>.

Oxford Dictionary. Online. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maple Pumpkin Bread


Here is the last of my pumpkin recipes for a while. If you’ve missed any of them, here they are:

Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin Pancakes

My last recipe for pumpkin bread is what is known as a Quick bread. All this really means is that it doesn’t use yeast as a raising agent. Quick breads tend to end up drive and that is usually because of over mixing. You can mix your wet ingredients for as long as you want, but as soon as you put the flour into it and give it a mix, gluten starts to develop. It’s important to just mix the ingredients together until just barely combined. It’s okay if you still see a little bit of dry flour hanging around. I like to fold my dry ingredients into the wet to insure that I’m over mixing. My pumpkin bread is scrumptious. It’s moist, flavorful and everything a good pumpkin bread should be.

What You Need:

2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff, I’ve never tried the recipe with pancake syrup)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c veg oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 c chopped toasted walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan well and set aside.
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix well so that everything is incorporated evenly.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, toasted walnuts, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Dump the entire thing into the wet ingredients. Fold in the dry until just combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

There are thousand of pumpkin pie recipes on the net, so what makes mine different? Well first, I don’t use an entire cup of sugar to sweeten my pie. The processed white stuff just didn’t belong here. The second difference? I don’t use evaporated or condensed milk either. Even with these two huge changes, my pumpkin pie is still sweet, creamy, and heavenly. Plus with your own pumpkin puree, you get a sense of pride knowing that you made everything from start to finish, and it’s no harder then opening up a can of “pumpkin” which really can be anything but. Did you know that the type of “pumpkin” Libbys, the biggest producer of canned pumpkin, uses only variety which looks more like a butternut squash then a pumpkin. The last difference is the addition of just a touch of molasses. It darkens the pie a bit and adds just a hint of incredible flavor.

What You Need:

1 pie crust (store bought is fine, but I suggest making your own)
2 c pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 c half and half or whole milk
1/2 c REAL maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave
1 tbs molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 350.
Whisk the eggs with the milk until thoroughly combined. Add in the pumpkin puree, molasses, sweetener and the spices. Mix really well.
Place your pie with, the crust inside, onto the bottom rack of your oven. Pour the pie filling into the crust. This makes getting the pie to the oven without spilling much easier!
Bake for about 50 minutes or until the pie set and just barely giggles in the middle. Let cool and serve with whipped cream.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

So last week I gave you a post showing you how to make your own pumpkin puree. This week, I’m going to show you what to do with. That’s pretty nice of me isn’t? Plus, I do have a ton of pumpkin puree now and while I did freeze most of it, I did make pumpkin pancakes and of course, a pumpkin pie this weekend. Now I’m sure you’re all thinking that I should start with the recipe for the pumpkin but that is dessert and you should always eat breakfast before dessert so that’s where I’m starting too. It’s a pretty simple recipe and it will impress any pumpkin lover in your family. It’s also a nice way to get your kids to eat more veggies. A pumpkin is a veggie after all!
What You Need:
Your favorite pancake recipe
2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs maple syrup
What To Do:
After making your favorite pancake batter, stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon and maple syrup. Drop the batter onto hot, butter griddle or pan and cook, flipping once bubbles have started forming on the top. Serve with more maple syrup.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How To: Make Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkins are abundant during the fall.Pumpkins are a winter vegetable and are another type of squash. They come from the Curcurbita family, which includes other squash as well as watermelons and cucumbers.There are several varieties of pumpkins. The ones we are most familiar with are the large round pumpkins that people carve every year. While they have several names, most people refer to them as jack o lantern pumpkins. This type of pumpkin is closely related to summer squash; with they’re thin walls and stringy flesh. These pumpkins have a tough orange skin and a paler orange, fibrous flesh. While they are great for carving, they are not all that tasty for consuming. This is not saying that you can’t make a pie with them, it just isn’t recommended. Perhaps the best pumpkins for consumption are crooked neck squash. Most of them have tan colored skin and orange flesh. They are not what a person would typically think of as a pumpkin. In fact, butternut squash fits this category and is often found in commercially canned pumpkin puree. A pumpkin that goes by the name of “Cheese pumpkin” is probably the best for making pies. They are found mostly in the New England States, at farm stands and farmers markets. These will not produce a pumpkin puree that doesn’t become grainy or stringy when cooked down, nor does it become very watery. In reality, sugar pumpkins are more easily to find. I recommend using a blend of sugar pumpkins, which are smaller and round, along with butternut squash.

What You Need:

pumpkin or a mixture of pumpkin and squash

What To Do:

Wash the outer skin of the pumpkins and dry well. Cut in half and scoop the seeds. They can be saved and roasted as a yummy snack, otherwise, just toss them. Once the seeds are gone, cut each have in half again so you end up with quarters. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and into an oven. Turn the oven on to 400 and once it reaches temp, cook the pumpkin for 30 to 45 minutes. You want the pumpkin to be soft, but not mushy. This step does a few things. It starts the cooking process, starts to caramelize the sugars in the pumpkin making it sweeter, and soften the skin so that it’s easier to peel. Remove from the oven and once it’s cool to the touch, take a pairing knife and start removing the skin. Place the now skinless pumpkin into a steamer basket, or a colander over a pot that it large enough to hold it without it sitting completely inside. Put a few inches of water in the bottom and turn the heat to high. Steam for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is completely done, nice and soft. Then you can either transfer to a bowl and puree using an imersion or stick blender, or using a stand up blender. Once it’s completely cool once more, transfer to air tight containers or zip top bags in two cup quantities. Two cups is about 1 15-16oz can of pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Make: Pumpkin Butter


Pumpkins are another thing that I love about the Fall. Really though, who doesn’t? You can carved jack o’lanterns, make pumpkin pie, and of course pumpkin butter. It’s a lot like apple butter, using most of the same ingredients and of course time, but tastes a heck of a lot like pumpkin pie! This does take some time. It’s not that it’s a hard process, just a long one. Peeling pumpkins, cooking them down, pureeing them and then cooking them even more. It is worth it though. Of course you can always start with pureed pumpkin out of a can but I like the satisfaction that I get doing it completely from scratch.

What You Need:

A sugar pumpkin, about 2-2 1/2 pounds. These are not carving pumpkins.
1 c apple cider or apple juice
1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff) or 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamom (optional but gives bigger flavors)

What To Do:

Wash the pumpkin and peel with  a veggie peeler to remove the tough skin. Cut in half and scoop out the sides and the stringy stuff. Cut into chunks about 1 inch in size and place into a large enough pot so that all the pumpkin is in a single layer. Pour in enough apple cider/juice to come about half way up the sides of the pumpkin. Turn the heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pumpkin is soft, making sure to stir it a few times along the way.  This takes about 30 minutes. Puree the mixture, either using a stick blender or in batches using a regular blender. Return the pot. Stir in the maple syrup and the spices. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, making sure to bring the pumpkin up off the bottom of pan. Keep cooking until it’s nice and thick and the bubbles take a long time to pop. It will take another 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Place into a container and store in the fridge.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Nothing says that fall is here quite like the abundance of winter squash that floods the markets and one of the best butternut. Butternut squash has a sweet, mild, buttery flavor that doesn’t become stringy like most other winter squashes when cooked. This quality is what makes butternut a perfect choice to turn into soup. Butternut squash soup is warming on a cold rainy fall day. It warms the heart and it warms the soul. It’s an incredible easy soup to make, requiring a few, every day ingredients and even fewer steps. Some people like to cook the squash in whatever liquid they choose to use, however by roasting the squash, it starts to caramelize which produces a soup that full of flavor, with very little effort. By the way, after roasting and pureeing the squash, this makes a wonderful first food for an infant.

What You Need:

Approx. 2 lbs of butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one inch chunks
2-3 garlic cloves, skins still on
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sage
2 cups of veggie stock
1/2 to 1 cup of half and half, milk or heavy cream
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash and garlic cloves with the oil, sage and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes. You want the squash to be super soft and tender. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for a bit. Place the squash and veggie stock into a blender along with the garlic, making to to squeeze the now roasted garlic from its skins. Place the lid back on the blender, along with the a kitchen towel over the top. Start the blender on low speed so that the pressure from the still semi hot squash doesn’t create a vacuum and blow the lid off the blender. Once you’ve got your mixture pureed, empty it into a pot over medium low heat. Once the soup has started to bubble, stir in the half and half. Use as much half and half as you like to get it to your desired consistency. I like a thicker soup so I only used about 1/2 a cup.  Serve!
HostGator Promotion Code

Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner