Super Creamy Peanut Butter – Step Aside Skippy!

For everyone who can’t get their kids to break away from Skippy or Jif. To all who can’t get used to the taste of plain, natural peanut butter. To each person who doesn’t want to struggle to spread homemade creamy peanut butter onto a piece of toast. This recipe is for you! (And for me, because while I love homemade, natural peanut butter – I can’t get enough of this new recipe!)

You’ve read the ingredients in Skippy and Jif, right? Unreal. Literally.  It does have some peanuts in there somewhere, but it mostly has hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Poor Peter Pan. I doubt he wanted his good name tarnished like this.

And now, to replace that popular grocery store item, I bring you this completely real food, non-hydrogenated, nothing scary, all natural, wonderful, spreadable, smooth, creamy, delicious peanut butter.

The first day I made this, I licked so many spoonfuls I lost track of trips back and forth to the kitchen. After one such trip to the kitchen, once I finished what was on my spoon, I actually found myself sucking the life out of the spoon, apparently in hopes that more of the deliciousness would secrete out of the metal? Then I realized what I was doing and went back to the kitchen for another spoonful. Someone just bring me the jar!

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

I was not alone. Matt and the kids acted like this was candy. Maybe we’ll make it into a sandwich someday, but for now, we’re getting our protein fix one spoonful at a time. Ah-mazing. Here is the recipe already:

Super Creamy Peanut ButterYum

Super Creamy Peanut Butter - Step Aside Skippy!
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (tutorial link below)
  • 4 Tablespoons palm shortening
  • 1 - 1 1/2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt and stir together all four ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  2. You can make this more or less sweet by adding more or less maple syrup.
  3. Pour mixture into a pint sized jar.
  4. Chill until thickened (about 2 hours).
  5. Spread on a sandwich, eat with a spoon, eat with a spoon, eat with a spoon, or eat with a spoon.

Make Your Own Natural Peanut Butter!

Wondering where to get Palm Shortening?  My favorite source is Tropical Traditions. Spectrum brand Organic Vegetable Shortening (which is made with 100% palm oil) is also good, and can be found at Amazon, or health food stores. Just do not use regular vegetable shortening (like Crisco) – otherwise you’re right back at the not-so-good-for-you peanut butter.

Over the weekend, I made about 8 cups of this peanut butter. I figured my food processor was already messy, my palm shortening was already out, so why not make this effort worth my while? I now have 4 pint sized jars of this peanut butter in my fridge. Well, 4 pints minus several dozen spoonfuls.

Alright – what do you think? Will your family love this?? (The answer is yes.)  What kind of peanut butter do you like at your house?

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Learning to make Cream of Mushroom Soup will be a fantastic tool to have in your real food kitchen tool belt!

Just in case you lose count while reading the following sentence, I used the word “cream” or “creamy” six times, because apparently I like these words and like to overuse them. And also because once I realized I was doing it, I exaggerated on purpose:

When I shared my Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe, I told you that I don’t usually make cream soups to replace the canned cream soups called for in many creamy recipes, but instead substitute straight cream to make the dish creamy.

(Someone give me a synonym for “creamy” to enhance my future sentence writing creativity.)

However, I have a great recipe for an easy one dish meat and potato meal that I hadn’t made for years because I wasn’t sure how to make it without the cream of mushroom soup. For this, straight cream just wouldn’t cut it. I need to make the soup.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Therefore, for all one of my recipes that need cream of mushroom soup, here is how I make it:

Homemade Cream of Mushroom SoupYum

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup organic corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Begin by sauteing mushrooms and butter until mushrooms are tender.
  2. In the meantime, shake the cornstarch or arrowroot powder in a jar with 1½ cups of milk.
  3. Use a whisk to mix the milk mixture into the sauteed mushrooms, stirring constantly at medium heat.
  4. Slowly add remaining milk, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir with a whisk until smooth and thick.

You probably could have figured out how to do this step without a picture, but when have I ever missed a chance to take a great photo of a jar?

Ooh, Ahh

This recipe will make around three cans worth of cream soup. I haven’t done it before, but I would imagine you could substitute celery for the mushrooms to make cream of celery soup instead. If you have extra soup that you don’t need, this can be frozen.

This recipe tastes great in my One Dish Meat and Potato Casserole!

What recipes do you make that require cream of mushroom soup?

Homemade Peach Syrup (made with unprocessed sugar)

We usually top our pancakes with real maple syrup or homemade applesauce. Sometimes peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter with maple syrup. Or honey. Or if we sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips into the pancakes, we don’t really need syrup at all. But last week when we had some fresh, local peaches in our kitchen, I made a quick and healthy homemade peach syrup that is oh-my-goodness good.

You need exactly two ingredients to make this: peaches and sucanat. The two together cook to form a syrup. No water necessary. Can you believe how easy this is?

Homemade Peach SyrupYum

Homemade Peach Syrup (made with unprocessed sugar)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 fresh peaches (or 2 cups frozen)
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Slice peaches into a saucepan.
  2. Stir in sucanat and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the peaches are tender and the ingredients have formed a syrup.

You can add a few shakes of cinnamon if you like. Of course I love doing that in the fall when everything seems to need to smell and taste like cinnamon.

I love how the fruit and sugar cooked together form a syrup naturally. This works with both fresh or frozen fruit. No need to thaw the frozen fruit before cooking!

Homemade Peach Syrup

 

Another variation of this Peach Syrup recipe is…

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup - Only Two Ingredients!

It’s the same idea – just sub out peaches for raspberries. Or use blueberries instead. Or strawberries. Or any combination of peaches or berries to make a multi-fruit syrup. See how easy this is?

In case you need them (and of course you do want them), here are our family’s favorite pancake and waffle recipes:

What’s your favorite way to top pancakes and waffles?

Making Homemade Mayonnaise (is not my gift)

 

Who knew making homemade mayonnaise for the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge would tempt me to say naughty words? I held myself back though, and merely gave dirty looks to the ingredients in my blender that were not even trying to become mayonnaise and through gritted teeth hissed, “Would you guys emulsify already!?!?!?”

It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that I attempted to make mayonnaise at least four times before I could accomplish “mayonnaise emulsification”. We went through a lot of olive oil in the process, and subsequently, a lot of tuna.

Why tuna? Well, I wasn’t going to waste all those ingredients every time I had mayonnaise emulsification failure. Instead, each time, I stirred the runny, stubborn ingredients into a few cans of tuna, added some of my home canned pickle relish and called it lunch. It worked, all but one time. Yes, there was one time I did have to throw the ingredients out. That was the time I was so determined to whip the ingredients long enough and hard enough to become mayonnaise that the ingredients got so hot inside my food processor that the eggs got cooked, causing scrambled eggs to float in my olive oil. Mmmm. Gross as it is, I just had to take a picture – because I’m weird like that:

A perfect example of what not to do.  

Regarding a healthy mayonnaise recipe, I do have one to share with you, and I’m sure that after all my previous, inspirational statements, you’re all ready to jump right in and give this a go.  Based on all my trial and error, I have a few tips I think you’ll find helpful.

  1. I believe that if I had an immersion blender, this process would work much better. But I don’t have one and I refuse to buy one just to make mayo. If you do have an immersion blender, save yourself some frustration and use it for this.
  2. Pour the oil into the running blender so slowly you think you might fall asleep while pouring. About the time you think you’re pouring slowly enough, slow down.  Slow dripping oil is key for making mayonnaise.
  3. Get your eggs at room temperature before starting this process. 

Homemade MayonnaiseYum

2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sucanat
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the egg yolks, salt, vinegar and sucanat into a blender and run on high speed for about a minute. S-l-o-w-l-y pour the oil in while the blender is running. I’m talking, let the oil drip into the running blender at a horridly boring pace. Just stand there, with the blender running, dripping oil for several minutes. Don’t get impatient or you’ll be making tuna.

My mayo turned out very yellow in color because of our lovely free-range chicken eggs, which are rich with nutrients. 

This mayonnaise did taste very good, as well it should have after all the work it took to figure out how to make it. But I will never be known as the Mayonnaise Queen, nor will I ever be asked to speak at the Heart of Mayonnaise Convention. I’m also pretty sure I shouldn’t be your “I’m having trouble making mayonnaise” questions go-to gal. I do not believe making mayonnaise is my gift, nor do I wish to become a professional mayonnaise maker. 

But, I am pleased to say that I figured out a healthy mayonnaise recipe and now I can move on to try and conquer the remaining recipes in the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge.

Have you conquered mayonnaise before? What’s your favorite use for mayonnaise? Ever given your mayonnaise dirty looks?

Healthy Homemade Ketchup (finally!)

I think I’ve been working on a homemade ketchup recipe for about forty years. (I have actually not reached the age of forty yet, but I am rather fond of exaggerating and I feel like I’ve been experimenting with ketchup for like totally forever.)

It’s taken quite a bit of trial and error to find a recipe that we think tastes good. So many recipes just don’t quite taste ketchupy enough for me. This recipe I’ve finally settled on is one I found and adapted from Happy in Dole Valley. I’m happy to say that this is a very easy recipe to make. Tastes good…healthy…and easy. Yes, this is the kind of recipe I like to share with you.

During my experiments, one of the toughest challenges was to sweeten the ketchup in a way we liked. I didn’t want it too sweet, but it did need to be a little bit sweet – and not too tomato-ee. (I’d like to see the words ketchupy and tomato-ee become a part of the dictionary someday, wouldn’t you?)

I tried making ketchup with raw honey to sweeten it, and found that the taste was too strong. Regular ol’ sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice) is a little crunchy in this recipe, so I finally figured out a great way to sweeten our homemade ketchup:  Grind the sucanat in the blender like you’re making this healthier, unprocessed powdered sugar…then add it to your ketchup ingredients. Easy and perfect!

Healthy Homemade KetchupYum

Healthy Homemade Ketchup (finally!)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 7 ounces of tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar (I used distilled coconut vinegar)
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ cup sucanat
Instructions
  1. Whisk ingredients together until mixed well and smooth.

I’ve found that if you grind the sucanat in the blender to make it less “crunchy” it works better.

Make french fries, get them nice and crunchy, salt them well with sea salt and give me a call.

Defining “a pinch”: When a recipe calls for “a pinch” of something, I usually put in about 1/8 teaspoon – an amount you could “pinch” between your fingers if you were to reach into the spice jar and pull some out. I don’t really like putting my fingers in to pinch my spices. But you go right ahead if you want to.

The true test with our Homemade Ketchup Experiment:  Did the kids like it?

All of my kids love ketchup, but one particular son of mine eats ketchup on everything:  eggs, green beans, broccoli… He’s also my pickiest kid (which is why he eats ketchup to get his veggies down). I  hesitantly put this homemade ketchup on his plate with a nice helping of homemade fries. He ate it. He loved it. He said, “Is this the homemade ketchup?” and I said, “Yep” and he said, “Wow it’s really good!”

Score! We have a winner!

Homemade Ketchup Recipe

Now that I’ve conquered ketchup, I’ll move on to some of the other recipes on the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge list. I’ve gotta say, I’ve been working on mayonnaise and it is about to kill me. I can not get a homemade mayonnaise to thicken even a little bit and it’s beginning to make me mad. Those of you who make mayo…what in the world is the secret to getting the ingredients to actually thicken into mayo? Ketchup took me forever to figure out, and now the mayo.  I apparently have condiment issues.

Well anyway, what’s your favorite use for ketchup? Please tell me it isn’t green beans, like my son.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (No MSG or HFCS!)

Ever noticed how tough it is to find dressings and sauces that don’t have MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)? MSG, by the way, is a flavor enhancer that is made up of a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce and a bunch of scary stuff I don’t want to know about. You can read all the big words here.

I’ve been so excited each time I figure out how to make a new homemade salad dressing or condiment (see the whole list of healthier condiment recipes on our site)! Making your own condiments is not only much healthier, it’s often quite a bit cheaper too.  And, lo and behold, these items are easy to make.

Shall we now all take a moment and enjoy a collective sigh of wonderment? Yes indeed recipes that are healthy, cheap and easy. All at the same time.

The beauty of homemade condiments too is how delicious and flavorful they are…all by themselves. We do not need to add MSG and HFCS or BGNJ to make our food taste good.  (I made that last one up just for kicks and it was very fun.)

Well, apparently that was my little “rant” for the day. Try homemade condiments. They taste so good and pure.

And now for the Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe!

Teriyaki SauceYum

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (No MSG or HFCS!)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup tamari soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or dry ground ginger (more or less to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
Instructions
  1. Combine 1 cup water, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water and add to sauce.
  3. Stir constantly and allow the sauce to thicken.
  4. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water or soy sauce to thin.

(I use Organic Tamari Soy Sauce from OliveNation which is gluten and MSG free!) We LOVE this Teriyaki Sauce on chicken wings.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe

And with that, the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge continues. I’ve almost got another recipe ready to share. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I will tell you that it starts with chocolate and ends with milk. Otherwise, I’m not giving any hints.

Homemade French Dressing

I figured out a French Dressing recipe that includes only real food ingredients and avoids high fructose corn syrup! It also means I can enjoy Taco Salad the way I used to – again without the high fructose corn syrup. Mmm, real food. I love revisiting my favorites and eating them in a healthier way!

french_dressing_2

Back in the day when I didn’t know what high fructose corn syrup was or understand that it was bad for us…I used to make a killer taco salad with Catalina Salad Dressing. Man that stuff tasted good!

I’d mix up a big bowl of lettuce, taco seasoned meat, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chili beans, crunched up tortilla chips – and toss it all with Catalina. Such a perfect summer supper (or dinner, or whatever).

After a little experimenting, I came up with a yummy homemade French salad dressing that tastes even better than the store bought ever tasted! It’s so easy to put together, it’s inexpensive to make, and it tastes wonderful in my taco salad! It’s a blast from the past, only better.

Homemade French DressingYum

Homemade French Dressing
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat (you can substitute brown sugar if you want)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon ground celery seed
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients directly into a pint sized jar.
  2. Put the lid on and shake it well.
  3. Refrigerate.

I recommend Muir Glen Organic ketchup because guess what? It doesn’t include high fructose corn syrup.

Easy Taco Salad with homemade French Dressing

Remember that you can also find recipes for homemade Ranch Salad DressingItalian Salad Dressing and Thousand Island Salad Dressing in the Condiments Page of my recipe section!

And also…if that’s just too much salad for ya…you can find a recipe for Chocolate Caramel Truffles on the Desserts Page. I’m always willing to accommodate. ;)

Holiday Help: How to Make Turkey Gravy

Turkey Gravy is easy when you follow these steps!

How to Make Turkey Gravy

I think gravy is my family’s favorite part of the holiday meal. “You want any potatoes with that gravy?!”

I know some people are intimidated by making gravy…afraid to make it lumpy and all that. (And then there are people who like lumps in their gravy. “What are these delicious lumps you put in your gravy?”)

Here’s the easiest way I’ve found to make turkey (or chicken or beef) broth gravy:

Easy Turkey GravyYum

You will need:

Step One: Pour broth into a medium saucepan.

gravy2sm

Step Two: Spoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour) into a small jar or glass.
(Surprise, surprise…I use  a jar.)

gravy1sm

Step Three: Add water to arrowroot powder and whisk smooth with a fork.

gravy3sm

Step Four: Bring broth to a boil  (Try saying “bring broth to a boil” five times fast.)

gravy4sm

Step Five: Slowly pour arrowroot powder (or cornstarch, or flour)/water mixture into boiling broth, stirring while you pour. (I usually make gravy with a whisk. On picture taking day, I used a wooden spoon. Either one works, but a whisk usually helps in case lumps want to form.

gravy5sm

Step Six: Stir at medium to high heat until gravy thickens.
Turn down the heat and allow the gravy to simmer for a minute or two.
Salt to taste and serve your gravy.

gravy6sm

Trouble Shooting:

  • If gravy refuses to thicken, stir in tiny bits of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch, or flour)/water mixture until it is thick enough for your liking.
  • If gravy is too thick, stir tiny bits of water or milk to thin it out.
  • If gravy doesn’t have enough lumps for your liking, add sprinkles of arrowroot powder or flour and just try to stir them in. They won’t stir in no matter what you try, thus causing lumps.
  • If conversation around the Thanksgiving Table is lagging…challenge your guests to say “Bring Broth to a Boil” five times fast. That’s sure to liven up any party.

How to Make Sweet Pickle Relish (the healthier way)

Your family will be so excited that I am giving you this sweet pickle relish recipe. Yes, the very strong smell of onions, cucumbers and vinegar cooking on your stove will bring them to tears and make them beg for a spoonful. (Or rather they will be like my boys and come downstairs with a disgusted look on their faces while holding their noses asking WHAT in the world you are making.)

Don’t worry…the smell in your kitchen goes away. Eventually. And then you are left with several jars of sweet pickle relish…enough to last you quite a while. (This recipe makes more than a year’s supply for our family. We don’t tend to go through pickle relish very quickly, but I really like having it on hand.)

If you have a few extra cucumbers and enjoy adding sweet pickle relish to your tuna salad, etc…you’ll like this healthier version. I cut the sugar in half compared to the other recipes I found..plus used organic sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice) instead of regular sugar and it is plenty sweet enough for our taste!

Homemade Sweet Pickle Relish Recipe

Sweet Pickle RelishYum

How to Make Sweet Pickle Relish (the healthier way)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 medium sized cucumbers
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 sweet green peppers
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • ⅓ cup sea salt
  • 3 cups rapadura or sucanat
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. whole celery seed
  • 2 T. whole mustard seed
Instructions
  1. Begin by slicing the cucumbers, peppers and onions.
  2. Chop the vegetables into tiny pieces. I find that putting them into my food processor works best for this.
  3. Pour the chopped veggies into a large bowl.
  4. Cover them with water and let them soak for about two hours (longer won't hurt).
  5. Pour the soaked veggies through a strainer until all the water is drained out.
  6. Pour strained veggies into a bowl and add remaining ingredients.
  7. Stir well.
  8. Pour contents of bowl into a large pot.
  9. Bring to a boil.
  10. Simmer relish for ten minutes, then transfer it into pint sized jars. (I was able to make six full pints, with a little bit leftover.)
  11. Following these hot water bath canning methods, process the pickle relish for 10 minutes (from start of boiling).

 picklerelish1sm
Begin by slicing the cucumbers, peppers and onions.

    picklerelish2sm
Chop the vegetables into tiny pieces.
I find that putting them into my food processor works best for this.

piclerelish3sm
Pour the chopped veggies into a large bowl.
Cover them with water and let them soak for about two hours (longer won’t hurt).

piclerelish4sm
Pour the soaked veggies through a strainer until all the water is drained out.

piclerelish5sm
Pour strained veggies into a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

picklerelish6sm
Stir well.

picklerelish7sm
Pour contents of bowl into a large pot. Bring to a boil.

Simmer relish for ten minutes, then transfer it into pint sized jars. (I was able to make six full pints, with a little bit leftover.)

piclerelish8sm
Following these hot water bath canning methods,
process the pickle relish for 10 minutes (from start of boiling).

picklerelishsm
Six beautiful jars of pickle relish all ready to go!

You’ll find more preserving help and tutorials in my Gardening and Preserving ebook!

The cost for this relish was very low, as the cucumbers were given to me for free and the other veggies came from my garden. The added ingredients were low cost as it all divided into SIX jars of pickle relish! Each jar only cost a few cents. I LOVE gardening season!

High Five Recipes: Homemade Barbeque Sauce

I’ve had several requests for my homemade barbecue sauce recipe. Turns out…it’s a high five recipe! Doesn’t get much easier than that!

High Five Recipes 2

Homemade Barbecue SauceYum

High Five Recipes: Homemade Barbeque Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup ketchup (I use an organic, no high fructose corn syrup variety)
  • 2 Tablespoon minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses, honey or sucanat (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients in a small sauce pan.
  2. Simmer for a few minutes until flavors are blended.

As for the ketchup, I use an organic, no high fructose corn syrup variety. Muir Glen is my favorite.

I mix this Barbecue Sauce up as a dip for our meatballs or Popcorn Chicken…YUM!

bbq_sauce

Sometimes I put a few pieces of chicken into the crock pot, dump the sauce over the top, and let it cook slowly for a few hours. It’s the easiest main dish ever! Get the details on my Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken Breasts here. It’s also fantastic on Grilled Barbecue Chicken.

Or, sometimes I add it to leftover roast beef for BBQ beef sandwiches. Even more fun? Make your BBQ Beef into Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets. They are freezable so you can make them ahead and pull them out as needed.

So let’s review.

Recipes that use Homemade Barbecue Sauce

What all do you put barbecue sauce on?

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Oh, and by the way – I really have no idea what “liquid smoke” is. I’m assuming that it isn’t the healthiest ingredient in the world. BUT…it makes for a yummy, easy BBQ sauce. This version is MUCH healthier than the HFCS versions I could buy at the store.

If I ever figure out how to turn smoke into a liquid and put it into a bottle all by myself, you’ll be the first to know.