Heavenly Homemakers 2011 Recipe Challenge – What Do I Have to Say for Myself?

Hi.  Remember the Recipe Challenge I began back in January of this year?  The challenge that I was planning to have completed by the end of 2011?  Yes, that one.

Perhaps since there are still three entire days left in the year, none of you have been worried about the fact that I still have several recipes from the challenge list not yet accounted for.  I told you I would do it by December 31, after all.  Surely I wouldn’t let you down.

Yeah, well.

I’m all for focusing on the positive, so let’s first look at what I did accomplish from this list, shall we?

1.  Tator Tots

2.  White Chocolate Baking Chips

3.  Butterscotch Baking Chips

4.  Teriyaki Sauce

5.  Onion Soup Mix

6.  Chocolate Milk

7.  Ketchup

Now let’s look at some of the other items on the challenge list so I can give you my pitiful excuses heart-felt explanations as to why I failed to post lovely recipes and pictures of these foods.

1.  Mayonnaise

I worked my tail off on this one and ended up almost despising the very sound of the word mayonnaise by the end of my experience.  Clearly, making mayonnaise isn’t my gift.  However, now that I have a new immersion blender, it is possible that I will decide to revisit this idea and try again eventually.  Like in eight years.  (kidding, sort of, maybe, not sure)

2.  Corn Tortillas

I gave my best effort on the corn tortillas, and even took pictures once as I went, in hopes that I’d have beautiful corn tortillas to share with you.  The little corn tortilla dough balls are indeed lovely, don’t you think?  They look like they would make wonderful tortillas.

And at first glance, this rolled out, pre-cooked version looks kind of okay.  But don’t ask me how long it took to actually get that thing rolled out – and really, really don’t ask how it turned out once I tried to cook it in a skillet.

Okay, fine.  I’ll tell you.  It completely crumbled and fell apart and tasted a little bit like…flaky cardboard.  After all that work, I was as fond of corn tortillas as I was of mayonnaise.  We ate the pieces anyway, because that’s what we do around here.  But I’m wondering if the secret to success in making corn tortillas is using a tortilla press.  I’m not sure I’m willing to make the investment, since we don’t eat a lot of corn tortillas around here.  I roll my wheat flour tortillas with a rolling pin and never have any problems.  Your thoughts?

3.  Angel Food Cake

My attempt at a healthier angel food cake was a bit disappointing as well.  It flopped and became lop sided.  I took pictures to prove it.  In addition, we were not impressed with the flavor.  It was okay, but not fantastic.  However, there’s nothing a little fruit and a good amount of whipped cream won’t fix – so we were able to get it down without too much effort.

4.  Homemade Ritz Crackers

These were sort of good and kinda tasted like a Ritz Cracker.  But I ended up getting them way too salty and ultimately, we didn’t just love the taste.  I’ll probably continue to experiment with these because I think I was on to something.

5.  White Cake

I have tried different variations of a plain white cake, which ultimately turns brown because of the sucanat I use.  The cakes are tasty enough, but usually a little dry.  I have decided to simply begin using my Strawberry Shortcake Recipe when I have a need for a plain white cake.  It is a little spongier than a typical cake, but it’s moist and very yummy.

strawberry_shortcake

The remaining items on the list:  Twinkies, Fig Newtons, Bleu Cheese Dressing, and Cereal Bars never did happen.  If it counts for anything, I did give each of them some thought.  I even have some figs in my fridge that will be turned into fig newtons some day.  Right now, they are just a ”figment” of my imagination.  Get it?  I am so funny.

So there you have it.  The 2011 Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge.  I have a growing list going on for next year.  Anything you’d like to add to it?

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Homemade White Chocolate Chips

We have homemade chocolate chips, homemade butterscotch chips, and now we have homemade white chocolate chips!  As with the butterscotch chips, I didn’t use sucanat on these because I felt like the flavor would be too strong.  Instead, I used organic raw sugar, which isn’t much healthier than regular white sugar, but at least it hasn’t been bleached.  :)  (You can read more of my thoughts on healthy sweeteners here.)

I ordered cocoa butter from Mountain Rose Herbs and was very pleased!  I also found that I could get it through Amazon, but it was a little more expensive there.  The little cocoa butter wafers look good enough to eat all by themselves, but beware, they are not.  I may or may not have taken a little nibble just to find out for sure.  But alas, chocolate is not chocolate without sugar, no matter how tasty it looks.  ;)

White Chocolate Chips

1 cup cocoa butter
1 cup organic raw sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cocoa butter, sugar and coconut oil in a medium saucepan.


Stir with a whisk and heat until all the ingredients are melted and mixed thoroughly.  This takes several minutes.

Remove mixture from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour it into a parchment paper lined baking dish (I used my 9×9 inch pyrex).


Refrigerate for several hours until hardened.  The mixture may separate while it’s cooling, but that’s okay!

Break the hardened mixture into little chunks.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


We stirred some homemade white chocolate chips into these fudge brownies

See those bits of white chocolate chips in there?  It was like candy in a brownie.   You must try these.  (After you eat a good dinner of course.)

What do you like to make with White Chocolate Chips?

P.S.  These are a little bit pricey to make – but I try to avoid white chocolate chips from the store because they are full of hydrogenated oils.  I’ll probably only make these every once in a while for a very special treat.  :)

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Homemade Butterscotch Baking Chips


Check one more item off the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge List!  We have Butterscotch Chips!

These are more than just a little bit sweet – wowza, these chips are quite sugary.  Therefore, I must advise that you don’t eat the entire pan of butterscotch chips all in one sitting.  I’m pretty sure you knew that already.  I’m also pretty sure you are planning to eat plenty of vegetables before (and after) you make these.  Right?

Here are the reasons I attempted Homemade Butterscotch Chips:

  1. Many of you wanted me to do this.  I aim to please.
  2. Every single package of butterscotch chips I’ve seen on the market has hydrogenated oil in them.  Bleh.  It is very important to avoid hydrogenated oils.
  3. I need some Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies.

You will notice that I used organic brown sugar in this recipe instead of sucanat.  I did this because I was afraid that the molasses flavor of the sucanat would effect the flavor of these chips, making them not taste like butterscotch.  I had some organic brown sugar on hand, so I used it and was pleased with the results.

Homemade Butterscotch Chips

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil (I used expeller pressed so as not to have a coconut flavor)
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt together butter, coconut oil and brown sugar.  Stir continually until all ingredients are mixed well, bringing the mixture ALMOST to a boil, then turning down the heat.  Cook and stir some more on low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a liquid.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Pour the contents onto a parchment paper lined container. I used a 9×13 inch dish.

Place the dish into the fridge for 3-4 hours to allow the mixture to solidify.  Cut or break the butterscotch into small “chips”.

Store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

And would you look at that?  These homemade butterscotch chips make fantastic Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies!  (I’ll share my recipe next week.)

Are you a fan of butterscotch chips?  What’s your favorite way to use them?

Read about making Homemade Chocolate Chips here!

 

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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 Mayonnaise

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?

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Homemade Onion Soup Mix (with No MSG!)

So far in this Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge, we’ve come up with recipes for Homemade Tator Tots, Healthier Chocolate Milk and Teriyaki Sauce.  I attempted a recipe for corn tortillas and while they tasted pretty good…they were NOT easy to make, they fell apart and looked ugly.  I’m going to keep working on that one until I come up with a corn tortilla recipe that doesn’t take the whole afternoon to make.  :)

This new recipe in The Challenge was super easy to put together!  Vicki, one of our readers, sent me an Onion Soup Mix recipe to try and WOW is it simple!  I tweaked it a teeny tiny bit, but really, this recipe is more Vicki’s than mine.

What I love about this recipe is that I didn’t have to look high and low for the ingredients.  Many onion soup recipes I found call for some sort of bouillon.  Almost always, bouillon has MSG.  There are MSG free bouillon varieties out there, but what if they aren’t easily accessible to you?  And so…I was very happy to see this recipe that contained just dried herbs and spices!

 

Onion Soup Mix

2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric (optional)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sucanat (or sugar if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake.  I’d recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use.

Use 4 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix.  (I actually found that 2 Tablespoons was plenty in a beef stew recipe I tried.)  Store this in a dry, cool place.

onion_soup_mix

I used the Onion Soup Mix in this simple, one dish stew and YUM!
I’ll be sharing the recipe eventually!

And with that…I have to ask:

SO many of you requested this recipe that I’m guessing you all must have tons of wonderful ways of using Onion Soup Mix?  I would LOVE for you to share what you do with this mix!!!  I have exactly two recipes that call for Onion Soup Mix .  I’m so excited to use this mix in those recipes because I’ve not made them for years.  But what else???  What do you make with Onion Soup Mix??

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Homemade (Healthier) Chocolate Milk

I have not one, but two recipes to share with you today in regard to making a healthier variety of chocolate milk.  If at all possible, I encourage you to stay away from commercial chocolate syrup, as it is full of high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup.  (You can’t tell, but I’m making a “blechy” face right now and it isn’t pretty.)

This first recipe for Chocolate Syrup is from a friend of mine right here in town.  {hi, Nancy!}  It’s the easiest recipe ever, making it a perfect solution for those of you who really want your chocolate syrup but want to avoid HFCS.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 cup sucanat
1/2 cup cocoa
dash of sea salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix sucanat, cocoa, sea salt and water in a medium sauce pan.  Whisk ingredients together and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Allow mixture to cool for just a few minutes.  Stir in vanilla extract.

Add Homemade Chocolate Syrup to your glass of milk to taste.  Store syrup in the refrigerator.

If you look real close, you can see a reflection of me with my camera
in the round part of this cute little pour bottle.
Try to focus on the chocolate syrup.  I wasn’t having a good hair day.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

The boys have declared this Chocolate Syrup to be quite delicious.
It will be a special treat every once in a while at our house!

Now for recipe number two.  This is how I’ve been making chocolate milk for the past several years.  (Makes you wonder why it took me so long to share this, huh?  I have lots of excuses.)

Now don’t freak out or anything, but I often add a few raw, farm fresh eggs into the blender when I’m mixing these up.  I don’t worry one bit about getting sick from raw eggs that come straight from my friend’s farm.  Their chickens are allowed to roam free all day long and eat all the healthiest chicken feed and you know…bugs.  Healthy chickens means healthy eggs, and we eat them free of fearRaw eggs are great brain food.

Okay, this post is not about the safety of raw eggs.  But I did just want to let you know that if you want to add farm fresh, free ranged eggs to this Quick Blender Chocolate Milk recipe, you’ll find that the nutrition level goes WAY up, as does the creamy-richness of this chocolate milk!  (I really don’t recommend putting raw eggs into this – or into anything – if the eggs are not organic, free range, farm fresh eggs.  Please do your own research about this to determine what you feel is safe.)

Quick Blender Chocolate Milk

6 cups of milk
3 Tablespoons cocoa
4 Tablespoons real grade b maple syrup (give or take, depending on your taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients into your blender and mix well.

Chocolate Milkshakes

Malachi LOVES the job of serving the Chocolate Milk out of our fun blender.

So there you go.  Many of you were screaming for a healthier chocolate milk recipe, so now you have not one, but two to choose from!

And now, the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge continues.  I’m in the process of figuring out a healthier Onion Soup Mix recipe and have played a little bit with Angel Food Cake.  The Angel Food Cake I tried first completely sank and went from four inches tall to 2 inches tall.  I’m still working on it.  I guess that’s why this is called a “challenge”, huh?  :)

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Homemade Tater Tots

 

If all of the recipes in the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge turn out to be this easy…I’ll whip through the list in no time.  (But don’t get your hopes up.)

My first idea for and attempt at making Homemade Tater Tots turned out great.  Then I tried them a second time…just to be sure.  Even better.  All six of us were so excited!  These look like a tater tot, feel like a tater tot and well (if I do say so myself) taste better than a tater tot (funny thing about fresh potatoes and healthy oil).

My idea was to try the homemade hashbrown trick.  Remember, I bake the potato, let it cool, shred it, then cook up the shredded potatoes into hashbrowns.  SUCH a fabulous and easy way to make nice hashbrowns.  And now…Tater Tots!!!!!!

Here’s how I did it…

Homemade Tater Tots

3-4 medium russett potatoes
Oil of choice (I used the very healthy and delicious Palm Shortening.  I’d also recommend Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil because it’s flavorless yet healthy for frying.)  (You can read my research based opinions on healthy frying here.)
Sea Salt

First, scrub and bake your potatoes.  Allow the potatoes to cool.  Peel the potatoes (and save the skins to make Potato Skins as described in Katie’s Healthy Snacks to Go ebook!).

Chop the peeled and cooled potatoes and throw them in a food processor to shred finely.  I’d recommend using the “pulse” setting if you have one.  You don’t want your potatoes to turn to mush.  Well, maybe you do, but I don’t. 

If you don’t have a food processor, you can always shred the potatoes
with a cheese grater…it’ll just take a bit longer.
And be careful to keep  your fingers away from the grater.
You don’t want fingers in your tater tots.  Well, maybe you do, but I don’t.

Next, heat some oil in a skillet (medium heat).  You  just need enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the skillet.  You don’t want greasy tots.  Well, maybe you do, but I don’t.

Use a small cookie scoop and pack in the shredded potatoes to make a nice firm ball.  (If you don’t really pack it in, the potatoes will just fall apart when you place the ball in the skillet.)  Gently set the ball into the skillet.  Allow it to cook thoroughly on one side before carefully turning it over.  Press the ball down slightly when you turn it.  Each side takes about 3-4 minutes to cook.

Remove tater tots once they look nice and crispy and golden brown.  You don’t want blackened tater tots.  Well, maybe you do, but I don’t.  Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt.

You should eat these right away because you don’t want cold tater tots.  Well, (say it with me now) maybe you do, but I don’t.  

If you can possibly keep your family out of them…we discovered that these freeze and reheat very well!!  We used our toaster oven to reheat some leftover tater tots a day or two after I initially made them, just to test and see if these can be made ahead of time and YAY…it can be done!!

Just for fun, you may also want to check out the Homemade Tater Tot recipe at Finding Joy in my Kitchen.  She came up with a different way of making tater tots that looks pretty tasty!

Overall, I’d say making Homemade Tater Tots is easy.  Is it as easy as opening up a package and throwing the contents onto a cookie sheet?  No.  But it sure doesn’t take a lot of effort overall.  And then, if you make several batches and freeze some…you’ve got easy, healthy tater tots ready to reheat for a quick side dish or snack!!

Okay…one recipe down…fourteen to go.  Unless you count all the other ideas you challenged me with.  

Now, go bake some potatoes so you can hurry up and make some tots.  You don’t want to miss out on the delicious taste of fresh, Homemade Tater Tots.

Well, maybe you do, but I don’t.

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Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge

One of the most frequently asked question that I hear from many of you through emails is, “Laura, do you think you could come up with a healthier version of _______?”

It would appear that you have become aware of how much I get a kick out of experimenting and coming up with new, healthy recipes in my “spare time”!  Yes it’s true.  I love playing with ingredients.

Your past requests and challenges have resulted in fun new recipes for Poptarts, Pancake Sausage Muffins, Chewy Granola Bars, Corndog Muffins, Hot Dog Buns, Dressing Mixes, Taco Seasoning,  Funnel Cakes, and many other cool recipe ideas that were inspired by YOU.  I love taking family favorite ideas that may normally be unhealthy (like a poptart), and fiddling with the idea until I come up with a recipe that pleases the fam and is healthy(er) too!  (It never hurts when the recipe is easy to make and saves money too, huh?)

granola_bars_3

Each time one of you sends in a recipe challenge or an idea, I add it to my list of foods to experiment with.  You all come up with so many great ideas!!  Yeah, that’s my way of saying…wow my list is really long.

I decided that it would be fun during 2011 to share part of my list with you and have you offer input for your top choices of recipes for me to try.  Then all during this year, I’ll play with ingredients and get lots of honey and tomato paste and butter on my face (though not all at the same time) as I experiment to come up with some new favorite recipes to share.

Here is my list of items you’ve requested for me to come up with a “Healthier Version” of:

  1. Tater Tots
  2. Twinkies
  3. Ketchup
  4. Mayonnaise
  5. Corn Tortillas
  6. White Chocolate Baking Chips and Butterscotch Baking Chips (like these Homemade Chocolate Chips, only white chocolate or butterscotch)
  7. Fig Newtons
  8. Teriyaki Sauce
  9. Ritz Crackers
  10. Onion Soup Mix
  11. Bleu Cheese Dressing
  12. Cereal Bars
  13. Angel Food Cake
  14. White Cake (which we’ve already discussed that if using whole wheat flour and sucanat, this cake would really be tan…)
  15. Chocolate Milk

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the requests that you’ve sent in, so please feel free to add those ideas if you’d like.  And now…I’d appreciate it if you’d all leave a comment letting me know your top two or three recipe choices from the list above so that I know where I should start with this challenge!

And now, if you’ll pardon me…I’m going to go put on my apron and start grinding some flour.  Let the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge begin!

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