Ok, so this recipe may be a little out of season (at least for me, pumpkin treats are something I usually only eat in the fall and winter) but I found some cans of pumpkin hiding in the back of my pantry and I thought I would make and freeze some pumpkin butter for my dad this weekend…it’s his favorite. You can use fresh mashed pumpkin instead of canned…one can of pumpkin equals, roughly, about 1 and 3/4 cup of fresh pumpkin.
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 cup no sugar added apple cider or apple juice (or water)
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Mix (or 1/2 cup of Sugar Twin Brown Sugar replacement or regular Splenda for a completely sugar free pumpkin butter)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
Place ingredients in a saucepan and stir together. Bring to a boil; lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring, 15 minutes or until butter has become dark and thick. Makes about 1 ¾ cups pumpkin butter*.
*The pumpkin butter in the pictures was a triple recipe, three cans of pumpkin and everything else tripled with it!
Peach jam is almost the same as the aforeposted strawberry jam, EXCEPT…you mix the fruit and the sweetner with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and let that sit for 15 minutes before you add the pectin mix. Then you stir the pectin mix in for another three minutes, let it rest for 30 then refrigerate or freeze just like in the last recipe.
I also added 1 1/2 teaspoons of Penzey’s cake spice (cinnamon or any other cinnamon blend is fine too) and it tasted like a cobbler filling…delish!
Making jam is a great thing to do with fruit that is in the height of it’s season or is a bit overripe and damaged. That means, use it up while it’s cheap! Right now for us in South Texas, that means strawberries! I got enough strawberries for three batches of jam for about 7 dollars. That’s even cheaper than buying frozen fruit (but you can definately do that too). Save the expensive stuff like blackberries and blueberries for eating straigt or in cobblers and stuff, make jam with the fruit you have coming out of your ears in your neck of the woods!
Clean and hull your strawberries and throw them in the food processor. Blender is fine or just a potato masher and a big bowl will work too. You need four cups of processed fruit per package of pectin blend.
I used a no-cook mix that required you to mix the sweetner with the pectin mix. We did that, but it probably wasn’t necessary. In the next batches I just threw it all in the food processor and it was fine. However if you decide to use sugar or a sweetner like Splenda, mix in the pectin first, just in case.
We used a cup and a half of agave. This seems like a lot but works out to a little over a teaspoon of agave per 1 tablespoon serving of finished jam. You can definately use Splenda instead, according to the package directions. I prefer agave because it doesn’t raise my blood sugar and is a natural sweetner. It makes an AMAZING tasting jam. Mix the sweetner and pectin with the fruit, pour into clean jars or plastic containers with lids.
Let the closed jars sit on the counter and thicken for about 30 minutes and then whatever is going to be eaten immediately pop in the fridge. The ones you are saving for later can go in the freezer. You will use them up way before they get freezer burned, don’t worry!
I will give you my very easy basic white sauce recipe. But first you have to PROMISE.
It’s ok if you didn’t. Once you make this for yourself, you won’t want to use Campbells Cream Of Overpriced And Full Of Sodium again. And if you want to make it a cheese sauce? Just stir in cheese as you’re whisking.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash white pepper
1 cup milk
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately or refrigerate. If you make a casserole to stick in the fridge and bake later, this sauce will work fine. Makes about a cup of sauce.
You need a clean, preferrably sterile jar or lidded container to grow your yogurt in, a pot, a thermometer that goes over 200 degrees, milk that has not been ultra-pasturized (I used Promised Land dairy), and some starter yogurt that has active, live cultures (After you make your own you will use your own yogurt as a starter. For the first time just buy some plain yogurt at the store). You will need 2-3 tablespoons, or up to 1/4 cup of yogurt plus 2-3 cups to up to a quart of milk.
Note: These images reflect two different yogurt making sessions. The first one I used a double boiler, but it wasn’t necessary. I also tried sweetening the yogurt while heating the milk as one recipe suggested but I used agave and it didn’t ever set (hence the two different sessions). The second time I sweetened after the yogurt was set and that worked just fine.
Heat milk until boiling, but don’t let it scald. Stir, stir stir!
To cool it down quickly, put your pot of heated milk in an ice water bath. Clip on your thermometor and let it cool until it hits 110 degrees. Pour off a cup of milk and mix it with your yogurt starter. Add the rest of the milk and mix well.
You want the yogurt to stay warm for a few hours while it…yos? gurts? Anyway, there are lots of ways of doing this but since I was making mine in a mason jar I figured the easiest was to use a heating pad. I set mine on medium (mine doesn’t get very hot so you may want to use low) and wrapped it with a bungee cord to keep it on (made me feel like the love child of MacGyver and my machinist hubby)! I checked the temp after a few minutes and it was where it needed to be, right at 100 degrees.
I covered it all with a towel so the heat wouldn’t escape from the top and in a few hours I had yogurt. It was delicious, fresh and clean tasting, and my son ate it mixed with fresh fruit. We also made smoothies and other delicious things so more recipes will be forthcoming!
Are you pesto’d to death? I just wanted to show how easy it is to reconstitute frozen pesto. I threw the cubes in the food processor and let them defrost while I did other things, added the parmesan cheese back in and whirled it until blended. Mixed it with my cooked pasta and watched my kids eat two helpings!
For someone who lives in South Texas, I’m way too much of a worrywart when it comes to making salsa. I always want a recipe. But I made a double batch of my avocado tomatillo salsa for Cinco de Mayo last week and I have some odds and ends leftover from that and other cooking projects. I threw this salsa together, and while it looks much less red than most of us are used to, it tastes delicious and very fresh. Salsa is very forgiving, I’m learning and when you make it fresh it’s a great, preservative-free snack. I froze most of this batch in ice cube trays which I then transferred to freezer bags so I can thaw out just as much as I need when it’s time for a snack!
This salsa included: 5 tomatillos, 3 vine-ripe tomatoes, one chopped onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, a handful of fresh cilantro, one seeded jalapeno, the juice from half a lime and salt. (I guess that’s a bit of a recipe after all, eh?)