Frozen Treat

After a long walk and adventure with the two boys, Jack wanted us to make popsicles. Though, I had none ready or a recipe to use, I decided to try making a snow cone or slushi.

I was talking with some friends in a trip coming up with alternatives to Freezies. I mentioned about snow cones and was advised I should uses the blender! I did and it was awesome!!

1 tray of ice at a time is plenty. Less works best in my blender. I scoop the crushed ice into cups and poured some grenadine on top. Add a spoon, and there you go!

Next, is to find syrup alternatives. Homemade or bought in bottles, not plastic bottles, like our grenadine. Years ago, I remember grenadine was in glass but they switch to plastic at some point.

Jack says he can’t wait until Julia gets home from school to try it!! I’m getting more feedback from friends to use frozen water melon, frozen banana with milk for an ice cream like treat! More to come I’m sure!

Jack
Thomas

Homemade Pizza

We have started to make our own pizza and garlic fingers to cut costs. At the same time its cutting other kinds of waste too.

I buy Hamburg from the Summerside Butcher Shop plastic free, as well as salami and pepperoni from Pleasant Pork at the Summerside Farmer’s Market, plastic free. Cheese is the only thing not plastic free, still working on that.

Chris found an amazing recipe for garlic butter! This is round #2 with it. I found an amazing recipe for the dough! I was making one large garlic fingers and one large pizza, but there was too much food waste. This time round, #4, I made one large pan half pizza and half garlic fingers. I like this better, less prep and faster cooking time as I can only fit one pan in the oven at a time (to bake properly).

To be honest, the kids were not liking the garlic fingers, tweaking the cook time, temperature and amount of ingredients for them. Looking for the right pizza sauce as well. I want to make my own sauce come tomato season!

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes and Cake

Here is my Chocolate cake recipe that works for cupcakes too! I do not remember where I got this recipe online, it was a while ago. In my opinion, it is just as good as the box cake you buy at the store, without the packaging and added whatever to preserve the ingredients. From scratch is best!

Ingredients

2 cups of white sugar
1 + ¾ cup of flour
¾ cup of cocoa
1 + ½ tsp of baking powder
1 + ½ tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup of milk
½ cup of veg. oil
2 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients together.
Add the wet ingredients together minus the boiling water!
Combine together until well mixed
Like this.
Add the boiling water and mix slowly until well combined.
Have a helper set up the cupcake liners in the tray
Mixed
yup, that’s a 24 muffin tray! Bake at 350 for 18 minutes!
Let cool
Decorate those cupcakes!!

For the cake, I use a bunt pan, bake at 350 for 52 minutes!
For 2, 9″ pan cakes, bake at 350 for 33 minutes!

Find my whipping cream icing on the Recipe page! So yummy!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

I found another recipe to rid the fridge of plastic! The Zero Waste Chef is very inspirational to me. I usually go to her page if I am looking for a recipe and I follow her on a couple social sites and see lots of her blogs! This is the recipe for her Chocolate Syrup. It is amzing and so easy to make! We will never go back to store bought again! We have used it so far on ice cream and hot chocolate. I’m looking foward to using it on other desserts!

Ingredients

¼ cup water
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup white sugar
Pinch+ salt
¼ tsp vanilla

Mix 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup cocoa. Whisk and heat until dissolved. Add 3/4 cup white sugar, a pinch + of salt and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Mix in a  1/4 tsp of vanilla and pore into a jar.
I am reusing a maple syrup jar, I have a few. I let it come to room temperature then cover and refridgerate.

 

Trying to make homemade Hazelnut Butter

March 9th

The past two weeks I have been trying to make a homemade hazelnut butter recipe. Our kids love Nutella.

Try #1

I started to go with the Zero Waste Chef’s recipe, but with my tiny food processor, I could not manage to make the hazelnut butter. My machine was overheating as well! The texture was way too crumbly and I used too much coconut oil to try to make it more runny. It will be great to try and make hazelnut butter balls (like peanut butter balls). Yummy!

Try #2

I bought some hazelnut butter at Bulk Barn, which was a perfect butter blend. I followed the above recipe, with 1 and 1/4 cup of hazelnut butter. I found the cocoa to be strong tasting and added a total of 1 Tbsp icing sugar. It could use more. The other problem I encountered was the salt. 1/8th of a tsp was too much. Next time round the salt will be left out and added by pinches or shakes (salt shaker) to taste. More hazelnut type treat needed to be made, don’t want to waste it! (Less food waste and money loss).

I bought some more Hazelnut butter for another re-try in the near future.

March 16th Try #3

I finally nailed the recipe!!! This time I took the time to re-read the whole article in The Zero Waste Chef’s article. She mentioned that one of her daughters uses icing sugar instead of honey. I figure, the recipe needs more sweetener than the honey can give. The kids are custumed to that. So I took the route of icing sugar and the recipe turned out beautifully!! I also only added a pinch of salt, not the directed amount. I did not want to make the too much salt mistake again! The kids like it!

I will make a new article with my process the next time I make a batch. Here is the recipe I used.

June 2nd Try #4

I forgot to update a while ago, but the kids decided they preferred the Nutella brand more. So I put making my own on hold, back in March. (Kinda disappointed!!). Me and Chris are sure, that if the kids were introduced to the previous recipe, they would have liked it. They are just so intuned to the sweetness and chocolate taste of Nutella!

This day, after going through a container of Nutella every two weeks or less, I’m back to try again! This time with chocolate to add to the mix! 

I sure wish the big kids were home from school to try it out! It still does not have the chocolate taste like Nutella . . . Thomas likes it, not so much Jack. I really do not want to buy another jug of Nutella. We are almost out.

I think its amazing. Though I should have re read by blog, forgot to add less salt! Oops! I like it better than Nutella. I can’t get past such sweetness for toast like the kids do.

Kids are home, had some with pretzels. Julia dislikes it, dramatically!!! Lol!!! Alaina likes it and Daniel dies too. He rates it a 8.5 out if 10. Though, they agree less salt and more chocolate. Daniel still prefers the Nutella, having a hard time to let it go. He will see what the homemade one is like on toast tomorrow.

I suppose if 4 of the 5 kids made the switch, I would be buying way less Nutella! Reducing is a good thing, a step in the right direction. (Thomas does not eat Nutella by the way, just peanut butter at the time).

Update, June 6.

Thomas is loving the hazelnut butter with pretzels!

Today I added 1/4 cup more powder sugar and 2 Tbsp coconut oil. I must say, it is very very close to the sweetness of Nutella! Daniel tried the H.butter on toast yesterday, didn’t enjoy it very much. The Nutella jug is pretty much empty, not buying a new one this week. Forcing the kids to give my recipe a try. Stay strong!

 

Homemade Yogurt

Plain homemade yogurt
2 L milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup yogurt (I used Danone plain Greek yogurt)

Vanilla homemade yogurt
2 L milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup yogurt (I used Danone plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup sugar
40 ml vanilla

I received the plain yogurt recipe from a lady I met at a CBC event in Charlottetown in early February. Her name is Shirley Smedley. She says that she has been making yogurt for 40 years.

Here are the instructions she gave me for plain yogurt. Very simple!

“1. Put 2 litres milk into a pot and heat to scalding point or 180 F

2. Remove from the stove and cool to lukewarm or 105 – 110 F

3. Stir or use a whisk in 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
– from the last batch of yogurt
– or good quality store-bought yogurt (not flavoured)
– or ask in the natural food section of the store for a package of yogurt starter (2 pkgs. cost $5)

4. Have ready: 5 mason jars/lids sitting on a cookie sheet.
Pour mixture into 5 clean mason jars; screw on lids.

5. Put the jars on cookie sheet into the oven. Turn on the oven light which provides a low heat to ferment the yogurt. Close the door and leave overnight.
In the morning, put jars into the fridge and allow to cool for a couple of hours to stop the fermentation process.
You now have homemade yogurt! When my kids were young, they enjoyed toppings such as blueberries, honey, strawberries, etc.”

I let them sit in the oven overnight for about 9 hours, and then cool in the fridge for about 3 or 4 hours. Our kids and myself like vanilla flavoured yogurt as well as sweetened. When step #2 is just about complete, I add the sugar and vanilla, stir it in well then continue with the rest of the recipe.

The Danone Greek yogurt I bought was all used up with 3 yogurt batches. No yogurt starter went to waste. My next batch will be my own starter yogurt.

I hear that these starters for fermented products and such are given a name, like a pet. The Zero Waste Chef for example has a sour dough starter named Eleanor. So I told my husband, Chris, that we must come up with a name for our yogurt starter. Olaf was a suggestion. I thought that maybe it should have something to do with Greek, as it started out as a Greek yogurt. Finally, Chris came up with a brilliant, hilarious, perfect name. None other would suit! Gertrude! Gerty for short.

Can you imagine, one opens the fridge and says, “Hey, yo-gert!
Chris’ joke! hahaha!

So now with our homemade yogurt, we can have 100% homemade yogurt drinks too!

Thank you Shirley!

Update: here is a very informative article about the starter yogurt. A good read from a friend on Waves of Change.

2 L whole milk
180 degrees. Does not take long to heat up, maybe 15 minutes. I did not time it . . . yet
Mason jars ready for a filling. I actually needed 6 for this recipe.
about 110 degrees. Takes about 40+ minutes to cool down
Add 1/2 cup sugar and 40 ml of vanilla. Stir in completely. Add 1/2 cup yogurt.
Filled and covered
In the oven for the night
Complete, ready for cooling
Cooled and ready to eat
Yogurt on the left and yogurt drink on the right.
Thomas loving the yogurt drink
Jack loving the yogurt drink

 

Homemade Play-doh With Natural Dyes

Our family has been out of homemade play-doh for a little while now. The kids ask when I can make some more. Today, I decided to make some and I had a last minute inspirational idea. Natural dyes. Turmeric, coffee and berry juice. I did not research into any other ideas yet, but these items I had on hand. I would have loved to use beet juice, but I did not have any. Next shopping trip I will pick some up. I can even prepare the beets and freeze the juice. Ice cube tray will do very nicely to get a good amount.

Here is the recipe for making play-doh. Recipe #1 is my favourite. It stays soft and pliable. It is easy to wash and comes with no plastic container from the store. I have been making this play-doh for over 2 years. It is 100% better and does not have such a strong odor as the store bought.

Turmeric, small coffee from reusable keurig pod, frozen raspberries and blueberries
I put the frozen berries in the microwave on defrost for a couple minutes, they softened right up and were easy to mash.
Strained both to separate the juice. The raspberries were much harder to strain because of the particle size. Strainer and utensil to push the juice out worked.

Jack was my helper for most of the play-doh making. He was super excited! First we made the raspberry dye play-doh. The colour came out a very light pink. Could have used more juice for a darker colour. I would say we used about a tsp worth. I will add, my camera on my tablet is not so well. The colour is much better in person compared to the pictures.

about a tsp worth of raspberry juice
Jack mixing away before the heat gets turned on
constant mix with a scraper. Don’t let it burn!
Getting thick, keep mixing and scraping all around
Almost done. Lots of play-doh residue on the sides and bottom of the pot, normal. Don’t over cook it, or it will be dry and not so good! A little moist is great!
Let it cool on a cutting board for a minute, then knead by hand until smooth. Any moist spots will work itself out. I recommend the cutting board for kneading as you don’t want the dye on the counter (Natural dye or store bought dye).
Smooth and ready for fun. It is a light shade of pink. Camera is not so good. Let cool before adding to air tight container. I recommend to roll it wide and flat for the cooling process to happen quicker. The longer it is exposed to the air the dryer it will get (as it is with any play-doh).

Next came the blueberry dye. This one turned out a light purple. It could also use a larger amount of juice for the dye. I would say I used about 2 tsp. I did not measure.

about 2 tsp of blueberry juice.
Jack mixing away.
a light shade of purple
almost ready to come out
Ta-da
Bit of a better picture for the colour difference. pink on left, purple on the right.

Next came the coffee dye. Yes the play-doh smells like coffee! just slightly though, and the kids do not eat the play-doh. That has never been a problem. Maybe a lick here and there when pretending to make ice cream. lol. Nothing for me to worry about, really. So instead of using 1 cup of water to start, I used 1/2 a cup of water and 1/2 a cup of coffee for the dye. The colour turned out a light tan. I could have probably boiled off more water from the coffee, but I was experimenting and tried just a small brew to concentrate it that way.

Light tan colour.
Nearly there.
complete with a hand print
a picture to show the colours. Pink on top, purple on the bottom and tan on the right.

Next came the turmeric. I added a 1/2 tsp to start, but the colour was the same as the coffee, or very close. I added another 1/2 tsp, and there was not a whole lot difference. So I took some mustard powder, 1/2 tsp worth and it brightened the colour a little. by the time I had the yellow I was looking for, I used 2 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp of mustard powder. This one is my favourite. It came out bright.

2 tsp both turmeric and mustard powder
Almost done
A little gooey, must kneading it helped so much. A little under cooked is better than over.
Do you see the flower?
Top left is pink, top right is tan, bottom left is purple and bottom right is yellow.

Last came plain old white. No dye is needed for this one.

mixing and mixing.
Love it
Top left is pink, top right is purple, bottom left is white, bottom right is yellow, and the small ball is tan. Jack an Thomas already got into these to play.

For this process, I was using two pots, a whisk and a silicone scraper. As one play-doh was finished cooking, the used pot was set aside to cool. A new pot was put on the stove with ingredients added. No heat turned on yet. The cooled pot was put in an empty sink and filled with water to loosen the dried/baked on play-doh. That would soak until the new batch of play-doh was ready, which the hot pot would be set to the side to cool and the pot in the sink ready for a wash out, dry and use. The cooled pot would get a soak and repeat until finished. The utensils would get a quick rinse in between so colours would not mix.

Jack is busy trying out the new play-doh.
Busy Thomas is from toys to play-doh, back and forth and both at the same time.
The play-doh gets stored in the reused yogurt containers.

I am hoping the natural dyes will stay well with the play-doh. Chris was wondering if the dyes would stain clothing. After handling the play-doh myself (kneading), there was not stain on my hands. So I think it will be fine. I still have store bought dyes to use up as well.

Jack was asking if I could make blue play-doh. I don’t know off hand what to use to make blue dye naturally. I ran out of cream of tartar as well, so next time blue play-doh for Jack.

I would like to find natural dyes for Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Black.
Beet juice is on my list. I want to find natural dyes without packaging as much as possible.

Raspberries = light pink (need more than a tsp)
Blueberries = purple (need more than 2 tsp)
Turmeric and mustard powder = yellow (Great with 2 tsp each)
Coffee = tan (need a more concentrated coffee)

Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup milk, warm
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla

Use a stick of butter (2 Tbsp) and coat a 12 piece muffin pan liberally. No Pam spray needed!!!!

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together and mix evenly.

In a large bowl combine melted butter, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add dry mixture a little at a time (3), gently folding until combined. Over mixing will result in flat tops. A little flour remaining or clumps are okay. I over mixed mine a little by accident. 

Fill them right up!

Bake in preheated oven at 425 for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 for 14 minutes. Let cool in pan until cool enough to handle and place the muffins on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container once cooled completely. 

No sticking and easy to wash. Butter for coating!

Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup softened butter, not melted
1/4 cup white sugar

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz)
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

Cherry pie filling (a can or about 2 cups worth if buying from a bulk store. Though I find less than those amounts are better, more like 1 1/2 cups)

Begin by mixing the graham crackers, softened butter and sugar together. I personally find that if the butter is super soft, it mixes better, but if it gets melted, the mixture is too wet, resulting in adding more graham crumbs causing the bottom layer of the cheesecake to be dense and thick. This happened to me this time round. oops. Press the mixture into a pie plate or a cheesecake pan like I have. Allow the sides to rise to give a slight curve to hold the next step.

Oops. Blurry picture. Will replace with a better one next time I make a cheesecake.

Next beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the heavy cream a little at a time. continue to beat for several minutes. The less beaten, the more runny the mixture (not good), the more beaten, the thicker the mixture (yes!).

Yummy!

Pour the creamed mixture over the graham crumbs and smooth out. Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight if you like. Less time may result in runny cream cheese mixture. (extra step to keep the mixture firm)

Add cherry pie filling and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!!!

Delicious!
Super easy to make!