Daily Tidbits

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Italian Seasoned Tomatoes

I love canning tomatoes and occasionally I like to do an Italian seasoned version. I'm not going to do a canning tutorial here. I pretty much follow the Ball canning method here.  This blend makes about 7 pints of tomatoes.

Mix together
4 t. basil
2. t. thyme
2 1/2 t. oregano
1 1/2 t. rosemary
1 1/2 t. sage
1 t. hot pepper flakes

Prepare jars for canning, including the lemon juice and salt. To each jar add about 2 teaspoons of the Italian mixture and add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh minced garlic.  Instead of fresh garlic, you can add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder to the above mixture.

Process as you would normally process tomatoes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Warm Up Your Winter...Review

About the book:
Snuggle up next to the fire!

While winter rages outside, nothing beats a steaming mug of hot chocolate or cider. Warm up Your Winter includes delightful recipes for Classic Hot Cocoa, Pumpkin Pie, White Hot Chocolate, and Hot Caramel Apple Cider. Don’t just survive the winter—warm it up!

For many people, hot chocolate is a cold weather drink.  For me, it's a daily occurrence.  I have a daily cup of cocoa like many people have their daily cup of coffee.

I've enjoyed the cooking blog Real Mom Kitchen and so I was happy to see that Laura has put out this booklet full of hot chocolate and cider recipes.  I love the idea of adding caramel syrup to hot cider!

Laura rightfully explains that hot chocolate is usually made with actual chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. I believe that hot cocoa made with prepared packets is sacrilege. In my experience, most commercial hot cocoa mixes contain more sugar and powdered milk than they do actual cocoa.  Even those brands that are labeled Gourmet. And to make hot chocolate with water instead of milk is blasphemy. Complete and utter blasphemy.

I was glad to see that only one of these recipes actually calls for using hot cocoa packets. I don't buy prepared packets.  My preference, if I'm not using actual chocolate, is Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa. Ghirardelli is one of my favorite brands of chocolate and this cocoa mix does not include powdered milk. Thank goodness, because powdered milk doesn't make cocoa creamier, it makes it weaker.  If I use cocoa mix, I often add chocolate to my cocoa, such as a Ghirardelli square, or some shaved unsweetened chocolate and a peppermint candy or candy cane.

Most of these recipes are made for 4+ servings, but the ideas for add-ins are terrific and it's easy to adapt many to make an individual cup.  This recipe is included in the book and is one of my favorite recipes.  (I would add Ghirardelli squares to it!)  I don't put marshmallows in mine and I don't put canned whipped cream on it either.

Classic Hot Cocoa

1/2 cup sugar
1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup half and half
4 cups whole milk
Whipped Cream or Mini Marshmallows

Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; add half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to desired serving temperature. Do Not Boil. Remove cocoa from heat; whisk or beat until frothy. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Serves 4

The quality of your drink is only as good as the quality of your chocolate.  Use real chocolate or real cocoa whenever you can and always use half and half along with real whipping cream.

Thanks to Cedar Fort for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Laura Powell here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Zucchini Bread

Printable Recipe

2 cups sugar
1 cup olive oil (I use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Mix sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture, mixing just until moistened. Stir in the zucchini, lemon peel and nuts. Transfer to prepared 8x4 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (~12 slices each).

Holly's Note:
I found this recipe in the Taste of Home: Cooking School Cookbook when I had some zucchini I needed to use.  You can find the original recipe here. Hands down, this is the best zucchini bread recipe I have ever found.  My teenage son actually requests it. It's light and delicious.  I omit the nuts and lemon peel and I use an oil/applesauce mixture instead of straight oil. It's yummy.