Homemade Sweet Popcorn
This is adapted from a friend's recipe that was taken and adapted from food.com
The nice thing about this popcorn is that you can make it as sweet or unsweet as you prefer.
Here are the ingredients I used.
coconut oil (you can use butter)
crunchy peanut butter
I started with about 1 cup of kernels and 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil. If you decide to make your popcorn in a bag in the microwave just skip down to the topping section.
Put this over medium heat and cover with a lid.
It won't taste right if you don't have a cute helper. Keep the heat on low and I usually shake my pot back and forth a few times to keep it from burning. Don't shake up and down though. You want the uncooked kernels to stay on the bottom, just kind of slide it back and forth if that makes sense.
While this is cooking start your topping.
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 of sugar
1/2 of peanut butter
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of vanilla
Put everything but vanilla in a pot on low heat stirring frequently until it is melted. Then stir in vanilla.
Your popcorn should be done now. I put it into a large bowl so I can separate the unpopped kernels from the popcorn. Then I slowly add some of the sweet mixture to my popcorn and stir it in until I like the consistency. For us we like it just a little sweet.
We used about half of our sweet mixture this time. The rest we saved for the next time around. We will just heat it up and add it to the next batch.
This is super addicting. Just a warning!!
Easy Granola Bars
There are two keys to making granola bars.
1. You can put in it whatever you want.
2. You have to press it down really hard to make it stick together, otherwise it will be very crumbly.
The first batch I made I used a recipe and measured it all out. I've made 3 batches and now I just throw in whatever I want. But I'll try to give you at least a little idea of how much.
Oatmeal--instant or regular
Something sticky--I've used condensed milk or honey.
When I did condensed milk I poured it into a pan and added about 4 tbsp of peanut butter and melted it. I didn't want it boiling, just enough to melt the peanut butter so it mixed evenly.
Then I put around 3 cups of oatmeal in a bowl. I poured the sticky mixture on top. I added chopped peanuts and a mixture of mini white and milk chocolate chips.
Stir it up. When you are doing this you don't want the mixture so dry that you can still see the white of the oatmeal, but you don't want it super wet. So I wound up adding maybe 2 cups more of oatmeal this time. You kind of have to feel this part out by trial and error. This third time I feel like I got it right.
Then I lined a pan with tin foil and lightly greased it.
Pour the mixture into the pan and then press it down with your spoon or fingers. Press firmly. The first two times I made this it was crumbly. But don't worry even if it's crumbly it still tastes good, and would be more like granola in a bag instead of a bar.
I sprinkled a few chips on the top so it would appear that there are lots, but there really isn't.
Bake for about 20 minutes. My oven doesn't have exact temperatures on it, but I think it's about 350.
I took mine out when I started to smell it cooking.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes then slide the granola and tin foil on the counter and cut into bars. Wait till it cools even more and it will harden, then it will be easier to peel tin foil off.
The first time I made it it was still pretty sticky--so the next time I added more oatmeal.
The second time it was a little dry--so the next time I added less oatmeal.
Clear as mud? Great!
You can use your imagination as to what to add--with or without peanut butter, raisons, seeds, or other dried fruits, nuts....the possibilities are only endless if you are picky.
One time I made it with about 1/3 c. of butter, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, and about 1/3 cup of honey. I melted it then added oatmeal.
It's not an exact Science. I just melt my liquid stuff then add in however much oatmeal I need so it's not to wet then bake it.
I can't believe I just made butter!
I took a 1/2 liter of cream and beat it with a mixer. After a few minutes it made whip cream. After a few minutes more it got really thick and I thought, is this the butter? It wasn't so I mixed some more.
The butter was just starting to clump together when my power went out.
I knew I was close so I grabbed my whisk and started beating it some more. In about 30 seconds the butter formed. It was soooooo cool!
That is all butter in the whisk.
I put the butter on a paper towel. The liquid in the pot is buttermilk, which I will save fore biscuits!
Here is the butter again.
To make the butter last longer than just a few days (not that it will anyway, since I use it so much) you have to wash it. I don't really understand this part, but you put it in ice cold water for a little bit then pull it out. It did make it harder and pull together more.
The end result about 1 cup of butter!
You could do the same thing if you bought heavy cream at the store.
Strawberry Syrup from Scratch
This one is super easy too.
Take 1lb of strawberries and crush them. I used my Tupperware chopper!
Then I added 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to the strawberries and boiled for about 5 minutes.
It didn't make as much as I wanted, but was delicious. I think next time I will add more water and see if it will go further but still taste good!
Homemade Cream Cheese
Here in Nepal it is over $7 for about 6oz of cream cheese here. I'm sure it tastes great, but I don't think I want to spend that kind of money for cream cheese. So I asked around about how to make home made cream cheese. Turns out it's very easy.
I bought 1 liter of fresh cream from our Dairy shop. That costs about $3.00.
I then added 1/3 cup of vinegar. I've heard that white wine vinegar is the best to use, but I didn't have any. Maybe next time I will do that.
I then added 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar.
Here is the fun part. I needed a cheese cloth of sorts for this job. I was told that the cheese cloths here don't work and that a white t-shirt works best, like an under shirt. (yes, this is a new one).
I also grabbed some things to Jerry-rig it all. You have to hang the cream up so that the whey drips out of the shirt and into a bowl, leaving the cream cheese in the shirt.
I put the shirt in the bowl making sure that I had enough room on all sides to gather it together.
I used a pony tail to hold it closed.
We don't have any twine around the house, so I thought I would use one of Luke's balloons that he uses for balloon animals. Great in theory but it stretches too much and it wouldn't lift up out of the bowl.
What do you do after that doesn't work? Steal one of your husband's shoe laces and hope he doesn't notice!
I'm going to let it hang over night and check it in the morning. Should be great.
I let it down and it basically peeled right out of the shirt.
Tastes like cream cheese!
For My Frugal Friends
My kids are young and as most kids do aren't the greatest at "enjoying" vegetables. They do fairly well, but I'm always happier when I can sneak them in among other things, especially new vegetables that I know they will have trouble with.
Here we buy buff (water buffalo) for our meat. It really tastes very similar to lean ground beef. I haven't had a hamburger out of it, but we have eaten taco salad and like it a lot.
Sheryl (veteran missionary) told me that you can add zucchini to the buff when you cook it and it will help your meat go further and the kids will get more veggies.
I was a little skeptical at first, but thought I would give it a try. So I bought a pound of meat and a pound of zucchini. I peeled the skin off so the green color wouldn't give it away to the kids. Then I put it in my handy dandy chopper and diced it up real small. I put it in the pan with the meat while it was cooking. At first I tried it in spaghetti, but truthfully anything can be hidden in spaghetti. Then I decided to try it in taco salad. Since it takes so much meat you should really be able to tell I thought.
I served it up to the kids and they loved it. Asked for seconds, and the begged for more even though it was gone!!
I've been using the zucchini method ever since. It's amazing. I challenge you to try it with ground beef. It will definitely double your "meat" and help with your budget. Let me know how it goes.
I have tried it in spaghetti, meat loaf, taco salad, taco soup, shepherd's pie, lasagna, and tonight hopefully sloppy joes.
*images taken from google images
Cottage Cheese from Scratch
I was a little disappointed when I realized how expensive Cottage Cheese was here, and I'm not totally sure it is even cottage cheese. So what to do? Make your own!
I watched several videos on you tube and found out that's is very easy to make.
(3.5 of these bags)
I took about 7 cups of milk (3.5 mana of milk) and brought it to a full boil, making sure I didn't burn it. Then I let it sit for about 3 minutes to cool slightly. (Actually not totally sure on the time. I walked to Abby's room and helped her change clothes then came back.) :)
Then I took some white vinegar and added a little less than 1/4 of a cup gave it a quick stir and then let it sit. Immediately I could see the cheese separating from the whey.
When I thought it was done separating (about 5 minutes) I dumped the mixture through a sieve.
*pictures taken from google images
Making Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Juice from Scratch
A 28oz can of crushed tomatoes cost a little over $2 here. And fresh tomatoes for 1lb cost about 50 cents. So I wanted to figure out how to make crushed tomatoes, and tomato juice from scratch. I was amazed at how easy it was.
Now for you with tomatoes being expensive when you buy them from Walmart you might still want to buy canned, but if you can find a cheap route to get them, I would say it was worth the time. And it is sooooo good.
I used approx 8 pounds of tomatoes to start.
First I took the tomatoes and made a small "x" in the skin. And put them in a pot of already boiling water.
After a minute or two you will see the skin start to peel off. Take the tomatoes out of the boiling water and place them in a bowl of cold water so you don't burn your fingers, and peel off the skin.
Now for the next step I have a pressure cooker, but you can put it on the stove.
Place the tomatoes in pressure cooker with about an inch or two of water on the bottom so it doesn't burn. I let the tomatoes cook for 3 of the "tsk" sounds. You will cook them over the stove for about 20 minutes until they are really soft.
After they have cooked let them sit for a few minutes so they aren't too hot then I put them in my hand chopper. You could use a hand mixer or blender if you don't have a chopper.
Once it is chopped I put place a sieve over top of a clean pot and start dumping in the crushed tomatoes and juice that formed when it cooked.
With a spatula I stir up the tomatoes until all of the liquid has been pushed through.
Once you have finished with the tomatoes you will have tomato juice in the pot underneath and crushed tomatoes in your sieve.
I started with 8 pounds of tomatoes and ended up with 4 cups of crushed tomatoes which I think when you add either the tomato juice you made or water to it would easily make six 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes.
And 8 cups of tomato juice. Even with a high price of tomatoes in America. I'm pretty sure you would come out ahead using the fresh tomatoes. And it didn't take long at all. I'm so excited about this.
Banana Pudding from Scratch
I've been making a lot of things from scratch so that we can have familiar foods. It has been so much fun learning new things. One of our favorites is banana pudding from scratch!
1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
2 dashes of salt (yes, I'm weird)
3 cups milk
Put all of these in a double broiler and and stir continuously. In my case I don't really have an official double broiler, so I use two pots. One a little smaller than the other. I put about 2 inches of water in the bottom and turn the stove on. Then I balance the pot on top with all my ingredients. I'm standing there the whole time so I don't think its dangerous...haha
Stir until it thickens to a pudding texture. When it cools it won't get much thicker so you want to keep stirring as long as possible. It's about 10-15 minutes.
Add a splash of Vanilla extract. Stir.
Then layer pudding, vanilla wafers (in KTM its Parle-G crackers), and banana slices. This is great warm or chilled. Makes enough for 4 adults and 6 kids....especially if your are stingy with the kids...haha