GP's Hot Chips and Homemade Ketchup

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These hot chips were EASY and delicious!  I found the recipe on Pinterest ... they are out of Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook.  I didn't follow the measurements at all and reading through the recipe again now, I realize I skipped a couple of steps too ... like peeling and drying the potatoes.  

Here's how I did mine.  I just cut up as many potatoes as fit on my two big baking trays.  I put them in a big bowl of cold water and let them soak for an hour or so. 

Ten minutes before I wanted to cook them, I turned the oven on to 230C/450F

Then I drained the water, added a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a good sprinkle of coarse sea salt.  I shook that around in the bowl, then transferred the potatoes to my baking trays that I had lined with baking paper. 

I baked them in the pre-heated oven until they were golden and cooked through.  The first time it took about 40 minutes, the second time it only took about 30 ... I set my time for 20, stir them and then check them every few minutes after that.

When they come out of the oven, I sprinkle with a bit more coarse sea salt.

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I've been trying to make some more things from scratch.  You know, eliminating additives and preservatives one at a time.  Last night, I decided to tackle ketchup.  I found this one on pinterest and was pretty happy with the results, although it did have a slight honey taste.  But only very slight.  The whole family liked it.  I have a couple of other ketchup recipes pinned that I want to try though before I decide which one is the best. 

I just realized too that I didn't print (or read through) the recipe completely so I missed the bit about cooling it.  We ate it warm and it was delish. 

I won't share the recipe with you here ... the link is above.  Like I said, I want to try a few more ... probably in the end I'll adapt a few of the recipes and then print you my favorite. 

Apple Butter Granola

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My Mom's comment on my sugar free, crock pot apple butter recipe the other day was a story from her childhood.  I'll share it with you.

"Apple butter reminds me of my Grandpa Templin. Every day that I can remember when we were visiting he had apple butter for breakfast. My Grandma would make him 2 slices of toast and put them in a shallow soup bowl. At the top of his spoon (because yes, the table was always set for breakfast, complete with a napkin in a ring beside the fork, and the Daily Bread devotional book there too) would be a little dish of apple butter. (At the top of his fork would be a dish with stewed prunes, but I digress!) When we were all at the table, Grandma would come in with a little pan of hot milk and pour it into the bowl onto his toast. His spoon would dip into the apple butter, then cut off a bite of the toast, along with a spoonful of the milk, and it would then pop into his mouth. An eminently fascinating scene for this little girl, every day!! So I double love apple butter..."

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the memory that she has and the way she tells it!  She does that a lot, my Mom, she had a very memorable childhood!

I got to thinking yesterday morning that maybe milk and apple butter would be alright together.  I got out a scoop of homemade granola, topped with with a bit of milk and then a few spoonfuls of apple butter.

Mmmmm.  The spicey-appley-taste added a little something special.  I loved it.

Even better was that each time I dipped my spoon into the milky, apple butter goodness, I thought of my Mom and my Great Grandpa.  And I smiled.

Camo Cupcakes


Growing up my birthday cakes involved things like pink flowers, rabbits, and Raggedy Ann...but when making birthday confections for gun toting, sports loving, tree climbing boys pink just isn't going to cut it.  Enter AK's Internet discovery CAMO CUPCAKES!!!  Super easy - super fun! 

You'll need a box of white cake mix, a box of chocolate cake mix, and some green food coloring (preferably dark green rather than neon)

Follow the box instructions and mix up the two cake mixes in separate bowls.  Divide into the following:
1. one bowl with just white
2. one bowl with a little white and a little chocolate
3. one bowl with all chocolate
4. one bowl with some white, a little bit of chocolate, and enough green food coloring to make it a green you like. 

Mix each bowl until the colors are combined and then spoon the batter into ziplocks (I found that quart sized bags were perfect).

Snip the corner of each bag and blop (very technical term!) a bit into lined muffin tins.  The nice thing about camo is it's no set order to blop the batter in.  Just make sure you're being random in your blopping!
Bake cupcakes according to the box directions...and...
   Even Camo on the inside!

The instructions for the camo icing said to do the same thing with chocolate and vanilla icing and green food coloring, putting each color in a separate disposable piping bag and then putting all four bags into one big piping bag.  This did not turn out very well...(if you try it and figure out how to make it NOT look like poop...please tell me what you did!)

 I ended up just writing on the cupcakes with the different colors...turned out ok!
 I wish I would have thought of this though :-)  For the next birthday I made (upon request) vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing, then topped them each with a green army man and green sprinkles.  FUN!

Sugar Free, Crock Pot Apple Butter

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A little disclaimer here.  I am not an apple butter expert.  I have probably only eaten it once or twice in my life.  But, I bought 12 kilos (26 pounds!) of apples by accident the other day.  Yeah, it was on line and I thought I was buying 12 apples ... SURPRISE!!!  12 kilos is a LOT of apples!!

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So ... I've made crock pot apple sauce.  Apple strudel muffins (recipe coming).  Apple crumble.  And now apple butter.   I'm in love with the apple butter.  You'll have to try it though and tell me if it can be called apple butter or if we should just call it "spiced apple thick sauce."

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I peeled the apples for this apple butter but I've since read that you can do it without peeling them.  I'm going to make some more and try that, because not peeling them would make this way less time consuming!  Not that it's super time consuming, but you know .... WAY LESS! 

Here's a little video about a little gadget that helps make things a lot easier too ...

Ok ... so, this was super simple. I filled my crock pot with peeled chopped apples. I used 2 kilos of granny smiths and 1 kilo of royal gala. Next time I will probably do two kilos of the sweeter apple ... On top of the apples I sprinkled 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of the following: ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cloves and ground nutmeg. I then poured about 1/4 cup of water over the top and then gave it a stir. I put the crock pot on low and let it go for about 14 hours.

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When I came back, the apples were totally cooked.  I just stirred them with a spoon and they broke down.  I got out the stick blender and blended it right in the pot.  I left it cook on low for another hour or so but I'm not sure that was even necessary.

And that's it. 

I hear you can eat this stuff on toast.  So far, I've just been eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon ...

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AFTER NOTE :: I made this again and didn't peel that apples.  Did it make a difference? The only notable difference was that I didn't have to peel the apples!  This easy recipe just got a bit easier!!  There was no change to taste and as I understand it, it's desirable to leave the skin on as it contains a lot of great nutrients.

ALSO :: when I originally posted this I said to use 1/2 tsp of all the spices (other than cinnamon) but then last night when I was putting the spices in the crockpot, I realized that it was actually only 1/4 tsp.  I imagine it's probably a bit to taste and it wouldn't really matter if you put in 1/2 tsp but I've changed it in the post to 1/4 tsp because that's the way I do it ...

Mariposa Palmiers

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The other night I made fruit salad for dessert but we wanted something to go along with it. El had one piece of puff pastry in the freezer so we made mariposas!  You may know them as Palmiers.  I don't know why we called them mariposas growing up ... maybe because they look like butterflies?

Anyway ... these are super easy. 

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

You will need:
Puff pastry
Sugar, we used caster (fine) sugar

Baking tray lined with baking paper.

Sprinkle sugar onto a flat surface.  Lay puff pasty on top of flat sugared surface. Sprinkle a good layer of sugar on the top of the puff pastry.  Roll pastry from each side to meet in the centre.  Slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Lay slices on baking tray.  Bake anywhere between 10-15 minutes.  Keep and eye on them though ... burned sugar is not nice. 

Orange Creamsickle Drink

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I'm learning lots of new and delicious things since my sister moved to Australia!
This is one on my favorites.

Orange Soda, 1 can
Vanilla Vodka, 1 shot
Cream, a couple of teaspoons

Fill a glass with ice and orange soda.  Add vanilla vodka and cream. Stir.  Drink and remember the days of childhood ... in the form of orange cream-sickles.  Yum.

Simple Avo Tom Salad

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The other night I was trying to throw together a meal from the fridge since I hadn't planned anything and I needed to shop.  I had made Japanese mince and rice as the main but I needed a veggie side. I found a few cherry tomatoes, an avocado and a spring onion.  I thought of the  simple cucumber salad that my sister taught me to make and decided to do a little variation.  This is it ...

Cherry tomatoes
Spring Onions
Rice Wine Vinegar
Sesame Seeds

She added sesame oil to the cucumber salad, I didn't add it to this one. 

I'm not sure you need instructions but all you do is chop your veg, sprinkle with vinegar and sesame seeds. 


Bacon Salad. With Bacon.

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So, the other night, Ellie was cooking a putanesca (not this one but if you want to try one, this is a good one to try) for dinner.  I was tasked with making a salad.  Ryan had seen a salad he wanted to try that was topped with bacon and pumpkin seeds.  Turns out the salad he was thinking about was actually a soup so we never did find a recipe.  No biggie though.  I threw this little beauty together and it was DELICIOUS!

There aren't really measurements ... it's a salad.

Bacon, however much you like.
Red Onion
Garlic, I think I used about eight cloves
Mixed seeds (my mix was pumpkin, sunflower and pine nut)
Fresh Parmesan cheese

Dry toast the seeds in a small frying pan until just brown.  Just enough for a topping.  You don't see my seed topping in the photo because we had to change platters while we were assembling the salad so my seeds are actually on the bottom!  Anyway ... set the seeds aside.

Chop bacon, dice onion, sliver the garlic and saute together.   While that is cooking, slice the mushrooms and add to bacon mixture when it's just about done.

On a large platter, lay spinach.  Top with bacon mixture.  Chop avocado and lay on top of salad.  Sprinkle with seeds and grate parmesan cheese on top.

I didn't add any dressing. 

I like to think that the bacon was the dressing. 

But, you could add dressing if you like ...

Simple Cucumber Salad

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My sister made this the other night. I loved it.
I tried my hand at it the other night. A different other night. I loved it, again.

Here's the 'recipe' ...

sesame seeds
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil
I peeled strips off the whole cucumber to get the striped effect you see in the photo.  You can do that or peel the whole thing or don't peel it at all.  Slice cucumber.  Sprinkle with rice wine vinegar and a few drops of sesame oil.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

That's it. 



Block vs. Grated Cheese

A few years ago we tried to go totally unprocessed.  We did really well for about 5 months, then I had to go back to the States for a funeral.  I was gone ten days and when I got home, I just couldn't get back into it!!  It was so much work!

Looking back, because I want to start again, I think part of the problem was that I tried to tackle EVERY SINGLE additive & preservative at the same time.  As well as cutting out all the white stuff ... you know, flour, sugar, rice etc .....

It was too much at once.

But, there are things I still do regularly that I learned back then.  Like ... making my own mayo - so easy!  (watch this video!)   And grating cheese. 

I'll admit, I don't do these things exclusively but I'm going to head that way.  I'm going to try to replace one processed product in my pantry/fridge with an unprocessed version each week.  I'm hoping that trying to tackle this on a smaller, more gradual scale will be easier. 

I'll share what I find.  

So, what's with the grating cheese thing?  I need to find where I read it and come back and reference it, but apparently, grated cheese contains an anti-caking agent and block cheese doesn't.  Grating your own cheese is an easy way to eliminate one preservative from your diet!

It's easy.  And you can freeze it. 

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Start with a block ...

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Pop it in your food processor.  Or grate with whatever you use to grate.  Do the whole block!

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Into the freezer and ready for when you need it!

So quick.

So easy.