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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Homemade Pizza Sauce

We love pizza around here. I adore keeping these handy freezer crusts on hand. They are the perfect vehicle for cheesiness. But they are small. Even if you are doing two or three at a time, the amount of sauce needed is pretty small. Certainly less than even the smallest commercial jar of sauce out there. Plus, as far as I've seen, the commercial sauces tend to be a bit on the runny side. I like a nice, thick sauce for my pizza.

Like so many other things, I make a big batch at one time and freeze it in individual use portions. In this case, I freeze them in roughly 1/4 cup servings. That is enough to cover three of my individual size freezer crusts or enough to cover one small family pizza. Obviously, when you need sauce, you can thaw however many you need. They thaw so quickly in the microwave. 

To get the best thickness, I mix one can of plain tomato sauce and one can of plain tomato paste. Make sure you get the plain stuff (I also get it with no salt added), or the added flavors may make the final product a bit wonky. 

Add in the remaining ingredients. I like to add a little sweetness to my sauce and, believe it or not, light corn syrup gives the best flavor in my experience. You can leave it out if you'd rather. Or cut it down. Or double it. That's the nice thing about making things yourself at home - you can customize it to your family's tastes.

Freeze in individual portions. You could use a regular ice cube tray. I found this great cubical tray a couple years ago. I don't even remember where I got it, but it's great. The bottom is silicone, so you have some added leverage in popping the cubes out once they're frozen. These things keep for months and months as long as they're in an air tight container. and, again, they're super easy to thaw out when you're ready to make your own pizza.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
Yield: 1 1/2 cups sauce

6 ounces salt-free, plain tomato paste
8 ounces salt-free, plain tomato sauce
3 TBS light corn syrup (optional)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp ground thyme
3/4 tsp table salt (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients together. Freeze in individual portions. Thaw in the microwave as needed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Did You Know? Banana Edition

In the not too distant past, I somehow came across a bunch of online forums where moms were debating the best way to mange bananas for their babies. The complaint was regarding how to best store bananas after peeling them because their babies were only eating a small part of the banana at a time. There were all kinds of methods mentioned, but not one single person discussed the simplest method of all.

Simply cut whatever amount of banana off that you want to use and... leave the rest there. That's it. That's all there is to it.

The end of the banana dries out and seals itself and when you are ready to consume the rest of the banana, all you do is cut or peel off the dried end and proceed as usual. How long will it last like that, you might ask? As long as the banana will last before turning to goo on your counter. Yay for simple answers!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Easy Single Serve Muesli

I really love this stuff. I first posted about it seven years ago. (Wow... I've had this blog for over seven years?) It has not exactly been one of my most popular posts. The view tracker only gives it a paltry 98 hits over it's lifetime. That's a darn shame because this stuff is really, really good. I think this may be the only oatmeal type breakfast recipe I've ever come across that does not cook the oatmeal, and it really makes a difference in the final product. It's fresh tasting, fruity, and not in the least sticky. 

My biggest problem over the years has been having the opportunity to make it. The original recipe makes enough for 2-4 people, depending on how hungry they are and requires you to use an entire apple. If I only wanted to make a part of a recipe to feed myself during the week, for instance, what do I do with the rest of the apple? Needless to say, the result was that I just didn't end up making it very often. Recently, I made it to take to a brunch. When making it ahead of time, it's important not to mix the oats until the last minute. That got me thinking about whether I could make the liquid base of the muesli all at once and freeze it in individual portions. I was worried the texture or flavor might be off after freezing and thawing, but I was pleasantly surprised! It works fabulously!! 

This recipe uses two medium sized Granny Smith apples and make six 1/2 cup or nine 1/3 cup frozen servings. You blend the apples (peels on!) and milk in a blender and then add the remaining base ingredients (note -  you do not add all the ingredients as shown in the original recipe). 

When done blending, it should look something like this. Kind of frothy, kind of smooth, but kind of bumpy looking. Not a very appealing description, I know, but it really does make some good stuff. Trust me.

Divide the mixture into your freezer containers. Freeze immediately.

The night before you want to eat it, take one of the containers from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator. In the morning, toss in the quick oats and delicious add-ins of your choice. As always, my favorite combination is bananas, raisins, and peanuts. I totally love homemade freezer convenience foods and this one absolutely makes me smile! I hope you give it a try!

Easy Single Serve Muesli
Yield: 6 or 9 individual freezer servings

For the Freezer Base:

2 medium (about 8 oz each) Granny Smith apples, peel on, cored
1 cup whole milk
2 TBS sugar
3 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream

To Make the Muesli:

1 individually frozen portion, thawed
quick oats (1/4 cup for each 1/2 cup portion, 2 heaping TBS for each 1/3 cup portion)
sliced banana
other add-ins, to taste, such as grapes, pear chunks, spelt grains, or blueberries

In a blender, puree the cored, sliced apples with the milk. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and cream and blend just until evenly pureed. Divide into freezer containers as either six 1/2 cup or nine 1/3 cup servings. Freezer immediately. To prepare, place the frozen container in the refrigerator to thaw over night (be sure to use within two days for best flavor). Pour now thawed base into a bowl. Add the quick oats and add-ins. Stir and enjoy!

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