Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 - Cooking From Scratch

Cooking from scratch is a great way to use and rotate your short and mid-term storage, not to mention the money you will save from your grocery budget!  It also allows us to have some comfort foods using ingredients we have on hand.  

I cook from scratch most of the time.  I also prefer to cook with produce that is in season, or use frozen or home canned/commercially canned foods out of season.  It is so easy to find a "homemade" version of so many things you can buy in the store online!  Any kind of mix you can think of can be made at home instead of coming from a box or can.  

We wanted to try making some homemade poptarts.  The only time I buy poptarts are when we go camping, so they are not in our house on a regular basis!

These are made from a basic pie crust dough and apricot jam made from apricots from our tree and a neighbor's tree.  Of course you can make these with refrigerated pie crust and store-bought jam, but knowing how to make a good homemade pie crust is so worth it!  (The trick is not overworking the dough!) 

Basic Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 to 7 Tablespoons water

Stir together flour and salt.  Cut in shortening until the pieces are the size of small peas.  Make ice water to use by putting some water and ice in a cup and measure out and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of the water at a time into the flour mixture and toss with a fork between tablespoons.  Repeat until it is all moistened and divide the dough in half.  Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape between two pieces of waxed paper to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut into 10x4 inch strips for poptarts.

Homemade Poptarts
Make the pie crust dough above, or your favorite recipe.  Roll out into the rectangle and roughly cut into 10 inch by 4 inch strips.  Put a tablespoonful of your favorite jam in the middle of one half of the strip.  Carefully fold the dough over to cover the jam and make a 5 inch by 4 inch poptart.  Use a fork to press and crimp all of the edges.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Let cool and top with some icing.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk together.  Continue stirring milk a few drops at a time until it just gets to a thick consistency.  Add color if wanted and drizzle over cooled poptarts.  The icing will harden if you let it sit.

I'm pretty sure these poptarts can't go in the toaster, and I don't want to try it!  If you want to heat them I would use a microwave or toaster oven, or even crisp in the regular oven for a few minutes.  We liked them as is, and the crust is much flakier than the crunchy, weird crust of the poptarts.

Hot Cocoa Mix
We love hot cocoa and can and do drink it year round!  My mom would make a big tupperware container of cocoa mix and we'd drink it up until it was gone and she'd mix up another batch!  A basic Hot Cocoa mix is easy to make.

1 8 quart package nonfat dry milk powder
1 16 oz. package powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 6 oz. jar powdered nondairy creamer

Mix in a a large bowl until totally combined.  I like to process mine in a food processor to make it really fine. For on cup use 1/3 cup cocoa mixture in a cup with 3/4 cup hot water.  Stir.  You can leave out the nondairy creamer and have a darker cocoa, which is what I prefer.

Home-popped Microwave Popcorn
Put 1/3 cup popcorn kernels into a paper lunch bag.  Fold the top over twice and pop in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the kernels quit popping regularly.  Air popped and definitely better for you!  Then you can make some of this yummy Candy Corn Popcorn!  You can easily half this recipe and still have a lot.  

Candy Corn Popcorn
24 cups popped popcorn
2 cups walnut halves
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Apple pie spice {or cinnamon}
½ tsp. Baking soda
2 packages candy corn {12.5 oz each} The chocolate candy corn is good, too

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine popcorn and walnuts in a lightly greased large roasting pan. In a heavy large saucepan, melt butter over med-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, molasses, and salt. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Boil 5 minutes without stirring.

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, apple pie spice, and baking soda. {Mixture will foam} Pour syrup over popcorn mixture; stir until well coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on lightly greased foil to cool. Sprinkle candy corn over popcorn mixture. Store in airtight container.

Yield: about 30 cups popcorn mix 

Some more Cooking From Scratch recipes I'll be trying:

I'll also be making this Homemade Ricotta Cheese soon!  It will be yummy in my roasted eggplant lasagna!

And this bread is getting mixed up tonight!

Cookie mixes are something I like to have on hand during the holidays.

Pretzels are the best when you're addicted to carbs like we are.  These will go heavenly with the hot cocoa!

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