Sunday, July 22, 2012

Raspberry Freezer easy!

Gone are the days when one slaves over a hot stove in a sweltering kitchen to make jam for the winter months. Freezer jam is simple and even the most challenged in the art of domestication can produce a batch to brag about. One of the main reasons I love freezer jam--the fruit still tastes as fresh as the day you picked it. There is no cooking involved, so the fruit doesn't lose its flavor or nutrients! We grow our own raspberries, and they are producing fast and furious this time of year. We cannot possibly keep up with consuming all the berries fresh, so jam is a good alternative. If you do not have access to raspberry bushes, it is a great time of year to pick up fresh fruit at your local farmer's market. 

To make raspberry freezer jam all you need are three simple ingredients; 
raspberries, sugar, and fruit pectin (all grocery stores carry this). 

It is best to purchase small 8 oz plastic containers with lids
or small glass jars with canning lids. 
I prefer using Bell plastic containers made specifically for freezer jam.

I like this particular recipe for freezer jam because it calls for less sugar (only 1 1/2 cups). 
Some recipes call for as much as 5 1/2 cups of sugar to 3 cups of fruit!  

What you will need:

4 cups of fresh raspberries, crushed (do not place in blender)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 freezer jam pectin package (1.59 oz)

Combine sugar and freezer jam pectin into a large bowl and mix until well blended. Add crushed raspberries and stir until well combined (for 3 minutes).

 Pour jam into freezer containers, leaving a 1/2" head space. 

Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately, refrigerate 
up to three weeks, or freeze up to 1 year. See how easy that was!

Spread on a slice of toasted gluten-free bread...jam never tasted so good!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Healthy Kale Chips

Scott and I decided to try the South Beach Diet to drop a few pounds this summer. I have found that dieting in general makes us both grumpy. We can't eat the things we want to eat, at least we choose not to while attempting to stay on the diet. The South Beach is all about eating protein and green veggies for the first two weeks; no carbs, no fruit, no sweets. It's amazing how I crave certain foods when I'm forbidden to eat them. I love fruit, and can't wait for the two weeks to end so I can enjoy the fresh produce that is so bountiful this time of year. But when it is salt I'm craving, nothing takes the place of a good corn or potato chip. I decided to get a little creative today with the veggies I am allowed to eat. 

Mention the word "kale" around my house and my husband is ready to throw it to the wild rabbits that dart through our yard in the early mornings. He doesn't like the roughness of the leaves, but perhaps I could get him to enjoy a few if they were crisp like a chip. Making kale chips is easy and I would venture to say, much healthier than a potato chip.

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Begin by washing one bunch of kale, then blot completely dry with a paper towel. Tear the leaves off the hard stems and place into a large bowl. Pour two tablespoons of Olive Oil over the leaves and sprinkle with Sea Salt. Mix the oil and salt into the leaves well. This will soften the kale.


  Place the freshly rubbed kale onto a cookie sheet and into a 
275 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, turning over after ten minutes. 

The kale will shrivel to nearly half its size.
Remove from oven and allow kale to dry before eating.
(It should crumble in your mouth, like a chip.) 

The outcome: he didn't feed it to the rabbits, quite opposite. He said, "Wow! This tastes really great. I could eat this all day". Kale chips may become a staple around here; at least while we're on this diet.