Thursday, May 26, 2011

Freezer Jam

This is not an advertisement for Ball caning products, but it could be.

I love making freezer jam. I love the plastic 8 oz containers with the screw tops that Ball makes. I love that they are the perfect size. I love that the bottom clicks into the top of the lid so that they stack perfectly. I love that they are easy to wash and reuse (I use them for all kinds of things after the jam is gone).

I prefer jam made with Sure-Jell pectin rather than Ball instant pectin. It tastes better. And why wouldn't it? It has TONS more sugar. So, because it uses less sugar and because it doesn't require any preparation (you just dump the powdered pectin in with your sugar), I use Ball pectin. It also works with Splenda which is a nice alternative for diabetics. I love that I can make 5-8oz containers of jam in about 20 minutes. How easy is that?

Last fall I bought some fresh/frozen blackberries from Oregon (they are actually from a farm on the same road that my high school and church are on). I put the berries in freezer bags and tonight it was so easy to pull out one of those bags (I'd already defrosted it in the fridge) and just moosh the berries right in the bag, pour them into my measuring cup and then add them to the sugar/pectin mixture, stir for 3 minutes, then ladle them into my handy containers, let them sit 30 minutes and pop them into the freezer.

It REALLY is that easy! The taste of fresh berries* to last throughout the year!
*I like my jam to be fairly chunky, with pieces of berry in it. If you want a smoother texture, you'll have to work a little harder at mixing and straining. Raspberries are so seedy that I usually strain half and leave half chunky so that when mixed I get my desired chunkiness without all those seeds. Strawberries are less juicy and so they require a little more mooshing. I like to use my blender for strawberries and then I lightly chop a few so that I get the chunky-factor. I've never done fruit jams (just berry ones) but this summer I'm going to experiment. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Awesome Pizza Dough Recipe

I found a recipe online and then tweaked it a bit (of course). The original is Jay's Signature Pizza Crust on

The crust turned out really great. It had a really light texture, was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The flavor was great too. It is fairly easy to make (you do need to plan on starting your dough about 2 hours before you plan to eat though).
Here is a piece of our pizza from last night. See how yummy that crust looks!
Ingredients: (for two large pizzas or three medium pizzas)
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 t brown sugar (or honey)
  • 3 C warm water
  • 2 t salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 5 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 C wheat flour


  1. In a large bowl (or your Kitchen Aid bowl), dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Let sit 10 minutes (be patient and let it sit).
  2. Add the salt and oil and mix.
  3. Add half the white four and all of the wheat flour. Mix.
  4. Knead in the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky and has a nice smooth texture.
  5. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl (let's be honest, I just lifted the dough, sprayed my already-used bowl with olive oil spray and then plunked the dough back into it, I then sprayed the top of my dough with a little of the olive oil spray).
  6. Cover and let rise until double (approximately 1 hour).
  7. Punch down dough and form into balls (3 for 3 pizzas, etc.). Let it relax a bit before you start to spread it.
  8. Form into the shape of your pizza pan. Because the dough is quite rubbery, I found a small (like fits in my hand) roller to be essential. Before Phil bought me said roller, I would use a small glass and that worked as well.
  9. Preheat your oven to 425 and then top your pizza with your favorite toppings.
  10. Bake until the cheese and crust are golden brown (about 15-20 minutes).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Cake (no eggs)

Today we made cupcakes and then gave them away (while asking for a donation for the Alabama Tornado Relief effort). It was great fun and we made almost $130 to send to our friends in 'bama.

I did a batch of regular yellow cake from a box and then wanted a chocolate option. Also, one of my neighbor boys is allergic to eggs so I thought this recipe would be a good one so he could enjoy a cupcake too.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe (growing up we called this Mystery Cake - I guess because of the vinegar):

2 1/2 C Flour
1 1/2 C Sugar
4 1/2 T Cocoa
1 1/2 t Baking Soda
3/4 t Salt
1/2 C oil (or margarine)
1 1/2 T Vinegar
1 1/2 t Vanilla
1 1/2 C Cold Water

Mix dry ingredients then add oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water.
Bake at 350 for 18 minutes (cupcakes) or 30-35 minutes (cake rounds)

For the frosting I just threw things together without measuring but my guess would be (and this was for a double batch):

1/2 C butter
1/4 C shortening
1/3-1/2 C cocoa
1 t vanilla
1 T millk
enough powdered sugar to make it the right consistency (maybe 2 C?)