Low Fat Diva Blog

Low Fat Lifestyle Recipes & Lowfat Cooking Tips

What’s The Difference Between Soft-Ball And Hard-Ball? February 21, 2013

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 9:15 pm

No, we are not talking base ball because then I would have no clue, I’m talking the difference as it relates to candy.  Some people are afraid to make certain candy because it requires a candy thermometer and terminology they are not accustomed to.  Hopefully some of the questions you have will be answered and fears put to rest.

Soft –Ball Stage is when a sugar mixture reaches 235-240 degrees.  At this temperature, sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball. If you remove the ball from water, it will flatten like a pancake after a few moments in your hand.  Candies like fondant, fudge or pralines are cooked to this stage.

Hard-Ball Stage refers to a specific temperature range when cooking sugar syrups and occurs when the temperature reaches 250-265 degrees. If you doubt your thermometer, this stage can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If hard-ball stage has been reached, the syrup will hold its ball shape and deform only slightly with very firm pressure. The ball will be quite sticky to the touch.  Marshmallow, nougat or rock candy are some examples for this temperature.

If you go too far and your temperature reaches 300-310 degrees you will be at the Hard-Crack stage This is a temperature you would need for sea foam, toffee or nut brittle.

Here are some pictures of good candy thermometers.  The type is just personal preference.

candy tstat  candy 3

 

What Is Chowchow? February 19, 2013

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 5:47 pm
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I have mixed feelings on whether I like this stuff but I love saying the name….chowchow!  I’m not a big relish girl but I find chowchow interesting.  Chowchow is a slightly tangy Southern vegetable relish and people use it with everything from hot dogs to corn bread and lots of things in between!

hot dog with chow chow

I made some chowchow and decided to use it on our turkey dogs.  It was pretty good and the flavor of spicy and tang was unique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 pounds green bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 pounds red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

3 pounds green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 pounds sweet onions, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

One 3 1/4-pound head of green cabbage, cored and finely chopped

1/2 cup kosher salt

6 cups sugar

4 cups cider vinegar

2 cups water

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon dry mustard

2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon celery seeds

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

  1. In a very large bowl, toss the bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and cabbage with the salt; cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the vegetables, discarding the liquid. In a large, heavy pot, bring the sugar, vinegar and water to a boil. Add the mustard seeds, dry mustard, crushed red pepper, celery seeds, ginger and turmeric and stir well. Add the drained vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the relish is thick and saucy, about 1 hour. Pack the chowchow into 6 hot 1-quart canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top, and close with the lids and rings.
  3. To process, simmer the jars at 180° for 30 minutes and monitor the water temperature with a thermometer. Store the jars in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks before serving, to allow the flavors to meld; store unopened for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

The second batch we made (with my mom) we made with regular tomatoes because green were not an option.  This is her “stash” of chowchow

red chow

 

More Fruits Of Distinction – Blackberries In Framboise

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 12:09 pm

I was amazed when I was at the store recently and blackberries were not only available but also quite inexpensive so I picked some up.  With this recipe you can put the fruit on top of pancakes (which is what I did) or my friend used hers on top of ice cream – frozen yogurt of course!  These are just delicious!    Enjoy!!!    For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

6 cups blackberries divided

water

2 cups white sugar

1 cinnamon  stick broken into pieces

1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg – you can use your new microplane!

1/2 cups Framboise or other raspberry liqueur

You will need four 8 oz jars for this recipe.

In a stainless steel sauce pan place 2 cups of the blackberries.  Using a potato masher, crush slightly.  Add 3 tablespoons of water.  Cover and boil gently medium low heat until fruit is soft – about 2 minutes.  Strain through a strainer lined with a coffee filter or several layers of dampened cheesecloth.  Set over a glass measuring cup to collect the blackberry juice – at least 1/2 cup.

In a clean stainless steel saucepan combine sugar, cinnamon stick pieces, lemon zest, nutmeg and 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and gently boil for 5 minutes.  Strain and return the syrup to a saucepan.  Add the blackberry juice, remaining blackberries and Francoise.  Bring over a low boil so you do not crush the blackberries, stir constantly for about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon add hot blackberries into the jars to with in 1/2 in of top.  Ladle hot syrup into the jars to cover the blackberries, again leaving 1/2 in on top.  Wipe rim, add lid and tighten down.  If you plan on using right away, cool and place in frig.  If not then you will need to process in a hot water bath!

 

blackberries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruits Of Distinction!

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 11:47 am

I loved this title when I saw it while looking for more ideas on Spirited Fruits.  What could be better than the fabulous flavor of fruit enhanced by the addition of other fun ingredients such as nuts, wine or liqueurs?

Keep the recipe to make for gifts or bust out the ingredients now and try some of these tasty treats at your next gathering!    Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions contact ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

8 lbs. Granny Smith apples cored, cut lengthwise into eights (the tartness of these apples work the best and they are dense to absorb the flavors)

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

NOTE:  To prevent your apples from browning while you are cutting them up, you can put them in a bowl where they will be submerged in some form of citric acid (lemon juice mixed with water, etc), just be sure to rinse and drain before you finish the recipe.

*You will need to have 8 jars (pint) sterilized and kept warm to put the fruit and liquid into at the end.

In a large stainless steel saucepan combine apples and sugar.  Toss gently to coat the apples.  Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.  Add the dried cherries, raisins, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, water and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat and do a gentle boil for 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon pack the hot fruit into 8 warm  sterilized jars.  Leave at least 1/2 in on top of jar.  Ladle the hot syrup into the jar to cover the fruit, again leaving 2/3 in from top. Wipe rim, put lid and ring on the jar, tighten.  If you will be eating/giving away soon, let cool and then place in frig.  If you want to store them, you will need to proceed with a hot water bath.

apples, raisns

 

 

 

What Is A Microplane? Do I Need One??? February 18, 2013

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog,Low Fat Products — lowfatdiva @ 10:44 pm
A Microplane is a rasp-like grater, developed by the Microplane Company, that hit the market in the 1990s.  It is based on the design for a woodworking rasp, and has a long metal shaft covered with small, sharp metal teeth. These teeth don’t cut down far into the fruit, just far enough into the rind to get the flavorful zest off, shredding it into very fine ribbons that easily incorporate into any recipe. Microplanes are extremely efficient, and once you have used one, you’ll never go back to any other method of zesting fruit!

For those interested in multipurpose kitchen products, a microplane can also be used to grate hard cheeses, like Parmesan, and to grate spices, like nutmeg. The teeth are extremely sharp, even though they are small, so be careful if you choose to grate smaller spices (or other things) with the microplane so that you don’t accidentally grate a fingertip or two!

Here are some pictures of different microplane.  And to answer the question of do I need one – YES!

plane 1

 

Spice Microplane

Spice Microplane

plane 2

 

Spirited Fruits – Oh yea! February 17, 2013

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks,Desserts — lowfatdiva @ 5:39 pm
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Obviously the “spirited” part gave things away, but these little gems are so delightful.  This is also a wonderful thing to put on top of ice cream, share with friends, use with baking,appetizers etc.  Fruit cocktail has a whole new meaning.  The possibilities to use spirited fruits are endless!    Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Spirited Cherries

NOTE:  You can substitute any fruit for this basic recipe and the “spirits” you use should compliment the fruit (blueberries/grand marnier, peaches/rum or brandy, pears/kuhla,or cognac, apricots/brandy, amaretto)

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

7 1/2 cups pitted cherries

In a large stainless saucepan  over medium high heat combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the fruit,stirring constantly and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Prepare 8 sterilized jars.  Using a slotted spoon add fruit to the jar, add 1 tablespoon of Kirsch, cherry brandy or amaretto to each jar.  Top off with boiling mixture to 1/2 in top of jar.  Wipe rim of jar and place lid on jar.  Twist ring on tightly.

If you want the fruit to last longer, proceed to a hot water bath process or cool and store in refrigerator.

Spirited-FruitCheese-Hors-dOeuvres

Spirited Fruit Appetizer

 

Lemon Prune Honey Butter

Filed under: Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 5:04 pm
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Tired of just jam,jelly on your toast in the morning?  Try some fruit butters.  This one may sound unique because prunes are not something you think of for a fruit butter but it is wonderful on toast, biscuits, or a bagel.  Delish.    Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

prunebutter

 

 

 

3 cups pitted prunes

1 1/4 cup water, divided

grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

2/3 cup liquid honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon.ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon.ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons brandy

In a large stainless steel saucepan combine prunes, 1 cup water, lemon zest,and juice.  Stir well. bring to a boil overt medium high heat.  Reduce heat cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally until prunes are soft, about 15 min

Working in batches, transfer prune mixture to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree just until a uniform texture is achieved.  Do NOT liquefy!

In a clean large stainless steel saucepan combine prune puree, remaining 1/4 cup water, honey, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.  Stir well bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly,  boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in brandy and remove from heat.

Let cool.  Lade into sterilized jars and store in frig for 1 week.  If you want the butter to last a longer time you need to process it in a hot water bath.

 

 
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