Hopp Diva's Blog


Jam July 16, 2014

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks — Hopp Diva @ 9:11 pm

As I was checking my email today I found this recipe from Cooking Light magazine for strawberry jam.  Normally I would delete a jam recipe because I am just not in the mood to make jam right now and I would probably take the cheaters way out by finding some at the farmers market 😉  But this recipe intrigued me because it was put in a slow cooker and it had wine in it!  Go figure right?  I’m going to try it this weekend.  Plus I think making the recipe with blueberries (which are ready now at the markets) and adding either lemon thyme or pineapple mint might be fun.    Enjoy!!!!


  • 2 pounds very ripe hulled strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Riesling wine
  • 1 medium peeled Macintosh apple, grated
  • 1 (1.75-ounce) box Sure-Jell fruit pectin
  • 1 rosemary sprig


  1. 1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  2. 2. Mash the fruit to a chunky puree with a potato masher or an emulsion . Increase heat to HIGH; cook, uncovered, 4 hours. Turn off heat, and nestle rosemary sprig into fruit mixture; let stand 1 hour. Remove and discard rosemary sprig and any loose needles. Place jam in a bowl; cover and chill 8 hours. Store, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks

NOTE:  I’m going to put it in jars so I can give to others to sample 😉


Adult Hot Cocoa December 12, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks — Hopp Diva @ 12:17 pm
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I’m not a big hot chocolate fan but I have some friends who love the stuff, but I think it’s because of what they add to it!   I decided to share their versions of “hot coco”.  One of the recipes has mint flavor, which I”m not a fan of but the other that is more coffee/chocolate is really not bad.

So on these cold chilly December nights or if you have been outside in the snow and are chilled to the bone, either one of these recipes will definitely warm you up from the inside.  Enjoy!!!!   For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Adult Hot Cocoa

1 oz brandy

1 oz dark rum (I use http://sailorjerry.com/the-rum/)

1 oz Creme de Mint

1 cup very warm hot cocoa that has been made with no fat half & half (anything but water)

Low Fat or Fat Free Cool Whip – frozen

Mix all the liquors into a measuring cup.  Make a cup of hot cocoa in a large enough cup so add 3 more ounces as well as some whip topping.  Blend all the ingredients except the Cool Whip.

Just before serving add a dollop of Cool Whip on the top of the hot cocoa.  The Cool Whip will melt and make the drink even more creamy!

NOTE: If you are like me and do not like the flavor of mint, you can substitute the creme de mint with Kahlua – delish

hot chocolate


Smoky Beer Peanuts December 10, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks — Hopp Diva @ 12:24 pm
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It took me awhile but I finally come up to the issue I was having regarding smoking some peanuts.  When I was ready to give up I had one last idea, but thought it would not work because it was so simple compared to all the recipes I had tried so far (not sure if wild animals like peanuts but I sure threw out a great deal).  The idea did not involve a smoker (although you could use it if you choose) but an oven or a grill, some Liquid Smoke and some smoky sea salt.  Who would have thought just three ingredients could make a tasty snack.  Because of the smoky taste, you really don’t sit and just chow down on cups and cups of the peanuts, you are satisfied with a few as you enjoy an adult beverage.  Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Blanched unsalted peanuts (do not use raw nuts)

Liquid Smoke

Smoky Sea Salt

Line a baking sheet with heavy foil and spray with Pam Olive Oil.

Depending on how many nuts you want to make ( 2 cups or more) will depend on how much Liquid Smoke or Smoky Sea Salt you will need.  I found that a few teaspoons was not enough of the Liquid Smoke and I don’t know if my bottle was considered old (less than 6 months) or if the brand was not a good one but I only could get what I had in the local grocery.  The smoky sea salt really helped make the smoky flavor pop on the peanuts, so if you can get some, you should.

Spread the peanuts on the baking sheet (only use foil if you are putting on the grill).  Warm oven to about 250 degrees.  You are not baking the peanuts just warming them and drying the Liquid Smoke into the nuts.  Sprinkle Liquid Smoke from the bottle over the nuts as generously as you want for the amount of smoke you want the nuts to have.

Place in oven and stir about every 7-9 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with smoky sea salt.  Let the nuts cool and then place them in an air tight container until you are ready to serve them.

NOTE:  If you put the peanuts on the grill, spray the heavy foil and spread the peanuts on it.  Keep your grill on the low setting and follow the directions from above.

Smoking peanuts in the smoker didn’t give any more flavor to the nuts I tried than the Liquid Smoke.


Rosy Reindeer Cocktail December 6, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks — Hopp Diva @ 3:13 pm
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I received this recipe for the Reindeer Cocktail early this morning and I just didn’t think making cocktails, taking pictures and then sampling at 7:00 am was probably a good idea to start my day – nothing would get accomplished the rest of the day but maybe a nap!

But I have to say this looks and sounds delicious so until I can make the cocktail, here is a recipe for all of us to try.  Thanks to Jaime from Angry Orchards for this holiday recipe.    Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Rosy Reindeer Cooler


2 medium strawberries, quartered

2 basil leaves, julienned (cut into thin strips)

2 lime slices

½ oz simple syrup

1 oz vanilla vodka (used Stoli Vanilla)

4 oz Crisp Hard Apple Cider

=166 calories, 11 grams of sugar

Mixology: Muddle strawberries & basil in simple syrup. Squeeze & add the 2 lime slices. Fill glass with ice (We suggest a mason jar, but tumbler also works). Add 4 oz cider. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Garnish with strawberry & lime slice.

Simple Syrup

1. This sugar-water solution is great for mixed drinks, sweetening iced teas and coffees, and for candying fruits. You can also make a thick simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water), also known as “sorbet syrup,” to use as a base for many flavors of sorbet. It can also used for making old-fashioned rock candy.

Here’s how to make a one-to-one simple syrup, with one cup of water and one cup of sugar.

2. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. You don’t have to stir, but it will help the sugar dissolve faster.

3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.

Depending upon what you’re using it for, you can flavor the syrup:

  • Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for a basic vanilla syrup.
  • Infuse with herbs or spices, if desired; mint and lemon are great for iced tea.
  • Brandy and rum are often used for moistening cakes.

Transfer the cooled syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.


Homemade Ginger Beer December 4, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers & Drinks — Hopp Diva @ 12:29 pm
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This is a fun holiday cocktail but you do need to like the flavor of ginger because it’s packed full of it.  Don’t confuse this ginger beer with the stuff you get out of the store because it’s definitely an adult cocktail as you will understand when you read the recipe.  Make sure everything is really cold when you mix the ingredients together.     Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Ginger Beer

1 piece fresh ginger

4 cups ginger ale, chilled (I use Canada Dry)

2 – 12oz bottles of amber beer chilled (your preference)

1/2 cup dark rum (Sailor Jerry’s – is great)

Grate the ginger using the large grater side of a box grater.  Squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into a small bowl to equal 2 tsp. throw out the solids.

Stir together in a pitcher the ginger ale, beer, dark rum and the juice from the ginger.  Chill and serve in chilled beer glasses.

Homemade Ginger Beer

Bacon Popcorn October 18, 2012

Yesterday while at a meeting with the gentlemen from Plumb’s Market (my sponsor), we started talking about some of the latest news on foods being removed from a school.  The food that I”m talking about is Flamin’ Cheetos.  Finally someone looked at the back of the package and noticed there were about 24 grams of fat in one small bag!  Hello….

The news reporter claimed it was not just the fat content that had the school pulling the product off the shelves but also the sodium.  There were also claims the Flamin’ Cheetos were addicting.  Another funny piece to the news report was that the school was not removing the “regular Cheetos” from the school lunch program!  Not sure I understand that rational at all.

When I got back to the Test Kitchen, I started thinking about something I could come up with that would not be too loaded with fat, be a snack and you could consume/bring it to the big parties this weekend for the Michigan/Michigan State rivalry game.  I knew that I had some turkey bacon in the frig (let’s fact it men like bacon) and I had a bit of popcorn kernels left in the pantry.  Hummmm, the creative thoughts were developing.

Last December I purchased a popcorn popper that I used to make lots of the treats for the holidays.  I believe it’s by Orville and is electric.  The base is t-fal  coating, with a stirring mechanism in the bottom.  It took a couple of tries but eventually I made it work and even though I am not a bacon fan this was pretty darn good….addicting?  Probably not but who knows 🙂     Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!     For comments/questions email  ramona@lowfatdivablog.com 

Cut up at least 3 pieces of turkey bacon in small pieces (chopped almost).  Plug in your popcorn popper.  Remove the top piece and once the bottom feels warm to the touch add the bacon pieces.  As the popper heats up, your bacon should start cooking.  About half way through, add about 1 -2 tsp. of olive oil and the amount of corn the popper calls for (1/4 cup – 1/3 cup), quickly place cover over the top.   Gently shake the popper to make sure everything is even on the bottom.  You may have to shake it a couple of times during the popping cycle.

When the  corn appears to be done popping, quickly up plug the popper and invert the popped corn into the top of the popper.  Shake the corn/bacon mixture.  I added Cajun seasoning to the mixture and it was awesome!!!!!  Just keep shaking so you get the seasoning mixed in well.  Delish!  Even for someone who does not like bacon.
NOTE:  You can top off any of the soups/bisque that I have given you recipes for lately with the bacon popcorn!


Soft Pretzels February 2, 2012

I have been researching recipes for soft pretzels and so far this one is my favorite.  I used beer as part of my liquid and I don’t feel you can substitute water because the recipe will probably not turn out.  The yeast of the beer works along with the yeast in the recipe and it also gives it a malty flavor.  Speaking of the beer in the recipe, don’t use an IPA because the hops flavor will over take the recipe and make the flavor bitter.  There is only 1/4 tsp of sugar in the recipe.   I would suggest a brown or you could use a lighter stout ( I found a Neapolitan stout and want to make a batch of pretzels with it so the pretzels are more of a dessert type than savory).

If you are concerned about children eating the pretzels because of the beer, remember when you bake/cook the alcohol content is removed from the food with only the flavor left behind.   Enjoy!  If you have comments/questions please email me ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Soft Pretzels

1 T. dry yeast

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup beer

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups hot water

1 tsp. baking soda

1 egg beater

coarse sea salt

In a small bowl add 1 T. of yeast, 1/4 tsp of sugar and 1/4 cup warm water.  Stir  the mixture and let it sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast starts to foam.

In a large bowl for a stand mixer, add the beer.  Once the yeast has proofed, add it to the beer and stir.  The beer and yeast mixture will fizz for a couple of seconds.  Add the flour and salt to the beer mixture and combine.  If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour and if it’s too dry add a little warm water.  You want to be able to knead the dough without it falling apart or sticking to your hands too much. You need it to be a bit sticky because you will be kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface and you don’t want it to be too dry.

The kneading of the dough can be a pain because you need to do it for about 10 minutes.  I turned on some music and it takes about 2 songs 🙂

Spray the mixing bowl with Pam, add the dough ball and spray it also.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and keep in a warm place for about an hour or until it’s double in size.

Tear the dough into 8 evenly sized dough balls.  Roll each ball into a long thin narrow strip.  You can shape the strip into a pretzel or form or you can cut into 2 inch pieces to have pretzel pieces. Place on sprayed baking sheet so they are not touching.

In a pan warm up the water and add the baking soda, stirring until the soda is dissolved.  Dip each pretzel into the water for  10 – 15 seconds and then place them back on the baking sheet.  Let them sit for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes brush each pretzel/piece with egg beaters.  Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt ( I had some colored salt and it gave a fun twist in flavor).

Bake pretzels in a 425 oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Don’t over bake!

NOTE:  If you have ever had a soft pretzel you know they taste best the day you make them, however don’t worry if you have left over pretzels because they make fantastic sandwiches!!!!!  I toasted the pretzel put Canadian Bacon in the middle along with some fresh salad greens and a bit of spicy mustard.  DELICIOUSLY YUMMY


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