Hopp Diva's Blog


Garlic Tomato Jam September 9, 2013

Filed under: Gluten Free,Low Fat Diva Blog,Soups & Veggies — Hopp Diva @ 2:59 pm

I have posted a recipe in the past for tomato jam but recently someone sent me a new recipe that had a different twist to it and the jam is delicious!!!!   This recipe is a lot quicker than my original one which is another reason that I like it 😉   Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com


Tomato-Garlic Jam
2 medium tomatoes ( I like Roma)
¼ cup sugar
juice of 2 limes
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small Thai red chili pepper, minced, or ¼ teaspoon chili flakes (this gives it just a bit of a kick)
2 tablespoons fish sauce,

Peel tomatoes by slicing a small X in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds or until skin loosens. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and slip skins off when cool enough to handle. Chop tomatoes.

To make tomato-garlic jam, combine sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add tomatoes, red bell pepper, garlic and chili pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until mixture has reduced by about half. Stir in fish sauce (if using) and allow to cool to room temperature.


NOTE:  The longer the jam has to sit the better the flavors blend.  I also like to bring it out of frig so that it’s room temp when I put it on my burger.  Weather you use turkey, beef or a combination of meat for your burger, this jam is great on all of them!!!


tomato jam          tomato jam 2


Adult Ice Cream Sandwiches June 30, 2013

Filed under: Desserts,Low Fat Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 10:14 pm

These treats are so yummy it’s hard to only eat one but if you eat too many, you will be buzzing for hours because of the chocolate covered coffee beans!  I only add a few because even though they are coffee beans they are covered with dark chocolate and well we know what the fat content is like in chocolate 🙂  I also add just a bit of Irish Cream or Kahlua to my frozen yogurt too.   Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Blue Bunny Frozen Vanilla Bean Yogurt

Dark chocolate covered coffee beans  chopped

Low Fat dark chocolate wafers

Caramel topping

Remove frozen yogurt from freezer, scoop out enough for the amount of sandwiches you want to make.  When soft enough to stir in chopped chocolate covered coffee beans.  You can add a tablespoon or so of a thick creamy liquor if you choose.  Mix well and quickly spread on one cookie, top with the another cookie and place on cookie sheet.     Top each one with a chocolate-covered coffee bean.  Place in freezer quickly.  When cookies are firm, take out and wrap in plastic wrap.

Remove each cookie from freezer about 3-5 minutes before you serve or if you are like me just take them out of the freezer and eat one!  Although the pic shows caramel drizzled on them, I choose to eat mine without.  I just didn’t enjoy the sandwich with that extra stuff which was caramel topping mixed with more Irish Cream liquor and I liked being able to eat with my hands not with a fork!

ice cream sandwich



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!


Adding Flavor To Your Beer July 30, 2012

While I  was talking to Bob, Clay Avenue Cellars, he gave me some great tips on flavoring my beer.  I wanted to share some of these  ideas with you and yes, I have tried one of his suggestions and actually my husband finally used one too.

(Here is the first tip he gave me and I actually tried it with one of the “kits” I  purchased from him). Add specialty malts.  You don’t have to be bre3wing all- grain to experiment with small amounts of specialty grains.  All you have to do is soak the grains in 170 degree water for about 20 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the intensity of the flavor you want) before you brew your main beer.  I followed this advice when I made my recent chocolate, coffee, vanilla porter.  I only soaked my grains for about 15 minutes and then addend that water to my kit ingredients.  I added 1 large vanilla bean when I placed the beer into the primary fermenter and have not decided if I will add more vanilla when I rack it today into the secondary or not.

Another option is to use fruit or spice extracts.  You can brew any basic ale or wheat beer and make it into an Oberon clone or add lime extract for a different flavor.  Flavor extract is not like a cooking extract and you can find these in most beer stores.  You can also add some fruit like an orange but you still need the extract because the fruit will not give enough flavor to make your efforts worthwhile.  My husband has used the zest of an   orange for his orange wheat beer and I kept encouraging him to add some extract too if he really wanted the flavor to pop a bit more.  After about 3 batches, he finally listened 🙂

Yeast is a crucial part of brewing beer and so is having the correct yeast.  Sometimes kits will supply you with some low end yeast but it really does pay to pick up a few different packs of good quality yeast at the brew store of your choosing and keep it on hand.  There is a pretty good shelf life to the yeast as long as it’s stored properly in the frig.  Paying attention to your yeast will be the difference between a good tasting beer and one that has poor character or lacks mouth feel (I know I’m really getting the hang of the brew lingo).

Happy Brewing.  Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com


A Beer Slush – Oh Yea! July 12, 2012

Filed under: Diva's Brew-ha,Low Fat Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 12:33 am
Tags: , , ,

When I first heard about making a beer slush, I was not sure if I would like it but with all the 95+ weather we have been having in the Mitten, it became a must try.  So I did!  I have to admit this idea might be more of a “chick” thing than a guy thing.  My husband tried it but I could tell it was not something he would ask me to make.

For the first one I made I used my raspberry wheat but also made a second one with a Belgian white beer.  I honestly think a smooth stout would be good too.  So if you are in a heat wave like we have been here in the mitten, try  making a beer slush to cool off.    Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions contact me ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Beer Slush

You will basically be makeing the beer into a granita.  Pour 1 beer (lager, flavored stout or flavored wheat – not sure about what IPA would be like but feel free to try it and tell us :)) into a shallow glass baking dish.  Place the dish in the freezer, scraping it every 30 minutes or so with a fork for about 2 hours.  Spoon the granita into a mug or pilsner glass.  Top with a bit of lemonade or limeade concentrate.  Take out spoon and devour slowly!


Easy Spent Grain Beer Bread July 2, 2012

This recipe is not only easy, you can be extremely creative with it.  Well, that is in the sense of flavor, anyway.  Very few ingredients which is nice and you will probably have them on hand in the pantry.  The other nice thing about this bread, anyone who is dairy intolerant can also enjoy the bread since there isn’t any milk or eggs in the recipe.  The hardest part of this recipe is the waiting!

For the liquid in the recipe I have used both water and beer but you need to be careful with the ratio that you choose.  Too much beer and your spent grain can produce a bitter after taste in the bread.  You also need to be sure that you don’t use any spent grain where you have just made a quite hoppy IPA.  If you do choose to use the grain from that brew, be sure to add some brown sugar or honey to sweeten up the dough.

The bread in this picture was made from the spent grain I had making my Raspberry Wheat beer.  I added some mini chocolate chips in one batch and some dried fruit with about 2 Tlb. of honey in the second batch.  Absolutely delish.   Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Easy Spent Grain Beer Bread

1/4 – 1/2 cup of spent grain warm or at room temp.  (not cold from frig)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tlb. yeast

1 1/2 cup water/ or combination of water/beer

3 1 /2 cups flour

In your mixing bowl, place the spent grain and  1 cup liquid that you will be using.  Turn on the mixer with dough hook attached and leave on as you prepare your other ingredients to let water and grain incorporate.   Add yeast to the 1/2 cup of warm liquid to dissolve, pour into bowl with water and grain.  Add salt or any other spices you would like to use at this time.. Add flour in 1 cup at a time.  The dough may “appear” stiff or it could “appear” quite soft, this will depend on what you use for your liquid.  No worries, just follow the recipe.

After you have added all the flour, take mixing bowl and place a cotton towel over the top of the bowl and set some place to rise until the dough becomes double in size.   Once the dough is ready, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and place dough there.  If the dough feels quite soft/sticky, just roll the dough around in the flour so that it’s easy to handle.  You can divide the dough at this time and add any other ingredients you want ( raisins, chips, dried fruits, etc.).  Form the dough into an oblong loaf or a round loaf.  Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed liberally with Pam Butter/Olive Oil and dusted with corn meal.  Cover your dough and let it rise while your oven comes up to temp.

Bread is baked at 425 for 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven.  Before you bake your bread, place a pan of water on the shelf below, this will give the bread a crunchy outside and tender inside.

With other spent grains I have made breads with garlic, rosemarry and even a spicy bread with hot pepper flakes!  Be creative, just be sure to add some honey/sugar if you use any spent grain from a hoppy brew.


Not A Man’s World Anymore! June 29, 2012

Gone are the days when women are found only drinking fru-fru cocktails with little umbrellas. For years women didn’t drink a great deal of beer, it was classified as “a man’s beverage of choice” but that thought process is gone by the wayside as women are not only becoming very diversified in beer types but they are also brewing beer.  Now women are ordering a Blonde Ale, Vanilla Stout, Belgian Tripel, Lambic or an IPA.

Female brewers are still something of a novelty but they do exist and the good ones, like Rachael Holland, are well respected by their fellow male brewers.  I met Rachael almost a year ago at a homebrew club Christmas party.  At first, my thought process was “ oh I wonder if she is a newby like me in the brew world”,  but that foolish notion went right out the window when a man came up to Rachael and wanted her opinion about a certain yeast combination he used in his beer!  Before I knew it, more men were coming up congratulating Rachael on a recent brew she made and wanting to discuss water chemistry or other brewing questions with her.  Rachael Holland definitely was not a “newby” like me, this was a woman I definitely wanted to get to know better and like normal for me, I needed to ask a ton of questions!

I recently sat down with Rachael to talk about female brewers in Sparta at Michigan Beer Cellars where she has been a professional brewer for the past two years (Rachael started off working for free at the brewery so the owner, Dan, could see she really knew about beer brewing).  Rachael told me she has been homebrewing beer since 2007 and “cut her teeth” on a book by John Palmer, How To Brew. As I learned more about Rachael, it didn’t surprise me when she told me she started right out brewing with all grain and not a Mr. Beer type of system.  Yes, Rachael is that woman, you know the type go big or go home!   Although she does not compete much anymore in homebrew competitions, Rachael’s boss Dan won Best in Show at the 2011 World Expo of Homebrew Competition with her recipe for Dunkelweizen.

We talked about women brewers and how tough it might be for a woman to break into the world of brewing.  Rachael is totally aware that she has been fortunate in this arena; most men really respect her as a brewer. She has proved that she not only can talk about brewing but she is really good at it.  There are not a lot of female brewers but Rachael told me about another woman, Manda Geiger, who is working at a brewery called The Hideout (Rachael’s boss Dan’s son).

Manda started out at Hideout Brewery as a bar tender (she still does work part time) but always had an interest in craft beers.  She had not done any homebrewing but found herself intrigued with the brewing process at the brewery.  That is when Wob, the head brewer at Hideout, took her under his wing and began teaching Manda the process of brewing.  Now she does pilot brews, which is brewing a 25-30 gallon batch of beer.  This step allows the brewery to try out a recipe and tweak it before it’s passed to Wob who will make the recipe in the larger system.  The experience of pilot brewing has been great for Manda as she learns more about the whole brewing process and she loves it!  Wob has been a patient teacher and even asks for her opinion on some of the specialty recipes they have been working on, like the recipe for peanut butter cayenne beer.  Manda hopes in time she will be doing pilot brews at least 5 days a week but for now she is only brewing for two and the rest of her time is tending bar at the brewery (a girl has to pay her bills).  Manda has found that stepping into the brew world has not been easy but she said due to her independent, competitive nature (with men) in time Manda feels she will gain the respect from men after they try a batch of her beer and really like it!

I asked both women if their taste in beer has changed since they have gotten into the brewing business.  Manda said at first she was more into wheat beers but now she considers herself a “hophead” (this type of beer is made with selected hops and the beer can have 3 different types so the beer has a very strong flavor).  Rachael likes a huge variety of beer types and enjoys specialty beers like Sours.

I discovered that Rachael is a foodie like myself and cooking is the other passion in her life.  Lately she has been working on ideas of how to blend different herbs to develop herbal beers.  After learning this I knew I had to tell her about my homemade beer marshmallows!  It was awesome to see Rachael’s eyes light up and I could see her trying to picture what beers the brewery had so she could make some too.  I told her about some of the other recipes I had made with our homebrew and Rachael was taking mental notes as fast as I was writing my notes for the interview!  Manda shared with me some ideas about making breads and granola out of the spent grain.  I can’t wait to share some of the recipes with you that I’m working on the grain.

So, what do you do if you are a woman who has been homebrewing for a long time and you think you are ready to venture out into the world of owning your own brewery?  You contact the next woman I recently came across who is part of a group called the Brewers Professional Alliance (BPA) and her name is Lynda Nance.  Lynda works for H&S Companies in their brewery division where she actually was the first member of the alliance and helped create the steering committee.  Lynda’s specialty is the internal part of the brewery business and makes sure you know what your SWOT is (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

Lynda told me she was introduced to craft beer about 25 years ago and was hooked.  Although she doesn’t homebrew herself, believe me when I say, by the end of our conversation this woman knows her stuff!  Currently the BPA has about 8 breweries they work with around the state (Mount Pleasant, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saugatuck, etc) but are hopeful in three to five years they will have breweries in the surrounding states and eventually be nationwide.  Lynda writes for the newsletter the BPA puts out and believe me there is a ton of information on the ins and outs of brewing, the industry, laws, taxes and a great deal more.

I love the motto of BPA that Lynda told me about, “if we are drinking we are working”. I guess that says it all.   I have really wanted to start a brewery and I think I have found my head brewer in Rachael, my fellow pilot brewer with Manda and Lynda with BPA to consult us with the internal issues, yup we are set!

Be sure to check my blog all month long for some taste tempting recipes (like a chocolate espresso stout float) that you and your friends/family will surly enjoy!!


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