Monday, July 11, 2011

Homemade Assortments

I've been on this "make it at home" kick lately.  It started a while back with spaghetti sauce.  I was tired of shelling out more money than necessary for the good quality spaghetti sauce that only comes in a tiny little jar so of course I have to buy 2, maybe 3, and suddenly one of the cheapest meals you could ever make becomes not so cheap anymore.  

So then I started buying the cheap stuff that comes in a slightly bigger jar and throwing in my own herbs and garlic and stuff, but that was annoying to have to do every time and so I figured why not just do it once in a really big batch and have good spaghetti sauce on hand whenever I want it?  

I saved a bunch of money and time, not to mention I have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what's in my food. No preservatives. No cheap sweeteners. Just pure, fresh ingredients.  

After the spaghetti sauce experience, my desire for homemade items began to grow. Then I read this article which fueled the fire even more. And then I began to stumble across all sorts of recipes of things you could make at home. 

Some of them, like the spaghetti sauce, are more obvious than others, but some of them had never crossed my mind before. Like this Buttermilk Syrup recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen (an amazing resource by the way!). 

This was beyond good.  It was warm, sweet, caramely and delicious. I made it one morning when we had french toast, but since then I have been drizzling it on everything.  Bran muffins, dry cereal with peanut butter, apples...seriously, it's so good. Our Best Bites has a buttermilk syrup recipe as well that I would like to try next to compare the two. 

Joy the Baker had a post about Homemade Almond Milk which I tested out and have been enjoying in my iced coffee the last few mornings. 

This week, I was catching up on Seemingly Greek when one link led to another and I stumbled across a recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. I got really excited over this one because for the longest time I couldn't find Greek yogurt here in Germany, and now that I have found it, I try to limit myself to eat only half of each little container at a time so as to extend the amount of breakfasts I can get out of it and therefore save a little moo-la because Greek yogurt is not the cheapest thing on the block.

This was really easy, and turned out just as good as the stuff I buy. If it's too thick, just add a little bit of the whey back in or mix in a milk of choice. 

Seemingly Greek took me to this new find, In Jennie's Kitchen.  And in Jennie's Kitchen she had a recipe for homemade butter. I immediately rode to the store to pick up a bottle of whipping cream to try this out. 

I'm hooked for life on this one.  Whipping cream is slightly cheaper than a tub of good butter and I love that it's so fresh. 

And, added bonus: you get a bit of buttermilk out of it as well. Buttermilk that doesn't taste sour and nasty. Buttermilk that will make you actually like buttermilk.  

Of all the things I have tried so far, this last one is by far the best find of them all. It falls in the "More Obvious" category of things you can make, however, I'm willing to bet most of us buy this particular item instead of making it simply for the convenience. 

For us, purchasing this item is not so convenient. This item is so, so, so very American.  They do sell it here in Germany, however, it is not cheap.  Remember the prices of my American discovery? This one is a budget killer for sure. Especially considering how often my husband uses it.  

This item does get "gifted" to us when one of our American friends takes pity on us and picks it up for us on the base.  However, there is only one brand I will allow in our house because it is the only one they have that does not contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.  

Have you guessed it yet? Yep, Barbecue Sauce!

We love Bull's-Eye Texas Style BBQ Sauce but in a few years all our friends will be shipped back to America and we will not have the luxury of getting this item anymore. So I have been on the hunt for a great BBQ sauce recipe but hadn't found any that really blew me away. Until this week that is. 

I was hell bent on BBQ chicken for the Fourth of July.  BBQ Chicken, baked beans and salad.  And Fourth of July star-shaped cookies. Knowing we were down to our last bottle of Bull's Eye, I decided not to kill our ever so precious supply of gold sauce and make my own.  

I started with Pioneer Woman's version of barbecue sauce and substituted a Habanero sauce I had for the chipotle adobo sauce which I most definitely did not have nor would I ever be able to purchase it at my store.

I cut back the amount of Habanero I added just in case it was hotter than the chipotle and oh my gosh was it a good thing I did.  This thing would not have been edible had I stuck with the original amount.  It was SO SPICY! 

After setting my mouth on fire with just tiny taste, I decided I needed to tone it down a bit.  So I went in search of other recipes to see what I could do. I incorporated some of the ingredients called for in this easy recipe from Our Best Bites into my sauce and added a bit more ketchup to absorb some of the heat. 

What's curry ketchup you ask? Well it's delicious and a must have for this sauce. See the note on the recipe for how to obtain it. :) 

After playing around with it a bit I finally hit a flavor that I loved.  It was everything I want in a barbecue sauce, and that's hard for me to find.  It was sweet, but not overly sweet.  It had just the right touch of vinegar for my liking.  And it packed a punch.  A big ol' punch that my husband and Andreas (his agent) could not get enough of.

This was a hit for sure, and has already been made again upon request of the Master of the House. I'll leave that up to you decide which one of us that is :) Guten Appetit!  

Habanero Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Pioneer Woman and Our Best Bites

3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Curry Ketchup*
3/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Distilled White Vinegar
1 to 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
1/3 cup Molasses
2 Tablespoons Habenero sauce, or less depending on how hot you like it
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt to taste 

*Curry Ketchup is one of the things I love most about Germany! I've never seen it in the States, maybe it's there, check with your local grocery store. In keeping with the theme of today's post, here's a link for you to make it at home! Or just buy it here on Amazon.

Heat a little bit of oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for a minute.  Add remaining ingredients, mixing well, and let simmer for a few minutes to let it thicken. Use it as a marinade for chicken, or mix it with shredded beef or pork for BBQ sandwiches, or simply use it as a dip for your meat of choice.  


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