There’s Corn in My Ketchup!

When I told the boys one of the ingredients in their beloved ketchup was corn they looked at me like I had three heads. Then I hit them with another whammy; ketchup is also made from tomatoes. Wow, were they shocked!

Of course the corn in ketchup is not literally kernels of corn. It’s in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is a derivative of highly processed corn starch. The reason food companies use HFCS is simple economics. It’s cheaper than sugar and it acts as a preservative which means products can stay on supermarket shelves a LONG LONG time without spoilage. And we’re talking years for some products, especially condiments. Kind of scary when you think about it…

Why is this such a bad thing and why should we care? In a nutshell, HFSC has been proven to be directly linked to the worldwide obesity epidemic. And it’s in almost everything we eat. From the obvious: cookies, fruit snacks, fast food, juice, to the not so obvious: yogurt, salad dressings, crackers, lunch meat, spaghetti sauce, and even many cough syrups.

The documentary “Fed Up” (produced by Laurie David), just out in theaters, tackles this issue head on. If you have kids and haven’t been to a movie in the past five years that’s not animated (guilty!) there are countless books on the subject. Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan are two of the most comprehensive in my opinion.

This week we decided to make our own ketchup and see if it measured up to the “real” thing. We don’t aim to solve the world’s problems here in our little kitchen but I do want my kids to know that food does not grow in colorful plastic pouches. And I welcome any excuse to get them in the kitchen – even if they don’t always eat what we’re cooking up!

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients

1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes

½ cup distilled white vinegar

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp salt

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp fresh corn (optional)

 

Method

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat slightly to a simmer. As tomatoes are simmering, stir occasionally and break down the tomatoes with the back of mixing spoon as they cook down and soften. Cook until reduced by half and color deepens to a dark red, about 75-90 minutes.

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Once the mixture is reduced, transfer to a food processor to smooth out texture. Transfer ketchup to a fine mesh sieve while it is cooling to drain any excess liquid.

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Store in glass container and keep refrigerated. Shelf life: about 2 weeks.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Doesn’t taste 100% like real ketchup”

Liam (age 5): “ I don’t like the ketchup we made”

Dylan (age 5): “It’s really really really almost like real ketchup”

This recipe did not go over as planned, it just couldn’t compete with the “real” thing. After a unanimous vote, we decided it would make an awesome pizza sauce instead!

 

 

 

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Appetizers

In the past few years we have rung in the New Year at 6pm and then put the kids to bed. Now that Matthew can tell time he is wise to us and we might have to let the boys stay up till 9 or 10 (yikes!) Ignorance is bliss – why on earth did we have to show him how to read his Spiderman watch????

As long as we have to be up and the kids want a party I thought I should put them to work making some appetizers. Here are three great ideas we came up with for the toddler party set:

–       Mini roasted veggie pizzas

–       Mini garlic knots

–       Sweet cinnamon sticks

3 great apps from plain old pizza dough – easy, cheap, fun to make – and I am pretty confident the little angels will eat them….

MINI ROASTED VEGGIE PIZZAS

Ingredients

1 medium onion

1 red pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

Salt & Pepper

1 pkg. fresh pizza dough

Flour for dusting

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped, optional

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut onion and pepper in large chunks and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast vegetables on baking sheet until carmelized, about 25 minutes. Puree with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, set aside. Wipe baking sheet and add lightly oil.

Roll out pizza dough – use flour as needed so dough does not stick to rolling pin. Cut out 3” rounds with cookie cutter or upside down glass or bowl.

Top with vegetable puree first, then the mozzarella and lastly sprinkle with grated parmesan and fresh basil.

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Bake at 500 degrees for approximately 12 minutes until crust is golden brown.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: I guess I like it Mommy

Liam: I want big pizza, not little! I’m not eating this. The sauce made me stop eating it, not my fault!

Dylan: Hey, there is no cheese on this, where is the cheese!?

 

MINI GARLIC KNOTS

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for brushing

1 package fresh pizza dough

Flour for dusting

3 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano

Sea Salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Roll out pizza dough – use flour as needed so dough does not stick to rolling pin. Cut into 4 “ strips and tie into tiny knots. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes until golden.

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In a small saucepan, combine butter and garlic. Heat until butter melts and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in oregano.

Toss warm knots in bowl with butter mixture. Sprinkle with salt.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: Just like the pizza place!

Liam: Too hot – but I am eating it anyway….

Dylan: I want 5 or 10

 

SWEET CINAMMON STICKS

Ingredients

1 package fresh pizza dough

Flour for dusting

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out pizza dough – use flour as needed so dough does not stick to rolling pin. Cut into 6“ strips (about 1/2 inch wide) and lay out on baking sheet.

In a small bowl mix butter and honey. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Brush dough with butter mixture and generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

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Bake until sticks are browned, approximately 15 minutes. Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: It’s better dipped in the ice cream!

Liam: It makes me cough and get sick (funny, he ate 2!)

Dylan: Tastes like a frozen ice pop, gimme another stick!

And the clear winner – GARLIC KNOTS!

Holiday Cookies

We always keep a supply of chocolate chips in our pantry for potty training. Whenever the little guys successfully make it to the bathroom we all get chips. It is quite a celebration. Now that they are pretty much getting the hang of it I figured we could use the chocolate chips for their original intention. And since it is a rainy day – we need something to do – so we are making cookies today!

This recipe is from Ghirardelli chocolate chips, I just changed the add-ins. These are the potty chips of choice in our house and they are delicious!

White Chocolate/Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

(if you only want chips, omit cranberries and double the amount of chips or add nuts instead of cranberries)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt. Then blend dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir in chips and cranberries.

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Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for approx. 15-18 min. until brown on the edges.

Let cool completely on baking rack.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (the blender ): The white chips are good but I do not like the raisins, I am picking them out

Liam (the mixer): I like the raisins, I like the vanilla chips, I like this cookie

Dylan (the taster): Mine is the biggest!

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