Friday, December 27, 2013

Cookie time made simple!

Its that time of year again! Sugar Cookies!! Well I decided to make my own frosting. If you haven't realized by now I am all about doing things myself. Making food items yourself, from scratch, is far healthier then anything you might get at the store that's not found in the health food section or labeled organic (and even then sometimes I am left scratching my head.) Well homemade butter-cream frosting is simple delicious and downright decadent! (I feel downright dumb for not knowing this BEFORE.) I gave myself a stomach ache from licking the spoon (and bowl)! The amount I made for roughly $3.00 if the equivalent of at least 4 of the regular cake frosting cans, that are normally $2.99 each, and that's if they are not on sale! And oh my golly-goodness does it taste AWESOME! I am a self proclaimed sugar-holic. Its an addiction. I cant help it! This frosting is destined for sugar cookies, but can be used on anything. I am planning on making banana muffins this week and will be using some to top them. So lets take a look at the various ingredients between homemade and the store bought canister of  frosting. (This is not a direct one to one comparison; but gives you the same idea of what is actually hiding in that innocent looking can of frosting at the store.)

Homemade Butter-Cream Frosting:
Powdered sugar:
    Sugar: Sweetener, derived from sugar cane or sugar beets.
    Cornstarch: Starch ground from the heart of corn kernel.
Butter (Cream (milk)): Made from fatty part of Cow Squeezing's.....LOL
Heavy Whipping Cream: Cow Squeezing's
Vanilla: Comes from the seedpod of a specific orchid plant

Store-bought Frosting in a can: Cream Cheese Verity
Sugar: Refined from sugar cane or sugar beets, used as a sweetener.
Partially Hydrogenated soybean oil: Chemically converted for better shelf life, to add stability to fatty acids.
Partially hydrogenated Cottonseed oil: Chemically converted for better shelf life, to add stability to fatty acids.
High Maltose Corn Syrup: Similar to high fructose corn syrup,  typically created from genetically modified corn. (note the big one here GMO!!! EEK!)
Water: The elixir of life (LOL)
Cornstarch: Starch ground from the heart of the corn kernel. Used as a thickening agent for most of us home cooks.
2% or less of:
Distilled monoglycerides: Binder for ingredients that don't blend easily.
Natural and Artificial Flavor: Yeh when you figure this one out let me know!
Yellow #5 and 6: Artificial coloring agent (AVOID)
Other color added: The label was not specific enough for me to discern the "other" colors.
Polysorbate 60: Emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickening agent......
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: sugar replacement, fat replacement, dough conditioner
Sodium acid Pyrophosphate: Creates leavening used for baking (such as baking powder), edible phosphoric acid.
Citric Acid: Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits
Potassium Sorbate: antimicrobial properties, increases shelf life, preservative
Sodium Benzonate: Heavily used in sodas, preservative.

I want to seriously vomit now. The simplicity of homemade frosting is staggering! Why staggering you ask? Its because as a society we have moved away from what is truly simple. Thinking that pre-made is more convenient and better, when in actuality its just making us fat and lazy. It took me maybe all of 10 minutes to measure the ingredients and put it in my blender and make this delicious frosting. I pre-made it the day before my daughter and her friend frosted cookies that way all I had to do was let it soften (cause I will admit it stiffens up, but a few seconds in the microwave, stir and it's just as perfect as it was when I made it the day before.) And oh the flavor was just so wonderful and light! Not heavy like the butter cream you get on cakes at the store. The original recipe I found here. But after tasting it, it was a bit thick so I tweaked it to suit my tastes. I don't like my frosting to heavy. So here is my version of the frosting:

Homemade Butter-Cream Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter (grass fed butter like Kerry Gold is one of the best! Softened)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract (use real vanilla not imitation)
2-4 Tbsp Heavy whipping cream

Put in standing mixer (if you have one) and whip till frothy. You can add more whipping cream, or less, to meed your desired consistency.
*Once you frost your cookies, put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow the frosting to set up, that way when you put them in a plastic container they wont stick together!

Seriously it is that EASY! And it doesn't have ANY of the garbage of the store bought kind. We may save money in the beginning by buying these pre-made products but we end up paying for it, many times over, in the long run, but fighting obesity, diabetes, and many other medical ailments. I will take the simplicity over the complications any day!

Don't laugh, these were frosted by two 4 year old's :-) I think they did great!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Something to try

So I am always up for providing opinions and adding my thoughts to this and that. A friend over on Facebook suggested I head over and get involved with this website  I was like OK, sure why not see what its all off i went, (not really since it was via computer) and checked out the sight. Turns out its a survey and opinion site. Well I have signed up with those before and wasn't entirely sure I wanted to try another. I get tired filling out prelim surveys that then tell you you don't qualify for the survey that the site just sent you. Sometimes taking 20 minutes at a time, which when you don't qualify for the actual survey is allot of wasted time, with noting in return. So as i am checking out this site, I come to find its not like the other survey sites. They actually set up campaigns where they send product out to be tested! I just filled out the needed info and then they send you emails about various campaigns that is most likely to fit with you. i just got the kit for my first campaign and i am really happy with it! We got Cottonelle flushed wipes!! I have a 4 year old and toilet paper doesn't always cut it for various reasons, so having wet wipes on hand is always a good thing. We typically get baby wipes from Costco, but you cant flush them and living in a house with 60+ year old pipes, its not a risk we wanna take. So far we like them, and the website is set up and easy to navigate. So check out the site and see if its something that fits with you. So far I don't have any complaints, and believe me, I would tell you if I did!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Family traditions.......

Since my daughter was born I have looked for ways that our family could make and start our own traditions. One of the things I have started doing is making a christmas ornament each year with my daughters age on it. Last years ornament has a 3 on it (in red glitter) and this years has a 4 in (purple glitter). The ornaments are simple clear balls, and i write my daughters christmas list on a narrow piece of paper, roll it up and put it in the ornament. Eventually, when she is grown and has her own kids, she can use the same ornaments and do the same with her own kids christmas wish lists. Its not some grand huge thing, but its something small and fun, and we can go back and read over her lists one day.I will keep making an ornament each year till shes 18ish or so. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Comparing my Crackers!

So my last post had to do with ingredients in a pretty basic item: Pie crust, so this is a continuation on that theme except with two almost identical items. I went grocery shopping yesterday and I got two boxes of crackers. Same brand and maker, same price. I weighed out a serving from each and its pretty spot on at 1oz. Now the thing that gets me is that the basic ingredient list for both the cracker should have been nearly the same, One had brown rice and the other didn't. so here are two images, one from each box of crackers. The brown rice crackers are really yummy, so yummy in fact I just finished off the box. The other box is decent; the flavor so so.
Box A

Box B 
Can anyone see the difference in these lists? I am quite happy that they actually used a spice as a colorant in both of these crackers, but seriously.....4 additional synthetic colorants....... (in box b) yeh my head hurts thinking about it. I also wonder what some of those "flavor enhancers" are. I mean the first box was damn tasty without having the additional crap the second box has.I know I wont be buying the box B after this and will be sticking with the first one. Same brand, same maker, huge difference! Now lets examine those MYSTERIOUS ingredients.

Hydolyzed Corn protein: The closest information I could find is Hydolyzed Corn Gluten that has applications from human and animal food consumption to being used as an herbicide! If anyone finds more information specifically on Hydolyzed corn protein, please post a link in the comments. Much appreciated!
Disodium Inosinate: "The disodium salt of inosinic acid that is used to enhance flavor, usually in potato chips. It is found in pigs and fish."
Disodium Guantlate: "If a food contains disodium guanylate, it most likely contains MSG in some amount, even if monosodium glutamate is not listed on the label." Well This is interesting!! I learned something new!
Red 40: Synthetic dye derived from petroleum. (no thanks folks!)
Yellow 5Coloring agent (aka tetrazine and E102) banned in some European countries. May cause allergic reactions
Blue 1: A synthetic dye derived from Coal Tar (ummm....I used a medical gel from coal tar on my eczema.....but something from it in my food.....EWWW)
Maltodextrin: Used as a thickener or filler. They use it to bulk foods up without adding any nutritional value... (in other words, avoid)
Malic Acid: a type of acid found in many food, most notably unripe fruit. "this acid is produced in the human body as part of the citric acid cycle." (ever had a war head candy?? This is the stuff that gives you that raw feeling your tongue gets when you eat super sour things. I had this reaction while eating the crackers this was included in. my mouth felt raw.)

Yes I bought the crackers so I am eating them. I wont throw my money away (per say) but I also wont be purchasing them again. Box B is on my banned list. Even though I realize I am only one person, I just hope people who take the time to read my blog will take a deeper look at what they are putting into their grocery carts. Before I had my daughter I didn't give a rats patooty. But now that I have a child, and want to have another one someday, I am really examining things to make better choices and to keep my family healthy.