Gluten Free help request #celiac

Walk down the aisle of the grocery store and you’ll likely see the words “gluten free”. Pick up a magazine while your in the check out line and you will likely see some celebrity decrying the evils of gluten. In some ways it has almost developed into a fad in some cases with an almost cult mentality.

By at least one estimate as many as 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity. For about 1% of the population this is a real problem as it can cause celiac disease. This condition is truly horrible. I have niece who suffers Continue reading “Gluten Free help request #celiac”


Tomato Soup Emergency! #cooking

Saturday night we were going to have grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.

Admittedly, this is one of those areas where we ALWAYS cheat. Who can argue with the ease of condensed soup. Just dump the contents of the can in a pot add a can of water or milk or some of both depending on your preference, heat and wait.

It is so easy, in fact, after we made sandwiches Saturday we told our kids to make their own soup, as we were heading out to do our grocery shopping.

Well by now you probably have already figured out, yep something went sideways. When we got home the kids told us the soup was bad. The expiration date hadn’t expired. We had bought it just two weeks before. So didn’t even consider it could be bad. Now the biggest problem was that we only had 2 boxes of the prepared soup.

What to do?

Turns out we had 5 8 oz cans of tomato sauce in the cupboard.

Could we do something with that?

Why yes, in fact it is quite simple

Tomato Soup

Amount: 10 3/4 ounce can

Substitute: 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water

Season as desired.

Tomato Basil Soup from

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups water
1.5 teaspoons beef bouillon
2 tablespoons basil chiffonade (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)

In large saucepan, combine water, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried onion, dried basil (if using), and beef bouillon granules. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in sugar and fresh basil (if using). Serve hot. Makes 8 side-dish servings.

What else can you do with tomato sauce?

What about tomato juice?

Tomato Juice

Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water

In need of Chinese 5 Spice? #cooking

During our “Theme Weeks” one of the weeks we chose to do was an “Asian Week.” As we started looking at many of the recipes I noticed several used Chinese Five Spice.

We occasionally have this in our pantry but not at the moment. The closest good Asian market we have is upwards of 15 miles away and we don’t make it over there often. So it would be nice to find out what is in Chinese Five Spice. Continue reading “In need of Chinese 5 Spice? #cooking”

Eggs – substitution #cooking

More and more I seem to be running into friends who have special diets. Either because of food allergies or personal lifestyle choices. Regardless, where possible I try and respect their needs when I prepare dishes for them. Probably the most difficult is finding a substitute for eggs.

Eggs are probably one of the most difficult because of all the functions they perform in foods. According to the American Egg Board more than Continue reading “Eggs – substitution #cooking”

Out of Chocolate? #cooking

As always, understanding what is in something or how it is made is often the key to understanding what can be used to substitute in
its place.

In this case, Chocolate, so lets start at the begining

  • First the process of making Chocolate begins with the Harvest of the ripe cocoa pods twice a year
  • The beans are then scooped out of the pods
  • Then for 5 to 7 days the beans and pulp are fermented
  • Next the beans are dried
  • The beans are then roasted like coffee
  • After roasting the then paper like shell is cracked and removed by winnowing
  • What is left is call the nib

Now we get to the point that becomes important to our discussion as the next few steps tell us what we need for our substitution.

  • The nibs are then ground until they become a paste known as cocoa liquor.
  • This unrefined form of chocolate contains both the cocoa solids and the cocoa butter
  • Using a hydraulic press, or sometimes with the use of water, the cocoa butter is removed leaving behind cocoa solids
  • These solids are then ground into a powder we know as cocoa powder*

To make chocolate

  • Chocolate makers take some of this cocoa butter to cocoa liquor where it is further refined into extremely fine particles. It is at this stage that other ingredients are added, sugar, milk powder (for milk chocolate) and other flavors.
  • The chocolate is then tempered so that the desired type of chocolate crystal is formed.
  • The final step is to mould it into the form desired

So now having an overview of how chocolate is made we know that unsweet chocolate is basically cocoa powder (cocoa liquor with all of the cocoa butter removed) with cocoa butter, or fat, added back in a greater amount than the original liquor had. The sweet or
semisweet forms of chocolate simply have sugar added and the milk chocolate additionally has dry milk added.

Ingredient Substitute
unsweetened chocolate
1 ounce (1 square)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. shortening, butter, coconut oil or margarine
semisweet chocolate
1 ounce (1 square)
1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate (or substitute above) plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
Sweet Bakers (german)
1 ounce (1 square)
1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate (or substitute above) plus 4 Tsp sugar
milk chocolate
1 ounce (1 square)
1 ounce (1 square) sweet or semisweet chocolate


* Dutch process cocoa powder (also sometimes called “alkalized,” “European style,” or “Dutched”) is washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity from about 5 or 6 to a pH of 7, that of water. Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.

Ingredient Substitute
Dutched Cocoa Powder
(3 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1/8 Tsp baking soda

Out of Buttermilk or hate it and need some? #cooking

If you are like me you don’t like buttermilk. I really don’t like it at all. In fact it is one of those foods (if you want to call it that) that can invoke my gag reflex with a single whiff. So we don’t ever have any on hand.

I really can’t think of a redeeming thing about buttermilk itself as a drink. However, I love it in foods especially southern american biscuits

What to do?

Continue reading “Out of Buttermilk or hate it and need some? #cooking”

Out of Mayonnaise or need a healthy alternative? #cooking

According to research firm, Euromonitor, ketchup surpassed mayonnaise as the No. 1 most-used condiment.

What’s wrong with mayo? Mayonnaise is loaded with fat, calories and salt. One tablespoon has approximately 94 calories; 10 grams of fat; and not much of anything else.

While a little different you could Continue reading “Out of Mayonnaise or need a healthy alternative? #cooking”

Spice – Apple Pie Spice substitute #cooking

We’ve all heard the saying “as American as Apple Pie” haven’t we? Well “Contrary to popular belief, apple pie isn’t American, it’s British. There were no apple trees or pies in America before the British settled.” –

Were you as shocked as me to find out about that? Continue reading “Spice – Apple Pie Spice substitute #cooking”

Spice – Pumpkin Pie Spice substitute #cooking

Convenience seems to be the keyword of our time. Convenience is great it saves time and effort. But in some cases it comes with an unrealized downside, the loss of knowledge, with that the loss of innovation and creativity. For instance, what is the blend of  ‘real’ spices in Pumpkin Pie Spice? Continue reading “Spice – Pumpkin Pie Spice substitute #cooking”

Spice – Allspice substitute #cooking

I can remember as a child being at the grocery store with my mother while she was looking for Allspice to use in some recipe. Being that young and seeing all those bottles of spices I can remember thinking, “Why are there so many bottles? If you have ‘All-Spice’ can’t you use that for everything? Continue reading “Spice – Allspice substitute #cooking”