Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Not sure if it was the price or the ingredients listed on taco seasoning in the store that first made me consider making my own taco seasoning.

It is really simple to make and you get to use all organic ingredients. It will also have much less salt than the many available store-bought versions.

Here is what you need:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in airtight container.

Next time I make this, I will take pictures and post them.

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How to Preserve Summer-time Salsa for Winter

It is super-simple and easy to make various types of salsas. Most of the recipes (at least the ones that I have made) just place everything in a blender and blend it to the desired consistency. Hans and I do not like chunky salsa, so this works great for us.

As our salsas were not chunky or temperature-sensitive, like some fruit salsas might be, I had a couple of different options to preserve the salsa for later.

 

Option 1: Canning hot salsa
This options works great for salsa recipes that require heating the salsa, like the Tomatillo Salsa. It can also be used for other salsas, but you will have to heat them on the stove slowly. I have done this with a tomato salsa before.

Here is what you do:
1. Make the salsa as you normally would. For the Tomatillo salsa, I heated the salsa to simmer it to reach the desired consistency. Tip, if you still need to add spices: take a bit of salsa and place it in the freezer to be able to test the spices of cold salsa. Hot salsa tastes strange.
2. Meanwhile, heat the jars for canning in hot water (only the jars, not the lids).
3. Carefully take one jar at a time out of the hot water bath. Tongs work well. I usually hold the jar using a kitchen towel. Then carefully ladle the hot salsa in the jar leaving just a bit of space on the top. Then make sure that the top and sides of the jar is clean. If not, wipe it clean with the kitchen towel. Place the lid and the band on and tighten. Turn the jar upside down (so that the salsa is touching the lid), I think this helps with the sealing process. Once cooled, you can store the jars right side up in a cool and dark place, like a pantry.
4. Enjoy fresh salsa in the middle of winter =)

Option 2: Freezing salsa that you do not want to heat
This option works great for any salsa that does not have large chunks of any ingredient in it. If there are chunks, these chunks will likely be soggy after defrosting. However, if your salsa is blended and there are no chunks, then freezing should not change the texture of your salsa.

Here is what you do:
1. Prepare the salsa as you normally would.
2. Laddle the salsa into ice cube trays and freeze over-night. The next day, you can remove the salsa cubes and place in a labeled freezer bag (or container) and return to the freezer.
3. Whenever, you want you can then thaw as many cubes as needed. Enjoy =)


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Freezing Homemade Pizza Sauce

Not that long ago, I made homemade pizza sauce from home-grown tomatoes and mentioned that it can either be used right away or stored for later by freezing.

I wanted to elaborate a bit on what I did.

What you need:
homemade pizza sauce =)
ice-cube trays
freezer bag (or container that can be frozen) and a marker
freezer

How to freeze pizza sauce:
1. Of course, make home-made pizza sauce. Odds are, you made more sauce than is needed for just one pizza. So now there are left-overs, which you could store in the refrigerator for a few days and then use on another pizza. Or…

2. You could use a pressure cooker to preserve the left-over pizza sauce. However, if you are like me, you may have a pressure cooker somewhere, but have no idea how to use it.  Or you may not even have a pressure cooker. So instead of using a pressure cooker, the pizza sauce can be stored by freezing it.

3. After making the sauce, allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, fill the sauce into ice-cube trays. Make sure to not overfill the trays. Why would anybody freeze pizza sauce in an ice-cube tray instead of a freezer bag or storage container? Because freezing the sauce in the ice-cube tray, allows you to defrost small portions at a time, rather than defrosting the whole batch all at once.

4. Place the ice-cube tray in the freezer overnight. The next day, remove the frozen pizza sauce cubes and place them in a labeled freezer bag or storage container. You do not want to get confused what these cubes are later, especially if you start freezing other things in portions like this–unless you like surprises.

5. Whenever, you want to make pizza, just take the required number of cubes out of the freezer. Thaw and use on your pizza.

Ready to preserve goodness for later

Ready to preserve goodness for later

Frozen pizza sauce cubes

Frozen pizza sauce cubes

 


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Homemade bread crumbs

I grew up in Germany and my mom always made home-made bread crumbs. When I came to the United States, I was amazed to find an endless variety of flavored bread crumbs in the grocery stores. However, being wary of long ingredient lists, I have continued making my own bread crumbs. It is surprisingly simple.
In addition, it comes with great benefits including reduction of food waste, saving money, minimizing landfill (from containers bought in the grocery store), and reducing ingredients in your diet that you cannot pronounce. =)

So what do you need:
Stale, old bread, preferably white bread (make sure it is completely dry and hard)
Grater (alternatively food processor)
Bowl
Ziploc bag/air-tight container to store bread crumbs in

How to make the bread crumbs:
1. If you have left-over bread that has gone stale before you could finish eating it, place the bread in a dry area to let it dry out completely. The bread should be really hard and dry. If it is a large piece of bread, it may be best to cut it into smaller chunks to allow faster drying and easier grating.
2. Use the bread chunk and grate using a grater. Alternatively, you may want to try a food processor. It should work, I just have never tried it. =)
3. Store the bread crumbs in an airtight container and use the same way you would use store-bought breadcrumbs.

Note:
* If you like seasoned bread crumbs. Use your favorite dried seasonings, such as basil, parsley, garlic, or salt and season to taste. (1/2 teaspoon of season for each cup of bread crumbs)
* Unseasoned bread crumbs will store almost indefinitely, provided that the bread was fully dry. Adding seasoning will shorten the life-span.

Bread crumbs

Bread crumbs


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Lemon juice cubes

So I am always trying to find ways to reduce my carbon footprint…and here I was using store-bought lemon juice (in a plastic bottle) that just didn’t taste like real lemons (and all these additional ingredients)…but whenever I would buy a lemon I would use half and the other half would sometimes just get forgotten…
So I decided to buy an entire bag of lemons (Costco-size) and juice ALL of them at the same time. I poured the lemon juice (after having tried to remove most of the seeds) into two ice-cube trays and froze them over night.
And now I have freshly pressed lemon juice whenever I need some, without the plastic waste, without the mystery ingredients, and without wasting another half of a lemon. Already used several lemon juice cubes in various dishes.

Need:
Lemons
Citrus juicer
Small measuring cup with a little spout (for easier pouring)
Ice cube trays
Freezer

Preparation:
1. Cut each lemon in half, before juicing. Collect the lemon juice into a small measuring cup.
2. Pour the lemon juice into the ice cube trays.
3. Freeze over night. Pop cubes out of the tray and store in airtight plastic container in the freezer.
4. Whenever you have a recipe that requires lemon juice, just defrost as many cubes as needed.

Lemon juice poured into ice cube tray

Lemon juice poured into ice cube tray

Frozen lemon juice ice cubes

Frozen lemon juice ice cubes