Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sweet'N Low

As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I've had an opportunity to try out Sweet'N Low zero calorie sweetener to make some of their signature drinks and beverages, or to come up with some of my own.  This is perfect timing for the ending of this season of overindulgence, to help us get back on track with lower sugar and calorie intake.

As part of the program I received this cute cocktail shaker, some recipe cards, and some packets of Sweet'N Low to try.  As a teetotaler, I wasn't so much interested in the cocktail recipes, but I figured I could have some fun with the shaker on some iced drinks.(I found out I loved the aluminum shaker, it makes things really cold, really fast.  But I digress...)

The first thing I tried to make was hot chocolate. And "tried" was the operative word!  I love hot chocolate, but my favorite versions are full of sugar, and some of the commercial "diet" or "sugar-free" versions taste bland and uninteresting.  So, using a recipe from the cocoa tin and substituting equivalent Sweet'N Low for the sugar, I made my first cup.  Yuck.  Way too bitter. That amount of unsweetened cocoa was just too much. But I tried again, several times.  One time too bitter, one time too bland--until I think I have it just about right. 

  • 8 oz milk
  • 2 t unsweetened cocoa
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • 2 packets of Sweet'N Low (sweeteners equivalent of 4 t sugar)
  • dollop of half & half
Microwave the milk for about two minutes.  (I have an ancient microwave, so it may take less time in a newer model.) Meanwhile, mix the cocoa, Sweet'N Low, and salt in the bottom of your cup or mug.  Add the hot milk, and stir until the cocoa dissolves.  Add the vanilla and a dash or dollop of half & half.   

I wanted to float some mini marshmallows on top, but I refrained.  You may want your hot chocolate slightly stronger, but the secrets seems to be, twice as much equivalence of sweetener as you have cocoa.  Does that make sense?  Each packet of sweetener is the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar, so 2 packets = 4 t sugar, use with only 2 t cocoa.

Here in the south, we may have highs in the 30's or 40's today, and temperatures in the 70's the next, so one afternoon I decided to try something cool. I have a friend who has a lemon tree in her yard, and I have an abundance of lemons, so lemonade seemed like the perfect choice.  I squeezed a couple of lemons, and again, experimented with quantities of lemon juice and sweetener.  This time I used the cocktail shaker to mix everything over ice, and that's when I discovered the cooling qualities of the aluminum shaker!  The basic recipe I started with was a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of sweetener to 8 ozs of water, but I found this tasteless.  When I want lemonade, I want some pucker power--and a balance of sweetness, too!  I found a recipe on the Sweet'N Low site for a lemonade that uses a combination of liquid Sweet'N Low and sugar, but all I had to work with was the packets.  What I finally came up with was:
  • 1/4 c lemon juice (4T)
  • 3 packets Sweet'N Low (= 2T)
  • about 10-12 oz water
Put everything into a cocktail shaker, including ice, and shake until blended.  This one I liked--it was sweet enough, and strong enough of lemon, too.  I'm sure every lemon has a differing amount of "pucker", so this is one thing that you definitely need to taste test. 

If you'd like to see more drinks, including some "real" cocktails, along with other items, made with Sweet'N Low zero calorie sweetener, see the recipe section of their website. You can also access a coupon to sweeten the deal. 

I remember these "little pink packets" from the days when they were just about the only low- or no-calorie sweetener around.  And while I hadn't used it in a long time, I've already gone out a bought a box of packets, and will definitely be using Sweet'N Low again.

This is a sponsored post, but the review and opinions are those of my own. 

Until next time, good (un) cooking, and good eating (and drinking)...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Last Minute--Gifts From the Kitchen

It wouldn't be December without me doing a quick recap of some of my favorite goodies to "gift" for the holidays. 

There are lots of delicious goodies out there, but not all of them are suitable for "gifting".  You need to have something that's not too gooey or sticky, is easily packaged, and has a decent "shelf-life" without refrigeration or specialty care.  The items I'm linking to below fit all of these criteria, with the added benefit of being quick and easy (my middle name in the kitchen) to make and take. 

First up are these cute jar mixes.  These are easy to make, easy to take, and easy to dress up with a little Christmas fabric or even wrapping paper, and ribbon.  You can give these individually, or add them to a cute gift basket of kitchen-y items, from dishtowels to gadgets.   

Next up on my list are one of my favorites--coconut macaroons. These are easy to make, smell divine both raw and while baking, and fit that "gift-y" criteria of being easy to package and to keep.  You can leave these plain, or dress them up by adding mini-chocolate chips, or dunk them in what I call "dipping chocolate" and rolling in holiday sprinkles. 

A quintessential goodie for Christmas is luscious, creamy fudge, and this microwave version is super easy to make. The main ingredient is this one is semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could make variations by changing the flavor of chips--try milk chocolate, white chocolate, or even peanut butter chips for a variety of tastes. 

And last but certainly not least in this installment of gifts from the kitchen, is my absolute very favorite fudge--made in the microwave, it's less creamy, with a firmer, slightly grainy texture that reminds me of the old-fashioned stove-top cooked fudge of my childhood.  You know the kind--sometimes it seemed like it was never going to set up.  As a matter of fact, I remember my sister getting tired of stirring and pouring some into a buttered pan, and I remember my mom and I finally scraping it back into the pot and cooking it a little more when it never got beyond the "chocolate soup" stage.  This one is fairly fool-proof, I think, at least I've never had it not set up for me!

What goodies are you making and taking this holiday season? 

This post is linked to:

Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Until next time, good cooking, good eating--and good gifting!