By Sara Noel
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Add peanut butter to your list of things to make yourself. It's natural, quick and easy. If you make your own fruit preserves and bread, the homemade peanut butter will complete a sandwich taste sensation. You can also bundle the trio to give as a homemade gift during the holiday season. Don't make jam or bread? You'll still love this peanut butter as a delicious spread to keep for yourself.
For smooth homemade peanut butter: Mix 1½ cups unsalted roasted peanuts with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and pour the mixture into the food processor. Process the mixture until it's smooth. Store your smooth peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It makes 12, 2-tablespoons servings and will be good for two weeks.
For chunky peanut butter: Mix just 1¼ cup nuts with the oil and process until very smooth. Add the another ¼ cups peanuts and process a few seconds more to create the chunks in your chunky peanut butter. Store your chunky peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for two weeks.
Note from Sara: You don't need to add oil to make peanut butter. That is an optional ingredient. If you prefer a creamier, smoother texture, you can add some honey (about 3 tablespoons for the above recipe) to your peanuts after processing them in your food processor for 5-8 minutes. Simply stream it in and keep on processing until it's well combined. Also, you can add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, in addition to the honey, and even ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. The recipe above says to use unsalted nuts, which is great, but for those who wish to add salt, you can add no more than ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt or use salted roasted nuts.
Freeze biscuit dough: It works! I love fresh biscuits but hate the mess to make them. I experimented with cooked biscuits first, but we didn't like their texture and their flavor when thawed. So I made a big batch of biscuit dough, cut them, and froze them on a baking sheet until firm and transferred them to a baggie. I took the biscuits out 30 minutes before putting them in the oven (they were still a bit frozen) and baked them about 5 minutes longer than usual. But they rose and were soft, fluffy and perfect.
Constance, New Jersey
Make homemade ranch dressing: In a medium bowl whisk 1 ½ cups mayonnaise, ½ cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, ½ teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 dash sweet paprika. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 cups.
• Write to Sara Noel at firstname.lastname@example.org.