Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Spring!!

Maple Syrup in the making.
Spring is here! Now I know most of you are likely thinking, "Amy have you looked outside today?" 

Just think, right now maple trees are being tapped, the sap is being collected and the sugar houses are turning maple sap into one of my all time favorites, real maple syrup! There is something magical about visiting your local Sugar House this time of year. There are many great recipes that call of this all natural, dare I say organic, gluten free sweet treat straight from nature. Take the time to go with your family to a real sugar house and pick up a nice big bottle of fresh maple syrup, because you are going to need it!

It is no secret that I love maple syrup! Growing up in the Adirondacks definitely has it's perks, one of them is having plenty of real maple syrup on hand to cook with, bake with, and try new recipes with. I even took maple syrup, a quart at a time to college with me. Alright, I can't believe I am typing this little fact in a blog, I always kept a tiny single serving size bottle of real maple syrup in my car with me. On the long drive home from college, if I needed a little sugar boost I would sip the divine, sweet pure maple syrup, straight from the bottle!

A little bit more about my favorite sweetener: Maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree. It is produced at the beginning of the Spring season, see Spring really is here! There are different grades of maple syrup which provide different colors and flavors. Syrup that is made during the beginning of the syrup season is called light amber,which is typically lighter in color, sweeter tasting with a very light maple flavor. As the season moves along, the syrup becomes darker in color and the maple flavor becomes stronger. For instance after light amber follows, medium amber and then dark amber. I find that the darker the color the stronger the maple flavor.

Maple syrup adds it's one of a kind delicious flavor to many dishes and pairs quite nicely with a large variety of foods. I often substitute real maple syrup for sugar in recipes, this is the basic rule I use:
3/4 cup pure maple syrup = 1 cup of granulated sugar--and I reduce liquids in a recipe by 3-4 tablespoons for each cup of Maple Syrup used. This depends on your taste and what type of recipe you are making.

Here are a few quick and easy everyday ways to use pure maple syrup:

*Add maple syrup to your favorite baked beans to easily turn them into scrumptious Maple Baked Beans, perfect for any BBQ

*Pour pure maple syrup over your favorite hot breakfast cereal like teff or brown rice of farina, no need for artificial flavors here!
*Make a healthy and delicious snack by pouring a little bit of real maple syrup of your favorite plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, and/or cottage cheese, top with fresh fruit and you have a snack fit for kings!
*Pour pure maple syrup over your favorite ham before baking. The maple syrup adds great flavor, and a fabulous glaze like texture!

*To make one of my Mom's favorite staples, cut an acorn squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place cut side up in a baking dish and pour 1-2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup in the center of each acorn squash half. Pour 1 -2 inches water in the baking dish. Bake until squash is tender, about 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees.

*Top premium vanilla ice cream with pure light amber maple syrup for a light and fresh summery dessert.

Amy's Quick Recipe of the Day: Midsummer's Night Dream Ice Cream:
2 scoops of your favorite premium vanilla ice cream (gluten free of course)
1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons of real maple syrup

Scoop the ice cream into a lovely dish or bowl. Top ice cream with fresh blueberries and finish this picture perfect dessert with a drizzle of real maple syrup. Simple put, this is a smile in a bowl! Repeat recipe as needed.

Happy Spring Everyone!!

Just a quick reminder that the Price Chopper Gluten Free Seminar is almost here, Join us April 13, 2011. For more information click here.

Click here for more information on Amy's cookbook,  Cooking Gluten Free With Amy

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