Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No recipe tonight

A few mornings ago I woke up to sirens, I assumed someone on our street had a small fire, today I found out it was because a family lost their two month old to SIDS. I don't personally know the family, I hadn't even known there was another family with a baby on our street, but I can't help but feel for them and imagine myself in their position.

So, tonight instead of a new post I'm going to cuddle Nikolai and be extra thankful for him and his health. I hope all of you can send your thoughts, prayers, well wishes (whatever you believe in) to the family in hopes that somehow they can get through this.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charred yet gooey gluten free failure

So, with another attempt at gluten free baking I had every intention of making bread. I got all the ingredients ready, I started the bread machine, I sat and waited.

An hour and a half later I smell smoke, the breadish concoction had risen over the edges, spilled over and dripped onto the heating element. I removed the not fully cooked bread thing and it immediately deflated to half its size. It's now sitting looking pathetic and gross in my sink.

I'm not sure what I did wrong, I used a gluten free baking mix... I'll just have to try again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smores mush for sickly bloggers

I am sick, baby boy has a cough and Tim is a bit more tired than usual, we're a grim bunch over here. This calls for comfort food and movies. Luckily I'm well armed, smores mush and the 10th Kingdom (a 7 hour long made for tv movie that I've loved since I was a kid).

4 graham crackers
4 large marshmallows
1/2 tbl butter
1 chocolate bar

  1. Smash up the graham crackers
  2. Grate up half of your chocolate, I use a vegetable peeler, but a fine cheese grater should work just as well, maybe a zester.
  3. Microwave your marshmallows and butter for ten seconds, take them out and mix and then repeat once more
  4. Dump in the graham crackers and mix well
  5. Next dump in the grated chocolate and mix some more
  6. Finally top it off with the rest of the chocolate broken up into bite size pieces and eat with a fork while wearing pajamas and being pathetic.
  7. If you wanted you can do this just like you would rice krispy treats and smooth them out into a pan then cut them into bars but you'd need to increase the amounts and microwaving time

Do you have any great ideas for while-you're-sick foods? If I could I'd live off chocolate and chicken soup. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pizza! For lack of a better title...

Here's an interesting recipe today, pizza dough with apple juice, not as a beverage, but as an ingredient. Yes, that is what I meant. A bunch of pizza dough recipes call for beer, and that didn't work for us, so, I decided to attempt apple juice instead. You can usually substitute apple sauce for butter, so why not?

The answer to that would be, well it sounds like it would be terrible. But! It isn't, it's very good. I promise. 

1 cup Apple juice
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbl yeast
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
garlic powder to taste
1 bread maker or an electric mixer or a person with far too much patience and time
Pizza toppings of your choice

  1. Microwave your apple juice until it is luke warm, 45 seconds did it for me
  2. In the mixer part of your breadmaker/mixer bowl/normal bowl (depending on how you're making this) combine the warm apple sauce and yeast, stir it up with a fork
  3. Measure out your other ingredients and add them to the apple juice/yeast.
  4. If you're doing this in a bread maker set it to dough and start it
  5. If you're doing this with a mixer mix it until combined and then let it rest for ten minutes, do this for 2 hours
  6. If you're doing this by hand mix it together, knead it a few times, let it rest, repeat until you're so tired of kneading bread that you're ready to give up completely (but in reality give it four cycles of knead then rest
  7. Separate your dough into at least two parts, (I did four and it made four personal pizzas big enough for an adult)
  8. Roll your dough sections into balls and then squish/pull/whatever until they're roughly pizza shapes
  9. Poke holes with a fork across the surface of the dough then let the dough rest once more while the oven preheats
  10. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F
  11. Bake for 6 minutes
  12. Remove from the oven and apply toppings, then bake it for 6-8 more minutes

    Nikolai was having a cranky evening so that is why this is late, sorry about that. Do you have any strange substitutions you use while cooking?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not terribly healthy, but so very delicious breakfast biscuits.

In the mornings I rarely have time to make myself breakfast, and I'm not a cold cereal and milk sort of person. So, with Mr. Nikolai here to keep me busy I've been having pretty lousy breakfasts unless my husband helps me out. I needed something easy to make. This is just trial one, I have many other ideas for these, but for now they're so wonderful, the biscuit part is moist and them the cheese and the bacon and mmmm I'll probably gain ten pounds eating these and then die of a heart attack, but they're so good.

This includes the absolute best way to make bacon which I learned from Cooking for Engineers and their  bacon cooking tests (one and two). Whether you just make bacon or the whole biscuits, I really recommend trying this technique out.

2 cups flour
1 inch of a tillamook cheddar cheese baby loaf (I would say two mousefuls but I doubt you all have mousey cheese graters)
1 package of turkey bacon
4 tbl butter (softened)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup non fat powdered milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice

  1. You'll need to start out by preheating your oven to 200 degrees and set your package of bacon out for 15-20 minutes to defrost (if it was frozen)
  2. Lay your pieces of bacon out on a rack over a cookie sheet or a  makeshift grease catcher made of tin foil and put them in the oven for 3 hours (I did this the night before and kept the bacon in a bag in the fridge until I was ready to use it)
  3. Grate your cheese and separate it into two bowls
  4. Smash your bacon into little bits, either cut it or crumple it, it's really up to how hard you want to work here
  5. Mix the bacon pieces with one of the bowls of cheese and set it aside
  6. In the other bowl add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and dry milk. Then mix it all up
  7. Zap your butter in the microwave for a few seconds so that it is soft and add it in, make sure you've got it all mixed in before moving on to the next step
  8. Measure out your heavy cream and add the lemon juice to it, stir them together and let them sit for ten minutes at room temp.
  9. After the cream is done sitting add it  and the milk in, it will take some strength to get this all mixed, I wish I had used my mixer. Luckily I could just ask Tim to do it instead.
  10. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  11. Get out you cupcake tins, and put the cupcake liners in it, then use a spoon or a cookie baller to separate out small portions of the dough into each of the cups.
  12. Squish the dough into the cups so it covers the bottom of each one
  13. Get your cheese/bacon bowl back and add a spoonful to each biscuit, then add more dough (I found it was easiest to roll out ball with my hands then squish it flat before placing it in the tins) Then top with more cheese/bacon
  14. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then enjoy

Completely off topic but do any of you have any genius teething tips? Nikolai is miserable, we've got the ice teethers and baby oragel for when he gets really bad (but I'd like to avoid using it as much as possible) and I guess I'm searching in vain for a magical cure all.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gluten free isn't so easy after all...

Looks like a really nice yummy cake, right?

The same sister-in-law I tried making almond milk for I'm trying to learn to bake gluten-free for. I've read all about it and I've purchased several non-wheat flours and xanthan and guar gums and starches and all sorts of gluten-free baking stuff. I've got a list of recipes to try out. For some reason though, running short on time tonight I decided that it would be a great time to write my own recipe. This was not the best idea I've ever had.

Microwave cakes are pretty darn delicious, and so simple, I figured "Ooooh, wouldn't it be nice if I came up with a gluten-free microwave cake?" And sure, it's a nice idea, but this feeble attempt failed greatly. It might look like cake, it might even smell like cake, but it tastes like I imagine newspaper would.

Not that you should repeat my mistake, but here is what I did

3 tbl cocoa powder
2 tbl sorghum flour 
1/2 tsp potato starch
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbl powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tbl butter
1-2 tbl chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. I used my 2-cup liquid measure, and mixed together all the dry ingredients. If this were a tasty recipe you'd want to make sure they're well combined so that the starch and baking soda can make sure it rises well and to do that they need to be evenly distributed. This rose really well and made a very pretty looking I know I've got that part down.
  2. Cut the butter up into as small of pieces as you can and add it along with the egg and vanilla
  3. Use a fork and mix it for 1 minute, beating it as much as you can, to make sure it is mixed up really well
  4. Then I put it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, but it was clearly done before 1.5 minutes.
  5. And now it's finished, don't eat, and please throw away
  6. This is only attempt one, and I'm sorry that all I've got for you tonight is a really gross gluten-free cake. At least my pictures turned out pretty well.

Do any of you bake gluten-free? Do you have any suggestions for successful baked goods? I'd love to hear what you have to say!
And did you see? I have a twittery thing now! Follow me and stuff.
    It really rose well, more than doubled in volume

Friday, January 7, 2011

Baby bangs head; blog schedule suffers

Poor Nikolai bonked his head on the desk today when I was getting ready to cook, he's absolutely fine, but it scared the daylights out of me. As a result we're spending the evening cuddling and a new post will be up tomorrow evening.

This kid throws caution to the wind and is determined to explore... I should stock up on bandaids before he starts crawling.

To help make up for the lack of a new post I've added a recipe index on the side bar!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I don't like almonds... why did I think I'd like almond milk?

Todays kitchen extravaganza yielded not so gorgeous results, so lets start this off with a picture of my kiddo.

My sister in law likes almond milk, I like my sister in law, so obviously by the transitive property, I like almond milk... Right? No, not at all. Being the crazy lets-try-making-everything-on-our-own-instead-of-buying-it-from-a-store person I am I decided that making almond milk would be a fantastic idea, and it would be healthy and I could surprise my sister in law and hooray hooray it will be so great. 

I had been reading something, not sure what, when I came across this tutorial on how to make almond milk...and this is basically how it works:

1. Get some almonds (non roasted, plain, boring almonds) and put them in a container. Fill that container with water and stuff it in the fridge over night, or just a few hours, or something) I left mine in over night.

2. They'll get all  puffed up and expand and turn the water sort of murky.

3. Dump out the old water, put some almonds in a blending device of your choice, add some new clean water...

4. And blend, blend, blend. Until almond water stuff is squishing out of the blending device and covering your counters in almond juice. But, really, just blend until the almonds are tiny pieces and your liquid is all whiteish.

5. Like this

6. I didn't get a picture of the next step because Nikolai was trying to eat my camera and I was covered in almond liquid and my floor was covered in accidentally spilled almonds...But, you've got to strain all the almond chunks out of your almond milk so it isn't even more gross ( no offense to almond fans ) than it already is...Then you can add some vanilla and sugar to make it better, but in my opinion that really didn't help...

7. I do have all of this almond meal to do something with now though.... Does any one have any favorite recipes or suggestions for what I should do with this stuff?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Freezer biscuits of the whole wheat variety

These biscuits are still a work in progress, but what we have here has become a favorite of my husband, so I figure I'll share it with you. (Also, it is really cold and I don't want to spend any more time in my kitchen)

The bulk section at Waremart is one of my favorite places, occasionally they'll have a strange new ingredient for me to try out. This time it was whole wheat pastry flour, and these biscuits were my unfortunate test subject. 

I have not done too much baking with whole wheat, I have nothing against it aside from it's texture, but having those poky little not quite ground into powder bits is really not something I enjoy... So, once I bought the flour and brought it home and examined it and realized that it still had the same texture I was quite disappointed. For some reason I assumed that it would be more finely ground since it was pastry flour. (But really it just has a higher protein content)

I decided to use it anyway, the biscuits turned out with very good flavor, but slightly dry, and I still don't enjoy the texture, but dipped in gravy they were good. Tim loves them, but he'd probably live off of whole wheat if he could get away with it. I will be trying again in the future to get a less gainy texture...

4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 stick butter softened
1 egg (beaten)
1 1/2 cups milk
Extra butter for the tops of the biscuits (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F if you're going to bake them right away
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  3. Add in the butter and mix until crumbly
  4. Mix in the beaten egg and the milk
  5. Use a large cookie baller to section out balls of dough them squish them down to 1/2 inch thick with your fingers or the bottom of a glass
  6. Spread a tiny bit of extra butter on the top of each biscuit before freezing or baking
  7. If freezing stick them, still on the cookie sheet, into the freezer for 2-3 hours then transfer them to an air tight container (a bag, tupperware, whatever) and use in 2 months
  8. To bake them put them in for 10-12 minutes (subtract two minutes if they're not frozen)
  9. I sadly don't have a picture of the finished product because for some reason I decided that wasn't important, I'm probably just losing my mind.
    Do you have any tips for baking with whole wheat flours and not getting that gritty texture? If you do, or if you've got any other suggestions comment! I'd love to hear from you.