Saturday, January 28, 2012

Drop Biscuits


Growing up my dad would often make drop biscuits for us for breakfast and we would spread butter mixed with honey over them. Scrumptious! I cannot even tell you how many I could eat in one sitting as a teenager. He always made them with Bisquick which is unfortunately not approved on the Feingold diet. So I make them from scratch and think they taste even better. Most of the time I make them with spelt flour which I think adds to the flavor but you can also use regular flour which would also give you a lighter color.

Ingredients

3 cups spelt or all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.  Make well in the center of the mixture. Add milk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until mixture is moistened.

Using large spoon, drop dough into 12 mounds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet (if you do not have parchment paper then you can just grease the baking sheet).  Bake for 10 - 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet and serve warm. Don't forget the butter mixed with honey!





Friday, January 27, 2012

Tzatziki Sauce and Pita Bread


Whenever we go to my favorite Greek / Italian restaurant I order tzatziki sauce with pita bread for an appetizer. After this last time I did so, I was determined that I could make it at home which would also enable those on the Feingold Diet in my house to eat it.  For the tzatziki sauce I used this recipe for the foundation. http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2007/07/worlds-best-tzatziki-sauce-recipe-greek.html I did not have the same quantities on hand that she did so kind of adjusted it a little bit.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 cups Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
about 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the cucumbers, she suggested and I do as well to put the seeded and diced cucumbers into a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Let sit and drain for at least 30 minutes (I did mine for an hour). This will help get rid of some of the excess water in the cucumbers helping to make your sauce less runny and watery.

In food processor add everything but the yogurt. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)

The result was very yummy! I will have to say mine was still a little more runny than I would like and think I will tweak it a bit next time.

Pita Bread

I will have to admit I had no intention of making pita bread. However after getting home from buying the ingredients for the tzatziki sauce, I realized I had forgotten to buy the pita bread. Not wanting to wait to make the tzatziki sauce, and not wanting to go back to the store I decided to make it. It was already late in the day so I wanted something easy and settled on this recipe. http://mideastfood.about.com/od/breadsrice/r/pitabreadrecipe.htm I thought it turned out good and tasty.  If I were going to serve it to friends I would probably cut it up, brush it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 
 
Ingredients  
 
1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
 
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.

Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes (I used my Kitchen Aid). When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.

Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F (I did 475) and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes (these times vary).

Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homemade Cheese Crackers


As I have stated before I make a lot of my family's goodies and snacks from scratch due to my oldest being on the Feingold Diet. I was excited when I found this recipe for cheese crackers (my kids are all about cheese), and even more excited when it turned out well. I got the recipe from http://kathdedon.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/melt-in-your-mouth-homemade-cheese-crackers/   I think they are delicious! The recipe makes about 70 crackers which may sound like a lot but really isn't and get eaten quickly.

Ingredients
1½ cups (6 oz) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I grated some Tillamook sharp cheese and it worked great)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces (I used Tillamook)
¾ cup (90 g) flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I did not use the red pepper flakes because I did not know if my kids would like it but it sounds great to me.)
1 tablespoon milk (I used Organic Valley)


1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
2. Put everything except the milk in a food processor. Pulse the processor, 5 seconds at a time, for about 5 or 6 times, until the dough is in coarse crumbs.


3. Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together in a ball.

 4. Roll the dough out on a floured board (I just used my counter top) with a rolling pin that has been floured until it is about 1/8 inch thick. (about an 8×10 rectangle.)

5. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. You can put a bit of flour on the blade of the knife to keep it from sticking.Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each cracker. (I did not have a wooden skewer but had some toothpicks with a flat end.) Any excess you have just roll back out and make more squares.
 6. Place the crackers at least ¼ inch apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet.


7. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. (Mine took 12 minutes.)


8. Put the baking sheet on a rack and let the crackers cool completely.
9. Eat or store in a covered container to eat within a day or two.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Peanut Butter Cookies


I have made this recipe for peanut butter cookies countless times since finding it at this site http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/peanut-butter-cookies-recipe.html The cookies taste great, the family loves them and yes they are vegan. When I made them the other day I did not tell my oldest I was making them but when he/she smelled them, got so excited.

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour (I used spelt which bakes a little darker)

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 cup organic, chunky natural peanut butter

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the peanut butter I like to use the kind you grind yourself at the grocery store.

For the maple syrup I used 100% pure maple syrup which really adds to the flavor, I do not know if it would work to try regular pancake, processed, syrup that has no maple in it, I do not suggest it. Also if you are not vegan you could substitute honey or use half honey, half maple syrup but I think using all maple syrup works the best.


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place racks in the top third of oven.



In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. in a separate larger bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Stir until combined.




Pour the flour mixture over the peanut butter mixture and stir until barely combined - still a bit dusty looking.

Let sit for five minutes, give one more quick stir, just a stroke or two.
Now drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Press down on each one gently with the back of a fork. It's a loose batter, so if you're set on doing criss-crosses, go ahead and chill the batter for an hour or so before this step.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes - but don't over bake or they will be dry. Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.
Make 2 - 3 dozen cookies.

Vegan Mac and Cheeze

I love this dish and the kids do too! I have made it numerous times to take to pot lucks and other social functions and get lots of compliments on it. It is good for those on the Feingold Diet, those that are Vegan and anyone else who wants to try a yummy dish! I got the recipe from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia C. Simpson. http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Easy-Vegan-Comfort-Food/dp/1615190058/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326839326&sr=8-1   I highly recommend this cookbook, it is great!


Ingredients
1 lb. elbow macaroni or rotini pasta (I usually use Tinkyada brown rice fusilli sold at Fred’s and Walmart but only had this Field Day farfalle on hand this time which worked just as good.)

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced (mine were small so I used 3)

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (sometimes I use two depending on size of carrot)
2/3 cup diced white or yellow onion

2 ½ cups water

2/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup raw cashews

1/3 cup macadamia nuts (commissary sells chopped 6 oz bags)

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I did not use because did not know if kids would like it)

¼ cup plain bread crumbs, optional (I did not us)


Preheat oven to 350
Lightly oil a 3-quart casserole dish

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, combine the potatoes, carrots, onion, and 2 ½ cups water in small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat until the water is simmering, and cook, covered for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.



Put the oil, cashews, macadamia nuts, salt, garlic, dry mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cooked vegetables with the cooking water into a blender and process until completely smooth. I used a food processor because I do not have a blender.


Toss cooked pasta with blended cheese sauce until it is completely coated.

Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese sauce is bubbling. The recipe did not say whether or not to cook it covered or uncovered so I covered it. The end result is delicious!

Granny Square Crochet Slippers


These are just too fun. When I saw granny square slippers on this site http://www.purlbee.com/granny-square-slippers/
I knew I had to make them. I did not follow the pattern exactly. I used double crochet instead of single crochet  and used only two colors as opposed to several.  I really like the color combo she  used on hers, but for my first time making them just wanted to use something I had on hand and really like the aqua/brown combo.


As you can tell from the pictures it only takes six granny squares. I used a G crochet hook and Red Heart yarn. I went around once with the aqua color, once with the brown, then two more times with the aqua.



On the Purl Bee website http://www.purlbee.com/granny-square-slippers/ she had her squares 4 1/2 inches from tip to tip diagonally, mine ended up being 5 inches, but the slippers were a little loose for my size 7 feet so will stick with the 4 1/2 next time. 

I joined the squares using single crochet and in order to connect the squares I highly recommend going to the Purl Bee website to follow her instructions because her squares are different colors and it is easier to instruct which square goes with which square. I will do my best to explain it, mainly with pictures.

Step. 1

                         
Step 2.


Step 3.
       

Step 4. 



Step 5.


Step 6.



                  Step 7.
This is a little confusing. Attach the two sides that I have marked with yarn in the pic on the left, which will look like where I started joining the two sides in the picture on the right. Once finished with step 7, it will look like the picture below. This is the top of the slipper.

Step. 8 Now continuing from where you are at, flip the slipper over to the bottom, and continue joining the two squares (top and bottom) to each other working diagonally to the middle of the bottom of the slipper, like the picture below.

The end of step 8should look like the picture below. Cut the yarn.




Step. 9  Flip the slipper over to the top, join new yarn and connect the toe square to the sole square, up one side and down the other. I forgot to take pictures of this step but the end of step 8 should look like the picture below. Cut the yarn.


Step 10. Now you are going to join the heel square to the bottom sole square, up one side and down the other. I start and end a little further up than the corners so it looks like the picture below. Giving it a more snug feel.

Step 11. Continue single crochet up and down the sides of the heel square, cut the yarn.



Voila! You have granny square slippers! Again I thought these were fun to make, look fun, and are comfy.





Thursday, January 12, 2012

Apple Ginger Jam


A couple of years ago a friend of mine got me interested in making homemade jam, and this is her recipe for apple/ginger jam. I do not do it because of any dietary needs. I do it for the sole reason that I enjoy it, and it tastes great. I send different ones to family during the holidays and like to have it on hand to give as gifts if we we go to someone's house for a get together and things like that.  This particular recipe when I made it last night made 64 ounces and I used a combination of 8oz and 4 oz jars. If you are new to canning I suggest looking at a "how to" type instruction on it. The Ball Blue Book guide to preserving has a good beginners section at the front of it. http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Blue-Book-Guide-Preserving/dp/0972753702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326313807&sr=8-1
I also suggest getting a canning utensil set, which includes a jar funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, and bubble remover. I picked mine up at Walmart. I do not have my bubble remover anymore but you can use a non metallic spatula too. Then I already had a metal ladle which is what I use for pouring the jam into the jars. http://www.amazon.com/Ball-1440010720-Utensil-Set/dp/B001NNJ42I/ref=sr_1_18?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1326393743&sr=1-18

Decide which jars you want to use and wash in hot soapy water. Heat them in the boiling water canner. I usually toss them in the canner and fill it with enough water to cover the jars before I start the jam prep, I turn the heat on and keep the water simmering until I am ready to use them.
     
Ingredients you will need

1 cup grated peeled ginger root (this is the most tedious part I think)
5-6 large apples (tart-sweet crisp ones such as Prima or Jonagold)
2 cups water
6 cups sugar
1 tsp powdered ginger (optional, I have never used it  when making recipe)
some chopped crystallized ginger (I used 1/2 cup last time, found at my local grocery store in the natural bulk food section, if not at your grocery store try an Asian or international food store)

For preparing the ginger my friend suggested using a microplane zester but I did not have one and just used a regular grater.

 If you do a lot of cooking with apples, I found these nifty gadgets to but quite useful, apple peeler and core/slicer. http://www.amazon.com/Starfrit-93013-Pro-Apple-Peeler-slicer/dp/B000X9EQ7Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326391414&sr=8-2
I did still cut the apples into smaller pieces than this though, just to make it easier later.


Add everything but the sugar and crystallized ginger to a stainless steel pot and cook for about 20 minutes covered on medium heat, until the apples are soft enough to mash. When they are soft enough to mash either mash it all up or if you have an immersion blender, I find that to be easier. The metal immersion blenders are preferable but again I already had this one and am too cheap to go buy another. You are desiring for it to be an applesauce consistency.

Now add the sugar and cook until it is dissolved, then bring to a boil, stirring periodically.

Note: it is during this stage while I am waiting for the mixture to boil that I take out the jars/lids from the canner and set them on a dishtowel on the counter right next to the burner the mixture is on. Leave the heat on the canner with water continuing to boil.

Boil hard for at least one minute. This is a very important step not to skimp on. If you do not get it to a good hard boil for at least one minute the jam will not set well and will be soupy. Yes this happened to me. I used to have a glass stove top and could not for the life of me get the mixture to boil hard enough and would end up having to use pectin which for this recipe I do not like to do. The one soupy batch I ended up using as a chutney and would pour it over cream cheese and eat with crackers but would have rather have gotten it right the first time. Once you have boiled it hard for one minute try to skim the foam off the top the best you can.







Remove jam mixture from heat and add the crystallized ginger.






Then funnel into hot prepared jars. Leave about a 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula, just running it around against the glass on the inside a few times. Using a damp paper towel or cloth wipe off the rims of the jars. Place the lids on the jars only tightening to finger tight. Place jars inside the canner and process. Place lid on canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Then let process for about 15 minutes.  After processed place on counter where they can remain about 24 hours to set. When they first come out of the canner I listen for the pops on all of the jars, it may take a few minutes, if one does not pop it means it did not seal. It does not mean the jam is bad but once cooled the unsealed one should go in the fridge and be eaten first.

There you have it, Apple Ginger Jam! It looks more complicated than it actually is and after you have done it a couple times it seems like no big deal. There are several different kinds of jam I make and always have fun doing it.