Thursday, March 31, 2011

George's Tortellini Soup

Last week I went on a writer's retreat with my creative writing cohort. It was a blast, and besides being really fun, it was also pretty delicious.

The first day that we got there, one of our professors and her husband had prepared some delicious soups, a vegetable soup and a tortellini soup. The recipe is called George's Tortellini Soup. George, if I understood correctly, is my professor's brother in law, and though I have never met him, I like him already because his soup is delicious!

George's Tortellini Soup

6 Cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
49oz Chicken or Vegetable Broth
2 packages tortellini
1 package fresh spinach
4 cans stewed tomatoes
Parmesan for topping

1. Sautee garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add brother and bring to a boil
3. Add tortellini, bring to a boil
4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, spinach and simmer until spinach cooks and soup is heated through.
6. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

The soup was served with some delicious homemade bread as well as some balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping.

The point of the retreat was to write about place, and to think of how place influences our writing. I am hoping next time we have a food writing retreat...that would be awesome.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Starting Right

I am a firm believer in breakfast. Not a shove a prepackaged overly sweet something in your mouth as your run out the door breakfast, but a full course meal with multiple food groups-keep yourself full until lunch breakfast. It does a body good. My favorite cold and hot breakfast go together to create a full meal with all the food groups.
First, cold. Get shredded wheat (not frosted), add sliced bananas and another fruit cut into bite sized pieces. I like apples and especially peaches or nectarines. Of course, berries would work great as well. I think I even had kiwi once, but decided kiwi needs it's own plate.
My best friend's mom would always have fresh fruit on the table in the morning ready to eat. The oranges would be peeled, apples sliced, kiwi cut. I can't have a kiwi without remembering when I spent the night and noticed the fruit the first time. Even as a kid I thought it was a great idea to get us to eat more fruit. Now as a mom, I think it's a great idea to use up fruit that is about to go bad. Continuing with the recipe...
Top with chopped nuts, mixed nuts are great, just be sure to leave out the peanuts, their flavor is too strong. For a while I had some Brazilian nuts that needed to be used, that was good when mixed with another hard nut, like chestnuts. Add as much cinnamon and nutmeg as you want. Remember, cinnamon is good for you in 3+grams/day (it controls blood sugar, and studies show it improves "cognitive processing", among other things). I've added cardamom before for variety. Pour your milk, enjoy. This was vegan, so I had rice milk this day. But I noticed the carton said "rice beverage" made me smile.
I love omelets. I never cook them perfectly, I always add too many veggies to fold it in thirds, but I don't think you can ever have too many sauteed veggies. Although I would like to figure out how to keep the outside of the egg not burned and the inside completely cooked. My timing is never perfect.
Pair this vegetable omelet with my fruit cereal and you have a perfectly complete meal. Dairy, check; grains, check; veggies, fruit and protein, check! You even have some good fats with the nuts. If only all my meals were this great...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Salted Caramel Granola


Ok...there isn't really caramel in the recipe, it's actually honey, but "Salted Honey" just isn't as popular, and besides, the honey does caramelize a bit, and it ends up being caramel colored.

I have really, really been enjoying my Green Smoothies for breakfast, but sometimes I'd like something a bit crunchier for breakfast. Also, I love granola as a snack during long days: the salt, the sweet, the cold milk, all combine for a great snack on a hot day, or for a quick lunch when I don't feel like cooking.

I was a little nervous to make the granola, because every time previously I had tried to make granola, I always burned it. But, I learned my lesson and here's the secret: when you are baking the granola stir it every 10 minutes. Simple enough, it just means you'll be in and out of the kitchen for half an hour or so. Or, you can do like I do, and get a good book and sit by the oven.

The measurements below are estimates, and really you could use more or less of any ingredient, as preferred, though if you add or subtract a lot of any dry ingredients, measure out the wet ingredients accordingly.

Salted Caramel Granola
3 1/2 C Old fashioned oats
1/2 C Flax seed
1/2 C shredded coconut
1/2 C Slivered almonds
1/2 C Sunflower seeds
2 Hearty dashes cinnamon (or to taste)
1/2 C Honey (actually, just a bit more than 1/2 C)
1/2 C Olive Oil (slightly less, certainly no more than, 1/2 C)
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of table salt
1/2 C Raisins
1 Tbs (or to taste) coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325.

1. Mix oats, flax, coconut, almonds, seeds, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, honey, vanilla, and table salt.

3. Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients with the dry, making sure that the oats, etc, are entirely coated.

4. Spread the mixture in a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake the granola for 30-40 min, until the whole thing is a caramelly golden brown. Stir every 10 minutes! Stirring is very important to make sure that the granola is cooked evenly and not burned.

6. As soon as you have taken the granola out of the oven, sprinkle the sea salt evenly over whole thing. This does make it pretty salty, so if you don't like salty sweet things, you can leave this out entirely. Mix in the salt.

7. Sprinkle the raisins over the granola and stir them in, then let the granola cool.

If you'd like to see more pictures of the granola check out the other blog

Monday, March 21, 2011

Super Simple Vegetarian Navajo Tacos

Navajo Tacos are essentially Indian Fry Bread with taco filling on top. Indian Fry Bread is essentially just fried bread dough, so you can use any fried dough for the scone. (This is not technically true, Fry Bread does have a particular flavor and feel, but regular bread dough will work. I recommend using Andrew's Honey Whole Wheat bread dough for this. When you make the bread, keep some extra dough on hand for such things.)

To make the fry bread, follow the scone recipe from a few days ago, except use a slightly larger amount of dough and stretch it out as far as you can.

To make the beans:

Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

In a sauce pan, mix the black beans with a third cup of any pureed or especially liquidy salsa (if you like a lot of sauce on your taco, add more). Add a dash of cumin, a clove or two of minced garlic, some chopped cilantro if you have any on hand, and a few dashes of Tabasco or red pepper flakes if you like heat. A bit of oregano and/or thyme can also add a nice flavor reminiscent of chili. Simmer everything together for a few minutes, until it is thoroughly heated through; the longer it simmers the longer the beans will have to soak in the flavor, but also the more likely that the salsa with evaporate, so if it gets dry add a bit more salsa.

Serve the beans on top of a scone, and top that with a dollop of sour cream and some grated cheese. Fresh tomatoes, chopped olives, or anything else you like in tacos will also be good. Serve with some dark leafy greens such as spinach or romaine for a more well-rounded color palate and varied textures.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Scones

If you enjoyed Andrew's Honey Whole Wheat bread, then you will love making scones with the dough! (If you didn't enjoy Andrew's Honey Whole Wheat bread, then you haven't tried making it yet. Get on that, because this post will be useless without it. Unless of course, like me, you can be satisfied with just looking at and drooling over food pictures. If that is the case, then you should check out FoodPornDaily, which, despite its naught name, is guilt-free gluttony.)

Anyhow. Here in Utah when we say "scone" we mean fried and sugary. (I didn't realize that this was just a Western US thing, but Wikipedia backs me up here). And, though I do love a good English scone every now and then, this is what I want when I say "scone."

The key to a good scone is a good dough. Sure, you can make these with the store-bought frozen dough, but I think that the homemade dough has a flavor that can't be beat.

TO make the scones:

Fill a skillet or frying pan about half an inch with vegetable oil. Pre-heat on Medium-High.

Start with a small ball of bread dough. Any yeasty dough will work, but as I said earlier, my favorite is the Honey Whole Wheat dough.

Roll a small piece of dough into a ball, then flatten it out, stretching it as far as you can. If you like doughy scones (I do), don't stretch the dough out as much, but let it remain more of a ball. If you are adventurous, you can make a filled scone! After you've stretched the dough out, place a small amount of something in the middle; banana, peanut butter, cheese, or jam have all worked well for me. Only use a small dab of the filling, then fold the dough over and pinch it closed, making sure that it is well sealed, as holes in the seal will make the filling leak out into the oil.

By now, the oil in the pan should be hot. Test the oil by dropping a small crumb of dough into the oil. If it sizzles right away then it is hot enough for the scones. Using tongs, place the scones into the oil and cook until the one side is light brown, then flip, and cook the remainder until it is also light brown. Place the cooked scones on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Serve hot. I prefer mine with honey, but they are also good sprinkled with powdered sugar. I have eaten them with natural maple sugar or jam as well, and that works equally as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pressure Pie

You'd think a circle would be easy to make. But one made from scratch? The intentions may be perfect, but reality is not. Which bring one to wonder, how did they ever get pi when you need a perfect circle to prove your hypothesis?
When Skoticus call me last night to remind me that today is pi day and that I needed to get a pi(e) post up, I said no problem. I figured I'd get a small tart from the freezer, defrost it, take a picture and be done. Then after a day of errands, naps, piano teaching, homework and life, I realized the tart was still in the freezer. Since it was close to dinner time I thought I'd just make a chicken pie, but I needed to run to the store to buy chicken. That's okay, chicken is on sale this week. So 4 kids went to the store with me. As I said, intentions were perfect... I'm not sure I should go into details, but I lost one of them for a minute only to realize she went with her brother to the bathroom. Reality is not...
I doubled the recipe so I could make dessert. The bowl was too small. I don't know if I didn't mix the shortening into the flour enough, or if I didn't add enough water, but it wasn't staying together very well and was all marbe-ly. By then lots of people were hungry and I didn't care too much. I put the steamed veggies in separate containers so the kids could make their own, to their delight.
The crust looked great. I remember being at a family wedding and one of my aunts was lamenting that she never asked my mom how she made such great crust for pies. I looked at her confused, and told her I remembered my mom unfolding the purchased crust from the store, but never making a crust. I think I broke my aunts heart that day...
Perfect for dinner, lots of veggies. Since I didn't mix all the filling together before putting the pies together, I didn't put enough sauce. I guess it's just more healthy that way. Only my youngest ate the whole thing, with the daylight savings time, my other 2 were pretty tired and only had a little bit before going to bed.
Since my kitchen was completely helpless by then, I got ready for dessert. I got some dehydrated apples boiling, added sugar and cinnamon and this new product, Philadelphia's cooking cream to make a creamy apple pie. After it cooked I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on it.

Chocolate ice cream, check. Kids in bed, check.
One of my favorite parts of mom making pie was the crust scraps she'd sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake. So I did the same. It was while tasting them I realized I didn't put enough salt in the dough. Salt really makes everything better. I'm sure a lot of people could say the same thing about pie. That, and maybe not being under pressure to create it, but having the desire to invent something great. Thanks be to the inventors of pi.

Orange and Almond Cream Pie

Happy Pi(e) Day!

Pi Day is one of the very best holidays ever because pi is one of the coolest numbers around, and pie is probably my favorite food.

So, to wish you a Merry Pi(e) Day, I offer the Orange and Almond Cream Pie. It is a fresh-fruit pie, and a versatile recipe because the orange can easily be substituted for almost any fresh fruit.

Orange and Almond Cream Pie

1 prepared pie crust
~2 Tbs raw sugar
~2 Tbs finely chopped almonds

1 quart whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or more, as desired)
8 oz (1 package) cream cheese
1/2 C or so powdered sugar (to taste)
1/2 C finely chopped almonds
1 C blueberries (optional)

3-4 medium oranges, peeled and chopped
1 Tbs powdered sugar
An additional orange and some more chopped almond for garnish


For the crust of this pie, I just used a traditional pie crust recipe, in this case the one I found in Fanny Farmer's Cookbook, so use your favorite crust recipe here, doesn't need to be fancy. After you've placed the crust in the pan, sprinkle the dough with raw sugar and a bit of chopped almond. Lightly press the sugar and almond into the crust. Bake as recipe directs.

After the crust has cooled, fill it as follows.

Whip the cream until it is thick. Add the powdered sugar to taste. Mix in the vanilla and cream cheese. Stir in the crushed almonds and the blueberries. Generously fill the pie shell with cream mixture, reserving some for garnish.

In a separate bowl, mix the chopped oranges with just a little bit of powdered sugar. Once mixed, layer the oranges over the cream.

Use a dollop of the whipped cream mixture for garnish, and make it uberfancy by placing some orange slices artistically. Sprinkle the whole thing with some more almonds.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pi and Irony go together like Grapefruit and Ice Cream

Southern California Grapefruit Pi

Teachers, especially middle school teachers (that's me!), reach deep, day after day, to find the joy in dragging 13-year-old minds through the wisdom of Euclid, Steinbeck, Paine, and Archimedes. In doing so, we find ourselves immersed in the subjects and trying to out-goof ourselves to get those kiddos to pay attention. This is especially true every March 14, or if you're a mathophile - Pi Day.

Now, I teach English, and we have our own sense of humor, (you'll see us brandishing our cafeteria sporks into the backs of our Caesar salads for the Ides of March) but there's nothing like a math teacher for chic geek, especially on Pi day. So when a I see Michelle or Scott or Maryanne or any of my usually staid, serious math colleagues wearing silly t-shirts "Kiss me, I'm irrational" or "Shut your Pi hole" or my favorite"I love you like a fat mathematician loves Pi" do I congratulate them on their intellectual fashion choices? Do I make my students write an ode to the circle? No. I make my own irrational pi, this time out of the grapefruit left surreptitiously outside my classroom door by Joi, the science teacher, who like many in our area grow grapefruit, avocados, and... (don't even say hi to me in the summer or you will get a bag of ) zucchini. Is there a special day for science teachers or do they just get to walk around knowing the difference between atoms and quarks and lording it over the history teachers?

So, brave math colleagues, this post is dedicated to you. Thanks for teaching algebra and geometry; it makes my class look easy.

Oh, and none of the pies I made are round, I made one oval and the other rectangle.
'Cause I love irony.
Recipe for Grapefruit Pi:

2 medium grapefruit, sliced wafer thin and then chopped. Use the whole fruit, including pith, skin, and flesh. Yes. The whole thing. Is your hand still up? Okay, yes you may discard the stem end and tip. Now wash your hands....Where was I....

2 med. grapefruits
2 1/4 cup sugar
Pastry for a 9 - inch double crust pie (I cheated on this test.... store bought crust.... hope I don't get caught, detention is soooo boring.... Sorry Mr. Pena.)
4 eggs, beaten well
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Slice 1 1/2 (check out the fractions!) of the grapefruits super, super thin, (think limp clocks like Salvador Dali). Then chop them more until they are cut into tiny, tiny bits. If your grapefruit has especially thick skin, feel free to leave some of the pith out. Be sure to save any of the juice run off to add more flavor to the pi, or, if you live in So. Cal and you have more citrus than sense you can add more juice to your mixture without trying to save it all.

2.In a bowl mix the grapefruit and sugar until well combined. Squeeze the reserved half of the grapefruit to add it's juice to the mixture.

3. Cover and leave at room temperature. Wait 3 hours or preferably over night, stirring occasionally.

4. Beat eggs, add flour and vanilla and mix them into the grapefruit sugar mixture.

5. Heat the over to 450 degrees. Line your desired pi pan with the first layer of pastry, leaving a 1 inch overhang and mold the crust to the pan.

6. Pour in the grapefruit mixture.

7. Cover with the second pastry layer, crimp sides edges, cut in five or six steam holes.

8. Place the pi on a baking sheet and on the middle oven shelf.

9. Bake for 15 minutes at 450.

10. Turn heat to 375 and bake until pi crust is golden brown (25 - 30 minutes).

11. Let the pi cool a bit.

12. Serve with something creamy, like ice cream or thick, sweet whipped cream. The vanilla ice cream I used balanced the tartness a bit.

The pi is very tart, but if you're a citrus hound like me, this may just do it for you. I liked the smaller one I made using a rectangle (3x8) baking dish because it upped the crust to fruit ratio.

Do I get extra credit for using the word ratio?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Bread, From a Whole Wheat Poolish

Honey Whole Wheat Bread, From a Whole Wheat Poolish

There are actually four saucy siblings (as part of this blog anyway, if all our siblings were involved it would be eight), so I decided that I had better post.  My specialty tends to be breads, pastries, and desserts, though I can also make lots of other stuff.  As such, my meals tend less toward the healthy and more towards the sinfully good.  However since Skoticus likes Honey Whole Wheat Bread quite a bit, I tend to make this version which combines the best of both whole wheat and normal bread flour for a whole wheat taste (and honey, mmmm... honey), without the texture problems that can come from using whole wheat flour.

The dough for this recipe also makes very good scones.

Makes 2 one-pound loaves

For the Poolish:

1 cup whole wheat bread
1+1/2 cups bread flour
~1+1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (use a little more if you are using active dry, as it is less powerful)

For the Remainder:

2 Tbs softened butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp yeast (see note above)
2 tsp salt
~1+1/2 cups water
3 cups bread flour

Combine the poolish ingredients in a large bowl until all the flour is wet.  You want the dough to be soft and sticky, almost like really think pancake dough.  If the poolish is too dry add more water (this will depend upon the humidity of your location, I live Provo which has a very low humidity so I always have to add more water).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  You may use the poolish after about 3 to 4 hours or when it has become bubbly and foamy.  If you are not going to use it immediately or just want a more flavorful bread, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. If you decide to refrigerate the dough, be sure to take it out 1 to 2 hours before use so that it can come up to room temperature.

Once your poolish is ready, add the butter, honey, yeast, and salt.  Stir lightly.  Add the water and 2 cups of the flour.  Stir with a strong spoon, or get your hands dirty.  Knead the dough, adding flour until the dough is smooth, elastic, and very lightly sticky.

Cover your dough with either flour and a cloth, or with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil.  Let your dough sit until doubled.  Separate into two pieces.  Now you have a lot of options.  You can forms balls (also known as boules), or into the longer, torpedo shape, that I made as well as many many other options.  If you have a couche it is wonderful to raise the dough on that, if not I recommend that you raise it on what it will be baked on.

When your dough has almost doubled preheat the oven to 350 F, and prepare about 1 to 1+1/2 cups of boiling water. (Or other methods see below)

Once the oven is ready, pour the water into the oven. (CAUTION) Be very careful doing this, firstly so that you don't break the glass in your oven door due to thermal shock. Secondly, this should probably not be done in any oven that has vents in the bottom of the oven, like many gas ovens.  As an alternative, you can preheat the oven with a warp-proof pan on the lower rack and pour the steam into that.  Warp-proof pans tend to be solid steel or iron, most aluminum pans will warp from the shock.  Also, don't use anything with a teflon coating.  One additional option is to spray a large amount of water into the oven using a spray bottle.  If you are doing that, be careful not to hit the light or oven door.  (CAUTION)

Bake for about 20 minutes.  Look in the oven, and rotate the pans if the bread is cooking unevenly.  Bake for another 15-25 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Amaretto Custard Ice Cream

One of the best things that has happened in my life is getting an ice cream maker. This will either tell you about my enthusiasm for ice cream or the sad state of my life, but let's assume the former and discuss this delicious treat. Here's a recipe for some chocolate amaretto ice cream.

Amaretto (Chocolate and Almond) Custard Ice Cream Recipe

2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 C milt
1.5 C dark chocolate chips or baking chocolate
2 eggs
4 C light cream (or 3 C heavy cream and 1 C milk)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (just a drop, really)

*I should remind the reader that I don't usually cook by measuring. So, I am not 100% accurate on the amount of chocolate, light cream, vanilla, or almond, but the above are approximates and will serve you well. Add more/less of the chocolate, vanilla, or almond as your taste dictates, but in saying that I remind you that almond extract is very strong.

1. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a double boiler. Slowly add the milk until the solids are dissolved, and then add the chocolate. Cook on medium/low, stirring constantly, until thick. Cook ten minutes longer.

2. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.

3. Stir a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, slowly adding more. Once it is all stirred in, return the mixture to the double boiler and cook for about 3 minutes more, then let stand until it is lukewarm or even cold (putting it in the fridge works great). This is the longest stage of this recipe. When I made it I played a game with some friends while we waited. I recommend doing the same.

4. Mix the cooled chocolate mixture with the cream, vanilla, and almond extract.

5. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions. (Our model has a piece the needs to be frozen first. I keep that in the freezer all the time, in case I need to make ice cream in a pinch.) After the ice cream has been frozen in your ice cream maker it is ready to eat, but will be soft like soft serve. If you like harder, firmer ice cream, then put the ice cream in a tupperware and freeze for an hour or so.

6. Enjoy! This would be delicious topped with your favorite toppings, some fresh fruit, or even some crushed almonds and chocolate shavings.

This recipe made more than our ice cream maker could hold, so I made half one night and refrigerated the rest of the unfrozen mixture, which meant that I got to make some ice cream really quickly a few nights ago when I needed some.

This recipe does take longer than most ice cream recipes, since it is a custard and thus requires some boiling and then cooling before going into the ice cream maker. So, make it ahead of time if you're expecting company, or keep the unfrozen mixture in your fridge and pretend to whip it up while the company is distracted and then put it all in the ice cream maker if you feel like they would appreciate the experience of having the ice cream come right from the maker.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Green Smoothies and Thoughts on Them

Monique, one of my best friends, has for a long time been telling me about Green Smoothies. She loves them, raves about them, praises them. A few months ago I was at her house to watch the LDS General Conference, and we were putting together a haphazard lunch between sessions, and she made us each a green smoothie [see pictures here]. I was surprised how unlike a salad it tasted.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was in the store looking for breakfast foods. I feel like breakfast, more than any other meal, has been taken over by the mass production and sugar culture, (Who has time in the morning to cook any more?) and so I find it hard to find satisfying breakfast foods. I'd been making a lot of omelettes, which were great, but I was getting tired of having eggs for breakfast every day. I love pancakes, but those take me too long to make, so are more of a weekend thing. French toast is actually pretty quick, too, but I feel like I can't make it delicious with out also making it super sugary, thus not the ideal choice for everyday breakfasts.  As I mused on theses things, I found that I'd wandered to the frozen fruits and I remembered Monique's green smoothies. So, I called her up, asked her for the recipe, and started making some smoothies for breakfast.

I'll be honest...sometimes they do taste like salad if you're not careful. But, most of the time they are delicious.

Random memory: Many, many years ago, I was talking with a friend who was describing his in-laws to me. He told me about how his father-in-law made "shakes out of lettuce and spinach and stuff." [I like how I use quotes there, as though I could actually remember verbatim what he said all those years ago...] For a long time I thought that Mr. In-Law must have been a strange dude... Spinach Shakes? Gross.

It was only a few days ago, as I was preparing the pictures for this post, that I remembered what my friend had told me and realized that the in-law must have been making what we now, perhaps he then, called green smoothies. Of course, maybe it was "green smoothies" in the story I was told, I don't know, I wouldn't have known what that meant without the description anyways. I know that I am more food savvy now, but I also think that the popularity of the smoothies are on the rise. In fact, they're all the rage now, almost trendy. When I brought up green smoothies with my friends at work everyone knew what they were and one girl said that she also has been making them for over a month, and also likes them. She said she had heard about them for a while, but didn't want to try them, just cause they seemed too popular. They have the same stigma as yoga: once for hippies, but now for trendy health nuts.

Well, trendy or crazy as they are, I like them, so I am going to keep at it. The recipe below.

Green smoothies have a lot of room for variation, which is one of the reasons I like them. Thus, the description below is probably better called a Guideline then a Recipe

  • 1 C Water (or a fruit juice! I've recently been doing 1/2 C natural Lemonade and 1/2 C water)
  • 2 generous handfulls of spinach, kale, dark green lettuce, etc.
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Banana (The banana is a must. Nothing hides the salad flavor better than a banana!)
  • 1 C frozen fruit (I've been using mixed berries of late)
Other ingredients:
  • Really any fruit will taste good in this. I've sometimes been adding a pear butter that we made last summer, and that gives a nice mellow flavor. Apples would be good.
  • Honey or agave. Sometimes I add a bit of honey to sweeten it. Though, with the fruit juice this has never been necessary. 
  • Dairy. My friend at work said that she sometimes put milk, yogurt, or even cottage cheese in hers. I had recently made some chocolate ice cream and still had the unfrozen base left, so I put some chocolate cream in, and that was good too.
I don't have a very good blender yet, so I've been using a food processor, and I found that the following process works best for me:
  1. Put the water/juice in first.
  2. Add the carrot. Let this blend for a bit so that the carrot gets as liquidated as possible.
  3. Add the greens slowly, in about three batches, and blend until they are liquefied as well.
  4. Add the banana and any other fresh fruit.
  5. Add the frozen fruit.
  6. Blend it all until it is at smoothie consistency.
The following picture is from before I developed the perfect step by step process, so that's why they're all in the blender together. If I had a Blendtec blender I would just put it all in. But alas...they are expensive.

So, there you have it, green smoothies. Once I thought they would be gross, now I enjoy them frequently. They are not as fast as cereal or toast, but they are about as quick as eggs or French toast, quicker still then pancakes or waffles. They are filling, and will keep my satisfied until lunch on most days.

Ever since I was a kid I thought that it'd be great to have smoothies for breakfast everyday, but never did. Now I get to live my childhood dream. Also, I am getting a lot more greens in my diet. So my kid self and my responsible self both get what they want. Besides, it is the only time I have ever been trendy. Win-win-win.

I thought it was essential to make one that was actually green. This one is made without the berries, but extra pear and banana.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

It was during the holidays I got the idea to make homemade marshmallows. I was searching for a great candy recipe and found it. Life being what it is, it wasn't until February that I finally got around to trying my hand at this simple treat. It really is simple, having a kitchen aid stand mixer made it all the easier. The hardest and messiest part was putting the corn starch and powdered sugar coating around each piece so they wouldn't stick to each other. Next time I think I'll need to add more flavoring.

I made them on Valentine's Day, so dyed them pink and cut out heart shapes for my kids. Growing up, my mom always gave us a valentine from her and Dad. She never put any additional words, but would get one of the standard valentines we handed out to our classmates and write, "love mom and dad". She would be sure to put in a little bit of candy, usually conversation hearts. When my older siblings moved out, I saw she would make a little care package for Valentine's day. I was still living at home when she died, so I never got one. I've always wished I had.
I really wanted to make the marshmallows for this cookie recipe. Chocolate with soft marshmallow with sour cream chocolate frosting is a definite hit! Even though the cookies were a little weird on account of me adding wheat flour (bad habit of trying to make treats healthy), every time I bit into a cookie and meet the soft marshmallow I was happy.

The cool triple layer look helps a lot, too.

Chocolate Suprises From Family Fun Dec/Jan 2011
For the cookies:
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 strawberry or other flavored marshmallows, cut in half
For the icing:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder and set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream all the butter and the brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until mixed, about 1 minute. Combine the milk and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low speed and add half the milk mixture. Slowly add half the flour mixture, then the remaiing milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Mix until well blended, about 1 minute.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, drop balls of the dough onto the sheet, leaving about 3 inches between them. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and top each with a halved marshmallow, cut side down, pressing it into the dough. Bake for an additional 4 minutes then cool the cookies on a rack. (I think you need to press the balls of dough before they start cooking, when I made them they didn't spread out at all)
Make the icing; sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Stir in the sour cream until it's smooth. Top the cookies with the icing so that the marshmallow is completely covered. Allow the icing to set, about 1 hour, before serving.