Sunday, November 28, 2010

Biscuits, you're doing it wrong.

Have you ever delved into trying out a new biscuit recipe hoping for light and fluffy and getting only heavy and hockey puckey?
Its enough to make a girl/guy cry.
Well, thing is most of these recipes have one thing in common...and it guarantees a bad biscuit every time.
Too much fat.
Yep, I said it.
Usually, Im asking you to not be afraid of the shortening/butter/lard/etc.
But, in this case, Im asking you to back off.
Too much of the wrong kind of fat will load down your flour and baking powder and not allow the fluffiness to come through.
You like how I get all technical?
Stop me if Im going over your head with all these mathematical terms.

I share because I care...what you'll need:

~2 c. ap flour
~1 Tb. baking powder
~1/4 tsp. baking soda
~2 tsp. sugar
~1/2 tsp. salt

whisk together and add:
~2 Tbs. shortening

cut shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it looks like a fine meal of sorts.

then mix together:
~2/3 c. half and half or cream
~1 tsp. white vinegar

I let this sit a minute until the cream clots up a bit, then add to the bowl.

If the dough is still crumbly and dry add some more cream a tablespoon at a time.
I usually end up adding 1-2 more Tbs.
Working quickly and gently, pat into a disk 1" thick on a floured working surface and cut out biscuits using a metal biscuit cutter.
Please don't use a glass, the rim is too thick and it will smash the edges, keeping your biscuits from rising correctly.
Bake at 400*F for about 15-18 minutes.
I bake mine just until they are cooked through, not necessarily golden cuz I like em as soft as possible.
Light, fluffy, perfect.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Baking" a microwave potato

Have you ever come home from work, worn out and ready to flop?
You proceed to toss a potato in the microwave, thinking you'll have dinner ready in minutes, right?

You hear the microwave beep and happily skip down the hall into the kitchen, throw open the door to find...what could only be described as a large, dry prune.
Appetizing, eh?

No amount of sour cream is going to save this mess.
Good thing you're here.
I'm going to teach you how to "bake" a potato in the microwave and have it still be edible.
woo doggies!

First, choose a nice plump potato, rinse it off and poke the daylights out of it with the tip of a sharp knife.
I say "sharp" knife because a dull one will only make you frustrated and curse.
I chose a sweet potato because they make me happy.

Next, you'll need a paper towel.

Let's diaper this baby!

Now, run it under the tap to get it all wet.

Place the potato in the microwave and cook it as you usually would, this potato took about 4 minutes, but your mileage may vary due to bigger/smaller potatoes and microwave wattage.
When you hear the microwave beep because its done, ignore it for 2 minutes so it can finish baking thru to the middle.
Unwrap your potato and eat it!
The skin will be soft and supple and the inside should be steamed to perfection.
I know, its not quite as good as baking them in the oven, all rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
But, you can't ask for a better potato with only 5-7 minutes worth of work.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Simple Slaw

Even you slaw haters may love this one.
Its not mayonnaisey, but slightly sweet, light and crisp.
Cabbage has a lot of nutritional value, so its a great alternative to a green salad.
Serve with some fried chicken or pulled pork and you've got yourself a winner!

what you'll need:
14 oz. pkg. slaw mix (I think I used the Dole brand mix...pour into large bowl, set aside)

in a small bowl,whisk together:
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. white sugar
1/3 c. real mayonnaise (not miracle whip....ick.  I even used light mayo)
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash salt and onion powder

whisk until the sugar is totally dissolved and pour mixture over slaw, toss to combine.
let sit 5-10 minutes in frig and toss again.

Monday, November 15, 2010


it sucks you in like a black hole
first, you think your point and shoot is ample
then you get a DSLR and you think you're Ansel Adams
finally, you get some decent glass and practice for a few years and you realize you aren't that great, but you're getting better.

each week, Im going to try to post some examples of my kind of photography
what can I say, Im an enabler!
 I hope to inspire you to take your camera out of its bag and shoot something
even if its just eggs from a local farm and a robin's nest you found in the backyard.
you can click on the photo if you'd like to see it full size  

camera:  Canon 40D
lens:  Canon 60mm 2.8 macro

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cream Cheese Danish

Homemade cream cheese danish, are you kidding me??

nah, I wouldn't do that to you
here's what you'll need my Easy Like Sunday Morning peeples:

- 2  cups flour (you can use cake flour here, too)
- 1/4  tsp. salt
- 1  cup cold butter, cut up
- 1/2  cup full fat sour cream
- 1  to 2 Tbs. cold water

For the danish pastry:
In a medium sized bowl stir together flour and salt. Add butter. Using a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal, you can leave some pieces of butter the size of small peas.

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and 1 tablespoon of the water. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture starts to clump together. Add the remaining water, if necessary, to moisten. Form into a ball. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Place between 2 pieces of parchment paper, waxed paper or plastic wrap. Roll to 18x9-inch rectangle.  Get out your ruler, make sure its perfect.
nah, Im just jackin, you can eyeball it.

Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Turn the dough over onto a lightly floured surface (optimally, I use a floured piece of parchment on a jelly roll pan, like in the photo.  I form the danish on the parchment and throw the whole she-bang in the oven.) and peel off remaining paper or wrap. Fold the dough crosswise into thirds, forming a 6x9-inch rectangle. Fold dough in thirds again, forming a thick piece about 3x6 inches. Wrap dough and chill in the refrigerator 1 hour or until firm. (Dough may be chilled up to 24 hours; let stand at room temperature until easily rolled.)

So, can I be frank here...I feel like such a weiner.
I didn't do the whole folding thing...Im a lazy bum.
The dough was thoroughly chilled and I rolled it out and used it.
Im lame, I know.
But, I set the bar low so that you'll feel better about yourselves.

After you've rolled it back out to a large rectangle, slather the filling (recipe follows) on the inner third of the dough and with a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut strips in a herringbone pattern on either side of the filling, as shown in the photo.

Then, like in the photo above, fold the strips over the filling, alternating from one side to the other.
When you are finished, it should look something like this...or nicer, I kinda rushed this.

Next, it goes in the oven at 350* for about 20-30 minutes...or until golden brown.
Sorry to be so vague, but ovens tend to vary so much.
ooooh....all goldey and flakey!

Now, all you need is some glaze, because it ain't danish if it isn't glazed!
Let it cool to room temp before glazing so it all won't run off, cuz that would be a crying shame, srsly.

Filling recipe:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 egg
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

**other fillings that can be substituted could be apple, berry, pumpkin, etc.
a can of whole cranberry sauce would be DIVINE and easy, too!
you could even put the cream cheese filling on the bottom and add a little cranberry on top of that.
yeah...just like that.

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. heavy cream or half and half (add slowly depending on consistency, you can add more, if needed.)
1 tsp. vanilla

I hope you got a pot of coffee going, you're gonna need it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adulthood and faking it

We all know those people.
You know, the ones who act their age, balance their checkbooks, use coupons and make pie charts.
THOSE people.
I am not part of that club, full of well-rounded mature human beings who have retirement funds, eat low carb diets and return phone calls in a timely fashion.

I crumble into a fetal position at the thought of W2's and deductions.
Balancing a checkbook is like Greek to me.
Not the cool "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", gyro sandwich Greek, but the ancient, nobody speaks it anymore Greek.
I revel in instant gratification, childish daily activities that do not involve anything that could be categorized as "adult" or "responsible".
The more I try to force myself to be actively mature, the quicker my brain rebels and I end up landing face first in a Peter Pan oblivion (read: sitting in my comfy chair, under a blanket with a bag of popcorn surfing I Can Haz Cheezburger and watching Invader Zim)

Alas, as much as I'd love to bury myself in books, movies, mindless grocery shopping and traveling the world...I must function as the "adult" I fool everyone in believing I am.
Bills must be paid, taxes must be calculated and insurance must be analyzed.
Procrastinating to the last possible minute that won't affect my credit score furthers my disorder.
Manning up and taking care of things right away would be the smart thing to do - lessening the anxiety and building stress, but noooooo...only an adult would do that.
And we all know I'm not capable of such mature decision making.
In spite of myself, I do manage to keep my house picked up, my family fed and clean underwear in the drawers.
Who'da thunk it, right?

Well, enough about me, there are some bills that need to go in the mail.
So, we're going to make pudding pops and watch movies instead.

ahhh...escapism at it's best.
I told you I was a hot mess.

Ive got a great recipe for you guys, it will be worth the wait, promise!

what I did last night while avoiding stuff that needed done
a new love, miniature food and creatures with polymer clay

Friday, November 5, 2010

We have a Winner!

Congrats Jenn!
you'll be up to your neck in bubbles in  no time!
I'll be contacting you shortly for your info.

have a wonderful night, kids
thanks for playing
there was going to be a recipe w/photos today
but, I am quite under the weather
there will be a yummy post soon so stay tuned

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My 100th Post, some soapmaking and a giveaway!

100 posts?
and you're still here?
its a miracle
not a miracle that its my 100th post, Im a jabberbox
but, the fact that you've hung on, so loyal
I love you all, you rock my socks!

so, this post is for you
Ive been getting requests to talk about soapmaking, something I happen to know a little bit about having made literally thousands of bars of soap.

Let me preface this by saying it is NOT a tutorial for soapmaking, it is just a photojournalistic adventure into my process.  If you'd like to know how to make soap, please visit the Miller Soap Site or Teach Soap for detailed info about soapmaking.
Still with me?

If so, here's soapmaking, my way!
There are no photos of me because I was behind the camera, but if you could see me, you'd see me in goggles to protect my eyes in case of splashes.

I line my mold.

Then, I measure my oils, both solids and liquids into my mixing bucket and using my stickblender, I blend them all together.

Behind the scenes, in a safe plastic container, I mix my lye crystals into my water.  (it gets hot, very hot, like 175*F)
Then, after letting it sit for a few minutes, I add my hot lye water to my oils, they begin to melt and I start to blend again!
My mixture traces and its ready to color and scent before its poured into the mold.
In the second picture, you see Ive added some black jojoba wax beads to my mixture.

This is my swirl mixture, it is made of Dead Sea mud and orange clay.

I add about 10 ounces of soap to the cup and stir to blend.

To the base portion, still in the original mixing bucket, I add my essential oils, in this case its Orange and Patchouli.

Using both my hands and hence, not the camera, I poured the clay/mud soap mixture into the fragranced and uncolored base portion then immediately poured the whole she-bang into the mold.
When it thickened up in the mold, I used the back of a spoon to texture the top.
I just love it when it looks like custard...

Then, it goes into the oven at 170*F for about an hour until it gels.
This part of the process isn't necessary, unless you are me and feel the need to cut soap the same day its made.  I must have instant gratification like an 8 year old....I'll blog more about my immaturity and refusal to grow up sometime.
All you psychiatrists out there can have a field day.

Here we are fresh out of the oven!

Then, we wait....I totally hate this part, but Id rather not melt off my fingerprints.
The soap is left to come to room temperature and then I cut it to reveal the pertiness inside.
Its like treasure every time!

Here's the other soap I made the same day.  Its a goats milk soap with ground oats and local, organic honey.

Okay, so I can hear you after reading all this mumbo jumbo, "Bring on the GIVEAWAY, woman!!"
Keep your pants on.
The winner of the giveaway will receive one soap bar of each of these batches I made.
The soap needs to sit a week or two before I send it so keep that in mind, please.

All you have to do is comment to this post and answer this question:
What kind of bathing do you prefer...Bath?  Shower?  Waterfall?  Dust bath?  Backyard hose?

Or if you don't bathe, tell me that, too.
Although if you win, sending you soap would be unnecessary.

p.s...all my soaps are made with vegetable oils, organic, if possible.
the orange/patchouli soap is made with essential oils and the goats milk soap has a small amount of a honey fragrance oil.
I'll leave the comments open until Friday when I'll randomly pick a winner AND have a new recipe for you all, cuz I luv ya.


Related Posts with Thumbnails