Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quick Biscuits

Today is a quick post about quick biscuits. 

My family loves bread products and biscuits rank high on their list of breads because they can be topped with jelly.

These biscuits can be throw together in the time it takes for your oven to preheat to 450 degrees (for my over that is 10 minutes).

Quick Biscuits

2 C unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 C Earth Balance (or butter...whatever your preference is)
3/4 C milk (cow or soy)

Place your flour in a bowl and then add your butter (you'll want your butter cut up into chunks).  Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or 2 forks (whatever it is that you have handy).

Once the mixture resembles coarse crumbs add in the remaining ingredients.  I find that mixing everything together by hand is simpler.

Once your dough ball forms place on a lightly floured surface. 

Roll out your dough to a 1/2 inch thickness.

Take a biscuit cutter, juice glass, or whatever your favorite cutter is, and cut out your biscuits. 

Place them on a cookie sheet

The closer together they are on the sheet the softer and fluffier they will be.

Cook for 15 minutes (until tops of biscuits are brown) and this is what you get:

Some variations for the biscuits could include:
Brushing the tops with butter
Mixing in herbs with your dough (rosemary would be delicious)
Mix in a cup of cheese (whatever your favorite may be)

If you want to go the sweet route, which happens to be my favorite:

Put in 1/2 c raisins and 2 tbsp cinnamon top with a sugar glaze

For the glaze I like to keep it simple.  Start of with 1 C of powdered sugar and mix in 1 tbsp of almond milk (or whatever milk you have on hand). 

You can add more sugar or milk to create your desired consistency. 

I prefer a thicker glaze but to each his own.

Until next time!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I Ate/Baked

Yesterday was a day that I wanted to bake. 


Because my kids demanded donuts for breakfast. 

Now don't be judgemental yet. 

I didn't run over to Krispy Kreme and buy them a dozen of their fried concoctions. 

Instead I made my own, in the mini version because lets face it everything is cuter in mini version.

These little cuties are super easy to make and elicit comments such as "Your are the best mom in the world!"  Really?  Wow maybe I should working on a speech or something, surely there is an Academy Award like event that rewards moms for being the best.

First to bake donuts you need a pan or this handy dandy small kitchen appliance

For about $20 this little gem can be yours (I purchased this one at Target).

The ingredients and directions are simple:

1 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 C almond milk (vanilla)
4 tbsp vegetable oil

for those wanting to veganize sub out the egg for a flax egg or silken tofu
for the flax egg mix 1 tbsp flax meal and 3 tbsp water mix and allow to thicken
for silken tofu use t tbsp and whip smooth

You will need to grease both sides of the donut maker and plug it in to warm it up.

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and whip together until smooth (I prefer to do this by hand, but you could use a hand mixer).

Pour a scant less then a tablespoon into each of the donut forms and follow the cooking instructions of your donut maker (for me it is to close the top and wait for the light to go off...signaling donuts should be cooked to perfection).

As if a light fluffy donut isn't enough to whet your whistle how about adding a little topping. 

On hand at my house was:

Which in turn made my cute minis look like this:

These aren't as pretty as they could have been, but I was fighting with my 2 year old because she was scarfing them down and didn't want to take time for pictures of food.

Yes I firmly believe shoveling them in by the handful is required when you have something chocolate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Got Canned

Last year my husband and I decided, for fun, that we would give canning a try.  It seemed daunting and very foreign.  However I had some good source of information (i.e. a good friend who keeps me supplied with apple butter, best around ever...I swear Linda) and a list of items we would need:

Canning Kit
Ball Pint jars
Ball Blue Book of Preserving

Fast forward to this past weekend.

Peaches are in season and it is time to can again.

Last year the bulk of time was spent cleaning and cutting the peaches by hand, this year (a little wiser), we knew there had to be a quicker way to slice these.

So a quick trip to Williams Sonoma and we were the proud owner of:

This little gem works just like an apple slicer (although you do have to be careful and be sure to line it up).

While my husband was washing and cutting everything

I was responsible for the sanitizing of the jars, lids, and rings. 

Not that difficult to do.

We just loaded up our canning pot and made sure water covered the tops of the jars.  You have to boil the jars (and accessories) for 10 minutes.  If you don't want to use a water bath you can put everything in the dishwasher.

Once your 10 minutes is up remove all of the items (make sure to pour out any water in the jars) and put them on a dish towel so they can be packed with your fruit.

We do a raw pack, which is just what is sounds like, you don't do a lot of prep work for the fruit which I find easier.  Your other option is a hot pack, in which you place your fruit in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  You then dunk in a bowl of ice water to stop the “cooking.”.

Now that the jars are packed you must cover the peaches with a syrup, I prefer extra light so that there isn't too much added sugar.

Extra Light Syrup
5 1/2 C Water
1 C sugar

Combine the two ingredients and simmer until all of the sugar dissolves.

To add the syrup to your jars I HIGHLY recommend a funnel (a lot less mess)

The syrup should come just to the mouth of the jar.

You may have to make several batches of syrup.  For the 27 jars we filled I had to make 4 batches of syrup.

You want to make sure that there aren't any air bubbles in your jars so you need to take a long object (such as a knife) and poke it in several places around the jar (you may see some bubbles rise to the surface).

After checking for bubbles you are ready to put on the lid and rings.

Your must then boil the jars to ensure they seal (which will allow them a nice long shelf life).  For my canning kit I can fit 9 pint jars in the pot. 

Cover the jars with water and boil for 25 minutes (the recommended time for peaches).

Once they are done remove them from the pot and allow to cool on the counter. 

After about an hour you will hear a popping sound and that is your jars sealing.  When you open them the top will pop to release the pressure.

When we were done this is what we were left with 27 jars of delicious, and naturally sweet, peaches.

You will be left with a bowl of pits like this

I would like to recommend that you compost these as they make great soil for a garden.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hidden Inspiration

Yesterday my children we craving something sweet, and I am ashamed to say I only had chocolate chips on hand (yeah I know they are delicious, but not quite what the kiddos wanted).

So mulling things over in my head and trying to figure out what I wanted to make my husband says "Hey peanut butter banana cookies."  I thought maybe he was having a stroke, but no he was just reading the side of the banana bag.

Sidebar:  For purposes of saving money when I can I LOVE to purchase the big bags of "ripe" bananas from the produce section.  As luck would have it Lowes had organic bananas for $0.39 a lb (for $2.00 I got two of these large bags, one of which is currently in my freezer).

This is the side of the bag:
In case you can't read it here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 C all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 small banana (1/2 C)
1/3 C firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 C Earth Balance (softened)
1/4 C Organic smooth peanut butter (you can use crunchy...but I didn't have any handy)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

* for egg substitutes you can use a flax egg (directions here) or you can also take a tablespoon of silken tofu, whipped by hand.

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl
Mix these together, you can use a hand mixer if you like, I prefer a potato masher.

Once combined form into 1 inch balls by hand and place on baking sheet (covered in parchment paper or greased with cooking spray)

Take a fork and dips the tines in granulated sugar and make a lattice pattern on top of each cookie to flatten them out

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees

These are not overly peanut buttery cookies.  I may have to play with the ratio of peanut butter in the future and possibly throw in some of those chocolate chips that I always have around.
For now though this is tasty and healthy little snack for anyone ages 1-100 (can't give peanut butter to children under 1).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

CSA (Can't Stop eAting)

In an effort to be more frugal with our money and to provide our family with fresh local produce we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
We chose a local farm, Faucette Farms, which is close to our house AND their produce is organic. 
 The product manager, Polly, is SUPER nice and very accommodating.  If there is something in our weekly bag that might not be to our liking she is quick to offer up alternatives (like extra blueberries...which the kids never like wait to eat).  The only gripe Andrew, who is 4, has is that there is no red farm (meaning he wonders why there is no red barn), however there is a red tractor.

 This week this is what our haul looked like:

We got:
Tomatoes (vine ripe, German Johnson, and cherry)
Green Beans
Mushrooms (shiitake and oyster)
Green bell pepper
Garlic (one head)

To compare and see if we really are getting a good deal my husband and I checked produce prices at the grocery store and compared them to what we got from our CSA.  We estimated that we would have spent $41.00 on the above list, but our CSA only costs $21.00 a week...sounds like a FANTASTIC deal to me.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you might have leftover produce such as apples, and they are a little soft, let me suggest you make your own applesauce.  This process may initially seem daunting or like too much work...however once you do it you will never turn back to store bought again.  I make unsweetened applesauce all the time for the kids.

This week was one of those weeks where I had some extra apples

So I chopped them up, skins still on (I like to include the extra fiber)

Add them to a pot and add enough water to cover them up half way

If you would like the sauce to be a little sweet just add 1 or 2 cloves to the pot (it gives the applesauce an amazing flavor).
 Bring the water to a boil and then continue to boil the apples until they are fork tender (these 2 apples took about 10 minutes).
Spoon your apples into a blender, or food processor, with a little bit of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth (if you've put cloves in make sure you remove them before blending)
This is what you end up with:

My 2 small apples made about 1 cup of sauce.  I used 1/4 cup of it in the vegan banana bread I made here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vegan B-a-n-a-n-a Bread

The title of today's post is not a ploy to get you humming the obnoxious song "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani (why is it that she feels the need to spell banana about 20 times) nor am I searching for a reason to don my high school cheerleader uniform (much to the chagrin of my husband).

Instead I've used the clever banana spelling in hopes you won't be scared by the word "vegan" in the title...I promise this is the most delicious banana bread you will eat.

The below recipe is written to be used in a bundt pan, because with three kids I need to have plenty of this around, but if you need to make a loaf version please cut the recipe in half.

Vegan Banana Bread
3 c unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 flax eggs
3 large (4 medium) bananas
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil (or 1/4 c oil & 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 c quick oats

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your bundt pan.

You will need to make your flax eggs first as it needs a couple of minutes to thicken.

To make the eggs combine 2 tbsp ground flax seed with 6 tbsp water.

Whisk together until flax and water are combined, then set aside.

Peel your bananas, break them into 3 to 4 pieces, and place in a large bowl.

On top of that place your flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and oil.

To combine the ingredients I prefer to use a potato mashed to mash the bananas while also combining everything, a multi tasking (plus less dishes to wash) .

Before everything is completely incorporated add in your flax eggs, and mix them in.

Melt the Earth Balance and combine it with your brown sugar.

Drizzle your brown sugar syrup in top of bundt pan and then sprinkle with oats.

Pour your batter on top and then place in oven.

You will need bake for 60 minutes

Once baking is complete allow cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate.

Once cool cut and enjoy...who are we kidding there will no waiting for this to cool.