Monday, April 18, 2011

Beer of the Month - McMenamins Ruby

McMenamins Ruby Ale
So ANOTHER McMenamins beer, yes I know! But their happy hour is so good we just can't stay away for long. :)

This beer is light, refreshing, and has a slight aroma and flavour of raspberries. Plus it goes with my pink alcoholic beverage Easter theme! (see April Wine of the Month)

Go and try one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hummus without Tahini

Hummus without Tahini

Hummus without Tahini
Tahini is one of those condiments that I can never validate purchasing. I'd only use it in hummus and the recipe I use for hummus, and not to mention absolutely adore, doesn't require tahini. So hence the lack of Tahini in my household.

So I'll get right to it. This recipe is healthy and delicious. You can't go wrong with it. If you can't stand the fact that I don't use tahini or even attempt a substitute for it then go ahead and add some peanut butter. I've heard it works just as well as tahini and who doesn't have peanut butter in their pantry, besides those allergic of course.

** Sorry for the bad pictures but this goes so quickly its hard to snap a few pictures before its all gone!

Hummus without Tahini
from Honest Cooking

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of garbonzo beans, liquid reserved
  • 1/4 cup of reserved liquid from can
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Directions:

Easy. Puree everything together until it reaches your desired consistency. You can add more garlic powder or lemon juice to taste. Also add more liquid if its not smooth enough or too thick.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas
Oh My Goodness! This recipe is my single favourite internet find.

Last summer I decided that I was going to take my healthy eating habits one step further by making all of our own bread. This would give me control over the type of flour and oil, and practically eliminate preservatives from our diet. By December 2010 I was making all of our own bread with the exception of flour tortillas. Shawn and I are huge burrito/enchilada fans; him for the taste, and me for how healthy they are (can't go wrong with black beans and salsa)! So I was still, regretfully, heading to the bread aisle to pick up packaged flour tortillas. That all changed when I discovered this recipe from foodess.com. It used simple ingredients and was not time or labor intensive, so I gave it a try.

OMG they were so good!! They were soft and light with just the right amount of chew. I will NEVER go back to the floury, stiff, storebought versions that strangely seem to last for weeks without turning.

I do a double batch and freeze all of the extras. A quick, careful thaw in the microwave and they taste just as good as when you first made them. I even slice them into triangles and bake them with oilve oil and sea salt to make healthy chips.

Homemade Flour Tortillas
(from Foodess)
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil/oilve oil/grapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water

Directions:
1. In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add oil and warm water, stirring to combine. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. I usually end up with around 8 and when I double the recipe I have 15...weird right? Roll each piece into a ball. Allow to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes.

2. Once dough has rested, preheat your skillet. Roll out each ball into a circle, about 6 inches in diameter and stretch gently, pulling the dough evenly with your fingers. Don't tear your tortillas! Cook one at a time in the hot skillet for about 60 seconds, flipping half-way through, when it starts to puff and a few brown spots have appeared on the first side.

3. Freeze any unused tortillas immediately and defrost carefully in the microwave at lowest setting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Search for the Perfect Sandwich Bread - Amish White Bread

Amish White Bread
The search continues....

Honestly it was hard to work up the motivation to go out and look for another sandwich bread recipe because I like my first find, American Sandwich Bread, so much! Fortunately, or not so fortunately if you are writing an ongoing series on sandwich bread, this recipe is really good too.

Firstly, the dough is soooo soft and easy to work with. Love! Secondly, the crumb is soft and more open making the bread less dense than the American Sandwich Bread recipe. Thirdly, the crust is super soft and chewable. So it ticks all the boxes! The only downside I could find was that this recipe didn't rise as high as the American Sandwich Bread, making for slightly smaller slices of bread. I've only tried it once so when I try it again I'll see if it was me or simply the recipe.

*Recipe note: The sugar required in this recipe is rather significant. I simply halved the amount required and used Agave nectar instead. Agave is sweeter than sugar so you can use less of it. Plus its all natural. Double win!
Amish White Bread all sliced up.

Amish White Bread
adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar or 1/3 cup of agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup canola oil
6 cups bread flour or whole wheat AP flour


Directions:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sugar and the yeast with the warm water and stir together. Wait about 5 minutes or until the yeast sugar mixture becomes frothy.
  2. Add the salt and oil into the yeast mixture. 
  3. Mix in flour one cup at a time to the mixture using the beater attachment. When the dough becomes thick switch to the dough hook attachment. Kneed for 5-8 min. Form into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two prepared 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Charles Shaw White Zinfandel

Charles Shaw White Zinfandel
I've been waiting for April so that I could post this wine. Now those who know me understand that I take my wine very seriously. A perfect wine for me has to take into account many attributes, all of which I wrote about before on my Sandalyn Estate Shiraz post.  So I won't bore you with the details, but read that and you'll understand my passion.

So once you are aware of how serious I am about wine you'll understand the confusion that goes through my friends and family's minds when I open a bottle of Charles Shaw White Zin and exclaim, "It's Pink! And so yummy at only $2.99 a bottle!! And it's Pink!".

I've exclaimed this many a time and I feel no shame. I LOVE THIS WINE. It has no depth, no flavour definition, no finish, and it's youthful to the point that it was probably picked and bottled the month before it got shipped to stores, but the colour! Oh the colour! It is truly pink perfection.

This wine is simply an easy going, highly drinkable, spring/summer treat. It's sweet, light and slightly crisp due to weak but modest acidity levels. The best part about this wine is that you can sip this all summers-eve long. But be careful as the alchohol content at 11% is quite high for such an easy drinking wine; it can easily creep up on you.

Besides the extreme lack of depth this wine has, the only other downside I can see is that it doesn't pair well with most foods because, once again, the flavours are so light and sweet. But besides that, this is a perfect fair-weather wine that has the bonus of being a rose. This is why I chose it for my April Wine of the Month... this white zin will perfectly match any easter/springtime decor!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oat Fudge Bars

Oat Fudge Bars
I haven't made this recipe since Christmas and this picture is from a year ago but I've had a few requests for this recipe so I'm posting it :-)

This recipe is a favourite for parties, get-togethers, and potlucks of all sorts. I make these more in the summer because they are an easy mess-free dessert that packs up perfectly for road-trips or picnics.

This recipe is not my own creation and unfortunately I can't credit any one because I have long since lost the original. I initially discovered this recipe online after a serious Starbucks Oat-Fudge Bar craving. I was in southern Oregon at the time and apparently southern Oregon Starbucks' don't carry Oat-Fudge Bars and the employees stare at customers who ask for them like they are crazy:

Me: "No I'm not delusional. I've ordered them many times before".
Confused male barista:"From Starbucks?"
Me:"Yes from Starbucks!"
Confused male barista: ....
Me: *sigh*

So it was the absence of Oat-Fudge Bars in my new life that forced me to make my own. Enjoy!

Oat Fudge Bars

Ingredients for Oatmeal Crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal.

Ingredients for Fudge-Filling:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (15 oz.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:
·        Preheat oven to 325.
·        Grease and flour a 10×15 jelly roll pan.
·        In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
·        In a large mixing bowl, beat together softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
·        Add eggs, one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and mix well.
·        Slowly add the sifted flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in oatmeal.
·        Gently spread 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.

Making the filling:
·    Over Medium-Low heat, melt together chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt. Stir until smooth.
·     Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla.
·     Evenly pour filling mixture over the crust but keep the filling about a 1/4 inch away from the side of the pan so it does not stick to the pan while baking.
·     Evenly drop the remaining oat mixture on top of filling. (I like to flatten the oat mixture with my hands and strategically place it instead of 'dropping it') Bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is light brown and fudge layer is set but not solid. Don’t over bake these bars or they can become dry.

*Cool in pan on rack until set. You can chill them if you need them to set up faster.
*Keep stored in an airtight container either room temp or in the fridge.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
I'm totally falling behind on my posts this past week! I have tons of pictures from a couple of mains I've done recently but none of them are post worthy. We had our neighbours over one evening and proceeded to drink 3 bottles of wine; none of which I took notes on or photographed! I've also been so busy that I've failed to photograph two really good recipes :( But I'll be making them again so they'll find their way onto here pretty soon. So overall, epic blog-fail week.

Here is one recipe I managed to photograph...lol!



Shawn was craving some cookies and as I am always trying to keep my cooking as healthy and wholesome as possible, I decided on some oatmeal cookies. He didn't care as long as I included some dark chocolate chips. So Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies it was.

These cookies totally hit the spot. Soft, thick and chewy...just the way I like them! 

I use old fashioned steel cut oats for this recipe. You can also use the quick cooking 3-5 minute oats that are more common and grocery store friendly. They will also be more stomach friendly. I am sensitive to raw oats. My digestive system basically freaks out if I don't cook them long enough. This resulted in my ability to only eat one cookie every few hours. Two cookies was too much but one was just right. I wish all sweets assisted in portion control like these cookies do! :)


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies




Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (375F if you are over 3000 feet or if you have problems with your cookies spreading
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. 
  3. Chill the dough for an hour or so and then form the dough into tablespoon sized balls. 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes on a lined baking sheet until the edges are browned but the tops still look soft or undercooked. 
  5. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to set and then remove them to cool on a wire rack.