Friday, June 1, 2012

Graham Crackers

Graham crackers never get old in my opinion. Plain, cinnamon sugar, chocolate. They're all so good! With summer here, it's s'mores season. Yup, I said it. I know we all daydream about a sunset at home with a toasty marshmallow sandwiched between a piece of chocolate and two tasty graham crackers. (crickets) Oh, that's just me? Oh, well that's my dream at least. Anyways, I found several graham cracker recipes and the one on this website looked the best, and had the best variety of common ingredients, or so I thought. 

The day I decided to make these, I couldn't find my whole wheat flour and realized last-minute that I didn't have half of the other ingredients (honey, molasses, etc) so I improvised. When I say improvise, I use that term very loosely. I Googled the crap out of "x substitute" recipes. I decided to give this recipe a try with some odd combinations of ingredients based on the original. Guess what?! They turned out JUST like the store-bought ones, only slightly a lot less stale. Delicious! My 11-month-old also loves them to gnaw on since he's teething and he loves his crackers. These would be a great toddler snack!

Graham Crackers
(Loosely) Adapted from: Confections of a Foodie Bride
Yields: 40 crackers

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour *
1/4 cup wheat bran *
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup (or honey)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 egg

Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the corn syrup and maple syrup just until incorporated. Add the egg and beat for another minute. 

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 equal batches, mixing well in between. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap at least 4 hours, or overnight. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Divide the dough into two equal halves. Roll one half onto a lightly floured surface until very thin. The crackers will puff slightly in the oven and the thinner they are, the crunchier they become. (I'm talking 2-4 mm thick here, people.)

Cut the dough with a dough cutting tool or pizza cutter to desired shape and size. Prick a fork into the top, centers of them to prevent too much puffing.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown. They will be very soft, but will harden when cooling so leave them to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container. 

* Instead of using all all-purpose flour, you may substitute and use 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + 3/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, just omit the wheat bran. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Strawberry Banana Muffins

For the past few summers (and since starting this blog), I've always wanted to go strawberry picking. This was my first summer doing so and I absolutely loved it! My 11-month-old had a blast (eating too many, probably) and we are all enjoying having all of the strawberries around! These muffins were the first recipe I tried with our strawberries from Spencer's Farm. It was an older recipe from Annie's website but nonetheless I knew it wouldn't disappoint.

Normally I have a pretty big sweet tooth so these muffins, at first bite, were a little on the dry side. I think next time I might add a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar to the top before baking. Or I'm sure more strawberries couldn't hurt. Nobody ever complained about too many strawberries. None of my friends anyways. ;) These are a great breakfast and my son really enjoyed them as well!

Strawberry Banana Muffins
Adapted from: Annie's Eats
Yields: 12-14 muffins

3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a muffin tray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and banana's. Add the melted butter and mix to combine.

In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in the strawberries and toss to coat them well. (This prevents the strawberries from sinking during the baking process.)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, just until combined. Do not over-mix.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full of batter and bake for 20-25 minutes,  until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool slightly and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baby Food - Carrots

Although my son doesn't like carrots (and is now almost 11 months old), I though I'd post this recipe anyways. I loved the puree carrots! I would highly suggest using organic carrots if you are going to make them for your young baby. There are certain fruits and vegetables that are just much safer to give to your little one when they are organic (not to mention, for yourself). We only really did puree foods for about 2 months and my son quickly learned to self-feed. (Boy, has that been messy.) These were so easy to make and I even still steam carrots for him today and he loves them!

Baby Food - Puree Carrots
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch original

1 pkg organic carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch sized pieces

Steam the carrots stove top and allow to cool, reserving the liquid. Place carrots and 1/2 cup water from the pot into a food processor (you may have to do this in several batches). Puree until the carrots are the consistency you want for your baby. Keep adding liquid from the pot that you used to boil the carrots with until the perfect consistency. Pulse the carrots instead of pureeing if your baby is old enough for thicker foods.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pork Baby Back Ribs

Ribs are something I really didn't enjoy growing up. (I know; you're sensing a theme here, huh.) I've always been a picky eater and when it came to ribs I only ate my step-dad's ribs. He would slow-boil them all afternoon with some special juices and they would almost fall off the bone. They were perfect! I have tried for a while now to improve my ribs, but not have to stay in the kitchen all afternoon while they cook. I have to say that this recipe is one of the best. I've tested crock-pot recipes and stove-top and this is what I've found to make the perfect baby back ribs!

Pork Baby Back Ribs
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch original
Yields: 1 rack; 3-4 servings

1 rack baby back ribs
juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce

Cut the ribs every two bones to separate them. Place into a large pot or dutch oven and fill with enough water to cover, plus a little extra. Stir in the juices, lemon and lime halves, and bring water to a boil stove top. Once water is slowly boiling, turn the temperature down to medium-low and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours (or however long you can allow). 

Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the water and slather with BBQ sauce. NOTE: If you make these a day ahead of time, you can store the cooked BBQ ribs in an airtight container overnight and cook the next evening. This gives the ribs a chance to soak in some of the sauce. 

Place ribs on a grilling tray lined with foil and cook on the grill on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway. Since you've already cooked the ribs stove top, all you're doing on the grill is giving them a bit more flavor and reheating them. 

They will be tender, but not completely fall apart. Add more BBQ sauce as desired and enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Welcome back to my food blog! I apologize for being MIA the past few months, but there was just so much going on in my life that this was put on the back burner temporarily. Thanks for sticking with me!  In other news, I got a Nikon D3100 dSlr camera soon after my son was born last summer. I still didn't really know how to use it, other than Auto, so I have been attending workshops to learn my camera. Recently, I got a new lens for my first Mother's Day! I absolutely LOVE it; it's way better than the standard one my camera came with. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the improvement with the picture quality as much as I do.

Back to the food...

Corn on the cob is something I typically make at least 2-3 times per week in the summer time. I even freeze it on the cob for those middle-of-the-winter cravings. Everyone has their own way of grilling corn on the cob and I wanted to share my very easy and quick version. I've pre-boiled them, soaked them and this is by far the easiest and yields the best results.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch original
Serves: 2-4

2-4 corn cobs, shucked

Wrap the shucked corn, individually, in a piece of foil wrapping it like a burrito and sealing well. Simply grill on the top shelf (if you have one) or on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway. The corn will stay very hot if you keep it wrapped in the foil, so be sure to open it up about 5 minutes before you'd like to enjoy.

Also, we love buttered corn and growing up my mom would slather a ton of butter on a slice of bread and we could roll the corn cob on that to melt the butter. I highly suggest this!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day - Easy Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day today! Here is a quick and easy treat to make for that special someone if you don't have a lot of time or money. I found strawberries on sale at my grocery store and dipped them in some chocolate. Once they dried (about 15 minutes in the fridge), I put some melted white chocolate into a ziploc bag and snipped the corner off. Instant piping bag!

To melt the chocolate without taking a lot of time or using a lot of dishes, simply place the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and melt on the defrost setting in 30-second increments, stirring in between. Once it is melted, dip the fruit! Keep the fruit on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper in the fridge until they harden and enjoy!

Sorry for the gratuitous instagram photo, but I'm too sleep-deprived and exhausted from my son's teething shenanigans (yes, I said shenanigans) to break out the actual camera, get the lighting just right, etc. Thanks for understanding! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cake Balls

I was asked by a good friend to help provide some sweets/desserts at her baby shower a couple of weeks ago and I happily obliged. Any reason to bake sweets and I'll take it! I haven't always had good luck with cupcake icing and I wasn't quite sure how to transport them in one piece so I decided to take the easy way (or so I thought) and make cake balls.

Full disclosure: cake balls are horribly awful to make. They, however, do taste amazing and look great! I got compliments all afternoon about how great the cake balls tasted and there were very few left when we left the shower. Be prepared to get messy. Another great suggestion when making these is to pace yourself. Bake the cake one night, then roll them another. The next night dip them in the chocolate. This will save you energy and sanity. Just be sure you have the fridge space for however many you decide to make.

Cake Balls
Adapted from: Bakerella
Yields: 6 dozen balls, quarter-sized

1 box red velvet cake mix (and all the ingredients listed on the box)
1 container (16oz) cream cheese frosting
1/4 bar paraffin wax
1 bag milk chocolate chips

Bake cake as directed on box, for a 13x9 cake. Allow cake to cool and crumble in a large mixing bowl by hand. Add cream cheese frosting and mix well (note: if mixing with your hands it will be very messy.) Roll into quarter-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once all the balls are rolled, place the cookie sheets into the fridge to cool; or overnight.

Melt wax and chocolate in a double-boiler on medium-low heat, stirring often. Dip the cake balls into the chocolate with a spoon and place back onto the cookie sheet with wax paper. Cool in the fridge until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

If you really want to make your cake balls look even better, once they have set a little bit (but not all the way) you can take a toothpick and cut around the edges to get rid of any excess chocolate. But then again, who wouldn't want more chocolate.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baby Food - Avocado Puree

Avocado is something I'd never eaten because I hate guacamole. I guess my tastes have changed (aka I eat everything in sight) since being pregnant and breastfeeding so I was curious to see how this super-fruit tasted. I've read that avocado is one of the best foods you can give your child! It also has a very low chance of allergy and are so easy to serve, too. Some people just mash it with a fork in a bowl, but Cam prefers the smoothness of the puree foods so I blended it.

And, of course, Camden loved it! He didn't so much like my first attempt to puree it (using less water and being very chunky). I guess we've got a little ways to go until he reaches the stage where he wants textured foods.

Baby Food - Avocado Puree
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch original
Yields: 1.5 servings/jars

1 avocado

Slice the avocado in half and remove the seed. Since this was my first time working with an avocado, I looked up a how-to video on youtube found here. Place the flesh of the avocado into a food processor and add 1/4-1/3 cup water, more if necessary (I used about 1/3 cup). Process until smooth and serve or freeze immediately.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Biscuits & Gravy

Growing up I was told my mother made the best biscuits and gravy, but I wouldn't know because I was too afraid to try them. Gravy for breakfast always made me cringe and I wasn't a huge fan of sausage either so it made sense that I never tried it. I'm saddened now about all the great food I've missed out on, including this!

I got this recipe from my husband's best friend's mother (still following? me either). She apparently makes biscuits and gravy so good there's never any leftovers. I got some tips from her about what ingredients to use and not use and this amazing breakfast is what I came up with. I would suggest making Bisquick Biscuits, unless you have a great, fluffy breakfast biscuit recipe. The ones I made from here (without the chives) were flat and not very tasty, although they were very flaky so it made for some good biscuits for these, in my opinion.

Biscuits & Gravy
Adapted from: Kelly's Kitch original
Yields: 4 servings

1 pkg buttermilk biscuits (Bisquick)
1 lb pork sausage
1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
1-2 cups all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste
Bake the biscuits according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Once cooked through, add the 1/2 cup of milk to the pan and mix briefly. Add the flour in 1/4-cup increments, mixing constantly, until the gravy is your preferred consistency. We used about 1 1/2 cups. Add salt and pepper as desired and serve immediately with biscuits.