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Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade Series #3 - Grapefruit Marmalade made with 4 simple ingredients!

Seeing the word "homemade" always gets "ooohh's and aaahhh's" because it seems soooo complicated and time consuming. But after trying out some great homemade recipes I realized just how wrong that misconception is. Making homemade food can be easy and simple! Yes, there are steps to follow and it may take a couple hours out of your day; but it is worth that small effort to use and share something special made with your own hands.

What I also appreciate about making food at home is that for the amount of effort that it takes initially, what you make can last a long time. A great example is homemade jam/jelly/marmalade. To make a nice batch it may take the better part of a morning or afternoon but the results last for months and months! Plus you can share that hard work with others to enjoy as well!

I invite you to try out at least one of the homemade series' recipes this weekend.   : j

The combination of sweetness and slight bitterness of marmalade has always been a favorite of mine. For a new and different twist on the traditional marmalade that is made with oranges, I decided to incorporate grapefruit instead.

Ingredients: source: http://southernfood.about.com/od/jamsjellies/r/bln361.htm

2 large grapefruits, thick skinned
1 large lemon, thick skinned
2 cups water
4 cups granulated sugar

Steps:


1. Peel grapefruit and lemon; cut away inner white part of peel, leaving rind and white pith. Cut rind into slivers 3/4 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Chop fruit coarsely, reserving juice.








2. In an 8-quart nonreactive heavy kettle over moderately high heat, simer rind, chopped fruit, reserved juice and water, uncovered, 10 minutes. Pour into a large heatproof glass bowl and let stand, covered, in a cool place overnight. **I wanted my marmalade to be a clear with bits of rind in it, so I placed the chopped fruit in a cheesecloth during the cooking process**


3. Return mixture to kettle. Add sugar and set over moderate heat. Insert a candy thermometer and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers 218 degrees F to 220 degrees F.


4. While that mixture is cooking, sterilize jars and lids.







5.Remove from heat, skim off foam and ladle into sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe rims, seal jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (15 minutes for altitudes abouve 6000 feet).


6. Remove jars from water bath, let cool for 12 hours and test for airtight seals. Label and store in a cool, dark place. If you decide not to sterilize and process jars, refrigerate marmalade and serve within three weeks.







yummmmmmmmmm
After it cools, try a bite with a simple piece of toast. Amazing!

















I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cheryl and Adam from http://picture-perfectmeals.blogspot.com
for being so kind and passing along the "Lovely Blog Award" to Our Eyes Eat First. 


Here are some other bloggers who are also deserving of recognition as well! 


  1. http://picture-perfectmeals.blogspot.com/2011/03/wed-like-to-thank-academy.html
  2.  http://theaddictedbaker.blogspot.com/
  3. http://muppyat.blogspot.com/
  4. http://eatdrinkandrun.blogspot.com/
  5. http://prep2eat.blogspot.com/
  6. http://greengirl-alittlebitofeverything.blogspot.com/
  7. http://regionalrecipes.blogspot.com/
  8. http://thiswomancooks.blogspot.com/
  9. http://www.zestyflavors.com/
  10. http://cilantropist.blogspot.com/
  11. http://www.sprinklesofparsley.com/
  12. http://www.sunshineandsmile.com/
  13. http://thatskinnychickcanbake.blogspot.com
  14. http://www.mydeleriouskitchen.com/
  15. http://yumanddelish.blogspot.com
Congrats!



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Un-birthday!








Birthdays. Love 'em or hate 'em?

I love them. Not just my own, but all of my family's and friends' birthdays as well!  The candles, cake, food, parties, deocorations, presents - I love it all. 

My favorite part of a birthday celebration is that special moment when everyone gathers around singing Happy Birthday, the lights are dimmed as the glowing cake is brought out and the birthday girl or boy takes in a deep breath to blow out the candles and make a wish.


At precisely that moment I  imagine the whole universe coming to a halt as it waits to hear what the next birthday wish will be; and I remember a quote from The Alchemist - 




"When you want something the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it." -  Paulo Coehlo




My little sister had a birthday recently which inspired me to make these yummy "Birthday Cake Truffles".  Although she is in a different state I decided to make them anyway to celebrate her birthday and my un-birthday. : j  They are super easy to make plus these little bites are just as filling as a huge slice of cake. A cute twist on the traditional birthday cake.  Enjoy!




Birthday Cake Truffles

Ingredients:
1 box of Yellow Cake Mix (or make your own )
Milk Chocolate Melts
Sprinkles

Steps:
To see a step by step with pictures guide to making cake truffles see this post I wrote earlier: http://oureyeseatfirst.blogspot.com/2011/02/step-by-step-rose-and-white-chocolate.html
Substitute with the yellow cake and chocolate melts.

Once the cake rounds have been dipped in chocolate top with sprinkles and if you like, add candles!



Whether its your birthday or your un-birthday, make these adorable birthday cake truffles and wish away!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homemade Series #2 - Roti and Naan (and the secret to a happy marriage!)



Rice, Roti and/or Naan are a must as an accompaniment to most Indian meals.  It is a great way to scoop up yummy, spicy curries or to  just nibble on on their own.

I grew up in a home where we mostly ate rice and my husband grew up in a home where he almost never ate rice and ate rotis instead.

After we got married what would we do? An avid rice lover and a die-hard roti/naan fan?  We would just have to......... have both! There are other things I could possibly bend for. But giving up rice? Nah.

Now theres the secret to a happy marriage - really good food  with a bit of compromise (...for the right reason) : j


Rice is a fairly simple dish to make especially since the invention of the handy dandy rice maker. Indian flatbreads on the other hand are more involved. Here are the recipes we use when we make delicious roti and naan at home!



     ROTI

     Roti aka chapathi aka phulka, no matter what you call it, is just as important as rice when serving an Indian meal. There is something about eating with your hands that makes food even more tasty : j


     Ingredients:
     Duram Wheat Flour ( I use Golden Temple Brand)
     Warm Water
     Oil

     Steps:
     This is best made in a stand mixer but can be kneaded by hand as well.

  1. Add flour (start with ½ cup) into stand mixer fitted with a  dough hook and start on low.
  2. Add warm water to flour a little bit at a time, turn up to medium speed and mix until the dough is sticky. At this point, check to see if you have made the amount of dough you want. If you would like more dough – repeat step 2 until you reach the amount you would like.
  3. Once the dough is sticky, drizzle oil (I use Canola) onto the dough until coated and no longer sticky
  4. Take out of stand mixer and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze the fresh dough!
  5. Set a tava or flat non stick pan on stove to warm up.
  6. Pinch of a golf ball size pieces of dough and on a floured surface roll out to a flat 5-6 inch round.
  7. Let roti cook for 1 minute on one side or until you see bubbles forming on the surface. Then flip over and cook until browned on both sides.

**Hint –  during cooking take a clean kitchen towel and gently press down on the roti. This should cause the roti to puff up and steam***


NAAN

Heres the recipe I used from allrecipes.com. I did not grill the naan. Instead we broiled it in our oven. We watched each piece carefully to make sure they didn’t burn.


Ingredients:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour (I used wheat flour)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar with the yeast. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.
  2. Stir in the rest of sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.
  3. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic if using.
  5. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  6. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat. (or oven)
  7. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Serve either with your fave Indian recipe! Find one at www.OurEyesEatFirst.com : j



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cashew Nut Brittle Cupcakes

Cashew Nut Brittle Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
and Homemade Cashew Nut Brittle!

 I am that girl.

As soon as I get a box of chocolates. Its over! I take a bite out of almost every single one hunting for those yummy nutty pieces!

I love the combination of   salty walnuts, cashews, pecans,  and sweet caramel and sweet chocolate.  Simply divine.

I wanted to bring those same flavors into a beautiful cupcake and heres what I came up with:



candied cashews! do they look like unicorns or is it just me... : j


The lovely homemade cashew nut brittle was especially easy to make!  I even experimented with making candied cashews with a beautiful loooonnnng tail! So elegant and super easy to make. Heres where you can learn how to do it yourself! 

The flavors are unique and work wonderfully together.

Heres how I made them!

Cupcake –  adapted from food network’s Ana Olson’s recipe.

This recipe is for cashew butter cupcakes. I added 1/2c of Cocoa Powder and 2 tablespoons of freshly brewed espresso to add more depth of flavor. The espresso heightens the cocoa flavor without lending the coffee flavor. If you would like more of a chocolate flavor, I suggest using a basic chocolate cupcake recipe to start with and then add the cashew butter into that.  


Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashew butter (you can grind your own in a blender or food processor)

1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 2 % milk at room temperature

½ cup of cocoa powder

3 tablespoons – fresh brewed coffee


Steps:

  1. For cupcakes, preheat oven to 375 °F and grease muffin tins or line with large paper cups
  2. Stir cashew butter before measuring to re-incorporate nut oils.
  3. Beat cashew butter and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl ,sift flour, baking powder and salt (add cocoa if using).
  5. Add flour alternately with milk (add espresso to the milk before adding to butter/cashew mixture), stirring after each addition just until incorporated.
  6. Spoon batter into paper cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, when a tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

 Frosting -  adapted from www.chow.com


Salted Caramel seems to be everywhere these days! I happen to love sweet and salty together and I figured this would be a perfect pairing for my Cashew cupcakes! This was by far the best, lightest, fluffiest frostings Ive made. Tasted like it was from a bakery! I creamed the butter for a while to incorporate A LOT of air : j   
    
Ingredients:

 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Steps:

1. Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.

3. Combine butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.

4. Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.                                                                                                                                                                                 

Cashew Nut Brittle – adapted from www.allrecipes.com


I did not have corn syrup on hand and I read you can use maple syrup instead. I chose neither and the results were super light and crisp and delicious! The only thing I would have change is to not have cooked the sugar as much – It ended up with a slightly bitter taste – but still yum!


Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup chopped cashews
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda

Steps:

1. Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

2. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.

3. Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet.

4. With 2 forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle

5. Cool. Snap candy into pieces.



the end.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Let the good times roll!

This phrase must have been heard in various languages all over the world as several Carnival(s) and Mardi Gras celebrations reach their peak of partying today.

Few realize that this indulgent and fun season is actually deeply rooted  in religion and  food!

Carnival and Mardi Gras signifies the time leading up to Ash Wednesday or the First Day of Lent.

 Lent is the 40 day period, representing the Temptation of Christ, when Catholics and many Protestants and Orthodox Christians practice penitence, prayer, alms giving and self denial. This includes refraining from eating meat and for some; even meat byproducts. Although many do avoid meat, others decide to give up a different indulgent habit such as facebook or chocolate. (yikes!)

"Carnival" in Latin literally translates into "Put away the meat" and Mardi Gras translates into "Fat Tuesday" - the fat, food- filled day before Lent when you would eat extra fatty, extra meat filled meals . Sounds delicious : j

My mom, who was raised Catholic, observed Lent but I grew up in an Adventist (protestant) home where it wasn't.  However, this year I just might : j

And I thought, instead of just giving up a bad habit (like eating too many pastries and cursing.. I know terrible..) why not start a good  habit too!  : j

So, Let the good times roll !!

"mmmmmm..... roll... ooooohh.. sweet delicious cinnamon rolls.. oohh that reminds me of yummy King Cake! that would taste sooo good right now!!..........*d@&%$*f#.!....."


(How long is 40 days again?) lol...


no choking-- hazard baby doll in this one : j 
Here's a super quick "King Cake" recipe to get your fix just in time!

King Cake is a decadent, deep fried cake decorated with tri-colored icing or sprinkles. Traditionally, there is a mini baby doll (supposedly to represent baby Jesus) or coin snuck inside. The person who finds the doll or coin is King or Queen for the day, has good luck and has to bring/make next year's King Cake!


Ingredients:
Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
Food Coloring or Purple, Yellow and Green sprinkles

Steps:
1. Make cinnamon rolls as per package (or to mimic the real thing pinch all the rolls together in a bundt pan and bake into a ring)
2. dye the icing with food coloring (purple, green and yellow)
3. decorate with icing and/or sprinkles and serve!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homemade Series #1 - Plain Yogurt and Greek Style Yogurt

fresh, creamy yogurt!

In this short series, I will be sharing the how-to’s of making some super easy ingredients at home!  

So you’re thinking -  “ Uhm, why exactly should I make yogurt or anything else when its sssoooo easy to buy it from the grocery store??”

Really the question is, “Why not?”

Its so simple to make and  homemade yogurt is way tangier and creamier than the store bought variety. So when you use it to make smoothies, marinades, frozen yogurt or even to just eat plain ( with chicken biryani or with fruit and granola..yuummm) its just… better!

If saving money is important to you this is a great way to use that about-to-expire gallon of milk that you were going to throw away.  Greek Style Yogurt is super expensive.. fyi.. 

You also get to make and share something that is truly your own  : j


Plain Yogurt:

Ingredients:
Left over plain yogurt ( ~ ¼ cup per gallon of milk) – this is used as a starter. Once you’ve made your own batch of homemade yogurt you can keep using it as starter for subsequent batches.
Milk  

*If making Greek Yogurt: large bowl, cheesecloth, long bamboo skewers,  (or just a collander)

Steps:

     1. Pour milk into a large pot and bring to a boil.Once the milk has boiled, take it off the stove and let it cool until almost room temperature (slightly warmer)

    2. add the left over yogurt (if you have an almost empty yogurt container you can pour the warm milk into that and swirl around, then pour back into the pot.

    3. Pour the milk and yogurt  mixture into one big tupperware  or you can divide it among several smaller Tupperware pieces

    4. Cover with a lid and place in a warm, dark place (like a pantry) or in an oven that is off overnight. I also cover them with a kitchen towel.

    5. The next day you will have perfectly creamy, tangy yogurt!

    6. If you prefer a thicker yogurt i.e the Greek Style Yogurt  à

    1. lay out your cheese cloth in a bowl and pour the fresh made yogurt into the cheesecloth.
    2. Gather all the ends and tie up together.
    3. Take a long bamboo skewer and poke through the knot. (At the this point if lifted up the cheese cloth filled with yogurt should be supported by the bamboo skewers enough for it to hang )
    4.  Place each end of the bamboo skewer across a large bowl. So that the cheesecloth with the yogurt will be suspended in air. This will allow the excess whey to drip into the bowl.
    5. Keep the bowl in the sink away from dirty dishes, soap, water, etc. for 24hrs. If you don’t want to do that you can refridgerate it but that will take up to 48 hrs for the excess whey to drip away.
              *Another option, if you don’t want to bother with cheesecloth and skewers, is to just pour the yogurt into a colander and let that drain in your sink*

    1. Open the cheesecloth carefully and store your greek yogurt in an airtight container in the fridge!


    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Stuffed Crust Tandoori Chicken Flatbread (Organic and Homemade)

    Warning: This recipe is serious.

    Not only is it 99% organic, everything from the dough to the tandoori chicken (even the yogurt I used) was made from scratch.  For the time it took, I have to say that it was  completely  worth it because it was THE BEST flatbread of life! The ingredients you choose to cook with absolutely make a difference. period.

    I realize I wont always have the luxury of time to cook like this, so Im making the most of it now. My husband and my tummy are soooo grateful!

    PS. Get your napkins ready for some serious drool factor pictures!

    ( So when I said organic that meant everything, from the flour and yeast to the chicken to the veggies and the cheese. This was challenging because you have to be much more conscious of what you buy. I almost made it to 100% but, despite my best efforts, I realized too late that my oil was not organic!  Also the spices I used were not organic. But its ok, Ill take 99%  : j )


    Flatbread/Pizza Crust

    I made the pizza/flatbread myself from a super easy recipe I found here.  Fresh thyme was also added to the crust which was super yum. Add anything you like to make it your own : j
    Or grab ready made pizza dough from the grocery store if you dont have the time. (it does takes a few hours to make because the dough has to proof)

    Source:  http://aspicyperspective.com/2010/02/rise-and-fall-of-dough.html
      
    *substitute above ingredients with organic equivalents
    Tandoori Chicken

    This part is super simple and tasty!

    Recipe Source: Jasmol Sardana
    *Substitute ingredients below with organic equivalents

    Ingredients and Steps:
    Part 1 
    Make marinade:
    tandoori powder (you can find this at any indian grocery store)
    ginger/garlic paste to taste
    salt/pepper
    chilli powder to taste
    yogurt 
    lemon juice
    Onion  paste – blend a fresh cut up onion in a blender
    make a few slits in chicken thighs pieces and add to the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours
    Part 2
    place in oven proof dish for 30-40 min(depending on oven) at 375 for 25 minutes and then at 425 for 5 min...
    *For this recipe, since the chicken will go back in the oven, it only needs to cook for 20 minutes*



    Cheese Layer

    After the dough and chicken are ready, make the cheese spread

    Delish VT cheese
    Ingredients and Steps:
    Goats cheese
    Neufchatel Cheese
    Pepper
    Oil to thin to spreadable consistency

    1. Whisk the goats cheese and neufchatel (equal parts) together with the pepper and oil until easily spreadable

     Veggies/Herbs


    Grab your fave pizza toppings and slice/chop them. Then set aside for assembly. I used red onion, green onion, fresh tomato, fresh cilantro and fresh mint


    Putting it all together


    The best part!

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Roll out the fresh dough into a large rectangle on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet sprayed with Pam

    3. spread the 1/2 of the cheese mixture onto the right half of the rectangle and then sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cheese mixture

    4. carefully fold the left half of the dough over the cheese layer on the right side (like closing a book)

    5. spread the rest of the cheese mixture on top of the dough and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese

    6. layer veggies over the cheese layer (reserve herbs for the end)

    7. After the chicken has cooled, pull apart into chunks and layer on top of the veggies

    8. Brush edges with oil

    9. Slide Flatbread into the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden

    10. Cut into wedges and serve


    sooo worth all the hard work - ridiculously good





    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    My Big, Fat....


    vermont in the fall
    I think Vermont is out to make me a better person.

    Moving here has been an eye opening experience. I always had a vision of the people in Vermont as earth loving, Ben & Jerry's grubbing, organic farming, hemp growing, local food eating, hybrid car driving, tree huggers.

    And they are!  ( But its a wonderful thing : j )

    Never have I been to so many restaurants where right on the menu they name the local (literally down the road) organic farm where the turkey (in your turkey burger)  grew up and where the cheese (from that cheese platter) was made and the orchard those apples (in your dessert) were grown! Amazing!

    It is a way of life here and I love it. 

    reuse + reduce = responsible
    I think being aware of your personal impact on the environment (your carbon footprint i.e. the amount of carbon dioxide that you personally produce from the use of electricity, water, flights, your car, etc) is the first step to becoming  a responsible citizen of planet earth.. Then the next step is actually practicing the well known "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse". 

    Here are the top 5 things I am trying to do to reduce my  BIG, FAT carbon footprint:

    1. reduce bottled water ( this was hard! we now use a filter and reusable bottles)
    2. turning off lights when not in use
    3. buying locally grown and organic products when possible (also hard because organic can =  more $$)
    4. recycling and buying "made from recycled material" products
    5. reusing grocery bags and refusing plastic bags when buying small items



    some "earth friendly" items I like:

    reusable aluminum water bottle
                                
                               reusable bamboo utensils with chopsticks!
                                  never use a plastic fork touched by a million germy hands again
       
    recycled water bottle gel pen
    doctors love a good pen and this one's awesome!