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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

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I went blueberry picking last Saturday. It was short, and my friend and I quickly realized that we had gone too late in the season (good, ripe, berries were few and far between). I did manage to get about 3 lbs though. And although I won’t be making my blueberry jam again this year, I will be using it to make a various, and large, assortment of baked goods. I think that’s only fair.

I realized that I was in the mood for pie but not for the double crust prep, nor the extra steps to ensure the pie was cooked all the way through, and the berries would be soft, but not too juicy and fall apart. Blueberry is very hard to make. I saw my friend make one with her blueberries and it was a mess. I mean, she did great, but I don’t think I could have that sort of patience. Instead, I picked up some raspberries and nectarines and decided a galette (or crostata, as some say) would suffice.

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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

  • 2 small nectarines, or any stone fruit of your choice such as one large peach, or 2-3 apricots
  • 8 oz of raspberries (one of those containers at the super market)
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • teaspoon of butter
  • teaspoon of vanilla
  • teaspoon of Australian Pink Salt ( just got this today, from Williams-Sonoma, use any salt you like)
  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 1 egg (for egg wash, optional)

In a medium pot, over low heat, melt the butter. In a bowl mix the berries and brown sugar. Add berries to pot and stir in vanilla. Cook for about 15 minutes or so on low heat to allow the juices to escape. Add salt, and turn off heat. Allow to cool for about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet by adding and greasing your parchment paper.

Roll out your down, either homemade or store bought.

With a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries into the center of the dough. Slice up the stone fruit and layer on top of the berries. Fold over the dough leaving an opening in the center of the pie. I like to put a round piece of stone fruit in the center, almost like an eye. Crack an egg in a bowl and quickly whisk. Brush over the crust of the pie and in the center. If you like, you can also sprinkle some raw sugar over the crust for added crispiness.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to sit for a good 15 minutes before transferring as the berry juices will not be stable. Some of my mine leaked out, but that wasn’t not a problem, the point of this sort of pie, is that it’s rustic, and a few small holes in the crust, where juices leaked out, are just fine.

 

Enjoy~

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Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam

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It’s blueberry season again. I know that last year I went a little crazy and although I only posted once last year about my jam, I continued to make it all summer long. Similarly was my obsession was apple butter two years ago. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff .This year I’m going to be adding a bit of rhubarb to my jam, as well as a whole vanilla pod. This way I can get more of the creamy, vanilla flavor to balance the sugar necessary for the rhubarb to be sweet enough to be edible.

Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam (with balsamic vinegar and lemon)

  • 4 rhubarb stalks
  • 2 cups of blueberries (fresh is preferred, buy frozen works just as well, do not thaw when adding)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar (I used  1 1/2 cups of regular sugar, and 1 cup of vanilla sugar)
  • 1 vanilla pod (opened and seeds scraped out)
  • 1 pectin box (1.75 oz sure-jell containers)*
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon

Place everything but pectin in a dutch oven and slowly heat on stove, over medium heat. After ten minutes of warming the fruit should be releasing the juices. Add in the pectin and stir.

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Let bubble away slowly, about thirty minutes, keeping an eye to make sure it doesn’t stick.

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Continue to cook till desired consistency is reached, about 1.5 hours.

Using a potato masher, attempt to pulverize the fruit that is now lovely, and soft. Using a whisk add in juice of one lemon with zest. The Whisk will allow the fruit to soften even further.

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To test that the jams doneness, place a plate in freezer for ten minutes. Take out and add a line of jam (about a teaspoon) to cold plate. Let sit for a few seconds, and move plate around to see if the jam has set. If it has, you’re all set for canning! If not, bubble away a little longer and retest (there is too much natural juice that needs to evaporate).

* The rhubarb gives off A LOT of juice, therefore the sugar is not enough to solidify it. The extra use of the pectin here will help with that.

Walnut & Pear Jam Cookies and What I Did With My January

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Hello All!

It’s been a very, very long time. As my friend pointed out earlier today, it’s been about a month since I’ve lasted attempted at making anything delicious (well, I have, like ribs, but sadly I haven’t really attempted to chronicle the occasion).

Today was the day. I’m procrastinating pretty hard today when it comes to homework. I’ve been cleaning, baking (obviously), and working out. Doing anything I can not to think about the hours of work that’s ahead of me. I’m even going to be a perfect, model student and meet with a classmate to work together and study. That’s right, about 7 hours worth of study and ABA terminology for my Saturday. How fun.

Mostly, I’m excited to get work over with, and just sleep in past 7 am.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy these lovely cookies. They were adapted from Home Cooking Adventure and I couldn’t be happier with the way they smell, and taste.

The only thing that I changed really, was that I didn’t add walnuts on top of my cookies (and that was explained below) and I used pear jam I got from a trip to Yuciapa for apple picking. I know, funny how I got pear jam when I went apple picking. But I got enough apples that I thought I’d be making my own (secretly).

It turned out amazing, and since I’m trying to be healthier overall, I did a little calorie count for y’all: these cookies are a smooth 90 calories each! Which means I get to enjoy them as I’m typing this up AND when I’m done working out. Win win, indeed.

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Walnut and Pear Jam Cookies

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup pear jam
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • walnuts for top (I omitted this, as I prefer to have more walnuts IN my cookies than ON TOP of them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well mixed. Beat in the egg.

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Add apricot jam, almond extract and vanilla extract and stir well to incorporate. Stir dry ingredients together,  flour and baking powder and add into butter mixture.

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Fold in the chopped walnuts.

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Using a tablespoon or your ice cream scoop take small balls and place on prepared baking sheets with distance between them. Top with chopped walnuts and bake 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown. Remove from sheet to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

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Now that I’ve got you hooked on the cookies, I can discuss where the rest of my January went.

I’ve been eagerly (and frighteningly) preparing for my first ever visit to Cal ABA. For those of you that don’t know. Cal ABA is a California based conference for professions and students (and affiliates and parents and everyone) that discusses future and current research in Applied Behavior Analysis. My company will be going there, as well as my University program. Not to mention a few of my classmates will be presenting their research there– I couldn’t be more excited.

In other news… I accomplished one of my 2013 goals already! If you all remember, I wanted to purchase an item from Agent Provocateur , just for myself, not for anything special, or for a birthday (or Valentine’s Day). So basically, instead of that store, I chose another, based out of New York, Called Journelle.

As soon as I got this pretty package in the mail I knew I’d be happy.

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In my humble opinion, I think that Journelle is a lot better (price wise for the same quality) and it’s more versatile  I can wear it for a romantic night out, or under work clothing (and not feel filthy).

I purchased about 5 different styles (bras with undies to match), and they all fit perfectly, true to size and quality to boot! Absolutely wonderful! Aaaand free shipping~

I know that January is a long month, but that’s basically all I’ve been doing with it.

What I’ve Been Up To Thanksgiving Week

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In my last post I promised a better turn around time for posting and that I was better after… the dark day.

In any case, I am better, slightly. Therefore, since it’s the middle of the week (and payday for fancy ingredients is tomorrow) I think I should at least show you all my crafty and cooking goals to show I’m not a complete couch potato.

First, I need to redo Boyfriend’s mom’s blanket. The crocheting took a bad turn when I realized it was turning into a type of trapezoid shape. It used to happen a lot with me and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, until I spoke with a brilliant and dear friend of mine earlier today, and found out you actually need to chain 1 at the end of starting a new row. WHO KNEW!

That’s a lot of yarn to make into balls.

 

 

On top of remaking 6 hours worth of present (I’m very, very bitter about the whole thing, obviously), I’m going to be remodeling my apartment. We got new owners that are very professional and although I’ll be bug sprayed next Thursday (meaning, taking everything I own out of the bathroom and kitchen cabinets and dumping them on my living room in one heap) the whole “new beginning” has inspired me to start over. Start fresh, and better myself, and my living space.

For one, I’ll be getting a sewing machine! Either my friend’s or from amazon; it’s a lovely addition to my apartment either way.

I’ll also be redoing my bedroom. I’ve got colors and a bit of a theme I’m working on right no and everything is coming together nicely. The wall color will finally be changed, and my bedding has just arrived from Macy’s making everything come together. Speaking of bedroom remodels, I’ll be working on my very own latch hook rug for the bedroom in the matching colors to compliment the walls and my bed (idea taken from abeautifulmess blog).

Lastly, I wanted to introduce my new Samsonite!

I got it on amazon and I couldn’t be happier! It’s perfect in every way. And I decide what to use it for, although I’m leaning towards my crafts and possibly my sewing needles and buttons, while my fabrics could be stored in the same brown train luggage they rest in today.

I just can’t stop coming up with ideas on how to fill this bad boy with items I probably don’t need.

 

What’s To Come

You can look forward to at least three different dessert recipes in the next week, as well as another rib recipe (haven’t decided which), closer to Christmas.

Aside from the crafting I’ll be putting up,  I have a reading list a mile long, and a few of the books that I consider rave worthy (at least so far) so I’ll make sure my opinion will be up on those as well, along with many others, out in Web-Space.

Top Rave-Worthy Books I’ll be discussing:

 

 

**I appreciate your patience with me and sticking around!

 

Chipotle’s Cilantro-Lime Rice

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Since I’m starting my usual work schedule tomorrow I’m going to be working on packing a lunch again, and making sure I have all of my snack items in order. My problem last year when I started this work schedule, and I that I assumed I’d buy my lunch or break food, and that was not only expensive but horribly unappetizing. Most of the food served by LAUSD is just… overseasoned, underseasoned, or cold.

What faster, and better side dish to anything I feel like making for lunch than rice? As I’m a fan of Chipotle’s rice in general, I decided to give my hand at replicating it. Apparently, there are tons of recipes for this online, as I’m not their only fan. But for this I followed steps that I thought were logical and more or less got the desired result.

Rice

  • approx 2 1/2 -3 cups basmatic rice, cooked
  • 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 2 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt, to taste

Add oil to a skillet (I used garlic oil for more flavor but it’s up to you), about 2 tbsp on average, but you can add more or less depending on how you like your oil content. Remember, you are trying to coat 3 cups of rice.

 

 

Add in the pepper flakes and cilantro and stir in hot oil for 30 seconds. Add the rice and coat in the oil. Mix in the zest and juice of one lemon. Warm all the way through on the skillet so everything marinades properly, about 4 minutes. And you’re ready to eat!

Spaghetti with Meatballs

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I felt like making something that was homey and delicious this weekend. When I get into this sort of mood, usually it means something with pasta or potatoes. Something with starches, carbs, and rib sticking fat. Not that this is always good, but once in a while, it’s wonderful for the soul. I can attest to that.

This weekend was great as it was, and I got a lot done. Including getting a new vacuum cleaner which replaced by cheap, sad, broken Dirt Devil. I have to say, nothing is more stressful than purchasing a vacuum once you’ve already spent money (though granted, not a lot of money) on a bad one. You get flashbacks of no suctions, cheap parts, dirt everywhere, and so many dust bunnies!

Luckily as soon as I took this baby out of the box I was in love. I fell even further when I saw how quiet and powerful it was!

Nothing says happy and celebration of finding and even planning on buying a great new vacuum like the soul gratifying food I speak of above.

The recipe I decided to make for dinner, and for leftover lunch (which was even better!) which satisfied all these criteria is spaghetti and meatballs. Very simple, delicious, and easy. All you really need to consider  as labor intensive here is rolling the meat, and the dishes afterwards.

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb of ground pork
  • 1/2 lb of ground chuck
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • dash of salt
  • good grinding of pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs  ( I used original panko)
  • paprika, to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • fresh sage, four leaves, chopped
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • 2 tsp herb de provence
For the Sauce
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • 2 tbsp oregano, dried, or 2 sprigs fresh
  • about 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • allspice, to taste
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • cumin, to taste (I used a good tbsp here)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Put everything into a bowl and mix, preferably with own hands, it’s more soothing than you may think.

Prepare a baking sheet, lined with wax paper, or a large plate. Start rolling the meatballs! They should be roughly the same diameter of a quarter, maybe a little bigger, but they are supposed to be small, and bite-sized. I got about 40 meatballs out of this.

Place into the refrigerator while you work on the sauce.

Heat the oil and  butter in a pan while you’re chopping up the garlic and onion. Add in the garlic and onion only when the butter has melted and the oil has started to become loose, and glossy.  Cook the onions until soft on low heat (the low flame is important because you want the garlic to infuse the oil and not burn), about 7-10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and spices. Stir and bring to a boil (about 10 more minutes). Add the heavy cream and stir. Taste to see everything is to your liking. Once the meatballs are added, there is no opportunity to mix the sauce, nor to add more spices.

Take the meatballs out of the fridge, and add them, clockwise around the pot, one at a time. Do not worry if they seem like they won’t fit. Once all of them are in the pan, take the pot by the sides and wriggle it around until all the meatballs are covered or sunken into the sauce. Cover, and cook about 15 minutes.

Test a meatball to make it’s cooked through, and once you’ve confirmed that they’re not pink inside go ahead and stir them, gently to coat completely in the sauce. Simmer uncovered, about 8 more minutes, and in the meantime, make your pasta.

Assemble with pasta on the bottom of the bowl, and several generous ladles of the meatballs and sauce. Serve with grated gruyere cheese; that’s optional, but I don’t know of anyone that would say no to cheese!

Sour Cream Chocolate Coffee Cake for Weekend Mornings

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I’m having more time than usual with Boyfriend and I thought in case we’re going to be hiking, or running like mad men around the block, a burst of sugar in the morning could only help us in terms of energy.

This is were this coffee cake comes in. Not only does it have a full 12 oz of chocolate chips but it’s got over 2 cups of sugar in it (including the topping) and the hearty carbs in the cake part of the coffee cake will surly be a help when we’re out and about. At least that’s what I read happens to carbs and sugars when you’re active.

This is my first time experimenting with it in such a way. Usually, I go to my sofa and watch a good episode of  Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Either way, I think I’ll be happy.

Onto to recipe, which was taken from The Cherry On Top blog. I followed the recipe completely because I’ve never been one to experiment with coffee cakes, and in fact have only made 3 total.

 

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. If not nonstick coated, cover the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Set pan aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate bowl. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick. In a medium bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.

In a small dish, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.

Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a rubber or offset spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top.

Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips. With the palm of your hand, ever-so-gently press the chocolate chips a bit into the batter. No need to submerge them, you just want to make sure they adhere bit.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

That’s not overcooked cake, I just overdid it on the cinnamon.