I have been hard at work updating my online content. It has been a lot of work. I am taking a break from publishing desserts and high calorie treats. For the next few months I will be focusing on healthier options, and incorporate a little bit of my workout information as well. For the next few months it is all going to be about good sources of protein, portion size, and nutrition.
If there is anything in particular you would like me to make, send me an email.
The other day, I went to the Pike Place Market with my son to look around and see what was going on. How I love that market! The smell of flowers, coffee, and fish...ahhh, nothing quite like it. I saw some pepper ornament things hanging from the ceiling of a shop and asked one of the employees if they were real peppers. He abruptly say, "yes". It was closing time, and he clearly did not want to stand around and chit-chat with me. Anyway, I took the above photograph at Seattle's Pike Place Market. These are drying peppers and garlic. From closer inspection, they look like Thai Red Peppers. I thought that they were so pretty hanging there that I needed to take a picture. I started growing Thai peppers in my garden, and have yet to use them in any dish. The image inspired me to publish a quick blog about Seasoning Blends. (Note: these are not my recipes, I got most of them from allrecipes.com) Seasoning Blends tend to be very expensive in the supermarket. When we look at the ingredients, it is plain to see there is no reason we should not be able to make these at home. Alas - here are some of my top picks:
Thai Seasoning Blend:
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh, dried, ground Thai chili pepper (featured above)
I love to bake, especially with two boys in the house, I will need to bake and freeze my breads, treats and goodies. When you soak certain fruit in alcohol, the alcohol draws out the flavor and aroma. Aroma is a very important part of flavor. Have you ever noticed that when your nose is stuffy, food does not taste right? The same process is at work when making extracts. It is a matter of making a tincture. A tincture uses a solvent, such as vodka or rum, to extract oils, nutrients or phytochemicals of a plant.
Extracts are very expensive, expect to spend $10 to $12 on a six ounce bottle. One of the reasons they are pricey is because infusing the flavor and aroma takes a very long time. Manufacturers have to pay for shelf space and storage. I love to garden, harvest, and make as much as I can from scratch. I am able to make more diverse dishes and treats while spending only a fraction of the cost. I found a few wholesale supplier of nuts and seeds for my extracts. Nuts In Bulk and Oh Nuts. (Nuts in Bulk appear to offer the best deals) My products make great gifts, and if I stumble upon something that is very good, it might make its way to the local farmers market.
So here is my current project: Orange and Vanilla Extract. Infusion should be finished May 1st, 2013.
are soluble in alcohol and water. Sometimes you can use either Vodka or Rum with
water. The extract will be perfectly fine if you add water. Natural vanilla
beans contain hundreds of compounds which give it its complex flavor and aroma,
it would make sense to use both alcohol and water as solvents (i.e., to use 100
proof alcohol). Different percentages of alcohol to water will tend to have
different properties when it comes to dissolving various flavor and aroma
compounds over a fixed period of time. Presumably, commercial producers of top
quality natural vanilla extract have figured out the best mixture of ethanol to
water for the vanilla beans they use, the extracting process they use, and the
signature flavor/aroma profile of their extract.
extractions, I will be using 80% cheap Vodka with 20% spring water. It really
does not matter what kind of Vodka you use, because the beans, fruits, or nuts
you are using will take over the flavor. So go for the cheap stuff.
After I made my extracts and photographed the jars for this blog, I placed them in a dark place. Light degenerates the extract, so keep it in a dark place for proper infusions. When the batches are finished, they will be packaged into small amber bottles from Specialty Bottles (my favorite supplier).
Upcoming Projects are going to be:
Chocolate Mint Extract
Green Apple Extract
Last night, I made: lemon, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut extracts. I have to do cheery, strawberry, blueberry, almond, hazelnut, green apple and peach.
When I make the basic extracts, I am going to make some more complicated extracts
Pumpkin Pie Extract (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, allspice)
This is my first attempt at making Polish Borscht Soup. I found several recipes and YouTube tutorial videos.борщ and featured on Ukrainian postage.(see image) Borscht is beet root based recipe popular in many central and eastern European countries. The original Ukrainian name does not end with a 't', the final t sound was added when the dish was adopted by Yiddish speaking Jews.
As this is my first Borscht, I do not know if I prefer the Polish version or the Ukrainian version. I will be making it my own way. In Ania's video, she strained the soup with a cheese cloth, and recommend we do not bring the soup to a boil more than once as it will turn brown. In another Polish language video, (featured below) they used a strainer instead of a cheesecloth. Ania recommended letting the soup sit overnight, then slowly reheating it the next day.
1 can beets
1 red apple
2 cans water
1 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
4 tbs orange juice
1 bay leaf
How Was it Served?
I served it with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion. The sour cream sank right to the bottom, which I did not like. I think that the sour cream is intended for the Russian/Ukrainian recipe and not the Polish recipe. I served it with chopped green onion, as I did not have time to make the mushroom dumplings.
How Did it Turn Out?
I thought that it was delicious, my husband thought it was too tart. Next time, I will replace 4 tbs Orange Juice with 2 tbs lemon juice. My intention is to make this soup again during the Winter Holidays. The Polish Borscht should be transparent, not cloudy, much like a red won-ton soup whereas the Russian/Ukrainian version can be cloudy, and hearty.
I often wondered what was the connection between Easter Rabbits and Eggs. Rabbits do not lay eggs. Rabbits and Eggs are fertility symbols. Rabbits were once believed to be hermaphrodites and it was also believed they could reproduce without sex. Birds lay eggs and rabbits give birth in large litters in early spring, the two became symbols of rising fertility of the earth at the March Equinox. Ēostre or Ostara (NorthumbrianOld English: Ēostre; West Saxon Old English: Ēastre; Old High German: *Ôstara) is a goddess in Germanic paganismwho, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name is the namesake of the festival of Easter. The fertility symbols (rabbit, egg), the word Ēostre ( sounds a lot like Easter doesn't it), were incorporated into Christianity. I could care less. It is a lovely holiday. There are not nearly enough holidays in the spring. Lets take a look at some public domain Easter cake and cupcake images. Maybe they will inspire you to make a cake at home this year.
Today I am making a Classic Chocolate Cake for the Children's Therapy Center and Dynamic Partners 23rd annual charity event. I am donating this dessert, on behalf of Seattle Soap Company, for their dessert rush auction.
Each table will donate money to the charity, the tables that donate the most get to choose the most desirable cake. My goal is to make my cake as desirable .. as possible. Nobody can see inside the cake, desirably is all in the decoration.
2/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 2/3 cup white, granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups milk
CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE BROWN SUGAR FOR WHITE SUGAR?
I had a bit of a mishap when making this cake, I only had 1/3 cup white sugar. I substituted the rest with brown sugar. White sugar is considered a 'liquid' when baking because it melts quickly. Dark brown sugar is different in that it contains 6.5% molasses, the molasses is what gives it the brown color. The presence of molasses will change the baking chemistry. When brown sugar melts in the batter, it becomes a liquid in its own right, of sugar and molasses.
To make the swap balance itself out, reduce the water content of the recipe. If you swap 1 cup white sugar for 1 cup brown sugar, reduce other liquid by 3 tablespoons. I reduced the milk content of my recipe just a tad.
Brown sugar is used for heavier, richer recipes and will impart its own flavor. I tasted the batter before putting it in the oven. It tasted delicious to me.
DECORATING THE FINAL PRODUCT
This is the fun part!
Children's Therapy and Dynamic Partners made $11,000 from the cake rush this year! Yeah!
made this dessert for my family in Mexico City. A word of caution – be careful choosing
your food color. I bought my food coloring for this cake at a store in Mexico.
Everyone who ate the cake said that they had ‘caca roja’. Since this is a food
blog, I am not going to discuss that too much.
of the things I love the most about making desserts is that people really
appreciate them. There is nothing more wonderful than presenting a beautiful
pastry to your friends and family. Of all the things we cook for others, I find
that desserts get the most appreciation.
tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
ounces red food coloring
teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon white vinegar
tablespoons all-purpose flour
cup white sugar
teaspoon vanilla extract
two 9 inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Make a
paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.
the buttermilk, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream
together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in
the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk
mixture alternately with the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Stir
together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.
batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until
a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool
completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make Icing: In a saucepan, combine the milk and 5 tablespoons flour. Cook over
low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool
completely. Cream together butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until
light and fluffy, then stir in the cooled milk and flour mixture, beating until
icing reaches spreading consistency.
Decorating the Cake: I decorate my red velvet cake with strawberries and red velvet cake
crumbs. Decorating the cake is probably my favorite part. I love making things
Flaxseed Muffins, I made this recipe today and everything went without a hitch. First thing's first, here is my recipe:
Naomi's Lemon Flaxseed Muffins
unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Apriva (zero calorie sweetener) Fred Meyer Brand
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flaxseed
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
let butter warm to room temperature. I find it is best to leave it out the night
before. Combine Apriva, Brown Sugar, and Butter mixing until completely
egg at a time, continue mixing.
all the other ingredients following normal baking standards (meaning one at a
time, do not lump it all in there at once.)
form a very thick, sweet lemon smelling batter.
into muffin tins, or into a silicone mold. I prefer silicone molds because when
the cake cools it is much easier to remove. Bake at 350 for about thirty
baked goods, at the same time, must watch my calorie intake. By using Apriva,
instead of white granulated sugar, I reduced the calories by 194. The white all-purpose
flour has about 912 calories for two cups. The quarter cup butter has 407
calories. The brown sugar has 212 calories.
major stuff, we are talking about 1531 calories. This is for the entire batch
of muffins and the little cake. The
batch makes about 16 muffins, which yields 95.68 calories per muffin.
into consideration that I did not add the calories from the baking powder,
eggs, lemon juice or flaxseed. To play it safe, lets round it up to 100
calories per muffin.
have used ½ cup apriva and cut out the brown sugar entirely. I did not want to
do that because I had a lot of brown sugar in the pantry that I need to use.
decided to add a couple tablespoons of flaxseed to the batch because they are
incredibly healthy, and loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids. I try to take in a
good amount of fatty acids because they are great for the skin, and help
reverse some sun damage.
muffins were delicious. I recommend making this recipe sometime.
As of late, I have been carefully watching my nutrition. For the past three months I committed myself to resistance training: lunges, squats, leg bridges, and many other exercises. My goal is to build as much muscle as I can until mid March. In March, I am going to jump into an intense cardio routine and try to get cut.
Building muscle requires eating six times per day, eating carbs before a workout, and most important - eating a good amount of protein. The problem with female diets is that we tend to eat more carbohydrates and fats.
In the images, I am showing you what I logged in today for breakfast and lunch. The ratio of protein, fat and carbs are perfect.
I expect that many of the recipes I publish on this blog will be high protein recipes involving salmon, almonds and egg whites.
This morning I decided that we would have French
onion soup for dinner. Before taking the boys to story time at the Library, I
sautéed the onions until they were golden and translucent. Then I put them to
simmer in one cup of water. My husband babysat the onions until I got back home
At 2pm, I added the Beef Broth, salt, pepper, splash
of vinegar and one bay leaf. I put the soup back on the stove to simmer for
another two hours.
This recipe is very hearty. I recommend it as a dip rather than entree.
Okay, so lets get started with this. I made my red enchilada sauce early in the day. If you are using traditional enchilada sauce it will come in a green can. But, this is the United States and I am doing it my way. Unless I am eating salad or guacamole - I do not like eating anything green. Dr. Seuss can take that green eggs and ham and eat it himself.
I am feeling a little lazy today, so I will spare you the details and just show you in photos how I made this recipe.
If anyone wants the recipe, leave a comment on this blog and I will respond.
Many of you have noticed by now that I am not making as many treats as I did before.
My two year old son has been eating too many cookies, and it is completely my fault. He is not getting chubby or anything, but he is getting too spoiled and picky. He is on a no-cookie diet for a few months.
I am on a high protein diet, so many of the things that I publish are things only my husband will eat. My diet consists of egg whites, chicken, fish, rice and vegetables. I have not had time lately to really sit down and think of creative ways to cook high protein meals.
If you are wondering why I changed my diet, it is because I started a new workout routine almost two months ago. It consists of weights and a lot of resistance training. I am trying to put on as much muscle as I can until late March. In March, I will cut back the protein, increase the complex carbohydrates and start high intensity cardio workouts. I am getting ready for bikini season ten months early.
I will be publishing some high protein healthy recipes for you health nuts soon.
baked two dozen chocolate cupcakes with a faithful, basic recipe. It is one of
those recipes that will go wrong only when a person makes an effort to mess
things up. Last night I experimented,
making three kinds of frosting. I made an simple butter cream frosting (butter,
granulated sugar, confection sugar, orange concentrate, finely grated orange
peel). I made a creamy filling with confection sugar, and French Vanilla coffee
creamer. I know what you are thinking, what in the hell was I thinking using
the coffee creamer to make the frosting? I used only two tablespoons, a little
milk, and presto…a very unique frosting. It was all about experimentation. What
is the point of making desserts if one is unwilling to use their imagination?
My imagination did not stop with the French Vanilla Coffee creamer; I made the
last glaze with confection sugar and diet Mug Root Beer Soda. It came out a
dark, translucent beige color.