Thursday, February 4, 2016

DIY - Round two

Have you ever looked at the ingredients that go into food? Well aside from being able to source food locally, often the only thing you can do is try to make it yourself.

Monday, January 18, 2016

DIY -homemade is best

We are just a little over two weeks into the New Year, and looking back I didn't intentionally set out to make a food resolution, but ironically it happened!

I often find myself buying items at the grocer which I can easily make at home, but really never bothered to do. Think about it. If you're a serious foodie (NO this doesn't mean you simply love to eat, it means you love to COOK and eat!) why buy what you know you can make better at home? Sure there's convenience, but there is also a price to pay. This price is not just in a monetary sense of the word, but in health also. So what food items have I been making at home? Well seasoning mixes for starters.
If you have ever looked at the ingredients for seasoning mixes you’ll see they’re often high in sodium, and sometimes there are ingredients you can’t even pronounce!  This is an amazing taco seasoning mix and you'll actually surprise yourself when you discover how much of a difference there is, not just in taste, but in money saved.
Another area where I've started a DIY trend is with pasta!  Oh momma mia! There is such an AMAZING difference between store bought boxed pasta, and pasta you make yourself! When I visited New York, I was gifted a $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma; I also had a coupon for 15% off.  I decided to buy the Kitchenaid pasta press attachment!  It comes with 6 presses: spaghetti, large macaroni, small macaroni, fusili, rigatoni and bucatini. 
I decided to try the spaghetti, and made a simple Italian sausage sauce to go with it, complete with some lovely herbs a friend bought while visiting Florence, Italy.  I only wish I could figure out what the ingredients are in this herb seasoning. It's just beautiful with the flecks of purple!!! So if anyone knows the mixture I would love to know myself!!! It looks like parsley, mixed with cayenne, and garlic, but there are also edible flowers I believe?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sarah's red velvet cake

I am an avowed Red Velvet Snob. I have tried more than 45+ different recipes for it -yes there are that many! After that many recipes, I am sticking w/ my family heirloom recipe. I once made the mistake of sharing this beloved recipe on the cake central website, and while it got rave reviews, there were also amateurs who would frost this beautiful cake with ungodly cream cheese crap stuff; people who believed it had too much red dye, then there were those kitchen experiments gone wrong (ie., using dry chocolate pudding in place of cocoa...what were they thinking?!) and the list goes on. So I removed my recipe...and the uproar it caused!  So another member lovingly re-posted my family recipe tweaking it from 2 bottles of red food dye to 1 bottle. GRRRR!  Yes I growled.  If you want to use my family recipe don't screw it up...don't tweak it...don't use the wrong frosting. In short, please find another recipe to massacre. 
Red Velvet is more than just a "red" cake. It's
of a Devil's Food Cake, but is a vibrant red colour. Some recipes call for the use of vinegar and buttermilk, psst the vinegar is NOT needed. If you have a recipe with buttermilk, the acidity in the buttermilk lends enough acidity to allow the baking soda to go to work.
I'm fortunate enough to come from a line of phenomenal cooks and bakers. These ladies KNOW how to make a red velvet cake, and warning! One mention of cream cheese frosting they will turn up their nose.  As Granna puts it "they're messing it up if they don't use the original frosting!"  Granna actually has a yellowed clipping of what is the first published recipe for red velvet cake and it does NOT call for cream cheese frosting!! We use the frosting from this published recipe, but the cake recipe is our family's. 

The frosting, like the cake, is truly unique! It envolves many cooking techniques, but don't let that scare you away! Well what about the frosting? Mmmm it's buttery, has a slight vanilla taste, and is a light whipped texture. Paired with red velvet cake it's a class act!

First the icing starts off by being cooked -basically making a roux (which is DEFINATELY a southern term) and then it moves to a stage where the roux cools to room temperature.
Meanwhile, you have other ingredients which are being creamed together. 
Then you have the culmination where the roux mixture meets the creamed mixture to become a whipped mixture which although it is whipped, it is not as airy or delicate like a "whipped cream" would be, and yet it's not as heavy or dense as a buttercream or a cream cheese frosting. 
The texture -if the icing is made properly- is delicate in feel, literally like a soft buttercream, but not overly sweet - the icing does have sugar in it, but it is granulated. If I have any particuliar question about the recipe it is simply "is this granulated or confectioner sugar" which I can understand, and most people will think it will come out grainy. Well if you make it properly the granules will dissolve and you'll be left w/ an icing that has a slight hint of a buttery vanilla flavour.

Okay, okay so what about the recipe?  Ladies and Gentlemen I present Sarah's ravishing red velvet cake (Accept no impostors!)  Yes, you will see this same cake (titled: Sarah's red velvet cake tweaked) on cake central, but this is my family recipe.

  2 1/2 cups cake flour
  1 1/2 cups sugar
  3 Tbsp baking cocoa
  1/2 tsp salt
  1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  1 cup butter (not margarine)
  2 eggs
  2 ounces (bottles) red food coloring
  1 cup buttermilk
  1 tsp vanilla

  Preheat oven to 350° F.
  Sift flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.
  Place butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium-speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, add red food coloring (be careful not to splash it!). Add vanilla. Add buttermilk alternately with flour mixture - begin and end with the buttermilk! Scrape the bowl as needed after each addition. 
  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28 – 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently turn cakes out onto cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
  Frost with the authentic frosting.

Often called "Mary Kay frosting" (we don't know how this name stuck) or some know it as a poor man's frosting - this is the original frosting for red velvet cake!

  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  1 cup milk
  3/4 cup white vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
  1 cup granulated sugar
  1/3 cup butter, softened
  2 tsp vanilla

  In a saucepan, add the flour and 1/4 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and whisk until well combined. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened. Cool completely.
  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed for several minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat on high for 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spread on cooled cake

I have NOT tried this with all butter, I won't be offended with this small change, but please NO CREAM CHEESE!!!!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baby it's cold outside! Let's have chili inside!!!


This month Knorr was the product sponsor for the Allstar. We were given a task of creating chili.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Crafted with love

Let me take a moment and brag on my daddy. My amazing daddy made this beautiful wooden spice rack for me as a Christmas gift!!!  I had searched SO many websites for a spice rack, and none of them were what I wanted. Notice the big space at the bottom? It's for the economy sized jars which are typically found at wholesale clubs!  I must say homemade gifts are truly a treasure and this gift will always remind me of my daddy!! It will be like celebrating Christmas each and every day!

Naturally, I had the fun and creative task of designing spice labels for all those spice jars!

Apparently I love garlic, and it seems I also have a fondness for Paprika too!!! Let me stop for a moment and give a shout out to the Savory Spice shop! I'm fortunate to live where they have a local franchise, and I was able to get a bargain on filling up a few of my spice bottles!! Check them out, plus if you sign up for their rewards program you'll also get a 2 ounce spice blend during the month of your birthday!

Now that my spices and herbs are organized (I had over 50 at last count!) I have been going crazy with cooking!  Happy 2016 and have a phenomenal year!

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Happy (belated) New Year!

Where has the time gone? We are already one week into the new year, and I must say December was filled with much excitement for me!  I FINISHED my Associates degree and I'm excited for what this year holds!

Before I start my January blog, let me stop and show off one of my most fav December recipe finds for 2015. It's a dairy free chocolate pudding recipe and it is lip-smacking delicious!!!  The best part, it uses coconut sugar! Coconut sugar, unlike granulated sugar, has trace amounts of vitamic C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and it ranks lower on the glycemic index!

It's such a FAST pudding to make also!  I have made this on my stovetop, but I also thought "will microwaving work"? Well there was only one way to figure that out, and so I decided to give it a whirl (pun intended).

I started my pudding out on three minutes, stopping at every 1 minute interval to stir it up. The verdict?  The pudding thickened wonderfully!!!  I dressed my pudding up with whipped cream and chocolate chips, but this pudding is equally yummy without it!   I have made this pudding around 10 times now, and I have no guilt about eating it either!

Word of only serves two people, or one (if you're being greedy!).

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gluten-free cookie dough..say what?!

I'm allergic to wheat, I'm allergic to dairy, I'm allergic to soy...actually I'm NOT allergic to any of these food categories, but many people are.

The folks at Cheerios were an Allrecipes product sponsor for the month of November, and I was one Allstar who was tasked with creating a recipe. This particular recipe was to be designated as Gluten-free. Not knowing anything about celiacs or gluten intolerance, I had a crash course in foods safe for those who are following a gluten-free diet.

I am a voluntary Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador and I do not receive compensation for my work with Any product received is only used for experience-based reviews on The Daily Gourmet. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of Sarah.

Fellow foodies

Recipes - under construction

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