Better Butter

We’re in for another “mini” post today! I won’t be going over a dinner meal, but what you’ll get out of this can certainly be used (or should I say “spread”?) from dish to dish.

I’m gonna talk about homemade butter. Wait! Before you sigh in disappointment, let me stress that this method can actually make so much more than butter. Yes indeed, having tried it a few times myself, I have ended up with at least 3 different products from this trick:

– Butter (obviously)
– Whipped cream
– Devonshire cream/clotted cream (my personal favorite.)

The idea behind this came from a wonderful blog called “2 Little Hooligans.”
Credit:ย http://www.2littlehooligans.com/2011/05/11/how-to-make-butter-in-canning-jar/

If you take a look at the method in the link above, you’ll find it’s as simple (and yet not so simple) as shaking a jar filled with heavy whipping cream until – yes – you basically get a nice ball of butter. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

First time I found this, I read over it a few times, unable to believe that I could actually make my own butter just by shaking up some heavy whipping cream.
But, I knew for sure that whatever happened, the cream would certainly thicken. And I’m an incredibly curious person, so I decided to give this a try, even though I was dubious. I added about a teaspoon and a half of sugar, figuring that I probably wouldn’t end up with butter, but at the very least I would have some whipped cream and then nothing will have gone to waste.

Well, I followed the directions on the blog as best I could, and if you already read through it, you know what comes next…
I shook the jar for 20 minutes (or at least as close to 20 minutes as I could. That step in the process is no joke!) And I can easily say that that is the hardest part of this method. My arms were sore the next day – no joke!

Even so, I figured since I had come all that way, I might as well keep going (translated: keep shaking. -__- )
My efforts were rewarded when the cream began to look exactly how it did in the blog. That encouraged me, so I followed the steps down to the very end.

I won’t give away the method here, as you know, but the long and short of it is this: it really does turn into butter!
Maybe there are some of you out there who have done this before, or even who have been doing it for some time and are shaking your heads at me – but come on, I’m still a newbie and I thought this was pretty amazing! XD

Gorgeous ball of ivory deliciousness!

Gorgeous ball of ivory deliciousness!

The best part is, because of the sugar I added, it seriously ended up tasting like Devonshire cream.
I love Devonshire cream, but get it very seldom because it’s expensive. So when this turned out to at least taste exactly like it (if not being actual clotted cream) I was ready to do the happy dance. It cost me, what, almost $4 for the heavy cream. All the Devonshire cream I’ve come across is never less than $7 for a pretty small amount, compared to what I made in the jar. In this case, I’m fine with not being a purist and going for what tastes exactly the same, if it’ll cost less. XD

Confession time: I did end up buying a device at the local Kitchen Store that makes butter-making ten times easier (…Ok, I admit I forget the technical name for this device…) But, point is, if you don’t want to spend money on a butter-maker, mason jar shaking is the way to go! Definitely experiment with this one, it’s a blast. Add sugar and make whipped cream, or – as the blog mentions – add chives and use it to spread over steak. Flavor it with cinnamon, make unsalted butter; the possibilities are endless, and that’s what’s so fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

On a side note, the liquid you’ll strain out of the jar is actual buttermilk, which you can use to make pancakes if you feel so inclined. It also tastes waaay better than buttermilk you get from the store. I don’t know about you (and no offense to anyone who actually likes the store kind), but I absolutely despise store-bought buttermilk. It’s way too sour. But the kind you’ll get from making butter at home tastes, to me, like what buttermilk should actually taste like. (I’ve always been kinda curious about buttermilk, so the first time I tried it, I was really disappointed. But this version is so much fresher and sweet-tasting.)

Anyway, if you aren’t afraid of shaking a jar for as close to 20 minutes as you possibly, physically can, I think you’ll have a great time seeing your little butter ball come to life. ^_^

 

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‘Berry Beautiful!’

Hi all. I think I’ve allowed enough time for people to get over their “Thanksgiving hangover” – so, hopefully you all will be able to stand the mention of food yet again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’d like to share a super fun, super delicious recipe that turned out better than I thought (aesthetically speaking.)

Today I’ll be sharing the wonderful experience I had making a Triple Berry Pie – artists’ style!
Credit:ย http://www.instructables.com/id/Triple-Berry-Pie-Its-diVine/

Now I’ll be honest and admit that – unlike the recipe above – I did not make my dough from scratch. >_> I don’t need to tell you that Thanksgiving can get a little hectic when you’re one of the only people doing the cooking (even if you are only going to serve 3…) But I don’t mind owning that, yes, I was a little lazy as well. Can’t blame everything on the holidays, I guess.

I was both excited and a little nervous about taking this one on. And if you took a look at the finished product in the link above, you know why.
But, qualms aside, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! Berry pie is one of my favorite holiday desserts (apple and pumpkin are fine, but you really have to spruce them up in order for me to really like them.) When I found the picture for this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it, no matter what it asked me to do. I vowed that whatever it took, I would re-create the pie in the image above. And I did!

(Again I apologize for the low-quality image. It was a busy day and I used my phone to get them.)
As I said, I didn’t make the dough from scratch, but if you’ve got the time and patience, by all means follow the recipe in the link and do it the traditional way. ๐Ÿ™‚

I “cheated” and bought the 2-pack Pillsbury pie dough. It turned out fine, and as you can see, the dough was perfectly “workable.” XD
Obviously, the fun part about making this pie was cutting out the shapes – which I had to do from scratch with a small, sharp knife (I didn’t have any cookie-cutters for the job.) So if you’re worried about having to go out and hunt for flower and leaf-shaped cookie-cutters, fear not: there’s nothing a little old-fashioned carving can’t do.

In a nutshell, all I did was lay down the first crust on the bottom of the pan (to state the obvious), and used the second crust for the shapes. The biggest thing this recipe is guilty of, is being tedious. Now if you do so happen to have flower and leaf-shaped cookie-cutters, more power to you. But it took time cutting out not only all the leaves on the vines and the side of the dish, but also the flowers and their centers as well. So take into consideration, even though this recipe is completely doable, give yourself ample time to complete it so that you don’t mess up. ^^

Out of the oven!

Out of the oven!

That’s really all there is to it, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just do it the way you would a standard pie! Only reserve the top crust for the fun part, which is decorating. ๐Ÿ™‚

Little side note: I’m not a big fan of pie crust, and more often than not I just end up eating the filling, whether it be apple or pumpkin pie. (I know, weird, right?) But, because the top crust on this pie was more thin and less chunky, it absorbed some of the filling, making it nice and…well, juicy. Instead of getting a mouthful of thick, dry crust, I ended up with a light, thin layer of berry-doused dough. To each their own, of course, but I really liked it that way!

So, don’t be daunted by the picture like I was. It’s nothing more than a matter of cutting and placing just right on the pie so it won’t sink. And after all, practice makes perfect. I definitely plan on doing more pies like this in the future, and you can only get better.

Happy cooking!

Thanksgiving Mini-Post!

Because who honestly wants to sit on the computer on Thanksgiving Day? (…don’t answer that.)

I’m sure you know that I’ll be doing my share of cooking today, so today’s post is – as I called it – mini. ๐Ÿ™‚ But delicious!

I present to you, the Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte!
Yes, you read me right: pumpkin spice latte made in a crockpot. Those of you more familiar with the crockpot and its ways will not find this surprising – but I sure did when I came across it (say it with me)ย on Pinterest.ย 

The credit goes to BettyCrocker.com:
http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/tools-equipment/slow-cooker-pumpkin-spice-latte

Being a big fan of all things pumpkin, I’ve tasted quite a few pumpkin spice lattes in my short time (well, say about 4 different kinds…) My favorite used to be the Starbucks version, but as I do not go to Starbucks, I’ve explored a few PSL’s at the odd coffee shop now and then. Some of them have too much spice and not enough sweet. Others have too much sweet and not enough spice.

As always, the beauty of doing things at home from scratch is that you have control. As such, this homemade crockpot PSL definitely ranks among the best I’ve ever had. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not surprising when it comes down to it, as you can control the sugar, spice, and everything nice.
The recipe on the website makes enough for 10 servings. We certainly won’t be having that many people over for Thanksgiving, so I cut it in half, and it turned out great!

(Sorry for the photo quality; I got up so early to make this and was too lazy to take a stellar picture.)
Now truth be told, I did put in about half of the canned pumpkin in (and I will repeat what the recipe tells you: this is not to be confused with pumpkin pie mix!) But after letting it cook and taking a sip, I added a little more, and also put in another teaspoon of sugar. My advice is to stick to the original recipe – whether you’re cutting it in half or making the original amount – and just play with it once it’s cooked long enough.

The end result I got was: mild spice, very “pumpkiny,” and neither too sweet nor too bland.
Seriously, it was exactly like drinking a cup of pumpkin pie. ๐Ÿ˜€ I topped it with some frozen fat-free whipped cream (no, I am not averse to using fatty ingredients, but believe it or not, fat-free whipped cream tastes a lot better than the regular kind – at least in my opinion) and, of course, added a dash of pumpkin pie spice on top (careful about going crazy with the spice, or you’ll do what I did and choke on it… >>)

Altogether, if you’re a pumpkin fan, and if you also happen to like pumpkin lattes, this is a great recipe to try. Adjust it to your taste, and you’ll get the best PSL you’ve ever had – no joke!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

 

That’s A’lotta Enchilada

About a week ago, I made some crockpot chicken enchilada soup. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep.
It was, by far, the easiest recipe I have ever made. How, you ask? Because – like most crockpot recipes – you almost literally just toss everything in and press “Cook” (so to speak.)
Almost.
There is some chopping involved, needless to say, but that truly is the hardest part (and I wouldn’t call it hard.) The other hard part is saving enough for leftovers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The recipe came from a blog called “Gimme Some Oven,” found here:
Credit:ย http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-chicken-enchilada-soup-recipe/

The amazing part is not how easy it is, but how incredibly delicious it turns out to be when it’s done! I must stress, the garnish I used really did make the soup. I don’t think it would have been half as tasty without it. The recipe on the blog will recommend a variety of things to garnish the soup with. I’ll mention what I used further down.

Start

Start

Now bear with me a minute while I head down a small artists’ rabbit hole.
I wanted to show you all a snazzy picture of the ingredients beautifully lined up together just like the woman in the blog did it – and it worked very well, until I foolishly poured the enchilada sauce into the mix. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bye bye, awesome presentation. You see now why I love cooking: it fuses with my artistic half, and will sometimes end up with visually pleasing results. XD

And finish. :)

And finish. ๐Ÿ™‚

There you have it! This recipe is so simple, I really can’t say much beyond that it tastes incredible. ^_^

As for the garnish, just in case you can’t deduce what I used in the photo, here’s what I added:

– Tortilla chips, cracked into bits
– Avocado
– Four cheese Mexican, shredded (at least I think that’s the name. You’ll know it when you see it in the cheese aisle.)
– Cilantro

Go ahead and add what you want, but I personally vouch for this garnish!

I should probably add that it’s best to cook it on the low setting, as the recipe suggests. I made the mistake of changing the heat to medium a little over halfway through, and the chicken was a bit tough. If you want the meal done faster, it’s entirely possible to put some ready-baked store-bought chicken in toward the end, instead of using raw chicken from scratch.

Other than that, this meal is heart-warming, tasty, and easy to prepare. Even the leftovers didn’t last long. And, as always, it makes a great dish for a cold winter night. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoy!

Delicious “Cold Night” Bake

I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes I’ve found on Pinterest so far – a bake called “Lazy Sunday Casserole.” ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve actually tried this one three times, changing up a few things for each round (and, in all honesty, the way I made it the first time is the best.)
This is a super-tasty, super-easy meal, and perfect for a cold night (as the title suggests.)

The credit goes to a woman named Kay, who hosts an awesome blog at “Kayotic.”
Source:ย http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/lazy-sunday-casserole

The cool thing about this recipe is that there are almost no rules. Although I would say that potatoes and sausage are a must, you can virtually put anything you like in it!ย The original recipe calls for bell peppers, but having tried it with and without, I have to say I prefer it without (the last time I made it, however, I did put in bell peppers to give the dish some color.)

bake_2

Aidells’ Italian style chicken sausages with mozzarella are pretty tasty in this dish, but my all-time favorite meat to use are the regular Saag’s beef sausages (and I believe they come with garlic. Best ever!)

I’ve never been one to shy away from a lengthy and complicated recipe – but neither do I object to ones that are simple, as long as they are tasty. ๐Ÿ™‚ This one, like I said, is incredibly easy: the gist of it is that you basically chop everything up and pop it in the oven for an hour. But please do take a look at the recipe in the link above for details (which, obviously, are required.) It does come with a nice little sauce you pour over the bake, which is not optional (unless you enjoy your food more bland than flavorful.)

bake_3

Ready to go in the oven!

Sadly, it took me my third try at this recipe before I decided to put tinfoil at the bottom of the baking dish. ๐Ÿ˜› Turns out this particular one is a bear to clean afterword.

bake_4

And there, you’ve got the finished product. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which tastes much better than it looks, I promise you!

Like I said, the fun of this is that you can add whatever suits your fancy. I haven’t been too much of a pioneer with this, so on the whole, I stick to the original recipe (minus putting in the bell peppers.) Funnily enough, because my mom and I differ so much in our tastes, she said the bake was a little too dry the first time. Third time I made it, she loved it and said it was “just right,” but in my opinion it was a little too moist. I preferred it more dry, because it gave the sausages a nice firm skin to crunch on. So, do whatever you think is best, as far as how dry or moist you want this to end up. I think putting the tinfoil over it while it’s baking helps with the moisture. I don’t know, I won’t speculate on it – I’m no chef.

Also, it makes pretty good leftovers.

Hope you enjoy!

 

Cookin’ Canuck: Fisherman’s Soup

A few days ago, I found a picture of a very interesting-looking soup (Pinterest Alert!) originally from a website called “Cookin’ Canuck” – hence the title of today’s post. It is run by a lovely lady named Dara. ๐Ÿ™‚

Credit: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2012/10/fishermans-soup-recipe-with-tilapia-shrimp-tomatoes-capers/#comment-1082464

I gave this recipe a try last night, and I am telling you, words cannot describe how delectable, how tantalizing this was!

It took very little time, the ingredients weren’t horribly expensive, and the directions are easy to follow. The long and short of it is this: if you like seafood and tomato, this is the soup for you! Please do take a look at Dara’s recipe in the link above.

What I changed:
– Not much. It calls for “firm whitefish” and recommends tilapia. I ended up using salmon because I wasn’t able to find a good, firm chunk of tilapia. Rest assured, although I have not tried the recipe with tilapia, I fully confirm that it is absolutely delicious with salmon. ๐Ÿ™‚
– As per usual, I used pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar instead of chopping fresh cloves. Would fresh cloves have tasted better? Probably. Fresh anything is always better.
– It calls for dried oregano. Well, because I had…um…a little help obtaining these ingredients, I realized during preparation that I, in fact, did not have dried oregano. >_< Now, sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to following a recipe (sometimes! I am not above swapping fish), so I was a little flustered when I realized I didn’t have dried oregano. I ended up using powdered oregano, which obviously turned out fine, since I was raving about the deliciousness of the soup.
– Needless to say, I did not put any chile flakes in this. XD It might not have done much harm, but I prefer to be safe than sorry.
– Last little extra thing I did was throw in a shallot (one I didn’t use with a previous recipe. Yes, the pumpkin one.)

Other than that, I followed the directions down to the last word, and ended up with an extremely satisfying result. ๐Ÿ˜€

Picture time! It was great fun watching the colors develop as I added more ingredients.

Picture time! It was great fun watching the colors develop as I added more ingredients.

I prefer my carrots chopped into larger bits – though, because I was feeding two other people, I tried not to cut them too large. ^^

With fish and shrimp.

With fish and shrimp.

Now, one thing I ran into was that the soup didn’t seem…well, “soupy” enough. The more ingredients I added, the thicker and more stew-like it was getting. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I like keeping my stew in a crockpot. XD Not sure if the recipe was supposed to end up that way, whether it was my fault and I somehow added more ingredients than I should have, e.t.c. Either way, I ended up using more vegetable broth than the recipe called for, which didn’t ruin it in any way.

Like I mentioned, this doesn’t take as much time to cook as it seems.

I want more just looking at this.

I want more just looking at this.

Last, but certainly not least, I encourage you – no, I implore you – to top it off with a nice slice of rustic bread. We used roasted garlic bread (not actual garlic bread like the kind you eat in Italian restaurants, but bread that is flavored with garlic), and if possible, it just made the whole meal that much tastier. While eating this, I was surprised to find that the bread actually had thin slices of garlic inserted into it. (+50 points! I am a huge garlic-lover.) The best part about this was eating the bread after it had been soaking in the soup. :O I mean, wow. Our bread happened to be very delicious, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the bread choice had a lot to do with it.

All in all, I was way more satisfied with this recipe than I thought I would be. I’m not even a huge fan of tomato in soup, but this was a major exception! I will note, too, that the capers really added that extra touch of flavor that the soup…well, didn’t exactly need, but it sure wouldn’t have been the same without it. You recall that I mentioned really loving capers in my last post? I’m gonna bring the spotlight back on them and insist that you put capers into this soup when you make it! ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe will definitely go under my “Favorites.” Once again, please go take a look at Dara’s recipe and give this soup a try; as always, you will not regret it!

That’s all for now. ^_^

Why Is The Rum Gone?

Because it went into the cake, that’s why!

You guessed it: my latest endeavor resulted in a very moist, delicious rum cake. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Out of this world!

A while back, I found this tasty rum cake recipe (for once, not on Pinterest), and as usual, it was the finished product that had me sold. The credit goes to a woman named Monica who shared her recipe on a lovely blog.
Credit:ย http://lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com/2010/12/think-harder-rum-cake.html
-As you know, folks, I never take credit for inventing any of these recipes. I just follow them and, at best, modify a few things.-

It’s not every night that I cook, but when I do, I try to make it as special as possible (sometimes even going so far as to “artify” the dishes I present my food on.) Yet, as my mother wisely pointed out to me one night, it’s just as well that I don’t cook all the time, otherwise it would be harder for us to maintain our “girlish figures.” ๐Ÿ˜› Haha, bad joke.
It’s never an issue of time so much as it is money.

Anyway.

This will mark the second time I have made this cake. I followed the recipe almost precisely, except that I substituted the nut topping with raisins (walnuts hurt my moms’ mouth.) Can’t say I’ve ever actually had rum cake with a nut topping, but I assure you that raisins and rum go together like bread and butter!

It’s also a lot of fun, if you like baking.

Easy to sprinkle at the bottom (really, the top) of the bundt pan.

Easy to sprinkle at the bottom (really, the top) of the bundt pan.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe – and, as I always say, if I can do it, anyone can! >o>
My mom and I loved the pan we saw in the recipe and scoured the Internet to find it. While we found a few close seconds, we didn’t find the exact one that Monica used. We are artists, and therefore, picky. But the end result was, we bought an average-looking bundt pan at the local Kitchen Store. ;_; Waah.

rumcake_3

Couldn’t resist sharing a few of these pictures, for your viewing pleasure (like I said, artist! Gotta have pictures!) The way the mixture falls into the bundt pan always reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – you know the beginning when they’ve got that delectable chocolate oozing out in silky ribbons? YUM.

rumcake_4

If this bad boy is screaming your name, go check out Monica’s recipe on the link I provided above (I’d post the recipe here, but I’m afraid that’ll make it look too much like I’m stealing it or something.) In my opinion, one of the best parts about making this cake – aside from eating it, of course – is spreading the rum glaze over the top. I used coffee-flavored Kahlua for all the rum in this recipe. I’m telling you, it is to die for!

Last but not least – and I am pleased to say I actually did invent this little addition – try topping off a slice of the cake with whipped cream! I got me a 2 for 1 deal of french vanilla whipped cream at the store. It goes amazingly well with the rum cake, in fact I wouldn’t dream of eating it without the cream on top. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I encourage all of you rum-cake-lovers to give this a try, I’m sure you won’t regret it. ๐Ÿ˜€