Monday, April 29, 2013

Spicy 5 Minute Bean Dip Recipe

I absolutely love Trader Joe's black bean dip, but since I live over an hour away from the closest store (and plus I really do like to make everything I  eat) I thought I would take a stab at creating a copy-cat recipe.  Well, after many trials (and many failure - yes, that means chicken food), I came up with the following recipe.  Ever since I made my first batch it has not only been my favorite dip for tortilla chips, but also my oldest son's favorite too.

Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 ½ cup bean flour (any kind will work)
  • 2 tsp each (garlic/onion/chili powders)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp each (cayenne pepper and cumin)

Whisk together water, vinegar and bean flour (this time I used garbanzo bean flour) and then bring to a boil.  

Reduce to a simmer and add all of the spices.  

Cook a total of 4 minutes.   

Serve hot or cold.

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce Recipe

Tonight I did a little experimenting with some leftovers I had in the refrigerator in order to put together a BBQ sauce to top off our shredded chicken sandwiches.  And, unlike my normal first attempts like this, I actually was able to keep track of what I added to the recipe so I could duplicate it.  (That is my husband's biggest complaint when I make something he loves but then I admit I can't remember how much of the ingredients I put in to make it.)  Well I am happy to say not only did I write it all down, but the sauce also got rave reviews from those who love to smother their shredded chicken in a sweet and tangy sauce.

Here is what the recipe calls for:
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes (or leftover vegetarian spaghetti sauce - therefore no meat in the sauce)
  • 1/3 cup SUCANAT
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Put all of the ingredients in a pot.  

Whisk while heating over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

A Recipe for Asiago Cheese

The Asiago cheese recipe that I will be outlining here is a flavorful cheese from Italy that my family absolutely loves.  This cheese taste good fresh and just gets more and more pungent the longer you let it age. 
To start off, I partially skim the cream off the cream from my milk to get 8 gallons of partially skimmed milk.
Next, after sanitizing my cheese vat, the thermometer, and stirring ladle, I pour all 8 gallons of milk into the vat and set it to medium-high heat on my largest burner.  Until the milk is heated to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, I stir the milk every couple of minutes while checking the temperature.
When the milk gets to 92 degrees.  Turn off the heat and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of thermophilic culture over the top of the milk.  I get my cultures, rennet, and cheese making supplies from and have found his prices to be spot on competitive.  He also has great turn around on products and wonderful customer service.

After the culture has moistened for a minute or two, I use the ladle to draw down the culture with up and down motions about 20 times to make sure it is fully incorporated into the milk.
For this recipe, I let the culture sit in the milk for 40 minutes.  After the 40 minutes, I stir the milk again and add in a 1/2 cup of water that has been mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of rennet.  Make sure to stir the rennet into the cultured milk really well, just like the culture had been stirred in, with about 20 up and down strokes, otherwise the cheese will not set properly.
  Now cover and let the pot sit for 1 hour maintaining the 92 degree temperature.  Just a note on maintaining temperature.  If you are making a small batch of cheese you will not be able to just turn off the heat and expect your cheese to maintain the same temperature unless your room is 90 degrees also.  But if you make a large batch with 8 gallons, it takes a long time for that must heat to disburse.  I have found that making larger batches is just easier for me since I have so much milk on hand and temperature maintenance is not a problem.
Yes, it is a HUGE pot
After 1 hour, your cheese should have set and it should look like milk jello.  
With a sanitized knife, I then cut the curd into pieces.

 And then the cut curds are left to firm up for 5 minutes.
  Next, the heat goes on at medium-high and the curds are heated while being stirred, on and off, until they reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
The curds are then let to settle while I sanitize the items I need to remove the curds and press them.

Now, with very clean hands, I scoop the curds out of the whey and put them into a stainer that is lined with a poly cheese cloth inside a natural cheese cloth.  The reason I double up the cloths is because when the curds are this warm when they are pressed they tend to stick to the natural cloth, but yet  it is nice to have the bigger cloth around the outside to hold all of the curds in for the first pressing.

 Next, I just lift up the cloth and move all the curds into the tomme mold.

With the cloth still around the curds, and put the mold into my cheese press with medium pressure for 1 hour.

 After an hour, I take the cheese out of the cloth, turn it upside down and re-wrap it with just a poly cheese cloth.

Now the cheese, in the mold, sits on my counter under medium pressure for 12 to 18 hours - the next morning is close enough for me.

In the morning I mix 1 cup of pickling salt with about 2 inches of cold water in a plastic container (see below).  And place the unwrapped cheese into the salt water brine.  Just a quick note, I cut my cheese into 2 pieces at this point because when I long term store my cheese for aging I vacuum seal them and the full cheese is too big for the sealing bags I use.  If you want a full round you do not have to cut your cheese in half like I do.

The cheese should sit in the brine for a total of 24 hours - 12 hours on each side.  Then, after being in the brine for 24 hours, take the cheese out, place it on a sanitized mat and put in the refrigerator for a few days to dry.  Then flip and dry for a few more days.
Your cheese, when completely dried, will be ready to eat or store.

Oven Popover

Years ago my sister-in-law gave me a quick little recipe that has withstood the test of time with my children...and also the move to healthier changes in my kitchen.  This popover is the simplest breakfast to make, but yet it never fails to please my hungry children who need a good dose of protein before a busy day of activities.

Here is the ingredients needed for this recipe:
3 Tablespoon butter
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (hard wheat)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt 

In an oven-proof dish, place the butter and then put into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven.

While the butter is melting, mix together all the other ingredients and stir with a fork.

Over the top of the then melted butter, pour the egg mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until brown on top.


Mark 16 & The Aroma of Hope

 Since I love to cook with a lot of spices, while reading through Mark 16 I found myself wondering what aroma the anointing oil in Mark 16 was like.  For that reason, I looked more deeply into the components of the anointing oil recipe which can be found in Exodus 30.  Here is what those verse say:

“Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane,  five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil."  Exodus 30: 23 - 24

In looking over the ingredients I would surmise that the aroma of such a mixture would be hard to contain within a vessel.  Thus, the two women carrying this oil would have been surrounded by the permeating smell of it as they made their way to Jesus' tomb.  The tomb which at that point for them marked the end of their hope and and end to all of the dreams of experiencing the salvation their souls yearned for.

Now, fast forward in this story.  The two women who are walking, talking, grieving, and carrying this fragrant oil come upon a scene that incredibly impacts their composure - actually we are told by Mark that these women were affected so profoundly by what they had seen that they "...fled...trembled...[and were described as]..afraid..."

Now I want to ask you to consider for a momentHave you ever had an impactful experience in your past that was associated with a scent?  I know I have many such experiences.  And, thinking about many of them I have to confess that none of them come anywhere close to what these two women experienced that morning.  

Personally, I find it amazing how just encountering the smells I associate with such experiences tend to draw me right back to those memories.  It is those types of associations then which got me to thinking about these women and the scent of the oil they were carrying.  Here we see the smell of an oil used to consecrate the things and the priests in the Jewish temple, which God used to etch a memory of hope in these two women.  

You have to wonder what feelings and memories rushed through these women, both named Mary, whenever they came near the temple and experienced that smell all over again as the years passed.  I would have to think that the smell would have brought them great joy.  The assurance of the resurrection was really what I am sure they eventually came to associated that smell with - a smell of hope for victory over the grave and everlasting life in the kingdom of God.

We are told in the bible that the aroma of hope is one that every Christian should carry around with them.  Not in the perfume or cologne they wear, but rather in the character they live and thus the way their lives impact those around them.  People all around us every day are walking a path that is leading them closer and closer to the grave.  These people are without hope, but they tread onwards not knowing where else to go, searching desperately with every step, trying to find that life changing experience that will change their destiny toward death and darkness.   

I challenge you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to live today giving off the aroma of hope that Jesus has given you.  Today you may have the chance to share "the hope that is within you" and thus change the eternal resting place of someone who needs to hear there is a resurrection and victory over the grave through Jesus the Christ.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sourdough Italian Bread

Once again it was time to use my sourdough starter and since I was making an Italian meal I thought I would try to make a couple of Italian free form loaves. The loaves look quite impressive when they come out of the oven, but making free form loaves is very easy and on top of it you don't even need a bread pan to make them.


Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
2 cups sourdough starter
3 cups real buttermilk (or cool water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 vital wheat gluten
7 to 8 cups whole wheat flour

In a bowl mix together the starter, buttermilk, salt, bran and wheat gluten.

Add in as much flour that you can mix in by hand.

Then move to a mixer with dough hook attachment and add just enough flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the side.  
Sticking dough

Non-sticking dough
  Continue to knead for at least 5 more minutes (10 minutes minimum total kneading time).

Coat the dough in flour...

...and then cover and let sit until it doubles.  

Punch down the dough and form into 2 loaves.

Cut slits into the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife.

Rise in a warm place.  (I put my loaves in an oven that is heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and then shut off before putting the loaves in to rise.)

Remove the loaves from the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a pan of water in the oven.  When the oven reaches 350 put the loaves in for 15 minutes, and then rotate their positions and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with olive oil.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Moroccan Stuffing

This is my all time favorite stuffing.  The original recipe for this stuffing was one I took from our life before whole foods.  When I updated the ingredients to match our new way of eating I made sure not to compromise the wonderful taste that this stuffing embodies.

Here are the ingredients you need to make this recipe:
  • 6 slices of dried sourdough bread, broken into chunks
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried papayas/apricots, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup roasted pepitas
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Melt butter and then add in all of the spices...

...and then pour in the chicken stock and heat to boiling.

Next stir in the bread chunks and all other rest of the ingredients and cook until thoroughly heated.