category: cooking ideas

homemade lemon curd

December 5, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas
homemade lemon curd image via bbc

 
The above photo of lemon curd, sweetly packaged in jars, inspired me to share with you my favorite lemon curd recipe. Homemade lemon curd is such a versatile gift – it can be used for baking – as filling in pastries and tarts, or topped onto cookies; it can be spread on toast or wafers, and eaten plain. Using just a few ingredients, you can have homemade lemon curd in about half an hour!

ingredients

4 lemons
1.5 cups sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
4 eggs
pinch of salt

directions

Begin by zesting your lemons with a vegetable peeler rather than a grater. In a food processor, combine the zest and sugar, and process for three minutes. The mixture is ready when it’s as smooth as baby food.

Cut your lemons in half and squeeze them for a half cup of lemon juice. This was three lemon halves for me.

Transfer the lemon zest / sugar mix into a bowl, and cream in the butter. Use an electric mixer to combine well. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and salt. Mix well

In a saucepan, cook your lemon mixture on medium-low heat, stirring often. Heat the curd to 175 degrees F, which is the temperature needed for thickening. Once the mixture is sufficiently thick and the temperature has reached 175 degrees F, remove from heat and let cool.

Store the lemon curd in an air-tight container. Because it contains eggs and butter, make a note of when it was made if you are using it for gift giving. For long-term storage, you will want to use traditional canning methods. Your lemon curd is now ready for baking, gift-giving, or eating as-is!

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Hot Chocolate, All Grown Up

November 14, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

This is the perfect drink recipe for Christmas Eve or after a day out in the snow. This tutorial includes a recipe for 2 mugs, but you can also make it with stored homemade hot cocoa mix. Finally, pick your favorite mixer and your favorite topping, and you have a rich drink to keep you warm on a cold night. Bonus: for the kiddos, it is still quite delicious without any alcohol mixers.

ingredients

– 1/4 cup sugar
– 2 tbsp baking cocoa
– pinch of salt
– 2 cups milk (I used light soy milk)
– 3 tbsp hot water
– 1/3 tsp vanilla extract

– OR, two prepared mugs of homemade hot cocoa mix

– 2 shots of your favorite mixer: irish cream, peppermint schnapps, or butterscotch schnapps (Buttershots)
– optional toppings: marshmallows, whipped cream, peppermint sticks, sprinkles, etc.

directions:

Mix cocoa, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan; add water. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add milk, and keep stirring until all lumps are gone. Add vanilla.

Pour one shot of your favorite alcohol into an empty mug. Once cocoa and milk mix is smooth and heated to desired level, pour half into each mug. Stir well, and top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or whatever else you desire. Enjoy!

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

 

 

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Homemade Mint Extract

November 7, 2011

The holidays are only a few weeks away, and now is the perfect time to start making homemade mint extract. This mint extract takes less than 5 minutes to make, but it takes 30 days to sit in a dark space before it is ready for use – that means if you make some now, it will be ready just in time for holiday baking.

Not only does this project require little time from your day to complete, it only requires two ingredients and one supply. You may choose to use peppermint or spearmint leaves, and unlike the vanilla extract I made a few months ago, we will be using rum instead of vodka (although either is fine!). Just make sure that the alcohol is at least 80 proof.

Ingredients
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 cup 80 proof rum or vodka
1 air-tight glass jar for storage

directions
Begin by bruising the mint leaves, which is basically crumpling them up in your hands. This process releases the mint oils from the leaves, which chopping the leaves just won’t do as well.

Place the leaves into your jar. Pour in your alcohol – make sure your leaves are covered. Any leaves that are sticking out of the alcohol and into the air could become rotten or moldy. Place an airtight lid on your jar, and shake around a bit. Store in a dark, cool place, swirling the jar around a bit if you get the chance.

After 30 days, you may strain the leaves from the alcohol, and the extract should be ready for use! I’m already imagining the minty lattes, cookies, and frosting I can make with this – here is a peppermint mocha latte recipe if you’re ready to get started. The extract would also be a sweet holiday gift bottled up in a pretty little jar.

What would you make with your own homemade mint extract?

ashley pahl

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Mocha Almond Stove Top Latte

October 31, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

Usually when I make lattes, I like to froth the milk with a steam wand attached to my espresso machine, but this recipe is a bit more accessible. The entire recipe is done on the stove, with the addition of espresso or strongly-brewed coffee. I hope you enjoy this sweet treat!

Serves 2.

ingredients

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup vanilla soy milk
4 shots of espresso or 6 ounces of strongly-brewed dark roast coffee

directions

Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Once syrup reaches a boil, add the almond extract, and let boil for another minute to burn off the alcohol.

Reduce heat to low and add cocoa powder and vanilla soymilk, stirring often for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Brew espresso or strong coffee.

Pour syrup / soymilk mixture into two separate glasses, and add 2 shots of espresso or 3 ounces of coffee to each glass.

Serve with whip cream and chocolate shavings, or a side of dark chocolate to make it dessert.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Diy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

October 17, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

Last week I made pumpkin spice lattes, and with a lot of pumpkin puree left over in my fridge, I had to use it for something. Enter: DIY pumpkin pasta sauce. I experimented with the flavors as I went – it started as a sweeter sauce, but I quickly realized adding herbs and black pepper would make it perfect. So, this sauce is thick and savory, with just a hint of sweetness in the nutmeg – perfect on top of plain pasta or ravioli. It’s also very easy to make, and it’s vegetarian – I’ve included substitutes for vegans as well!

ingredients

 
– 1/4 cup butter (vegan substitute: 1/4 cup vegan “buttery” spread OR 3 tablespoons canola oil)
– 1 shallot
– 2 – 4 garlic cloves (depending on your taste)
– 1 – 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (or follow Bonnie’s instructions for pumpkin puree in this – recipe)
– 1/2 cup vegetable stock
– 3/4 cup milk (vegan substitute: 3/4 cup soymilk, rice milk, etc.)
– 1 tsp salt
– 4 teaspoons fresh, minced sage leaves OR 2 teaspoons dry ground sage
– 2 teaspoons fresh, minced thyme leaves OR 1 teaspoon dry ground thyme
– 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
– pinch of nutmeg

optional toppings:

– 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
– parmesan cheese

directions

After shallot and garlic are minced, sauté in skillet of melted butter (or vegan substitute) on medium for about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, and stir in pumpkin puree. Continue to stir for 3 minutes, and slowly add stock, milk, salt, pepper, sage, and thyme. Allow sauce to simmer, covered, until ready to serve. Top with walnuts and parmesan cheese, if desired.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

October 10, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

As with the autumn spice latte, the pumpkin spice latte is one of my favorite seasonal drinks. I could put pumpkin in just about everything in the autumn – it’s just so naturally delicious. This drink is no exception! To make this latte, you will need pumpkin spice simple syrup (recipe below), espresso or strongly-brewed coffee, and steamed or frothed milk. Makes 2 servings.

ingredients

 
– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup water

– 2 tablespoons canned or fresh pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)

– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves – what ever is available in your cupboard

– 2 tsp vanilla extract

– 2 shots of espresso OR 6 ounces of strongly brewed coffee

– 6 ounces of nonfat milk (or soymilk, or other dairy substitute)

directions

Start with the pumpkin spice syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring often. Once it reaches a boil, add the vanilla extract; continue to boil for one minute.

Remove from heat, add pumpkin puree and spices; stir. Let it sit in the saucepan while you brew the espresso or strong coffee.

Brew espresso as according to your machine, or use a very strongly brewed dark roast coffee. Steam and froth your milk or milk substitute. If you would like more information on brewing coffee and steaming milk for specialty drinks, see this previous post on Going Home to Roost.

Pour the espresso into two mugs.

Add 1/4 cup (or more or less, depending on your taste) of pumpkin spice simple syrup to your espresso. Add steamed milk, and top with foam from the frothing process.

My steam wand is currently broken, so I can steam, but not get the foam (otherwise this drink would be topped with a pillowing layer of foamy goodness). You can also top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a real treat!

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.


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Homemade Biscuit Mix

October 3, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

ashley pahl

I love to have ready-made mixes for baking on hand, but I don’t enjoy unnecessary ingredients and preservatives found in store-bought mixes. For every boxed food mix out there, there is a homemade alternative. From muffins to pancakes, cakes to cookies, hot cocoa to biscuits, there are alternatives that we can make at home, thus controlling the ingredients we feed ourselves and our families.

I have tried a few different recipes, and ended up taking the best parts of a few different mixes. This recipe for anytime biscuit mix can be kept in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks – or up to four months if you choose vegetable shortening instead of butter (I prefer butter). Use this mix in place of your average brand-name biscuit/baking mix, and just add milk to have fresh biscuits in 8-10 minutes.

Biscuit mix for storing:

12 cups of flour (white or whole wheat)
6 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons of salt
1 cup of butter (6 – 8 weeks of storage) OR 2 cups of shortening (for up to 4 months of storage)
optional: 1/4 cup sugar (if you like sweeter mixes, or plan to use for pancakes)

To mix:
Start by sifting dry ingredients together in a large bowl. I use a bowl with an air-tight lid, so I can store the mix in the same container.

Cut in butter or shortening – I used a fork for this step. Mix well.

To bake biscuits:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Stir together 2 cups of mix with 2/3 cup of milk. Roll out dough and cut biscuits, or simply use the drop-biscuit method (just a drop of dough on your baking sheet).

Bake biscuits for 8 minutes.

To make pancake batter:

Stir two cups of mix with 1 cup of milk and two eggs. Heat a skillet on medium heat with a bit of butter for greasing, and pour batter into pan. When bubbles rise to surface of batter, it’s time to flip! Cook until both sides are lightly browned.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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Diy Donuts

September 19, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

Homemade donuts (or, doughnuts) are an extra-special treat that I save for weekends when family visits from out of town. Admittedly they’re not the healthiest breakfast, but everything in moderation, right?

The recipe I chose to use was a highly recommended, well-thought out tutorial by The Pioneer Woman. I’ve decided not demonstrate the step-by-step method of this recipe, as Ree (the author) obviously put so much work into it and deserves every bit of credit.

I am going to show you the cooking method of my donuts, and really, you can use whichever recipe out there you like. I’ve even used the canned biscuit dough method, and it worked like a charm, although there’s no question that homemade donut dough can’t be beat. Once we’ve cooked the donuts, I am going to show you my favorite toppings for this melt-in-your mouth treat.

Ingredients

Donut dough, fully prepared, risen and refrigerated
oil for frying – I used canola as it is a little heart-healthier
flour

for glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

for chocolate glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt

for rolling donuts
cinnamon
sugar

optional
sprinkles

tools
rolling pin
baking pan
mixing bowls
a pot for frying
tongs or slotted spoon
cooling rack
paper towels
donut or cookie cutters

directions

Begin by removing your previously prepared donut dough from the refrigerator. I placed mine onto a floured baking sheet, and rolled it out.

After rolling out my dough, I began to cut out my donut shapes with cookie cutters. If you have a round donut cutter with a smaller cutout for the center hole, then that is great. The reason that donuts usually have the center cut out is because donuts tend to cook quickly and unevenly in the oil – the outsides tend to brown while the center remains doughy. Cutting a hole in the center solves this problem.

I don’t have a round or donut cutter, but I did have these very cute Autumn-themed cookie cutters (a leaf, a pumpkin, a pine cone, and a crescent moon, if you were curious). They’re pretty small, so I wasn’t too worried about the centers not cooking thoroughly. Lightly grease the inside of your cutters to prevent sticking to the dough.

If you’re using Ree’s recipe, she further instructs you to allow the cut dough to rise again, for an hour in a warm, moist place. This will produce a very light and fluffy donut. If you like a thicker, chewier donut, you could skip this step, which I’ve done and still been pleased with the results.

The next step is to fry the cut dough. I filled my pan with a little over an inch of canola oil. I did not measure my temperature as Ree did, but once the oil began to simmer, I began to place the donut dough in, starting with just one.

Once the bottom began to brown, I flipped it over. The cooking usually happens pretty quickly, and you don’t want to over cook.

Once fully cooked, I removed the donut with a slotted spoon (tongs could work, too), and placed it on a double-layer of paper towels to soak up the extra grease.

If you want cinnamon sugar donuts, roll the donut while still pretty moist and hot in a shallow bowl or small brown paper bag with cinnamon and sugar. I honestly don’t measure out my cinnamon and sugar mixture, but 3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon should do the trick.

For glazed donuts, I let them cool a bit longer.

To prepare the glaze, I microwave the milk and vanilla for 30 seconds in a microwave-safe bowl. Next, stir in the confectioners (powdered) sugar until well blended. Dip the donuts in the bowl of glaze, one side at a time, and it works well to place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch any drips.

For chocolate glaze, combine the butter, milk, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and just a pinch of salt. Mix well, and dip donuts in the glaze, one side at a time, and allow to dry on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

And that’s it! You can also leave these plain, and they’re still great when eaten warm with a cup of coffee. These donuts can be left out for a while, or placed in a paper bag. You could keep in an airtight container, but expect them to get a bit sticky and gooey.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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