D.I.Y. Cheese Crackers–How to make Cheese It Crackers

DIY Cheese Cracker's--DIY Cheese it's

DIY Cheese Cracker’s–DIY Cheese it’s

My mom is a lover of all things snack related, so for Mother’s Day I want to give her what she enjoys most. I had been planning on making cheese cracker’s for Page, she was given gold fish crackers as a snack at school, and came home and immediately asked me to buy them.  Not really going to happen.  So since my mom and Page share a love of great snacks, I thought I’d make these cheese crackers for them. These cracker’s are what AWESOME aspires to be! They’re better than great! And they’re 1000 times tastier than store bought cheeze it’s.  The recipe I used comes from America’s Test kitchen, so if you want the recipe in it’s original form click here.  I used less salt than the original recipe calls for.  Cheese already has a lot of salt, so adding too much is overkill. Do pick a great quality cheese for these, because quality matters for this particular recipe–good cheese=great cheese crackers. The recipe calls for the use of Annatto seeds, I found them quite easily in the spice section of Whole Foods.  If you can’t find them, omit them from the recipe–your crackers will be white, instead of orange–not a big deal, they’ll still taste beyond amazing!!!

 

Ingredients:

6 ounces of organic sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

4 tablespoons of butter (2 ounces)

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of Annatto seeds, coarsely ground (optional)

2 tablespoons of boiling water

Directions: To a small bowl add add the coarsely ground annatto seeds and the boiling water.

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Allow the seeds to steep in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain and allow to cool to room temperature.

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Meanwhile, add the butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and cheese to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment,

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mix on medium speed until cheese and butter are creamed and well combined–about 30 seconds.

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Add in the flour and cornstarch and mix until combined–about 1 minute.

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Add in the Annatto seed water,

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then mix until dough clumps together or forms a ball–about 15 seconds.

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Transfer dough to a  lightly floured counter, flatten to a disc, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 375F.  Line two bake sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and working on a floured counter, roll out the dough to 1/16 inch thickness–or as thin as you can get it without falling apart when you move it.

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Cut the dough into 1 inch squares using a pizza or ravioli cutter or use small cookie cutters to cut out shapes.

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Use a skewer to poke holes in the center of the crackers,

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Transfer to the parchment lined bake sheets, place in the oven and bake until light and golden–about 18 minutes.

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Remove from oven, allow to cool completely, then enjoy.

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These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

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Pineapple Rings–How to make dehydrated Pineapple Rings

Dehydrated Pineapple Rings

Dehydrated Pineapple Rings

One of my go to snacks is dehydrated fruit.  I’m a particular fan of pineapple rings.  But, if you’ve ever purchased organic dehydrated pineapple rings, then you probably know that pineapple rings are a snack that can be out right expensive! I mean outlandishly expensive! On top of the expense, it’s pretty hard to find pineapple rings that haven’t been soaked in baths of sugar.  I’m not a fan of adding sugar to dehydrated fruit.  It’s sort of an oxymoron to me that sugar is added to dehydrated fruit at all, because if you know anything about dehydration–then you know that the sugar in fruits concentrate when dehydrated, so there really isn’t a need to add sugar–unless you’re dehydrating something really tart like cranberries then I could see the purpose of adding sugar. Last week I purchased a pineapple, I fully intended to eat it fresh. However,when I cut, and tasted it– it was pretty tasteless. Disappointing for sure. The pineapple clearly needed to ferment more.  Rather than chuck it, I sliced it and put it in the dehydrator and made pineapple rings. The resulting pineapple rings were not only flavorful, but they were sweet–everything you want would want in a fresh bite of pineapple–minus the juice of course.  The pineapple rings lasted all of 2 minutes, my sister in-law, my niece and Page, gobbled them right up–I’m pretty sure they would’ve passed on the fresh slices.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time 6-8 hrs 10-12hr for thicker slices

Ingredients:

2 whole fair trade organic pineapple

Directions: Remove the stem from the pineapple, then slice off the top and bottom.  Slice off the skin, making sure to remove all the eyelets.

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Now slice the pineapple thinly.

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Keep in mind that the thicker you slice it, the longer it will take to dry.  If it’s too thin your pineapple rings will turn out crisp, if they are a bit thicker, they’ll be more leathery, so it’ just a matter of what you’re seeking in consistency.  After slicing, cut out the center core by carving a circular cut in the middle of the pineapple.

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Remove the core and discard it.

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Place the pineapple rings on your dehydrator sheet,

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Set the dehydrator to 135F.  If you’re doing this in the oven, set the oven to 150F or the lowest possible setting.  Dehydrate for 6-8 hours, 10-12hrs if you cut thicker slices.

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Once dry let cool, then enjoy!

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Page could not wait for me to take a picture, she loves these so much!

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if you like this recipe, try the recipe for my pineapple fruit roll-ups!

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

Creamy Caesar Dressing--DIY Caesar Salad Dressing

Creamy Caesar Dressing–DIY Caesar Salad Dressing

My latest obsession is salad.  Crispy and crunchy vegetables with a drizzle of oil, and a splash of citrus or vinegar–what’s not to love?  Salads are a great way to get in a few servings of fresh vegetables in their raw state.  As much as I love salads, they can become a bit boring if you don’t mix things up a bit.  The easiest way to do that is to switch out the vegetables and the dressing.  I often make caesar salads with romaine lettuce, but sometimes I switch out the romaine and replace it with baby kale, or lacinto kale.  It makes for a hearty salad and an especially delicious twist to the standard caesar  salad, we are all used to.  I’ll post the recipe I use for the kale caesar another day, but today, I’m sharing my recipe for my favorite creamy caesar salad dressing.  It’s my go to dressing, when I crave a creamy salad dressing.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: none

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic pasted

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon of anchovy paste

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup grape seed oil

5 teaspoons of olive oil

3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

black pepper to taste

Directions:  To a small bowl add the grated garlic and lemon juice, allow to sit for 10 minutes.  If you have a hand mixer like I do, add the lemon garlic mixture, (after it sits for 10 minutes), and the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until the mixture thickens–about 1-2 minutes.

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Transfer to an air tight container and chill until ready to use.

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If you don’t have a hand mixer,  whisk worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture.



While whisking, drizzle grape seed oil and extra virgin olive oil into bowl in slow, steady stream until fully emulsified.


 Add 3/4 cup Parmesan and pepper to taste; whisk until incorporated:

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust–How to make Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

 

I’m trying to find different ways to serve vegetables to Page.  She has a new found love for pizza–before she wasn’t at all impressed.  Recently, I’ve started to get her involved in helping me to make the meals we’re eating.  I saw a food documentary about food, and kids.  In it the narrator said that the best way to get kids to eat vegetables is to have them take part in cooking. Page is at that age where she’s very eager to help, so I thought why not take advantage of that.   I’ve also really wanted to try out a cauliflower pizza crust on our new baking steel.  I have to say that I was more than impressed with the results–so was Page.   Now for those of you wondering if this will taste anything like that delicious yeasty bread that you’re used to with pizza–the short answer is no.  Bread is bread–this is an alternative to bread.  Although it’s not bread–it mimics bread in form, and it is so delicious that it stands on it’s own.  The reason cauliflower is most often used by people as a substitution for grains is because it has such a mild flavor.  It also has great texture. This recipe requires that you add cheese.  I used parmesan, but you could use mozzarella, or pecorino, or a combination of your favorite Italian cheeses.  I also used fresh basil, but you can use rosemary, or another herb of your choosing, dried or fresh–totally up to you.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of truffle salt

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan–or cheese of your choice

1 egg

Directions: Pre-heat your oven and pizza stone or baking steel  to 450F for 45 minutes. Steam the cauliflower for 5-7 minutes–or until fork tender.

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Transfer cauliflower to a processor and process until cauliflower looks like grains of rice.

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Transfer processed cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel, or a nut milk bag, and squeeze until the cauliflower becomes dry.  You want to squeeze out as much water as you can.

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Transfer the cauliflower to a medium size bowl, and add garlic powder, salt, basil, and cheese–mix together into a ball.

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Spray a sheet of parchment paper with oil.  Add the cauliflower mixture to the center of the parchment paper, and with your hands begin to flatten and form it into the shape of a pizza.

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Once you have the shape you want, place it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

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Once it’s golden brown and bubbly like this:  remove it from the oven.

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Now you can top it with your favorite tomato sauce, cheese and toppings.

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Once you have it topped, place it in the oven to cook until the cheese and topping melt.  Remove from oven, cut serve and enjoy!

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This made a 10-12 inch pizza, not a crumb was left over.  Everyone enjoyed it–my husband didn’t even know that the crust was made from cauliflower until Page told him! If you like this try my recipe for Tortilla Pizza!

Rosemary, Garlic, & Lemon Pototoes

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Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon Potatoes

 

One of my husbands favorite side dishes.  He is a lover of all things potato, so I’m constantly trying to switch up the way that I cook them. The easiest way for me to do that is to switch up the herbs.  In this case fresh is best! The fresh rosemary really makes these potatoes sing! The pungent and earthy flavor of fresh rosemary paired with the lemon and garlic, make for a delicious potato dish!

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

4 medium organic potatoes (cubed skin on)

1 Tablespoon of fresh organic rosemary finely chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon of lemon powder (can sub the zest of one small lemon)

4-5 Tablespoons of grape seed oil

Sea salt to taste

Directions: Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Place cubed potatoes in,

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Cook potatoes until they start to brown, tip, cook for 5 minutes on one side, brown and then flip to the other side to brown.  Once potatoes are brown and fork tender, add the rosemary, lemon powder, and garlic, toss for ten to twenty seconds, just until you can smell the garlic, turn the fire off.

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Transfer to a plate season with sea salt toss and enjoy!

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If you like these potatoes then you’ll love my recipe for Lemon and Garlic Potatoes! You might also like these Ranch Potatoes!

Tortilla Pizza– How to make Pizza with a Tortilla crust

 

Tortilla Pizza

Tortilla Pizza

 

A friend of mine has been espousing the virtues of the Baking Steel for over a year and half now.  We don’t make very many pizza’s in this house, so I put it on my list of things that I want to buy in the future, but really can wait. Then I read all about the virtues of this steel plate in Modernist Cuisine, and I knew that I needed one sooner rather than later.  Aside from being a great way to make brick oven style pizza’s, the baking steel works as a plancha, an anti-griddle, and a teppanyaki.  A multi-purpose gadget always excites me, so I  ordered one.  I came across a great article on Serious eats about a reversible version of the Baking Steel, and right next to it was a recipe for Extra-Crispy Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza and I knew that I had to try it. Leave it to me to buy a gadget made for making pizza only to put it aside to make a pizza in a cast iron skillet.  After making this, I don’t know why I never thought to try making pizza with a tortilla as a base before.  I’ve used naan, pita, and a middle eastern bread to make pizza before, so you would think it would have occurred to me to try one with a tortilla.  This pizza is super-duper easy, takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish, and it’s the best thin crust pizza that I’ve ever eaten.   For my gluten free friends, this pizza is easily adapted to become gluten free by switching out the flour tortilla, with a gluten free tortilla, Whole Food’s sells a host of different varieties. You can add additional toppings to this, but I kept it simple.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 7-10 minutes

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of Organic Tomato sauce (I used the Trader Joe’s brand)

1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of organic mozzarella cheese (grated)

3 fresh basil leaves sliced thinly

1 large organic flour tortilla

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or grape seed oil

Directions: Pre-heat oven to broil.  Add the oil to the cast iron pan and bring to temperature over high heat.

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Once the oil is hot, wipe out any excess with a paper towel–be careful not to burn yourself.

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Add the tortilla to the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low.

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Add the 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce,

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spread the sauce out evenly over the tortilla, all the way out to the edges.

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Add the mozzarella.

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Then add the parmesan around the edges–you are giving your pizza a parmesean crust.

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Add the basil:

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Transfer the pizza to the oven,

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Allow the pizza to cook for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and browns.

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Remove the pan from the oven.  The pizza should be nice and crisp–if it is not, place the cast iron pan over a burner, turn on the fire and allow to  cook for another 30-60 seconds until it’s nice and crisp. Remove the pizza from the pan slice, serve and enjoy! This recipe is only for one pizza, so if you need more adjust accordingly.  My daughter enjoyed this so much, that she begged me to make her one for breakfast the next morning.

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If you like this recipe you will probably like my recipe for Artisan Prosciutto Tomato and Basil Pizza.

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Mango Ice Cream

Mango Ice Cream

Mango Ice Cream

My husband loves mango’s and is especially fond of mango kulfi–an Indian ice cream.  It’s a special treat that he likes to enjoy whenever we go out to eat at an Indian restaurant. Although Kulfi is delicious, most recipes call for corn flour as a thickening agent.  I prefer the use of egg yolks to thicken my ice cream.   This ice cream is ultra creamy, not as rich as a Kulfi, but delicious none the less.

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Prep time: 30-45 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups of organic mango puree

1.5 cups of organic milk

2 cups of organic heavy cream

4 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

1/4 cup-1/2 cup of maple syrup more if you like it ultra sweet or if your mango’s are not sweet

Directions:

In a medium bowl, beat together the yolks, and your sweetener of choice.

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You can beat by hand using a whisk, or use a hand mixer. Beat until thoroughly smooth and creamy. (A couple of minutes by hand.) If you’re using maple syrup, or agave, the mixture comes together quite quickly.

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Put 1 cup of the cream, and all of the milk, into a medium saucepan over medium heat.
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Scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean with the tip of a small knife, and place into the pan; add the pod too. Heat the mixture until just before it starts to simmer (DO NOT LET IT SIMMER). Remove mixture from heat.Strain the hot mixture, reserving the milk and discarding thevanilla bean pod.
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Add half of the hot mixture to the egg-yolk mixture, and whisk until blended. Be careful when adding the hot mixture to the egg mixture, go slowly you don’t want scrambled eggs.  Stir this mixture into remaining hot mixture in the sauce pan,add the last cup of heavy cream and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, add in the mango puree,and cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

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Remove from heat.  Quickly cool the mixture by pouring the hot mixture into a bowl over an ice bath, or let it cool to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once the cream has cooled sufficiently, freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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If you don’t have an ice cream maker, check out this Link to see how make ice cream without one.

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You could also freeze the cream in popsicle molds, or make a instant pop in a Zoku Quick Pop Maker–like I did below!

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