Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lake Ontario Winery: Mozzarella Making Class

I saw a local coupon on Amazon for a mozzarella making class at a local winery.  I told my husband about it and said this would make a great date. He agreed.  Though he is not necessarily a foodie, he sure enjoys his mozzarella.
This was one of the best ways to spend an afternoon with a friend or your spouse.  We started off the afternoon with a little wine tasting.  We picked our bottle of wine.  We chose the Pirates Red. 
Jacks Red- Lake Ontario Winery

They brought us a wonderful cheese tray.  It was beautiful.  I wish the mozzarella and prosciutto pinwheels were in the picture- totally a melt in your mouth affair.  As we chugged sipped our wine and ate (or rather, my husband ate) our delicious cheese trays, we watched our fearless leader, Lorraine, make some amazing mozzarella.  After all was said and done, they made some pizza for us all with our recently made mozzarella.

The milk is heated to about 90 to 100F.
It quickly separates into curds.
What is left behind is whey. By the way, never discard it.  It has protein.  You can add it to your smoothies or soup.
Here she is pulling out the curds.
After adding in whatever you would like you can begin to knead.  Sandy and I kept talking about adding garlic and herbs to ours. Our neighbor Ben was talking about adding raisins.  At first we balked, then we thought of what raisins were and thought maybe it would be worth a try.  We knew he had too much wine when he suggested Skittles as an addition to the mozzarella.

We had wonderful company at our table, three other couples.  The woman next to me, Sandy, was a hoot.  I think we might have drove everyone crazy at our table.  We laughed nearly the entire time, making jokes.  She was Miss Curd, I was Miss Whey.  The corny jokes about whey flew around our table (every which whey, really).  Such silliness when you are chugging sipping some wine.

We were given a kit to make our own mozzarella.  I bought a little extra rennet to make more because I knew I would be making it.  More on that later.

Just in case you were wondering, some time before we left I cut myself off from the bottle and started sipping chugging water...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Buttermilk Biscuits

These were served with our fried chicken on Sunday.  I have to say that I ate one. They were delicious.  I didnt want to eat one.  THey called to me in all their gluten goodness, buttery and rich.  It was sublime.  I'd do it all over again.  But I really must find a gluten free biscuit that is just as superior.

Now, fat and gluten aside, its time for me to adjust my eating even more. After being of the 50 ish age and finding out my labs were a touch on the "bad" side, I have to adjust my eating even more.  Ugh.  Its okay.  I am kind of enjoying this journey.  I have learned a lot about health and wellness.  I have learned a lot about loving myself more so that I want to do it for my self.  I am getting there.  Weight is starting to come off.  Very slow.  I am totally happy that it is moving in the right direction.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk ( approximate)

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender to add in the cold butter. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined. If it is dry, add a bit more buttermilk. The dough should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently, gently gather up and pat the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick.

Cut into rounds. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.

Do not over bake.

A couple tips: 

The more you handle the dough the tougher your end product will be.

If you have a food processor it will make better biscuits.

You also must pat the dough out with your hands, lightly.  Rolling with a rolling pin is a way to overstimulate the gluten, resulting in a tougher biscuit.

You can make these biscuits, cut them, put them on cookie sheets and freeze them for up to a month. When you want fresh biscuits, place them frozen on the cookie sheet and bake at 450°F for about 20 minutes.

135 calories for one biscuit, if you make 12.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Southern Fried Chicken

We had deep fried chicken for Father's Day.  It was a real treat.  The last time we had homemade deep fried chicken was about 9 years ago.  Actually, exactly nine years ago because my daughter was a baby. In between then we probably had the Colonel's chicken one time, maybe two times.  It's just so much grease its usually not on our radar.  But once in a while, for a special treat, like, say, Fathers Day- why not?
Because I hate that "fried" smell in the house, I took my fryer outside!  No smell in this house.  Yeah!

Southern Fried Chicken

3-5 pounds of chicken parts
2 cups buttermilk
1-1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1  teaspoon pepper
1  teaspoon garlic powder
1  teaspoon onion powder
1  tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Oil for frying (depends how deep your pot is)

Fill your pan with enough oil to get at least half the chicken submerged.  Heat to 350F. Its very important to heat it to 350F because it will absorb less grease.

The night before or at least an hour before place chicken parts in a bag with the buttermilk. Let marinate, chilled in the refrigerator.

Mix flour with spices in a bag that you can seal and shake.

When you are ready to fry, take the chicken out and shake in a bag with the flour spice mixture.  Let sit for about five minutes on waxed paper on a cookie sheet.

Fry in batches being careful not to overload the pan. For legs 6 minutes on one side and then 6 minutes on the other.  For boneless thighs, about four minutes on each side. Remove and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mexican Corn Deconstructed

This is a great summer meal for when all the fresh corn is in.  Something different than the usual corn on the cob go to.  Great to use corn from my freezer too, which is what I did here.  I ate about half of this as my lunch.  Hmmm.

Limes are really a game changer for this dish.  You really need the limes.  As my friends Mexican friend says, if you want to make a dish Mexican, just add limes.  I dont know if it is exactly that simple...  This is definitely a dish with lots of Mexican flavor.  Ay, caramba!

Mexican Corn on The Cob Deconstructed
Idea from here at Bon Apetit.

2 cups corn
1 large bell pepper chopped
juice of 1 juicy lime- about a 1/4 cup
salt and pepper
chives or green onions chopped thinly
cotija cheese or feta if you cant find it
garlic, minced

Cook corn, peppers and garlic in frying pan.  Let it sit at the bottom- don't stir too much.  You want to char it a little.  I was going to say brown there but char just sounds so much more sexy! Add in salt and pepper.  Once it is browned quite a bit, remove from heat and sprinkle with some fresh feta and chives or green onions.

Monday, June 15, 2015

SEA- South East Asian Restaurant, Rochester, NY

I have not been very food motivated lately.  I think it because I am transitioning from baking with flour to an all new lifestyle, at least for myself of gluten free and LOW sugar.  With that said,  I need to bake when the weather cools a little as my kids are begging for some baked treats.  Like some nice muffins for a quick- grab and run kind of thing.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness- Pho.
Until I get busy in the kitchen I will share with you a recent restaurant visit.  My husband and I went out for a nice date the other night.  We went to SEA (South East Asian) in the Mt Hope Plaza.  There is another one at the Monroe Avenue location.  Their specialty is Pho!  I love Pho.  I have had some experience with it as you can see in this post when I made it.  See above.

I ordered a small bowl of Tom Yum. It had great flavors.  A perfect amount of spicy heat to make it warming without being overly so that your lips feel burnt.
I also ordered Masauman Curry.  I really enjoyed this entrée.  Very tasty with all kinds of textures.  The only thing I would have liked to see is a bit more peanuts.  I barely saw the peanuts. Also some cilantro would have helped make this dish more fresh looking and upped the flavor quotient.

My husband, being a little unclear on the food choices, thought the Pho was a starter soup and ended up ordering two entrée.  But hey, that is no problem for my husband because he can down an entrée single handedly.  He ordered the Evil Jungle Prince.  For the second entrée he ordered Rare Beef Pho.  I tasted both.  The pho was wonderfully flavored.  I really enjoyed it. Smooth and comforting.  It is a very filling meal with lots of perfectly cooked beef and a nice helping of noodles.
The Evil Jungle Prince was, eh, okay.  It had huge chunks of what I think were bamboo shoots in it which I am not especially fond of.  They kind of have these bitter notes.  I usually soak them in boiling water before I use them in whatever Asian style dish I am making.  The flavor of this dish was kind of low key other than the heat.  I totally think it would have been better with some more garlic.  A bit more coconut might have been helpful too.A bit of cilantro...

I really wanted to try the Durian Bubble Tea.  Unfortunately, they had run out of that one.

Image result for durian fruit
All in all it was a pretty good experience.  Best thing on the menu- The Pho.  Wonderfully flavored!

Two Locations (not all entrees are available at the Monroe restaurant)

1675 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY
(585) 461-4154

741 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY
(585) 473-8031

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Oven Baked Cod

This really is a low calorie entree.  The cabbage salad is one of my favorites hardly any calories and very filling.   Paired with low calorie baked cod- its one incredible meal with minimal calories. 

Cabbage Salad
This particular day I was in a hurry so no time to add in the green onions.

3 cups chopped cabbage
2 tablespoons Asian Seasoned Rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 green onions 
1/4 cup cilantro

Toss it all together.  Serve and enjoy.

Oven Baked Cod

1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of half of a lemon
cod (four pieces)

Chop parsley and sprinkle the salt over top, stir in minced garlic.  Let sit while you get the pan ready for the cod.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a shallow 9 x 13 pan with foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray or a light coating of butter.  Rinse off cod and place four fillets on the sheet.  With your fingers divide the parsley mixture amongst the four pieces of cod.  Smooth over top.  Place in a preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kale and Quinoa

For all you parents you know how busy the end of the school year is.  Concerts, picnics, get togethers.... its crazy.  When you are the sandwich generation, it just gets even crazier.  Suffice to say between helping my parents lately and being Mom to two children, I have my hands full.  I am sure many of you know what I am talking about. We always think we are the ones that are so busy.  But really everyone is busy.  And busy changes over time, doesnt it?  My Fathers idea is busy, is that he had a doctors appt in the morning and had to roll his coins.  The elderly woman I know, her idea of busy is that she had to do dishes and make her bed.  I say this not as a criticism.  When you are tired or ailing in some way, things can seem busy because it just takes so much energy.  You know what I am saying.  Its all kind of relative.  For me, busy means I don't have much "me" time.  Lets be clear, I love my "me" time.  I can be downright selfish in this way.  I need "me" time for sewing, creating things in the kitchen, puttering around, organizing, whatever. It helps me keep my sanity.  (Which is pretty relative, I might add).  An hour of "me" time is wonderful!  Four hours of "me" time is amazing, rejuvenating and awesome.  So as we head into summer, I don't really expect too much "me" time.  And it's okay.  I love when my kids are home.  At least, that is, when they are not fighting.  Its unscheduled time for the most part for us.  Sleeping in a little longer, a little slower pace.  I enjoy that.  I am going to miss my "me" time though! I promise to blog as much as possible.
This post is kind of a hodge podge of stuff.  You see this here "bouquet" from Edible Arrangements?  Isn't it pretty!  We received this a week or so ago.  It disappeared kind of fast.  I did use the kale, which you see above.  I boiled it a little bit and put it in the refrigerator.  I had some leftover quinoa.  I thought how about this combination.  I sautéed the kale in a little olive oil with garlic.  Then I added the quinoa, just so it was heated.  It was incredibly good.  I like quinoa but there was something about this combination that made it stellar.  Definitely a do over around here.  Simple easy, nutritious and delicious.

This here was an amazing meal I had at a local Mexican restaurant called, Salena's.  I usually get the mole chicken. One of my faves! A glass of sangria made it all the better!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada's have become a way for me to clean up leftovers.  There are a couple other leftover-cleaner-uppers- soup and fritatta's.  For the enchilada's, if you are armed with some Mexican flavors (cumin, lime, chili, cilantro...) and some tortillas, you too can clean up your leftovers and no one would be the wiser.  Shh, don't tell the family.  Like especially the kids.  My husband does a little happy dance (well, not really) when I clean up leftovers.  He hates wasting food (as do I). For the most part I can keep on top of stuff in the fridge.  Mostly due to him as he is a champ for cleaning up leftovers.  Sometimes I am sad about this because leftovers from some meals are even better than the night they are first served.

My friend, knowing I love Mexican food, sent me this recipe for enchilada sauce.  You can go to the link here, at A Simple Pantry.  This blogger has lots of Mexican meals, lets of good food to check out and drool over.

I did change up a few things from the original recipe.  First, because I had no chili powder (that, like, never happens, me- running out of a spice!) I had to grind some of my chilies.  OMG, let me tell you, while it upped the flavor quotient, it also upped the spicy quotient.  I was okay with it- but the kids, not so much. I recorded what I did in the recipe below but honestly, if you use fresh dried chilies, lower the amount unless you can take the heat! I also, added the tomato juice to kind of buffer the heat.


Recipe adapted from this recipe at A Simple Pantry Blog.  Swoon, people, swoon.

4 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons chili powder, freshly ground*
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
4 cups beef broth, chicken, or vegetable broth
2 cups tomato juice*

In a soup pot heat the oil, then add in the flour.  Toast the flour, stir frequently, when the flour is lightly golden add in the broth, then the remainder of ingredients.

*See italics in paragraph above.