Grating butter

I recently read somewhere that the easiest way to make pastry that involves cutting butter into the flour was to grate it with a grater.

The inner Michelle ears perked up. Grating butter. Why haven’t I thought of that.

The whole reason why I fave been leary about pastry and making my own pie dough was the butter part. It seems frustrating and tedious. I could see myself screaming, cut damn you, cut.

That and using knives seemed pointless.

A week ago, I found a recipe that only used rice flour to make a gluten free pie crust.

I was leary.

And then I remembered to grate the butter.

So I tried it.

It WORKS!!!!!!!!

And you use less butter by grating it.

1/2 cup butter becomes 1/2 a stick. Cutting fat is always a plus.

Now no pastry is too hard to make and I can make homemade pie crusts.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Grating butter, a life hack every Susie homemaker baker needs in her arsenal.

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Easter Menu

Easter is upon us.

I am not ready whatsoever. Graduate school is kicking my butt, however I’ll be down to one internship in the summer so I should be less frazzled.

I have been racking my brain for the last few days about what to eat on the day the prodigal son rose. Bryan hates ham so the traditional Easter meal will never happen in this household.

I also wanted to make something easy since it’s just the two of us. Last year I didn’t even remotely got within the same room as what I had planned to cooked. It’s the overachiever in me.

Also, the gluten free thing makes things a wee bit harder. I have like 9 pie crusts and puff pastry in my freezer. So one of the desserts will not be gluten free.

So completely not traditional, and quick and easy,  and remotely gluten free. Sounds complex somehow.

Easter Menu

MAIN
Sausage, beans, and rice
Corn on the cob

DESSERT

Strawberry and creme pie – not gluten free
Greek custard.

Glutino Decadent Chocolate Cake

You know how you try a product and it’s really good, so you try another product of the same brand.

What you don’t realize is that the high expectations you gained from trying the first product influences your feelings when you try a second product. And, in all honesty, it dooms the new product to fail from the start.

A long time ago, Mumika and I tried a gluten free chocolate cake box mix. Why? I don’t know. Probably to try something different. This was before gluten free became all the rage that it is today. It was one of those, it’s supposedly healthy, why not try it? What’s the worse that can happen?

It was the most god awful tasting chocolate cardboard posing as cake I had ever had. Flash foward a good few years, technology, and the time to create a better method of gluten free flower blending, and one would think there would be a better tasting cake.

One would think.

I ended up making cupcakes instead. The thought process was chocolate cake with a strawberry mascarpone cheese frosting, but that totally didn’t happen.

First and foremost, when making this box mix, the batter was extremely runny to the point that I feared it would end up being a hot soupy mess. Also, it had to be baked longer causing the cake to dry out. On top of that, the cake was extremely dense and not that fluffy awesomeness we all know and love of cake.

In a nutshell, it failed on so many levels that when it came to taste, I didn’t really care that much. It tasted better than chocolate cardboard but not by much.

Which means, I’ll have to experiment with different flours or flour blends before finding the perfect cake.

Grrrr……

I would try to make this again but I fear it would end the same causing me to waste money on it. Maybe I’ll try a different cake box mix next time.

Glutino Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

As Bryan and I were looking at protien powder, a few weeks ago, I found myself staring at gluten free box mixes. The gluten free area shares an aisle with the fitness health and homeopathic stuff.

Before this journey, I was dead set again the whole box mix crap. But, I had an epiphany as I looked at brownie, white cake, chocolate cake, yellow cake, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, banana bread, pizza crust, and pie crust box mixes.

I have no idea what I’ve truly gotten myself into.

I needed to try these box mixes to see if the baked goods of the gluten free lifestyle were even remotely edible. And, there was a coupon. Most gluten free box mixes are an absurd $3.99 and up. The $1.50 off coupon sort of made it remotely worth it.

So I made it.

AND.

Oh.My.God. Most amazing brownie ever created. It’s gooey, collapse in your hand and shape it into what ever yummy of awesomeness. Almost every part of the brownie was the awesome middle part people everywhere fight for and rejoice over.

Screw brownies with wheat in it. They never come out this perfect.

So moist. So chocolatey. You can actually see the chocolate chips in the mix.

Bryan ended up eating pretty much the whole pan in one sitting. He claimed he was saving me from the evil brownies. But I knew better.

What in it? SUGAR, CHOCOLATE CHIPS, COCOA POWDER PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, WHITE RICE FLOUR, POTATO STARCH, CORN STARCH, XANTHAN GUM, SALT.

Hmmmmm. Maybe I can figure how to make this on my own and cut the sugar down. Yep, definitely need to figure out how to do that.

Despite being on a gluten free diet, I’m still trying to figure out how to tweak things. There is always room for tweaking. Always.

But until then, if you have $4 on you and want to make the best brownies in the universe (thus far), go ahead and get a box. You won’t regret it.

Pineapple Angel Cake

A little over a year ago, I was introduce to the whole angel food cake pineapple thing. I was excited over the sweetness and pops of fruity pineapple between the light and airy cake. And then my bubble was burst when someone told me it came from a box mix.

A box mix!

Ugh!

Seriously!

I really hate this lets transform box mixes phenomenon that are labeled as cheats. Don’t feel like making real cookies, then use a box cake mix with chocolate chips and get the gooiest cookies ever created. Make a box cake mix taste homemade by adding this that and all the other. Or why take time making banana nut bread when all you have to do is add banana and nuts to a yellow cake box mix. It’s so beguiling. And frustrating.

I mean, if you’re going to cheat, do it right and just by an already made cake or refrigerated cookie dough. Why add more ingredients to a mix ladled in sugar and carbs? A simple recipe with from scratch that has like 14 grams of carbs per serving, now has about 38 grams of carbs from the additions you made as a way to make it taste like you slaved an extra 30 minutes on it. You might as well have made it from scratch and save the overly abundant sweetness and carbs and thighs. Because you know all those little extras are going straight to that area of your body.

Where was I?

Because I was making a smaller angel food cake for the trifle in attempt to make sure it didn’t float like last year and to make it smaller which mean less carbs and sugar, I had to figure out what to do with the extra batter.

Pineapple Angel cake! Bahahahahahahahahha. I’m a genius. And it’s something we can enjoy for breakfast or brunch or a snack during the brisket smoking.

pineapplesponge

Pineapple Angel Cake

1/2 the angel food cake recipe
8 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained

Directions

Make angel food cake as instructed.

Before pouring into a square cake tin sprayed with cooking spray, fold in pineapple.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 12.

It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Only one problem. I used a carton of egg whites instead of actual egg whites so they never peaked the way I wanted it to.

Moral of the story – DO NOT try to save money and USE EGG WHITES FROM A CARTON. It doesn’t work.

And if it does, it takes forever.

Other than that, it was perfect. The light airiness and the pops of yellow speckled in the cake bringing sparks of pineapple in every bite. Goes perfect with coffee or tea.

So make it for a luncheon and surprise every one when you tell them it wasn’t made from a box.

Take that Susie FastMaker, destroyer of yumminess, creator of type 2 diabetes. Okay, maybe I went a little too far with that. I fully respect Mom’s with busy life’s and handling the kids, the house, and a job at the same time. Mumika was a single parent. It’s not easy. So shortcuts to bring food onto the table or being reminded that you promised to make 36 cupcakes for class or a school fundraiser are desperately needed. But just think about what you are allowing your kids to put in their mouths by using these short cuts. That’s all I ask. The future health of your children will thank you.

For an even low sugar and carb version use the strawberry shortcake cupcake recipe.

 

 

Banana Nut Bread

A few weeks ago, I made banana bread in a rice cooker. You can read about it here.

I’ve made banana nut bread a ton of times. Bryan hearts it. And I always have to use chopped walnuts.

Before I made it this time, I looked in the cookbook called A Modern Family Cookbook written in the 1950’s to 1960’s. My edition is 1964, I believe. Bryan’s grandmother passed it down to his mother and it’s one of those precious items that could cause a feud in his family when his parent’s died. So I went on etsy and bought my own. I was so excited over this cookbook, it wasn’t even funny. Bryan remembers this cookbook used throughout his childhood and as a good wife, I want to be able to cook foods he knows.

So I figured there would be a banana nut bread recipe.

But there wasn’t. Much to my horror. Banana nut bread raised to popularity in the 1950’s so why isn’t it this old ass cookbook?

Oh, well.

Banana bread wasn’t a must in my household growing up but it was at a friend’s house. I swear the mother would wait until the near rotten bananas were on sale and then buy the whole lot of them just to make banana bread. And the oddest thing was that they were German, so for the longest time I thought this bread was a German thing. Then I found out it was more of a Southern thing from Bryan (Although he is also of German descent). Sweet tea and Banana nut bread, two main staples of the South and despite living in Texas, I had no clue.

One thing one must know about this recipe is that it needs to be cooked for longer than the recipe stated. I baked it for an hour and the middle fell out of it. So I put it back in the oven and cooked it for an extra hour. Banana nut bread should not take 2 bloody hours to cook. It shouldn’t. So just a head’s up. Cook it longer.

Also, it is important that you walnuts. Not pecans or any other nut, but walnuts. There’s something about the combination of bananas and walnuts that is down right magical.

banananut

Banana Nut Bread

3 ripe bananas, the brown/blackish, the better
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions

Mash bananas in a medium bowl

Mix in the baking soda and salt and flour in a separate bowl.

Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract with the mashed bananas.

Mix in the flour mixture with bananas until well combined.

Fold in walnuts

Pour the batter into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.

If you have walnuts left over, sprinkle it on top.

Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Makes 12.

This is one of the most moist banana bread recipes I have ever made.

It made the whole house smell divine while baking.

This is technically my fourth time making banana nut bread. The first time being in the second apartments, Bryan and I lived in. The second time, I made amazing banana nut bread muffins out of it. Then the rice cooker experiment. And now today.

Am I a pro at this? Nope. Hell, I’m amazed it was able to rise the second time I put it in the damn oven.

I did cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup from 1 cup. If your bananas are black, there is no need to add extra sugar. The sugar in this case is more of a binding agent than anything else.

I do admit I liked the extra crunch from adding the walnut as a topping this time. I’ve done a sugar toping and a brushed brown sugar topping before. Also, this is the first time I’ve solely used white sugar. In the past it’s been brown sugar or a blend of the two.

Which means I’m going to have to do a brown vs white vs a blend bake off one of these days to declare which sugar reigns supreme when it comes to banana nut bread. It will be epic.

The great thing about banana nut bread is that it’s suitable as a snack, part of brunch, breakfast and incorporated in desserts. Quite a versatile sweet bread. And it never lasts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry and Champagne Jell-O (The perfect way to ring in the new year)

Happy New Years Eve!

Are you ready for the countdown?

I think my favorite part of New Years is the drinking. Or more specifically, Champagne.

Champagne is not only great on its own, but also in a plethora of cocktails. It makes any event elegant when used.

This time I made Jell-O out of it. Fancy Jell-O.

It’s a play on the strawberries and champagne that has become popular since the dawning of time.

champagne and strawberryjello

Champagne and Strawberries Jell-O

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cold champagne
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Directions

In a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water.

Leave for two minutes before bringing water to boil and stirring until the gelatin has dissolved.

Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.

Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.

Stir in champagne and ginger ale.

Refrigerate for 90 minutes until Jell-O has thickened.

Fold strawberries in to Jell-O.

Place into molds.

Refrigerate until firm, roughly 6 hours.

Makes 24 muffin tin molds.

I didn’t have any molds, so I had to improvise.

Muffin tin pans are a great way to eat pretty much anything because of portion control. Add this awesome Jell-O concoction as an alternative to drinking champagne when the clock strikes midnight and you’re starting the new year in a fun bubbly way.

I love how the Jell-O sparkles like diamonds when you fold in the strawberries. It is such a beautiful dessert, the way the strawberries are suspended in air bringing hints of red. It’s fascinating and hypnotizing.

It’s an interesting bubbly taste. The ginger ale cuts the bite from the champagne calming down what could be a rather alcohol-y taste.

The strawberries are refreshing and pleasant at every bite.

All in all, this would be a fun little dessert on New Years Eve as a way to introduce the kids to alcohol.

So if you decide fancy Jell-O shots are not the way to ring in the new year, introduce it as a dessert.

Reindeer Chow (Peanut Butter and Nutella Muddy Buddies)

When I found this recipe last year, Family Christmas had already come and gone. Don’t get me wrong, the Hot Cocoa Ornaments were amazing and everyone loved them. But since two of Bryan’s siblings live 5 hours away, I really wanted to prepare a little snack for them for the ride home.

But that’s okay, because I didn’t know about the gift wrapped pringles can until this year.

Before I made these, Mumika told me something that boiled my blood for two days straight. I couldn’t focus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner, I was so pissed. I mean, who does that and I had showed her what I was making. But when the time came, it was no where to be found.

As it turned out, my mother in law was making a different chex mix for the kids to munch on. A more savory version and forgot to put it out. When she said she had added Worcestershire sauce to hers, I automatically knew which version she was making. Mumika must have misunderstood her or something.

By the time I had made these little mx of awesomeness, I didn’t care that much. Why? Because they came out awesome.

Originally I was going to make two completely different batches and mix them together before putting them in the canisters. But then I realized, that was too much of a hassle and ended up making something completely different.

I made peanut butter and nutella muddy buddies. It was pure and utter genius.

reindeer chow

Reindeer Chow(Peanut Butter and Nutella Muddy Buddies)

10 cups chex mix (corn or rice or a combo)
10 ounces of dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter
12 ounces green and red M&Ms
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Melt the peanut butter, nutella, and butter in a microwave safe dish.

Microwave in 15 second intervals until butter is melted. Stir each time

Add the chocolate and continue 15 second intervals of microwaving until all is melted into the mix.

Continue stirring at each interval.

Add the vanilla and stir together.

In a large bowl add the cereal and pour chocolate peanut butter nutella mixture over it.

Mix with a spoon.

In a large paper bag, place the powdered sugar.

Pour the chex mixture into the paper bag.

Close the bag and shake it until the powdered sugar has coated the chex mix evenly.

Add the M&Ms and shake it..

Makes 20 servings. Or Four Canisters. Per serving/canister.

OMG, it tastes amazing. It’s really interesting because when you take your first bite, you taste the nutella and as you keep chewing the peanut butter comes out.

Also I reduced pretty much everything – the powdered sugar, the chex, the chocolate.

By keeping the peanut butter, you get some protein in there.

One of my sister in laws called it crack. Which it is. She would give one of her sons a few pieces as she ate the chex mix. When he popped the first square she gave him, his head moved back in pure euphoria and he said “mmmmm” and demanded more.

Adults and children alike will love this. Both kid and mom tested and approved.

My mother in law later told me everyone loved the gift, which made me happy. Bryan and I don’t have a lot of money to spend on our seven nephews, so I figured food would be the best bet. Just watching that one nephew’s reaction made me feel like I did enough even though he got a BB gun, toys, candy, books, and a skateboard from the rest of the family.

But then again, you’re talking to a girl that went all EEEE! when Mumika gave her a huge box of walker shortbread for Christmas one year.

It really is the little things.

Tembleque

This recipe called for a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. But I was busy making Bryan a drink at the same time and totally forgot it.

Did it need it? Fuck no!

It tasted OMG amazing.

How do I know? I was bad an pretty much licked not only the spoon but also the saucepan thinking the whole time, “Why didn’t Mumika make this when I was growing up?!?!” The woman pretty much denied me my delicious Puerto Rican heritage cuisine wise.

Tembleque, which I like to pronounce wrong, is typically made during Christmas time. There isn’t really much on the history of tembleque. However, is called tembleque because it “trembles” or jiggles. In reality, it is a hybrid of Jell-O and custard. It has the consistency of Jell-O but tastes more like a custard.

It’s pretty awesome.

tembleque

Tembleque

3 1/2 cups of coconut milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of coconut water
1/2 cup of cornstarch

Directions

Mix everything together on medium high heat .

Stir into you get a creamy consistency . It will also thicken a bit.

Pour into a glass mold.

Wait until it’s room temperature and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.

Dust with cinnamon before serving.

Makes12.

This is amazing.

It’s like arroz con dulce but without the rice.

The texture might be weird for those with texture issues. Actually, they might not even touch it. It’s the whole jiggles like Jell-O but is actually custard thing.

Bryan was not happy about the texture.

It’s creamy, it’s coconut-y, it’s custardy. The perfect coconut custard.

Add the cinnamon on top and all the flavors elevate in Puerto Rican awesomeness creating a Christmas party with live music in my mouth. You know what I’m talking about – the three meal services, three bands and a DJ, and an open bar Christmas party in the mountains somewhere.

 

Pie Crust Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Christmas Eve!

So you’ve made all these pies for Christmas and there’s some crust dough left over. What do you do? Do you throw it out? Do you put it in the freeze for later use?

Or you could make cinnamon rolls out of it for Christmas breakfast.

Genius!

You only need four (4!) ingredients and I bet you have it already in your pantry just waiting to be used.

They are very simple and easy to make and will go in a flash.

I tried it out on Bryan a few weeks ago, but learned from my first mistake – melting the butter and brushing it on to the pie crust. So DON’T MELT THE BUTTER.

They came out okay, but could have been better.

Second time around, they came out way better.

piecrustcinnamonrolls

Pie Crust Cinnamon Rolls

pie crust
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Roll pie crust out into a square that is 1/4 inch tall.

Spread butter all over pie crust.

Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on butter.

Roll the pie crust tightly.

Cut into 12 slices.

Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Makes 12.

So the second thing I did wrong was not tightly roll the pie crust the first time. The tighter the roll, the more the cinnamon and sugar can bind to the layers.

To reiterate: DO NOTMELT THE BUTTER and ROLL TIGHT.

But most importantly enjoy.

You drizzle a wee bit of icing on them, but I thought they tasted perfectly without. The cinnamon definitely comes out and kicks you in the face.

An easy breakfast for the family on a crazy day of cooking. O you could snack on them as you go.