Monday, June 27, 2011

0 Ruhlman and Food Scale Giveaway Winners!

Hi everyone, apologies for this being a short post, but I've worked 40 hours in the past 3 days (yes that includes the weekend) so I'm rather tired.

But not too tired to announce the winners! Congrats to P&C and mommaladybug! I'll be contacting you guys tomorrow am.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to everyone who contributes to my blog, either via reading, sharing, commenting, or more! I'm glad to have such a great community of bloggers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream

My roommates and I grow some mint in our backyard garden, so we wanted make our own homemade chocolate chip mint ice cream! With an ice cream maker it only takes about 30 minutes! I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoon mint leaves, diced
3/4 cup whole mik, well chilled
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped

1. Pour the 1/4 cup milk and mint into a cup, and microwave for 30 seconds. Let the mint seep for 10 minutes while the mint oil infuses the milk.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, mint, and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla until well blended.
4. Pour into an ice cream mixer and chill according to manufacturer's directions.
5. Serve with mint leaves, and enjoy!

This post has been shared with Sweets for a Saturday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

8 Ruhlman's Ratio and Food Scale Giveaway

Image source
Go to Lauren's blog and Erin's blog for the past two months recipe posts from the Gluten Free Ratio Rally. Thank you to both again for hosting in April and May!

Since April I've been participating in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally. Aside from being part of an awesome culinary experiment, I really appreciate the Ratio Rally for influencing how I bake food. As a group we pull inspiration from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind Everyday Cooking for our approach to baking.

Instead of relying on strict recipes based on measuring by volume, ratio cooking relies on baking by weight. There's two things I really love about baking by weight measurements.

1. Every baked recipe can be based on a simple ratio of ingredients. You can then use ingredients you already have at home or any of your favorite flavor combinations to create your own signature recipe. And the best part about cooking by weight is you can easily make a 1-2 serving batter when experimenting to quickly create a recipe.
2. You can bake without making a huge mess. There's been a variety of recipes where the only thing I've dirtied is a spoon, a bowl, and a baking pan. This is because you can pour all your ingredients into a bowl and measure them with a food scale, zeroing it out as you add each ingredient. It makes clean up a total breeze.

Because of all this, I want to hold a giveaway where the prizes are Ruhlman's book with all the food ratios and the food scale I use with my ratio baking. I've fallen in love with both the book and the scale, and wholly recommend them both to all of my readers. So please, participate and share this giveaway with all your friends!

What's being given away?
1 copy of Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind Everyday Cooking and 1 Salter Food Scale

How to participate?
Minimum: Share this post using some social media (Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.) and leave a comment letting me know you would like to participate and how you shared this post.
Earn up to 4 additional entries: Do any of the following, each worth 1 additional entry
-Find a recipe on the blog that you'd like to try making, or that you have some way of improving and comment on that post.
-Share this post via some social media (Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc) and leave a comment on this post letting me know.
-Subscribe to my RSS Feed, leave a comment saying you did.

NOTE: Blogger has had some issues this past month with posting comments. This should be resolved, but if you're having trouble posting a comment, please contact me using the Contact Me page.

When does this giveaway end?
June 26th, 2011

Thank you to all my readers, and I hope your as excited about ratio cooking as I am!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2 Vintage Virginia Wine Festival

This past week has been nothing last than intense for me. Work was rather busy, so I didn't have a large amount of spare time this week to write blog posts. But, now its the weekend! And time to share an experience that I am hoping will become a tradition with a subset of my friends: the Vintage Virginia Wine festival.

This is the second year that we attended the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival in Centreville, Virginia. My friends and I love this festival because it celebrates not only local wines, but various other local craft businesses with stunning product (more on that later).
Tents filled with tons of wineries
Last year when we went, it was the first time any of us went to a wine festival, so we weren't sure what the experience would be like. Last year we spent the day going around whatever wineries we saw, and didn't have any real goals of what tastes we wanted to find.

In contrast, this year we scoped out the wineries we wanted to go to first, and then went to a few wineries we had not experienced yet. 
Orange Blackberry Chicken
My major revelation half way through the day was that I love fruit wines. The difference between regular wines and fruit wines is that instead of using grapes to produce the wine, some other fruit is the star of the show. What I love about a good fruit wine is that it captures the sensory essence of the base fruit. For example, we came across some Horton cranberry wine and fell in love with its bold cranberry flavors. The other core reason I love fruit wine is that a good fruit wine gives me inspiration to cook. I love the challenge of taking a fruit wine and figuring out a good pairing of proteins and vegetables to produce a delicious dish. My Orange Blackberry Chicken is an awesome example of this.
The other amazing part of the festival were the displays of local artisans. Our unanimous favorite was Topix Crystal, which has a showcase in Vienna, VA. All of the crystal is handmade. The glass artist blows all of the crystal, and uses his own techniques to create stunning raised panels. Even after he explained to us how he created his art, I have no idea how someone could create art this beautiful by hand.

At this point in my post, I wanted to share with you all some of the Virginia wineries we loved. I'd love to hear responses back from y'all about which wines/wineries are your favorites as well!

Favorite Wineries:
Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery - Loved all of it, especially the Nectarine
Cooper Winery - If you enjoy dessert wine, I recommend Vida
Horton Winery - Loved their Cranberry and Dio Wines
AmRhein's - I recommend their Petit Verdot

Monday, June 13, 2011

0 Sun Dried Tomato Chicken and Quinoa

I love experimenting with various ingredients that I probably wouldn't have tried before I discovered my allergy. Quinoa looks similar to couscous, but has a bit of a stronger taste and bite to it. I've found out that its a great gluten-free substitute for any recipe that calls for couscous. I hope yall enjoy this recipe!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 3-4 people

1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
1 lb chicken
2 bay leaves
6-8 leaves of basil, diced (about 1-2 tbsp)
6-8 sundried tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp paprika
3 cloves garlic, diced
a handful of Feta cheese
dash salt and pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, boil the water and lemon, and then add the quinoa. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 13 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Cube the chicken, and add to a pan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper with the bay leaves. Let the chicken cook until you can no longer see any pink.
3. Add the tomato, basil, paprika, and garlic. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until chicken is done throughout.
4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and spoon onto a plate or platter. Top with the chicken, and enjoy!

Steaming hot!

Friday, June 10, 2011

0 Gluten Free Stuffed Fudge

A few weeks ago, one of my friends sent me a link to a recipe for cookies stuffed with Oreos. She wanted me to make a gluten free variety of them, so instead I decided to come up with a fun variation on it. After experimenting a bit, I adapted a fudge recipe from Alton Brown and stuffed it with egg-free gluten-free cookie dough.

2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 tbsp brown rice flour
2 tbsp almond flour

1. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, butter, and flours until a dough forms. Roll into small balls of dough.
2. Follow the recipe for the fudge. Once the fudge has cooled to 130F, pour the fudge onto a silicone mat or a large board. Fold the chocolate from the outside into the middle. This will cool the chocolate and create a nice texture. 
3. Once the fudge is room temperature, pour into a rectangular dish lined with parchment paper. Push the cookie dough into the fudge, and cover the dough with chocolate. Cover and let it set at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

0 Quick and Easy: Gluten Free Beef Wraps

Some days I really can't spend too much time making dinner. Nine to eleven hour work days can really sap the time you can spend creating home meals, making take-out all the more tempting. Here's an easy gluten free wrap recipe that you can use with any type of meat or vegetables. The ingredients here reflect what I had in my fridge the day I made it, so feel free to make it your own.

Yields: 2 wraps
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes

gluten free rice tortillas
3/5 pound thin beef, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice

1. In a medium bowl, let the beef sit in a few tablespoons of soy sauce while a pan heats over medium heat. In another bowl, mix all ingredients other than the rice, tortillas, and beef.
2. Cook the meat over medium heat until the meat is cooked and no longer pink.
3. Scoops a couple spoonfuls of rice onto 1/3 of the tortilla. Pile some beef on top and drizzle some of the prepared sauce over top.
4. Fold the flaps over, and then tightly roll up the tortilla until a wrap has formed.

I hope you enjoy, and have a happy Wednesday!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

0 Backyard Garden: Part 3

It is amazing how fast our garden has grown, and how many lessons we've learned so far. It surprises me how plants can grow so fast from seed to jungle in the course of just a few months. In early March we planted seeds indoors, which you can read more about in this post. After the seedlings grew a bit more and the last frost ended, we decided to move them out into the backyard.

Beautiful little pepper plants
The squirrels really loved these...

The squash as of May 8...

About two weeks after we planted them in the backyard, the plants were already starting to explode in size, best reflected in the squash. One thing I was concerned about with the squash was the possibility of overcrowding, but halfway through May I figured my worries would end up being waisted.

...And by the end of May overcrowding was a HUGE problem. Thanks to the squash. Beautiful squash, but monstrous and huge plants. Needless to say we ended up placing the squash way to close together. After getting this far into the backyard garden my largest advice to those starting a garden is make sure that you give plants plenty of room. This especially applies to wide plants such as squash. We don't even have any produce yet and we already had overcrowding.

Because of this, one of my roommates thinned out some of the smaller plants this weekend in order to reduce the crowding and give all the vegetables a chance. 

We've had beans already this season, I'm excited to see what we get next!