Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homemade Hot Dog (or Hamburger) Buns

Ready for some hot dogs!
Here's a healthier way to eat those hot dogs and hamburgers!  You can control just how much sugar goes into them as well as making sure that no high fructose corn syrup does!  You can make them whole wheat, partially wheat or white too.  :)  For some odd reason I only snapped pics of the finished ones on my phone...perhaps because I am just somewhat absentminded least you can have some pics.  Happy -almost- 4th of July!  :)

Homemade Buns:
3-3.5 c. Flour (All Purpose, Whole Wheat or mixture of both)
1.5 c. Lukewarm Water
1/4 c. Sugar (or honey)
1 T. Yeast
2 T. Oil
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
9x13 Pan, greased

1.  Mix together water and yeast to activate.  
2.  Put dry ingredients together and then mix in wet ingredients until well combined.
3.  Let rise is warm place for about 30 minutes.
4.  Then shape until either hot dog or hamburger buns.  Place in greased 9x13" pan.  Let rise for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  (it's ok that they touch...they will still break apart after they are baked!)
5.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then the rest of the way on a cooling rack!
Hot out of the oven!
Then just split open with knife or fork and serve along with appropriate meat!  Enjoy!  :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

I love cukes.  There's just something about them.  They are crisp, cool and so summery!  I love them plain, marinated or as pickles!  So I decided to try my hand at doing just some quick fridge pickles.  Here's how they turned out!  :)  Did I mention, they are super easy too?!?  No canning needed to make great pickles at home!!  :)  In fact....I like the way they turned out so much that I told my hubby that I may not be buying pickles at the store anymore....  So try these out for yourselves!

For a Pint of Refrigerator Pickles:
1 Pint Jar (with lid)
~3 cucumbers, sliced (peeled or not)
1 t. Salt
1 c. White Distilled Vinegar
1/4 c. Sugar
1 t. Peppercorns
1 t. Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 t. Coriander
Dash of Dill Weed
A few onion slices, optional

1.  Place the sliced cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle the salt all over them.  Make sure it covers them.  Let sit for a few minutes.
2.  Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil.
3.  Place peppercorns, red pepper flakes, coriander, dill weed and onion slices in the bottom of the jar.  
4.  Then layer the salted cucumbers on top of the spices.
 5.  Pour the boiling vinegar/sugar mixture into the jar ( and on top of the cukes).  Fill the jar to within about 1/2" of the top.
 6.  Place the lid on the jar and tightly fasten it.  Then shake some until the spices are moving around freely.  (Below is a pic trying to show how the spices should look....I had to lay it on its side in order to show that though...)
 7.  Place jar in the refrigerator for 2 days or about 48 hours, and viola!  
 You'll have pickles!!  Crispy, yummy, pickles!!!!  :)

These are the way I made them, and they have a bit of a kick to them.  Which my hubby and I like, but be sure to tweek the recipe to your tastes, k?  :)

4th of July Internet Food Roundup

Well, I thought long and hard about what to post for this National Holiday we have coming up...and came up with a round-up of some great Independence Day themed foods from the internet.  So here they are...Enjoy!  :)  They look great don't they?

Edible Eagles
Red, White and Blueberry Pie!

Flag Cake
Patriotic Trifle
Fruit Flag

Lovely patriotic rice crispie treats!
Several ideas for ya...
Why should we limit it to sweets?  You can make anything these adorably patriotic sliders!  :)
Don't forget to end it the night with bang with these firework cupcakes!  :)
Hope this give y'all some colorful and patriotic ways to celebrate Independence Day through food this year!!  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Iced Coffee/Iced Cappuccino Concentrate

If you're suffering from hot (and possibly humid) days, you're probably looks for some relief from the heat!  So, why not make some concentrated coffee up for iced coffees and iced cappuccinos! :)  Yum!  I finally took photos while doing cold brewed coffee this time but only on my phone...better than nothing but still not the best.  I guess you can't win them all though, right?  :)

Here's how to do it.  It's not rocket science, it's just cold brew coffee and you don't even need any nifty new gadgets.  Although the Toddy System would make this even more of a breeze! :)

What you'll need:
1 c. (or more if you want) Ground Coffee* 
8 c. Water** 
Milk, sugar, vanilla, flavoring syrups, etc...for later on if so desired. :)

* Coffee--any kind really, but you do get what you pay for...usually at least :)
** Water--Room temperature, filtered or not. :) (I used filtered, because that's how I roll.)

Now, put the coffee grounds into the bottom of a large bowl and then pour the water over them.  Stir to make sure all coffee grounds are wet.  Place lid, or saran wrap, on top to cover and let sit overnight or about 12 hours.  

I used my 8c. Anchor Hocking mixing bowl (with lid) and it fit this all just perfectly.  Just be careful when carrying...  :)  

After it's been 12 hours (give or take 4 or so) it's ready to be purged of the grounds.  I like to use this mesh strainer(above), with a regular (8-12c.) coffee filter (this one is unbleached if you wonder why it's brown not white) inside like so(below).
Then, just carefully pour the cold (well rook temp) coffee mixture into the filter and into a clean bowl.  Filter all the coffee mixture until it is done.  
Beware this process of filtering does take some time.  I have never timed it, but it probably takes around 20 minutes to filter the 8 c. of coffee concentrate.  Just FYI.  It is worth it though. :)

Then store coffee concentrate*** in the fridge, preferably in a glass container such as the bowl mentioned above that I made this in.  I always end up washing it and pouring this concentrate back in to store.  You can figure out which way works best for you though!  Coffee does stain things counters (if spilled and left for a while) and at least some plastic containers.  So just be aware of what you are storing the coffee concentrate in, k?  :)  

***--You can feel free to sweeten your coffee concentrate after filtering it and before refrigerating it.  You can stir it right in and then refrigerate as normal.  I would however wait to mix in the milk until you are ready to drink it.  :)  Unless of course you are serving this for a party or something.  Then I think you can make it a day ahead of time or so with milk and all mixed in and be fine.  :)
Then once you have your concentrate all ready to go and chilled. All you have to do is pour it over some ice and go.  Or of course you could make an iced cappuccino by adding about 1 part coffee concentrate and 1 part milk and sweeten if desired.  
I like to sweeten my iced cappucinos with Vanilla Extract and Sugar because they remind me of the iced caps I would get from a certain coffee shop I used to work at in CO.  But experiment with it and find your perfect flavor combo! :)  Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homemade Pancakes

Here's a quick and easy recipe for Pancakes from scratch, that you can add blueberries or chocolate chips to for a treat! :)
One plain pancake and one blueberry pancake!  Yum! :)

2 c. Flour
1/4 c. Sugar
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Baking Powder
2 Eggs
2 T. Oil
1 c. Water (or milk)
Optional:  Fresh Blueberries or Chocolate Chips

Mix together dry ingredients.  Then stir in eggs, oil and water until combined but still lumpy.  Preheat a skillet or griddle and pour batter to make your desired shape/size of pancakes.  Then add some blueberries or chocolate chips if desired.  Flip once the batter has bubbles all over it, and wait until the pancake is finished cooking.  (I use Medium to Medium High heat and it doesn't take long.)  (Sorry I didn't take any pics of the process of cooking the pancakes, but I'm pretty sure most -- if not all of us-- have done it a million times before anyway!  :)

Ready to be served!  Yum! :)

Serve warm with syrup and enjoy!  :)  Perfect for breakfast or dinner! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

You may remmeber that I just went berry picking this weekend.  So I had to make some goodies with our finds.  This is the first.  :)  A classic blueberry muffin!  You can eat them warm, room temp and ever freeze them super easily!  What's not to love right? :) Check out my post on how I acquired this little goodies here, if you'd like!  :)  Happy berries!

Blueberry Muffins:  (makes 12)
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. milk*
2 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 to 1-1/2 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Thoroughly mix together flour, sugar, oil, milk, eggs, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Then carefully fold in blueberries.  Pour or spoon into either greased muffin tins or paper baking cups.  Bake for 15-20* minutes or until golden brown.  

Then either eat warm or room temp.  :)  These are great, and could easily be make using whole wheat flour too.  :)  And you could through in some other berries to make them wild berry muffins...just sayin.  ;) 

*For high altitudes increase the milk to 1/2 c. plus 2 T.  and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 20-30minutes.  And you may also have to make 14 muffins instead of 12. :) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Berry picking at Herndon Hills Farm in Durham, NC

Just a few of the blueberries we got today!  Aren't they huge? :)
I've been searching to find places to pick fruit (and veggies if possible) in the Triangle region and this was the first place that actually has blueberries this year!  So, my hubby and I ventured over to Herndon Hills Farm that is just a short (about 1 mile drive) from Southpoint Mall in Durham this morning.  They are open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7am-12pm for blueberry and blackberry picking.  Then in the fall they have Muscadine grapes to pick!  Yummy!  :)  And everything there is super healthy because they don't spray their bushes or fruit with any pesticides!  Great news huh?

We had a great time picking this morning.  We got there just after 7am, and the morning couldn't have been more perfect.  It was overcast and quite cool, which turns out to be perfect berry picking weather.  It's best to not wear sunglasses when picking blueberries (probably other berries too) because you can see what color the they are better.  (To avoid picking under ripe berries.)  There were other people picking at the farm but plenty of room for us all.  There was also a plethora of blueberries to pick, and blackberries too!  Here are some pics from our adventure!  We completely recommend this place!  The farm was neat and easy to navigate, super  nice and reasonably priced! :)

One view of Herndon Hills Farm. 
Part of the blueberry patch at Herndon Hills Farm.
(Notice all the nice grassy paths to walk on!)
My hubby about to pick our first blueberry today!
Here you can see several different stages of blueberry growth. So patriotic huh?  :)
All our blueberries.
My hubs about to grab a blackberry.
Close up, of a blackberry.  So similar to raspberries but different.
Some blooms left on a blackberry plant.
A partial view of the blackberry vineyard (or patch?) at Herndon Hills farm.
(Again you can see the nice grass to walk on--SO nice!:)
Another view of Herndon Hills Farm.  You can see the Muscadine vineyard in this one, and some more of the lake and blackberries...
Again, I just can't say enough great things about this farm!  It's not the biggest, but it's definitely worth it!  Friendly staff and great fruit!  Today we paid $2.75/lb. for blueberries and $3.00/lb. for blackberries--prices may change though.  Which if you do the math, is way cheaper than grocery store prices. (especially for pesticide-free!)  We love this place and will definitely be going back this summer!  In fact, we may be going back next week!  :)  Be on the lookout for recipes coming soon....using this wonderful berries!  :)  I already made some from scratch blueberry muffins this morning! :)

Hush Puppies

I love these things.  When we lived in CO the only place you could get hush puppies was Long John Silvers.  Well, since we live in the South we've realized that you can get them....just about everywhere!  Which is a definite bonus.  But, not all hush puppies are made equal of course.  :)  So, do some experimenting when you make yours until you get them just how you like them!  :)  These are good for a pinch but I will be making them from scratch soon to see if I can get them to taste more like my faves from restaurants.  :)

Hush Puppies:
Corn Muffin Mix (Homemade or store bought)
Milk and egg to go with mix
Finely minced onions if desired

1.  You guessed it...I used a mix.  (This time around at least...)  And I decided to go with trusty Jiffy.  (Because they are cheap and easy to have on hand, and typically Jiffy mixes turn out really well! :)  I prepared this according to the package instructions.
 2.  Heat some oil in a pot (or deep fryer or electric skillet) and you can either drop by the spoonful like this to make them....(cook until golden to brown on each side)
 Or you can use the bag technique for a Southern touch of hush puppy delight. ;)  (We have these little skinny long ones here.)  Just put the batter in a bag and snip of the corner.  Then pipe kind of like frosting into the hot oil.  (Carefully!)
 3.  Then take the hush puppies out once they are either golden brown or brown.  (Whichever you prefer.)  Try not to kind of burn them like this one in the picture...  (If they are browning too quickly on the outsides and the middles are still gooey the oil is too hot!)
Somehow this was the only pic I got of any of them tonight...I guess we were hungry. ;)

Friday, June 17, 2011


You may have heard of falafel before....or maybe you haven't.  It's pretty popular in parts of the US and in the Middle East.  Turns out it's pretty easy to make at home too!  It's also a great way to use up hummus you may have around and/or get your kids to eat something pretty healthy for them.  (That they may not have eaten otherwise like hummus.)

Hummus (Store bought or homemade)
Slotted Spoon that's heat resistant

1.  Start out by scooping (with a cookie scoop or spoon) some hummus.
 2.  Place the scoop in some flour in a bowl.  Then make sure the hummus gets covered in flour.
 3.  Place the flour covered hummus ball in some heated oil* and watch it transform into a crispy delight!
 4.  After it's golden on the first side flip it over and let it get golden on the other.  (It doesn't take long.)
5.  Using a slotted spoon get the falafel out of the oil and place on a plate covered in paper towels. (Like so)  Repeat until you are done! :)
 Can be eaten alone, in a sandwich or pita bread.  Don't you think they look a lot like chicken nuggets?  I do...anyway, they are way healthier than chicken nuggets, even though these are still fried.  :)
*I used a pot with about 3/8" of oil in it and started on medium high heat then reduced to medium heat.  I would really recommend using a deep fryer or thermostatically controlled electric skillet or something--because it would be way easier.  Just fyi.  :)  I will next time....

Easy Homemade Hummus

Whether you like hummus alone, on crackers or veggies or as falafel.  This recipe is sure to please your taste-buds and waistline!  (Notice this recipe has no oil in it!:)

1 can of Chick Peas (Garbonzo Beans), drained
1 T. Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt
Dash of Pepper
Garlic if desired

Combine the chick peas, lemon juice, salt, pepper and if desired garlic in a blender.  Add water until it is well combined and to your desired consistency.

Enjoy with crackers, veggies or make falafel with it!  :) Sorry it's not a great pic...this was when I was about to make falafel with my hummus!  :)
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