Friday, October 30, 2009

Homemade Bagels

Okay, I bought some organic cream cheese and really wanted to try it, but had nothing to put it on. So I decided okay.. I'm going to attempt to make homemade bagels. I always thought they would be really hard to make, but I was so wrong.

This recipe is so easy and took a total of about an hour, including cook time. The original recipe is from a guy who used to wake up at 5am and make them every day for his bakery, and I was pleased not to have to adjust the recipe all that much, I think you may need a little more than 4 cups of flour, but not by a lot.

What you'll need;

4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 packet instant yeast)
1-1/4 cups of water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.

Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.

Pre heat your oven to 425.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant roiling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect, it just takes practice!

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes, and meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.

After the 20 minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. Take them out a let dry for a minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Add the tray to the oven, and after 10 minutes, flip the bagels over, bake for another ten minutes; and they're done!

They are sooo good! Give it a try, it's not that hard!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spicy Curry Chicken

This was what we had on Friday night and it was delicious. I happen to love chicken, rice and spicy foods. It wasn't all that spicy, just a tiny tiny hint of it.

Typically when making curry you cut the chicken up into tiny pieces or cubed chicken, so if you want to do that you can. We decided last minute not to, because we just wanted to enjoy cutting the chicken open and eating it haha.

What you'll need:

4 pieces of boneless chicken breast (or 1lb of cubed chicken breast)
1.5 cups of water
2 tablespoons Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Ground Mustard
3 tablespoons Spicy Curry
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
2-3 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
2 teaspoons Parsley
1 tablespoonOregano
1 teaspoon Thyme

1 teaspoon Sage
1 cup Tequila (may be substituted with extra water, though it wont have the same flavor without it)
1 teaspoon Rosemary
2 tablespoons Paprika

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sour Cream

Add water, tequila, Worcestershire sauce and chicken to the pan on medium heat, as the chicken is cooking add all of the spices. Then flip over and cook on the other side. The spices will come off in the liquid and flavor the entire chicken. Delicious!

This is what the chicken looked like as we were cooking it with all the spices.

The hubby wanted mashed potatoes with his chicken, I had mine with long grain brown rice. It was delicious.


Tomato Basil Soup and Mini Meatballs

Okay, so I know I haven't updated in a few days, but I have been cooking, do not worry!

I got very busy making a blanket for baby Juliet, updating my website, and taking care of my little teething angel ;-)

So this recipe is Tomato Basil Soup, it's pretty easy, I didn't make the tomato base myself because I didn't have the time, but if you do you just need to puree 5-6 tomatoes and boil it with a cup of milk.

What you'll need:

2 cans of unseasoned tomato sauce
1.5 - 2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon Basil
2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Sage
1 tablespoon Oregano
1 tsp Cayenne

Heat the tomato sauce up until boiling, add the milk and spices, stir until warm.

Mini Meatballs:

1 lb Ground Meat (we used turkey, but you can use beef, lamb, chicken, whatever you usually use)
1 cup bread crumbs (to make yourself, toast bread and crumble)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 egg
2/3 cup oil for frying (I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

In a medium bowl add all ingredients and mix together, roll into small balls. This makes approximately 50 mini-meatballs. While you are preparing your meatballs turn the stove on medium-high with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, but not enough that it would drown the meatballs. *NOTE* When dealing with heating up oil, you want to make sure your pan is completely DRY before adding the oil to heat up, otherwise as it heats the water and oil will start to spark and it can hurt and burn. So DRY pan before heating up the oil!

Add the meatballs to the heated oil. You can put a lid on and cook for 15-20 minutes, checking periodically to turn the meatballs so they don't burn on any sides.

I personally like putting the meatballs into the soup, however, we have picky people in our family so we had them separately.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vanilla Cake and Buttercream Frosting

Last night the baby kept me up quite a bit. She's going through her 8 month old "sleep regression", when their brain is developing rapidly so they have a hard time sleeping. So today, I didn't feel like making some long elaborate meal.

I had intended to make spicy tortilla soup, but once I got back from my walk and looked at the ingredient list I realized the only thing we had was tortillas, and I wasn't going to go off my budget and spend more money.

So I made more stuffed shells, and decided to make a homemade cake for my recipe.

Now typically I make this AMAZING chocolate cake that has espresso in it, and it's definitely my favorite, but today I wanted to try a Yellow/ Vanilla cake. It wasn't as delicious as the chocolate cake, but it was decent. It was a little bit dense though, if you could fluffen it up a bit then it would have been much better. I'm just not exactly sure how to do so! If you do, let me know so I can do it next time!

What you'll need: (for the cake)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
The original recipe comes from "All Recipes" I love that site, it's so great.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9x13 inch pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
For the Buttercream Frosting:

Once again the recipe comes from "All Recipes"

Now, I cut way back on this recipe because the original recipe calls for 8 cups of confectioners sugar, and really.. I don't need 8 cups worth of frosting, that's a lot! So here is the modified version;

2 cups of confectioners sugar (I make this by using organic sugar processed in a VitaMixer)
1/4 cup of butter (do not substitute, it's called "buttercream" for a reason!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixing bowl cream the butter until smooth, beat in sugar and vanilla until smooth. Once you get that far, add a tiny bit of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.


~ Cherise

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seasoned Chicken and Risotto

So, tonight we decided to make seasoned chicken and risotto. I have only ever attempted risotto once before, and I ruined it. It's supposed to be simple to make!

4 pieces of boneless chicken breast
3 cups of water

Put the chicken in a pan with the water, cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until it is no
longer pink in the middle (it may take longer if you have thicker pieces of chicken).

Add the following spices/seasonings to the chicken:

Garlic Powder- 2 Tablespoons
Ginger- 1 teaspoon
Paprika - 2 teaspoons
Sage - 1/2 teaspoon
Oregano - 1 teaspoon
Thyme - 1/4 teaspoon
Black Pepper - to taste
Salt - to taste
Onion Powder - 1 teaspoon
Ground Mustard - 1 teaspoon
Rosemary - 1/4 teaspoon
Parsley - 1/4 teaspoon
Cayenne - 1/4 teaspoon

Yes, we like LOTS of flavor! All of those measurements are just estimates, as we just eyeball it and toss it in.

Cover and let simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes. We ended up dicing it up because it feeds more people when it's diced - people tend to eat less instead of eating a whole chicken breast by themselves :) Plus, it's more fun to toss on top of the risotto.

For the risotto;

Okay, so here's what happened - I followed this recipe from Bella Online - I did it word for word, direction for direction... and it took me over 3 hours to cook, I stopped listening to the directions when it said "do not boil" because the rice was just not cooking through, it finally did, but my goodness, I was not expecting it to take THAT long. My suggestion is, boil rice as you normally would except boil it in chicken broth, then follow the following directions;
What you'll need:

2 cups of rice

1.5 cups white wine (if you don't have wine you can substitute chicken broth)

1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder

2 Tablespoons onion powder (or you can saute one medium onion)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

In a frying pan add a small amount of wine - just enough to get the bottom of the pan wet, but not soak the rice. As it boils out, add more, once you get the consistency that you like add the cheese, warm and serve.

Ours turned out yummy by (mostly) following the recipe from Bella Online, however, like I said, it took for-ev-er.

Hopefully you'll have better luck than we did with it. My husband thought it was good and filled up on it!

We also had left over sweet potatoes from the other night, and some sweet peas :)

Total Cost for this meal (Served 5): $6.98

Leave your comments!


Recipe Ideas?

If you have a recipe you want me to try and post the results here, leave a comment below!

Cherise <3

Why I Eat Organically (most of the time)

When I cook, I do my best to use organic ingredients (sometimes it's easier than others). So many people have asked me why I do this, because to them organic means "5 times more expensive" It doesn't mean "healthier".

In reality eating organic foods is much healthier than non-organic foods, even fruits and vegetables. Why? Well for starters anything that is not organic has chemicals, preservatives, hormones, or various other things added to them - especially in milk and meat.

Fruits and Vegetables that are not organic are chemically engineered to withstand 5 rounds of Round-Up (the weed killer), which is extremely toxic and has been known as one of the biggest causes for crop workers to become ill. (check out what scientists have to say)

When growing non-organic sugar beets and canola (like in canola oil) Glufosinate is used, and has been known to cause birth defects.

Other pesticides that are used on crops have been linked to certain types of cancer.
There have also been numerous reports of non-organic farms using human waste to fertilize their land. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly want human feces on my food.

Milk that is organic, means that the cows are fed grass - not corn - they are not given hormones to fatten them up and make them produce milk. I recently had a friend tell me that her husband thought he had a milk allergy, until he switched to organic milk and was able to drink it. Turns out he was allergic to the common hormone they give cows to make them produce more milk called rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone.

This article talks about how pesticide residues from non-organic farming has been found to be above the 'safe level' amongst US citizens. (article from Pesticide Action Network)
"The CDC datashow that the average 6 to 11 year-old sampled is exposed to the OP pesticidechlorpyrifos at four times the level U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(U.S. EPA) considers "acceptable" for long-term exposure." (from above article)

Is organic more expensive? Yes, it is. But it is still affordable, our food bill (which feeds 3-5 every meal) for last week was $35.00, and this week it was $49.00.

I decided that the health and well-being of my family was more important than the convenience of having ready-made meals. Not only do we feel better, we don't get sick as often as other people we know, and it tastes better!

Now is the time to start taking responsibility for your body and what you put into it.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Potato Cheddar Soup

This was SO delicious! I think I had 3 bowls of it at dinner time. Like so many other things, I had never had this before but it sounded delicious, and boy was I right!

The original recipe comes from and I did A LOT of tweaking to it. The original recipe just didn't have enough of anything.

What you'll need;

4 medium sized potatoes - you can also substitute sweet potatoes for a healthier version (they taste exactly the same)
3 - 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon parsley

2 cups of cheddar cheese - shredded
1 - 1/2 cups of milk

The first thing you'll want to do is peel and dice the potatoes. Then put the potatoes in a pan over high heat, along with the 3-1/2 cups of chicken broth, add all of the seasonings and boil for about 20 minutes, or until a fork pokes through the potatoes easily. Turn the heat down to medium/low heat, scoop out half of the mixture and blend it in a food processor.

Re-add the blended portion to the rest of the soup, then add the milk and shredded cheese. Mix until melted and warm.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4-5

I am sure you will love this recipe, it is so good! We also had pita bread along side as a dipper :)

Let me know what you think once you try it!

~ Cherise

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ginger Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

Okay, so I know tonight's "dinner" was weird, hummus, homemade pita breads, and mashed sweet potatoes. But that's what I felt like eating! So that's what we ate. I am a HUGE fan of sweet potatoes. I could eat them all day, every day.

I have never been successful at making baked sweet potatoes, so I thought I would try my hand at making them like mashed potatoes. I added cinnamon and ginger to this recipe because they have so many health benefits it's unbelievable. Ginger also fights off colds :)

What you'll need:

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk (remember people, organic is best!) or you can substitute water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ginger

Bring a pot of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel the potatoes, and cut them up into cubes - careful, sweet potatoes can be difficult to cut!

Once the water comes to a boil, add the cubed sweet potatoes and cover the pot.

The potatoes need to boil for about 20 minutes, or until you poke a fork through them and they fall apart easily. Once they are boiled, drain the water, and mash them. I had to use a fork because I don't have a potato masher, but it all turns out the same!

Mix in the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in the potatoes and serve :) Yum yum!

Eat up!


Garlic Hummus

Now, I have only had hummus once. However, after making homemade pita bread, I wanted something to go with them! So I made this hummus which was actually quite good.

The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of roasted garlic, I only had minced garlic, so I used that instead - and only added 1 teaspoon. 1 teaspoon of minced garlic was still a bit much for me, but my husband (who loves garlic) said it was perfect. For this recipe I am cutting back on the garlic, but if you like it, add more!

1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) - drained
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of oregano

Put everything in your food processor and blend until you get a consistency that you like, if it's too thick add a little more olive oil to the mixture.

Super yummy and incredibly healthy! Garlic fights off infections, and has anti-bacterial properties, and chick peas (garbanzo beans) help to even out blood sugar levels, great for diabetics! It also contains a ton of fiber and protein.
Bon Apetite!


Homemade Pita Bread

I don't know about you, but I love pita bread. You can dip it, use it for sandwich bread, make chips from it, use it as a burger bun, make pita-pizzas and a lot more!

I've been doing my best to make everything homemade. When I read a recipe for making pita chips, I almost went to the store to buy pita bread when I realized; hey! I could make this on my own. So I did some searching and found a recipe for homemade pita bread, that was surprisingly easy.

The recipe comes from Good Eats Blog I did do a little tweaking as the original recipe calls for 3 cups of flour and it was much too sticky and non-dough like.

What you'll need:

4 cups of flour - I use unbleached or organic, much healthier for you!
1.5 teaspoons of salt - sea salt is best
1 packet (2-1/4 teaspoons) of Yeast
1-1/4 cups of water (If you want a fluffier bread use milk instead) - make sure that this is room temperature in order for it to activate the yeast.
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the olive oil and water and mix until the ingredients form a ball.

Once you have the ball formed, lightly flour a counter or cutting board and knead the dough for 10 minutes; or you can use an electric mixer for 10 minutes on low speed. I personally like kneading the dough by hand, it helps build those arm muscles!

Once you have kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, lightly oil a bowl. Form a ball with the dough and place in the bowl - I like to lightly oil the dough as well, typically this can be achieved just by rolling the ball of dough around the bowl. It helps so that the dough doesn't stick to the bowl once it has risen.

Lightly oil some plastic wrap, I usually just use Pam Olive Oil spray - it's so much easier than trying to oil plastic wrap - set the plastic wrap on top of the bowl and let it sit for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. To speed up the process a bit, I generally turn the oven on "warm" or 150-175º and let it sit in there for 60 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down to let out the excess air/gas that has built up. Form 8 balls out of the dough, and let them sit for 20 minutes to rest. The original recipe says to let them sit under a damp kitchen towel during this time, but I found it unnecessary to do so.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450º, using a baking stone works best for this recipe, but if you do not have one you can flip a cookie sheet over, and use the flat area as your area to cook.

When the dough has rested for 20 minutes, lightly flour an area to roll the dough out into 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick rounds, they should be approximately 6 inches around. You can use a rolling pin or your hands. I used my hands as I found it easier to do that way (I'm used to making pizza's by hand).

The original recipe says to let them sit for another 35-40 minutes, but I skipped this step (on accident) and they still turned out wonderfully - so do whichever you prefer!

Then place them on your baking stone or cookie sheet (I used my baking stone, if you don't have one, you should get one, they are awesome). However many you are able to fit you can cook, I personally put 3 in the oven at a time, but I probably could have squeezed a 4th on there.

Let them cook for 3-5 minutes, and you're done!

Tasty little pita breads :) Enjoy!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stay Healthy with Ginger Lemon Tea

It's that time of year where everyone is getting sick. The flu is going around, allergies are attacking, and the common cold is making its appearance.

I have been using this recipe for a few years to fight off colds, or even prevent them from happening in the first place. Recently studies have come out showing that this recipe actually cuts sickness time by 72%!

Basic ingredients:

Hot water
Lemon Juice

Garlic - added antioxidants, promotes the white blood cells, clears out bacteria.
Cayenne Pepper - boosts metabolism which helps get the white blood cells to the infection faster.

All you do is heat up your mug of water, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of honey and ginger and cinnamon to taste.

I had the flu while pregnant and when you are pregnant you're unable to take typical cold medications, I remembered this recipe and drank it twice a day. By the 3rd day the flu was completely gone, which was amazing!

So here's to staying healthy!


Stuffed Shells

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my blog. I had two goals in mind when I began cooking;
1.) Not to do the same boring stuff every night. I have a husband, and he needs to eat real food.
2.) To be as inexpensive as possible. I wanted to work with $35 a week to feed our family (which at this point also includes my mom, dad and brother).

After doing so well for a week, and everyone asking for my recipes I decided I would start a blog and keep track of the things I have cooked.

Tonight's dinner was a little bit different because I was only cooking for myself as everyone else was either working or off having fun at the movies. So, I decided to make stuffed shells.

What you'll need:
Jumbo Shells - typically 4-6 shells per person is needed. For this particular recipe I am using 12 shells.
Ricotta Cheese - 4 ounces
Mozzarella Cheese - 1 ounce (you can also add Parmesan or more mozzarella if you love cheese).
1 Egg
Marinara/Spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom of the dish and a little on top.
Whatever spices you like - I used onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, oregano and black pepper.
6 cups of water.
Oven-Safe baking dish

Preheat the oven to 350 while you prepare everything else.

Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil over the stove. While you are waiting for the water to boil, mix cheeses, egg, and spices in a bowl, once the water is boiling add the Jumbo shells until they are soft and cooked (typically about 4 minutes).

Drain all of the water from the noodles - it's best to use a colander - then carefully take the warm shells and hold them open with your fingers so that you can put the cheese mixture in. Be careful, because they will be hot and you don't want to burn yourself!

Once the cheese mixture is in the shells you'll want to take your oven-safe baking pan and add just enough sauce to cover the bottom.

Lay the stuffed shells in the baking pan and pour a thin layer of sauce over top so that the shells wont dry out in the oven.

Place the shells in the oven for 25 minutes, and you're done!

Now you can sit down and enjoy the tasty meal before you!