Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk

We go through quite a bit of almond milk in our house - if it wasn't for coffee we would probably only buy almond milk (we are both 2-cream 2-sugar kind of people).  We are huge fans of the chocolate variety as well, I can't wait to start experimenting with different chocolate recipes.

I really liked the homemade almond milk -  I was really surprised at just how creamy it was - it looked like whole milk!  I think if I were to buy fresher almonds (I got them from the bulk section of my small town grocery store) - it would have tasted even better. 
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 4 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
- 1/4 vanilla bean (optional)


Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover with water.  Soak for at least 6 hours.  The almonds can be soaked for up to 12 hours, but anything past 6 requires a change of water. 

Rinse and drain almonds, then peel the skins off.  It should be fairly easy to peel the them once they have soaked.

Place peeled almonds, vanilla bean, and 4 cups of filtered water in blender and blend until smooth (about a minute). 

Strain almonds using a nut milk bag if possible.  If you don't have a nut milk bag, you can use cheese cloth (I would double or triple layer it).  Strain twice to ensure smoother milk.  You no longer need the almond pulp for this recipe, but don't throw it out, it can be used in other recipes.

Store in a glass jar or other container in the fridge.  Shake well before using. 


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

I've been making these muffins for as long as I can remember.  It was the first muffin that I ever tried making on my own, so it's a great recipe for beginners.  I've tried making these before both with fresh blueberries and defrosted frozen berries, but I find they they turn out best when you use frozen berries.  This recipe makes 12 muffins. 

- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 7 tbsp butter, plus more for tins
- 1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- 1 3/4 cups frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add egg, egg yolks and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Set mixture on low and add flour and milk, alternate between the two, beginning and ending with flour.

Remove bowl from mixer and stir in frozen blueberries by hand.

Butter muffin tin and divide batter evenly among spaces.  Bake in preheated oven until muffins are lightly golden, about 30-35 minutes. 

Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.


- Nutritional Info (per muffin) -
Calories - 263   Fat - 8    Carbs - 47     Protein - 6    Fibre - 2

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Maple Vanilla Apple Crisp

I went in on a couple of pounds of vanilla beans with some friends last month so not only has my house  smelled amazing these past few weeks - I've been trying several new recipes as well.  This recipe calls for one of my favourites - vanilla sugar.  Vanilla sugar is a great way to get a real, fresh vanilla flavour into a recipe without having to scrape a fresh vanilla bean each time.  You also can't beat the awesome look of using real vanilla bean... everyone will think Martha Stewart was there! 

We had Uncle Frank over for dinner last Sunday and I served this crisp for dessert.  Marc ended up working out of town this week so I put the leftovers in his lunch on Monday.  He liked it so much I made up another crisp and divided it into containers for the rest of the week.  It keeps really well in the fridge, if it makes it that long!  

- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup old fashioned oats (really, any oats but steel cut will do)
- 3 lbs of apples, cored and sliced
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp juice, such as apple or lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Combine granulated sugar and vanilla sugar.  Set aside. 

Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tbsp vanilla sugar mixture.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Add oats and mix with hands.  Toss mixture in the fridge while you prepare the apples.

Wash apples and pat dry.  Core and slice apples, then toss with remaining vanilla sugar, maple syrup, juice and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.

Butter the inside of a pie plate (or baking dish) and add apples mixture.  Add topping and bake for 45-55 minutes,  until top is golden brown and juices are bubbling. 

Let cool for 10-15 minutes.  Serve with frozen yogurt or ice cream. 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Cheese "Goldfish" Crackers

This recipe marks my second newspaper feature with The Hinton VoiceYou can view past newspaper features here.

A big thanks to my friend Ashlee for letting me use her Canon to take these photo's (I may or may not have bribed her with a fresh batch of goldfish crackers). I am currently in the research phase of purchasing a new camera, and it's great being able to test drive a few models before making my decision.  Thanks again Ashlee!  :)

[You're in luck!  You get a two-for the price of one deal today!  Not only will you be able to make delicious cheese crackers, you will also be able to make simple homemade cookie cutters.

The cutters are incredibly easy and inexpensive - simply cut a clean pop can into strips and bend into the shape of your choosing (be wary of sharp edges).  I used a small piece of clear tape to seal the edges and hold the cutter in place. 

I've always wanted to make homemade crackers, but I've always been a little intimidated by the thought.  It seemed like a tedious, daunting task that only Martha Stewart would have time for.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  These cheese crackers are so simple - the dough only takes a few minutes to prepare.  This is the perfect rainy day activity to embark on with the children in your life.  I'll be babysitting my friend's daughter this weekend and I know that this recipe is going to be on our agenda.

This recipe makes quite a few crackers  - I managed to make more than 350 with my most recent batch.  I wouldn't recommend halving the recipe - just because they get eaten very quickly!  I've made these crackers several times now and not a single batch has made it to see a second day.]

- 8 oz (weighed) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional
- 4 tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
- 2 tbsp ice cold water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cheese, flour, and salt in food processor and pulse until combined.  Add butter and pusle until blended.  Add ice-cold water and pusle for a few seconds until a ball forms.  Chill dough in fridge for 15 minutes.

Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/8 inch thick. The dough must be thin, but don't worry, it will puff out nicely just like the store-bought variety.

Cut dough with a homemade goldfish cutter, or your favourite cookie cutter.  Icing tips also work quite well.

Place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  They are ready when the bottoms are light golden brown.


- Nutritional Info (per 10 crackers) -
Calories - 49   Fat - 4    Carbs - 2     Protein - 2    Fibre - 0

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