Rantings of an Amateur Chef Featuring Me!

Today is the day!  I am a guest blogger on Rantings of an Amateur Chef!

Please go and see my post today and please take some time to read his posts.

He has a fabulous blog!  I’m sure he has inspired many an amateur chef or cook with his posts.

Hurry, go, see, enjoy!

http://rantingchef.com/2013/01/09/guest-blog-post-multitaskers-meal/

Advertisements

Trout & Butternut Squash

I don’t know if I have mentioned this or not, but I am not fond of cleaning up after I’ve made a meal.  I do my best to keep the number of pots and pans to a minimum when cooking.  I did a superb job of it when I made this meal.  I used one baking pan and since I used parchment paper clean up was a cinch!

I took my butternut squash and put it on a parchment paper lined baking pan.  I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over it.  I added some fresh rosemary, thyme and sage and a bit of salt.  Tossed it all together and pushed it to one side of the pan.

I took another piece of parchment paper and put two pieces of trout on it.  I sprinkled them with some ground chipotle and rosemary and drizzled some lime juice over them.  I folded the parchment paper around it and put it on the other side of the baking pan.

I baked them together for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  I like my veggies to still be a bit firm.  So if you want yours well done, I suggest cooking the squash about 15 minutes or so first then putting the fish on.  Oh, and however long you cook it, turn the squash halfway through the cooking.

Trout

Trout

IMG_3095

Squash and trout

Squash and trout

Plated sqaush and trout

Plated squash and trout

Chocolate Torte – Baked – Super easy!

This is the second of the two chocolate tortes I made over the holidays.  I made this one for my Mom’s birthday.

Torte Ingredients:

4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp strongly brewed coffee

3 large eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)

1/2 tsp allspice

Ganache Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 tsp allspice

Supplies Needed:

Measuring cups and spoons

Double boiler or equivalent

Rubber spatula

Whisk

Pan to heat cream in

Prepared pan for torte

Instructions for Torte:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare your baking pan by greasing it with butter or oil.  I used coconut oil.

In your double boiler melt the coconut oil and chocolate together.  Once melted, transfer to mixing bowl.

Melt chocolate

Melt chocolate & oil

Add salt, coffee and eggs.  Beating until smooth.

Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until done (passes knife test).

Bake

Bake

Cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and turn out onto serving plate.  Allow cake to cool completely.

Ganache Instructions:

Heat the cream over gentle heat stirring constantly.  Heat until it is hot to the touch.  Remove from heat and add allspice and chocolates.  Stir until smooth.

Mix until smooth

Mix until smooth

Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.

Pour over cake. I put the left over chopped nuts from the No Bake Torte I made on top.  Chill for at least one hour.

Chillin

Chillin

Chocolate Torte – No bake

Over the holidays I made two chocolate tortes.  Today I am going to show you the no bake one I made.

Ingredients:

8 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped ( I used Ghiradelli 70 % Extra bittersweet)

8 oz heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 tbsp strongly brewed coffee

1/4 tsp salt

one cup toasted, finely chopped almonds

Supplies:

skillet to toast almonds

food processor to chop almonds

double boiler or equivalent

rubber spatula

whisk

measuring spoons and cups

knife

cutting surface

baking pan

pan for heating cream

Oil or butter to grease pan

The first thing I did was toast some almonds then chop them in the food processor.  I wanted them finely chopped.  I toasted them in a dry skillet over medium high heat.

Toast almonds in a dry skillet

Toast almonds in a dry skillet

Chop in food processor

Chop in food processor

Toast and chop almonds

Toast and chop almonds

Chop the chocolate

chop chocolate

chop chocolate

I melted the chocolate in my “homemade double broiler” (a glass measuring cup over a pot of boiling water).  Worked like a charm.

Melt chocolate

Melt chocolate

Melting chocolate

Melting chocolate

Heat cream over gentle heat and stir in allspice, coffee, salt and orange extract.

Add allspice, coffee and orange extract

Add allspice, coffee, salt and orange extract

Heat cream over gentle heat

Heat cream over gentle heat

Stir it constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan.  When the cream is hot to the touch, remove from the heat and add the melted chocolate and stir to mix.

Add chocolate

Add chocolate

Stir to mix

Stir to mix

Ganache

Ganache

Pour into prepared (grease with butter or oil – I used coconut oil) pan and cover with nuts.

Pour chocolate into pan

Pour chocolate into pan

Cover with nuts

Cover with nuts

Chill a few hours to overnight.  When ready to serve, remove from the pan, let it come to room temperature (ten minutes or so) slice and serve.

Please note, if you aren’t fond of bittersweet chocolate, exchange half of it for a sweeter chocolate.

Homemade Crackers

I’m still on a low carb kick. It is a lot harder than I expected. I’m always on the lookout for a low carb replacement for high carb deliciousness. Last night I made some flax seed crackers to eat with my soup. They were delicious. I can already see them being a staple with soup. They are so versatile you can flavor them with anything!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Here’s what you’ll need:

400 degree oven

Baking pan

Parchment paper or baking paper or silicone mat

Medium sized bowl for mixing

1 cup flax seed meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

chives to taste

sesame seeds to taste

Mix the dry ingredients together then add water and mix.

Mix dry ingredients

Mix dry ingredients

Pour, spoon or use method of your choice to put the mixture onto parchment paper or silicone baking paper.

I laid another sheet of baking paper on top and smoothed it out with my hand. I did not want to get out my rolling pin for some reason.

Roll out to desired thickness

Roll out to desired thickness

As you can see in the above picture I am smoothing it out as I took the picture. As for how thin to make it…. It is your cracker so your choice. If you like it thin roll it out thin. Whatever thickness you choose be consistent. The thinner it is the faster it will bake. So you don’t want parts of it to be thin and other parts to be thick.

I did not take the time to make sure mine was perfectly shaped. I really didn’t care. I was in a hurry to get it in the oven and baking so I could try them. I can be so impatient!

Rolled out crackers

Rolled out crackers

I was worried about cutting them afterwards so I scored them before I baked them.

Scored crackers

Scored crackers

I baked them for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven then cut them while they were still warm. I also ate my first one while they were still warm. YUMMY!

Cut crackers

Cut crackers

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

MMMMMMM. Just look at all that cracker-y goodness!

We ate them with some hummus and our soup (click on links to see posts on those). I made about 24 crackers and we ate them all. I think next time I will try garlic and rosemary and see how delicious those turn out! How about some spice for some low carb fire crackers? Oh the possibilities are endless!

You know… you could even involve the kids with the rolling out. If they helped make it they would eat it. Think of it as a sneaky way to get your kids to make a healthier choice.

Quilts as Gifts

If I planned this correctly, I should be posting this after Christmas so no one sees what their gift will be…  If not, well then surprise!

I’ve been working ever so hard on Christmas gifts for my family.  So far I’ve completed two.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but there were some birthday gifts I had to make in between them.  I also made numerous scarves for gifts as well.  Those you’ll see in a different post!  Here are the quilts I’ve completed.

My brother in law is a UT graduate and a UT fan, so of course I made this:

UT Quilt

UT Quilt

My brother in law is going to have a hard time choosing which quilt to use.  The Star Wars Quilt was for his birthday.

The story behind this next one is dear to my heart.  When we were children my sister and I shared a set of Peanuts bed sheets.  Why we only had one set is beyond me (we probably started out with two and one of us ruined a set, would be my guess).  Oh and we had this cool poster of Snoopy dancing with a caption reading Feeling Groovy!  Anyway, back on track… Each week the sheets would be washed and we would trade off who got the Peanuts sheets.  Knowing me there were many weeks when I attempted to bargain with my sister and get sheets for an additional week.  I can hear me now… I’ll clean up your side of the room for a week if you will let me use those sheets this week.

The only thing that remains of those sheets is one pillowcase that is in my sister’s possession.  She’s repaired it numerous times, but the fabric is wearing thin.  Picture me wiping away a tear as I type this.  Really.

I came across some peanuts fabric on one of my many trips to Joann’s.  I had to buy it. It isn’t perfect.  The bed sheets we had were white, but it is Peanuts.  Since this fabric is blue, I used red on the back to make it more girly.  I hope she likes it!

Peanuts Quilt

Peanuts Quilt

She loved it.  She slept with her pillowcase that night!

Coconut Salt Scrub

I made my own salt scrub and then made extra to give away as gifts along with some of my homemade lip balm.  It was super simple.  I don’t know why I’ve been buying it for so long!

Ingredients:

Coconut Oil

Olive Oil

Salt

Essential oil (optional)

There are numerous variations of this.  Find some oils you are happy with and use those.  Right now I am in love with coconut oil and I always have olive oil on hand.  Since coconut oil becomes a solid at room temperature, I thought I’d blend in and equal amount of olive oil to keep it from totally solidifying.  Then I mixed in a bunch of salt and a few drops of essential oil (my choice was grapefruit oil).

Start with the coconut oil.  Since it is a solid you’ll want to break it up.  Put it in the your mixer and whip it.  At first, you’ll be doubting me, but keep at it, it will whip.  Once it has whipped, add some olive oil and mix the two.

Olive and coconut oils

Olive and coconut oils

Whip the coconut and olive oils

Whip the coconut and olive oils

Mixed oils

Mixed oils

Once the two are mixed, add some essential oil (optional) Add as little or as much as you like.  I find it best to only use a little, but you aren’t making it for me.  Then add salt.  Lots of salt.  You want it to look grainy and thick.  The salt is what is going to scrub all that dead skin off you!

Add salt, lots of salt

Add salt, lots of salt

Add essential oil

Add essential oil

Mix it all together with a spatula.  Then transfer it to jars for gifts or some other storage container for yourself.  I used a 1/4 measure scoop to fill the jars I purchased.

Stored mine in a bowl by the sink.

Stored mine in a bowl by the sink.

Jars

Jars

Filled jars

Filled jars

Apply liberally to hands and scrub over the sink.

Scoop up some out of the container.

Scoop up some out of the container.

Rinse with warm water.  If you hands feel too oily, then use soap to wash them.  If you use soap to wash, you will want to moisturize your hands afterwards so you don’t dry out your newly exfoliated skin.

My before hand

My before hand

My after hand

My after hand

His before hand

His before hand

His after hand

His after hand