Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Pumpkin Love

I still have a ton of pumpkin recipes to share, and fall is slipping by quickly. I need to get moving before pumpkin season is over and everyone is all about gingerbread and candy cane treats. These pumpkin muffins are a twist off the delicious chocolate pumpkin combination. Carob powder replaces cocoa powder for a different, but still amazing, switch up from the usual. Enjoy!

Carob Pumpkin Muffins (6)
Carob Pumpkin Muffins
makes 16
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup carob powder
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and oil a muffin pan. Blend the oats into a flour using a high speed blender. Mix the flour, oat flour, carob, sugar, salt, and baking powder together. Whisk together the milk, eggs, pumpkin, and yogurt in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eastern European Comfort Food

The relatively young country of Belarus is squeezed in between the five countries of Russia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania. This is my first Eastern European dinner and an introduction into the meat and potato (or just potato in Belarus's case) diet of the region. It used the be owned by Russia during its communist period, and you can still see socialism reflected in the economy. Over half of the people are employed by the government, and most companies are state run.

When researching Belarusian food, all I kept coming up with was soup and their national dish of potato pancakes called draniki. I already made draniki back when I did my breakfasts around the world project, so I did not want to repeat it. I consulted one of my friends who is a mk (missionary kid) from Belarus, and he confirmed that draniki makes up the typical Belarusian's diet. The people are pretty poor, so meat is not often served. It's a pretty cold country, so soup is another staple dish. I found a great solution for my draniki dilemma when I discovered a similar dish called kolduny. It is basically just draniki stuffed with mushrooms. Paired with a warm mushroom soup, this meal is perfect cold weather comfort food suitable for any Belarusian winter night.
Draniki's stuffed cousin kolduny takes the same method of making the potato pancakes, adding a filling and extra layer before flipping. They are typically served with dill and sour cream.
For the potato pancakes:
2 large potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled
½ an onion
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, for frying

For the filling:
4 ounces chopped porcini mushrooms, either fresh or rehydrated in water
½ cup chopped onion
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp oil

oil, for frying
sour cream and dill, to serve

To make the filling, heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and onion, season to taste, and cook until the onion is tender. Set it aside to cool.

To make the pancakes, grate the potato and onion into a large bowl. Toss in some salt, wait a few minutes, and drain out the excess water. Whisk in the egg.

Heat a skillet over medium heat with about ¼” of oil in it. Drop in tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture, top with some of the filling, and press another tablespoonful of the potato mixture on top. Cook both sides until golden brown. Drain off the excess oil on paper towels and hold the finished pancakes in a warm oven until serving. Continue this process with the rest of the potatoes and filling. Serve with dill and sour cream.



 Wheat does not grow in Belarus very well because of the cold, so grains like barley and millet. This soup features the latter grain in a delicious mushroom broth.

¼ cup millet, soaked overnight
2 cups broth (use the liquid leftover from soaking the mushrooms if you are using dried mushrooms)
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
½ a carrot, diced
4 ounces chopped porcini mushrooms, either fresh or rehydrated in water
1 tbsp oil
½ cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the millet and broth to a boil in a small pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour. Meanwhile, chop up all the vegetables and heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Sautee the vegetables until the onion is tender. Add the vegetable mixture to the simmering broth, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, season to taste, and remove the pot from the heat.

Since I am not much of a fan of potatoes, I was ready for the worst in this meal. I think that because I prepared myself, it turned out to not be all that bad. I did find out that I like turnips from the soup. I found it a little ironic that in Belarus they use a lot of mushrooms to replace meat because meat is too expensive. Here in the states a serving of meat is a lot cheaper than quality mushrooms. With all the vegetables and stuff that went into this meal, it turned out to be a little on the expensive side. (Well, more expensive than ramen and popcorn.) It's so interesting that something that is true in one part of the world is the complete opposite in another.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hidden Message Butterfly Card

The shutter opening and closing method has been one of my favorite card techniques as of late. It's just so cool to pull apart the two sides of the card to make the message appear and disappear.

Here is the shutter method applied to a butterfly themed birthday card. The polka dots bring a fun and lighthearted mood to the card.

And the sliding message just puts it over the top. Enjoy! I know your creations will be just as fun to make and give!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chocolate Magic Shell

We're having a heat wave here in Tennessee, and I am loving it. It's the perfect opportunity to whip up some hot weather treats like ice cream. I have shared tons of ice cream recipes, but have not shared many topping ideas. Tonight I have a simple pourable, chocolaty topping. It's so easy to make that, with the right three ingredients, you could whip it up in less than a minute. It's chocolate magic shell! Way better than any science experiment bottled kind that you can buy, mine works perfectly poured over cold ice cream so it can harden into its chocolate amazingness.

chocolate magic shell (1)
Chocolate Magic Shell
serves 1
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Combine the oil and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave until the oil has melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and pour over your desired ice cream.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A New Culinary Encounter

The uniquely shaped Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia.  You might know it by its former name of Burma. The English name for the country of the Burmese has been up for debate, and it has gone from being called the Union of Burma to the Union of Myanmar, and finally the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. A lot of this confusion probably stems from the fact that the Burmese have two different names for their country used in two different contexts. "Myanma" is the written name and "Bama" is the spoken form. How cool is that! As a linguist, I find this very intriguing.
Let's leave behind all caution and run full out into some delicious Burmese cuisine. Be prepared to use a variety of unconventional and somewhat scary ingredients like the ever present fish sauce loved by the people of Myanmar. The cuisine is influenced by other Asian countries like India, China, and Thailand as well as the religious practices. Although most of the people are Buddhist, there is a significant Muslim population who do not eat pork as well as the Hindu population that does not eat beef. A vegetarian salad and a chicken curry are the way to go. Everyone can eat it no matter their religion, and both dishes display the diverse melting pot that the region's cuisine has to offer.

The word "thoke" means salad in Burmese, but do not think this recipe will give you your typical western style salad. Frsh ginger matchsticks, fried beans and lentils, and cabbage are all doused in a healthy serving of fish sauce. It is definitely not a dish for a super picky fish hater like me, but surprisingly I found it to not be all that bad. I think it had to do with the fried topping that I loved so much. I did have to pick out the ginger because I discovered that I cannot stand the stuff raw. It is so spicy!
Gin Thoke
1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
¼ cup dry lentils, soaked for 12 hours in water
¼ cup dry chickpeas, soaked for 12 hours in water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chickpea flour
1-2 tbsp fish sauce, as needed
1-2 tbsp peanut oil, as needed plus more for frying
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp crushed peanuts
lime slices, to garnish

Pat the soaked lentils and chickpeas dry. Heat some peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the lentils, chickpeas, sesame seeds, and garlic. Fry until golden. Remove the fried goodies from the pan, clean it out, and then heat it back over medium heat. Toss in the chickpea flour and toast for a minute until aromatic and golden. Allow everything to cool. Toss the ginger, cabbage, lentil and chickpeas mixture, chickpea flour, lime juice, fish sauce, and peanut oil together. Add more oil or fish sauce to taste. Garnish with lime slices and crushed peanuts. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Ohn no khao swè is a very popular chicken and noodle curry that is cooked down in a sauce of coconut milk and topped with a variety of ingredients. I found it to be pleasantly filling; a perfect cold weather comfort food. Don't worry if you're not a fan of fish sauce, it does more to add saltiness to the curry than flavor.

Ohn No Khao Swè
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1” peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 shallot, sliced
2 tbsp chickpea flour
½ cup water
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground paprika
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
8 ounces spaghetti noodles
lime slices
1 boiled egg per person, peeled and sliced

Heat a pan to medium heat and brown the chicken thighs, about 1 minute per side. Remove the thighs to a plate, pour some oil into the pan, and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 10 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. In a food processor, process the onion mixture until it is finely minced. Add it back to the pan along with the shallot, paprika, and turmeric. Whisk in the chickpea flour mixture, and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth and chicken thighs to a boil in a pot. Stir in the onion spice mixture, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Remove the chicken from the pot, shred it up, and discard the fat. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and chicken to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the noodles in the pot, remove it from the heat, and serve topped with lime slices and the boiled egg.

Myanmar probably was not the best decision to cook after working all day. The recipes were a little time consuming, I was exhausted and starving, and some of the ingredients I bought were just not quite right. (Burmese food is not exactly top of my western Tennessee Kroger’s stock list.) Needless to say, after three hours of cooking, I was finally able to enjoy my Burmese feast at 11 o’clock at night. I'm pretty sure that just about anything would have tasted good at that point. I did enjoy my Burmese meal. The fish sauce was a little fishy, but everything else was pretty good. It was not my favorite, but it was far from the worst thing I've ever eaten. And now I can say I've had something with fish sauce and enjoyed it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Flowery Greeting

This is another card meant to brighten up somebody's day. It's just so fun to give someone a card randomly and then watch their face light up in delight.

This card will hopefully make the recipient even more enchanted because pulling the ribbon at the top transforms the card into something amazing. The flower pops up and the message is revealed.
Who are you going to surprise today?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Way Better than a Benedict

What happens when you take a traditional eggs benedict and put a south of the border twist to it? I was curious to find out, so my brain went into creative mode. (My dad likes to call these types of thoughts and the resulting dishes concoctions. I've been dreaming them up since I was a kid, but they have thankfully evolved from their ketchup mixed with ranch stages.) What I devised is far from your traditional benedict, and far better if you ask me or my roommate. (She was in awe.) I replaced the hollandaise sauce with a little avocado crema, the base was a cheddar scone instead of an English muffin, and the eggs were scrambled with veggies instead of poached. The result was divine.


South of the Border Benedict
serves 1
1 cheddar scone (recipe follows), split in half
1/2 a ripe avocado
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella/ cheddar/ parmesan blend)
1/4 cup diced jalapenos, onions, and bell peppers
2 eggs
3 tbsp. heavy whipping cream cream
2 slices of ham
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, as needed

Cut two slivers off of the avocado, and then mash the rest of it with 2 tablespoons of the cream. Spread this over each of the scone halves. Heat 1/4 an inch of oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Cook the ham until each side is lightly browned, flipping over once to cook for about 45-60 seconds per side. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Whisk together the eggs, 1 tbsp. of cream, salt and pepper, veggies, and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pan. Once the eggs have set, scramble them up and cook until they are done. Top the avocado crema with first the ham, then the eggs, and finally the slices of avocados to serve.

You can choose to make the benedict, or just eat this scone plain. It's the perfect portion for just one and is simply delicious. One of my flakiest scones yet.
Single Serving Savory Cheddar Scone
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut the butter into cubes, and mix it into the dry ingredients with a fork. Once the dough is crumbly, add in the cream mixture along with the cheese. Mix until just combined. Roll the dough out 1” thick on a lightly floured surface, and put it on a small baking stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom is slightly browned. Allow the scone to rest for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.