Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve! Only a few more hours left of 2014. I cannot believe it! It has been a great year, and God has blessed me with so many fun times, new friends, great experiences, and a wonderful family. I am so thankful for everything He has given me. I know that 2015 has great things in store, and I cannot wait to see what they are. While you ponder on your year in review and make resolutions for the coming year, enjoy this delicious dip. It is healthy (Chickpeas give the dip a protein boost.), so it will fit in with your new resolutions, and it is a great appetizer for any New Year's party. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Dip (4)
 
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Dip
1 cup oatmeal, blended into a flour
2 cups dry chickpeas
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 cup applesauce, butter, or a mixture of the two
1 cup milk
1 cup raisins
more oatmeal and raisins to top

Cook the chickpeas according to the instructions on their package. Set aside to cool. In a microwave safe bowl, add the raisins and enough water to cover. Microwave for 30 seconds and then allow the raisins to sit and get plump. In a high speed blender, blend the raisins and soaking water into a paste. Add the remaining ingredients, blending until creamy. (There should be no more lumps of chickpeas.) Stir in the rolled oats and raisins to top and serve with apple slices, pretzels, or graham crackers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Heartwarming Cards

The end of the Christmas season does not mean an end to all the cards! In fact, this stress- free week between Christmas and New Years has been awesome for my crafting time. I have no homework to worry about, my work schedule is way more relaxed as I can pick and choose when I babysit, and I have plenty of space to spread out my stuff. Everyone needs a card this time of year, but hardly any are ever sent out. Everyone is sick of writing cards from Christmas, but with the cold, dreary weather, people just need a little bit of loving to get them through the long winter.

DSC_0056[1]
Who wouldn't just love to get this card in the mail on a cold winter's day? Enjoy!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jamaican me hungry!

The Caribbean island of Jamaica was first inhabited by the Taino and Arawak Indians who were well established in their own communities when Columbus came and declared "Santiago" a possession of Spain. Later, Britain won against the Spanish and made Jamaica the English speaking nation that it is today. Jamaica is a commonwealth realm, so it shares a monarch with the UK. Although English is the official language, Jamaican Patois is what most Jamaicans speak. It is a mixture of mostly English words along with some Native American and African words. I think it sounds super cool. Just like the language, the food of Jamaica is a mixture of cultures. I found the dishes that I cooked tonight to rely heavily on African origins with the addition of spices that were a result of British influence.


DSC_0255[1]
 
 
Jamaican jerk seasoning not a foreign concept to most Americans. As my dad pointed out, "You can buy this at a restaurant." Most Americans, however, have not concocted up their own jerk marinade. Jerk seasoning was actually brought over to Jamaica from the African slaves. The blend of produce, spices, and juices was adapted over the years, including elements from the island and flavors imported under British rule. However jerk chicken evolved into existence, I surely am thankful. It imparts an impressive delicious and juicy flavor to the chicken. Do not fear some of the weird additions. They all meld together to make a perfect flavor.

DSC_0246[1]
 
Jerk Seasoned Chicken
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the marinade:
4 green onions, finely chopped
3 scotch bonnet or jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced dried onion
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
½ cup water
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
juice of 1 orange
juice of 2 limes

Mix together the marinade. Pour the marinade over the chicken in a large bowl with a lid. Make sure the chicken is covered. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Preheat your grill to 400 for 10 minutes. Brush the big chunks of the marinade off the chicken and put it on the grill. Cook each side for 5-6 minutes, or until the center of the chicken registers to be 165 on a thermometer.

 
DSC_0242[1]
 
 
According to my family, this bread was the highlight to a delicious meal. They loved it, and my mom and Sydney ate two loaves each. Even though it is made out of coconut milk, there is not much of a coconut taste to it. I think the coconut milk only helps to make the bread exceptionally flaky and moist. Coco bread is not too sweet, and people in Jamaica actually use it as a burger or sandwich bun. I told my mom this, and she started dreaming up a salmon and aioli sandwich between a halved coco loaf. Yum!!
 

Coco Bread
makes 8- 10
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 ½ tsp dry active yeast
1- 14 ounce can coconut milk, heated to 110 degrees
1 egg
4 tbsp melted butter

Mix the yeast, coconut milk, and sugar together in an electric mixer. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Beat in the egg. Slowly add in the flour on low speed. Run the mixer until all of the flour is fully incorporated into the dough. Cover the dough in a large bowl and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and heavily flour a clean work surface. Flour your hands and take a handful of the dough. Roll it into a circle, adding flour generously. Butter the inside of the circle, fold in half, and butter the top. Arrange the bread on a baking pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. Cook the bread for 25 minutes, or until golden.

DSC_0238[1]
 
Peas and rice is a deceptive name for a popular Caribbean dish consisting of rice and beans. Red kidney beans are the typical bean of choice in Jamaica, and coconut milk along with green onion and thyme are added to flavor things up. The dish derived from the African waakye rice and bean meal, and adds in thyme, a spice introduced to Jamaica from the British. I was so proud of Harper for trying the beans and rice. She is so good about exploring new things. She and I were not fans of the peas and rice, but the rest of the family loved them. Carson successfully picked out every single bean, and refused to try them even though she would have liked them. You can't reason with an obstinate two year old.

DSC_0251[1]

Peas and Rice
2 cups rice
1-14 ounce can coconut milk
2 cups water
1- 14 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 green onions, sliced

Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil. Add in the rice, garlic, thyme, oil, and green onions. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the beans, cover, and turn off the burner. Allow the rice to sit for 10 more minutes with the lid on the pot. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.


Wow, Jamaica blew us all away. My super picky dad practically licked his plate clean, and said it was the best meal I had made yet. (That he had tried.) Everyone adored the bread, and Carson pitched a fit when her little bit of coco gold dropped on the floor and the dog got to it. Later on, my mom admitted that she had low expectations for the bread after her epic bread failure last week. Apparently her bread dough and my coco bread dough looked very similar. Thankfully, everything was great. Thank you Jamaica!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Most Moist, Fluffy, and Light Pancakes Ever!

It's crazy how much replacing half the flour in your typical pancake recipe with masa harina makes incredibly thick and delicious cakes. I was amazed with the results of my masa harina pancakes, and knew I had to do some more experimenting. Adding a little banana to the pancakes made them even better. Banana puree always seems to moisten baked goods up, and this truth holds over to masa harina pancakes as well. Light, fluffy, and moist, these pancakes are the bomb. You will never go back to using 100% flour again.
 
Banana Cinnamon Masa Harina Pancakes (3)
 
 
Banana Cinnamon Masa Harina Pancakes
makes 12
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp. sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp. oil
2 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
Mix together the flour, masa, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps. Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil sizzles, pour 1/4 cup of the batter at a time into the skillet. Cook each side for about a minute, until golden brown.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Post Christmas Thoughts and a Recipe

Well, Christmas is over and so is all the Christmas preparation. It is always sad when there are no more gifts to make or homemade cards to send. I have kept busy today making a bunch of new cards with some of the crafting supplies that I got for Christmas. My mom also gave me a lot of new cookware that I cannot wait to try out. I love that she earns everything free with Pampered Chef. I literally probably have thousands of dollars of cookware in my dorm.

DSC_0163[1]
 
 

Christmas at our house was a lot of fun as it always is. Little kids just make Christmas more magical. Harper and Carson were so excited about all their gifts, and Harper really got into the joy of giving this year. She made my parents an adorable book with the Christmas story in it. She also memorized Luke 2:10-20 so that she could recite the birth of Jesus to us just as it is in the Bible. Carson added in her "And the angel said glory to God in the highest!" They are both so precious. I loved giving them the presents I had made and bought, and their gifts to me were quite hilarious. I received quite a bit of toilet paper, one from each person in my family. Syd gave me a serious of gifts from countries all of the world. I got English tea, Greek cookies, Australian soap, and Indian naan just to name a handful of them. Harp gave me a nice cup with a straw that says that I have the best sisters (which is so true), and Carson gave me a calendar of Spain. I am so blessed for my family, and I thank God every day that He has given me so much.

DSC_0157[2]
Sydney and I were out of the cute PJ loop. Oh well, we would have taken down the adorableness of the picture anyway. :)

I wanted to share this light and refreshing Asian peanut slaw to give you something healthy after so much Christmas indulgence. The usual coleslaw mix gets an upgrade with crunchy peanuts and a delicious and creamy dressing. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Can you believe it is almost 2015?

Asian Peanut Slaw (3)

 
Asian Peanut Slaw
4 cups coleslaw mix
¼ cup roasted peanuts

For the dressing:
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Melt the peanut butter in the microwave for a few seconds. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Mix them into the coleslaw and toss in the peanuts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here! I just love Christmas. Everything about it is so magical and special. Tonight my little sisters (at least two of them) will look forward to a visit from Santa Claus, and tomorrow morning we will all have the joy of giving and receiving well thought out gifts. Christmas is a family day for us that we spend together in thanks to the LORD for sending His son to earth to save us. We just returned from a Christmas Eve service at our church, and tomorrow morning my dad will read the Christmas story before we begin opening gifts. With all the ribbons, toys, and treats, it can be easy to overlook what the best gift of all is. The greatest gift is the eternal life we have in Christ Jesus our LORD. Who could ask for a better Christmas present?


Here is a last Christmas card that I wanted to share with you before the Christmas card making season is over. (At least most people's. I make Christmas cards all year because they are just so much fun!) I just colored in a mini coloring sheet picture and used it as a stamp-of-sorts.


DSC_0139[1]

Harper has been working hard since Thanksgiving to make this scarf. She just finished it tonight just in time to wear it to service. I think she did well for her first finished scarf!

DSC_0148[1]
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Last Minute Christmas Eve

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Can you believe it? Bring on the cookies, pumpkin pie, and roast beast (if you're a who)! It's probably a good idea to have a healthy, but still seasonally appropriate breakfast before the big day. These chocolate chip cranberry breakfast cookies are delicious, and are the perfect breakfast treat.

DSC_0051[1]

 
Fresh Cranberry Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
(adapted from this recipe)
makes about 45
2 cups quick oats
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup applesauce
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg white
¾ cup coarsely chopped cranberries
¾ cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix together the oats, cinnamon, and sugar. Add in the egg, applesauce, bananas, and vanilla. Sit until everything is well incorporated. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips and cranberries. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to thicken. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the dough out at a time onto the prepared baking sheets 1” apart. Lightly press the cookies with the back of a spoon to flatten slightly. Bake for 16 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

DSC_0022[1]
 
I love the cute Christmas tower of gifts idea for a card. You can make it into a birthday card easily by switching up the patterned paper. This is a simple last minute Christmas card for a Christmas Eve/ Day party or family get together.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Run, run as fast as you can....

I used to love the story of the Gingerbread man who ran from the baker, his wife, the butcher, and basically all the rest of the people who lived in his town. It's a classic story, and gingerbread men are a classic Christmas cookie. That's why today's post is dedicated to the cute little guys. First I want to share the best ever gingerbread cookie recipe (my gingerbread hating mother even loved them) and then three adorable gingerbread man cards.

DSC_0084[1]
 
 
Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup softened butter
3.4 cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
 
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until it’s creamy. Pour in the molasses, vanilla, and egg. Mix well. Slowly add in the flour mixture with the mixer running on low speed. Press the dough into the center of a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a large work surface. Roll out the cookies to be about ¼ an inch thick and cut into your desired shapes. Place the cookies 1” apart on a baking stone. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing to baking racks to cool completely. Decorate the cookies with icing once they are completely cooled.

DSC_0026[1]
 
I am sure your neighbors, friends, relatives, or practically anyone would love to receive a batch of fresh gingerbread cookies and one of these cute cards.
 
 
 
I know that most people are already up to their ears with Christmas cookies at this time of year, but, as the card says, there really is no such thing as too many cookies.
 
 
DSC_0027[1]
 
This one is my favorite. Gingerbread men are so cute!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's Christmas Baking Time!!

We have been very busy crafting and baking (and snacking) the past couple of days. Sydney had a big party this afternoon with 20 junior girls. They all brought dips to share and exchanged secret Santa gifts. Harper received a cute little craft from one of the girls in her class, and excitedly completed it in record speed for any craft set that I have ever seen.


DSC_0038[1]
 
Carson enjoyed eating her fair share of cookie dough while my mom was not looking. She was standing on her stool at the counter and asked me to hand her a spoon. I did, and she promptly stuck it into the bowl we mixed the cookies in and ate some of the dough. She's such a little stinker. :)
 
 
DSC_0039[1]
 
Here is the recipe we used for some pecan packed chocolate chip cookies. Because just plain chocolate chip cookies just don't cut it. Fresh pecans from my grandma in Georgia made the cookies even better. :)
 
DSC_0042[1]
Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1-12 ounce bag chocolate chips
 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add in the vanilla and one egg at a time until everything is well mixed. Slowly add in the flour mixture with the mixer running on low speed. Once the flour is well incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Drop 2 tablespoons at a time of the cookie dough 1” apart on a large baking stone. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 8 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
 
DSC_0025[1]
 
I think this cookie fits in with the holiday baking atmosphere. I used my Christmas cookie paper and Christmas cookie stickers to make a very yummy looking card. If only I could make my cut-outs look like the ones on the card....
 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

American Girl Doll Stockings

I made these mini stockings for two of the kids I babysit/ tutor to use with their American Girl Dolls. I will deliver them tomorrow stuffed with some little treats. I know that I would have died for homemade American Girl stuff from my babysitters when I was younger.

DSC_0034[1]

I have made several different mini stockings in the past, and I decided that my pattern would be perfect for 18" dolls if I enlarged the top and toe a little to better slip in goodies. This time around I also made a little cuff out of matching fabric instead of just sewing ribbon around the top. I think they turned out really cute. I plan on making some for Harper and Carson later this week.
 
DSC_0035[1]
 
 
Did I entice you the other night with my recipe for fresh cranberry muffins? Are you dying for more ways to use up some yummy cranberries before their too-short season ends? I have another Christmasy breakfast/ brunch recipe to use up the rest of your bag in another delicious way. Look forward to more cranberry recipes in the future as I have fallen in love with the tart little berry.
 
DSC_0072[1]
 


Fresh Cranberry- Orange Oatmeal Pancakes
serves 2-3 (10 medium pancakes)
½ cup quick oats
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
½ cup orange juice
½ cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
 
Mix together the flours, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk, vanilla, and orange juice. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring in the cranberries. Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Preheat a pancake pan over medium low heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of the batter at a time onto the pan. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, and the top begins to look dry with bubbles. Flip and cook the bottom until golden.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cookie Dough!!

'Tis the season for holiday baking and cookie tasting! But what if you are in a rush and do not have time to actually bake cookies? What if you are dying for some yummy cookies, but with the turkey, rolls, and dressing, there is absolutely no space for a pan of cookies? What if you are one of those people who cannot wait until the cookies bake and just like to eat the dough raw? Fear not, I have a solution. Cookie dough balls!! Made without eggs, these peanut butter cookie dough balls are like eating raw cookie dough, but you do not have to worry about getting salmonella or the thought of eating an uncooked egg. Here's a recipe for my peanut butter flavor, and I have a chocolate chip cookie dough balls recipe from past cookie dough cravings.


Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls (1)

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls
makes 16
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
3-4 tbsp milk

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, adding enough milk to form a nice dough. Roll about 2 tablespoons of the dough at a time out into balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
 
DSC_0018[1]
You might just want to pack up some of those delicious cookie dough balls along with a nice card to show appreciation to teachers, pastors, or service people. What is a better way to thank someone than by giving them a heartfelt card and delicious treat? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Cranberry Muffins

This time of year is the only time that you can find fresh cranberries at the store. After Christmas they seem to disappear until the next Thanksgiving. Hurry up and make these delicious, light cranberry muffins before it's too late!

DSC_0031[1]

 We always have dried cranberries in our pantry, but hardly ever have any fresh. My dad actually did not know what they were. Everyone had fun sampling the cranberries. My dad thought they were too bitter, but Syd, my mom, and I like them. I don't think Harp was much of a fan. Cooked in a sweet muffin batter, anyone would love fresh cranberries. Good thing I'm giving you the opportunity to try such a delicious muffin recipe. :)

DSC_0034[1]

 
Fresh Cranberry Muffins
makes 18
1 ¼ cups coconut flour
2 cups rolled oatmeal, blended into a flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp orange zest
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries, plus a few for the top
1 cup applesauce
2 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup oil
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and oil a muffin pan. Mix the flour, oat flour, coconut flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Add in the cranberries and zest. Whisk the applesauce, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and oil together in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin pans. Stick a few of the extra cranberries into the tops of the muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
 
DSC_0024[1]
Santa Claus is coming to town in less than a week! I sent this card out yesterday, and I hope that it beats Santa to its recipient. Don't you love the Santa belt ribbon and cute sticker?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Warm Winter Meal

I went all out for Switzerland tonight. I had saved cooking Switzerland for a night that I was home and my dad was not. All the recipes I found were quite cheesy, and I knew that everyone in my family would love them. (Excluding my cheese hating father.) The other reason I chose Switzerland for a night that I was home was because my mother and I traveled to Switzerland together the summer after my senior year of high school. It was a lovely country, and I wanted her to be a part of my recreated Swiss meal.

DSC_0008

To start off, I want to share a little bit about the alpine country of Switzerland. My mom and I found Switzerland (at least the part we saw of it) as quiet and quaint. We loved it, and my mom said it was her favorite part of our trip. There is much more to Switzerland other than skiing and hiking. There are tons of amazing museums, beautiful old churches, Roman ruins, and tons of other cool things that you should check out. Stay away from the tourist traps and enjoy the Swiss culture. You won't regret it. Here are some cool facts about Switzerland:
  • Switzerland is home to the Romansch language spoken in the canton of Grischun. Along with Romanasch, French, German, and Italian are the national languages.
  • They use Swiss Francs as their currency instead of the Euro.
  • There are over 1500 lakes.
  • They have an amazing (and really dense) system of railways.
  • The traditions of yodeling and playing the alphorn are still alive today.
  • They have the only government with direct representation. Any citizen can overthrow a law with the majority vote.

DSC_0060[1]
 
The cuisine of Switzerland is very diverse. It reflects the neighboring countries of Italy, Germany, and France in the different regions boarding these countries. There is also a distinct Swiss cuisine that focuses heavily on cheese and potatoes. I think I hit the uniquely Swiss cuisine aspect right on with all the cheese and potatoes that I used. Switzerland is also known for it's fine dining. It is ranked number two for Michelin restaurants out of the entire world. Like everything else in Switzerland, my mom and I found the food to be super expensive. I guess deliciousness comes with a high price. Just don't order the Basel salad if you don't like raw hot dogs or pickles. I speak from experience. :)


DSC_0058[1]

 
I just had to make Swiss fondue because that's what Switzerland is known for. Fondue is a winter treat, so my mom and I did not get to try any while we were in Europe two summers ago. I've always wanted to try fondue, and I thought that my Swiss meal was the perfect opportunity. Fondue was first created by poor Swiss peasants who could enjoy the warm dip during the winter months. It was a meal in itself. If those poor Swiss peasants lived in the US, they would have had to find some other meal. My first disappointment surrounding the fondue came when I tried to buy the emmental and gruyere cheese at the store. They were over $10 each for just a little bit. $20 for half a pot of fondue? I think not. Thankfully I found a fondue package at World Market for a premade fondue mix. I know that using packaged food during cooking through the world is a little shameful and embarrassing, but I had no other option if I wanted my fondue. Making the packaged fondue was surprisingly easy, but serving it was not. My second fail was the lack of a fondue pot to use to keep the cheese warm. Oh, well. I figured that we would gobble the fondue up before it had a chance to cool off. Disappointment #3 was the extremely strong presence of the white wine in the cheese. We couldn't eat it, and ended up throwing it away after a few bites each. It was just too strong. My mom wouldn't even let the kids eat any. I was so upset. It's a good thing that the rest of our Swiss meal was so good....


DSC_0061[1]
 

I do want to share a few fondue etiquette tips before I move on. Just because my fondue experience was less than stellar does not mean that you should completely abandon it. A tone of Swiss people love it, so it can't be too bad. Maybe we just did not like it because it came out of a package. We generally don't eat all that much processed food, so we're used to the good homemade stuff. Anyway, you should never double dip into the pot. Put the bread on your fork, dip it into the cheese, and then remove the bread to your plate before eating it. If a man happens to drop his bread into the pot, he has to buy everyone else drinks. (Good thing we were all girls tonight, and 4 out of the 5 of us are underage.)
 

DSC_0028[1]

 
This dark rustic loaf is a good choice to go along with fondue. It is typically made out of wheat flour type 1050, but you can't really find this type of flour outside of Europe. Unfortunately to average American grocery store does not carry such a wide variety of flours. To replicate the type 1050 flour which is slightly darker than unbleached flour, I used a little whole what flour in the dough. We were all pleased with the results. More bread was eaten than fondue.....

Weizenbrot
375g (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour
125g (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour
4 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
1 ¾ tsp salt

Use an electric mixer to mix together the yeast, water, and half of the flour. Beat on high for thirty seconds, and then let it rest for five minutes. Repeat the process of beating and resting three more times. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for one hour.

Once the dough has risen, add in the salt and mix vigorously in your electric mixer until it is well incorporated. On the slowest speed, add in about ¼ cup of the remaining flour at a time until a soft dough has formed. You may need to add up to ¼ cup more of warm water. Knead vigorously for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and put the bowl in a warm place to rise again for an hour or two until it has doubled in size.

Gently knead the dough and roll it into a snake. Roll the snake up into a snail, cover, and allow the bread to rise for a final 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and bake the bread on a stone for 20 minutes. Turn the pan and bake for another 20 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.


DSC_0044[1]

This soup was the highlight of the meal. Everyone loved it, and I wished that I had made more. Originally I had my doubts about my mom and sisters liking the soup because of all the onions, but they loved it as much as I did. Sydney and I fought over the last bowlful. Basler Mehlsuppe is like reverse French onion soup because the soup is poured over the bread and cheese instead of the crouton being placed on top of the soup. This "flour soup" is a traditional dish from the city of Basel served for Fasnacht. I thought the hearty soup would be just as appropriate for a cold December day as during carnival. I just wish that my mom and I had visited Basel during Fasnacht so that we could have sampled an authentic version of this amazing soup.

Basler Mehlsuppe
serves 4
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
4 cups beef broth
½ cup red wine
1 parmesan cheese rind (not traditional, but delicious)
4 thick slices of bread, toasted
½ shredded sbrinz or gruyere cheese

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the flour and toast until golden brown. Set the pot aside. Heat the butter over medium heat in a pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until the onion is translucent and golden. Whisk the onion and flour together in the pot. Slowly whisk in the beef broth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Add the red wine, cheese rind, and seasonings to taste. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Place a piece of the toasted bread topped with 1 tbsp of cheese into four bowls. Ladle some of the soup into each bowl and top with the remaining cheese.


DSC_0037[1]

My mom ordered rosti one night in Switzerland, and she loved it. Although she claims to not remember this, I wanted to make the rosti again for her and the rest of us. Rosti are like huge potato pancakes fried in butter. Flipping them over can be a little tricky, but mine was a success tonight. I should have added a little more salt and pepper because the rosti did not have much flavor, but other than that it was enjoyed by all. (Except for Carson who refused to put it in her mouth.)

Rösti
serves 4-6
2 large russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the potatoes and a pot of water to a boil. Cook until not quite tender. (About 10 minutes.) Allow the potatoes to cool and peel their skin off. Grate the potatoes into a large bowl and season to taste. Heat the butter over medium heat in a 10” skillet. Pat the shredded potatoes down into the skillet. Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Flip the rosti onto a large plate and then slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the other side is browned as well.

DSC_0038[1]

 
Alpine macaroni stood out to me while I was researching Swiss recipes. My mom and sisters love mac and cheese, so I wanted to try this Swiss rendition. The diced potatoes added in along with the onions gave it a unique twist. Harper really liked it. My mom and Sydney were not a fan of the onions, but still liked the rest of it. I had actually quartered the amount of onions that were supposed to go in it, so that they would like it better. It also was a little bit drier than your typical American mac and cheese. My mom said it was not quite creamy enough. All of this being said, everyone still really liked the dish.

Älplermagronen
serves 4-6
½ pound macaroni pasta
½ pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup shredded gruyere cheese
½ cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the butter over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the onion and cook until it is nicely browned and crispy. Throw in the garlic during the last 5 minutes of cooking the onions to sauté it. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta and potato cubes according to the directions on the pasta box. Pour half of the pasta and potato mixture into a 9”, 2.5 quart baking dish. Top with half of the cheese and then half of the onions. Pile on the rest of the pasta followed by the cheese and onions. Evenly drizzle the cream over top. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cook the pasta for 15 minutes.


DSC_0030[1]
 

This simple applesauce stood out from my mom's typical recipe because of the addition of a little butter. Butter can do a lot to improve flavor, as the Swiss seem to know. They love to serve this applesauce along with their macaroni. Sydney loved it on top of her rosti. She said it helped give the bland potatoes a bit of flavor. Carson also loved the applesauce and literally licked the bowl clean. 
 
Apfelmus
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

Heat the butter over medium high heat in a small pot. Add the apples and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Whisk the sugar and water together. Pour this mixture over the apples, stir, and cover. Bring the apples to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 30 minutes. Mash up the apples into a thick apple sauce. Serve with the Älplermagronen.


 
DSC_0015[1]

Another Basel dish, brunsli are like a brownie- cookie hybrid. They are a common Christmas cookie that you can find in Basel during the holidays. They were decent, but the slight hint of cinnamon and cloves threw everyone off. Harper really enjoyed them, though. She likes anything chocolaty and sweet. 

Basler Brunsli
makes about 2 dozen
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves
1 egg white
powdered sugar, for rolling

In a food processor, process the chocolate chips with the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon, and cloves until everything is ground up fine. Whisk the egg white until frothy. Mix the egg into the chocolate mixture. Roll the dough out onto a surface sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll it out about ¼ inch thick. Using 2-3” heart or star cookie cutters, cut the dough into cookies. Arrange on a baking stone about an inch apart. Allow the cookies to rest for two hours. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until the tops are firm and the bottoms are golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the stone before removing.
 
DSC_0049[1]
 
Overall, Switzerland was a success. The fondue was a flop, but everything else turned out really well. It's a good thing, too, because I started cooking at 9:30 this morning and did not finish until dinner was on the table at 7. Thankfully everyone was pleased with the results. Switzerland yielded a very homey and warm winter meal.