Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Super Easy Cake Donut Holes

Donut holes are the cutest way to eat donuts. It's true. 
All those teeny tiny little bite sized bits of deliciousness are top of the donut food chain. Our recipe here is for cake donuts - meaning no yeast or rise time is involved. We still fry them for that perfect crunchy-on-the-outside-squishy-on-the-inside texture. I mean... you could bake them... but it's not the same... at all...
You probably have all the ingredients you need in your pantry right now. You could be enjoying these bad boys in under an hour. Your kids will thank you. You hubby will thank you. Your tummy will thank you. 

Super Easy Cake Donut Holes

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cold
3/4 cup milk

Oil for frying (about 1/2 a liter) 

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the cold butter using 2 butter knives or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk until dough forms. Roll to 1/2 inch thickeness on a lightly floured surface. If dough is really sticky then add flour a tablespoon at a time until you are able to roll out. 
Use a 1 1/2 to 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out the circles. 

Reroll dough and cut out more circles. Cover cut circles with a tea towel while you heat your oil in a large pot to 350 degrees.
When oil has reached 350, carefully drop in 5 or 6 donut holes. Cook about 1 minute on each side - until golden brown. Don't crowd the pot too much or you will lower the temperature of your oil too much. A thermometer is the most accurate way to ensure your oil cooking temperature stays at 350. 

Remove the cooked donuts from the oil using a slotted spoon. Place on paper towel to cool. Continue with the rest of the donuts. 
As donuts become cool enough to touch, roll them in the cinnamon sugar. Simply whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and place it in a shallow bowl. Place the coated donuts on paper towel lined cookie sheet until completely cool. (This will drain off any excess oil). 

Serve with caramel dipping sauce, if you want to be a little fancier.

But, of course, these are delicious on their own as well. 

FYI - you can also inject each of the little guys with a little jam or chocolate ganache for another way to enjoy them. You can roll them icing sugar instead of cinnamon sugar too.
So many choices! I believe I got 4 dz donut holes using my 1 3/4 inch cookie cutter. You can also make these into regular sized donuts.... whatever size you want. Donut holes are just cuter and you can eat more. Except for the frying, these are super de super simple. Frying isn't that complicated, it can just be a little scary. Just be safe and go slow! 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

How To Make a Large Batch of Homemade Focaccia

Focaccia bread is one of life's guilty pleasures! It's like bread but super bread. It makes the BEST sandwiches, grilled cheese, and hamburger buns. Rosemary, salt, garlic and olive oil somehow make this magic combination that will have you never wanting to eat "normal" bread again. 

Impress your guests and family with homemade focaccia bread (or buns). They freeze very well too, FYI. You may think you don't need a large batch of focaccia bread but I'm here to tell you that you do. You really, really do. (Give it as gifts and make new friends!!)

Large Batch Focaccia

7 1/2 tsp active yeast (not quick rise)
4 cups hot tap water
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
6 - 8 cups flour
2 Tbsp sea salt
3 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 Tbsp sugar

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp dried parsley 

Place yeast in a bowl. Whisk together the hot tap water and olive oil and whisk into the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Stir together 6 cups flour, salt, granulated garlic, parsley, rosemary, and sugar.  

 Pour the bloomed yeast into the flour and stir well. Gradually add in enough flour to form a stiff dough. Place on well floured work surface and knead for 3 - 4 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour if your dough is too sticky. (Total flour may be between 6 - 8 cups or so). 
Place dough into a well oiled bowl. 

Cover with a tea towel and let rise somewhere warm for an hour. 
Line 2 cookie sheets (12 X 17 each) with parchment paper and set aside. 
When doubled in size, divide dough in half. Press each half of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet. This takes a little elbow grease but it will stretch to fill the cookie sheet. It is okay to leave little indents from your fingers in the dough! 
If you want to do half as bread and half as buns - divide half the dough into 12/13 balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. 
Cover and let rise somewhere warm again for another hour. At the 45 minute mark be sure to turn the oven on to 350 so it can preheat. 
Take half of the olive oil (1/4 cup) and drizzle it over one of the breads. Repeat with the other bread (or buns). Sprinkle each with half of the salt and pepper and rosemary and parsley. The ingredients list is a guideline - I just sprinkle generously until I feel that the bread is well covered. Use less or more, as you prefer! 
FYI - if you have made buns - gently poke the tops with a chopstick to create little holes so the oil has somewhere to pool. Then continue sprinkle the spices as per the bread. 
Bake in the 350 oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until top is golden brown. I cook both pans in my convection oven at the same time; rotating the pans every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking! 

Remove from heat and let cool in pan. Run a knife around the pan to loosen the bread and then lift off the pan. Discard the parchment paper. 
You can cut the bread however you like BUT I cut mine in half vertically and then each half into 5 pieces for 10 total pieces. (In a 12 X 17 pan this means each piece will be 6 inches by 3.4 inches) I then cut each of those pieces in half diagonally so I can use them as sandwich bread. This can be tricky and I recommend a serrated knife and patience. (See photo below for clarification) 

Today I topped our focaccia with tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar, and bacon for a crazy good BLT with cheese. 

The hamburger buns will elevate your burger to the next level! You can also use the focaccia bread to make killer garlic toast. 

Seriously the best bread for sandwiches you will ever make. 

You can half the recipe to just make one pan, if you like, but I always make two and freeze it so we can have focaccia whenever we want to jazz up our sandwiches, garlic toast, or burgers. 
If you cut the bread to 6 X 3.4 then this batch will make 20 pieces OR 24 - 26 buns. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

How To Make Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta is one of those things that everyone should make at least once. It is sooooo much better than the store bought stuff. Don't get me wrong.... I LOVE the store bought pasta. Pasta is its own food group, amIright
Homemade pasta might be a little finicky to make, especially if you don't have a pasta roller.... BUT it can still be done with a rolling pin and a little muscle. I made angel hair, fettucini, and lasagna noodles for this post but with a little googling, you can easily use this recipe to make bow ties and other fun shapes. Break up the angel hair and you've got perfect noodles for chicken soup. So many options!
If you've got eggs and flour then you can have fresh and delicious homemade pasta in a very little amount off time! *Bada a bing*

Homemade Pasta

3 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

In a large mixing bowl, place the eggs, flour, oil, salt & pepper. 

Mix until a shaggy dough forms. If it is too dry then add a little water (about 1 tablespoon at a time) until it comes together. Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth: this can take up to 10 minutes. Pat into a ball. (I made 2 batches that is why there is 2 balls pictured below.)

Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes. After dough has rested, cut into 4 equal pieces. You will be working with 1 of the pieces at a time so cover the others again so they don't dry out. 
Put your pasta maker on the largest setting (1) and run the dough through once. Fold into thirds, and run it through again. Do this 3 - 4 times until dough is becoming more elasticy. 

Move your pasta maker to the next largest setting (2) to start to thin it.

Continue to change the setting to the next thinner, gradually working your way to the thin-ness you prefer. We go with #6. 

If you find your dough is too long to work with then cut it in half and work with half at a time. 
If you are making lasagna noodles - you are done. Just cut them to the size you need and hang to dry for at least 2 hours. You can also place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet to dry if you don't have a hanger. 
If you are making angel hair or fettucini noodles - attach the pasta roller to your pasta machine and roll the dough through to cut it.

Lightly toss noodles in flour to prevent sticking. 

Then hang to dry for at least 2 hours. 

NOTE - if you do not have a pasta maker you will need to work with the one piece of dough and roll it as thin as you can using a rolling pin, then cut them by hand using a pizza cutter or something similar. You can loosely roll the dough up and cut it with a sharp knife too, this can make cutting super thin a bit easier.  I used a rack from my oven to hang the pasta. I propped it up on a chair and my kitchen table and then placed a towel down under it to catch any bits that fell for easier clean up. 

To cook the pasta is super simple. All you need to do is bring a pot of salted water to a boil, drop the noodles in, and boil for about 3 - 5 minutes (to your desired level of doneness). 

I cooked up some chicken with a little oil in a pan, threw in the boiled noodles, tossed in some pesto and *voila*... 

The BEST garlic basil chicken pesto fettucini on the planet! Add a little homemade garlic gread focaccia and you've died and gone to heaven. (I'll be posting my focaccia recipe soon so stay tuned!) 

Lasagna is even easier! You don't have to pre-cook the noodles, just layer them in your lasagna and bake as you normally would. (350 for about an hour is our usual). 

You're not going to find a better lasagna ANYWHERE. Using homemade noodles is a game changer. 
Homemade noodles might take a bit of time and energy to whip up but trust me... it's totally worth it! It's a great project if you are stuck at home and looking for something to pass the time. Get the kids involved in helping you roll and shape the noodles. Break out the aprons... let things get flour-y. 
Homemade noodles will store in the fridge for about 2 days before going weird.... but can be frozen for up to several months. 
When you go to cook frozen homemade pasta do NOT thaw it. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the pasta in. Be sure to use more water than you normally would so the temperature doesn't drop too much when you add the pasta. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Easy Raisin Square

I know that usually raisins aren't the first thing most people go to when they feel like a treat BUT, now hear me out, they SHOULD be. See, they are plump and juicy and sweet and...they are a fruit...so..you know... healthy....ish. 
With only 5 ingredients, this square only takes about 2 minutes to whip up and then 25 minutes to bake so you could be enjoying a piece in under an hour! I dust mine with a little icing sugar because they aren't that sweet at all... but this is optional. It does make them look a little prettier though. 

Easy Raisin Square

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups raisins
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

For Decorating
1 Tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 9 pan with parchment paper, set aside. 
Using a very sturdy spoon, stir together the condensed milk, raisins, flour, baking powder, and salt. Spread the batter into the prepared pan - NOTE: it helps to dip your fingers in water and then spread it in the pan as the batter is very sticky and thick. Try to get the top as flat and even as possible.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool on wire rack for about 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to lift the bar out and let cool completely on wire rack. 

Cut into squares (I believe I did 24).

Dust with icing sugar if desired.

These are dense and chewy and not-too-sweet. Plus they are inexpensive to make and make a great snack time treat. If you like raisins.... I'm assuming you do if you are reading this....
Raisins are great. 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Keto Bacon Clam Chowder

I'm always surprised at how many carbs can sneak into soup. All those potatoes and root veggies and things can quickly add up. I decided to try my hand at a low carb, keto friendly clam chowder using cauliflower instead of potatoes to thicken in up. 
Not that this is a new idea... cauliflower instead of potatoes in recipes has been around forever. My version includes bacon and clams to up the protein and fat factor for keto. Also... the deliciousness factor. 
From start to finish in under half an hour. Perfect for those busy weekdays or those lazy weekends! 

Keto Bacon Clam Chowder

5 slices bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 340 gr bag cooked clams, chopped
3 cups cauliflower florets, diced

In a large pot over medium heat, fry bacon until crispy and then remove from pot. Drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease from the pot. Add garlic and onions, and thyme and parsley to the pot and cook 2 - 3 minutes to soften. 

Add in the milk, cream, chicken broth, and cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese is melted. 
Add in the clams and diced cauliflower and cook about 15 minutes or so, until cauliflower is soft and cooked through. Serve hot. 

Sprinkle generously with bacon and a pinch more dried parsley for garnish.

This recipe makes 6 servings. The nutritional counts are: 308 calories, 21.7 fat, 7 total carbs, 1.7 fiber, 22.6 protein. That's 5.3 net carbs per serving. 
You can, of course, eat as much or as little as you like, just be sure to change the nutritional counts accordingly. :) 

I served mine with a little Mestamecher protein bread which only added another 4 net carbs to the meal. Not too shabby for a hearty, delicious meal, I'd say. 

I love how easy this is to whip up. If you don't have clams you could leave them out or sub them with chicken. The base of this soup is a simple cream base that would lend itself well to several other options, keto or not! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Keto Lasagna (Hearts of Palm Noodles)

I discovered this great website where I can order all sorts of keto friendly products called Naturamarket.ca. One of the things I found on their list of keto products was Natural Heaven Veggie Pasta Noodles made from hearts of palm.  

Have you ever tried them? They reminded me of artichoke with the smell and texture...

That being said, they are very noodle-y and work amazingly well in lasagna. I will be ordering more of these to experiment with for sure. Being as they are made from hearts of palm, a vegetable, they are naturally vegan and gluten free. I made my own simple tomato sauce for this lasagna but you could easily use a sugar free, store bought tomato sauce if you prefer. 

Keto Lasagna (Hearts of Palm Noodles)

2 containers Natural Heaven Veggie Pasta Noodles (or similar)

Meat Sauce
1 can (398 ml) diced tomatoes with garlic
1 slice onion, diced
1 lb lean ground beef

Cheese Layer
1 container (500 gr) Ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp Parmesan, shaved
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbsp Parmesan, shaved

Preheat oven to 350. 
Prepare meat sauce - In a large frying pan over medium heat, simmer the tomatoes and onions about 5 minutes. 

Push them to the side of the pan, add in the ground beef, and cook the beef until it is browned. Stir the tomatoes and ground beef together near the end when the beef is almost done. Set aside. 
Prepare cheese layer - stir together the ricotta, egg, first amount of mozza and Parmesan until well mixed. 

Assemble the lasagna - In a 9 X 13 oven safe dish, layer a single layer of the veggie noodles. Drop 1/2 of the cheese layer on top by the spoonful. 

Gently spread the cheese layer out with the back of a spoon.

Drop half of the meat sauce on top of the cheese layer by the spoonful and spread out as well as you can. Don't worry if there are gaps, you will be doing a second layer.  

Place another layer of the veggie noodles on top and then layer with the remaining cheese and meat sauce. Top with the last of the veggie noodles and then sprinkle with the remaining mozza and Parmesan. 

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes - until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 - 8 minutes before serving. 

Slice into 6 pieces and serve immediately. 

The nutritional counts, if you cut this into 6, are: 481 calories, 18.5 fat, 12.4 total carbs, 1.8 fiber (10.6 net carbs), and 28.6 protein. (As always, if you are counting for dietary reasons we recommend you enter your totals into a nutritional calculator yourself to be totally accurate.) 

This looks and tastes aaaaaaalmost exactly like a "regular" lasagna. I found the hearts of palm to have an artichoke-y flavor to them and the texture was fabulous. I'm pretty sure if you used a store bought, sugar free tomato sauce you'd be able to fool everyone into thinking they were eating "regular" lasagna. 
I love finding new ingredients to play with; like the hearts of palm, and can't wait to experiment some more! Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below! :)