Thursday, August 9, 2012

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is so easy to make at home I don't know why anyone would buy any of the impostors. 

There are so many delicious uses for it. Put a dollop in your coffee or hot cocoa. It's great on pie or cake or ice cream. Mix it with some pudding and graham crackers or dip your cookies in it. In summer, there's nothing better than ripe fruit and some homemade whipped cream. 

To make your own whipped cream, you need:

heavy whipping cream - 1 cup
powdered sugar - 2 tablespoons
vanilla - 1 teaspoon

It's best to chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer for five to ten minutes. It helps keep the cream cold. If you forget this step, don't worry, it will still work. Don't take your cream out of the fridge until you're ready to whip it. 

Pour your cold cream into your cold bowl. 

Start with your mixer on low or else you will end up with cream splattered all over. Gradually increase the speed to high. It will take a few minutes for soft peaks to form. 

What's a soft peak, you ask? It's when you lift the beaters up and the peak curls down. 

You can now add your sugar and vanilla. Another great option is to add almond extract instead of vanilla. 

Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks do not bend like soft peaks. They stand straight up. This will only take another minute or two. Careful not to over beat or you will end up with butter. 

That's all there is to it. 

Now it's time to eat it.  I picked up some ripe peaches at the market from a local farm yesterday. 

They're the perfect companion to my whipped cream. 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower pizza crust. That isn't a typo. If you've been looking at low carb and gluten free websites or Pinterest lately, chances are you've at least heard about making a pizza crust using cauliflower. I thought I'd give it a go.

Every recipe I viewed called for "riced" cauliflower, with directions to grate the cauliflower using a cheese grater and then microwave it. Sound easy enough - except that I don't own a microwave. Gasp.

I'm not against microwaves. The ancient monster we were using finally died last month and we haven't gotten around to replacing it. Dare I say I'm a bit of a procrastinator? I have to admit, I don't miss owning a microwave. 

So, what to do with the cauliflower?  I cut it into florets and cooked it on the stove top as you normally would, but for a tad less time. I was worried about over-cooking the cauliflower and making it mushy.   

Then, I thought I'd be a smarty pants and rice my cauliflower with my handy dandy ricer, since the recipes calls for riced cauliflower. Ha!  

I assume most recipes recommend grating the cauliflower since I am the only person I know that actually owns a ricer. That's one below, in case you've never seen one of these contraptions. It makes great mashed potatoes and it is my secret weapon for hash browns. 

Alas, my cauliflower was too firm to squeeze through the tiny holes of the ricer. So much for Ms. Smarty Pants! However, I did put the cauliflower in the ricer and squeeze out as much liquid as I could. 

Whether you own a ricer or not, squeezing the moisture out of the cauliflower is a crucial step. 

The cauliflower was pretty crumbly, so I used my hands and a fork to break it up into little pieces. If you own a microwave, take the easy way out and grate it with a cheese grater then pop it in the microwave (don't add water) and cook it for 7 to 8 minutes. I still recommend squeezing out as much moisture as you can after cooking it in the microwave. 

Combine the cauliflower, cheese, egg, and spices. I mixed with my hands until well combined. 

I used mozzarella, but other cheeses will work, too. Cheddar or pepper jack, anyone? 

Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten it with you hands until it's no more than 1/4 inch thick.  Bake in an oven that is preheated to 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.  

After 15 minutes, remove your cookie sheet from the oven and place your toppings on the cauliflower crust. Return it to the oven and broil for 5 to 10 minutes. You'll know it's done when your cheese is melted. 

It's best to slice your toppings as thin as possible since you will only be broiling it. 

I chose one of my favorites - veggie pizza!  Green bell peppers, black olives, onion, tomato, and fresh basil. Red sauce, mozzarella, and a little extra parmesan cheese completed my masterpiece. 

Ta da!!

The verdict? Delicious! It didn't taste like cauliflower at all. I wasn't able to pick it up and eat it with my hands like a regular pizza, but it was so yummy I didn't care. I scarfed this baby down with a fork. The hubby also gave it two thumbs up. 

To make two personal pizzas:

cauliflower (shredded & cooked) - 2 cups
mozzarella (or cheese of your choice) - 1 cup
egg - 1 large

spice mixture (play around with this to suit your tastes):
oregano - 1 tablespoon
parmesan - 1 tablesoon
basil (dried) - 1 teaspoon
onion powder - 1/2 teaspoon
sea salt - a dash
garlic (minced) - 1 tablespoon

toppings (try anything you'd put on a traditional pizza):
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese 
parmesan cheese
green pepper
fresh basil

Combine the the cauliflower, cheese, egg and spices. Spread and pat down onto a cookie sheet and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add toppings. Broil for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jalapeño Poppers with Bacon

This take on jalapeno poppers eliminates the breading and deep frying, making them gluten free and low carb, as well as extremely easy to make. These are so delicious, I'd make them even if they weren't simple to put together. 

You only need three ingredients: jalapeno peppers, cream cheese, and bacon. Bacon makes everything better, right?

As soon as I saw these jalapeno peppers at our local farmers' market, I knew poppers were in my future. 

Cut the peppers in half length-wise. 

Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and membrane. If you like spicy food, leave in a couple seeds. 

For the first time in my life, when handling hot peppers, I erred on the side of caution and wore latex gloves. I simply cleaned out the peppers with my fingers. I seriously recommend the gloves if you don't want burning fingers for the next 24 hours. 

I didn't leave any seeds - I'm a wimp!

Chop or crumble the cooked bacon into small chunks. 

I decided to mix the cream cheese and bacon pieces together in a bowl before filling the peppers. 

Fill each pepper with the cream cheese/bacon mixture. 

I had a little extra bacon. I never consider extra bacon a problem. Sprinkle any leftover bacon on top of each pepper (or is it now considered a 'popper'?).

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. 

For the two of us, I used:

  • jalapenos - 6 whole peppers = 12 poppers
  • cream cheese - about 1/3 of an 8 ounce package
  • bacon - 3 pieces

The great thing about this recipe is it's easy to make as many or as few as you want. The difficult part is trying to stop eating them!  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Oopsie Rolls

Oopsie rolls are something of a new discovery for me. My husband is already living a gluten free lifestyle (diet sounds too temporary) due to allergies and he is currently trying an ultra-low carb eating plan. For me and my love of baking, this has been a challenge. On the other hand, I get to eat all the gluten laced, carb loaded treats I make. Maybe this isn't so bad after all. Except for my expanding waistline. 

As much as I love baking traditional pastries, I am always open to trying new recipes. I also hate to see anyone deprived of bread and rolls and all that pastry goodness. 

While they're certainly no substitute for traditional rolls or bread, these rolls contain no flour, making them perfect if you're on a gluten free or low carb diet.  They do have a slight "eggy" taste but, they don't taste like you're eating an omelette. Trust me, I would tell you.  

They also happen to be pretty easy to make and you only need three ingredients for the basic rolls (see ideas for tweaking the recipe below). 

  • cream cheese - 3 ounces
  • eggs - 3 large
  • cream of tartar - 1/8 teaspoon (or a dash)
Oven temperature: 300 degrees Fahrenheit
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 6 rolls 

Separate the eggs and add the cream cheese to the egg yolks. A standard package of cream cheese is 8 ounces, so I eyeball what half of the package would be (4 ounces) and then cut off a little less to get 3 ounces. 

Mix the egg yolks and cream cheese until combined. 

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and dash of cream of tartar until they are stiff. Really stiff... as in, you can turn the bowl upside down and they won't move. The cream of tartar helps with this. 

This photo is making me crave whipped cream.. mmm....

Next, fold the egg yolk/cream cheese mixture into the egg whites until just combined. You want to stir as little as possible to keep the air you just worked so hard to create in the egg whites. 

Spoon the mixture onto a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper or has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. I started using parchment paper a few years ago and have never looked back. Clean up is easier and I'm lazy. Hey, at least I own it. 

This 3 egg recipe makes 6 rolls. 

Slightly flatten each mound with the back of your spoon.

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 300 degree oven. When done, carefully remove with a spatula to a wire rack to cool. 

I added about 1/8 teaspoon of dry mustard and a dash of salt to mine for a savory dinner roll. When it comes to tweaking the basic recipe, let your imagination run wild!

  • sugar (or sugar substitute) and cinnamon
  • chives and cheese
  • sugar and cocoa
  • use flavored cream cheeses (or even better, make your own!)

Use oopsie rolls for hamburger buns (use 2), for french toast, as a substitute for English muffins, to make paninis, as a cake with whipped cream, etc. The rolls are airy and are more prone to falling apart when used in place of traditional buns, but for someone that needs an alternative to flour bread products, these hit the spot.

This recipe can be easily adapted to make more or less than the 6 rolls that 3 eggs and 3 ounces of cream cheese produce. It's as simple as keeping the egg to cream cheese ratio the same. For more than the 6 rolls, try 4 eggs and 4 ounces of cream cheese.