Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

Biscuits – like fluffy American biscuits—that’s definitely something I miss being away from my Southern roots. We’re biscuit people. We can’t help it. If you’re not American, our biscuits are deliciously flaky, savory, crisp outside, soft inside, buttery treats. There’s a seafood restaurant in America that serves a very specific type of cheesy garlicky biscuit as table fodder, and they’re absolutely addicting. This is the closest version I can come up with for them after tweaking several copycat recipes that I found. They’re also drop biscuits so no rolling and cutting makes these easier to prepare for an ordinary meal. 

Golden biscuit goodness!

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk (sub sour milk)
1/4 cup melted (regular salted) butter

1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs like parsley or an Italian mix (x 3 for fresh herbs)

First combine the dry ingredients, including the garlic and cheese. Allow the melted butter to cool for about 5 minutes then add it to the buttermilk, stirring until you start to get little clumps. If you're short on time, just dump these two into the dry ingredients separately, stirring a little after each addition. Mix all the ingredients until you have a uniform, wet dough. Preheat the oven to 225C/435F. Once the oven is hot, the dough should have begun to look more dry and less liquidy. Drop biscuits by the rounded tablespoon onto a flat pan, leaving about 2 inches of space between each. Add the last clove of garlic to the tablespoon of melted butter. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the garlic butter then sprinkle lightly with the dried herbs. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops and bottoms just begin to turn golden.

Notes: To make 1/2 cup of sour milk, add 2 teaspoons white vinegar to a 1/2 cup measure. Pour in enough milk (NOT hot or you'll get cottage cheese) to make 1/2 cup. Stir briefly then allow to sit for 5 minutes before using. Also, if you have a little cookie scoop or ice cream scoop, that works great for getting uniform biscuit sizes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Energy Bites

Always on a quest for healthy snacks that will interest my kids, I stumbled upon these from Super Healthy Kids. Verdict = Super kid love. Seriously, they ask for these all the time, maybe because the name makes them think they’ll get super powers. They’re also 100% no cook so the kids can be involved in making them. What’s not to love? And speaking of love, if you have kids, you need to have a peak at all the great things the wonderful ladies at Super Healthy Kids have on their website--all of which are aimed at increasing kids' intake of fruits and veggies along with more vegetarian protein sources. Some of their snack ideas are soo cute and creative! We have made these bites in balls and bars, both of which seem to work equally as well. 

Energy Bites with Chocolate Chips

Energy Bites
1 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
1 Tbsp chia seeds (not available locally) or flax seed (local)
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl. Add up to a cup of any extra add-ins you want to make them special. You can use M&Ms or Smarties, dried coconut, dried fruit, chopped nuts, etc. Mix everything, form into balls or bars (between waxed paper), and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Notes: I just noticed that on Super Healthy Kids they form the bites after the 20 minutes of refrigeration. It seems to work fine either way, but might be easier to work with once chilled. 

Also, if you're concerned about pesticides, look for a honey variety like rudilo (in beekeeping/honey shops) that is cultivated away from other commercial crops like mustard. There would be a much higher chance of having better quality, uncontaminated honey.  

Catching Up and Chocolate Syrup

Hello again! Yes, it has been a ridiculous long break since my last post, but here's what's been going on since then. At the end of June, I bid adieu to my days a student. Whoo hoo! I am officially, as in on paper, an educator. I decided that after 6 years of nearly non-stop studying I deserved the whole month of July to do whatever I wanted. Obviously, that ended up not including blogging. When August hit, we took the plunge into homeschooling our kindergartener and sort of mom schooling my little man. He mostly just does a little bit then wanders around pretending to be this or that. Anyway, September is literally days away so it's time to get back on the horse.

So, on to the chocolate syrup. My kids drink milk every morning and most afternoons. For a while, they insisted on always having warm milk with chocolate malt powder. When I finally convinced them that it just wasn’t right to drink warm milk in summer, we had the problem of chocolate powder not mixing into cold milk. Yes, it’s possible, but far more work than I like to manage in my foggy morning state...and yes, I realize I could just say no to chocolate, but I think I'm okay with giving in to this one. Chocolate syrup to the rescue, except it comes with a pretty hefty price tag. Then, I remembered seeing years ago how to make syrup yourself on Good Eats. I tried Alton Brown’s recipe, and it totally works to the point that my kids don’t know the difference. I’ve adapted his recipe to be the perfect amount to fit into a recycled chocolate syrup bottle. Now, this does require the addition of corn syrup or Golden syrup to keep things smooth and flowy. I doubt it would work very well without that so keep that in mind if you experiment.

Chocolate Syrup
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Put all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and just boil until all the solids like the sugar and cocoa have melted (use a whisk to keep it smooth). It only takes about 1 minute of rolling boil. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature then pour it into your airtight container or bottle. Keep it in the fridge where it will thicken, and it will last for several months.