Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chocolate & Vanilla Glazed Homemade Donuts




I think I am always bringing up the same thing over and over again, in my defense, it is nothing but the honest truth: We miss junk food!

Donuts are something so commonplace, they are always there, you don't even wonder "What would life be if there were no donuts left in the world?" Until it happens and you crave for them desperately and there is not a single one to be found.
Finding myself in the middle of this donut conundrum, I set my mind to produce a  good recipe for donuts but, after failing miserably many times, my poor dear husband -who is my guinea pig for all this tests and trials- asked me to stop trying, so I did, - at least for a while- but I had to jump back on that horse and I finally nailed it.
I am telling you what is the key element right now... I mean the "Secret" to it... ready? Is the Oil Temperature, if you find a way to keep the temperature of the oil as steady as possible, then you will get them right. So, without any more delay, after years of trial and error, here is my perfected recipe for the best homemade donuts. 

Chocolate & Vanilla Glazed Homemade Donuts 

Ingredients:
For the dough:
  • 3/4 cup of warm milk + 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/3 cup of white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups of flour + Flour to dust the surface of the table.
  • 1 tablespoon of dry yeast
For Frying the donuts:
  • 2 Cups of canola or sunflower oil or as much as needed depending on the size of the pot you are using to fry them. The donuts should float and not touch the bottom of the pot.
Chocolate Glaze:
  • 200 grs. of semisweet chocolate cut in small chunks to melt
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 tbsp of Corn Syrup

For the Vanilla Glaze:
  • 2 cups of powder sugar
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of hot water
Preparation
  1. In a large bowl mix egg, warm milk, sugar, butter and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes until it gets foamy.
  2. Add to the bowl the flour and salt and mix with your hand until it forms a dough. (if it is too sticky add  an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes by hand or until it looks smooth and it doesn't break or separate anymore. (If it is still sticky add another 1/4 cup of flour)
  4.  Use butter to grease a large bowl and sit the dough in it. Cover it with a damp cloth or cling film and let it rest in a warm place for 90 minutes. I am using here the pictures of my Burger Buns but it is the same procedure.
  5. Gently, dump the dough on the table and make it flat using a rolling pin until it is 3/4 of an inch thick. 
  6. Cut the circles with a donut cutter and place them on a floured surface at least 1 inch apart  from each other and let them rise until they double their size (About 1 hour)  Don't cover them with a cloth or towel. Note: If the dough starts to get elastic on you and springs back, just let it rest for 15 minutes and it will be good to roll again.
  7. Heat up the oil to 190°C / 375F° and do the best you can to keep it at that temperature. I can't stress this enough,  the oil temperature is the secret; (too high and it will burn your donuts on the outside and leave them raw on the inside; too low and they will soak all the oil ending with a greasy taste). I now use a deep fryer machine, but it also worked well when I controlled the temperature with a thermometer in a normal pot.
  8. Fry one by one for 30 seconds on each side or until they are golden. It is important that you do it one by one to keep the temperature steady. To flip them over you can use bamboo skewers or two forks, or whatever makes you feel comfortable doing it. I for example use the handle of my wooden spoon and a fork. This is really hot oil here, you don't want to be juggling instruments around it, so use what you can handle without running the risk of burning yourself.
  9. Let them cool down on towel paper so it soaks the extra oil.
  10. Dip them in the glace of your choice.
For the Chocolate Glace:
  • Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Stir until the chocolate is all disolved. If it is still lumpy, microwave it for 10 more seconds.
  • Add the corn syrup and mix well. Now you can dip your donuts.
Note: The right consistency is NOT runny. It has to be a little thick. If the chocolate comes out of the microwave too hot, let it cool down a bit until it is just a nudge warmer than room temperature.


For the Vanilla Glace:
  • Mix melted butter, vanilla and sugar until it is smooth. (it would probably be too thick but it is fine)
  • Add the hot water a tablespoon at a time mixing well after each one until you get the right consistency. Once you get it, dip the donuts in it.
I hope you find this recipe useful and if you have any comments, or questions just leave me a note below and I will answer back as soon as possible.


See you soon...









Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fruit buns -Hot Cross Buns


I was recently introduced to this delicacy and ever since we tried them, I have been working hard to master my own recipe for this delicious fruit buns.
Traditionally, the Hot Cross buns are eaten in countries with British influence during Easter time, but they continue to enjoy them throughout the year as fruit buns, which is basically the same bread but without the white cross on them.

I found that there are two ways to get the cross done and I color coded the options in this recipe so it is less confusing. Cross Option N°1 and Cross Option N°2.

The first option is mostly visual as it doesn't have any added flavors but it makes the buns look very professional. It's made is with a mix of flour and water and you have to draw the cross before you bake the buns. In the list of ingredients I refer to this way of making the cross as "Cross Option N°1"

The second option is easier and sweeter too, and it consists in drawing the cross after the bread has been baked and cooled down, with a mix made out of icing sugar and milk. In the list of ingredients I will refer to this way of making the cross as "Cross Option N°2"

I will take the time to explain both ways and i hope it is not too confusing. So, here we go with the recipe:
 
Ingredients
For the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raisins (you can use any other dried fruit chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of salt

For the Glaze 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
For The Cross Option N°1
  • 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 6-7 tbsp of water 
For the Cross Option N°2 
  • 3/4 cup of Icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp of milk 

Preparation
  1. In a large bowl mix eggs, warm milk, sugars, butter and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes until it gets foamy.
  2. Add to the bowl the rest of the dry ingredients including the raisins and mix with your hand until it forms a dough. (if it is too sticky add  an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes by hand or until it looks smooth and it doesn't break or separate anymore.
  4. Grease a large bowl and sit the dough in it. Cover it with a damp cloth or cling film and let it rest for 90 minutes. I am using here the pictures of my Burger Buns but it is the same procedure.
  5. Punch the dough down and cut into 16 pieces (first in half and then half of half...etc until you have 16 pieces) and form balls with them.
  6. Place the buns on a lined baking tray 1 inch or 2.5 cm apart from each other. (I use a silicone mat on top of the baking tray and with that I don't have to grease it or spray it but if you don't have one of those, you can use parchment paper and spray it with baking spray or grease it with butter. 
  7. Cover the buns with a tea towel, and again let them rest in a cozy place for an hour or until they double their size.
  8. Preheat oven at 350 °F - 180 °C (If you want the Cross Option 1, this is the right time to make it, the instructions are below)
  9. Bake for 13 minutes or until golden.
Make the glace while the buns are in the oven
For the Glacing now:
  1. In a small pot mix sugar, water and vanilla and bring it to a light simmer.
  2. As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush the glace all over them.
  3. Now you just have to wait for your buns to cool down a bit to eat them. (If you want the Cross Option N°2, after they are completely cooled down is the right time to do it, instructions below)
At this point, your Fruit Buns are ready, enjoy them with your family or wrap them to give to someone, they make a great homemade gift that anyone can enjoy over a nice cup of tea. 

Now you will see below the instructions for the cross on the hot cross buns. 

Cross Option N°1
  1. Mix flour and water and place it in a little bag and snip the tip of one corner of the bag so you can pipe it onto the buns.
  2. After Step N° 8, that is right before you are going to pop them in the oven, make a cross mark with the back of a knife on your bun making sure you don't cut through the dough, just mark it so the flour mixture doesn't fall of place.
  3. Pipe the mix following the marks you made. Now continue with step N° 9 and the glacing as indicated above.
 Cross Option N°2

  •  Mix milk and sugar and put it in a piping bag.
  •  After your buns have been baked, glaced and completely cooled down, draw the crosses on top of them with the icing sugar mix. After that you just have to wait until the crosses dry and you are done.


If you have any questions about the recipe or any of the techniques that I explain here, please leave me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.

See you soon.







Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Teaching children to help around the house - Setting the table properly



When we decided to home-school our kids for the elementary stage, we knew that all the responsibility of teaching them everything they need to know until they reach first grade was on us, but our plan wasn't to teach our kids just information, we wanted them to learn good working ethics, to solve problems by doing things, by working hands on and of course have fun while doing it. 

So I started with a small task that proved to be very useful specially when I am onto a million things and dinner is on the stove and the recipe says that you have to keep stirring or else it will stick to the bottom... you know what I mean?

Anyway, this task is "How to serve the table properly". By properly, I don't mean the royal way... I just mean properly for a family dinner. We try to teach our children Kindness and Politeness over Etiquette and Politics, just because being kind has opened way more doors for us than being "politically correct" a kind person can recognize their mistakes and apologize easily, a kind person cares for others, they might not know where the fish fork goes, but they always try to be appreciative for other people's hard work and kind people are helpful whenever and wherever they see a need and this is what we want our children to be, kind people.

I came up with this little design of a place mat. I printed and laminated it. At the beginning I was planning on printing lots of them and use them as the actual place mats but, I am not one that likes to waste... so yeah, I just made one and they use it as their model.




My boys use this print as a guide to set the table and it has been working great for them. I hope you and your little ones find this useful.

Hope to come back soon with more fun ideas to teach children to help around the house.



Friday, March 18, 2016

No-bake Blueberry Cheesecake


Blueberries are new around this corner of the world. I can surely say that I have never seen a blueberry until I was an adult and travel around the world a little bit, so trying new recipes with them is a must for me. 

I am bringing you today a No-bake Blueberry Cheesecake recipe. This cheesecake is fresh, colorful and very easy to make,  the perfect treat for those summer months that are coming ahead.
I have seen in some supermarkets that you can buy the cookie base already made, but i like to make my own. 
This is the same base I used on my Lemon Meringue Pie  the only difference is that this is a no-bake recipe. 
Let's get started...

Ingredients:

For the base
  • 2 cups of crushed vanilla crackers (Mary Crackers)
  • 3/4 cups of melted butter

Filling:
  • 1 cup of thick heavy cream
  • 1 8oz bar of cream cheese
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I use limes cause there are no lemons here)
  • 1 tbsp of uncolored unsweetened gelatin
  • 1/4 cup of room temperature water to dissolve the gelatin

Topping
  • 1 cup of Blueberry jam.
Note: I make my own Blueberry jam so I can decide how runny i want it. You can use store bought jam all right and if you notice that it is too thick, just add a little bit of warm water to it until you get a runnier consistency. 

Preparation

For the Base
  1. Melt the butter and mix it with the cookies until all is well combined.
  2. Pad it with your fingers into a 9 inches pie mold. I use a glass one, but it doesn't make any difference if you use a tin or a silicone one.

For the Filling:

For this step you can either use a blender or a stick blender, I only have the second one so that's what I use to make this cheesecake.
  1. Blend together the cream cheese, cream, condensed milk and vanilla until it looks smooth and everything is being combined well and there are no lumps.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix again.
  3. In a cup, mix gelatin with room temperature water and let it sit for 1 minute to soak up the water. Then heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave, mix until it is dissolved and you can't see any of the grains. If it needs another 30 seconds in the microwave then it is fine, just repeat the process until you get a smooth mix. NOTE: All the gelatin packets come with their own instructions for dissolving it, so if the one you've got is any different then just follow the manufacturer's instructions, just remember that for this recipe we need 1 tablespoon of powder gelatin.
  4. Bring one tablespoon of the cream cheese mix into the gelatin and mix well, this is just to level the temperature and then pour it all back into the blender and blend until it is all combined.
  5. Pour mix onto the cookie base.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. Pour the blueberry jam on top of the cheesecake, and it is done!
Keep it refrigerated, though I am sure it won't last long in there!

Hope you guys enjoy making this recipe and if you have any questions or comments just leave me a note and I will get back to you.

See you soon...
 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Meat Loaf Recipe


For the past 7 years, I have been aiming for recipes that are quick, mess free, easy to make and that i can freeze. This meat loaf fills all the requirements and also has a special feature... it is not only easy to make, mess free, quick and freezable but you can also turn the left overs into a completely different dish, which is a bonus for the picky eaters like myself that don't like to eat the same thing too close together in the month.

 
Before I start i will like to tell you how to add extra flavor into this recipe. What i do is I sauteé the diced onions until they are golden brown so they bring forth all their flavor instead of just adding them raw. So here is a little picture tutorial on how to do that.

  

This extra step is optional, if you are short in time then adding them raw is fine. So, let's get started...

Meat Loaf Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 700 grs. of minced beef
  • 1 white onion minced (method above optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A handful of fresh herbs chopped (oregano, parsley and chives are my favorite mix)
  • Salt, Pepper

Method:
  • Preheat the oven at 180C / 375 F.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until they are all well combined.
  • Grease a rectangular small pyrex, I don't know about sizes but it says at the bottom 1.5QT / 1.4Lt.(use the picture below for reference)
  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the juices are coming out clear and not cloudy when poke with a skewer.


To serve, you can pour on top some of this Homemade Ragu Sauce or you can make this quick gravy just so it doesn't look too dry on the plate... here is a quick photo tutorial for that...
 I didn't add any salt to it, cause the stock comes with lots of it but if the one you buy or make doesn't have any salt, don't forget to season it with salt and pepper.


And finally... serve with some rice or mash potatoes and.... tah dah!!!! Mess free Meat Loaf.
Hope you enjoy making this delicious Meat Loaf and let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Special thanks to all of my readers that keep waiting for me to finally find some time to blog, I have so much I want to show you, so I will try harder to keep you up to date with my latest recipes and crafts.
 
See you soon...


Friday, September 4, 2015

Minions Birthday Party




On august was my middle child's birthday and he is all about The Minions at the moment... Who isn't really? They are funny and adorable, so I decided to make him a Minions themed birthday party and I knew had to start with something that will commit me to finish what I started soooo.... I started at the party invitations and sent them as soon as they were finished.
 
Here is how they turned out...

 
I printed all the details on a white paper and pasted it on the blue part.

After I was finished with the invitations I started building a cupcake holder. To make it, I used two pieces of pvc pipe and some thin cement board that we have left from some building project and then I wrapped all the pieces separately with colorful fabric that matched my Minions theme. I would love to be able to give exact measurements but I eyeballed everything so I hope the pictures help you get an idea of how I made it.


 
For the cake I decided this year that I was going to make a super cake! I must say that this was the first time I got my hands on fondant but I absolutely loved working with it... I think I found a new passion! In order to reproduce what I had in my head I had to start small... so I made a little prototype of  a Minion... it didn't came out to accurate but I just wanted to feel the fondant and decide if I was gonna be able to work with it... here is my tester Minion...
 
 

Interestingly enough I made a few rookie mistakes by running out this test...
 
1. Fondant melts in the fridge!!! I had no idea, but when my little guy here started to run down its colors I did my research and yeah... it melts in the fridge, so I had to keep all my minions in an air tight container.
 
2. I also found out that it dries out pretty quick so keep what you are not using covered or wrapped in cling film when you are working with it.
 
3. Your cake HAS to be room temperature when you cover it with fondant or the sugar will melt all over it. This was an absolute bummer!!!! It was the day before the party and I put out of the freezer the first layer cake, and I was so excited about it that I didn't wait for it to defrost, instead I covered it with the fondant straight away and low and behold my cake was melting in front of my eyes. I didn't know what to do but then I read somewhere that with the hair blow dryer you can actually fix it and so I did. It worked. It took and awful long time but it worked and I was able to save my cake. So...yeah, room temperature cake.
 
4. The cake has to be a dense cake... if it is spongy it will sink with the weigh of the fondant. I made a banana cake for this project which is pretty dense so I was good with that. I will post the recipe for my banana cake soon.
 
5. I read a lot about how to stack a two tiered cake and I found lots of ways to do it but I used my own. I put a big piece of PVC pipe, like the ones I used for the cupcake holder (may be 3 or 4 inches wide) and stuck it right in the middle of the bottom layer and then just let the top one sit on it. It worked pretty good.
 
Anyway... for being the first time working with it... I didn't do that bad. Everyone that saw it said it was gorgeous and my son was super impressed.



 
 
 
 
 Hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to get as many ideas from it as you want. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.
See you soon...