Alcohol Preferences Around the World

 

For many people traveling is an integral part of life. Visiting new places we discover many new things as well as we discover many new things in ourselves. And of course, your journey cannot be complete if you do not talk with the local people. I suppose you probably know what you need to start a really sincere and interesting dialogue…Yes, you need some alcohol!

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Texas Roadhouse Menu Overview

Do you know which place must be appreciated by peanuts-lovers? Of course, it is Texas Roadhouse with its free buckets of peanuts at each table. But as you understand, it is impossible to become such a popular restaurant only thanks to free nuts. There is something else that attracts so many people around the world to visit this place. Well, let’s see what it is?

Continue reading “Texas Roadhouse Menu Overview”

Corn Chowder and Dumplings

So when it was rainy and cloudy and I just wanted to eat soup, I was hesitant to try a corn soup.  I stay away from corn chowders, because I don’t need a bunch of potatoes.

I’m starting to be a little wary of spicy corn soups.  I absolutely love the, but sometimes they don’t come out quite right.  The last time I made a spicy corn soup, it turned pink. Not just slightly pink either, it was bright pepto-bismol pink with bright yellow corn in it.  My friend described it as Dr. Seuss soup.  It tasted really good, but no one needs to see something like that on a food blog.

So when it was rainy and cloudy and I just wanted to eat soup, I was hesitant to try a corn soup.  I stay away from corn chowders, because I don’t need a bunch of potatoes.  As I was checking out at the grocery store and impulsively bought a magazine from Taste of Home featuring soups.  It was WAY more expensive than I anticipated, but it has inspired many of my soups so it’s probably worth it.

They had one called Corn Chowder and Dumplings.  I made a few adjustments and the end result was probably the best soup I’ve ever made.  I swapped out the potatoes for sweet potatoes (that counts as healthy right?).  Corn chowder with dumplings is a great soup for vegetarians that want a dumpling soup.

Corn Chowder and Dumplings

Inactive Time 20 minutes

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Delicious corn soup with dumplings.

Ingredients

  • Soup:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • Dumplings:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil.
  2. Add the onions and saute.
  3. Add the broth, corn, sweet potatoes, half and half, and chipotle peppers (plus extra adobo sauce if desired).
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  5. While simmering, prepare the dumplings.
  6. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  7. Stir in the wet ingredients until just moistened.
  8. Once prepared, dropped the dumplings in the simmering soup.
  9. Cover the soup for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the dumplings comes out clean
  10. Avoid lifting the lid while simmering so the dumplings can cook properly
https://hollyshelpings.com/corn-chowder-and-dumplings/

Just Peachy

This drink is very fruity but it’s mostly peach flavored.  I have named it “Just Peachy.”  I love colorful drinks and blue curacao is just perfect for adding flavor and color.

I’m very excited for tomorrow.  I am January 6th Foodista’s Featured Drink Blog of the Day for my post Mike’s Sunrise!

To celebrate, I made another drink!  This drink is very fruity but it’s mostly peach flavored.  I have named it “Just Peachy.”  I love colorful drinks and blue curacao is just perfect for adding flavor and color.

I also like to try to use diet soda when I use soda as a mixer.  Why add extra calories to alcohol (which already has a lot of calories in it)?  I love Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash.  It’s not too sweet and mixes well with a variety of flavors.  It’s especially nice in fruity drinks.  You can use any lemon-lime soda or ginger ale if you don’t have this particular type of soda.  I know it’s sort of a random soda to include.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

ice

1 shot peach schnapps

1 shot vodka

1/2 can diet sierra mist (ruby splash preferred)

1/2 shot blue curacao

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking Instructions:

Fill a tall glass with ice.  Add vodka, peach schnapps, and the sierra mist.  Pour the blue curacao gently in the glass so that it can sink to the bottom and form a gradient effect.  Drink immediately and don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Tomato Basil Bread

This recipe is delicious. As with all copycat recipes, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close. I think that it would be interesting to try to use real tomatoes instead of tomato paste (all I seem to ever have is tomato paste) and see if it gets closer. Until then, this bread is will definitely satisfy your cravings for Panera or Paradise Bakery.

I love Panera and Paradise Bakery (as a side note, have you ever noticed how similar those two places are?  It’s uncanny).  I always get the same thing when I go.  I get the “you pick two” with the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich and mac & cheese.  OK, maybe not always the same thing, sometimes I get tomato soup if I’m trying to be healthy instead of the mac & cheese.  The sandwich,  I always get.  It’s amazing and the best part is the tomato basil bread.  It’s amazing. It’s sort of sweet and very flavorful.  Through looking at many copycat recipes and the ingredient list for the bread I found at Panera, I have created my own attempt at a copycat tomato basil bread recipe.

This recipe is delicious.  As with all copycat recipes, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close.  I think that it would be interesting to try to use real tomatoes instead of tomato paste (all I seem to ever have is tomato paste) and see if it gets closer.  Until then, this bread is will definitely satisfy your cravings for Panera or Paradise Bakery.

Tomato Basil Bread

Inactive Time 30 minutes

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1-15" loaf

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red peppers
  • 2-1/2 cups flour plus extra for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Once dissolved, add all the other ingredients except for 1/2 cup of flour. Mix well. Add more flour as needed. Once you have a ball of dough that is not too sticky and fairly stiff, place it on a floured surface and knead until you can insert 2 fingers on the back of the dough and have the indentations stay. A useful kneading video can be found here (your dough will be stiffer than the dough shown in the video).
  2. Once you are done kneading, place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour. Knock back and turn out onto an oiled baking sheet. Let rise for 1 hour more. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough is done rising, slice an X onto the top of the dough. Then place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The dough is complete when the bottom makes a hollow noise when you knock on it. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Serve immediately and don't forget to go for second helpings!
https://hollyshelpings.com/tomato-basil-bread/

Apple Onion Puff

I wanted these to be a more savory than sweet so they would be a nice little appetizer instead of dessert. I used onion, cheddar cheese, and apple on top of a square of puff pastry.

Whenever I see a picture of food and it has puff pastry in it, I always want to eat it immediately.  Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with puff pastry when I accidentally set fire to my boyfriend’s oven.  It was a minor fire, but his housemates were not too pleased about the failed experiment and I haven’t used puff pastry since.  I decided to try to start forgiving puff pastry by using prepared sheets of it instead of making it myself. I wanted to make little appetizer bite for New Year’s Eve and puff pastry seemed like the simplest way to do that.  I just put a few things on top that I thought sounded good and baked them according to the directions.  It was very simple and, I’m proud to say, there were no fires.

I wanted these to be a more savory than sweet so they would be a nice little appetizer instead of dessert.  I used onion, cheddar cheese, and apple on top of a square of puff pastry.  These little bites would be great for a party as an appetizer.  They are flavorful and can be eaten easily as finger food.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 sheets of puff pastry (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium apple

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chili powder

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: 18 3″x3″ squares

Cooking Instructions:

If using frozen puff pastry, remove from the freezer to begin defrosting.  Cut the onion into thin slices.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Saute the onions until they are soft and browning.  Remove from heat.  Slice the apple into thin slices.  Cut the puff pastry into 3″x3″ squares.  If using  Trader Joe’s puff pastry sheets, this would be 9 squares per sheet.  Gently press the tines of a fork around the inside of the squares leaving about a half inch margin.  Preheat the oven to whatever temperature specified by the puff pastry instructions (I baked mine at 400°F).  Place a small portion of the onion in the middle of each square topped with a slice of apple and followed by about a tablespoon of cheddar cheese.  Place the squares onto a lightly buttered cooking sheet using two if necessary. Bake for the time specified (mine said 15 minutes, but I baked them for about 20 minutes total).  Allow to cool and then enjoy!

Review of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Muffin/Bread Mix

I love Trader Joe’s.  If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably know that I always say that you can find the weird ingredient at Trader Joe’s.  One of my first times there, I bought a mix for corn bread.  

I love Trader Joe’s.  If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably know that I always say that you can find the weird ingredient at Trader Joe’s.  One of my first times there, I bought a mix for corn bread.  I love corn bread, but it’s always too dry.  This corn bread was amazing.  It was not too dry and had little bits of corn in it.  Delicious.  This isn’t the only bread mix they have though.

A while back, I saw they had a Pumpkin Bread & Muffin mix and I decided to try it.  The corn bread was so delicious, the pumpkin muffin mix must be delicious too, right?  Here, I’ll review the mix for you so you can decide if you want to try some too.  I made the muffins, so I’m not sure how this would change for the bread.

Review:

Taste:  The taste was excellent.  As soon as I opened the mix, the smell was amazing.  It smelled like all the spices in pumpkin pie and tasted like it too.  Absolutely delicious. 5/5 for sure.

Texture:  The problem was the texture.  They took longer to bake than the box said they would (I baked for 23 minutes and the box said 18-20 minutes).  When I took them out, the first one I had stuck in my teeth a bit like it was chewy.  This improved as they cooled, but what kind of baked good isn’t divine right out of the oven?  3/5 for this.

Appearance:  As you can see, my muffins were not very muffin shaped.  I have an oven thermometer so I know that wasn’t the problem.  They look funky, but not the worst I’ve seen.  4/5

Ease:  This muffins were very easy and I imagine the bread would be as well.  I understood the directions well and they were simple to follow.  5/5

Overall, I’d give these 4/5.  They were definitely easier than making them by hand, but they weren’t the perfection I was looking for.

Ciabatta

There are many breads that require starters like the biga for ciabatta.  Sourdough is probably the most well known.  In my searchings about biga, I found that a biga is used to make the bread chewier and add some flavor as well.

I recently tried to make focaccia bread.  It was delicious so I decided to try to make other sandwich breads too, like ciabatta.  I looked at the recipe for ciabatta and saw that you needed something called a “biga” that you had to prepare a day in advanced.  “Nope, not for me.  Too advanced,” my brain said.  Then Adventurous Holly (who made her appearance after sampling the skittles vodka) impulsively decided to start the biga.  I’m now going to take this moment and thank Adventurous Holly.  This ciabatta was delicious and not as difficult as I thought it would be.  So, thanks, Adventurous Holly.  The lesson I learned is one you can too:  Making ciabatta is like making any other bread, but you start it much earlier than normal.

There are many breads that require starters like the biga for ciabatta.  Sourdough is probably the most well known.  In my searchings about biga, I found that a biga is used to make the bread chewier and add some flavor as well.

Making a biga is really simple.  It only sounds intimidating because it’s a weird word and requires planning.  It’s easy to plan though.  If you have a day off, start the biga the night before.  The biga takes 5 minutes to set up at the most so it isn’t a big deal.  I promise it’s fine.  The bread is so delicious, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort

This bread had the perfect light fluffy interior and a perfect crunchy outside.  I had never had homemade ciabatta and it’s infinitely better than store bought. I think the main difference is the crust.  This crust has a great texture and has that crunching sound you want to hear when you bite into ciabatta.  Perfection in bread.

Ciabatta

Inactive Time 20 hours

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 20 hours, 25 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • Biga:
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp yeast
  • Dough:
  • 1/4 cup water (plus extra if dough is dry)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tsp yeast

Instructions

  1. Start the biga about 12-15 hours before you want to begin making the bread. In a bread machine or an electric mixer combine the ingredients for the biga. Mix until fully combined (about 5 minutes). If using a bread machine, set to dough and then stop once combined. Allow to rest for 12-15 hours. It will rise a bit and then start to sink. This is when you want to use the biga. The biga will big liquidy and bubbly.
  2. To start the dough, combine the biga and the other dough ingredients into the bread machine pan or the electric mixer bowl. If using a bread machine, set to dough cycle and start. If using an electric mixer, use a dough hook and a low setting to mix for 5-8 minutes and then let rise for 1 hour. The dough should be sticky and tacky. It should not be liquid, but it should be close. Add water or flour as necessary. Whenever you handle the dough, wet your hands with water or oil to prevent it from sticking to you. Half way through the rising time turn the dough over in the pan or bowl. This will be tricky because it's so sticky, but just do your best.
  3. Cover a cutting board in plastic wrap and cover the plastic wrap with oil. Cover two cookie sheets with oil (I only had one and all my bread baked into each other. Bad call, use two). Remove the bread from the bread machine or mixing bowl after the rising cycle is complete or it has risen for 1 hour and place on the cutting board. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts for large sandwich rounds or 12 for smaller sandwich rounds. Place half on one cookie sheet and the other half on the other cookie sheet. Shape the dough by pushing and pulling the edges of the dough until it is shaped how you want. It won't be perfect, so don't try.
  4. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. Uncover and (with wet fingers) poke holes gently into the dough. This will give it a more rustic look. Recover with freshly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another hour. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and turn off the oven. Place the bread back in the oven and crack the oven open while it cools. Allowing the bread to bake this way will create a crunchier crust (maybe take one out to munch on while the rest crisp up).
  5. Remove from oven and enjoy. And don't forget to go for second helpings!
https://hollyshelpings.com/ciabatta/

 

Cauliflower with Tahini

This recipe only requires 4 ingredients. One of which is tahini. Tahini is sesame seed paste. It’s quite tasty and is a key ingredient in hummus.

Cauliflower with Tahini sounds weird, I know.  I first saw this combination on a menu at Pita Jungle.  This place is awesome.  All the food is delicious and healthy.  If you have one in your area, you should check them out.  So when I first went there, I thought I’d try something new, “Caramelized Cauliflower with Tahini.”  It was amazing.  I’d go there just to get some of this.

Then I tried it at home.  The first time, I accidentally fried the tahini.  Whoops.  Don’t do that.  The second time I realized how easy it was to make on my own.  I still get it all the time at Pita Jungle because it’s still slightly better there, but I make it for myself a lot too.

This recipe only requires 4 ingredients.  One of which is tahini.  Tahini is sesame seed paste.  It’s quite tasty and is a key ingredient in hummus.  You can find it at Trader Joe’s next to the hummus in the refrigerated section.  You won’t use all of the tahini you buy in this recipe so you could use some to make hummus.  This recipe is delicious as a snack and will make you love cauliflower.

Cauliflower with Tahini

Active Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 snack sized portion

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
  • 2 tbsp tahini sauce (found at Trader Joe's)
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a medium sized skillet. Heat to medium heat. Once hot (water sizzles when you drip a little on the pan), add the cauliflower. S
  2. aute until soft. To speed this up, you could cover the pan and stir occasionally. Add the pine nuts and cook for 1 minute longer.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Add the tahini sauce and mix together. Serve immediately.
  4. Enjoy and don't forget to go for second helpings!
https://hollyshelpings.com/cauliflower-with-tahini/