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21  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Pot Pie with Biscuit Style Crust (Lacto Vegetarian) on: February 14, 2012 08:12:01 AM
We got the first snow of the year a few nights ago, so what better time to make a delicious, hot, home made pot pie!  This wasn't my first go at a pot pie, but with the way I don't follow recipes well, it was completely different from any other I've ever done.  I will say that this one was my favorite!  (I think the best part, for me, was the biscuit style crust, it was buttery and flaky and oh so yummy!)





Crust:

-2 Cups Flour
-3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
-1/2 Teaspoon Salt
-6 Tablespoons Butter
-2/3 Cup Milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the butter.  Add the milk (all at once) mix and then knead into a dough.  Press just over half of the dough into the bottom of the pan.

Filling:

-1/3 Cup Butter
-1/3 Cup Flour
-Splash of Water
-1/2 Teaspoon Salt
-1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
-1 Cup Vegetable Broth
-2/3 Cup Milk
-1 Can Campell's Condensed Broccoli and Cheese Soup
-1/2 Block Extra Firm Tofu (mashed up)
-12oz Bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables (or any vegetables you feel like!)
-Seasoning:  Hing, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Salt (to taste)

Melt the butter on medium heat in a sauce pan, add flour, salt, pepper and water.  Stir constantly until it is starting to bubble.  Then add the milk and vegetable broth and stir until combined.  Then add the can of condensed soup (do not add more liquid).  Stir until all of these ingredients are mixed well.  Add the tofu, vegetables and spices.  Cover and simmer on low until the vegetables are completely unfrozen.

Putting the Pie Together:

Pour the filling into the bottom crust that's already been pressed out.  On a floured surface, press out the rest of the crust and lay it on top of the filled pie and seal the edges.  (This is when I like to take the extra crust from the edges and make designs on top!)  Cut some small slits on top with a sharp knife.  Bake at about 400 degrees F for half an hour (or until the crust turns golden).
22  COOKING / Dessert / Homemade Fortune Cookies (No Eggs!) on: February 14, 2012 08:03:00 AM
For our Chinese New Year dinner, I decided to attempt fortune cookies... they were so good!  They were actually a little bit chewy because I made them too thick... but I really liked how they turned out.  We also went ahead and put little fun questions and dares in the cookies, instead of fortunes, because we thought it would be more exciting... and it was!



Recipe:

- Print and cut out fortunes on paper BEFORE you start to make the cookies.
- Ingredients:

    * 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 6 tablespoons water (to replace 2 large egg whites)
    * 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
    * 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    * 8 tablespoons flour
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 8 tablespoons granulated sugar
    * 3 teaspoons water

- Whisk together the egg replacer, vanilla extract and vegetable oil until it is frothy.  In a seperate bowl mix the flour, extra cornstarch, salt and sugar.  Stir the water into the flour mixture.  Combine both mixtures until a smooth batter is formed (it should be somewhat thick, but still pour easily).  Place a tablespoons of batter onto a greased cookie sheet (3 inches apart).  To spread out the cookies, tilt the baking sheet  back, forward and side to side until the batter is in 4 inch circles.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until the outer 1/2 inch of cookie is golden brown (if they are done, they should easily be removed from the baking sheet with a spatula).  Here's the tricky part!  Very quickly remov the cookie with a spatula, flip it over in your hand, place the fotune in the middle, gently fold the cookie in half and fold it in half again by placing it inside a muffin tin where it will stay until it's cooled down enough to hold its shape.

You have to work very fast so that the cookies don't cool down while still on the baking sheet!  I recomend looking up other sites that have tips for making fortune cookies, so that you have a game plan before you start baking!  I like the tips on this website: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/desserts/tp/fortunecookies.htm... even if I didn't follow the part about wearing cotton gloves.  (They weren't kidding though when they said that the cookies would be hot!) 
23  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Tofu Pot Stickers on: February 14, 2012 07:54:32 AM
I've never made these before, but I figured it couldn't be too hard 'cuz I've made so many samosas in my life!  (I was smart enough to call my brother and his girlfriend over to help put them together in an assembly line fashion, since we were making them for a Chinese New Year party a while back.)  I think I also might have used a little too much oil (but who knows... I don't ever follow the measurements, lol) because they were a little greasy... but still delicious!



Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour
up to 1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together the salt and flour.  Slowly stir in the cold water until a smooth dough is formed.  Knead the dough into a ball, cover and let it rest for half an hour (during this time make the filling).  Divide the dough into about 50 pieces and roll out circles about 3 inchs in diameter.  Place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle, fold into a half moon shape and seal the edges.  (If folding and pinching doesn't work, use a little corn starch and water to "glue" the dough together.)

Filling:
         1/4 teaspoon salt
         1 block extra firm tofu, mashed
         1/2 cup water chestnuts, canned, finely chopped
         1/2 cup shredded carrots
         2 pinches hing
         1 tablespoon minced ginger
         1 tablespoon soy sauce
         1 teaspoon sesame oil
         Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together, cold, in a bowl.  Make sure the vegetables are cut up very small so that they do not poke holes in the wrappers.  Add any other seasoning to taste.

Once all of the pot stickers are put together, Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (Don't add too much like I did!).  When the oil is hot, place the dumplings next to each other.  Cook on high until they are a very light golden brown on the bottom.  Without moving the dumplings, add 1/2 cup of water and cover.  Cook for about a minute, then uncover the skillet and finish cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed or evaporated.  (These cook very quickly, so don't leave the pan unattended or else you'll get burned bottoms!)

Serve with the brown side facing upwards. 
24  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Valentine's Theme Dinner (Lacto Vegetarian) on: February 14, 2012 07:49:25 AM
Ryan and I had our Valentine's Day last night and we decided to work together to make pizza, salad and cookies... all heart shaped!  It's super cheesy... I know... but I'm okay with that!


For  the pizza we went with spinach and cheese with a basic red sauce.  We just had to use the ingredients we had already (since this was a spontaneous meal), so I had to find a pizza crust recipe that didn't need yeast.



Crust:

Mix together 2 cups of flour 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2/3 cup of milk, and 6 tablespoons of olive oil.  Knead this into a dough and spread out on a baking pan.  (Use corn meal to "flour" the board you use to press out the shape, so it doesn't stick!)

Sauce:

Mix together 6oz of tomato paste, 1 cup of water and seasoning.  (We used oregano, basil, salt, pepper and hing.)  Bring this to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes.

Put the pizza together with whatever topping you like (we had spinach and cheddar cheese) and bake at 400 degrees F until the crust is golden brown, and the cheese is all bubbly.


The salad is a mix of spinach and red leaf lettuce, some seasoned croutons (cut up smaller), strawberries (some sliced and set next to each other to make a heart shape) and a raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette from the store.  I thought it was tasty, but it could have done with some walnuts or something!



For dessert we made some simple chocolate cookies, and decorated them with some left over store bought icing we had, and chocolate chips.  They are pretty darn tasty, and they were fun to decorate together!




Cookies:
Cream 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of butter.  Stir in 1/8 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a small dollop of sour cream (to replace the 1/2 egg called for).  Then mix in 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/8 a teaspoon of baking soda.  Press out to about 1/8 inch thick, and use cookie cutters to make whatever shapes you like.  (I got my cookie cutters from Walmart... they have a box of 101 plastic cookie cutters for like 10 dollars.)  Bake at 325 degrees F until the cookies are done.  (I definitely didn't pay attention to the clock, sorry... but they are basic cookies, so they will be pretty obvious when they are done!)


It was very sad though when it came time to slice up the pizza and we realized what we had to do!    =P

25  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Love Land- Board Game on: January 15, 2012 09:43:11 AM
So I made this game before I had my eCraft.  It would have been way easier and faster if I had it, but it was a labor of love, is it's okay that it took so long!  I didn't have a particular event in mind when I started making it, but by the time I finished it, it was just about time for our 2-year anniversary.  What better time to give Ryan the story of our love in the form of a fun game? 

There are closeup pictures of the board, and of all of the game pieces at my blog:

http://papercookies.blogspot.com/2012/01/love-land-board-game.html




26  COOKING / Dessert / Superhero Cupcakes! on: January 15, 2012 08:19:05 AM
I decided to surprise my boyfriend with a birthday cake, and he LOVES superheroes.  I've never decorated cakes before, so I decided it would be easier to make cupcakes instead of a full cake.  (That way if I messed it all up, I would just have ruined one cupcake!)  It was only natural that each cupcake be one of his favorite heroes!  I decided to use modeling chocolate, and it was so fun!  (Like play-doh!) 

Anyway, here is a picture of them:



There are more pictures and more detailed information at:

http://papercookies.blogspot.com/2012/01/super-hero-cupcakes.html
27  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Indian Dinner (Matar Paneer and Aloo Ghobi) on: December 28, 2011 07:37:48 PM
I've learned everything I know about cooking through Indian food, so it's not a big surprise that my favorite foods are Indian recipes!  One of those is Matar Paneer... yum!  It's super simple to make, and it's a great introduction for a subji novice.  (Lesson 1: A subji is any vegetable dish.)

I'm also posting a recipe for Aloo Ghobi, which is another classic... I don't know of anyone who doesn't like it.  This is another good introduction into Indian food (especially for kids and skeptics) because, like Matar Paneer, the flavors and ingredients are more familiar to the Western pallet.


Matar Paneer in Red, and Aloo Ghobi Variation in Yellow.  (Served with rice of course!)


How To Make Matar Paneer

What You Need:

3Tblsp Ghee or Oil
Paneer From 1/2 Gallon of Milk (Fresh or Fried)
Pinch of Hing
1Tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Inch of Cinnamon Stick
1Tblsp Minced Ginger
1Tblsp Coriander Poweder
1/2Tsp Turmeric
1/2Tsp Chili Powder
1/2Tsp Paprika
Salt to Taste
Sugar to Taste (I like a couple of tablespoons)
1 Can Green Peas
1 Medium Can of Tomato Puree

The first step is to get some paneer (aka curd), you can either make this by looking at my other post (http://papercookies.blogspot.com/2011/12/indian-dinner.html), buying some at the Indian store, or buying some at a Mexican store (it will be labeled fresh cheese here).

Next melt some ghee or oil in a pan and when the ghee is hot, add the hing, cumin seeds, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon.  Make sure you have a lid on the pan for this!  (It will pop into your eyes otherwise!)  Stir fry for a few seconds and then add the tomato paste, coriander, turmeric, chili powder and paprika.  Add the peas, 1/4 cup of water, salt, sugar and paneer.  Serve with rice and enjoy!


How To Make Aloo Ghobi

What You Need:

2 Cups Cut Cauliflower Florets
2 Medium Potatoes Cubed
1Tblsp Minced Ginger
3Tsp Coriander Powder
1/4Tsp Turmeric
1/4Tsp Cayenne Pepper
3Tblsp Ghee or Oil
Pinch of Hing
1/2Tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Green Chilies Sliced Lengthwise
2 Bay Leaves
1Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Water
*Variation: add a medium can of chick peas

In a small bowl mix the ginger, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric and 3Tblsp of water to make a paste, set aside.  Heat the ghee in a pan, add hing and cumin seeds (Don't forget the lid!), after the seeds pop, add bay leaves and green chilies, stir fry.  Add the spice paste and stir for a minute more.  Add cauliflower, potatoes, water and salt.  Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Serve with rice and enjoy!
28  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Flavoring Your Paneer (aka Curd or Fresh Cheese) on: December 28, 2011 06:47:45 PM
So... I love curd.  That's all there is to it!  If you aren't familiar with it, you need to be!  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paneer)

That being said, I was making some curd a while back, and at the last minute I decided to try flavoring it.  I made a batch with some basic seasonings, and a sweet, cinnamon sugar batch.  All I can say is that they were good enough that I decided to share it here!


Salt, Pepper, Basil and Oregano gave a very light fresh taste.


Cinnamon and Sugar made for a sweet treat great on toast!


How To:

I followed the basic steps to making paneer, heat milk until boiling (don't burn!) and pour in a little lemon juice until the milk starts to separate.  Stir the mixture, until separation is complete and strain the curds into a cheese cloth.  (I like to save the whey for use in other recipes.)  After rinsing the curds (to remove the lemon juice), I kneaded it so that it would be very firm.  This is when I added the seasoning. (I don't measure very often, so just add what you like until it looks good!)  I then wrapped the curds in the cheese cloth and set a pot full of water on top for a couple of hours.

Once the curd is ready, there's lots to do with it!  I always like to make a nice subji with paneer, but the herb paneer would also be great in a salad, or sandwich!  The sweet paneer is great on it's own, but I also spread some on toast and it was delicious!  (It was a little difficult to spread since I made it firm so next time I might plan ahead and not knead it or press it as long.)
29  COOKING / Dessert / Creamy Caramel Filled Chocolates on: December 28, 2011 06:43:29 PM
Now, before you read the recipe, let me tell you Ive never used caramel when making anything before, so there might be a better way of doing this.  I will hopefully learn some fancier things soon (Maybe someone here can help with that!), but for now Im happy with how these turned out!



What I Used:
One 11oz bag of Caramel Bits
2 Tblsp Water
Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Coating Chocolate

What I Did:

To make the filling, I poured the bag of caramel into a microwave safe container and per the bags instructions, I added two tablespoons of water and put it in the microwave for two minutes.  Then, I realized that just putting this inside the chocolate will be tasty, but sticky.  I decided to experiment, and it worked out really well!  So what I did was I took a quarter cup of heavy whipping cream and heated it up on the stove at medium heat.  As soon as it started to boil, I mixed it into the caramel.  (This is very similar to making a ganache filling for truffles, so I thought it would work.)

I set the filling in the refrigerator for a little while, while I worked on some other candies.  When I was ready (and the filling was no longer warm), I took it out.  What I ended up with was a caramel filling that was creamier and softer than regular caramel, which is perfect for biting into with chocolate!

To fill the candies, I used a package of coating chocolate and melted it per the instructions on the bag.  I use coating chocolate because I know that it will always be tempered, shiny and hard once it is done.  (Regular chocolate really isnt hard to temper in the microwave, I just dont have the money to experiment too much right now with candy that just immediately melts in everyones hands!)  I spooned a little bit of the chocolate into the mold, and used a toothpick to brush it up onto the sides.  (Dont forget to tap the mold on the counter to make sure there are no air bubbles!)

Once these hardened, I spooned some filling into each mold, and smoothed it out with another toothpick.  (Dont fill up the entire mold because you need room for the rest of the chocolate!)  After filling the molds, I spooned a little more chocolate on top and spread it evenly with a toothpick.  Here is where its most important to tap the mold because it takes out any air bubbles, and gives the bottoms a nice even surface to sit on!

Just pop these in the fridge, and when they are cooled down enough, you will see some separation from the mold and the chocolate (youll have to look at what will be the top of the chocolates).  Just turn the mold upside down and press lightly on each (sometimes a little twist to the mold helps) and you have yummy homemade chocolates that look store bought! 
30  COOKING / Dessert / Bananas Foster Truffles on: December 28, 2011 06:36:11 PM
I found this recipe online (but of course altered it a bit), and I was so excited to try it!  It is safe to say that it's the best flavor I've ever made!  I haven't actually ever had bananas foster, so I don't know how similar it really is, but I do know that it tastes amazing!



What I Used:

4 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Rum
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Banana
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
8oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips


What To Do:

Melt half of the butter on medium heat, and ad the brown sugar.  Stir this mixture until the brown sugar melts, and add the cinnamon and rum (this mixture will bubble).  Roast banana slices in this mixture for about a minute on each side.  (Don't let them get mushy!)  Remove the banana slices and set them aside.  Pour the heavy cream directly into the mixture still in the pan.  Whisk the cream and sugar together until the cream just starts to boil.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a heat safe bowl, add the rest of the butter.  Let the chocolate rest for a minute and then whisk the mixture until it's smooth and shiny!  Chop the banana into small pieces and fold into the mixture.  Let this cool down in the refrigerator until it is no longer warm.  I poured these into some simple looking chocolate molds instead of rolling them like traditional truffles.
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