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30 April 2014

Guess What?

These cakes and goodies I'm sharing with you today are from the end of March/early April!  Yep, that's how I roll.

Procrastination?  Nope, not in the least.  I've been busy doing important things, like vacationing.  And other things as well - attempting to rehab a running injury, baking cakes, all that good stuff.

So I can feel like I'm not quite so far behind, how about we play a little bit of catch-up?  I'll have the rest of April's goodies for you hopefully sooner rather than later...fingers crossed.

29 April 2014

Green Machine


Avocados are the darlings of the produce world right now.  A few things to keep in mind when buying and using these tasty fruits:

  • Avoid avocados with cuts, dents, or soft patches.  If it feels firm, it will ripen in two to five days.  If it's uniformly soft, eat the same day.
  • Keep avocados at room temperature until ripe, then store in the refrigerator.  You can speed up ripening by placing them in a bag with bananas - the ethylene gas production will stimulate the ripening process.
  • High heat destroys the healthy compounds in the avocado and can potentially leave a bitter taste, so stick to cold prep or use only low heat sparingly.
  • You can substitute avocado in equal amounts for fats such as butter, margarine, or sour cream.
  • Wrap unused avocado in plastic wrap and refrigerate;  use within 1 to 2 days.
Mmm...tasty!

22 April 2014

Lighten Up: Graham Cracker Crust


Want to shave about 50 calories and 5 grams of fat off your next piece of pie or cheesecake?  If so, skip the butter when making the graham cracker crust.  How?

Just pulse 10 graham cracker sheets (about 6 oz) into fine crumbs with a food processor.  Add 2 tablespoons low-fat milk and process until the crumbs stick together, about 30 seconds.  Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Mmm...tasty!


15 April 2014

What's the Difference? Coconut Cream vs Coconut Milk vs Cream of Coconut


Coconut milk...coconut cream...cream of coconut.  Are they all the same?

Nope, they're not.  Here's a breakdown:

  • Coconut milk:  equal parts coconut meat and water, cooked and strained.  "Light" coconut milk has been strained twice to remove more fat.  It's unsweetened.
  • Coconut cream:  again coconut meat and water, but the ratio of coconut to water is higher, so it's much creamier and thicker than coconut milk.  It's used in similar recipes.
  • Cream of coconut:  a blend of thick coconut cream and cane sugar.  It's syrupy and sweet and often found in the beverage aisle since it's commonly used in cocktails.  Pina Coladas anyone?
Regardless which product you choose, be sure to shake the can and/or give it a good stir before using - the fat in coconut tends to separate.

Mmm...tasty!



08 April 2014

DIY Orange Cleaner


Make your own orange cleaner:

Simply steep the rind of four (4) oranges in 1 cup distilled white vinegar for 2 weeks.  Strain and dilute with 1 cup water.  Put in  a spray bottle and use as an all-purpose cleaner.

D-limonene, a solvent found in orange oil, is an excellent grease cutter and it's all natural!

Mmm...tasty.

04 April 2014

Feeling Super!

Faster than a speeding bullet.  More powerful than a locomotive.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

P3190141_cew

01 April 2014

What's the Difference? Active Dry Yeast vs Instant Yeast vs Rapid-Rise Yeast


Active dry yeast, instant yeast, and rapid-rise yeast are the three most common yeasts available to home bakers.  And, yes, although they are all yeast, they are all different and it does make a difference which you use in your recipe.

Here's the break-down:
  • Active dry yeast:  this is the stuff you probably picture when yeast come to mind, it's dry and granular with a consistency similar to cornmeal.  To use active dry yeast, you have to dissolve the granules in warm water, then add it to the rest of the ingredients.  It behaves "typically" and it will give your dough two rises. 
  • Instant yeast:  also commonly referred to as "bread machine yeast," is milled to much finer particles.  You do not have to dissolve this yeast in water prior to using, so you can add it along with the other dry ingredients.  This yeast will give your dough two rises.
  • Rapid-Rise yeast:  this is essentially a type of instant yeast that has had additional enzymes and other additives included to make it rise faster; it is milled finer and does not need to be dissolved in water prior to use.  With this yeast type, you can skip the first rise and shape the dough right after kneading. 
Can you use the types interchangeably?
  • You can use active dry yeast and instant yeast interchangeably on a 1:1 basis (i.e. 1 tsp active dry = 1 tsp instant).  If subbing one for the other, keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe to account for the warm water necessary for dissolving active dry yeast.
  • Rapid-Rise yeast cannot be substituted for either active dry yeast or instant yeast because it behaves so differently.
Mmm...tasty!