Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Make Coconut Carmel Sauce

Here is another awesome recipe you can make from a can of full fat coconut milk. In case you missed the previous coconut milk recipe, you can read it here.  This recipe is very simple to make and the taste is rich and not too sweet as I cut down the sugar amount - can't really tell that it's from coconut cream, it tastes like dulce de leche. Even tho the recipe says to cook at a low boil for 35-45 minutes, it goes by fast and seeing the cream turn a golden color is really cool. My recipe has been adapted from this one.

Like the other recipe, you chill a can of organic coconut milk to get the cream to separate from the water. You scoop out the cream and place it in a small sauce pan. Over medium high heat, add in the other ingredients while whisking and bring to a boil. You want to whisk every couple of minutes until it has reduced by half. Do not get distracted and walk away, there is a tendency for the cream to boil over and it could make a mess. Right about 30 minutes, the color should turn a nice caramely color and get real thick. Cool slightly and use immediately or transfer to an air tight storage container. The original recipe says it keeps for about 2 weeks, but I have never had mine last that long. The original recipe also calls for using two cans, but I only use one, two cans would be too much for me to make at one time.

Printable recipe

It turns from this . . .

to this!

The uses for this yummy sauce is endless. Pour it over ice cream, dip apples in it or you can make something like this:

I used this cookie recipe. I placed it in an 8 x 8 pan, spread the caramel over the cookie, let it cool slightly, then spread on a 1/2 cup of melted semi sweet chocolate chips over the top. I set in the frig to cool then cut it into squares. So yummy and when you bite into it, the chocolate and caramel coating is a little crisp.

So, not only can you cook with coconut milk, but you can bake with it and create lot's of delicious recipes. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you make with it.

What do you like to put caramel sauce on?

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Make Coconut Whipped Cream

There are a lot of people, me included, who cannot tolerate dairy products. Dairy can cause a lot of digestive issues and bathroom problems for most people, it can also cause that proverbial runny nose that some of us have, and  avoiding it can be difficult.

Did you know that the cream from a can of FULL FAT coconut milk can be used to make whipped cream? It's really not difficult to do - the hardest part in
this process is waiting for the cream to solidify enough to whip.

Here are the steps to making your own non dairy whipped cream:

Take an organic can of full fat coconut milk, right side up (do not shake the can to mix contents), and place it in your frig - you want the cream to separate from the water, this could take several hours or leave it overnight. Don't make the mistake of thinking that freezing it will speed up the process - I put mine in the freezer and forgot about it. After thawing and trying to make whipped cream, it came out gritty from being frozen - you won't like it, trust me.

With your can properly chilled, turn it upside down. By turning it upside down, you get to the liquid first and that makes getting to the cream easier - I've tried both ways and this one is the best.

Give your new top a good rinse. You should make it a habit to rinse ALL your canned goods before opening them. Do you know where it's been before you got it? or What's been crawling on top of it?

Open the can and you'll see some liquid on the top. Pour that liquid in a storage container - you can use it in smoothies or curry recipes. It freezes wonderfully for when you need it - it's ok to have a little of the cream mixed in, you just don't want the two to totally mix together.

This is what the cream will look like in the can.

Using a spatula, take out all the cream from the can (you can see it's a little gritty from being frozen).

Squeeze out about 2 tablespoons of honey - you can measure it if you need too.

Then add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract - you could add any flavor you like.

Now, get out your hand held mixer and start mixing. If you're brave, you could do it by hand, but I'm not brave. You could also do this in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer - just put the cream in your mixer bowl and follow the rest of the steps.

Whip to your desired consistency. I have a little ways to go here.

Here it is all done - rich and thick like whipped cream should be. t'll last a couple of weeks in the frig - either place some plastic wrap over the top of your bowl, or spoon into a storage container, then use as desired.

Printable Recipe

Here are some ideas of what you can do with the whipped cream other than using it as just a topping:

I took some of the whipped cream and put them in a mini chopper with some frozen strawberries. I then froze the whole thing. It got pretty solid and was hard to eat - I had to chip away at it, but it was still tasty. I have eaten it at this stage - so yummy!

Here, I chopped some frozen strawberries and put them on the whipped cream. I then chopped some crystallized ginger and topped off my dessert with it, you can even add nuts - just like eating a rich dessert.  

See, making non dairy whipped cream is that easy, and you can do so much with it. I can eat a good amount of this with no problems.  I have another recipe you can make with the cream from canned coconut milk - be sure to come back next week to see another sweet treat.

What foods do you like to put whipped cream on?

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A New Way to Cook Chicken

There are so many different ways to cook chicken and they all produce different results. We love chicken in our house, especially boneless skinless thighs. I have developed a new way of cooking chicken that I think is very tasty and the end result produces chicken that is cooked well with great flavor. Let's start shall we.

What I like to do first with my thighs is to clean them, see the beginning of this post which shows you how I clean my chicken. This gets off additional fat and that vein that's on the inside. No rinsing necessary.

Next, add some cooking oil to a preheating skillet (I use extra virgin olive oil). The trick to my method is to have the oil HOT, not smoking, which will prevent the chicken from sticking to your pan (especially if you're not using a non stick pan). As I clean my chicken, I leave it on my chicken board (I have a designated board and knife for raw meats) and prep it for cooking. I lay them out and sprinkle salt, pepper, and a mix of granulated garlic and onion (to increase flavor) on one side. 

Place chicken flavor side down and don't crowd the pan, if you have a lot to cook, do it in batches or use another pan.

Immediately set a timer for 3 minutes or just eye ball your time by watching the clock. Then season the exposed side.

After 3 minutes are up, turn chicken over to cook the other side for another 3 minutes. It's ok if you get a little bit of stickage, if it totally won't lift up, then cook it a little longer.

When those 3 minutes are up, remove your chicken to a dish or plate - I use a pie pan. **Note: if you just wanted cooked chicken - for salad or sandwiches, you can cook your chicken for another couple of minutes on each side then use for desired recipe.**

 Now you can have fun. Mix up whatever sauce you want - in this case I was making Shoyu Chicken. This is just a mix of soy sauce (wheat free tamari) and water in equal amounts. Here I did a 1/4 cup tamari to a 1/4 water.

If you are left with a lot of oil at the bottom of your pan, you'll want to take most of it out. I use a small mason jar to keep used oil - it's still good to reuse (probably no more than 3 times). You will be left with some glorious brown stuff stuck to your pan. All that stuff is gold, you want all that for extra flavor.

Pour in your sauce.

Let it heat up and bubble up some.

You'll want to scrape up some of the gold that's stuck to the pan. If you want a thick sauce, you can mix about 1 tablespoon of arrowroot or cornstarch in some water and mix in while the sauce is hot.

After things get loosened up and your sauce is hot, place chicken back into the hot sauce, turning to coat.

There should be some juice from the chicken left on your plate or pie pan, throw that in with the chicken too - that's extra flavor.

Cook for another couple of minutes on each side and you're done. 

Serve with sides of your choice - here I have quinoa, kimchi, and sauteed kale, it was delicious!

Cooking chicken this way has changed the way we eat chicken. Honestly, it tastes better than just dumping sauce on the chicken and throwing it in your oven or in a pan. It just takes a few extra minutes to get flavorful, juicy chicken. Along with Shoyu Chicken, I've done BBQ, teriyaki, adobo, and sweet and sour. Give my technique a try, and I promise, you'll never to back.

What's your favorite sauce you like on chicken?

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Easy Fabric Dyeing - Part II

Ok, now that we've gotten the hard part out of the way, let's have some fun. First off,  if you haven't read Part I, I suggest you do, then you will understand what's going on here in Part II.

We'll start with mixing up some medium and paint.

You'll need a 20 ounce clean and empty beverage bottle, paint color of your choice, and textile medium. Working next to a sink, take your 20 ounce bottle and add some water to it - maybe a couple of tablespoons (about where my finger is at). 

Shake then open your medium and pour it into the bottle. Add some water and shake it up, you're trying to get all that medium into the bottle. Keep adding water, shaking, and dumping until the medium bottle is cleaned out. Repeat this same procedure for for the paint in this same bottle. 

After pouring in the paint, your dye will look streaked - just cap it and shake well to mix.

Now let's dye.

I had some fabric I dyed green a while ago and put it in my stash for a future project. If you want to dye a large piece like this, just use a large bowl or bin, pour the dye in and submerge your fabric. Leave it in for 20 minutes to half an hour, then wring it out (over the bowl) - pour the leftover dye back in the 20 ounce bottle for another use.

I ironed the fabric to remove any creases. Then I folded the fabric in half and start to fan fold - unlike folding origami, I didn't worry about being precise on my folds. 

I took a straight edged ruler and cut off the ragged edges on both sides.

Starting at the corner, I folded the fabric into a triangle. Turn it over and fold another triangle. Repeat until all folded. Again, I wasn't worried about precision with my folds.

I tried my best to keep the triangular shape. It will get real thick as you get toward the end - use clamps to help you hold it together.

I decided to use the circular acrylic shape - these were bought on Etsy.

I placed the circles where I DIDN'T want any dye - here, I just wanted the corners to be dyed. I sandwiched the fabric between the circles . . . 

Placed clamps tightly in place and set aside.

This part you can do in advance or at this stage. I took a scrap piece of  my working fabric and tested for contrasting colors. 

I liked the dark blue best - I poured it in a disposable cup and worked out of it.

I placed a screen over my sink and using a spray bottle, I spritzed the fabric with water. You get different results whether you dye with dry fabric or wet fabric - I mostly like to wet my fabric before dyeing.

Using a pipette, I applied the dye to the exposed areas of the fabric - the clamped areas will resist the dye. I don't worry about seepage under the acrylic, it will just add to the design.

Being sure to get in the folds of the fabric for an even design.

This is what the fabric looks like after removing the acrylic, you can see where the acrylic was (I did have some seepage). You could at this point open up the fabric a little to see if you like the design. Be careful if you do this - the fabric is very damp, and the darker dye can get on your finger which could transfer to unwanted parts of the fabric. I wash my hands a lot while dyeing.

I decided I wanted the top tip dyed, so I got some large tongue depressors, clamped them on, and applied more dye. 

What it looks like after dyeing.

Here is the finished fabric. You can see that the top tip I dyed was very uneven (that would be the centers of each diamond), so not all of it got dyed. If I didn't dye the top, I would've just gotten and all over diamond pattern.

Here is the stocking pattern I made years ago when I made our family stockings. I placed it on the fabric, cut out 2 pieces and sewed it.

Here is the finished stocking again.

Just to show you other dye patterns, here is the family of stockings - most of the lettering was colored in with gel pens. 

Here are other shirts I dyed recently - ice, pole and tied.

There are many ways you can dye fabric, I've just covered some of the techniques. The Internet has a wealth of information regarding fabric dyeing and like I said previously, you can use the same techniques in dyeing with paints as you could with expensive dyes and additives and it's cheap, cheap, cheap.

Give my tutorial a try and if you help, just ask me, I'll be glad to help where I can.

So, what's the first thing you're going to dye?

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this post or any of my other posts. Thanks!