Friday, November 30, 2012

Shows I am currently loving.......

Just a short friday night post.....

The Walking Dead - I have blown through all the seasons and am up to date after only 1 week, and I managed to get all my homework done, how did that even happen? I started watching Season 1 last year but got bored because it was so slow paced...after multiple recommendations I went back to it and am hooked!

Scandal - never been much for the other Shonda Rhimes show, but this one she nails on the head, many surprises, likable characters and a little mystery!

The Mindy Project - I never knew how awesome Mindy Kaling was on the office, this show really highlights how comedically talented she is.

Tis the season for dare I say it, ABC family holiday movies,  they are my guilty pleasure, totally lame and predicable but I can't wait, they really get me in the holiday spirit.

What are you currently watching?


-Leah

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crockpot Caramelized onions


 Who doesn’t love caramelized onions? Even the most unabashed onion haters who might usually recoil can’t deny the pull of those delicious soft sweet onions.

The beauty of caramelized onions is that they can be used for a lot, and they don’t really take that much work, if you utilize your Crockpot.

Over at whitehouseblackshutters Ann Marie swears by using a cast iron pan. I am guessing onions are really great done that ways, especially since she adds bacon! And the beauty of cast iron is that it imparts extra iron into your food. More on my cast iron and cast iron enamel addiction another day. I didn’t have time to sit and babysit onions on the stove, so I decided to bust out my trusty friend Crockpot. Yes I use the Crockpot a lot, because it’s awesome.

Ingredients:
Onions – I used 5 large yellow onions
2-3 tbsp duck fat (or bacon grease, or olive oil, or butter)
Salt

Slice up your onions, I like to make them rings, but you could slice or dice them up in any way you prefer, you want the slices thin-medium thickness.
Put  ½  your fat into the bottom of the Crockpot and add onions. Top with the remaining fat. Sprinkle in some salt and cover.  Set it on high and let it cook for the next 10 -12 hours. Yup you read that right! For truly awesome onions you want to let them cook a long time.
I’ll walk by periodically and give them a stir, maybe once every 3 hrs, but this is not a necessary step. The onions will be done when they are a rich golden brown, deep and dark. Remove from Crockpot and cool.
not dark enough
You can bag them up and freeze them to have on hand or you might want to use them right away for a dip or to mix into mashed potatoes, add to sandwiches, top your pizza with them, add to pasta, etc. Or of course for French Onion soup.

*My advice when making caramelized onions, go for the usual white or yellow varieties, do not go for sweet, although I love Vidalia or Walla Walla sweets you really want to go with a stronger spicier onion – see this serious eats post regarding their experimentation with varieties of onions.
perfect, nice and dark brown!



Monday, November 26, 2012

I Spy Pecan Pie


This year I decided to make a gluten free pecan pie to go along with the rest of our Thanksgiving feast.
You may recall in August I made a number of pies for a wedding, except I used store bought crust, this time I wanted to make my own.

For the crust I used this recipe over at A Baking Life.  
From reading the comments/reviews and it being featured on a few other blogs I put my faith in this recipe, hoping I would be rewarded with a flaky buttery crust.
Oops the baking powder is missing!

For the pastry flour:
2 cups white rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

For the crust:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1 cup gf pastry flour mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp baking powder
2.25 oz cream cheese, cold, cut into chunks
2 1/2 Tbsp ice water

Cut the butter into small cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, about 30 minutes.
Place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a ziplock gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for 30 minutes.

The original recipe says to put the flour into the food processor and then add the cream cheese, but since I don’t have a food processor I used a pastry blender. Cut in the cream cheese until it’s a coarse meal. Now add in the frozen butter and cut the butter in until there are about pea size.  Now its time for the water, I ended up using about 4 tbsp of water to get my dough to start to come together. Put the dough back into the ziplock and knead it from the outside of the bag until a dough starts to form and it sticks together. Form into a disc and put into the fridge. The original recipe says to let it rest 45 mins til overnight, mine sat for roughly 1 hour.

To roll out the dough use parchment paper, use a little rice flour if you are having an issue with sticking.  Roll out to your desired thickness. Place crust over pie pan and peel off parchment.  Fill and bake according to your recipe directions.

It rolled out just like regular pastry dough

At this point get that oven heating up – start it at 400 degrees. 

For the pecan filling:
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, plus additional whole pecans for decorating.
1 tsp lemon zest (or orange zest) minced

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and then add in the melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the rice flour.
Add the milk, vanilla and fold in the chopped pecans.
Pour into the unbaked crust you just made. Cover the top with the remaining pecans.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Ready to eat!
Note: The pie is done when the sides are set and the center is still slightly wiggly. The pie will continue to cook while its cooling. 

Update: The pie crust was a success! Everyone loved it and couldn't even tell it was gluten free :) Will 
definitely be using that recipe as my go to crust. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Respectable Spectacles!




A few weeks ago I got an email from Firmoo.com telling me they would give me a free pair of glasses if I reviewed them and posted the link. Well at first I wasn’t really sure what to make of it, but after a bit of digging around I found a few sites (Spaghetti Westerner & GingerMandy) and determined they were reputable. 

Ooh La La 
So I thought why not take the plunge and see how these affordable frames hold up to my beloved (& pricey) Oliver Peoples frames.

I decided to go with a pair of prescription glasses.  I wear glasses and it’s nice to have a few spares around. Firmoo offers both prescription and non prescription glasses and sunglasses.

It was easy to order online, even filling in my prescription information and  I got my glasses about a week ago.  I have worn them numerous times since then and they are quite well made and my prescription is spot on. Shocking and unexpected for free glasses!

The price on the site listed the ones I ordered for about $30.00, the prices range from $8-$70 dollars. Not to mention you can get a free trial pair to test them out if you have any doubts.

My one complaint is that they have a bit of a smell to them, my husband says it smells like leather, I say it smells slightly like seafood, although its already starting to fade. The glasses came with a hard case, cleaning cloth, 2 replacement screws and a small screwdriver.

My sister is looking to get some new frames and will definitely be referring her to this site.
Hello Gorgeous!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Escape


This last weekend we headed out of town for a little R&R before the craziness of the holiday season and my finals hit. 
We stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast in Parkdale, located in the Hood River Valley. Aptly named The Old Parkdale Inn.



We were greeted & settled in Friday night by Mary, the owner, and her sweet pup Tilly.

Mary made us the most delicious breakfasts. On Sat we were treated to apple cherry crisp, fruit & yogurt, a vegetable omelet, sausage and breakfast potatoes.
On Sunday, pancakes with homemade pear butter!
Mary even accommodated my gluten allergy.

Our room was cozy and the bed so comfortable. We even had our own balcony.


During the day we explored the small quaint town, stopping in old shops and grabbing a cafe au lait for our stroll down the main street in the misty weather. 

We also went to the orchard farm 5 minutes from the inn and got  some fruit, it was a self serve stand since it is the off season. 

Each night we walked to the delicious Apple Valley BBQ for dinner. We liked it so much Friday we went back the following evening. They also were able to accommodate my gluten-free needs.

Parkdale is close to Mt Hood and activities are plentiful, hiking, skiing, going into town for a little shopping, visiting the many wine tasting rooms, stopping by some of the local orchards. And in the summer there are even more activities. It was just what we needed to recharge our batteries!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Honey Dill Chicken Tenders & Dipping Sauce

In Canada we have a sauce called honey-dill and its amazing. It is what we eat with chicken tenders, fries, etc. Pretty much instead of ranch we have honey dill and its delicious.  I suddenly had the urge for it this week so I decided to make some chicken tenders.


1 cup mayo
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp dried Dill (I add a little more or little less if you want,  I like dill a lot)
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix together all ingredients. Add a little salt if needed.

In a ziplock add 1/2 lb chicken tenders and enough sauce to coat them. Keep the remaining sauce for serving. Let the chicken chill out in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

You could grill or bake these but I decided at the last minute to make them crispy.


 I used 1.5 cups corn Chex crushed up as a coating,  you could use a blender or food processor, or put it in a ziplock and bang it with a mallet.

On a plate pour the chex pieces and dip each chicken piece into it pressing the coating on each side.

Bake in a 375 oven for 10 minutes then flip over and cook another 6-10 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with remaining sauce.

We enjoyed these with brown butter tiny potatoes and Parmesan green beans.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Well Hello There November!

October just flew by! Only a few more months and we will be in 2013, its hard to believe.

This last weekend our poor little Ivy injured her dew claw and had to go to emergency on Saturday night. The bandage came off last night and she is back to jumping around and playing however she does have to wear the cone of shame!

I am going to try my best to keep blogging once a week; I am coming up on my last few weeks of school, hello finals! Between school, work and trying to make holiday gifts. I haven’t been posting as much as I would like.

Don’t worry though, I’ll be posting some holiday recipes since we are doing lots of gluten free Thanksgiving & Christmas foods! It will be an experience to see if my gluten eating family members will be able to taste a difference J  I’ll also be posting some cute DIY holiday ideas that I'll be working on with my sister.

Have a great week!