Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Simple Homemade Rustic Crackers

One of my favorite snacks has got to be cheese and crackers.  I think cheese is on almost every girl's favorite foods list! Types like Brie, Gruyere, Sharp Cheddar, or Goat are heavenly. Mmm, mmm, mmm! However, for crackers, it's usually some simple wheat cracker, or a fewTriscuits. Nothing too fancy, but it gets the job done.

I decided to be a little adventurous the other day, and baked some homemade crackers to spice up my snack time! I found this rustic cracker recipe on the internet. It is extremely simple and very rewarding!

What you will need to make these rustic crackers:

-2 cups flour
-2/3 cup water
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 t salt
-1 t baking powder
-Egg wash (one egg beaten with 2 T water)
-Toppings of your choice
-2 cookie sheets
-A rolling pin
Instead of choosing just one topping for these crackers, I decided to go with six different combinations!

To begin, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add in the oil and water until it forms a slightly sticky dough.  
Split the dough into two equal balls to roll out on your two cookie sheets. If your cookie sheet slips away from you as you're rolling, place a towel underneath to add a little support.
Roll out the dough as thin as you can, without ripping it. Don't worry about making a perfect shape, all the imperfections are the perfect size for a taste test!
Once thin enough, paint the dough with the egg wash and begin sprinkling your seasoning and herb combinations onto the dough. 

I wanted to try as many different flavors as possible so I split my dough into 3 sections. 

The combinations I chose were:
salt, rosemary, and thyme
salt, sesame seed, and poppy seed
salt and pepper
minced garlic with garlic powder
onion powder
ground flax seed and sunflower seed

I would have to say my two favorite combinations were the salt, sesame seed, and poppy seed, along with the ground flax and sunflower seeds!
Once your doughs are fully coated in the delicious seasonings of your choosing, go ahead and cut them into any size crackers you want, using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife.  
 Don't worry if they are still stuck together, as long as there is a visible slit between each square.  You can snap the crackers apart once they are cooled.  When ready, put your soon to be crackers into a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

After the 10 minutes are up, pull a tray out and test your creation.  Do you like your texture? Is it too chewy? Or just right! 

After tasting, I was happy with a very light brown cracker, which was crispy, yet chewy.  However, I was curious as to how they would taste once they cooked and darkened a bit more, so I popped them in for a few more minutes, totaling about 14 minutes. 

They came out even better! Crispy, flavorful, and had great texture! (I highly suggest cooking them longer than 10 minutes.) 
After cooling, smother them in whatever your little tummy desires! For me, it was a wonderfully creamy brie!   
I hope you enjoy!  Please share some other topping suggestions for next time! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Heavenly Herb Roasted Red Potatoes

I recently posted about Brussels sprouts being a delicious addition to any meal. Well, the same goes for my Herb Roasted Red Potatoes! These crispy little suckers are absolutely scrumptious and are so easy to make!

What you'll need:
4 medium sized red potatoes
olive oil
dried thyme
dried rosemary
dried sage
non-stick spray

To begin, rinse your potatoes and cut them in half, then cut them in half again, similar to how you would cut a lemon wedge.
Next, place them in a bowl and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Go ahead and sprinkle on all your seasonings.  I prefer mine with extra, extra seasoning, but the amount is up to you.  I tend to do an equal amount of each.
Now it's time to get messy!  Get in there and mix those puppies!  I use my hands when mixing the potatoes because it helps get the seasoning all over each and every potato wedge!  Feel free to use a large spoon if you don't want to get your hands oily.
For an easy clean up, I line a cookie sheet with two layers of foil.  That way, all you have to do is roll it in a ball and toss it in your garbage can once you're done! Before placing the wedges on the foil make sure you spray the foil with some sort of non-stick spray. *This is an important step.*  If you skip this step, the crispy deliciousness will stick to the foil and you will become one sad panda.  Once sprayed, place each wedge in a line with one side down.  This is how they become crispy.
When the wedges are spread out, pop them into a 350 to 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
The key in making these extra crispy is flipping them over after 20 minutes and letting them cook for an additional 20 minutes. If the side that was facing the foil is not crispy after the first 20 minutes, pop them back in for another 5 minutes and check again before flipping. 
Once all of your potato wedges are golden brown you know they are ready!  
Mmm! Don't they look scrumptious? If you are a fan of Greek yogurt/sour cream with your potatoes, I hiiiighly suggest you dip these bad boys in some salt and peppered Greek yogurt/sour cream! 
I hope you enjoy these yummy potatoes! Try it and let me know how it works out! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Crispy Brussels Sprout Lovin

I would have to say one of my favorite vegetables has got to be Brussels Sprouts!  As a kid it was broccoli.  I loved broccoli so much I asked for it for Chirstmas one year.

 Since my weird childhood days, my love for broccoli has been stomped on by Brussels Sprouts!

You can steam them, satuee them or my favorite, roast them in the oven!  

To make these Crispy Brussels Sporuts you will need:
-1 package of fresh brussels spouts 
-2 tbsp olive oil

This recipe is so easy and is a delicious addition to any type of meal, or alone as a snack!

To begin, rinse the Brussels and remove any leaves that have spots!
Then chop the Brussels in wedges, like you would cut a lemon.  I prefer this rather than just splitting them down the middle.  I think it makes all the little leaves crispier! 
Once you have all your sprouts cut, chuck them in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil on them.  I just eyeball it, but don't use too much, they will not get the same crispy effect if you do! 
Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them, and mix the Brussels enough so each wedge gets an even coating.  

Once you have them all coated toss them on a greased baking sheet lined with foil.  Spread the Brussels out on one level so that each wedge will get its fair share of crispy lovin. 

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Take them out about half way through and give them a little shake to turn them so that each side will get crisp.

Once they are darkened and crispy take them out and enjoy!!!
If you want to dip your Cirspy Brussels Spouts in something yummy heres a quick recipes you could try. 

Honey Garlic Dipping Sauce 
 -2 cloves minced garlic
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
-1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
-pepper to taste

In a small pot satuee garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add honey and soy sauce. Mix continuously until sauce has thickened.  Keep an eye on the sauce because it will bubble over.  When that happens, remove from heat and stir faster!  I usually let the sauce bubble up two or three times. Then add pepepr.

Let me know how it works out for you, and please share your favorite way to prepare Brussels Sprouts! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Planning the Perfect "Me Night"

My favorite day of the week is Thursday.  For most people, I'm assuming it's Friday they love, being that it's the end of a work week and all. But for me,  Thursdays are my "Me Night".  

If I plan on spending the night in, I always try to make it relaxing and spoil myself as much as possible! The key is to keep it simple. 
Three musts for my Thursday "Me nights" are:

1. Mini Spa Night
2. Indulge
3. Entertainment

Mini Spa Night: 
Choose two treatments and relax! Most of the time I opt for a face mask of some sort and a pedicure!  That way I can multitask and still enjoy myself. Other nice combos could be a hydrating hair treatment using coconut oil and a face mask, a hot soak in the tub and a body scrub, or the no fail mani/pedi combo! 

 My sister bought me the Elizabeth Arden Peel and Reveal treatment this past Christmas and it's amazing! I also love using Coconut Oil. It's crazy versatile and can be used for almost anything, and is supposed to be amazing for your hair!  

If you want to try the Coconut Oil Hair Treatment it's simple!  Just heat up the oil for a bit in the microwave, then massage it onto your scalp and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Wash it out--it will most likely need two washes.  And voilĂ , your hair is silky smooth!

 On Thursday nights I usually indulge in a big ol' glass of vino and some sort of yummy treat. I love cheese, so I sometimes pick at an assortment of cheese and crackers, or I go a different route and make a Greek Yogurt Pizza.  It's simple, delicious and usually takes less than 30 minutes to make!

One of the reasons I love Thursdays so much is because it's the night all of my favorite TV shows air, like Grey's Anatomy, and Scandal! If you're not into watching that much TV, a good book is also an amazing choice of entertainment.  I am currently in the middle of Mindly Kaling's book, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns)". It's a light and funny read so far, and certainly brightens up my day whenever I pick it up!

Like I said before, the key is to keep it simple, so enjoy yourself and relax!  If you don't want to cook, order some take out! Remember... it's your night, so do what you want!

In what ways do you pamper yourself on your "Me night"? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Wilderness Walk Through Pine Plains

Spring is finally on its way, and it has me super excited for all the beautiful warm weather to come! I always look forward to the first time after winter when I can drive around with my windows down, the welcomed wind blowing in my hair and my lungs full of fresh air!  

Yesterday I didn't do much driving, but I did go on a long walk with my love, Nolan and three of our four-legged buddies... Miss Ellie, Joba, and Red!  It was absolutely wonderful which is why I decided to share my delightful afternoon and the ton of photos I took, so prepare to scroll!

 I find something beautiful about this time of year, despite the trees and grass not changing colors yet.

The scenery was a muted beige but the afternoon was brightened up by the shining sun and intense blue sky! 
The dogs were certainly excited to be out and about racing around. They were running crazy with their noses to the ground, sniffing absolutely everything!
Nolan and I took about a two and a half mile walk roaming around this beautiful lake and wandered through the barn of an abandoned dairy farm.

This is one of my favorite photos of the day! I think it's beautiful.
I literally took like a bazillion photos of the lake and the barn. For whatever reason, I thought each and every snap was necessary.
  This was one of my favorite places during our walk.  I loved the huge beaver hut, which is a new addition since last year, according to Nolan!

We also came across a little woolly bear, who was not to keen on having his photo taken. 

 Look at that little man, trying to hide from the camera!

I would now just like to show off my model doggies, who were either posing or getting silly for the camera... 

What beauties they are!
The barn was interesting to walk through, and slightly nerve racking. Unfortunately, evidence would suggest, this is where larger animals took their "dinners" and left some scraps behind...

Apologies for the slightly blurry photo, I took more of some other remains but thought it wasn't necessary and slightly morbid!

Of course Nolan and I took some time to take a few silly photos of our bundled up selves!
Some other beauties we came across on our nature walk...
 I absolutely love this photo! I don't know what it is but it makes me smile every time! 

After a good amount of walking, our feet told us it was time to head home, and that is what we did!

Thanks for checking out all my photos! Please share some of your favorite nature places in the Hudson Valley and be sure to check back in a few weeks once spring has truly sprung!