Date + Fig Scones + Almond Milk + Orange Marmalade

Happy Mother’s Day!

One of my mom’s favorites are scones!  I got busy in the kitchen this morning and mixed, baked, blended, and boiled to make a batch of fig and date scones as well as raw almond milk–

– and a quick batch of organic orange marmalade.

Her favorite flowers are freesias and I was able to find a beautiful pink bouquet at Trader Joe’s the night before.  I split the bunch up between three recycled glass jars and the buds are slowly blooming as they adorn the dining room table.

The marmalade complemented the scones well and the unsweetened almond milk was the perfect match for the two.

I hope you are having a wonderful mother’s day with your loved ones and enjoying the rest of this weekend!

Date + Fig Scones

This recipe is adapted from Good Life Eat’s basic scone recipe.  It is perfect to get creative with and add in different juices, fruits, and zests, as well as experiment with different flours (you can make a gluten-free version).  I wanted to use some of the fruits that are in season which is how I came up with adding fig and dates to it.

– 2/3 cup sugar
– 2 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 cup oat flour
– 1 cup white flour
– 4 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup cold vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
– 2 egg replacers
– 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/2 to 1 cup of dried figs, chopped
– 1/2 to 1 cup of dried dates, chopped
– 1 1/2 TBS cinnamon

In a large bowl combine the sugar, flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Cut the vegan butter into the flour mixture.

In the middle of the dry ingredients, make a well.  Add the egg replacers, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Stir until starting to come together, then add the dried fruit.  Continue to stir until well combined, or use one hand to combine the ingredients if easier (which is what I did.)

Knead in the bowl a few times.  The dough will be slightly sticky, but you should be able to work with it easily.  If you feel it’s too sticky, sprinkle a little bit of flour on it and on your hands.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into small balls in equal size.  I didn’t make mine too perfect since I like the natural textures and look of the dough.  place on the parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 15-25 minutes (it took mine closer to 25 minutes to finish baking).

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

If you want to freeze the extras:  cool them completely and place in a ziplock bag.  Freeze for up to a month.

Almond Milk

Making anything from fresh after having a box/canned/bottled version of it is always amazing!  It’s funny how different fresh almond milk tastes to me vs. the kind you get in the stores.  I made a very pure version– didn’t add any sweeteners or other flavorings, it’s just raw almonds and water.

This recipe does require you to soak the almonds, overnight if possible, so I soaked the almonds the night before to make sure they were ready for me in the morning.

A friend of mine had asked before about the fat content in almond milk so I did a little research.  Although it has more fat content than soy milk and skim milk, it actually has fewer calories than both!  Unsweetened almond milk may contain about 40 calories, while soy milk and skim milk has about double the amount.  Almond milk (as well as soy milk) also contains fats that are good for you, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Those help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and protects against cardiovascular and neurological diseases.  It also contains a good dose of dietary fiber, between 1 to 4 grams depending on the richness and fortification of the milk.  It is also a great source of B vitamins.  With all that said, I think you should try to make some yourself and reap all these benefits!  Also, when you make it at home you can make sure you use organic almonds and control the amount of sweetness you’d like in it.

I used a Vita-mix for this recipe which definitely makes the job a lot easier, but you can also use a regular blender.  You will also need cheesecloth if you want your milk to be very smooth and free of any almond bits.

Last comment– it’s kind of cool to me that you blend this up and even though the almonds have that brownish skin, the milk is white!  I just thought about that as I was looking through the photos.  Anyway, try this out and enjoy having fresh almond milk in your fridge :)

As with all things fresh with no added preservatives,  consume as soon as possible and if needed keep in the fridge in an airtight jar, bottle, or container, and drink or use within the next few days.

-1 cup of organic raw almonds, soaked in water overnight
– 3-5 cups of water
– agave nectar (optional)

Drain the raw almonds.  Place in blender along with 3 to 5 cups of water.  (You can start with 3, see how you like the thickness and add more water if needed.  Because I didn’t strain the milk, I add more water to thin it out a bit.)

Blend until smooth, or as smooth as possible.

If you want to smooth it out even more, pour the milk through cheese cloth.  (You can save the almond meal and bake with it or add it to a salad.)

Serve as is or chilled.  Enjoy!

Orange Marmalade

An easy way to make fresh marmalade!  I also like this because you can make a small amount and finish it, instead of having a jar lingering in your fridge for months when you just needed / wanted a little bit.

A food processor will make this recipe a bit easier to make, but is not necessary.

This recipe is from Food.com by carol in orlando.

– 1 organic orange, whole, washed very well
– 1/2 cup of sugar  (I don’t like things too sweet but if you do, you may want to add more sugar)
– 2 TBS of water

Take your clean orange and cut off both ends.

Cut into larger chunks to be placed in a food processor until the orange is in tiny pieces, or finely chop by hand.

Place the orange, sugar, and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Let cool and serve or place in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

I Love How Schmidt says “Chut-a-ney”

And in honor of that, I am making…some mango chut-a-ney!

If you are a New Girl Schmidtty fan, you will know exactly what I am talking about.  If you don’t know, it all started when Schmidt was trying to impress CeCe by telling her all the things he loves about India.

“I love, you know, I love Slumdog, naan… pepper, Ben Kingsley…the stories of Rudyard Kipling.  I have respect for cows, of course.  I love… the Taj Mahal, Deepak Chopra, anyone named Patel… I love monsoons… I love cobras in baskets…growing up to be a doctor… love mango chut-a-ney… really any type of chut-a-ney…”

If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.  If you have seen it, watch it again– I love it THAT much more every time!

So here is a recipe for mango chutaney as well as one for these yummy stick crackers to eat the chutaney with!

PS: If you saw last week’s twirly episode, “AAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” about what happened at the end and can’t wait for tonight’s episode!

Both recipes below have been reprinted from The Indian Vegan Kitchen by Madhu Gadia by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2009 Madhu Gadia.

Mango Chut-a-ney

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this recipe only.

You will need a blender/food processor for this recipe.

I have a confession to make.  I started making this without realizing I basically didn’t have any of the spices….so mine only has the salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, and vinegar lol and it tastes great!  So I can only imagine, with all of the ingredients, how amazing it would taste!

- 3 1/2 cups of mango, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1″ strips (measure the slices after they have been peeled and sliced)
– 1 1/2 TBS salt
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 tsp fennel seeds
– 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
– 1/2 tsp kalonji
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1/3 vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

In a glass bowl, mix mango slices and salt.  Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.  (In my case I accidentally let it set for like 3 days!  It got hectic and I completely forgot about it!  But after the first night I had stuck it in the fridge– so in case you don’t have time you can do the same :)

Strain the mango slices over a large bowl, squeezing them to get any excess juice out.  Reserve the juices and set aside.  Place the slices on a clean cloth and let set for one hour.  (I guess because mine had been in the refrigerator for days that there was not that much juice so I didn’t put them on a cloth to set for an hour.)

Blend half the mango slices in a food processor or blender until it becomes the consistency of apple sauce.

In a medium saucepan, place the sugar and reserved mango juices.  (Since I did not have any mango juice, I added a TBS of water.)  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until sugar has dissolved and syrup has thickened.

Add the mango slices and blended mango.  Bring to a boil.  Add fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, kalonji, and cayenne pepper.  Lower to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, until mango slices are very soft.

Add vinegar and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until chutney is thick.  (The chutney will continue to thicken once it cools down.)

Remove from heat and let the chutney cool completely.  Store in an air-tight jar.  The book says you can keep in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.  It is also important to use a clean spoon when dipping into the chutney, and do not return the leftover chutney to the same container.  Refrigerate your chutney if desired (which is what I did.)

This is the most times I have typed “chutney” in my life!

Stick Crackers

The original recipe calls for frying the crackers– I tried both frying and baking.  Both come out nice and crispy, just the coloring is a little different but they taste the same.  I love how easy this recipe is and makes for a great snack!

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this recipe only.

- 3 cups flour (I used whole wheat– you can use that, AP, or a combination of both)
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp ajwain (oopsies, I didn’t have any on hand so I used cumin seeds instead…also thought about adding flax seeds next time!)
– 1/3 cup canola/vegetable oil
– 3/4 cup water
– canola or vegetable oil (if frying)

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and ajwain (or whatever you are using in place of it).  Pour the oil over the flour and mix well.  You can use your hands but a fork works really well and keeps your hands clean.   Mix until all the flour has become coated with oil.

Gradually add 3/4 cup water to the mixture until a stiff dough forms.  I continued to use the fork until the dough started forming, then I used one clean hand to hold the bowl and the other hand to mix.

Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, until dough becomes smooth and soft.  To keep things clean and easy for clean up, I just kneaded the dough in the bowl itself (instead of turning it onto a surface.)

Divide the dough into 2 parts and flatten each into a large disk.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

On a floured wooden cutting board or plastic pastry sheet, roll out each disk until about 1/8″ thick.  With a knife or pizza cutter (I think the pizza cutter is so much easier and faster!) cut the dough lengthwise into 1/2″ strips.  Then cut crosswise or at a diagonal (for the pointy tips) 1 1/2″ apart.

If frying:
Heat up a large saucepan with about an inch or so of oil.  I didn’t use any more than that since this amount is enough to cover the crackers.

It should take a couple of minutes, and you can test the oil by sprinkling a drop of water into it– if it sizzles, it is ready.

I get really scared when oil splatters everywhere so please remember to be careful and safe!

Once the oil is ready, place several strips into the hot oil.  I actually used my hands but you can use a flat spatula to do this part.  You can cover the entire bottom of the pan with the strips.   Fry each side for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side.

When crackers are done, place on a plate lined with a paper towel to grab the excess oil.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

If baking:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place crackers onto parchment paper about 1/2″ apart (they don’t really spread, just rise while they are baking.)  Bake until edges of crackers start to brown.  You can test one and if it is not as crunchy as you like, continue to bake until crispier.

Enjoy with some mango chut-a-ney, while watching New Girl!

The Best Valentine’s Day Gift Ever: PICKLES

The best Valentine’s Day present I EVER received in my WHOLE entire life was a HUGE jar of homemade pickles.  Some girls like jewelry, some girls like chocolate, apparently the way to my heart is via pickles.  It was one of those don’t-buy-me-something-make-me-something-instead deals and not only were they delicious, it was very thoughtful because I do freakin’ love me some pickles.  Maybe even more than Snooki…but I don’t know how I feel about being a Pickle Princess for Halloween.

{ Heart of Buttons by Tal Danino }

I know some people cringe at the mention of Valentine’s Day, but I have always loved the holiday– and it’s not because I have always had a significant other to spend it with.  It actually reminds me of all the awesome people I have in my life who I love– my girl friends who are always there for me, my guy friends I always go to for dating advice, my mom for EVERYTHING she has ever done for me, and many other special people I am lucky to know.

I was just talking to my friend about this and she said she feels the same way; that we are all such busy people and having this holiday actually makes you stop and think about the people you love and probably don’t tell often enough.

So why don’t you make those people some pickles?  Or not, just a suggestion.

Besides pickles, I also LOVE a good love song!  Here are some I have been playing on repeat while in the kitchen:

1) Joshua Radin- They Bring Me To You

2) Ray Lamontagne + Damien Rice (omg the best duet ever!)- To Love Somebody and Hold You In My Arms, which is just Ray

3) City and ColourThe Girl (You have to listen to the WHOLE song, it gets extra awesome in the middle– thank you Bao for telling me about them!)

4) James Blake- A Case of You (this song makes me want to die in the best way ever, thanks Archna for sharing!)

5) Ed Sheeran- Kiss Me

and just heard this–

6) Unwritten Law- Love, Love, Love

Check them out and listen while you pickle! (And send me your faves!)

Shizu’s Kosher Dill Pickles

{ Mine are still in the process of pickling }

Remember when I said Mr. Kato makes good pickles?  I wasn’t lying, here is the recipe and how-to!  Shizu is Mr. Kato’s mom and this is her recipe.  I got to see the original recipe card she had handwritten which was pretty awesome.  Big ups to Mr. Kato for teaching me how to make my favorite food of all time!

*This recipe requires prep the day before.

– 25 cucumbers, about 4 to 5″ (here is a great post on what type of cucumbers to use if you are a newbie from Canning Homemade! with photos too)
– garlic (keep in mind 2 to 3 cloves will go into each jar)
– fresh dill
– 1 cup of non-iodized salt (Morton brand has salt that says across the package it is used for canning + pickling)
– 1 qt of vinegar, use 4% acidity if possible but if you can’t find that, 5% will do
– 3 qt water
– 1/2 tsp alum
– baby onions (optional)
– jalapeno peppers, stems removed, cut in half lengthwise (optional, if you want to add a kick to it!)
– carrots, cut into sticks (optional)
– cauliflower, torn into florets (optional)

You will also need:
– 2 pots
– 12 to 14 mason jars and lids (tip of the day- Kern + Ball brand are interchangeable!)  We used 12 when we made them, but it depends on how much you can jam in a jar)
– tongs– if you have tongs made for jars those are even better!

The night before you start pickling, soak the pickles you are using in water overnight.

The day of pickling, drain and wash the pickles.  Prep the carrots, cauliflower, and peppers if using.

First things first– sterilize the jars!  Get a large pot of water boiling (just fill enough water so the jars can be immersed but won’t overflow with the addition of the jars).  Once the water is boiling, place the jars in it.  I had a really hard time getting the jars to stand (open side at the bottom of the pot)– be careful not to splash yourself like I did!

While sterilizing the jars, you can start on the brine.  In another pot, mix together vinegar, water, salt, and alum then set aside.

Once you got your sterilized jars ready, you can start filling them up!

First, place your veggies in the jars.  You may need to slice some cucumbers into quarters if they are two big and you can only fit a couple of whole cucumbers in each jar.  This requires some skill– if you are not a pro like me, there ends up being lots of empty space at the bottoms of the jars which is a waste space where something could be pickling.

It seemed to work best when we put in 2 whole pickles, the garlic and onions (make sure they are at the very bottom, poking with a stick may be required), the dill, cucumber slices, followed by the carrots which fill up the extra spaces, and top with the cauliflower florets.  If using jalapenos, place the sliced side against the side of the jar so you can see them thus know which jars are spicy and which aren’t so nobody gets a surprise they don’t want.

{ It’s gonna be a spicy one }

Continue until all the jars are filled.  When you are halfway through with the jar, start bringing your brine to a boil.  Once the brine is boiling, keep it boiling.

Ladle the boiling brine into a jar.  You want to do this one jar at a time (vs. all the jars together) so that the brine is very hot when you seal each jar.  Fill until brine is about 3/16″ below the rim.

Wipe the sides and tops of the rim.

Place a lid in the pot of boiling water (not brine!) to sanitize.  After a minute, remove, and place on top of the jar.

Start screwing on the lid lightly.  Once you start feeling it get tight, seal it with one big twist.  You don’t want to keep twisting then untwisting or you might break the seal and get botulism or something and I don’t want you to get botulism.

Repeat the brine filling, wiping, and sealing the jars until you have used up all your veggies.

Keep the jars in a cool and dark place for about 2 weeks.  You might want to check the next day if the jars are properly sealed by lightly pressing on the lids– there should be no popping sound or springing back.  If there is, you may want to keep the pickles in the refrigerator to finish pickling to be safe.

Right now, my pickles have been pickling for about 2 days and I am DYING to open them!!! But I will be good and wait the full 2 weeks– and after checking the calendar, that will fall a few days before Valentine’s Day– what a coincidence!  Yay, I will get Valentine’s Day pickles this year afterall lol.

PS: I am pretty sure this is by far the longest post I have written so far this year and it’s about Valentine’s Day and pickles.  Sounds about right.