Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Lesson in Recipe Writing

My family makes a lot of food.  I mean, it's really no more than any other family, I guess, but my point is that we cook three meals a day plus do frequent baking.  We have a shelf of cook books in our dining room and I have multiple boards on Pinterest dedicated to food - soups, crock pot recipes, breakfast items, desserts, cookies, and healthy versions of several of those.  The awesome part is that we've made dozens of new dishes from these collections of mine, and we've found several new favourites.  It's fun to branch out from the regulars from time to time, and since we don't go out to eat much, we get to try new things frequently.

Something I've noticed, though, is that while there are many excellent cooks and bakers out there, and many, many wonderful blog writers...entirely too many of them do not know how to properly compose a recipe.  So, for those of you who want to keep a record of any brilliant ingredient combos you design, or just want to put a recipe in your recipe box or book or blog...this post is for you!

How to Write a Recipe
  1. List your ingredients in the order in which they will be used.
  2. Abbreviate Tablespoon and teaspoon, and make sure to use a capital T for Tbsp and a lower-case t for tsp. 
  3. If there are two parts to the recipe, separate the lists of ingredients (e.g. a dish and a sauce, or a pastry and a topping, etc.).
  4. If the food item will be baked in a preheated oven, list the temperature at the beginning of the instructions.  If the oven should not be preheated, say that at the beginning and list the temperature in the directions when you get to the step where it's put in the oven.
  5. Make sure your directions list EVERY STEP and use EVERY INGREDIENT.  Double check this before publishing your recipe anywhere.
  6. Keep your directions simple by including how ingredients should be prepared in the list of ingredients, rather than in the instructions.  For example, list, "red bell pepper, diced" in your list of ingredients, rather than including, "Dice the red pepper," in your instructions.
  7. Generally, you do not need to refer to each ingredient by its full name in the directions.  For example, you can simply say "oil" instead of "olive oil," or "flour" instead of "whole wheat flour."  The only exception to this is if there are more than one different kind of the same thing in the recipe.  For example, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar.
  8. Make sure you put the directions in the order in which they need to be done.  For example, don't make the sauce the final step in the recipe if it has to sit for 20 minutes to thicken.  Make it the first step so the rest of the directions can be completed while the sauce sets.
  9. Always include how much the recipe yields.  
Helpful, but not required information in a recipe includes:
  •  Serving size
  • Whether or not the leftovers can be frozen
  • Prep time and bake/cook time (if applicable)
  • Calorie/carb/fat content per serving (this requires a noted serving size)

And now you can put together a useful, correct recipe!  Have fun creating...and more fun eating. 

Healthy Banana Snack Bites

Okay, I admit it: I have a thing for bananas and peanut butter.  My last treat/snack post was about the frozen peanut butter banana bites, and here I am posting another banana snack...with peanut butter. 

Another confession: I am incredibly picky about the texture of my food.  Anything slightly slimy will not pass my lips or I might gag it right back up.  And no one - least of all me - wants that.  This "slimy" I refer to includes yogurt, custard, pudding, certain fresh mangoes, and yes, bananas - among other things.  So when I eat bananas they either have to be barely ripe so they're soft but not very, or slathered in something with a texture I enjoy.

Bananas are the fruit with the highest sugar content (if I'm wrong on this, please someone correct me), and the browner they get, the more sugary they are.  That's why banana bread made with super brown bananas is so delicious.  So with a super sweet fruit like banana, plus the salt of the peanut butter and the crunch of the walnuts, you've got yourself a killer snack that will not only taste delicious, but it will satisfy your sweet tooth, and fill you up until your next meal.

1 medium banana
1/8 cup creamy peanut butter (I prefer Adam's No-Stir)
2-3 Tbsp chopped raw walnuts

Peel the banana.  You can either cut it into 1-inch sections or leave it whole; I've done both and they work equally well.  Spread a dollop of peanut butter on the tip of the banana.  Dip the peanut butter end of the banana into the chopped walnuts.  Consume and enjoy.

What are some foods you can't eat due to a "weird" taste preference (like my aversion to "slimy")?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strawberries & Cream Oatmeal

According to my mother, when I was a baby I loved oatmeal. At some point I lost track of my senses and as a child, teen, and young adult, I hated the stuff. Then I met and married my husband. While he doesn't love oatmeal, he enjoys it enough to choose to have it for breakfast on occasion.

While trying to breastfeed my second, I struggled with supply. I did many things to try to bring my supply up...including eating oatmeal.

At first I was hesitant. I have a thing about texture in my food and slimy oatmeal just did not do it for me. So, since I needed/wanted to try everything I could to provide breastmilk for my child, I dove in.

In order to avoid the over-sliminess, I added toppings with textures I liked, such as Craisins and walnuts or pecans.

My second is now about to turn one and I'm still enjoying oatmeal. In fact, as I type this I'm siting over a large bowl of my new favorite oatmeal...which I'm enjoying for the second morning in a row.

1 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups oats
1 heaping cup chopped fresh strawberries

Bring the milk, water and vanilla to a boil (NOTE: Make sure to keep an eye on it because as soon as the milk starts to boil it will rise to the top of the pot and overflow.). Reduce immediately to medium heat. Add oats. Allow to cook until finished (5-8 min).

Once the oats are cooked, remove from heat. Top with chopped berries and drizzle with enough honey to sweeten your liking. Mix and enjoy!

Yield: 1 hefty serving or 2 smaller portions

What's something you thought you hated for years but have found a new way to enjoy now?