Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Baking

I love to bake. So, being paleo/low-carb, the main challenge that this creates is that I need someone else to eat all of the stuff I bake. This works ok when you live with other people, but not so well when you live by yourself. So this year, I decided to make two gingerbread houses: one for my mom and one for my aunt and her family.
Now, making a standard gingerbread house is pretty straightforward. But I always make things more complicated than they have to be, so I came up with two ideas: a log cabin gingerbread house for my mom, and a split-level gingerbread house for my aunt.
I'll be honest, I felt kind of dirty just buying vegetable shortening, white flour, sugar, and molasses to make the gingerbread, even though I knew I wasn't going to eat any.

The basic recipe I used, stolen shamelessly from my mom, was:
5c white flour
1c sugar
1c molasses
1c shortening
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg (I used crappy King Soopers eggs that I got for free from a coupon)
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tbsp vinegar

I made the dough, then went on to determining the dimensions of the pieces I needed. All in all, I used two batches of dough.

I melted jolly ranchers for windows (supposedly butterscotch candies work the best, but I couldn't find any), and used icing consisting of 4c powdered sugar (I felt dirty buying that too), 3 egg whites, and 1/2 tsp cream of tarter to glue the pieces together.

To make "logs" for the gingerbread log cabin, the easiest thing to do is to evenly roll out a stick of dough to whatever length you want the side to be. Bake it like you normally would (~6-7 minutes at 350F). The logs will flatten a little but don't worry about it, since you're going to use other pieces to hold them together anyway.

The results:

To make your log-cabin house so that you can put a normal roof on it, simply bake 6-8 logs (3-4 for each side) like you normally would, and IMMEDIATELY after removing them from the oven, use a spatula to slide the set for each side right up next to each other, then use a sharp knife to cut them diagonally so they will fit a roof.

Using spare pieces of gingerbread, glue the logs for each side together (if your sides are the same lengths, it doesn't matter, but mine were 9.5" and 8", so I needed to keep track) using icing and spare pieces of gingerbread (the discarded pieces from the tall roof sides work well... I used these but needed a few more so I just baked some extra).

The final product:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pistachio Crusted Chicken

Ingredients:6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup pistachios (can be salted or unsalted)
1 egg
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground thyme

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
2. Shell the pistachios and remove skins.
*if skins are difficult to remove, blanch the nuts by boiling them for 30-60 seconds in water.
3. Finely chop nuts using a food processor or food chopper.
4. In a small bowl, beat egg. Add coriander, thyme, and onion powder to egg. Mix well.
5. Dip a chicken thigh in egg mixture, thoroughly coating it, then dip it in the ground pistachios. Place the chicken in a 9x12 greased baking pan, then do this for all the remaining chicken thighs.
6. If you have egg mixture or pistachios left over, pour them on top of the chicken thighs in the baking pan.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Serves 2

*for whatever reason, the photo uploader is being retarded as hell and rotating the image of the cooked chicken. I'm not going to deal with it; you can still see what it looks like.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thailand Pictures 2

Koh Phangan sunset

Koh Tao Sunset

Ang Thong Marine National Park