basics from scratch

Lemon Extract

What do you think of when you think of lemons? Lemonade? Well that’s a good thought. I like lemonade. But that’s not what I was thinking of.  I think of the trip that my husband and I took to Italy a few years back. We went on a tour to the Amalfi Coast, where lemons were in abundance. To get to the coast, the little bus we were on had to make some turns that I’m pretty sure a bus shouldn’t make, especially on a road where one side was a cliff down into the Mediterranean. *Oh man* But, we all made it thanks to our wonderful bus driver who apparently was used to those turns and I live to tell the story.

It seemed like limoncello was literally EVERYWHERE in every single shop and every single place we went on the Amalfi Coast. The store owners pretty much chased us down to give us samples. But we also saw some good ol’ plain lemons. Case and point, here are some lemons we saw just sitting there in front of a truck waiting to go somewhere to be delicious. Now, I’m used to lemons like you see in the yellow bins there. But, then shift your eyes to the ENORMOUS lemons in the black bin. Whoa!! I certainly do not know what they are…I’m sure they have a special name. I’m just going to call them gigantic lemons because that’s what they look like to me.


At any rate, on a rainy day like today, it makes me smile thinking about these lemons and the beautiful coast of Italy. When you make this, if you close your eyes maybe you can picture yourself there too. Or maybe you’re not good at pretending. In that case, just enjoy the lemon extract!

Lemon Extract
Homemade lemon extract in a couple of months!
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. zest from 1 lemon (preferably organic)
  2. 1 cup vodka
Instructions
  1. Zest 1 lemon using a microplane, or vegetable peeler. Use the top, yellow layer of the lemon trying to avoid the white pith as much as possible.
  2. Put the zest and the vodka in a mason jar and shake. Place in a cool, dark place and let sit for 1-2 months. Shake the jar occasionally.
Notes
  1. Use organic lemons if possible because the pesticides from the lemon can seep into the extract easily. If after 2 months the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can let the extract sit for longer or strain the zest and add fresh zest from another lemon.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Flour Tortillas

We’ve been doing a lot of traveling this summer including many miles on the road and many miles in planes. I hate planes. I really do. I feel like I become claustrophobic after about an hour. Plus, my husband would agree that I pretty much squeeze all of the blood from his hand at take off and landing. But, with planes and cars come great places with great food!

We went to Hawaii at the start of the summer, including renting a car and road tripping back from Las Vegas. Yes, we had a wonderful buffet in Vegas where we ate EVERYTHING! We went to the buffet at the end of breakfast/start of lunch so we definitely stuffed our mouths full of both breakfast and lunch foods until we were sick. It was great. We’ve traveled back home to Ohio to visit family. Visiting family sometimes turns into a “let’s eat everything that we don’t eat when we’re just by ourselves but with family it’s okay” kind of thing. I hope you know this feeling or else my family becomes the odd ones out and this is just /awkard/. Anywho, his past weekend we traveled “up north,” as Michiganders say, to Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Both gorgeous places with a lot of fun things to do.

This particular trip up north consisted of Mackinac’s famous fudge, ice cream, s’mores, and lots of yummy but not good for you grub. Needless to say, I needed some homemade goodness when we got home. These tortillas did the trick! And just wait until you see what went inside of these delicious pillowy treats…you’ll have to check back later this week 🙂 Sorry for testing your patience. It’ll be worth it!


Tortillas were something that I always took for granted because they came from the store, right? They’re one of those foods that unless you grew up making them you thought maybe they just were made by magic.

Well, my sister decided to make these flour tortillas for us one day. MIND BLOWN. Never again want to eat a store bought tortilla. For real. In fact, the recipe is from her blog! We’re like blogging sisters…but also literally sisters. Awesome, right?


Flour Tortillas
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  5. 3/4 cup warm milk
Instructions
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the oil and mix until the oil is distributed throughout the flour mixture without any large clumps (this is easiest when using your hands). Add in the warm milk and mix until it forms a ball.
  2. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 minutes. Then, place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 20 minutes,
  3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls on a flat surface where they are not touching and cover again with a kitchen towel. Let sit 15 minutes.
  4. After resting, take each dough ball and roll out on a well floured surface to about an 8" diameter. Keep the complete ones covered while rolling out the remainder.
  5. Heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium-high heat without any oil in it. Put one tortilla at a time in the dry pan and cook on each side for about 30 seconds. They will start to puff up and get slightly browned. Cover the tortillas until you are ready to eat them.
Notes
  1. To store, put in a plastic bag or wrap in foil and refrigerate. You can heat them up again on the griddle/saute pan if you want.
Adapted from A Chookie Chookie
Adapted from A Chookie Chookie
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Mint Extract

Making mint extract is kind of like a long term commitment with a delicious ending. It actually takes a few months to reach minty perfection. I am *seriously* sad I have to wait to use my homemade mint extract because I saw some brownies with mint chocolate chip frosting and I am already salivating. However, it is said that all good things come to those who wait. And I certainly can think of MANY good things in my future with this mint extract.

This recipe can make however much extract you want. I made about a cup, which I can only imagine will keep me coming up with mint flavored goodies for quite a while. You can make more and give it as presents, or less if you don’t see yourself using that much. Either way, this stuff really doesn’t go bad sitting on a shelf so it’s totally worth it to make it!


Talking about being worth it, making extract is SO cheap. I just did the calculations and the base of the extract (I used vodka) cost me about $1.63 for about a cup. We’re using the cheap stuff here. No need to buy the best, most expensive liquor because the mint flavor will be the star flavor! I have fresh mint in my yard so that was free but it’s not that expensive in the store either. I looked up mint extract and they are definitely selling 2 ounce bottles for much more than twice what I spent to make a cup. Go me!

Also, as if being cheap wasn’t good enough…it’s super easy to make! Really this is barely a recipe it’s so simple. Check it out:

Mint Extract
homemade mint extract in a couple of months!
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup mint leaves, taken off the stem
  2. approximately 1 cup vodka
Instructions
  1. Place the mint leaves in a mason jar or container that seals very well and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the leaves a bit and let out some of the oils.
  2. Fill the remainder of the jar up with vodka (I used a 1 cup mason jar so I ended up putting in a little less than a cup of vodka). Make sure to cover all the mint leaves.
  3. Seal the jar and shake it up a bit. Leave it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet, shaking it up a bit every few days. In about 1-2 months, or when it reaches your desired flavor, strain the leaves out and the extract is ready to use!
Notes
  1. I *think* I have peppermint growing in my yard (it was given to me so I'm not certain). Needless to say, you can use any kind of mint for this. You will get slightly different flavors depending on what you use but all should be delicious! Make sure the leaves end up covered after you shake it so it doesn't mold. If after 2 months the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can let the extract sit for longer or strain the mint leaves and add fresh leaves.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
P.S. Keep an eye open for my lemon extract recipe pictured below! It will be just as difficult to make as the mint extract…meaning it will take 5 minutes to make 🙂 *UPDATE* Lemon extract is up! Check it out here!

Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta

 

I’m addicted to pasta. It’s a real problem. Don’t judge. You’ll understand once you make it. At least I’ll tell myself that. It will help me sleep at night.

The addiction started when my husband, Travis, got me a pasta machine earlier this year for my birthday. It wasn’t just a wrapped present though. It was an experience. Knowing my love for food, Travis set up a food challenge for me with bins full of “mystery” ingredients for an appetizer, entrée, and dessert (food fans will know this is, of course, based on a popular food challenge show). In each bin, he included a food related gadget to help with my quest, including a pasta machine. Then he gave me some extra money and the charge to go shopping for additional items I may need for my courses.

Now, any normal person would probably say, “Hmm. He gave you food. Then gave you money so you had to grocery shop. Then he made you make dinner. How is that a birthday present?”


My response: “It’s only like the best birthday present ever!”

Yeah I’m weird. But come on, super cute and thoughtful present for a chef wannabe like me. There’s no getting around that.

Over the months my love of pasta has grown exponentially. And again, Travis came to the rescue to make me an *awesome* pasta drying rack (see above picture). It’s just fueling my addiction. Bad news for my waist… good news for my happiness. Just sayin’ it’s probably worth it. And by probably I mean definitely.

Travis has actually become the go-to pasta roller. You can see him above working his magic. I can’t say I mind. I mean who doesn’t love a man that can cook??

Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1/4 - 1/2 cup water
  5. pinch of salt
For the dough
  1. Mix together the 2 types of flour and pinch of salt (to taste). Mound the mixture up on a flat surface. Create a well, or hole, in the middle of the flour.
  2. Crack the eggs into the well and scramble them, making sure not to let them pour out the side of the mound. Add the water (start with 1/4 cup) to the well and mix that into the egg mixture. *You can also mix the water and eggs in a separate bowl then pour it into the well all together*
  3. Start bringing the flour from the walls of the well into the egg mixture with a fork. Eventually you will end up with a dough you can knead. If the dough is not coming together, slowly add more water until it forms a dough.
  4. Knead the dough until it forms an elastic, but not super sticky dough ball. This will probably take at least 5-6 minutes of kneading. Wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Let the dough sit for 20-30 minutes.
To roll out the dough
  1. Once rested, cut the dough into about 4 pieces to make it easier to work with.
  2. Lightly flour each piece of the dough before putting it through the pasta machine at the lowest level (level 0 on mine).
  3. You will put the dough through the pasta machine at the lowest level a total of 4 more times, folding it into thirds before every run through the machine (see above picture) and lightly flouring the outside if it is sticky. Every run, put the dough through the opposite way (the folded, flat edges should be facing the sides of the pasta machine). This helps create a nice flat edge.
  4. Put the dough through, setting the pasta machine up one setting for each run, until you reach the desired thickness.
  5. Use an attachment to cut the dough into the desired shape, cut by hand or leave as sheets for lasagna
  6. At this point you can let the pasta dry and refrigerate for another time or put immediately into boiling water to cook for 2-5 minutes depending on the thickness and width of your pasta.
Notes
  1. This recipe is actually only 2/3 whole wheat flour. I find that it helps keep the pasta a little lighter but feel free to use all whole wheat flour. You may need to add more liquid to the dough if you do this.
  2. My dough is usually a little drier than other recipes I've seen. This never seems to be a problem once it rests and is put through the pasta machine.
  3. We ended up at a level 5 thickness for our fettuccine but we usually will end up on a level 7 for regular spaghetti.
  4. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can still make pasta! Follow the steps to make the dough then roll out the dough by hand. You'll need some muscle for that task but on the plus side you can skip your workout for the day you make it!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/