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Homemade Beer Bread

Homemade Beer Bread

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This is an easy to make springy & moist bread that is full of flavor and has a great crust. You can use any type of beer you like and actually experimenting is a very good idea as each beer will give the bread just a slightly different taste.  The best thing about this bread is that it will take you no more than three minutes to whip up. Perfect with a nice wine, soup or chili or just by itself. Oh and one last thing, there will be no alcohol in the bread as it all is removed when you bake it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients and beer.
  3. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
  4. Pour melted butter over mixture.
  5. Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. UPDATED NOTES: This recipe makes a very hearty bread with a crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer a softer crust (like a traditional bread) mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.
  7. Sifting flour for bread recipes is a must-do. Most people just scoop the 1 cup measure in the flour canister and level it off. That compacts the flour and will turn your bread into a “hard biscuit” as some have described. That’s because they aren’t sifting their flour! If you do not have a sifter, use a spoon to spoon the flour into the 1 cup measure. Try it once the “correct” way and you will see an amazing difference in the end product.
  8. I have had many email from you kind folks about using non-alcoholic beverages instead of beer. That is fine to do but I highly recommend adding a packet of Dry Active Yeast or 2 teaspoons of Bread (Machine) Yeast so that you get a proper rise.
  9. The final result should be a thick, hearty and very tasteful bread, NOT A BRICK! 😉

Spicy Thai Shrimp Soup

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I always try to plan ahead for dinners as I am always so tired after work. It is not practical but this soup is one dish that I can make before hand. This true authentic Thai soup is bright and flavorful and is sure to satisfy your desire for a nice soup on a cold evening although I must say it is perfect in any weather. It is no secret I love thai cooking any time of year. If you are going to make this soup a day or two prior to eating it all you need to do is thaw your frozen shrimp and add to hot stock and heat the two thoroughly. If you do not like hot foods or you are not sure what to expect then just use either the fresh chilies or the paste. In case you didn’t know hot spicy soups like this are the secret to saying slim. They speed up your metabolism and help you burn faster. Just another reason why this soup is a keeper.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 lb shrimp (shelled, with tail)
  • 8 fresh mushrooms, cut in half
  • 12 canned straw mushrooms
  • 2 cups stock (fish or chicken stock)
  • 1/2 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-inch long pieces
  • 4 fresh lime leaves
  • 1 inch fresh galangal or ginger
  • 4 -6 fresh chili peppers
  • 2 tablespoons premium fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste, with soya oil (optional)
  • fresh snipped cilantro, as desired

Directions

  1. Devein shrimp; rinse and drain.
  2. Bring stock to a boil, and add remaining ingredients; cook until shrimp changes color.
  3. Remove chunks of lemon grass and whole chiles.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro; serve.

Bacon and Potato Soup

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Despite the simple name this is a gourmet soup that is really easy to make. I would describe it as a hip friendly soup haha. I have been on a health kick lately and have managed to lose 10 pounds in the last 8 weeks whilst still eating all the yummy recipes you see here on my site, including this bacon and potato soup. I am a firm believer that a diet does NOT have to be torture rather just a good dose of balance and common sense. Anyway back to today’s soup. Every time I make this soup there is never a drop left. My husband and kids absolutely love it. Actually the last time I had a dinner party two people asked me for the recipe. If I could emphasize one thing it would be to drain your bacon properly. We really want to be using the least amount of fat as possible and draining and drying your bacon thoroughly ensures this. Serve this soup with a nice crusty fresh bread and your tummy will thank you.

Ingredients

  • 6 thick slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Description

  1. Cook bacon until crisp in 3-quart saucepan, remove and drain well on paper towels. Discard bacon grease and wipe pan thoroughly with paper towel.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Add olive oil to saucepan and add onion, carrot, and celery as they are cut up. Saute until onion is soft but not brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken broth, potatoes, and pepper; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Stir in cheese, heating just until melted–do not boil. Chop bacon and add to soup. Adjust seasoning to taste by adding salt, if desired. Serve at once.

Chili Con Carne Casserole

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Description

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

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Description

Baked Chicken Thighs with Herbs

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I am the testament that chicken can be cooked best when baked. Fried chicken is good and I have nothing against them especially on days when I don’t feel like cooking and pizza just won’t get it done sometimes (I know you get what I mean). So I order in a big tub of fried chicken. But that doesn’t happen often.

I stand by my belief that baking chicken makes it moister on the inside which is more important than having the crisp on the first bite. Why do I say that? A perfectly moist chicken makes you want to eat all of it. The crisp works only after a first few bites. When the crunch is gone, it’s goodbye to the rest of the meat.

Trust me, I have had to finish off plenty of chicken pieces with the skins gone. Baking it with lemon and the right herbs would bring out its essence especially when you’re generous with the lemon. When the baking is done, the aroma of lemon combined with herb would lift up many down spirits any time of the day.

Ingredients

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt or sea salt
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
  • 12 sage leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Description

  1. Begin by mashing up garlic with a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. You do this in order to create a coarse paste. Using the back of the spoon and a small mixing bowl would do the same trick. Add in the oil very slowly in drops as you pound and grind on the paste. Continue to do this until the allioli is thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl and rub this allioli all over. Rub it under the skin as well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat up your oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle. Using a large shallow roasting pan or a 9x13x2 inches baking dish, arrange lemon slices in one layer. Top each lemon slice with a piece of rosemary, thyme and sage leaf. Set the chicken thighs skin side up. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. Place it on the baking oven until the skin is golden and juices are clear. That usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. A lot of times, both the lemon and chicken would produce a lot of juice but you can create a delicious pan sauce out of that. Remove chicken from the pan. Transfer the lemon and herbs to a plate and place chicken on top. Cover it loosely with foil. Using a small skillet, heat up the juice until it thickens to a saucy consistency. Drizzle on the sauce around the chicken (and not on top) to maintain its crisp skin when served.

Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirls

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Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirls 2

One of the hardest choices I could make in life is to choose which cheesecake variety to eat with my coffee. Don’t laugh but I just find it really hard to select one flavor over the other. My mind tells me to pick one from strawberries to plain and chocolate, even peanut butter. But my heart tells me to wrap them all up and take them home.

I know you’re smiling just about now. Have you had one of those dilemmas? I have those every time and wish I could just make my life a little simpler for myself. Husband says that making my own cheesecake would tell me for sure which ones to become my favorite. I love cheesecakes period. But to choose a topping would mean selecting a variety – all of them are pretty darn good.

I don’t expect everyone to know what that’s like but I followed my husband’s advice and decided to create my version of a raspberry cheesecake with a twist. Instead of just pouring this topping all over the cake, I incorporated it as a swirl. Sounds interesting right? Get ready then, this will be quite a handful to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely ground graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 ounces raspberries
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Boiling water, for roasting pan

Description

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 inch springform pan and wrap it with foil including the base. Set aside for the meantime.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix cracker crumbs, melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pour this mixture on the pan and press this crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom of it. Take this into the oven and bake until it sets. This takes about 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Then, reduce the oven temperature to about 325 °F.
  3. Take out your food processor. Process the raspberries until it becomes smooth. That only takes about 30 seconds. Then pour the puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl and throw away the solid particles. Next, whisk in 2 tablespoons of sugar and give a little whisk. Set aside.
  4. Now, attach the paddle into the mixer and pour cream cheese in the bowl. On medium speed, mix until the cream cheese turns fluffy. That takes about 3 minutes. Then reduce the speed to lowest setting, and then add in the remaining 1 and a half cups of sugar. Let it mix on a slow stream. Next, add the salt and vanilla then mix well until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix them well but don’t overdo it. Then, pour in the cream cheese filling over the cooked crust.
  5.  Next, use a teaspoon and drop in the raspberry sauce. With a wooden skewer or a small stick, swirl the sauce into the filling slowly making sure the color doesn’t combine into the white fluffy cream mixture.
  6. Take a large shallow roasting pan and set in the cake pan and slowly transfer them into the oven. Using a ladle to scoop water, carefully pour in the water into the roasting pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the cake pan. Let this bake for 60 to 65 minutes. This should leave the center of the cake wobbly.
  7. Remove from the oven and transfer cake pan to a wire rack. Let this cool completely. Place this into the refrigerator uncovered for 6 hours or overnight. Run a knife around the cake and then unmold into a serving place. Slice according to desired cuts. Best served chilled.

Chicken Caesar Salad

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They say you can’t really be a chef unless you learn how to make Caesar salad from scratch. That’s absolutely correct. Like me, you must’ve had enjoyed your chicken caesar salads at a restaurant where they make it fresh every time. Back home, I confess I use the prepared sauces because it saves you time when other people make them for you.

It would taste better this way too. Trust me, having caesar salads with packaged dressing beats making it from scratch especially when you don’t have the time (or the expertise) to make them fresh. I tried it once and failed. I looked at the mess I was making and vowed never do this at home again. I better have more training before I take out this recipe again.

I know some people can relate to this. I know the feeling of wanting to make something authentic like how the professionals do it. Missing the education and armed only with experience, I did try it. Even then, it was no good so I better leave the experimenting up to the pros.

On a recipe like a Caesar salad, you can’t afford to compromise on the ingredients at all. They have to be complete or else it wouldn’t taste the same even on a ready-made dressing. This is a simple salad recipe but one where everything has to be there. It just wouldn’t taste the same otherwise.

Ingredients

  • 1 single chicken breast fillet
  • 1 egg
  • 4 rindless bacon rashers, cut crossways into thin strips
  • Foot long baguette (French breadstick), diagonally cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 baby cos lettuce, leaves separated, washed, dried
  • 1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing

Description

  1. Warm up a nonstick frying pan over medium to high heat. Drop in the chicken breast slowly and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. When cooked through, transfer on a plate and cover with foil. Set aside for a while before thinly slicing across the grain.
  2. Take your egg, place it on a small saucepan with cold water and bring this to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to gently boil it uncovered. Stir occasionally for 7 minutes. Next, drain and cool under cold running water then peel and slice in half.
  3. Return the frying pan over to the stove and cook bacon for 5 minutes or until crisp.
  4. Preheat grill and then place baguette slices and toast each side for 1 minute or until golden. Slice to make croutons.
  5. On a serving plate, arrange chicken slices, lettuce, egg and croutons (baguette). Drizzle on the salad dressing. Then sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.

Halloween Rolled Sugar Cookies

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A lot of people have emailed me and how I make my cookies look so pretty. Well all I do is make up some regular icing and get a little creative in the kitchen. I make two batches. The first is fairly thin so I can spread it evenly over the cookies, essentially painting them. The second batch is just regular icing and I decorate the cookies with variety of piping tools. Happy Halloween!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Mix the sugar and cream together in a bowl until smooth and then mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  2. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Chocolate Cupcakes

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Description

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