Black Bread

Today, I am going to share with you recipe for the black bread. I hope you will like this unique colored bread.

Black Bread

Ingredients:

  • Envelope dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/4 c Warm water (105 – 115 F)
  • 1/2 oz Unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tbsp Margarine
  • 1 1/4 c Water
  • 1/4 c Dark molasses
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1/2 c All-Bran cereal
  • 2 To 2 3/4 cups all-purpose -flour
  • 1 1/2 c Rye flour

Instructions:

  1. First of all, Sprinkle yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup water and stir to dissolve.
  2. Let stand until foamy, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Melt chocolate and margarine with 1 1/4 cups water in a large bowl set over gently simmering water.
  4. Stir until smooth. Remove from over water.
  5. Blend in molasses, vinegar, and salt. Mix in cereal. Let cool. Grease large bowl.
  6. Blend yeast into cereal mixture. Gradually stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour and rye flour.
  7. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes
  8. kneading in up to 3/4 cup more all-purpose flour if necessary to form a workable dough.
  9. Add dough to prepared bowl, turning to coat the entire surface.
  10. cover and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  11. Grease two 3x2x7-inch loaf pans. Punch dough down.
  12. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and let rest 3 minutes. Knead 3 minutes.
  13. Divide dough in half. Roll each into 7×8-inch rectangle. Starting with long side, roll the dough up into a cylinder.
  14. Tuck ends under and pinches seam to seal. Place seam side down in prepared pans.
  15. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled about 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  16. Bake until loaves look hollow when tapped on bottom, about 45 minutes. Remove bread from pans.
  17. Let cool completely on the rack before serving. Bon Appetit

If you have any doubt feel free to contact us here.

The different Panini Presses you can have in your kitchen

A Panini press is your one-stop solution to make press sandwiches and grilled sandwiches but not only that, you can make several other items with the help of it too. Although the basic work of a Panini press is to press the food items and cook it, there are several ways to do it which means that there is more than 1 type of Panini press. Surprised?

Well, we know that you might not have expected it but there are indeed many types of Panini press which can perform an assortment of different activities and it is important to know the differences between them to make an informed decision when you choose to buy a Panini press for yourself.

These are as follows:

Basic Panini Press

One of the most basic versions of Panini press, this includes a heavy lid which presses down on your food item and brings it into a closer contact with the cooking surface. This type of Panini press comes with a non-removable ridged plates which tend to leave a mark on all your pressed food items.

Most of the Panini presses of this type include an upper and a lower heated plate which helps in preparing your food. All you need to do is place your food inside the plates, press the lid down and come back in a few minutes once your food is ready.

Panini Press with removable plates

The second type of Panini press which is an evolved version of the basic type, this one comes with a removable plate which makes it easier to grill other food items too.

This type of Panini press comes with removable plates which are smooth on one side and have ridged marks on the other side. Apart from allowing you to perform a variety of tasks with the help of them, these type of Panini press is also easier to clean than other Panini presses.

In fact, a lot of vendors have started offering waffle plates along with these Panini press to make it even more versatile and useful than the other Panini presses.

Hinged Counter Top Grills

The most advanced type of Panini press, this one offers you more versatility than your other Panini press and allows you to cook your food either by cooking on both sides of the food or you can open this appliance to double the space to cook your food.

When you open up space, it resembles a mini grill and you need to swap the surface of your food to ensure that it gets cooked properly form both the sides and not only one side.

This type of Panini press comes in two types of model, one with non-removable plates and another with grill plates which can be removed or reversed. These advanced versions of Panini press often come with a drip plate which makes it easy to catch the grease while grilling and they have programmable heat settings to make your work much simpler and easier.

Best Pick : Fully automatic espresso machine Vs Semi-automatic espresso machine

We all love a good espresso and some of us just love it a bit more and end up getting our own personal Espresso machine. While there are several types of espresso machines available in the market, the most popular among these are the Fully Automatic espresso machines and the Semi-Automatic espresso machines. Although both of these perform the majority of the tasks for you, there is a slight difference in how both these espresso machines work.

Want to know which one is better for you? Then read on to know all about the differences between a Fully automatic espresso machine and a Semi-automatic espresso machine.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

This type of espresso machine is quite user-friendly and comes with an electric pump which can produce a pressure of 8-9 atmospheres which is the ideal condition for a perfect cup of espresso. This espresso machine reduces the chance of human error since it isn’t manual and can be used both at home and office for the quick and effective usage.

A semi-automatic espresso machine requires you to manually grind the coffee and then tamp it in the portafilter but once you have attached the portafilter back to the machine, it takes over and uses the electric pump to draw water and brew a cup of espresso for you. Its simple and easy to learn features make it a hit at home and it allows you a consistent and tasty espresso every time.

Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

A Fully Automatic espresso machine is similar to a Semi-Automatic espresso machine except that in this, your whole machine will get to work with a single touch. In this espresso machine, you don’t need to perform any work manually. All you have to do is press the on/off switch and your espresso machine will take care of the amount of water to be passed and the amount of coffee to be brewed and then will stop once it has achieved its target.

This type of espresso machines is extremely useful for busy households and commercial purposes ( See best commercial espresso machines available in the market ) as you don’t have to do a lot of manual work in it and you can multitask while your espresso brews in the back. This espresso machine also provides you with a good quality espresso when used for home but it has limited options for the home.

Semi-Automatic vs Fully Automatic

As you already know by now, there is not too much difference between a Semi-automatic espresso machine and a fully automatic espresso machine but if you had to consider one option from these both, we would advise you to look at the following features:

  • In a Fully Automatic espresso machine, you just need to press the switch on/off button and it will brew a good cup of espresso for you in a few seconds whereas, in a semi-automatic espresso machine, you have to first grind the coffee and tamp it down and fill it inside the portafilter before you can let the espresso machine take over.
  • A semi-automatic espresso machine allows you to produce a better quality espresso as you get to handle the coarseness of the ground coffee whereas a fully automatic espresso will provide you with a standard flavor.

Now, that you know how both of these are different, you can easily decide which one is better for you depending on your needs and requirements.

6 Simple steps to increase water pressure in kitchen Faucets

A lot of people complain that their kitchen faucet isn’t providing them with adequate amount of water pressure and as a result it is taking them more time to clean their dishes and rinse their utensils.

Low water pressure is a common issue in the kitchen faucets and could be caused due to various reasons which includes corrosions, clogging of pipes, etc. Determining the issue could greatly help in fixing the problem and ensuring that you get a steady flow of water at all times.

Just follow these simple steps and you will be able to fix your low water pressure issue in no time and that too without the help of any plumber.

Identify the root cause

There can be two categories of water pressure issue and the first step is to identify in which category your water pressure issue lies.

Water pressure problems throughout the house

Check whether the issue is persistent throughout the full house or not. If you have recently remodeled your house, it might be due to decreased water pressure. For this case, you would need to install a bigger main water pipe to fix the pressure issue.

But in case there was no recent remodeling done but the problem persists throughout the house, then you would need a supplement booster in your pipeline to increase the water pressure. Make note that both these changes can only be performed by a professional plumber.

Water pressure problem only in the kitchen faucet

If the water pressure issue exists just in the kitchen faucet, then it is more likely that there is a clog in some part. You will need to look at the aerator screen first and check for the clogs and blockages. Luckily, this type of fix can be easily performed by you.

Remove the Aerator Screen

You will find that most faucets have a spout which is covered with a small screen at the end and it is more likely that due to some sedimentation on the screen, the water pressure is low.

So you will need to unscrew the aerator and disassemble it into pieces. Then put all the pieces in a vinegar-water solution or use a commercial calcium remover to remove all the blockages.

Once it is done, dry the spout and reassemble the faucet and test it to see if the water pressure has been restored.

Clean or replace the cartridge

Credit goes to my friends at HomeGuyd for recommending this to us.

To do this you would need to remove the faucet head which can be done by unscrewing the faucet spout. Once you have removed the faucet head check if the cartridge is open. If not, you will need to remove the thin housing and clean the cartridge of all the deposits and debris.In case cleaning the aerator screen didn’t work, then chances are that the cartridge in your faucet which controls the movement of the water is not working properly and is the reason behind low water pressure. In that case, you will need to clean it and if that doesn’t work, then you would need to replace it.

Now reassemble the housing and the faucet head and check if the water pressure is fine or not. If not, then follow the same steps to replace the cartridge and try the faucet again.

Clean out your pipes

Another reason for your low water pressure problem could be that the pipe connecting to your kitchen faucet has debris clogging the pathway. In that case, you will need to unscrew the riser from the basement with the help of a wrench.

Make sure that you back up the fitting in the basement so the fitting and the pipe doesn’t break in the process. Now take a bucket and turn on the water to see if the water pressure is fine or not. If the water pressure is fine, then you just need to reassemble the pieces back together. But if the water pressure is low, then you would need to get a re-piping done for your whole house.

Not sure yet? Check out this step by step video guide to know more.

My Favorite At Home PT Tools

 

I get a lot of emails asking me what helps ease my chronic abdominal pain. Prescription medication never eliminated my pain, only makes it more endurable. The single most effective thing, for me, has been myofascial release physical therapy. It can be difficult to find a PT who specializes in this area but it is so wonderful.

Each person is different so keep that in mind as I explain the things I do for myself!!!

Let me start by telling you my issue. My pain is in my upper left abdomen, almost to the top midsection of my ribcage. It varies from aching, stabbing, searing, etc. Well, 5 years of lying curled up in pain with heating pad took it’s toll on me and really messed up my alignment. It caused my left hip to “upslip” from the crouched position I spent most days lying in. This upslip pushes my hip up and transfers the pain up into my left shoulder blade–a sharp pain. To fix this my PT has to put my pelvis back into alignment. To minimize and avoid my upslip I have tools that I use at home. The following are the most effective, for me. Will they work for you? I don’t know. Each person is different and each body has it’s own issues and responds differently. This is just information that may help someone else out there.

Sacro Wedgy:
The first tool is the sacro wedgy. This thing is pretty great. It loosens up the muscles in your lower back and pelvis. Now this is important: Put a pillow under your head. If you forget the pillow you will regret it, trust me. I lay with legs extended for 10 mintues, focusing on relaxing into the wedgy. This is hard, my body wants to tense up. I focus on deep belly breaths. Then after 10 min are up, I bend my knees and set my timer for 5 minutes. I let my legs relax and allow them to fall open a bit. The I flip on my knees and do some “cat” and “cow” stretches (I think these are yoga moves, not sure since I’m not a yoga girl). For the “cat” I arch my back looking between my legs. Then I arch my lower back,, lift my chin so I’m looking at the ceiling, for the “cow.” Does that make sense? I’m not the best at describing things, I’m more of a visual person.

Si lock belt:
The si loc belt. My PT loves this tool and recommends it to a lot of patients. It took me a while to understand where to place it on my pelvis (it comes with a little picture booklet). This could be due to the fact that I have the world’s longest torso. I had to have my PT draw on me with a surgical pen to make sure I had proper placement. Now I can do it fine. When you put it on it’s important to stand with legs together or lay flat on the ground or a bed when wearing. I wear the belt if I will be doing a lot of walking or extended periods of sitting (long car trips). It keeps my pelvis in alignment so my hip doesn’t slip up and out of place. It really does help, especially if I’m doing a lot of walking. The only annoying thing is it’s kinda bulky and I can’t wear it with my jeans. No big deal since I have lots of leggings.

Pool noodle:
This is the easiest to incorporate into a daily routine. It’s just used to stretch out the body. I lay with my spine on the pool noodle and knees bent. I start with arms extended down each side of my body, palms facing up. After about 5-8 seconds I move my arms up about 45 degrees from my body. Then straight out on either side. Next bend elbows so it looks like I’m hanging on a chin up bar. Finally, arms straight up. Then I reverse, working my way back to the starting position. This is awesome for stretching, it feels so good. Just remember palms face up. My PT says she does these stretches when she gets home from work.

Pilates:
My body is weak, I’m out of shape. Any core strength I once had is pretty much gone. I need to build up my core so my muscles can hold things in place. For this pilates was recommended. My PT explained yoga is more for stretching/flexibility; pilates for strength. She recommended any pilates routine. I have the Windsor pilates DVD series (got them for Christmas years ago). I took a Winsor Pilates class in college and loved it. After college I went to pilates classes but found that I like Winsor the best, for me. But again, any pilates. I know you can find the Winsor workouts on youtube. They are only 20 minutes long but I am s-o-r-e the next day. I could take a class but I like doing it in the comfort of my home.

(Winsor pilates is just a type of pilates taught by Mari Winsor. The instructor of the class I took was a certified in Winsor pilates.)

Where to buy:
My PT has given me tools and tips/tricks to use at home to help keep things in proper alignment. I ordered my wedgy and belt from amazon. You can order the items from PT catalogs but you’ll pay twice as much. Since it was February when I bought my tools I got the pool noodle from a swimming pool store. Then I bought a thicker one during summer from Target.

One final point. The above items, combined with regular PT, has allowed me to eliminate the number of Rx pain meds. Of all the treatments I tried in my medical journey myofascial release has been the more helpful and rewarding.

Any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask (comment/email).

Note: none of the links are affiliate links. They are just to show you the product.

French 75

If you love gin then this is the ideal cocktail for an evening with friends. It’s bets made with Watershed gin because of its tangy taste which when combined with some lemon juice or peels makes an inseparable blend but other brands Tanqueray Gin etc. taste good too.

Ingredients needed

1/4 oz simple syrup ( a mixture of water and sugar heated till the sugar blends in). Cool it down before you add it to your coctail.

½ oz lemon juice

Champagne or sparkling wine

and obviously 2oz Gin

Procedure

First add the lime and the wine or champagne to the gin. Give it a stir and then add in the simple syrup and stir again and voila your evening cocktail party is all set to take off. Simple, isn’t it?

Thomas & Jeremiah

If your home on a winter evening and are looking for a drink then  this is one cocktail you do not want to miss out on. Here’s more in detail about it.

Ingredients needed

You will need 2 oz of white rum. I prefer to use Wray & Nephew for my coctails but you can use some of the other popular brands as well like 10 Cane etc.

1/5 oz of fresh lime squeeze

10 oz of hot apple cider

brown sugar as per your taste

Procedure

Mix together the lime, rum and sugar in either a shaker or a glass. Once mixed slowly add in the apple cider and give a nice stir. To finish of you can use a cinnamon stick or even some fine nutmeg

 

Homemade Muesli

Anyone who knows me (or has been reading my blog) knows that, because of my GI issues, I’m obsessed about what ingredients go into my food. I tend to avoid processed and packaged foods because I must ensure nothing that will cause me abdominal pain/distress passes through my lips. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this museli in my recipe stash while looking for holiday cookie recipes. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of making my own cereal sooner. I adapted this recipe from a one a high school friend shared with me many years ago. Her mom made it and I always thought it was delicious.

I love it because, in addition to being delectable, it’s easy to make and you get control the ratio of ingredients. Love walnuts? Add a cup instead of ¾ c. Not sold on raisins? Decrease the amount to 1/3 c . Add or change up the spices. Add coconut, mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries. I could go on and on. Think of this recipe as more like a guideline; it’s open to interpretation. The result will be a healthy, homemade cereal of all your favorite things.

I love almonds and walnuts; I tend to add a lot of them so I can get more of the healthy fat my body needs. I wanted to add coconut, but I didn’t this time because Mr. Surly doesn’t like coconut. But next time I’m going to make a batch with coconut. I haven’t decided whether I want to add it to the oats and toast it, or add it at the end with the dates and raisins.

This would be a fantastic, healthy addition to your holiday goodie boxes to balance out all the sugary treats. I promise the recipients will thank you and beg for the recipe.

Homemade Muesli
Printer-friendly version

6 c rolled oats (I always use Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats, they are divine)
2 c quick oats (I use McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, the quick cooking rolled oats)
¾ c sliced or chopped almonds
¾ c chopped walnuts
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal
¼ c honey or agave (or combination of both)
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
¾ c raisins (I use golden)
¾ c chopped dates

Mix oats, almonds, walnuts and ground flaxseed in a bowl.

Whisk together honey, vanilla, and spices. Drizzle over oats and nuts and mix gently to combine. Spread on one (or more) baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Place in 250 F oven, and toast for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Remove from oven, add dates and raisins.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Enjoy by adding milk and eating it as cereal, sprinkle it on top of yogurt, or use it as a topping for a fruit crumble, whatever your tastebuds desire.

Oatmeal Crusted Chicken

I am constantly thinking of new ways to prepare chicken. Since raw meat makes me squeamish, I like coatings on chicken when preparing to hide the sight of the raw meat.

I like the idea of an oatmeal coating. I am trying to eat low gluten to help my stomach bloat and I bought rolled oats from Trader Joe’s that claim to be gluten free. Oats are naturally gluten free, but oats are often processed near wheat, and the tiniest bit of wheat will contaminate the oats and be a disaster for anyone with celiac disease.

These oats from TJs claim to be processed in a wheat-free environment. Even if there was a bit of wheat, it wouldn’t affect me since I do not have celiac disease. But for those of you with celiac or a gluten intolerance, these oats might be for you. I know that Bob’s Red Mill also makes gluten free oats.

Anyway, back to the chicken. Regular readers know how much I like the sweet and spicy combo. The cayenne and honey give this chicken that sweet and spiciness that I love. I wanted to eat my entire chicken breast, but my bloated stomach and gastroparesis prevented me. The topping is so good; I wanted to eat it by the spoonful.

Oatmeal Crusted Chicken
Printer-friendly recipe

2 chicken breasts
1 Tbl coconut oil, melted (any oil; grapeseed oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc)
1 Tbl canola oil (again any oil)
Pinch garlic powder
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp cumin
1 c quick cook oats (rolled oats or combo of both)
Drizzle honey (about 1 Tbl per breast)
Canola spray (or oil oil)
Basil for garnish, opt

Preheat oven to 375 F

Add all ingredients, except oats, to a shallow baking dish. Mix to combine (I used a fork), then stir in oats until coated.

Add in chicken breasts, and roll in oat mixture, patting to coat each breast. (you can do this with your hands, but since I can’t touch raw meat, I used the back of a spoon. Drizzle honey over each breast, spray with a bit of canola oil.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until each breast is done, flipping halfway through.

Peppermint Twist

On the eleventh day of Christmas my bartender made for me, a Peppermint Twist so yummy…

I got this recipe from my sister; I’m not exactly sure where she got it. This turned out to be exceptionally good. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and peppermint.

Peppermint Twist
Printer-friendly recipe
Makes 1 large or small 2 cocktails

3 oz crème de cacao (dark)
2 oz cream
2 oz peppermint schnapps
Crushed peppermint candies

Put peppermint candies in Ziploc bag and crush into small pieces; put on plate.
Line glass rims with crème de cacao, press into crushed peppermint candies. Shake ingredients with ice; strain into glass(es).

Note: the original recipe calls for the drink to be served in two vignette Port wine glasses. Our bartender suggests either pouring the entire drink into a highball glass or into two rocks glasses or 2 martini glasses.