Monday, July 30, 2012

Homemade Wheat Thins

Photo Jul 30, 11 14 32 AM
This is slowly turning into a food blog-- I can't help but share when I come across awesome recipes.

These come from The Baker Chick, one of my favorite blogs to stalk. Wheat Thins are one of the things I can't keep in the house. These slightly sweet, salty little crackers are ridiculously addicting. Half the box is gone before I can get the groceries put away (oops!). 

So why spend the time and effort to hand make them when I can grab a box at the Target down the street? 1) Because I love a food challenge 2) They were so good! (I'm munching on them as I type..)

Try these. They are simple to make and a great snack to add to my husbands lunches (if there are any left!)
homemade wheat thins
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Then, using a pastry blender, two knives, (or your hands,) mix the butter into the dry ingredients until it is coarse and crumbly.  Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup.  Add to the butter/flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.  If your dough is still dry, add a little more water.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel so they don't dry out.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle.  Lift the dough and turn it as you roll to ensure it's not sticking.  You want to roll the dough as thin as possible, try to make sure it's 1/16-inch thick at most.  If you want all of your crackers to be perfect, trim the edges of the dough so you have a rectangle with even sides.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.
Photo Jul 29, 5 29 29 PM
Transfer the dough squares to the prepared baking sheets.  You don't need to leave much space in between the crackers - they don't spread at all in the oven.  Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.  Save all of your scraps under the towel; reroll them all at once to create a final batch of crackers. 
Photo Jul 29, 5 04 07 PM

Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-8 minutes.  Check the crackers at 5 minutes, and if some of the thinner ones are browning too quickly, remove them to a plate and return the remaining crackers to the oven to finish baking.  They can burn quickly- so keep a close eye on them!  Once brown and crisp, transfer to a plate to cool.  Store the crackers in an airtight container.

I Heart Nap Time Positively SplendidPhotobucket Lovely Crafty Home

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Disneyland- Norrey's trip and tips

We've hit a major landmark in our relationship- we went to Disneyland!

I've been a bajillion times as a so-cal kid and he's been too, but we've never gone together. Torrey's sister Angie and her family came down to spend a few days there, so it was the perfect opportunity. Check out all the fun.

-A sweet tooth my lover has.
-California Screamin with Angie
-A soaking wet little nephew
-A slightly drier nephew wondering who these strangers are.

-Not like I'm excited to see the new Star Tours or anything.
-Not like we absolutely loved and are obsessed with the new Star Tours or anything.
-On Space Mountain all photogenic.
-KO'd Joshua after lunch

-First taste of Dole Whip- loved it!
-Uncle Torrey :)
-Me, Mickey, Colin, and a stranger creepin.
-My teacup buddy! He said we could ride in my favorite cup. What a sweetie :)

I swear Angie and Andrew were there, I just failed to grab picture proof. We really enjoyed spending some time with them and their adorable boys. 

Every time I go to Disneyland (or any amusement park really) I pick up on new tips or secrets to make our time there even better. So I compiled a few for the next time you go. 

1. Discount tickets 
 There are tons of different ways to get discounts, like SoCal residents, package deals, (I got in for free on my birthday in 2009 :D ), etc. We got ah-mazing tickets because of a deal that's going on now for US Military members. Yay for serving the country! Grab your nearest military family member/friend and GO! It ends Sept 30th.

2. Water
You can ask for free water at any restaurant in the park, but what do you do when you're standing in line at Toy Story for an hour (no fast pass there..sigh)?  I found on pinterest had the genius idea of having Torrey bring his camelback full of ice water. That way we had free cold water at all time no matter how long the line.
Plus I LOVED not having to lug around water bottles. Best idea ever.

3. Fast pass- secret revealed!
Okay, so fast passes are great, but they're even better when you find out that you don't have to use them during the allotted time on the ticket. For example, a ticket will say it's valid from 11:15-12:15. You can come back anytime after 11:15 and they'll still take it. So collect fast passes throughout your day, and come back when ever you feel like riding it. You're welcome ;)

4. Don't eat in the park! 
 Disclaimer: I get that sometimes you want to eat in the Disney restaurants for the experience, and yes from the above pictures we are guilty for buying some treats, but I'm talkin' overall.

You will save SO much money this way ($3.50 for a churro? Really?). In talking to other people, I've learned that not many realize you can bring your own food into the park. My family has been doing that for years! Throw some Subway sandwiches into a backpack so that you don't blow your budget. Since we don't live very far, we actually went home, made lunch, took a nap, and came back later. OC resident perk :)

 We've still got a couple days on a super awesome military discount passes (im telling you, Check that out!) So if you've got any good tips let me hear them! I hope some of mine will help you :)

PS-This pic pops up when you enter Disneyland into Bing images. Had to share, lol.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fourth Food- Grilled Whole BBQ Chicken

Photo Jul 04, 7 30 11 PM

I have to say, I am way proud of myself for grilling a whole chicken. I had some major help though, from one of my favorite food blogs, Food Wishes. Chef John creates videos that demonstrate all of his recipes, so novices like me can feel all accomplished.

I fell for this recipe the minute I saw it. What makes grilling with barbecue sauce difficult is that the sugars in the sauce burn almost instantly, leaving you with an incinerated chicken every time.
The technique of grilling the chicken almost the entire way skin-side up guarantees you get a beautifully glazed chicken, plus the char and smokiness from the grill that you came for.

I have written out the steps here, but if you’re a more visual learner, or just want to watch a master, you can check out the video recipe here.

Noelle Notes:

 -Your chicken needs to be cut in half for this. Since the occupation of “butcher” doesn’t seem to exist in Orange County, I took a chicken to the meat counter at Albertsons and asked if they had halved chicken. The man took my request literally, leaving me to figure out how to remove half of a backbone from each side and mutilating one of the thighs in the process. (foodie problems..)

-Get a meat thermometer. Life will be much easier. 


Grilled Whole BBQ Chicken  

 2 Chicken halves
1/4c rice vinegar
2 tbsp of your favorite barbecue sauce, plus more for brushing 
2 cloves crushed garlic 

For the rub: 
1 tbsp salt 
1tsp black pepper 
2 tsp paprika 
1 tsp onion powder 
1/2 tsp cayenne
-Cut some deep (1/2-1in) slashes in the meat of the chicken. 1 or 2 slices per part (thigh, breast, and leg). This is to make it easier for the sauce and marinade to penetrate the meat.

-In a large bowl, combine rice vinegar, 2 tbsp barbecue sauce, and garlic. Toss chicken halves in the marinade, coating thoroughly.

-Refrigerate chicken halves sit skin-side down in the marinade for 1 hour

-Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.

-Remove chicken halves and pat dry with paper towels, then coat with dry rub.

-Place on preheated grill skin side down for 3 to 4 minutes. This is to get those great grill marks you want. Once you feel you've gotten some good char, flip them over and cook it skin side up the rest of the way. No flipping!

-Brush barbecue sauce on the now skin-side up chicken, then place lid on the grill with the vents barely open. Every 6 or 7 minutes you want to open the lid and baste with the sauce until the chicken is fully cooked, about 30 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken). This creates a glaze on the chicken without burning it.

-Impress yourself with how delicious it is :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fourth Food- Homemade Oreos

Torrey loves Oreos. every time we walk past the cookie aisle at Target, he gives me the can i? look, and I give him the do you really need those? look, and he walks away sulking . and i feel like a mean mom wife.
when we go to BJs, there's not even a conversation about it. at least half of that pazookie is Oreo. or else.
So when I was reading one of my favorite foodie blogs, The Baker Chick, and a homemade Oreo recipe popped up, he leaned over and said " could make those.."

so on our Wednesday Fourth of July I fed his addiction.

I was slightly intimidated upon approach. I wanted them to be the best darn Oreos in the world. But they really were fool-proof. Just make the wafer cookies, make the cream, cookie + cream + cookie = oreo. you can do that right? right.  

 This little homerun is officially a staple in my future cookbook (you know..the one that I'll have when I'm famous...) I can't wait for the perfect church function or party to whip these out at. People love when you stick a "homemade" in front of anything. It immediately sounds like you've slaved away all day, when really it took you maybe two hours?

I had a last minute stroke of genius when I realized I should make red white and blue frosting. You could do orange frosting for Halloween, red and green Christmas Oreos, the possibilities are endless!

Noelle Notes: -I don't have a food processor, or an electric mixer (enter sad face here). But the batter worked out fine with my hand mixer.
-I was too lazy to pipe my frosting. It would probably have looked nicer if i had. I'll try harder next time. 
-I was a little disappointed in the frosting because it doesn't really taste like Oreo cream. Next time I'm going to experiment with some other recipes to find the perfect filling.

Homemade Oreos
Source: The Baker Chick
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want the cookies- I used 1 cup.)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. These cookies will spread a lot so give them plenty of room! With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lookout blogisphere..

A blogging master is approaching! Not really, but as you can hopefully tell, I've done some major changes to the norrey blog. It wasn't easy. I felt like I was back on my MySpace page messing around with HTML codes. But we're up and running now!

My first major change is my recipes tab, where I can post links to recipes I refer to or will post myself. My intention is to make is easier to find that recipe that you remember reading that one time but you didn't want to try it then and now you do. Truthfully it's kind of for me more than for you. I always post recipes, then spend forever digging through my own archives to make it again. 
what month was that mothers day cake in??
  Well those days are officially over now!

Second, I've got new-fangled log buttons for followers to slap onto their blogs. Lemme know of you grab my button so I can grab yours, and we can be one big happy blogging family :)
here's a couple to choose from:

hope you enjoy ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No matter how small.

no act green

The other night Torrey took me to dinner at the Umami Burger in Laguna Beach (you can imagine my excitement when I found out there was one so close!). 
Photo Jul 08, 6 05 49 PM

He just got off of military drill for the day, so he was still wearing his uniform.Photo Jul 08, 6 22 19 PMPhoto Jul 08, 6 22 23 PM 

We had our delicious dinner, and when we waited for the check, the waiter told us it was taken care of, as a thank you for his service.
I was so touched. I've never had anything like that happen to me before. 

After we left, Torrey mentioned that he doesn't like to wear his uniform out to dinner very often, because he doesn’t want to take advantage of it. Apparently this has happened to him multiple times.

This little act of kindness just made my day. I’m proud of my husband for the time he has devoted to serving his country, so my heart swells when someone else shows their appreciation to the soldiers for their dedication to their country.

Friday, July 6, 2012

the city by the bay.

My entire teenage life was spent drooling over this city. I was absolutely sure that the Bay area was right for me and that going to school there was the only way I would be happy (oh teenage stubborn!). While my teenaged plans never panned out (because better ones came along!) San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart. So you know I was glad to have an opportunity to go on a short vacation here with my other half :)

Our San Francisco memories:


Megan and Dom's wedding. Glad we got to be silly with our long lost Aly <3

One of the most unique LDS temples I've ever seen.
Temple grounds.
So not tourists. Totally blending in.

Crab loaf from Boudin. heehee.

My favorite memory will be resting my head in my husband's lap in Ghirardelli Square, soaking in the sun. Vacation bliss.
Brown sugar and balsamic strawberry ice-cream from Bi-rite Creamery.
Torrey's first cable car ride :)
Pier 39's water Baloos sea lions.

Filbert Steps up to Coit Tower. 700+ steps to the top.
The view. I loved seeing coins from all over the world under the windows of the tower.
Cable car turnaround.

We stayed at a an anime-themed hotel in Japantown. We earned lots of sleep credits.
The Golden Gate on a perfect day.
Yes we walked ALL the way across. 

The city from the bridge. 
Most crooked street. 
Japanese Tea Garden.

JFK rose garden.
Golden Gate Park.
Too cold to touch the water. 
Hugging the redwoods :)

It's a problem that we don't live here. I think we're going to have to work on that. Until next time :*

Thursday, July 5, 2012

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