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Grandma Flake’s Brownies

Family recipes hold such a nostalgic feeling, don’t they? Grandma Flake is my Great-Grandma. I never had the chance to meet her, but I grew up with her brownies! I think that it’s lovely that we can feel the presence of our loved ones when we make recipes that we associate with them. I frequently imagine what my great-grandma must have been like- she obviously loved her family to make such tasty treats for them! Whenever I make these brownies, I have great memories of making them with my family. While these brownies might not make you nostalgic, I hope you enjoy their flavor and texture.

Not only are these brownies delicious, but they can be dairy-free and are simple to make! Simple, budget-friendly ingredients (and a whole lotta love) are all that are in these bites of heaven.

Whenever someone says they have the best brownie recipe, there is generally a divide between cakey and fudgy brownies. Some people swear by adding melted dark chocolate, and others say you shouldn’t use butter. Others require frosting on top, and to others, that is complete lunacy.

Not gonna lie, these brownies aren’t fudgy or cakey. They are a wonderful blend of a crackly top and a soft inside with a chewy texture… so I guess they have their own category?

I am usually a person who insists on throwing a couple of chocolate chips into the brownie batter, but they don’t work in these brownies and the delicate texture. I know you might be tempted to throw a couple in on a whim- but try to resist! (I do however, suggest eating a handful of chocolate chips while waiting for the brownies to bake- priorities people. Priorities.)

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening or vegan butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk of your choice (Note that nut milks are thinner and you won’t need as much)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbs Cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and then add in the egg, milk and shortening.

2. The mixture will look dry to begin. Don’t add extra milk and keep mixing! I promise it will come together. It should be a sticky, thick batter.

3. After mixing it just enough that you don’t see any chunks of flour or shortening, press into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the brownies after the 25 minute mark since all ovens bake differently. The brownies will puff up in the oven and then sink when they are almost done.

4. The crust will be crunchy while underneath will be gooey and soft. This is the part of the recipe that I differ from my mom. I like to eat the brownies about 30-45 minutes after they come out of the oven when they are still slightly warm and gooey while my mom prefers them to be completely cooled. Either way, they have a wonderful chewy texture and crispy edges. (In case you like brownies right out of the oven, I suggest you resist with this recipe. The flavors don’t settle until they are mostly cooled- they just don’t taste as good hot.)

Look at these gorgeous bites of chocolatey goodness! Is your mouth watering yet? (It’s a little embarrassing how much I am drooling while writing this post…)

Keep in an air-tight container (Like this Snapware!) for up to a week.

Side notes:

  • If you decide to use non-dairy milk in these brownies, be careful to watch the consistency. Milk is more viscous than non-dairy milks, so dairy-free alternatives affect the texture of baked goods. The brownie batter should be thick and sticky and spread into a thin layer. I would suggest starting with only one tablespoon of non-dairy milk and going from there to make sure you don’t thin the brownie batter out too much.
  • If you choose to use a vegan butter, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of it to get the correct water to fat ratio.
  • If you decide to use a flax egg or a vegan egg replacement, you might want to make a test batch as I haven’t tried that before. If you happen to, let me know how it goes in the comments!
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Teriyaki Sauce

Japanese food wasn’t familiar to me until I married my husband. His mom lived in Japan for a year and a half and his uncle is from Japan. My in-laws don’t have Japanese food often, but when they do, it is a delicious treat! This recipe is from his uncle, and we prefer it to any store- bought teriyaki sauce.

Asian cuisine is a great way to avoid putting dairy into your diet. There are far more people in Asia who are lactose-intolerant than there are in the United States, so it makes sense that they don’t use as much milk as we do. We have Asian meals two or three times a week. It’s a delicious way to pack in veggies and rice and avoid a grumpy stomach.

Teriyaki sauce is a very simple way to dress up a bowl of rice or some steamed vegetables. My husband and I especially enjoy gyoza with teriyaki sauce. After making a batch of the sauce, we like to keep our teriyaki sauce in a little Snapware container on the top shelf of our fridge so we always have teriyaki sauce to dress up a meal.

Side Notes:

  • The quality of the teriyaki sauce depends on the quality of the soy sauce you buy.
  • This sauce is very strong and a little goes a long way- you probably only need half of a teaspoon for a bowl of rice.
  • I have tried making it with brown sugar and white sugar. Either way, it still turns out delicious!
  • This doesn’t taste like restaurant-style or store-bought teriyaki sauce. It is simple and delicious! Part of the reason I like it so much is because it is a simple recipe of only four ingredients.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tsp grated ginger or ginger powder
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan and boil for three to five minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. You can boil the sauce for a few more minutes if you would like a thicker sauce. Be careful to not boil it too much- it could boil down into a weird teriyaki candy or boil over onto your stove. Definitely not the easiest thing to clean off your stove. Not that I know from experience…
  2. Let the sauce cool (or not) and enjoy! This is a super simple way to incorporate some authentic Japanese flavor into meals!
  3. Place the leftovers into an air-tight container and keep in the fridge. It will stay fresh for three to six months.

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How to Make Homemade Lactose-Free Butter

When I figured out that all of my stomach distress was from lactose, I was pretty devastated. Dairy, especially butter, is one of the main flavors in many recipes. And I looove butter- buttered toast, brown butter blondies. and the list goes on.
 Taking lactase pills is always an option, and I do use them often, but it makes eating far more expensive than I would like it to be. It’s frustrating having to worry about what is in each and every meal I eat. I kept my meals dairy-free for a while, but it is hard to get the right texture and flavor when baking with dairy substitutes. 
 I have looked into buying lactose-free butter, but I don’t have any local options, and shipping it to my house is far too expensive.
 My husband encouraged me to find a way to be able to use actual butter instead of substitutes. I happened to stumble upon a video of how to make butter, and the gears started to turn. I had been adding two pills of lactase to a gallon of milk for a couple of weeks at this point. It was cheaper to have a whole gallon of DIY lactose-free milk and share it with my husband than to have a half-gallon of store-bought lactose-free milk for myself and a gallon of regular milk for my husband. (Do all husbands like milk that much?)

So I started to experiment. I added one or two lactase pills to a half-gallon of cream and let it sit for at least 24 hours in the fridge.  

Then I churned it into butter and I didn’t have any… ahem… issues. It was wonderful to have real, creamy, delicious butter without the unwanted side effects. 

The hard part about this recipe is knowing how much lactase to add. I am generally okay if I put one lactase pill into the half-gallon of cream, but other people who struggle more with lactose may need to add a couple more pills or a couple extra days in the fridge.

Side Notes:
The buttermilk will thicken as it sits in the fridge, but I wouldn’t use it if it has clumps in it. I generally use the buttermilk the week that I make the butter to be safe. I really like making buttermilk biscuits to use it up.  
Making lactose-free butter at home is wonderful and I recommend it- however- please, please take time to understand your body and how lactose-intolerant you are. Even though I would love to be able to tell you the exact amount of lactase to use in this recipe, it is truly up to you and your body. Please be safe!
I have been able to leave the cream in the fridge for up to a week before churning it into butter without any issues. I don’t know that I would let it sit for longer than that.
Smell something kind of sour while churning the cream? Don’t worry, that’s normal. My husband doesn’t like to be in the kitchen when I am making butter because of the smell.
The butter can last up to a month in the fridge and longer in the freezer. I wouldn’t leave the butter out on the counter. Making it at home makes it go bad sooner if you leave it out at room temperature. 


Recipe 

Ingredients:
Half-gallon of heavy whipping cream
1-4 lactase pills 
Tools needed:
Hand-Mixer, Stand-Mixer, or Whisk and Large Bowl
Sieve
Spatula
Jars
Measuring cups
Silicone molds (Optional) 


Directions:
Place one to four lactase pills into the half-gallon of cream and shake it. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours and up to a week.

Whenever you are ready to churn the cream, put it in your mixer and let it churn for 20-45 minutes. It’s easy for me to let it do its own thing in my bosch, but you will want to keep an eye on it if you are using a kitchen aid or a hand mixer. Wipe down the sides of the bowl occassionaly to incorporate all of the cream together. 

It will look like regular whipped cream after a couple of minutes. It will start to thicken and condense as you continue to whip it.

It will gradually take on a lovely light yellow color when it gets closer to being butter. But don’t stop there! Keep going until it completely separates into clumps of smooth yellow butter and watery buttermilk. The buttermilk you get from the store is different from the buttermilk you get from this process. It starts out watery and slowly thickens up in the fridge.

Once it is separated, set out your jar, seive, and funnel. 

Slowly pour the buttermilk through the sieve, trying to keep too much butter from clogging up the sieve.

Once you have the majority of the buttermilk separated out, start taking clumps of the butter and putting them into a smaller separate bowl. Press the butter against the side of the bowl to press the remaining buttermilk out. As you press out the buttermilk, add it to the jar of buttermilk. Then rinse the butter with cold milk. The less buttermilk in the butter, the longer the butter will stay fresh. I generally split my batch of butter into 1/3 of salted butter and 2/3 of unsalted butter. 

I just so happened to have these silicon pumpkin molds that perfectly hold 1/4 cups of butter! I like to measure the unsalted butter into 1/4 cup amounts because it’s easy to take it out of the freezer for recipes when I need it. I have also simply pressed the butter into a 1/4 measuring cup and scooped it out on to a baking tray. I generally let the butter on the tray sit in the freezer for fifteen minutes or until they are firm enough to play into a bag or container without mushing together. I had to wait a bit longer on the butter in the silicone molds so they would come out of the mold nicely.

And voila! You have your own lactose-free butter. Enjoy!

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Lactose-Free vs. Dairy-Free

Some people don’t think there is a difference between dairy-free and lactose-free, but there is! Lactose-free products are still the dairy we know and love, just without the pesky lactose. Dairy-free alternatives (almond milk, coconut yogurt, nut cheese) are obviously dairy and lactose-free.

Dairy adds flavor, texture, and color to many recipes that just isn’t the same without it. That’s why certain recipes don’t work without the dairy-free counterparts. If I have the option, I use lactose-free products in baking because I prefer it.

Don’t despair if you have a milk allergy! There are still many wonderful ways to use dairy-free alternatives. I like to find recipes that are specifically dairy-free that work with the alternatives rather than using them to replace dairy.

On this blog, you will find a variety of recipes that are either lactose-free or dairy-free. I hope you enjoy learning about the ways to make tasty food and have a happy stomach!