Have you ever wondered how they make vanilla extract, or been curious why they can taste so different from brand to brand? Well some brand actually use chemicals in the processing of their extracts, leading you ingesting poisons you would rather not have, but I have a solution for you! Just make you own like I do. Now that might sound confusing and borderline scary, but once you try this I promise you'll never buy the junky overpriced stuff in the store.
Serves: 2 cups
10 long sized (6-7") vanilla beans (see notes)
14-15 ounces clear and unflavored vodka
16 ounce GLASS container , amber works best
If your beans are older you can snap them, otherwise, use your scissors and cut 10 beans into ½ inch - 1 inch pieces and put them inside a glass container that's at-least 16 ounces and has a tight fitting lid. Pour in 14 - 15 ounces of a clear unflavored vodka. I just use the cheapest vodka at the store, but if you want you can use the more expensive stuff. The important part is to not get flavored vodka or a mix vodka, this will ruin the final flavor and is a waste of good vanilla beans.
After you add the vodka, put on the cap and shake gently to help the process along. You will notice that it will already turn a slightly browner color and you might see little black specs, this is normal and is what will make your homemade extract 100 times better than store-bought in the end. Put your extract in a darker place, away from direct sunlight. An amber bottle will help with this, but since they're hard to find, storing away from sunlight works best. For the first week, try to shake it once a day, I find this helps give the best results.
Minimum time for soaking is 2 weeks, this will give a weaker flavor, but still comparable to something in the store. One month is best for a full flavored extract that is slightly stronger than double strength at the store.
At this point you can strain out the vanilla pods in a coarse mesh strainer (you want the seeds to fall through) or you can leave them in there. After about 2 months time, the extract will not get any stronger. At this stage you will have something super flavorful that makes this more than worth your while. As seen in the video it bests VERY dark and wonderful. The smell is something that cannot be described and the taste is nothing like vanilla from a bottle in the super market.
Some of you might be saying to yourself that making homemade vanilla extract would cost a small fortune, and you very well could be right. If you go to buy vanilla pods in the store they're usually 2 pods for 10 dollars USD, however, I have been using vanilla beans purchased off the Internet for years now with no issues. I purchase mine on eBay from a VERY well known and respected seller,CLICK HERE, please note that I am NOT being paid to advertise these people, I just like their products. I use grade B or extract grade vanilla, planifolia aka Madagascar bourbon beans. You can use grade a but it does not yield any better results, I have tried it. You can also use Tahitian vanilla but they do tend to be more expensive. I always suggest buying a pound of beans, this saves you a lot of money on shipping and the final product. After shipping it only costs about 31 dollars and will last you many years. Over time they dry out and are only good for extract, but I am on 3 years and the beans still produce an amazing flavored extract. Store vanilla in a tight fitting container, like a quart sized wide mouth mason jar away from direct sunlight. If your vanilla gets white mold of them , obviously throw them away or compost them.
So for this weeks SMART meal we were given the topic of tomatoes, wonderful! Tomatoes are such a versatile fruit to use in just about everything from curry, to condiments. Let’s not forget the old stand-by of pasta sauce, but my favorite way to eat tomatoes is raw. About a month ago I did a recipe on bruschetta and I knew I had to make it again because it’s just that tasty.
In total this cost me about $6.00 to make and you could easily get 6 servings, making it only $1.00 a serving.
For the original recipe go to: HERE
The only variation between this and that is I didn’t have fresh parsley this time, so instead I used some dried oregano. Would have been better with some fresh basil or parsley, but sometimes we need to make due without.
Tortillas are one of those things most people never make homemade and that’s a shame, because nothing completes a taco better than a warm freshly made tortilla. This recipe takes the plain wheat tortilla to the next level by adding rye and spelt for extra nutritional benefit as well as great flavor. Combined with sesame oil and extra spices of seasoning, this recipe will win anyone over, vegan or otherwise. Most healthy tortillas (not fully of chemicals or preservatives) are about 40Â¢ ea which is what I calculated this out to be if divided into 12, so you don’t really save any money, however it’s worth it. Oh and if you’re saying that you can buy a package of tortillas for 2 dollars and you get 10 so that’s 20Â¢ each, I invite you to read the labels. Chances are the ingredients look like this:
This is the actual ingredients list of a well known brand of “wheat” tortillas. (click here to see the brand and where I’m talking about) I’ll stick to my simple ingredients. With the exception of the Mrs. Dash and the sesame oil, everything in my recipe was organicly purchased so take that into consideration when inspecting the price.
1/2 – 2 cups warm water
3 cups whole wheat flour, finely ground works best
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rye flour3 tablespoons oil *see note*
1/4 teaspoon salt **see note**
3 tablespoons oil *see note*
seasonings (I used chipotle powder and Mrs. Dash)
1 teaspoon yeast (gives great flavor)
Also suggested for this recipe is a cast iron griddle, this gives it lots of extra flavor.
In a large sized bowl add your flours, yeast, salt, seasonings, and oil. Stir with a spoon until the oil starts to clump and you mix the flours well. Slowly mix in your hot water, you may need more or less depending on the types of flours you use. I used 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons. The trick is to get a nice dough consistency, without making it too moist. In this case, less water is better. When your dough just starts to come together and it still kind of crumbly, turn the dough out onto a flat surface. You can do the kneading in a bowl, however it makes it more difficult, in my opinion.
With dry hands, knead the dough. Push down the dough with the bottoms of your palms, then raise the dough back up and turn sideways 90 degrees. Repeat this process until your dough is your desired consistency. For chewy and soft pliable dough like what you’d buy in the store, I suggest kneading vigorously for at-least 10 minutes. You will know your dough is ready for rolling when you can press your finger into the dough and it partly holds it shape, but mostly bounces back at you. The dough will also be very smooth and soft looking. For me it took about 16 minutes of average speed kneading. Technically, you don’t have to knead at all, but the consistency won’t be the same and since these are multigrain they might be a bit tough.
Divide your dough into equal sized portions. I decided to make 12 pieces out of this recipe, and they yeilded 8 inch tortillas, you make divide them into smaller or larger pieces to suit your needs. Roll out each ball into the desired size.
Heat your cast iron griddle over medium high heat, until a drop of water will dance on the skillet for 2 seconds before evaporating. Turn down your heat to just below medium, and add your dough. Pay attention not to let the dough fold over the edges, so it cooks evenly. Cooking time is about 30-60 seconds per side, depending on if you use a cast iron skillet or not. Add your rolled dough sheet onto the griddle and do NOT move it until you start to see bubbles appear on-top of the dough. Flip and wait another 30 seconds, then check your dough. If the other side is browned slightly, then it is done. Repeat this until all your tortillas are cooked and Enjoy!
Heres a great tip: Take a skillet with a lid and place a towel or cloth into the bottom. Place your tortillas in this pot once cooked and replace the lid. The towel prevents the steam collecting and turning your tortillas soggy, while keeping the tortillas nice and soft.
To reheat these you can slightly warm in an unoiled skillet or place however many you need on a place, cover with a dampened paper towel and place into the microwave for 30-60 seconds or til heated through. (I do not endorse the use of microwaves, however I know some people use them)
*note: I like using 2 tablespoons sesame oil and 1 tablespoon neutral oil like grape-seed to give extra flavor to the tortillas, however you may use any kind you want, or you may omit it all together. However, oil helps keep the tortillas pliable.
**note: If you are using a seasoning mix that contains salt, do NOT add the additional salt.
Nutritional Information is based off 12 servings (as shown in video) and assumes you used the same ingredients I used. Yours may vary.
So for this weeks SMART meal we were given the topic of tacos. YAY! I love eating tacos, they’re a great way to full up on healthy carbs and tons of fresh vegetables. Although these aren’t my typical tacos, I found they were still super tasty and amazing.
Best of all, this WHOLE meal (including the leftovers) only cost me… you ready for it?…: $11.00! Sure that seems like a lot, but you must figure I’ll get probably 6 meals out of this for my husband and myself so that breaks down to only $1.83 per meal. Not bad at all.
A homemade multi-grain flour tortilla – click HERE for my recipe
homemade re-fried pinto beans
green bell pepper
medium spicy salsa
For two of these tacos I calculated 1220 calories. That may seem like alot however I skipped lunch, oops!
How could I have improved them? Well, nothing beats fresh tomatoes on a taco, unfortunately since its the end of the month I already ate most of my produce, and what was left (2 romas) went bad to the point I couldn’t trim the bad bits so we had to toss them. Never-fear, this is why I keep salsa in the fridge. I also really like olives on my tacos, I’m not sure why It was just something I was raised with. I know that’s not traditional, but I still like them. I think next time I have tacos I’ll get some from the olive bar at Whole Foods. All in all, this meal was freaking amazing. I was so full after two tacos and the cron-o-meter showed I received almost 100% of my vitamins and minerals. Oh yeah, talk about healthy and delicious!
Better yet, I had left-overs for my husband’s lunch. I packaged the vegetables and salsa in a seperate container than the tortilla shells and pinto beans. That way he can warm up the beans without cooking the veggies, and the shells stay fresh and not soggy.
Don’t know what smart is? Click HERE for my explanation of it.
This is my go to dressing. This recipe can be vegan friendly if maple syrup or another liquid sweetener like agave is used. It can also be a raw dressing depending on your ingredients. If making this for someone with gluten issues, please insure you use gluten free tamari/soy sauce, AND gluten free vinegar.
1 cup grape-seed oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sesame seed oil*
2 1/2 tablespoons whole sesame seeds
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 – 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground is best
2-4 tablespoons honey or liquid sweetener of choice**(see notes)
In a large bowl (high sided works best), add in your vinegar, soy sauce, and honey or other sweetener. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of oil. This should take 1-2 minutes of vigorous whisking. The trick is to make a dressing and not oily vinegar, there is a difference. Once you have 1/2 cup of oil in, try your sauce and if desired add the rest of the oil. At this point if you’re using it, whisk in the sesame oil as well. Once all your oil is whisked in, add your extra flavors or extra sweetener if desired. I used whole sesame seeds and black peppers. Stir in and you are done!
To store this dressing use a mason jar or repurposed glass jar with a tight fitting lid OR use a VERY well cleaned salad dressing bottle, I like the ones with the caps on the lid that restricts the amount that comes out at one time. In the fridge this will last for weeks, maybe a month or so I have never tried it that long. Before using, shake really well to re-emulsify and you’re ready to go.
*If you do not want to use or don’t have access to sesame oil, you can substitute it with regular oil or leave out entirely.
**If you are vegan or simply do not use honey, feel free to use maple syrup or agave. If neither appeal to you, try making a simple syrup by boiling 1/4 cup water with 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk well to ensure no grainy texture. Once cooled, substitute this in for honey. Start with 1 tablespoon and try it from there as this changes the flavor.
***If you want to add a ginger flare to this dish, use a microplane or fine tooth grater and grate some ginger into the bowl. I would suggest 1/2 – 1 tablespoon. Whisk this in with the sesame seeds. Optionally you can add other flavors such as fresh garlic or chili flakes to change the flavor.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you are making this and/or cooking for someone with gluten allergies or celiacs disease. Make sure to purchase ingredients that are certified gluten free, and clean your utensils very well. Better safe than sorry.
Nutritional information is per tablespoon, Thanks!