Pao de Queijo aka Cheesy Biscuits

Pao de Queijo minus the two I had for breakfast

Pao de Queijo, minus the two I had for breakfast

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Part of my quest to clean up my diet is to let go of wheat-based products. But carb-lover that I am, finding a gluten- and GMO-free bread has been challenging … until now!

I have to thank my friend Julia Myers for introducing me to these scrumptious biscuits. She brought a batch to our Memorial-Day-weekend, potluck barbeque, and I couldn’t stop eating them! Come to find out, this mouth-watering bread is made with tapioca flour, which comes from the cassava plant and is used a lot in Asian dishes (bubble tea fanatics know what I’m talking about).

Tapioca flour results in a bread that’s light and easy to digest. For this recipe, I used Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour .

Learning Curve

I haven’t baked in a long time, so it took two tries to perfect the recipe. The Pao de Queijo recipe Julia based her cheesy biscuits on can be found HERE . We both made some changes to the recipe; mine were based on the ingredients I had on hand.

Instead of the ½ cup of olive oil, Julia used ¼ cup of unsalted butter. The first time I made them, I used coconut oil, the only oil I use for cooking.

I also added Italian seasoning, thinking it would be a great way to add flavor to the biscuits without a lot of fuss. But I probably added too much because when the bread started baking, the smell was pretty overwhelming.

I also probably added a little more than 2 cups of tapioca flour because I kept shaking the measuring cup so the flour would settle and give me a better view of where it came in the measuring cup. I wanted to make sure I had EXACTLY 2 cups.

While I was bending over to get a clear view of the measuring scale on the side of the cup, I had a flashback to high school, doing the same thing and my home economics teacher coming up behind me and swatting me on the butt, saying I should know better than to do that (yeah, teachers did that kind of stuff back in the sixties).

I should have heeded the message (still working on following and not ignoring intuitive guidance) because when I started mixing the water/milk/oil into the flour, the liquid got absorbed almost immediately, and I had all this flour remaining to be mixed in.

I couldn’t imagine how the liquid would be enough. So I heated up a little more water/milk/oil in the microwave and added it to the flour, forgetting I still had 2 beaten eggs to add. Once the eggs were added, the mixture was kind of runny, and the biscuits came out flat as pancakes.

Finally, I used shredded Parmesan cheese instead of grated cheese, which I think made the biscuits heavier than they’re supposed to be. But they were edible, and I figured I would adjust the recipe next time I made them.

Ah, Perfection!

This time, I –

  • Used ¼ cup of butter instead of olive or coconut oil,
  • Substituted garlic salt for the Italian seasoning, and
  • Added grated instead of shredded Parmesan cheese.

Using butter instead of oil and grated instead of shredded cheese increased the biscuits’ light texture; the garlic salt added a subtle yet distinct flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the senses. And because the butter was salted and I used garlic salt as seasoning, I didn’t add the salt the recipe calls for.

Along with the 1/3 cup of water, I used 1/3 cup of goat’s milk both times instead of cow’s or soy milk. Yes, it’s a lot more expensive, but I rarely purchase milk and don’t eat soy for a number of health reasons. Goat’s milk, on the other hand, is so much more tasty than cow’s or soy milk, not to mention easier to digest. It’s definitely worth the extra expense, IMHO.

Finally, I did not shake the measuring cup to settle the flour, just poured it from the bag to the cup until it reached the 2-cup mark.

As you can see from the photo above, the biscuits are still a little flat, but they’re a lot puffier than the first batch and oh so delicious. My daughter suggested using a cupcake pan instead of a cookie sheet the first time I made them. I think I’ll take her advice next time around.

Needless to say, I’ll be making Pao de Queijo on a regular basis.

A New Blog Theme Is Coming!

Image via Flickr by erh1103

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, primarily because I’m in the process of upgrading to a new blog theme. I’ve invested a lot of time thinking about the direction I want to take this blog in and spent more time than I probably should have searching for the “perfect” theme.

Well, I have that theme, and my good friend, William Knight, is going to assist in (well … do) the conversion.

Hoping to be done sometime in July, but I’ll provide updates in the interim. Thanks for your patience!

Image via Flickr by erh1103

Whatever-You-Have-On-Hand Green Smoothie

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Green smoothies are easy to make

Green smoothies are easy to make

Crocheters have to eat, right? There are probably some things we can do nutritionally to keep our minds sharp and our joints healthy so we can keep on wielding our hooks.

I’m slowly transitioning processed foods out of my diet and organic foods in and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. The best way I’ve found to get my daily allotment of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods is with smoothies.

The Basic Green Smoothie

It’s “green” because you’re supposed to use more vegetables than fruit to keep the sugar content down. But you do want some fruit to sweeten the smoothie naturally. A good ratio of vegetables to fruit is 3:1 or 2:1.

I made the smoothie pictured above using ingredients I had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry. If you include lots of vegetables and fruits in your diet, you shouldn’t have a problem creating a smoothie from the “on hand” items in your fridge and pantry.

Ingredients

  • 3 small ice cubes
  • couple of handfuls of organic frozen mango (about 1/2 to 3/4 cups)
  • a handful or two of organic baby spinach leaves (about a cup)
  • 1/2 cup alkaline water
  • a little less than a 1/4 cup organic grape juice
  • 1/4 cup orange/mango juice (not organic but it needs to be)
  • couple of dolops of French Vanilla coconut milk coffee creamer (essentially coconut milk and cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp organic coconut oil
  • several dashes of ground turmeric
  • 3 drops of liquid stevia (optional – meaning, I don’t really need to add it because it’s sweet enough without it)

Directions

  • Add all ingredients in the Magic Bullet jar or whatever blender you have on hand.
  • Mix until creamy smooth.

I love the pretty shade of lime green, and the smoothie is absolutely delicious. I try to use organic ingredients exclusively, but it doesn’t always happen So I make due with what I have on hand until I can find an organic version of the ingredient.

Make It “Your Way”

With the 3:1 or 2:1 vegetable-to-fruit ratio in mind, create your green smoothie using your favorite vegetables and fruits. My “go-to” dark-green leafy for smoothies is organic baby spinach. I haven’t tried kale yet, but I have some organic baby kale that I use for salads that I’m looking forward to trying.

For fruit, I use frozen organic mangoes or fresh mangoes when they’re in season. Needless to say, I LOVE mangoes.

I look forward to experimenting with different vegetable-fruit combinations. I plan to substitute organic avocados for the coffee creamer to create a more “nutritious” creamy texture. I also intend to phase out the juice and use the plant-based sweetener, stevia, as a sugar substitute to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Finally, I supplement my smoothies with turmeric and coconut oil because they have so many health benefits. The coconut oil will keep my brain sharp so I can keep figuring out those advanced crochet patterns. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric will keep my fingers, hands, and wrists agile for all the projects I want to complete.

What do you do nutritionally to stay healthy for all those projects on your crochet to-do list?

Prince Crochet Photo Pattern

Prince crochet photo pattern

Prince crochet photo pattern

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of one of my all time favorite musicians and performers, Prince.

To celebrate his life and music, I’ve done a crochet photo pattern of him which you can find HERE.

There’s a color chart at the end of the pattern that includes shades in several colors, including purple. So yes, you can create a purple masterpiece. The pattern is 225 sts and 100 rows. The finished piece will measure about 55″ x 25″ and will make a great wall hanging.

UPDATE: Several people have asked me for a Prince pattern that will produce a smaller finished piece. So I created one that will give you a finished piece of about 38″ x 15″. You can find it HERE.

Easy Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket

Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket in Red Heart Super Saver and #10 needles

Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket in Red Heart Super Saver and #10 needles

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I like to switch up from time to time and knit something, as long as it’s a pattern I can work up relatively quickly.

At my Sunday Ladies Craft Gathering last month, one of our members was knitting a baby blanket which I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Finally, I asked her for the pattern and was shocked to discover how easy it is to make.

The pattern is Lion Brand’s Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket (Pattern # khs-diagonalBabyBlanket). I would supply a link that goes directly to the pattern, but you have to log into the Lion Brand site to get to their patterns.

  • Go to www.LionBrand.com.
  • Log in (or register if you haven’t already).
  • Click the Patterns tab at the top.
  • Enter the pattern # in the search field and press enter.

Here’s the url for my search. You still have to log in or register to view the pattern.

My blanket is only 24″ square (the pattern calls for 36″ square) because I wanted to use just the one skein of Red Heart Super Saver yarn I had in my stash. I also used a slightly smaller pair of knitting needles (size 10). It probably would have gone a whole lot quicker if I had used the yarn, Lion Brand Homespun, and size 11 needles the pattern calls for.

I highly recommend using circular needles for this project, like these lovely Deborah Norville 32″ circulars, especially if you’re going to make a larger blanket. The circulars allow the fabric to spread out across the wire as it increases in size instead of being all bunched up on straight needles.

The pattern uses a "corner-to-Corner" stitch offset by a nice border.

The pattern uses a “corner-to-corner” stitch offset by a nice border.

The blanket is knitted like a crochet corner-to-corner blanket. You start at one point, knit until the two sides are as long and wide as you want them, then decrease to the opposite point.

You can alter the size based on how many rows you knit before you start decreasing. There’s a wash cloth pattern that uses the same pattern (with a border of 2 stitches instead of 3). And since it only calls for the garter stitch (i.e., knit every row), the blanket pattern was a no-brainer for me.

At some point, I’ll probably make one with Homespun and the right size needles, but I’m really pleased with the result I got with what I had on hand.

Some fiber friends have suggested that it can be used as a changing pad or a blankie for a car seat. It will definitely be a gift for a baby I know will be here soon.