Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recipe: Blackberry and Goat Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

While I haven't been trolling the Epicurious website like I used to do, I do obsessively read their tweets, and when they had an article on cinnamon rolls, I was intrigued enough to say aloud, "Who would make cinnamon rolls with cream cheese?? I want to make cinnamon rolls, but I don't think we have enough powdered sugar."

The boyfriend, who happened to overhear, replied, "Didn't you just buy some goat cheese? Use that."

I had, in fact, just purchased a pound of goat cheese so when I woke up bright and early Saturday morning, I had an idea of what to do. I say that I had an idea because I was fully planning on making standard cinnamon rolls with a glaze when I discovered that we were totally and completely out of powdered sugar.

So I turned to the goat cheese. 

I was afraid the goat cheese would be too overpowering so I added the only fruit in the apartment: blackberry preserves.

It was amazing. But it did diminish the taste of the goat cheese. If you're a fan of goat cheese, I'd double what's below. If you're hesitant on the goat cheese, just go with the recipe recommendation and you'll be fine.


For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 yeast packet
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
2.5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water 
1 egg

For the filling:
6 tbsp blackberry preserve 
1 tsp cinnamon
Chopped pecans, about 1/2 cup
4 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp sugar
 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Melt the butter, milk, and water on the stovetop until the butter is completely melted. Combine with the flour mixture. Add the egg.

You should have a soft dough - non crumbling or sticky. Add flour or water to adjust as necessary.

Knead the dough for several minutes, then let the dough rest for about half an hour.

With a separate mixing bowl, begin to make the filling. Combine the melted butter, blackberry preserves, cinnamon, pecans, sugar, and crumbled goat cheese. Set aside.

Roll out your dough into a rectangular shape so that the dough is about 1/4" thick. Be sure to trim the edges so it's uniform.

Pour your filling mixture onto the dough and spread it around until it is evenly distributed. It should not be thick.

Beginning at one corner, tightly roll the dough until you have a log.

Cut your cinnamon rolls the thickness you prefer (I usually get about 8 of them), and place them in a buttered pan. Cover and let them rise for another 45-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recipe: Grape, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Galette

All over the world, people in various cultures are taught that they must do a certain something in order to achieve prosperity for the new year. Growing up in Tennessee, I was taught that I should have black eyed peas - not that I ever did.

I'm sure you've heard of the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each of the 12 strikes at midnight. I've heard variations on the tale, including that each grape represents a month for the new year. Sweet grapes represent a great month, and sour or bitter grapes represent a bad month. While I think that could end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, I also don't relish the idea of cramming grapes into my mouth - you don't have much time in between chimes!

The French have a lovely tradition of eating grapes with champagne, but I thought a grape galette would be nicer.

My mother cooks breakfast for us children the mornings of major holidays. Typically it's fairly simple pancakes and bacon, but last year she switched it up and bought some lovely pastries, filled with caramelized onions and brie. I figured grapes could be incorporated, along with some goat cheese since I didn't have any brie.

And I was right! This galette doesn't hold it's shape all too well, but it's delicious and sweet and a bit sour, and I'm happy to make this a New Year's tradition in my household.

1 cup caramelized onions (or 1 large yellow onion)
3 cups grapes, cut in half
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 cup crumbled goat cheese

If you need to caramelize your onions, start that first. If you're not sure where to begin, TheKitchn has an amazing guide up. You can also make this ahead of time, but it should take up to an hour.

You'll also need pie crust, which can also be made ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, add the caramelized onions, the grapes, the rosemary, and the goat cheese and mix.

Roll out your crust so that it's about 1/8" thick. Add the mixture into the middle, and begin folding the pastry edges over the mixture to form the galette.

Bake 30 minutes. Let cool 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Who's living in your gut? uBiome helps break down all the bacteria!

If you spent any amount of time with me, you know you don't have long before I start talking about gut bacteria. I love talking about the recent studies I've read, the link between the gut bacteria and the brain, and, of course, I love growing bacteria in my kitchen and eating it so it should come as no surprise that a few months ago I decided to get my bacteria tested to see who I'm sharing my body with.

After researching a few companies, I decided to go with uBiome simply because they were international company that also tested more than one sample sight. In fact, they test 5 sample sites: your gut, skin, nose, mouth, and genitals.

Originally I ordered the Gut Plus Kit, which just means that they would test my gut bacteria and one other site of my choosing. But an amazing thing happened! There was a screw up somewhere and the Five Site Kit came, which was sampling for all 5 areas. uBiome's customer service alerted me to the mistake and told me to go ahead and use the entire kit at no extra cost. Woohoo!

So I took all of my swab samples and sent them back off to the lab, and I then waited and waited. All in all, it took about a month before my samples were ready.

In addition to sheer curiosity, which I admit is the main reason I did this, I have also been diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disorder. I've picked up a copy of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a book that hypothesizes that many syndromes and disorders that plague our current population are due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria - or at least that's the gist I've gotten so far! I'm still early on in the book, so maybe there's more to it.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
However it is rather apparent that my bacteria is different than the average citizen scientist's bacteria. I seem to have an abundance of one time of bacteria and very little of other types of bacteria. While sometimes that's okay, other times a minute change can set off many unintended consequences.

I've taken a few screenshots of my gut bacteria so you can see how the website is laid out. You can compare yourself to different lifestyles (heavy drinkers, vegetarians, etc) and then, if you'd like, you can chart it out in tree form.

Best of all, if you're like me and have no idea what any of these different bacteria actually do, you can click on them to find out more information. Here's one of the good ones (and the ones I try to grow in my veggie ferments!):

And here's another bacteria chart and info:

Originally, I was trying to decide if this was worth it - did I really need to know the bacteria living with me? Was it going to make a difference? Would I even be able to understand the results with my minimal scientific background? (Okay, I have no scientific background to speak of unless you count my one biology class in college.)

Ultimately, I'm really happy I made the decision to meet my microbes. I've already spent a couple of hours going through my results, and I feel like I have many more hours to comb through all the data. I have yet to start the GAPS diet, but once I do start it, I would love to test my bacteria again, just to see what, if anything, has changed. It would be really amazing if what's causing my autoimmune disorder could be helped by changing my gut bacteria.

Are you curious as well? I'd love to hear if you've had your bacteria tested and what you thought.

If you want to go with uBiome and are looking for a last minute Christmas present for yourself (or your weird relative who's always creating life from brine and veggies), use this link and get 10% off.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recipe: Sweet Potato Burger with Avocado and Feta Cream Sauce

I have been trying for over a year now to make a proper veggie burger. And by proper, I mean that I wanted it to be vegetarian, not processed, able to hold its shape, and filling. I experimented a lot with quinoa and black bean burgers, and I could never get it quite right when I realized that sweet potato burgers could be a thing. After all, why do sweet potatoes have to only be relegated to desserts?
With some inspiration from How Sweet Eats, I set out to make my own version. There are lots of fermented goodies in my toppings, but I have alternatives as well.

Boyfriend review: Wow, this could be in a restaurant! I mean, your stuff is good and you should open your own restaurant, but a lot of it is weird. But this, this could be on a menu.

3 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil
bread rolls (I used challah bread rolls - found in the bakery)
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
2-5 tbsps milk kefir (or yogurt)
1 tsp fermented garlic (or roasted garlic)
fermented onions and peppers (or regular onions and peppers)

Clean sweet potatoes and stab with a fork a couple of times before placing them in the oven. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Once they're finished, let them cool a bit before separating the skins. They should come right off - I sliced off an end and squeezed the innards into a mixing bowl. If you're having issues, feel free to toss into a blender (along with the beans) to speeds things up.

Add in the beans, bread crumbs, flour, egg, and spices and mix. Place in the freezer while you make the sauce: combine the crumbled feta and the fermented garlic. Pour just enough milk kefir (or yogurt) to cover. The sauce will still be chunky, as the cheese is chunky.

To cook the burgers, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Form patties with the mix - I take a large spoonful and put it in the skillet. Then, with my spoon, I flatten it out and, if necessary, correct the shape. Sometimes you may need to add a bit more; you should be able to judge the right size and shape of your own patty.

Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until browned.

While the patty is cooking, toast your burger buns.

After toasting, I took part of an avocado and spread it on like butter. The other side of the bun got a nice heaping of the sauce we made.

Add the burger when it's ready and top with your choice of veggies. I added fermented onions and jalapenos.

Serves 6.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Recipe: Apple Pie with Gruyere Crust

 One of the perks of living in the northeast are the amazing apple orchards that let you go in and pick apples each fall. It's become a fall tradition to rent a car and drive out to the countryside and return stuffed with apple cider, apple cider donuts, and lots and lost of apples.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
And, for me at least, whenever I get apples, I think of apple pie. Which makes me think of Pushing Daisies, a dark comedy with a silly premise. You know what pie is mentioned most on the show? (Or at least most in my memories?)

Apple pie with gruyere baked into the crust.

Typically something like this would be rather daunting, but at a book fair on the street, I found this wonderful book called How to Build a Better Pie, by Millicent Souris. While I tend to modify the recipes in her book (and I think there's a typo in the basic crust recipe about salt!), I absolutely love how down to earth the tone is.

I've always felt like pies were an undertaking, especially rolling out the dough, and something that should only be accomplished when you have lots of time and space - and maybe someone to clean up after you! But Millicent points out that pies were designed to be simple, and designed to be quickly made, without all the fancy gadgets we think of as necessary in today's kitchen.

Thinking about how many people have baked pies before me has really encouraged my pie baking, and it really shaped this recipe, as I made several attempts before finding one that I just loved. Luckily, I brought back plenty of apples from the orchard.

(Don't worry, no complaints were had as I tested out different recipes!)

Pie Crust
1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
12 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
cold water

Apple Filling
4-5 apples (I used braeburn)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp thickener (I use flour - but you can also use cornstarch or arrowroot)

Pie Crust
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Slice the cold butter into chunks and mix it into the flour with your hands, being careful not to let the butter break down too much. You want it to have larger chunks, as it will make the pie crust flakier. Add in the gruyere cheese and mix.

Slowly add cold water. There are always suggestions, but I always find myself going over. I add in cold water about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing carefully and thoroughly. Add in enough so that the dough sticks together, but you also don't want the dough to be too wet - so it shouldn't stick to your hands either. If you find that you added too much water, add more flour back in.

When you're satisfied with your dough, separate it into 2 flattened circles. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Apple Filling
Thinly slice the apples and add them in a large mixing bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and your choice of thickener and toss with the apples. If you're not making the pie right away, add some lemon juice to preserve the color of the apples, though that's completely unnecessary.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out one ball of dough and fit it to your pan. I tend to roll out the dough as flat as I want it to be, then place it carefully in my pan. I'll cut off the excess dough (and freeze and reserve for galettes) and crimp the edges of the pan. Place in the fridge for a bit if the dough becomes too warm.

Pour your apple filling into the pan.

Roll out the 2nd dough ball and place it on top. I made a lattice pie crust, but if you just want to place the entire thing on top, go ahead, but remember to cut in 3 or 4 ventilation slits.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for one hour.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bruschetta

I can't even tell you why I made this dish originally. I don't really care for tomatoes, nor do I like making side dishes. Or even flavorings. (Mostly, I'm just lazy.)

Spicy Bruschetta on toast, with cheese
But when I made the first batch, I had so much of it and it was so spicy that I had to do something with it to get rid of it. I then discovered that this is the most perfect addition to most meals, and as the recipe has evolved over the years, I've grown more and more attached to it. 

I try to keep some in the fridge at all times now, and if I do run out, it's a really quick recipe to make.

Side dish, with stuffed peppers
Mixed into pasta, with goat cheese sauce
Vegetable soup, with mung beans

3-4 large tomatoes
2-3 medium red onions
4 tbsps olive oil
2  tbsps dried thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the tomatoes and the red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Add in the olive oil, garlic, and spices. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oven safe pan, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stir the mixture, and then bake for another 15 minutes.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Fermented Potatoes

I am a huge fan of potatoes in all forms, and I think most people would agree with me. A few years ago I noticed that potatoes, again in all forms, began to upset my stomach and caused bloating. I was forced to limit my intake on that deliciousness.

However, I have found something that helps!

It's fermenting, of course.

(And no, we're not making vodka today.)

When you soak potatoes in salt water, you lower the starch in them considerably. You also lower the amount of acrylamide, which is a "heat reduced reaction between sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fuctose) and asparagine." This reaction causes the potatoes to brown, and also, just so you know, is a carcinogen. Fermenting can reduce the carginogen by up to 90% - you can read more about that here. (And on a more positive note, they're unlikely to burn in the oven!)

And apparently, the brine leftover is great for starching clothing, as reported over on the Pickl-It blog.

Of course, as you're typically going to be either baking or frying the potatoes, you'll lose a lot of the probiotic benefits due to the heat, but it will be easier to digest and you'll be less likely to have negative health risks so it's worth it.


Gently wash your fresh potatoes and cut them into the desired shape. As I was making french fries, I made sliced them, but you could leave them whole if you'd like.

Add your potatoes to your container.

Prepare a salt brine. I used a 2% brine. (If you're using unsure how much salt to use for your size container, the Probiotic Jar has an excellent chart at the bottom of this page.)

Add your salt brine to the container with the potatoes. Cover and let it sit for 1-3 days.

Once you're ready to use them, drain the potatoes from the brine and pat dry. Either fry or bake your potatoes, as you would normally.

I baked mine at 350 degress for 30 minutes. I then added a bit of Parmesan cheese and thyme for half. The other half just get my homemade ketchup. Enjoy!