Friday, April 4, 2014

Are you guys ready to get back into cooking?

Because I sure am!

After a long hiatus I've returned with some excellent news: as of this summer, I will be enrolled in culinary school! It's time to cook with the big kids now. This will become the perfect catalyst for creating my own style of cooking, the process of which will be documented on this blog! I hope you guys are as excited as I am because I'm on a roll. (Bread puns)

As far as within the blog, I understand that all the pictures involved with my posts make it visually enjoyable and easier to follow during the cooking process. However, when I'm in the kitchen and my boyfriend isn't around to lend an extra hand, cooking and taking pictures simultaneously can be extremely exhausting (especially because my camera is bulky).

So until this becomes easier (bigger kitchen, more helping hands, etc.) I'm going to take one picture of the dish in its completed state, instead of many pictures of the process. I apologize if this is an inconvenience for anyone, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Anywho, thank you so much if you're still reading! I appreciate any and all comments or questions from my readers. I'm trying to become a better cook along with everyone else and critique is the best method!

Enjoy what's to come! And like always, keep it delicious, keep it simple.

Kelsey (aka Vanilla Virtuosa)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey Burgers!

I love how fun and convenient burgers are, but I've never really enjoyed beef. Instead, I make my burgers out of a pound of lean and delicious ground turkey meat. It draws together the flavors of any spices you add! You can seriously get creative with these after you have the basic recipe down, which is...

...Turkey meat...

...One egg...

...And breadcrumbs. After this basic recipe, feel free to add whatever your heart desires, keeping in mind that your burger needs to keep its consistency! 

This is how I season mine:

I love adding fresh onions! Occasionally, I'll had shallots or spring onions as well.

Parmesan cheese adds a nice kick!

Garlic powder. You could add fresh minced garlic instead!

Dried thyme.

Ground red pepper.


Ground black pepper.

Turmeric! Trust me, this makes the burgers taste amazing. Also, turmeric is a traditional Chinese medical herb that is a powerful anti-oxidant

Now just mix it all up with your hands. I recommend using disposable plastic gloves for this part!

Once it's all mixed, grab balls of the meat mixture that are about this large. 

And press them out into uniform patty shapes!

All pressed!

Heat up a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan or skillet.

Place the burgers in the pan and cook for about 7-9 minutes on each side.

Make sure they're cooked all the way through by cutting into the largest one. Just make sure there's no pink in the middle.

The result: delicious turkey burgers! They taste delicious with buns, or by themselves!


Delicious Turkey Burgers
(Makes 5 patties)


1 lb ground turkey meat
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 onions
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients are uniformly incorporated. 
2. Separate meat into 5 equal balls, then shape into patties. 
3. Heat olive oil on a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties in olive oil for 7-9 minutes on each side, or until the middle is cooked all the way through
4. Serve with buns and/or condiments. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fluffy Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

I recently discovered that I'm gluten-intolerant and I should try to watch the amount of wheat that enters my diet. I looked at the prices of gluten-free bread loaves at the grocery store and I was absolutely baffled. $6-7 for one loaf of bread? There was no way I was giving in to that kind of high-way robbery. 

So I began my quest in search for the perfect, delicious, gluten-free loaf. There were many experiments. There were many failures.

This one, however... This is a good one. Light, fluffy, good texture. You only have to let it rise for an hour, and there's no kneading involved!

Alrighty. You start out with your ingredients: gluten-free bread flour (recipe below), milk, eggs, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, two eggs, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, sugar, and active yeast.

Heat your milk until it's warm to the touch. It should be comfortable enough to hold a finger in there for a while. It's very important that the milk isn't too hot or cold, otherwise your yeast won't activate correctly.

Stir in your sugar until dissolved.

Pour in the yeast.

Looks pretty cool, eh?

Stir it all up and let it sit for about 10 minutes in a warm place until it activates. 

In the meantime, make your dry mixture! Grab a medium sized mixing bowl and measure out your bread flour. To the bread flour, add xanthan gum...

... baking powder...

... and salt!

Sift that all together until it's incorporated. 

Next, make the wet mixture! In a large mixing bowl, add your olive oil...

... apple cider vinegar... 

... and two eggs!

Whisk that together.

Like this! Set these mixtures aside for now.

Next, oil your loaf pan! Since you're baking bread, you definitely don't want the bottom to stick; then pretty much the whole loaf is ruined. To reinforce your oil and help the bread to not stick, add some flour!

Just sprinkle a few teaspoons of your flour in the bottom of the pan...

... and roll it all around the bottom and sides of the pan...

(You may have to gently tap the pan on your counter to keep the flour moving.)

... Like so!

It should have a nice even layer that will allow your loaf to simply fall out of the pan with no trouble at all.

By now your yeast should be activated! It will look something like this.

Pour the yeast mixture into the wet mixture.

And lightly mix those together for a few seconds.

Now, add your dry mixture little by little until it's all incorporated.

Then beat the entire mixture until it's light and fluffy! It might take a few minutes. If you have a stand mixer, this is where you should use it.

The mixed dough should look like this! 

Transfer the dough to your loaf pan 

Press the top down with oiled fingers so that the loaf has an even shape, since the dough won't settle on its own.

Leave your dough to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes while it rises to the top of the loaf pan. You don't want it to get any higher than that, otherwise the bread might collapse! Then, pop it in a preheated oven for another 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean! 15 minutes into the baking, cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil so that the top doesn't over-bake.

The finished sandwich bread loaf! It makes excellent toast, as well. 

Fluffy Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread
*The original recipe by Erika.
(Makes one 9x5 loaf)


3 cups gluten-free bread flour*
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 package active yeast
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 eggs 

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together warm milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in yeast. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes. 
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
4. In a large bowl, mix together wet ingredients.
5. Prepare loaf pan. 
6. When the yeast is done, mix into the wet mixture for a few seconds until incorporated.
7. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until everything is combined. Beat until fluffy, or about 5 minutes. 
8. Transfer dough to loaf pan. Press down the top with oiled fingers. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place, or until the dough rises to the top of the pan (but no more than that). 
9. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. 15 minutes into baking, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and continue baking for the remainder of time. 
10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. You can slice it all up at once, or leave it whole and slice it as needed!

*Gluten-free bread flour
(Makes about 4 cups)


3 cups brown rice flour 
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour

1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.