Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pretty Purple Coleslaw

Where has purple cabbage been all my life? Okay, even the ho hum green just got introduced to me a few years ago. But the purple--it's just so beautiful. I've made several salads with it recently and although none of my children has yet eagerly ventured into eating those salads, they've all been intrigued and some have even swooned ("Mom, it's puuurple") over the way these salads have looked. When you've got picky kids, that's a pretty big step (and a far cry from the usual it-looks-gross response).

After making an incredible and colorful rainbow salad (coming soon), I still had half a head of cabbage left. And then there was Memorial Day and then there was coleslaw. The end. Seriously, though, I was craving some delicious slaw something fierce, and this simple, beautiful little concoction really hit the spot and added a pop of color to our burger and chips meal.

I love it on so many levels: 1) It's pretty, 2) It's pretty healthy (sure there's a dressing, but there's also a purple vegetable), 3) It's easy, 4) It can make a bunch of food quickly and is therefore is really good for potlucks or BBQs, 5) It's cheap, 6) Even though it's easy and cheap, it's really really tasty.

I'd never made regular old coleslaw before (gasp) and had always assumed there was some magic to it. Nope. No magic. Unless you consider mayonnaise magic (I kinda do). It was incredibly simple and can be left that way or dressed up a bit with chunks of apple, sesame seeds, or whatever. I went simple.

Pretty Purple Coleslaw
adapted from Homeschool Encouragement
Makes at least 12 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Rest time: optional, but I do think this is better after it chills for a couple hours
Cost: $2.70 (that's about a quarter a serving)
cabbage: 2.00, carrots: .15, mayo: .40, vinegar: .10, sugar: .05

1 smallish head purple cabbage, chopped
1 C carrots, grated (about 2 carrots)
Note: I made my slaw with just those two ingredients and it was delicious and beautiful. However, if you wanted to dress it up, I think that a cup or so of tart chopped/grated apples and a scoop of sunflower seeds would go really well with it too. I don't think it needs it. In fact, those who love classic slaw would surely prefer it without, but I do think it would be a great way to pimp this coleslaw if that's your thing.

2-3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
3/4 mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt

Chop your cabbage. I do this by slicing it into rounds and then cutting those rounds up. Shred your carrots. Combine in a large bowl.

Combine dressing ingredients.

Mix dressing into veggies. Let sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes. (This allows the sugar to melt into the dressing, so don't skip this step.)

Chill for an hour or two if you can spare it. Stir again before serving.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Zucchini Lemon Bread

Pictured here with all white (all-purpose) flour and a more sugary glaze. 

Zucchini season is coming. It's like the zombie apocalypse, only greener and without dead people who are trying to eat you (sounds like a win win to me). But anyway, yes, zucchini--sometimes there's a lot of it. I have a zucchini bread on here that I love with my soul, but when I saw this zucchini lemon bread on Cooking on the Ranch, it really caught my eye. It was like a lemon bread with zucchini snuck in. Zucchini sneaks very well (just like a zombie, right). Zucchini is so mild in flavor that it can meld with a lot of foods while also adding moisture to them.

This bread is delicious. The first time I made it with all white flour (pictured above). The second time I used half whole wheat flour so that I could justify it for breakfast instead of dessert (story of my life, people). I think I might like the second version even better. I often enjoy the depth of flavor a whole grain gives baked goods. I also thinned out the glaze on top so it was intensely lemony and I looove that.

And here with the whole wheat and thinner glaze. 

Zucchini Lemon Bread
adapted from Cooking on the Ranch
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
makes 1 loaf
Cost: $1.50 (or about $.10/serving)
(flour: .10, whole wheat flour: .20, eggs: .20, oil: .10, sugar: .10, milk: .10, lemon: .20 (asian store price), zucchini: .50 (and that's gonna be all but free come summer)

Note: I peeled my zucchini in order to keep my children unsuspecting. Because that's the kind of Mom I am.

1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour (preferably white whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 C canola oil
2/3 C sugar
1/2 C buttermilk (or 1/2 Tbsp vinegar with 1/2 C milk)
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1 C grated zucchini

In large bowl, beat eggs. Add canola oil and sugar. Then buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and zucchini. Mix.

To this add the dry ingredients. Mix.

Grease a loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a knife inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. (Note: If you use a 9x5 inch pan, your baking time may be shorter.)

Let cool 15-20 minutes. Add glaze. Let cool another few minutes and remove from pan (if you want; we're not bossy around here).

Lemon Glaze:
(Yes, you can skip the glaze, if you want to be lame or healthy or something, but I do believe it increases the overall lemony-ness of this bread. It adds another $.30 cents or so to your cost)
Note: The original recipe called for 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 C powdered sugar. It was good, but I found that I liked it better with less sugar. I poured some lemon juice into a bowl and then added powdered sugar until the mixture was still clearish (as opposed to white, which is how it is with more sugar) and sweet/tart. Feel free to experiment with the ratios of lemon to sugar as your little heart/tongue desires.

1/3 C powdered sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine. Drizzle over top of bread (I do this while still in loaf pan so that the pan catches the drippings and then they sort of soak into the loaf. But you can take the loaf out and then glaze if you wish.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

I realize that the time is nearly foregone for posting soup recipes, but I did want to try to squeeze in one more. I think I can get away with it because this soup is sort of a double agent. Sure it could be a comforting creamy winter soup, but there's also something inherently bright and summery to it. I used canned corn and Rotel, but some off-the-ear corn would rock and I'm betting some homegrown tomatoes and a jalepeno would work too.

Also, it's stupid simple (why didn't I give my blog that name, you ask). You throw stuff in a crock pot and let it sit. I seriously looove those recipes. I actually had kind of low expectations for this soup because it seemed a little too easy. Nope. It totally worked.

It was also one of those wonderfully adaptable soups. Only have 1/2 lb of chicken breast--no problem. Want to add beans--go for it. Random bits of cheese--be my guest (although I'd recommend at least a dose of cheddar). Spicy--fine; not--okay too. Top it with cilantro or not. Serve it with a dash of lime or not. It just works. I mean unless you sub beef for the chicken and nutritional yeast for the cheese and peas for the corn and apple juice for the chicken broth--in that case I'm not sure I can help you...

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
adapted from Cinnamon, Spice, and Everything Nice
Serves about 10
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
Cost: $4.00
chicken: 2.00, Rotel: 1.00, corn: .50, chicken broth: .50, cheese: 1.00

Note: If you want you can saute a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic and a small chopped red pepper in some oil and then dump that in, go for it. I took the low (and stupid simple road) and sprinkled in some onion powder and garlic powder and skipped the pepper--told you it was adaptable).

1 lb chicken breast (less works and mine were frozen)
4 C chicken broth
1 can Rotel (2 would work too)
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained, optional (I skipped--I love them but Kip hates them)
onion powder
garlic powder
1-2 tsp chili powder (I used 1)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 C shredded Cheddar (or Monterey Jack or both)
1 C sour cream
tortilla chips and avocado for serving if you wish

Put everything into a crock pot (except cheese and sour cream) and cook on high for 3-4 hours on high or on low 5-6. A half hour before you eat, take the chunks of chicken up and shred them. Put them back in. Then stir in sour cream and shredded cheese (I shred my own; if you buy it shredded it won't incorporate quite as well because they coat it with something).

Serve with extra cheese or avocado or tortilla chips or whatever.

Note: We made homemade tortilla chips by cutting up a tortilla and pan-frying it until golden on either side and then salting it. My kids are gaga for these. And maybe one day they'll get their own post, but for now this will have to do.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Press-Into-the-Pan Pie Crust (Sort of Whole-grainsy, Potentially Dairy-Free and Vegan)

Yesterday, for reasons the universe only truly understands, I had to have strawberry pie. Had to. Had to had to had to. We almost had it for dinner. I tried to justify it so hard. It wouldn't be any worse than pancakes for dinner, right? And I could serve it with, well with... well, something to make healthier right? And I mean, it did have strawberries in it--quite a few. And I made a crust that had both oat and whole wheat flours in it.

At the end of the day, the only thing stopping me from pie for dinner was the simple fact that I would have to admit to my children that we were having a sweet pie for dinner. I mean I didn't want my kids to get it into their dear little heads that things with names like strawberry pie are acceptable dinner options.
Me: "What would you like for your birthday dinner, dear?"
Them: "Strawberry pie."
Me: "You mean before the cake."
Them: "Well, duh, we can't have dinner after cake."

So yes, I had to acknowledge that pie for dinner would create future problems for me. Consequently, I did the responsible thing. We had popcorn for dinner. And then we had strawberry pie.

And now I know what you're asking (besides 'is this woman the worst mom ever or what?'), "Why is this post about only the pie crust and not the whole pie?" Well, because even though the pie was delicious, it did not set up. It was like a delicious crust with runny strawberry shortcake filling inside. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But the blob of goodness that made it to my plate couldn't rightfully be called pie.

The crust, on the other hand, was perfect. First of all, it's dead easy. You don't roll it out--you simply press it into the pan. Secondly, it was kind of sort of healthy containing both oat flours and whole wheat. I wasn't trying to be healthy. I made it the way I did because I remembered my mom making a strawberry press-in pie crust that had oats, flour, and sugar. It was delicious. But the recipe is lost. I wanted to try to reproduce it. The result was pretty perfect.

So while I work on my runny strawberry pie (by experimenting with 100's of strawberry pies for dinner of course), at least I can give you a fabulous and easy crust. I'd dare say that this crust will work with any soft fleshed non-cook fruit pie and probably a whole assortment of other sweet pies as well. It'd also be great with cheesecake. And, hey, maybe if you use it (come on, "whole grain vegan pie crust" sounds pretty virtuous) you can trick yourself into eating it for dinner. I won't tell.

The other thing I should tell you is that I actually made two strawberry pies--one tiny, one large. I made the tiny one because I had a bit of leftover dough from this chocolate pie hanging out in my freezer. It's a slightly cookie-esque dough with a bit of lemon rind in it. I thought it would be the perfect thing for strawberry pie and, oh mother hubbard, it sure was. It's not as easy as press-in pie crust. And you can't even try to justify feeding it to your family for dinner. But it was really delicious combined with the strawberries.

So there you go: Two out-of-the-box and extra delicious options for your strawberry pie crusts. One you can find at this link (you'll only need half that dough for an open-topped strawberry pie). The other I give you below.

And always remember--that which you can't justify eating for dinner can probably be justified for breakfast. Amen and amen.

Press-Into-the-Pan Pie Crust
adapted from The Splendid Table
Makes 1 pie crust
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $.70
flour: .05, whole wheat flour: .10, oat flour: .10, sugar: .05, butter: .40

Note: Many recipes use 1/2 C oil instead of the butter listed here. I think this would totally work (and I'm sure it's what my mother did all those years ago), but I love the flavor of butter. However, using oil would give you a vegan/dairy-free option for this pie crust. And let's face it, coconut oil would rock, especially in a strawberry pie.

1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C oat flour (you can make your own easy peasy)
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10-11 Tbsp butter, melted

Mix all ingredients. Plop into pie pan (I recommend greasing the pan first or even lining it with parchment paper--otherwise it's hard to get out). Press your mixture onto the bottom and up the sides until it's about the thickness of a regular old pie crust (maybe a wee bit thicker). It won't be perfectly flat liked a rolled crust. That's okay--you're going to fill it with something and eat it. If you want you can crimp the edges, but I went for my classic "rustic" look.

If using this for a cold pie, you'll need to cook the crust first and then let it cool. (well, I guess you don't have to  cook it, but then you'll have a sort of crumbly, yet still delicious mess). Bake it at 350 for 15-20 minutes until it's just becoming golden. You could use pie weights if you're compulsive and perfectionistic (and what are you doing on this blog), but I didn't.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tree House Salad

This month for Secret Recipe I had Lea Ann with the blog Cooking on the Ranch. Her blog was just absolutely beautiful. It is one of my favorite blogs that I've found through Secret Recipe Club. I mean the pictures alone were enough to make you want to eat every single thing. Usually for SRC one recipe just jumps out at me and I want to make it. This time, I seriously couldn't decide what to make. I pinned a bunch of recipes and bought ingredients for the lemon zucchini bread. But then fate sort of decided for me that I would not be making that because we lost our power several nights ago and haven't gotten it back (yup, typing this up with a little help from our generator, which can't power our whole oven). So no lemon zucchini bread for me on Mother's Day (can I get a boo hoo...). But don't worry, I got this delicious salad instead.

Truly I love me a good salad almost as much as I love me a good sweet bread (yeah, almost). This one was one of the many recipes I'd had pinned. And it did not disappoint. It was crunchy with a little sweet from the dressing and some creamy from the cheese. A little of this with a fire pit hamburger for Mother's Day and I can be just as spoiled as I would have if we had full power. (P.S. Power came back on tonight--Happy Mother's Day to me; it meant I made these burgers indoors. Because fire pits are great and all, but so is getting dinner on without having to wait 2 hours for perfect fire/coals.) No more cooking (or rather mixing up salad dressing) by candlelight.

Thanks Lea Ann for such a beautiful blog and wonderful salad.

Tree House Salad
from Cooking on the Ranch
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $6.15 (yes, that's a lot, but this makes quite a bit of salad--I halved it)
oil: .50, vinegar: .10, sugar: .05, lettuce: 1.25, blue cheese: .25, walnuts: 2.50, hearts of palm: 1.50

1/2 C peanut oil
1/4 C rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 heads lettuce (one romaine and one leafy)
1/4 C crumbled blue cheese (I used goat because even though I thought I had blue, I didn't)
1 C toasted walnuts (ours were un-toasted due to our little no oven issue)
1 can hearts of palm, drained and cut into rounds

Combine first 5 ingredients (through salt and pepper) into a dressing. Do this by putting them all into a jar and shaking it like crazy or blending it in a little mini blender or food processor or getting out a whisk and going to town.

Toast your walnuts if you wish. Combine lettuce, blue cheese, walnuts, and hearts of palm. Dress with the dressing and enjoy.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Free Birthday Stuff

I interrupt this post to announce that soon it will be my birthday. You know what that means, right? That's right--cake. I should have a German Chocolate to you soon.

It also means free stuff. I have had this birthday dream for a while where I go around town on my birthday getting all kinds of free stuff available to me. Fun, huh? But I've never really done it. So tonight I decided to google "What can I get on my birthday for free?" Turns out you can get a whole stinking lot, people. And much of it totally straight up free--or so these bloggers claim. (Grand Slam at Denny's, Ice Cream from Baskin Robbins, free gift from Sephora). I admit that before I did this little Google search I was going to write an earnest, but pointless little post on the, like, two things I've ever tried. Instead, let me just link you to some posts with tons of ideas. That way you can sign up for what you like and get stuff on your birthday for free. Even though my spam will surely not thank me, I just signed up for a few things myself. I'm hoping I actually get them on my birthday this year (if not, I'm going to be totally unimpressed with whoever it is even if they do think I'm lying about my birth date since I just signed up conveniently right beforehand--surely I'm not the first.

And if you know of something you love to get for free on your birthday, please for all that is good and free in this world--leave a comment. My birthday happiness depends on it.

Below are three links.

Freebie Depot

All You

Hey It's Free


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