Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Make a Lot of Buttermilk from Just a Little Buttermilk

There are ways in this world to actually make buttermilk (originally it referred to the thin milk left after making butter, but that's not what the thick, acidic milk is that we now refer to as buttermilk). We're not going to mess with that. Today we just have a simple tip for making more buttermilk when yours is almost gone. Because buttermilk is much more expensive than milk. And because it's so yummy in all those baked goods.

Here's what you do:

1. When you have a few inches of buttermilk left in your jug, you pour milk in--just regular milk. (Shoot for a 1:4 or 1:5 ration. One part buttermilk for four parts milk)
2. Let it sit on your counter for 24 hours.
3. And then, magically, you have buttermilk. It's kind of sort of like making yogurt because that's kind of sort of what buttermilk is.

It's not rocket science, but you do have to trust me a little because I did just tell you to let your milk sit with your old buttermilk on the counter for 24 hours. And I would tell you that again. It works, and makes perfect buttermilk.

I usually do this two times before buying a new jug of buttermilk.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Chocolate Banana Muffins

 This is kind of a photo redo. And also a reminder. Last year, I made this delicious chocolate banana bread. I didn't make it all winter, and then, sure enough, got a hankering for some chocolate banana bread yesterday. It was good to rediscover this recipe. When I did, I also remembered that taking pictures of chocolate bread is a beast. Muffins are easier.

They also only take 20 minutes to bake instead of the hour that banana bread takes. So if you're out of breakfast cereal or up for a picnic treat, make these.

As a bonus, they're pretty full of bananas, cocoa, and a bit of whole wheat just to keep it real.


You'll find the recipe HERE. It makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Secret Recipe Club--Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls aren't exactly glamorous, but I've been wanting to try them for a long time. So when I found them on my Cookin' Mimi--my Secret Recipe Club blog for the month--I knew I'd found my recipe, though I almost abandoned healthy dinner in lieu of these peanut butter oatmeal cookies.

When I made these, I told my kids: "This might not look pretty, but I think you'll find that it tastes pretty good." I got some moans and groans and one comment, "Usually if it's not pretty, it doesn't taste good." But then (drum roll please), they tasted it (minus the cabbage if I'm being totally truthful). And (more drum rolling) they were like, "Actually, you're right--it tastes really good." Each one of them went through this and it was kind of funny--the unbelief followed by the conversion.

And these were perfectly perfect in every way. They were made for a slow cooker, but I put making dinner off so long that I ended up cooking them on a lower temp in the oven for a few hours and that worked too.

I love that they're a complete meal (except that my kids picked off the cabbage) and it's super simple and only takes five minutes to throw together (though cook time is long).

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls
adapted from Cookin' Mimi
Serves 6
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 2-8 hours
Cost: $6.40 (about $1.10/serving)
cabbage: 1.00, beef: 3.00, rice: .05, onion soup mix: .40, cheese: .25, egg: .10, tomato juice: 1.50, onion: .10

1 head cabbage
1 pound ground beef
1/2 C rice (dry or cooked--both will work)
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/4 C grated Parmesan Cheese (or something sharpish)
1 large egg
48 oz tomato juice
1 large onion, sliced (I totally forgot this until after it was cooked and it was still delicious)

Carefully peel the cabbage leaves off. Cut out the thick ribs. My cabbage was big so when I cut out the thick ribs, I just cut the leaves in half and this made nice-sized cabbage rolls.

Combine the beef, rice, onion soup mix, cheese, egg, pepper and ONE cup of the tomato juice into a bowl and mix it up.

Put a plop of this into each leaf and roll it up.

Place it in a baking dish or crock pot. Then pour the tomato juice over the top. If you don't totally forget the onions, add them too.

Cover and cook on low in a crock pot for 6-8 hours, or put (covered with foil or in a Dutch oven with a lid) in a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2- 2 hours (a little closer to the 2 hours for softer rice; I did mine for 1 1/2 and the rice was a wee bit al dente, but still totally good).


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Monday, June 6, 2016

Whole Grain Carrot Cake Pancakes

Not every summer is a golden summer. This might be especially true if you've got a booty load of kids coming home after 10 months of being at school. There can be fighting, jealousy, sibling rivalry, mosquito bites, broken arms, broken bikes, and let's not forget lost library books, Most moms have had summers like that or even just moments in their otherwise golden summers that are like that.

But there are also those summers--where the weather is warm, but not too warm, where you kids reach a perfect balance in their ages where they play together beautifully, imagining that they are spies or princesses, where they dress up their stuffed animals and do cartwheels and paint each other's faces with face paint. There are summers where you read together on the couch still in your pajamas at ten in the morning, when you children sit for hours learning how to do origami animals while you clean your house or die of peaceful shock, when you make pancakes and no one even complains that it's not Lucky Charms. Sweet sweet summers. Or at least some sweet sweet moments in an otherwise hectic summer.

It is that golden summer that I wish to write about today. For a golden summer like this, you need a golden pancake.

I invented this lovely beauty last week when I was making a carrot cake for a friend bright and early(ish) in the morning. I accidentally grated too many carrots. What was a woman to do? Honestly, I thought about just making more cake batter and pouring that awesomeness onto a skillet. But then I repented of that evil (sort of). And realized that if I reduced the sugar and oil a bit and added whole wheat flour instead of white, I would have a right decent little pancake--a bit on the sweet side still, but loaded with whole grain and carrots.

They were delicious. You can eat them plain or with nut butter because they're already sweet, but if you happened to drizzle on a bit of syrup or (cough) some leftover cream cheese frosting, I won't tell anyone.

Whole Grain Carrot Cake Pancakes
Makes about 10 smallish pancakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes for the batch
Cost: $.80 (That's breakfast for $.08/pancake. No breakfast cereal can compete with that on price or nutrition because, hello, you just ate carrots for breakfast)
sugar: .05, oil: .10, egg: .10, carrots: .20, whole wheat flour: .20, milk: .15

1/4 C sugar
1/4 C neutral oil, such as canola
1 egg
1 C grated carrots
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon (can even do 1 1/2 tsp if you love cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1-1 1/2 C milk (or buttermilk)

Combine sugar and oil. Add egg. Add carrots. Mix in dry ingredients. Then whisk in milk just until combined.

Drop by 1/4 C "spoonfuls" onto a skillet (set just below medium works best for me). Cook until the underside is golden (and they've puffed up). Then flip and cook until the other side is golden.

Enjoy plain or with toppings. (P.S. I added a few white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips, solely for experimental purposes I assure you. Experiment successful.)



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