Monday, June 19, 2017

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls



If you want cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you have a few options: 1) Wake up at the crack of dawn, 2) Eat breakfast at 10 in the morning after all your children have completely melted down and have been condemned to spend the rest of eternity in time out, or 3) figure out how to do the bulk of the work the night before.

Option 3 is clearly preferable, but it's also tricky. What if your rolls rise to the sun in your refrigerator and you open it to find yeasty bread bursting out of ever seam and crevice? Or what if they don't rise at all and you wind up serving tiny rocks of sweet calorie bombs to your loved ones (I won't say it's never happened before...)? What if what if what if?

On Father's Day I had the chance to experiment.

And the truth is that I don't know if there's exactly a one-size-fix-all solution. Yeasts act differently depending on how old or fresh they are, and also how the yeasting gods are feeling today. Every batch of dough has a slightly different amount of flour. Even changes in weather and humidity are going to affect your bread. So should you just give up? Um, no. We're talking about morning of cinnamon rolls here.

Below you'll find a how-to with a little bit of trouble shooting advice. May it make your mornings glorious.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Overnight:

1. Make your dough.
2. Roll out your rolls and add all the yummy stuff
3. Cut them and put them in a greased baking vessel
4. Cover that baking vessel with plastic wrap and possibly a lid and put it in your refrigerator.
5. Remove it the next morning and let it warm up a bit as your oven heats.
6. Cook your cinnamon rolls.
7. Enjoy bliss.

Trouble Shooting:

Scenario A: Your rolls don't rise at all. This happened to me. In this case, you'll need a few extra minutes, but only about fifteen.

Put the sad, un-risen rolls in an oven heated to a very low temperature--about 175 or 200 degrees. Leave it there for 3-5 minutes. Turn OFF the heat. Then leave it for another 10 minutes.

Take the rolls out, cover with a towel, preheat the oven, and cook. By the time the oven is heated, those rolls will have risen and you'll be good to go.

Total time: 15 minutes to get jump started, 10-15 minutes for your oven to heat, 15 minutes to cook (45, which is a lot, but way less than the 2 1/2 hours you're looking at if this is a from-scratch thing)

Scenario B: Your rolls rise to the heavens, leaving us mere earthlings behind to mourn their air-bubbled loss.

The most important way to stop this is just to get that dough cold ASAP. Put it into the refrigerator immediately. If your house is particularly warm and/or your yeast is particularly sassy (in other words, did your dough rise like a boss on its first rise?), put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then put it in the refrigerator (don't forget or your dough will freeze and when that happens, no amount of trouble shooting will save you).

And of course, if you want a fantastic recipe, HERE you go.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Vegan Coconut Lime Rice Pudding



I'm not a vegan and I won't even post a vegan recipe just for its veganiness That said, I often post a delicious recipe that also happens to be vegan. Truth be told, I didn't even realize this recipe was vegan at first. I was just experimenting with a coconut lime rice, and there it was. (I should also note that it is also completely gluten-free, so I'm pretty sure I'm not assured a spot in heaven.)


This recipe is also really really easy. In fact, you can make the base rice for this recipe to eat with any Thai or Asian meal, and then re-purpose it for dessert (should you choose; or you can just start with dessert; no one's judging here).



And while we're talking about re-purposing, you can absolutely eat this for breakfast. Make it with brown or black rice and you don't even have to feel the tiniest little bit guilty eating it for breakfast. Guys--it will be vegan, gluten-free, and whole grain. Not to mention that powerhouse in trendy nutrition: coconut milk. I'm just saying that you're probably a bad person if you don't do it. But, you know, no judgment.

Also, since this is rice based, it is so absurdly cheap for a dessert, well, I just can't help but love it. It comes in at about $.25/serving.

And did I mention that the hands-on preparation for this is less than five minutes...


Vegan Coconut Lime Rice Pudding
serves 8
coconut rice from Ahead of Thyme
Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $2.10 (that's about $.25/serving)
rice: .25, coconut milk: 1.50, lime: .25, sugar: .10

2 C jasmine rice (any other type of rice works as well, but jasmine is my favorite)
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 C water
1 lime
1/2 C sugar (regular will do, but if you're a real vegan, raw or natural sugars work too)
raisins (optional and I know they sound weird, but I liked them)

To prepare rice, put rice, coconut milk, and water into a saucepan. Stir it a bit to get rid of any large lumps in the coconut milk (alternately, if you have some foresight about lumps as opposed to myself, you can put the coconut milk and water in the pot and stir first, then add it to the rice). COVER with a lid and set to medium heat. Bring to boiling, reduce to LOW heat. Let cook until rice has absorbed all of the liquids, about 20 minutes. (If you don't cook this on low heat, you risk having the coconut milk burn/brown on the bottom of the pot.)

Remove from heat and let cool (you can leave a bit warm depending on whether you like your rice pudding warm or cold).

Add the juice from the lime. Add the sugar. Add a bit of lime zest if desired. Note: The truth is that the measurements for the lime and the sugar are COMPLETELY arbitrary (you heard me). You can make this as sweet or as tart as you like. I made it with several different levels of lime and sugar and found I pretty much liked it all ways. So start with a little of each, keep tasting and add more if you want.

Mix sugar and lime together with the rice.

Enjoy.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lime Cilantro Chicken



New addiction. Ad-dic-tion.

This is sooo good. And it's good in everything. It's good alone, or with rice, or with burritos, or in a salad (oh, in a salad--makes summer worth having). It's good however on earth you want to eat it. So I'm going to tell you from sad sad experience that you should quadramilla-duple it and then eat it with everything all the time (except maybe oatmeal; you might want to skip it with that, but then, who knows...).

It also takes less than 20 minutes to throw together (though if you have time to marinate it, it's even better). You can make it on the stove; you can make it on the grill.

Also, if you have cilantro haters, don't despair. I have a hard-core cilantro hater, but he was totally fine with this. Because it gets cooked, it's not an in-your-face cilantro flavor.




Lime Cilantro Chicken
adapted from Gimme Delicious
serves 4
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes (though an hour-1 day of marination is preferred)
Cost: $3.80
chicken: 3.00, lime: .25, olive oil: .20, other stuff: .35

Note: I did use fresh lime juice because I had limes. I'd recommend it, and you need the zest anyway. That said, don't not make this because you don't have limes. It might not be quite as punchy or amazing, but my guess is that it'll still be pretty darn fabulous.

4 chicken breasts
1/4 C fresh lime juice
zest of one lime
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (I used 1-ish)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar (or honey)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine everything except the chicken breasts, and whisk it together. Add the chicken breasts and marinate (even 15 minutes of marination will give it a little extra flavor, but it's still good if you don't have time to marinate).

Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts (reserve the extra marinade). Cook till one side is golden brown, then flip and do the same on the other side.

When they are nearly cooked, pour the rest of the marinade into the pan, coat the breasts, and cook.

When the chicken is done, serve on tacos, with rice, or shredded into a salad. (I hope you quadramilla-dupled it, cause you're going to be sad if you didn't.)

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Soup and Cake





This morning I read a quote so striking that I started to cry immediately upon reading it.

I have no doubt each one of us would move the earth for the people in those photos on our kitchen walls. But so often we don’t want to scare them with our power to bless and heal, so we move the world in increments of soup and cake. They may never even recognize the universe has been realigned for their good. It may be that our mother does glorious things right in front of us every day so often that she blinds us with commonness. Maybe she serves the whole world soup and cake every night.--Sharon Eubank

Has that ever happened to you? For me, it happened on the phrase "blinds us with commonness."

I still can't quite get over it.

And so I thought I would celebrate this concept with a few of my favorite soup and cake recipes. Serve it to the world every night.

Most of them are simple. A little life changing. At least day changing.

5 Favorite Soups

1. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Easy)

2. Meatball Soup. (Easy)

3. Moroccan Carrot Soup (Easy)

4. Thai Soup (Some weird ingredients, but totally worth it. Once you get the ingredients, it's easy)

5. Creamy Cheese Potato Soup (Beyond easy)

Okay--so I was going to rate those--you know, like intermediate, hard, easy, etc. Apparently, I only make easy soups. You should too. These are less than 30 minutes each to make, several of them closer to 15-20 minutes.


15 Favorite Cakes (How could I even choose? Clearly, I couldn't (though, truthfully, there's hordes more cake than this on my blog; I really did pick my favorites). You get a lot of cake from a lot of different, er, food groups. Spread them through the world, people.)




1. Best Chocolate Cake (Intermediate)

2. Best White Cake (Intermediate)

3. Carrot Cake (Easy)

4. Orange Bundt Cake (Intermediate)

5. Diana's Apple Cake of Awesomeness (Easy)

6. Peanut Butter Cake  (Easy)

7. Julia Child's Chocolate Almond Cake (Intermediate-hard)

8. Kentucky Caramel Butter Cake (Intermediate, a little harder if you make your own caramel)

9. Red Velvet Cake (Easy)

10. Wacky Cake (Dumb easy)

11. Coconut Cake (Intermediate)

12. Flourless Chocolate Cake (Easy)

13. Lemon Layer Cake (Intermediate) (Note: There is a lemon bundt cake and a lemon sheet cake on this blog, both of which I also consider noteworthy.)

14. Chocolate Volcano Cake (Easy)

15. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. (Intermediate.) Noteworthy for the amazing peanut butter frosting if nothing else.

Nothing says, "I think I have a problem" more than trying to list your favorite cakes. Oh dear.

But, seriously, is there any other food that feels like quite the act of love like making cake and soup.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake





I've had my eye on Kentucky Butter Cake for a while. Generally, those southerners know how to do both butter and cake, so it seems like a winning combination. But the thing that really pushed me over the edge was the caramel version I stumbled upon. Oh, that, and turning 40. Every 40-year-old needs something buttery, caramel-y, and southern on her birthday, don't you think? (It's that, or you go on some vegan wrinkle-fighting diet; I opted for the cake and wrinkles.)

It was fantastic in every way. And also not very difficult to make. I did mess my caramel up just a smidgeon so that it was a bit grainy, and the cake was still fantastic. In fact, the crunchy, delicious sugar didn't hurt it at all, and might have even made it better.

This cake uses a flavored creamer instead of milk. In the original recipe, it used an all-natural creamer with real milk and cream and stuff. That seemed positively righteous, and I intended to do the same thing. But then I accidentally bought the regular old fake kind of creamer. And it was still delicious.

So make this. I bet you can even mix up creamer flavors and toppings if you want. The possibilities....



Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake
adapted from Wishes and Dishes (how birthday appropriate)
Prep time: 30 minutes for cake and caramel
Cook time: 50 minutes
Cost: $5.50
flour: .45, sugar: .55, creamer: 1.00, butter: 2.00, eggs: .40, vanilla: .35, cream: .75

Cake:

3 C all-purpose flour
2 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 C caramel coffee creamer (I used International Delight brand; they also make a "Pure" version with whole foodsy ingredients)
1 C butter (in somewhat melty state)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs

Butter Sauce:

3/4 C white sugar
1/3 C butter
3 Tbsp caramel coffee creamer
2 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel (for topping):

1 C sugar
3/4 C heavy cream (warmed)
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
crunchy salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch (standard) bundt pan--like, grease the heck out of it with a spray on grease. Nothing else works quite as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

To this add coffee creamer, butter, vanilla, and eggs, beating after each addition.

(See, you're done with the cake. Wasn't that ridiculously easy?)

Pour into your extremely well-greased bundt pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a fork inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

When it comes out of the oven, let it sit, and prepare the butter sauce:

Combine sugar, butter, caramel creamer. Heat until the sugar is dissolved (this is where mine got a little messed up; my sugar didn't completely dissolve), but don't let it boil (although life would probably go on if you did--probably). Take off heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Poke holes into the cake while it's still in the bundt pan. Then pour this beautiful butter sauce all over it, nice and slow, getting the sauce into the holes.

Now you're going to let the cake cool (or mostly cool) in the pan. I know you're afraid because it's always hard to get cakes out after they cool, especially bundt cakes. But I promise you that this worked for me, so it will work for you too.

When it's cool, turn it over on your serving platter.

Now you can make the caramel, which is always a pain in the butt, but worth it because homemade caramel is the best.

Add sugar to a large skillet. Let it get hot and melt, stirring occasionally. It might form some pesty chunks, but that's okay. Eventually it will turn a dark amber color. When it does, add cream and butter. Whisk in. There may be a few hard masses that don't dissolve. That's okay. Just remove them with a spoon.

Let your caramel cool somewhat and then pour or spoon it over your cake. I then sprinkled it with chunky sea salt.

I also made a chocolate ganache (1 C chocolate chips, 1/2 C cream, melt in microwave and stir), but it's not pictured here because it was ugly (but delicious, but ugly, but unnecessary, but still delicious).

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Monday, May 1, 2017

Carrot Cake--Photo Redo




This week, for book club, we discussed The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I was planning to make homemade moon cakes as the treat. I googled them. I pinned them. But then I just didn't want to make them. I wanted to make homemade carrot cake instead. I wanted to bad. And so I did.


And then I realized that the pictures on this blog were from six years ago and that seemed very wrong, since I could barely take a picture at all back then. So today I present you with the best carrot cake. And some new pictures to go with it.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes
Serves: many (probably about 30)
Prep time: 10 minutes (with food processor)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $1.90 (not bad for 3 layers)
(carrots: .75, oil: .24, sugar: .32, eggs: .40, flour: .18, other stuff: .01)

1 1/2 C oil
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt
3 C grated carrots (just a bit shy of 1 lb)

Heat oven to 325. Grease three 9-inch pans and put wax paper on the bottoms, then grease again. 

Mix oil and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix it into the creamed mixture. Add the carrots, a bit at a time so as to avoid getting a huge clump of them somewhere (your kids will never go for that).

Pour batter evenly into the cake pans. The batter will be shallow. I suppose you could probably get it into two pans (though I can't 100% guarantee that), but I like to have the extra frosting. I guess I'm a bit of a frosting lush. Don't tell, okay. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out on a rack (or some parchment paper or waxed paper on your counter top if you don't have a rack). Let cool completely and then frost. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (with an orange cream cheese adaptation from me)
enough for 3 layers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: 3.10
(cream cheese: 2.20, sugar: .40, butter: .70)

2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz. total), softened
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and sour cream. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar.

An option for Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Add the zest from one small orange and 2-3 Tbsp of orange juice to make orange cream cheese frosting. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peanut Butter Mug Cake for Breakfast




So you know how the whole mug cake thing came and went (or maybe it's still going; I don't know). The idea was to make a little one serving cake in a mug and then microwave it and, voila, you had a perfect single-serving of deliciousness.

Yeah, I didn't hop on that wagon at all.

Because as we all know if we ever had a mother who liked to make brownies in the microwave: Baked goods are disgusting when not, ahem, baked. 

I would have gone on happily without any mug cakes or microwaved brownies for the rest of my life were it not for an unfortunate Easter craving. You see, I'm not a huge candy lover (quality dark chocolate excepted). But it was Easter and I so wanted something sweet. And Pinterest kept telling me I wanted something sweet. And suddenly, as fate would have it, a mug cake happened to pop up in my feed. Rather, a link titled something like, "The 11 Best Mug Cakes." And, truly, the pictures all looked divine (because, um, Pinterest and stuff).

So I thought, "Hey, I'm craving baked goods, and the universe just told me to make a mug cake. And if I hate it, well, it was just a little thing." Not much to lose.


And it wasn't. But naturally, I couldn't help but mess with that darn recipe. And even though I'd been craving a sweet baked good, I got to thinking that if I added a little whole wheat, well then, that would give it a nuttier flavor, and also justify my sins. And I'll be darned if it wasn't a right decent evening snack. A wee bit dry, perhaps, but worth the lack of effort I put into it.

And then the next day, I just kept thinking about it. Like, what if I added a tablespoon of pumpkin to keep it moist? And, oops, I forgot the leavener. And added chocolate chips. It turned out a moist, dense, healthy mug cake that I may or may not have been making for myself all week.



You should make it too. We'll all be on an old band wagon that might not even be a thing anymore together. And we won't regret it.

I can't help but think that it would be the perfect thing to whip up when you're in a hurry and take to work with you, or make your kids eat in the car while you run them to school because they got up late and missed the bus. For the 18th time this week. (not that my kids are ever late)

And please note the price tag. This is a super healthy breakfast guys (well, depending on your chocolate chip addiction). And you can't beat it for cheap.

Peanut Butter Mug Cake for Breakfast
serves 1, maybe 2 if you eat light (it's quite filling; I can't always finish mine)
Prep time and cook time: 2 minutes (cool it for a few minutes though.
Cost: $.30 ($.45 with chocolate chips)
milk: .03, sugar: .03, peanut butter: .15, pumpkin: .03, whole wheat flour: .06, chocolate chips: .15

1/4 C milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 C whole wheat flour (or 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour and 1 Tbsp oat flour)
1-3 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional, depending on your level of breakfast stoicism; my breakfast stoicism is quite low for the record)

Mix it all together.

Cook on high in the microwave for about one minute (Mine is usually between 1 minute and 10 second and 1 minute and 20 seconds.) Put it in for another 15 seconds if it's still not done. Note: You want it a little bit undone or raw looking in the center. It will continue to cook as it cools and that will give it just the right amount of moisture. If you cook it till it's dry-looking, it will taste dry.

Let cool for a few minutes (seriously guys, if you tear into this right of the microwave, you'll burn your tongue. Give it five minutes.)

Eat.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Good Frostings for Cinnamon Rolls


Since I made you cauliflower mash last week (which, btw, was perfectly amazing in every way despite the words 'cauliflower' and 'mash.' And you should try it and love it and feed it to your soul.) But anyway, since I made you vegetables mashed up (no matter how good they were), I figured that I owed you something perfectly unrighteous. Like cinnamon rolls. With several choices of frosting.



The great irony of this post is that there are all of ZERO posts of cinnamon rolls WITH frosting actually on them. Because as we all know if we are amateur photographers, it's easier to take a good picture of cinnamon rolls without frosting that with it.


Despite these nude photos of cinnamon rolls we shall persevere with the holy act of discussing how to properly dress them. Because there are so many wonderful ways to do this.



1. Cream Cheese Frosting. I remember coming out of college and having cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls at some church function. It was a coming-of-age experience for me. 

2. Bec's Buttercream Frosting. I want to disapprove of this one because it contains my nemesis, shortening. But I can't. It's fluffy and yummy and great on cinnamon rolls. 

3. Browned Butter Frosting. Introduce this into your life or die sad. 

4. Lemon Buttercream Frosting. If, say, you put blueberries and apples in some of your cinnamon rolls. Come on, guys. A-maz-ing. 

5. Orange Frosting. Here's that Lemon Buttercream's delightful fraternal twin. 

6. Salted Caramel Frosting. Because you love people and puppies and all good things. 

7. Vanilla Butter Frosting. Classic. The End. 




(This is the Lemon Buttercream in case you were wondering.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cauliflower Mash




Have you ever read a recipe and just started to crave it from the ingredients list? Recently, that happened to me. And I know just what you're thinking: Wait, why is this post labeled "Cauliflower Mash" because, seriously, has she gone daft? (Um, yes, well a little. But I've been that way for a long time.) Because who seriously reads the ingredients of something called Cauliflower Mash, as in the mash of cauliflowers; and then craves it?

Well, I mean, hear me out. Cheese. Let's start with that one. It's easy to love right. And olive oil. Garlic. Hard to go too wrong with minced garlic, right?

And then it had these wholesome, interesting-sounding things like white beans and cornmeal. They kind of intrigued me.

And the truth is that I've had cauliflower in a variety of delicious ways and always like it. But the other truth is that I've had versions of this on my Pinterest board for, oh, well, forever. Because, as per our discussion. Cauliflower. Mash.


I wasn't sure how it would really go over with the minions (and P.S., it didn't). But it was so gloriously delicious that even after making it, I'm still craving. It just hit a savory, nutritious spot that just met a need. Like, a wholesome friend, who's also really fun.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't let this sit on your Pinterest board for millennia. Make it. Love it. Serve it with meat if you must.

Cauliflower Mash
adapted from Pinch of Yum
Serves 4-6
Prep and cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $3.20 (that's $.50 for something a 40-year-old woman could totally eat for lunch. Teenagers and men cannot be accounted for in this reckoning and this will likely be a mere side dish to them. But us old ladies--this is all we need for a filling, well-rounded meal)
cauliflower: 1.50, milk: .15, chicken broth: .30, cornmeal: .10, cheese: .40, white beans: .60, other stuff: .15

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C milk
2 C chicken broth (you might need another if your mash is too thick; I added about 1/2 C more)
1/2 C cornmeal
1/2 C shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar and I did not regret it)
1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet with a lid or a 3-quart pot. Add the cauliflower. Mix it and sprinkle it with salt. Let it cook for a few minutes. It won't get tender, but will get a little flavor.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the milk and chicken broth. Simmer (with lid on, so a low temperature is best) until the cauliflower is soft. When it is, mash it up.

Then add the cornmeal and stir. It will thicken, and the cornmeal is not exactly tastable, but kind of there, adding yumminess and nuttiness and thickness. If you need to, add more chicken broth.

Now, if you want, you can add that can of beans. (Note: In the original recipe, they told me to mash the beans. I did the first time I made this, but didn't love the mashed beans. Better to just leave them whole so you don't get a weird bean skin thing happening in you mash.) They add protein and make this a lovely complete meal on its own. (Though this is also really good with meat; we had it with shrimp and it was amazing.)

Add the cheese, mix it up, and let it melt. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Meatball Soup



This is one of those recipes I made and then after everyone ate it and loved it, my husband said, "That dinner was way better than it sounded." It's a pretty common phrase in these parts because if I try anything new (and I try LOTS of new things), it is always suspect.


But this was so delicious. So so delicious.

Before summer comes upon us in all her glory you should make this divine, cheap, veggie-filled comfort food.

P.S.I should note that the above pictures were taken the day after I made this. A lot of the saucy/soupy stuff got sucked into the noodles. The day I made it, I took pictures, but they didn't come out very well (nighttime lighting and all). Nevertheless, here's a picture to show what it looks like the first day.


Meatball Soup
serve 6
prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $6.00
beef: 3.50, bread: .05, egg: .10, other stuff: .10, onion: .10. carrots: .20, Italian diced tomatoes: .70, tomato paste: .30, beef broth: .30 (from cubes), spinach: .35, pasta: .30

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef
3/4-1 C bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp milk
1 egg (optional--once I forgot it and I actually thought these tasted even better, BUT they didn't hold together as well)

For soup:

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (or blended if you've got onion haters in your midst)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced (didn't have so skipped this and all was still well)
1 14-oz can Italian diced tomatoes
1/2 C plain, smooth tomato sauce, or 3 oz. tomato paste
5 C beef broth
2 C chopped spinach leaves
1 -1 1/2 C small pasta (such as ditalini)
salt and pepper if needed
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
a bit of cream for creaminess (optional)

For meatballs:

Put everything into a bowl and smoosh it all together. Roll into balls and cook in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Note: If you don't have bread crumbs, put a crust in a small blender and blend.

When they're ready, take them out of the pot, but leave the grease (unless there's a crazy amount; then just leave some of the grease)

For the soup:

Put onion, zucchini, and carrot into this grease (add a bit of olive oil if you need some). Cook for a few minutes until they begin to get tender. Add Italian seasoning and stire. Add either tomato sauce or tomato paste and stir for about 30 seconds. Add Italian diced tomatoes. Add beef broth. Stir everything together. Bring to boiling. Add pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes or until they're close to al dente (we used a thick pasta so this took longer than a thinner pasta would have). Add more water if necessary.

When the pasta is almost cooked, add the meatballs back in and add the chopped spinach.

Cook for 4-5 more minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings. You might want a bit more salt or basil or Italian seasoning.

Serve alone or add some Parmesan or cream.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creamy Chicken with Spinach






Sometimes I get so tired, I just want to lie my head down and cry on things. There's nothing really to cry about. I'm just so so tired. Today was one of those days.

Because in this house, there are two busy seasons. One is pre-Christmas. And one is coming up--that end of school crush of finale. I feel it. I'm trying to prepare for it, but just not succeeding.

Because of this we've been making lots of quick, easy dinners. This is one. But it stands out because instead of being, say, scrambled eggs, it's a delectable, restaurant quality dish that has meat and vegetables. And cream. Because some nights you need cream.

Eat it over rice or pasta or potatoes. Of just spoon it out of the pan if that's your way. I won't judge you.

Creamy Chicken with Spinach
adapted from The Recipe Critic
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6
Cost: $6.00
chicken: 4.00, cream: 1.00, tomato sauce: .15, Parmesan cheese: .50, spinach: .25. other stuff: .10

4-6 small chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 C heavy cream
1/4-1/2 C tomato sauce (smooth)
1 tsp garlic powder (or a fat clove)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1-2 C spinach, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until browned on both sides and cooked through.

Remove from pan and add cream, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Whisk together. Add in Parmesan cheese and whisk until it's melted and thickened.

Add chicken back to the pan. Simmer gently for a few minutes.

Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve over pasta, rice, potatoes, or whatever.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Vegetable Lo Mein






So yesterday was Pi Day, the most wonderful, delightful fake holiday ever. And I made the most wonderful, delightful not-fake strawberry pie that I was dying to share with you. Except that when I cut into it after a very long day, the part that was supposed to have set up oozed all over the pan and the plate and everything. Oh, it was still delicious. But it wasn't quite pie. More like oozy strawberry tart (no complaints there, I guess). But I think I know the one thing that will fix it and I'm going to try it this spring and make another pie that hopefully will not ooze so I can post it to this blog. 



And I realize that Vegetable Lo Mein is kind of a sad consolation prize for !Strawberry Pie!  But don't be too too sad because (in theory) you have to eat something before your strawberry pie. And (I'm assuming) that after making pie you don't want that thing to be hard or stressful to make. Enter Vegetable Lo Mein. It's a 20 minute meal that's pretty and filling and mostly healthy. It's also a great way to use up leftovers or old vegetables (I personally used up two lonely salmon fillets and some wrinkly peppers and was pretty proud of myself). 



Vegetable Lo Mein
Serves 4
Prep and cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $4.00
noodles: 1.00, vegetables: 2.00, meat: 1.00

1 lb spaghetti
2-3 C vegetables (whatever ones you want and have on hand. I used 1 onion, 3 carrots, sliced thin, 1 pepper. I wish I'd had some zucchini and mushrooms and broccoli--they would have been amazing)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 T butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt to taste
sriracha to taste
meat if desired (we used 2 salmon fillets; any meat would go great.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.

While it's cooking, slice your veggies, then put olive oil in a saucepan and add vegetables. Saute with salt.

If you're cooking meat, saute it along with the veggies.

When the veggies are cooked, add the chopped garlic. Saute another 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, sugar, Teriyaki sauce, ginger, and butter. Stir to combine.

Drain your spaghetti and add the noodles, stirring to coat.

Serve.

PRINTABLE RECIPE



Monday, March 6, 2017

How I Do Lazy Meal "Planning"




Yeah. You see those quotation marks around the word "planning." There's a reason for that. It's called "laziness." No, wait, it's just called laziness. 

We all know, if we happen to think about these types of things at all, that meal planning is very important for our budgets and to prevent food waste. The problem(s) with me and meal planning is(are) that I often find that on Tuesday when I'm supposed to be making lasagna, that I just don't want lasagna. Or that on Monday when I go to the store, the mushrooms for the stuffed mushrooms were way too expensive, but the kale was on sale. In short, I'm just too irresponsible impulsive and fun for traditional meal planning.

But then again, a proper cheapskate who gets bored eating the same four foods over and over must have some level of meal planning. Here is what I do.

When I do meal "planning" there are no calendars, no calculators, no fancy pants apps. There's just my Pinterest board and maybe a to-buy list if I remember that part. And this works for me. I hope that if you're feeling "lazy" lazy, it will work for you too.

1. I look on Pinterest for yummy things.
2. I pin them onto my board labeled "Recipes" and then, if they make the cut, I put them on my board labeled "This Week's Food" board.
3. I look at the ingredients if I remember.
4. I write the ingredients that I need on my to-buy list. If I remember.
5. I shop and buy those things unless they are really expensive. (If I remember to look at the list on my phone or the Pinterest board or anything at all.)
6. I make those meals. Sometimes. Maybe.

You will notice, if you look at my board labeled "This Week's Food" that there are too many recipes for one week. That's because I either forgot some key ingredient, or I didn't feel like making it. Or I totally ran out of time because I was procrastinating making dinner, so we had scrambled eggs on toast (again). #momwin.

But seriously, this little method actually helps me. It gives me an idea of what I'd like to feed us and what ingredients I'll need to do that. Once we've got the ingredients, I can make it sometime in the next couple weeks and call it good. And I usually do.

One other thing that kind of helps is the Walmart grocery site that you can use to order groceries and then have them brought right out to your car (#thejoy). One thing I like about this if it's available in your area is that you can add the things you need for recipes right into your cart as the week goes on (so you won't forget your list or to look at your list or whatever it is we forget when we forget stuff), And then when you're ready you can schedule a pick up and all your stuff is already there and you didn't have to remember what it was you remembered you needed last Tuesday. The other great thing for a cheapskate is that by not going into the store, you can save yourself from impulse purchasing (#notthatIever).

Happy "planning."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Easy Fifteen-Minute Caramel Popcorn


I'm not sure this recipe is from heaven or hell. It allows you to make delicious caramel popcorn without that whole put-it-in-the-oven-for-an-hour thing. Sounds great. Could be bad.

Because that hour thing always discouraged me from making it at all. Now, there are no holds. And, considering the amount of butter and sugar involved in this whole deal, that could be a bad thing.

But let's pretend it's not. It sure made my kids happy the weekend I was able to whip it out without a who lot of hoo-ha. Just fifteen minutes and gorgeous, delicious, homemade caramel popcorn.

Easy Fast Caramel Popcorn
from Two Sisters Crafting
makes a buuunch
Prep time: 15 minutes total
Cost: $2.00
popcorn: .25, butter: 1.30, brown sugar: .30, other stuff: .15

10 C popped popcorn (about 1/3 C unpopped popcorn)
1 C butter
1 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
a few handfuls of chocolate chips for good measure--you know, for antioxidants and stuff

Pop the popcorn. Put it in a bowl.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Bring to boiling and boil for five minutes, stirring the whole time.

After boiling, add the vanilla. Then add the 1/2 tsp of baking soda. It will bubble and foam and lighten. It's this chemical reaction that is important to the "fast" aspect of this recipe. The chemical reaction aerate the caramel and make it lighter and smoother and easier to coat the popcorn.






Monday, February 20, 2017

Honey-Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites





For the last couple weeks, I've been a little sick and a lot busy. That's not the greatest combination. It means my lovely sweet food blog sometimes gets shoved to the back burner. The good news is that it also means I have this fantastically healthy, get-back-on-your-feet-or-prevent-you-from-falling-off-your-feet-in-the-first-place recipe for you. (Yes, I do enjoy hyphens; why do you ask?)

Anyway, when I was lying around revising my second novel and taking care of my kids and feeling pooped, I stumbled upon a recipe that used turmeric in these energy balls. In case you don't know, turmeric is, apparently, the golden elixir of health. It's an anti-inflammatory, good for your joints, good for your gut, lowers your risk for lots of dreadful diseases, slows aging. You know, magic elixir stuff.

Unfortunately, we here in America don't eat it with a whole lot of stuff. We might put it into a delicious Indian dish here or there. But this takes time and isn't what we want to do when we're already feeling a bit under the weather.

On the mighty Pinterest, I've found (and pinned of course) several recipes for using it in teas or milks. But I've yet to make any of those teas or milks because they seem a little unfamiliar and weird, and I just haven't taken the plunge. But granola-bar-esque energy bites. We Americans can totally get behind this. They're easy to make and eat and people won't see a yellow turmeric milk and freak out. They don't even taste turmeric-y. The honey lemon is a beautiful foil for the otherwise spicy pungent turmeric. 

And peeps (does anyone still say peeps wait--did anyone really ever say it in the first place except me and my sister-in-law?), they have more than just the mighty turmeric. They've got almonds and dates and chia seeds, raw honey and lemon zest. It's like a deluge of health trends all in one ball. You're welcome.

Also I got to use my new Valentine's gift to make them:

Romance--right there. 

And I may have tried rolling some of them in powdered sugar like tiny little anti-oxidant encouraging tea cakes:


Don't judge.


Though the truth is that I liked them without the powdered sugar even better (that was not a truth for my daughter, who wolfed those powdered sugar ones down).



Honey-Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites

adapted from Natalie's Food and Health
Makes about 18-24
prep time: 15 minutes
Cost:

12 dried dates, pits removed
1 C oats
1/2 C almonds
1/2 C coconut (I used sweetened, but unsweetened would work too and you would feel more superior)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
juice from one lemon (4 Tbsp)
zest from lemon
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp honey

First soak your dates in some water and make sure there are no bits of pits in them. (Reserve a bit of the water if you think about it.)

While they're soaking zest and squeeze your lemon.

Put the dates in a food processor and whiz it. Mine didn't all pulp up, and that was okay.

Now add the oats and almonds, and whiz them in the food processor. Add coconut, chia seeds, and turmeric. Whiz. Whiz until everything is pretty ground up.

Now add the lemon zest and juice, the vanilla and the honey. Whiz. I needed a bit more liquid, so I added some of the water I'd soaked my dates in. (Normal water will likely work too.). I just needed a couple tablespoons of it.

Whiz whiz whiz until everything starts to come together in a ball.

Then roll into balls. Coat with more coconut or lemon zest. (Or powdered sugar or lemon zest mixed with sugar if you are a less upstanding human being.)

Eat 'em up (but not, like, all of them unless you are a teenage boy. But if you are a middle aged woman, remember that turmeric is great and all, but eating all of these is, like seven million calories--of goodness, yes, but still...)

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Heart Peanut Butter Cookies



I saw these little heart cookies on Pinterest. They were cute. And easy. And I realized that I haven't shared my very favorite peanut butter cookies with you.


So I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and give you a cute Valentine's idea and my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.


Of course you don't have to make hearts if you're Valentine's Day averse. You can just make neutral little circles. And then you can roll them in sugar. And they are pure deliciousness.

Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 36 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes/batch
Cost: $3.55
flour: .20, butter: .60, peanut butter: .50, sugar: .20, brown sugar: .15, egg: .10, chocolate chips: 1.80

1 1/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C peanut butter
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 C chocolate chip cookies, optional
sugar for rolling or dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter and peanut butter. Beat. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat.

Add dry ingredients. Mix.

Add chocolate chips if using. Mix.

To shape into hearts, take two small balls and form them into a...wait for it...heart shape (you can do it). Then mash with a fork like you normally would with peanut butter cookies.

Alternatively, you can always just roll these into a traditional ball. Then you can roll these in sugar, which gives these a delicious crunchy outer shell.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. (You can also bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.)

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Asian Pork




Ah, winter. You are beloved to me in so many ways. I honestly love the cold weather (as long as I have my warm fireplace). I love the holidays, the comfort food, sweaters, boots, jeans, fuzzy socks. I love it all. Except for one tiny thing. I cannot for the life of me get a decent picture of any food I make any time surrounding the dinner hour. It's just too dark and my photography skills end when the light does. Thus. You will have to make due with this picture I snagged of this Asian Pork in its pot for now. By the time it was plated and pretty, the light was fading and everyone was ready to start eating off their own fingers, so dinner had to be served quickly. One day I will replace this picture with something staged and lovely. But for now it's all I have.

You may comfort yourself with this comfort food I made you and then took an un-staged picture of. You're welcome.

Not only is this fantastic, but it's also the perfect thing for feeding a crowd. This is how I was first introduced to it. We were at my sister's house for Christmas. All 700 gatrillion of us. And we all needed food (preferably food that wasn't just cookies). My sister made this Asian Pork (she actually made Asian beef, which you can do too; it's delicious with both types of meat). She said it is her go to big crowd pleaser. And it was. And it is.

It is also dead simple, so you can please your crowd and also spend most of your time hanging out with them instead of with your dishes in the kitchen.

The one caveat is that it takes forever to cook. It just simmers and simmers and simmers its little heart out. And every little simmer is worth it. But it takes four hours of simmering, so this needs to be made on a lazy afternoon, or a time when you're home with your family for the holidays or, in my case, on a day when you'll be sitting by your computer screen all afternoon anyway, so why not cook something amazing while you're at it.

Note: I suppose it could be made in the crock pot, but the sauce will suffer a lot--it just won't be right. Stove top simmering allows the sauce to reduce into an epic creation that you'll lick off your plate. Crockpotting will leave tender, but blander meat in a puddle of watered down sauce. So... my advice is to leave it stove top. But you don't have to take my advice now, do you?

Asian Pork
Serves 10-16
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
Cost: $10.00
pork: 7.00, soy sauce: .30, mustard: .10sweet and sour sauce: 1.50, onion: .10, carrots: .50, peas: .50

2-3 pound pork (or beef) roast
2 C water
1/2 C soy sauce
bottle sweet and sour sauce (I used a 16 oz bottle, but it is a bit forgiving, so you could use smaller)
2-3 Tbsp spicy mustard
1 onion, diced small (or grated)
3-5 carrots, peeled and diced small (or grated)
1/2 lb peas (half a bag)

Sprinkle pork with salt and sear in heat resistant oil (I used a Dutch oven).

Add water, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and spicy mustard.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered with a lid. Simmer for 3-4 hours. Check it every once in a while. If the liquid is getting low, add more water. If the pork looks a little dry on top, flip it over.

About 30-45 minutes before serving add the diced onions and carrots. Cover and simmer another 30-45 minutes.

At end, take out the pork and shred. Then return it to the pot, add the frozen peas, and heat through. (Add a bit of water if you need a little more sauce.)

Serve over rice

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Monday, January 23, 2017

Grains to Try for the New Year



Since January is still with us and perhaps some of us are still even with January, I thought that it might be a nice time to talk about grains. (Why, yes, I am a very exciting person. Thank you.)

One thing I've been trying to do this year is to be a little more interesting in the kitchen (and you see that, with this fascinating post about the fascinating topic of grains, I'm clearly accomplishing this). Because seriously, wheat just gets so so boring. Wheat and rice and maybe some corn. Let's mix it up a bit, shall we?

Quinoa: 

What you need to know. It's the only non-meat food containing full-chain amino acids, plus it's high in iron. If you buy it and it's not been pre-rinsed, it will have a soapy taste, so rinse it. You can make it the same way you make oatmeal and you can eat in like you would oatmeal or use it as an easy rice replacement. You can also make pancakes. And they're awesome.

Quinoa Oat Pancakes



Farro: 

What you need to know. Farro is actually wheat. But it's an ancient variety of wheat that is supposed to be better for you (and easier on the digestive system) because it hasn't been cross-bred and GMO'd and what not. At any rate, it is super delicious, so who cares how healthy it is (you do, of course, because you are a good person, I know). This farro recipe is the type of thing that give vegetarianism a good name. It is one of my all time favorite recipes and it's perfect January comfort food.

Farro with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Tahini Dressing



Black Rice:

What you need to know. It's even healthier than regular brown rice due to its black (really, a very deep purple) color that contains boodles of anti-oxidants. It takes longer to cook than white rice (about the same cook time as brown rice, so plan for that). It also has a nuttier, sweeter taste than regular rice. I fell in love with it a few years ago and made tons of stuff, but then when I went to share something with you, I found that I only had this wrap on this blog. It's a pretty great wrap, but know that there's tons of other stuff you can do with it, like make rice pudding.

Black Rice Wraps



Barley: 

What you need to know. Okay, barley isn't as exciting as these other grains (told you I was an exciting person). But this casserole is. So make it. Also, barley is still high in vitamins and fiber and delicious.

Broccoli Barley Casserole



Chia Seeds: 

What you need to know. Okay, first they're not a grain at all. They're a seed. I know I know--I'm cheating. But they're a very nice seed and you can eat them with so much--tossed into smoothies or over cereal. I often eat them with grains so I'm including them here darn it. They're loaded with omega-3's that are easily accessible by your body. Also high in vitamins and B vitamins. Also, delicious. Especially with these oats.

Refrigerator Oatmeal with Chia Seeds and Maple

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