Saturday, August 31, 2013

Basil Butter Corn

This is simple, yet amazing. A-ma-zing. Also, it's a great use for ugly or imperfect corn. Would that we could all wind up with perfect, sweet, non-chewy corn from the farmer's market or, well, Aldi. But if not...I've got your back. The first time we made this, it was with some terrible corn that Kip wanted to throw away. This redeemed it considerably. And then when I made it again with good corn--oh my. It was incredible. I could eat it every day of my life.

Corn with Butter and Basil
Adapted from Cookaholic Wife
Serves 4
Prep and cook time: 10 minutes
Cost: $1.75-2.00
corn: 1.50, .25, and however much basil costs--mine comes from the garden and I haven't bought it in, like 8 years

4 ears corn
4 Tbsp butter
sprinkle of garlic powder (you can use a minced clove if you like it more garlicky, but I didn't want the garlic to take this over)
1/4 C basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Remove the corn from the ears. I do this by standing my corn up and then using a nice, sharp knife down the side.

Heat butter in a skillet. Add garlic powder. Add corn kernels. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will begin to brown and make popping noises (exciting). When it's done, throw in the basil leaves and stir until they wilt. Add salt and pepper.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Peach Crisp

While we were in South Carolina on vacation with some of my siblings and their families, we picked up some peaches from a road side stand. There was a bowl with sample slices that were delicious. And these peaches weren't cheap. But we were in the south by golly so we bought some. Those peaches were nasty. Nasty. Shame on whoever was selling them because I'd almost bet that those yummy sample pieces must have been from Walmart or something while other grotesque bruised and flavorless peaches got thrown into our bag. Anyway, we had them and they were just about inedible plain. But we were in a condo with limited baking ingredients and utensils, so it's not like we were going to whip out a pie or something. But we had powdered sugar, brown sugar, pancake mix, butter and oatmeal. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was worth a shot to try a peach crisp. And it was SO good.

On the way home from our trip we stopped at a different stand with truly delicious peaches and bought a half bushel. That's a lot of a fruit that goes bad quickly. Don't worry. We did not waste them. I reproduced this cobbler (without the pancake mix because that's not a staple I've got on hand). And it was again amazingly good. My point with all of this is to say that a crisp (or crumble or whatever you want to call it) is adaptable (as you will note from the instructions below) and not easy to mess up.

Mark, pickiest human on the earth who doesn't much like oatmeal anything, could not get enough.

Peach Crisp
makes 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $6.30
peaches: 5.00, sugar: .50, butter: .50, oats: .10, flour: .20

Note: I liked using powdered sugar to coat the peaches. Powdered sugar contains a little cornstarch and therefore there's a thickening agent as the peaches heat and release their juices.

Note: This really is flexible--the amount of sugar is flexible; the amount of butter is flexible. Just be sure to taste as you go, so you feel good about it. It will only increase inawesomeness as it cooks, so if it tastes good raw, you're set.

Note: Want to add pecans or sliced almonds--go for it. It'd be awesome. Mix it in to the topping part.

6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced
4-8 Tbsp sugar (I used a combo of powdered sugar and brown sugar)

1/2 C whole wheat flour (makes it healthy, right?)
1 C oats
1/4-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2-1 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6-8 Tbsp butter

Peel peaches. Slice (and then cut once more if you wish). Add 4-8 Tbsp sugar and coat peaches. Put this in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.

Combine whole wheat flour, oats, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter (I melt the butter to make mixing easier). Put this on top of the peach layer.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and peaches are bubbling. Yum.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kallari Chocolate



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In July, a company called Kallari contacted me asking if I would like to try some of their chocolate for free and do a blog post on it. 

I'm not an idiot, people. Of course I said yes.

I got the chocolate when we returned home from our summer vacation and it was delicious. 

The company produces 70%, 75%, and 85% dark chocolate (75% was my very favorite). I LOVE dark chocolate. In fact, I often buy a bar of decent dark chocolate and nurse that baby all month long. It's one of my non-guilty pleasures. Which is sort of the thing about dark chocolate. It's just so much more satisfying that it's milkier/sugarier brothers. To eat a square of dark chocolate is to be satisfied. To eat a bar of Hershey's chocolate is (not terrible, mind you), but different--the sugar creates more of a demand for itself and refuses to be satiated.  

But taste is not the only thing going for this chocolate. Below I will include a blurb from Kallari about their ethical sourcing and rainforest/cultural conservation. It's worth reading, but do you know what struck me most. What struck me most was that when I received the chocolate, there was a sort of "Our Story" blurb and it said that most of the people who farm and produce chocolate (cacao) in this world don't even know what it tastes like. They've never eaten it. It was one of those facts that made me squirm. But with Kallari, the people who make it get paid a living wage, and get to enjoy their bounty as well. As well they should. That fact alone was enough to make me want to buy this chocolate from now on for my dark chocolate fix. 

The reason Kallari contacted me is that they're doing a kickstarter program. They're raising money (and trying to see if they have enough interest) to produce a chocolate chip (that is what we would call a 'chunk'). If you're interested in checking it out, the link is here If you're interested, you can donate (you can donate as little as $1 and you end up paying through Amazon, which is pretty easy). Also, the drive is nearly over, so do it soon if you're going to do it.

If you just want to buy some, you can purchase it at Amazon. Or have a look here: Or here:

And if you want a recipe to try your lovely chocolate. Here's one I recommend this No Cook Chocolate Mousse (sub out the unsweetened chocolate for the 85% Kallari). 

More about Kallari:

Fresh and Ethical Sourcing – We are cacao growers that make gourmet chocolate. Other chocolatiers pay a living wage – we own our chocolate and pay ourselves an income higher than the minimum wage in Ecuador for our work in biodiverse cacao groves.

Rich Flavor with no Bitterness – The fresh taste of the cacao beans remains in the chocolate, unlike chocolate processed thousands of miles from the source. Kallari uses organic heirloom cacao, gourmet recipes (no emulsifiers, artificial flavors and half the sugar), and minimal processing to provide a chocolate experience unique from other chocolate chips for baking.

Rainforest Conservation and Cultural Preservation – We retain most of our farms in primary and secondary rainforest, with an average of 1.5 acres of cacao planted per family, less than 2% of our total territory. This allows us to earn a living and provide for our families without sacrificing natural resources or forgetting our cultural traditions. 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Five Great Recipes for Ugly Vegetables

It's that time of year again. Time for the ugly vegetables to start showing up--the ears of corn with kernels on only half a cob, the misshapen cracked, tomatoes, the yellowing cucumbers.

Truth be told, I've been dealing in ugly vegetables all summer long (if I've been lucky enough to deal in vegetables at all). This year the raccoons got our corn and the squirrels have taken nearly all my tomatoes. It's enough to make you cry. (Like, really--when you have a huge garden and all you've gotten is some green beans, a couple eggplant, cucumbers, and a few pounds of potatoes--oh, and lots and lots of weeds--it really it's something I shed tears over. So much work. So many weeds. So little anything else.) So we've brought in a few green tomatoes to ripen and relied on awesome friends to take pity on us and bring us some of their bounty.

Below are a few of my favorite recipes for rescuing and resescitating your ugly vegetables. I should warn you that not all of the actual dishes made from your ugly vegetables are super pretty either. But all of them taste awesome.

1. Ratatouille--Tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, eggplant, plus salt, herbs, and olive oil. Quick, ugly, good.

2. Vegetable Spread--Odds and ends into the oven to roast, then pureed. You'll be surprised how awesome this is.

3. Quick Pickles--You know when you get cucumbered out and they start hanging from the vines all fat and yellowing. This is what you should make. It extends their life by several weeks and these are great plain or on sandwiches or with salads.

4. Roast Tomato Sauce--I love this with my soul. The end.

5: Tomato Cucumber Salad--This can be made plain or creamy with a little mayo. It can even be made with just tomato or cucumber if you've only got one on hand. I know that kind of sounds weird, but it's a great way to add a little something to the veggies that are starting to feel (and look) blah.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade Magic Shell

Magic. Shell.

Come on, children of the '80s, was this not the pinnacle of dessert toppings, the treat of all treats, the magic food of all magic foods?

We had this only rarely on our ice cream and I have the fondest of memories regarding it. Kip is the same way. I haven't seen it around much in recent years. And I haven't gone looking for it. The last thing I figured my children needed on their ice cream was some type of super processed, chemically-filled, crap-tube of fake chocolate, right? Right. Because that is what most store-bought chocolate sauces are. I certainly never tried to re-create it. I was sure that the chemical cocktail that must be Magic Shell could never be reproduced by the simple staples in my very own humble pantry. In fact, Kip and I would occasionally make a ganache-y type ice cream topping and say to each other, "Wouldn't it be cool if it would harden like Magic Shell?" And then laugh sadly because we knew such things could never be in the realm of the home made.

But then I saw a display of Magic Shell at Aldi and it was all of $1.89, so--blaming this winsome purchase on my husband (no, he wasn't there buying it, but that doesn't mean I couldn't blame him for it), I bought it. Naturally everyone was thrilled about it and that old magic was introduced into my children's lives as their chocolate hardened on their ice cream.

And then I looked at the ingredient list. And then I laughed. And then my brain exploded. Because it was the shortest ingredient list I'd ever seen on a store-bought ice cream topping: chocolate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and maybe one or two other things. And then I had an epiphany--the secret of magic shell: Coconut oil. That magical oil that hardens when cold and is liquid at about 72 degrees (hello, summer household temps). Of course, in the '80s coconut oil was considered Satan's oil, so no one was talking about it, much less owning it. In the '80s you might as well feed your children motor oil as you would have a container of coconut oil sitting on your pantry shelf (because, you know, we were too busy eating nutritious foods like margarine--or better yet--fat-free margarine; yum). But now, now coconut oil is practically the coating for the pearly gates themselves. Now you can go on out and buy you some at Walmart. And, because of this, now you can make your very own magic shell topping.

And it is so easy. So so easy that you might cry for joy. It is so easy that when I tried it I was absolutely positively sure it would not work. But it did. Oh, yes it did.

Check this shell-like magic:

Are you ready for the rocket science that was the envy of all '80s ice cream toppings. Prepare to have your brain explode.

Homemade Magic Shell (ice cream topping)
Prep time: 30 seconds
Cost: $1.00 for about 6 oz.

1 C chocolate chips
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Melt (I did this in the micowave). Stir. Store. Challenging I know. Thirty years of believing in the impenetrable mystique that Magic Shell was and now...

Now you should eat in on your ice cream people. Give it 30-60 seconds to harden up and you're sitting there in retro ice cream heaven.

And, yes, just like store-bought Magic Shell, it stores at room temperature and stays in a liquid state (at least in the summer; if your house is cool in the winter, I don't know that I can guarantee that, but then you'll be wanting warm toppings for your ice cream anyway, right? Yeah, right.)

One important note: If you use high quality coconut oil (as I did--this is the healthiest and I wouldn't want the things I combine with chocolate chips and ice cream to be unhealthy), it will have a very very mild coconut-y overtone. I loved this. However, if you (like my oldest son) do not, you can use a cheaper variety of coconut oil--something that is not extra-virgin, expeller pressed. It still is solid when cold and liquid when at warm-ish room temperature (and it is still better than partially-hydrogenated).

Another note: If you house is cold, you can just warm this a tiny bit in the microwave before serving to get it to its liquid state.

One more note: This lasts for several days, but it does not have the nearly indefinite life its commercial brother does. After a while it will harden and get kind of weird. This only happened once to us with about a Tbsp we'd managed not to consume. It took a week for it to go funky and maybe a short stint in the microwave would have rescued it. I don't know; one of my kids scraped it out with a spoon and ate it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Green Pina Colada (alcohol free)

This month for Secret Recipe Club I had Angela's Kitchen. Angela cooks dairy-free, gluten-free foods and has been for a long time. She's got a ton of recipes on her blog and I found several I wanted to try, but there was something appealing to me about the idea of a pina colada with spinach instead of alcohol. Cause that's the way we roll around here, people. Also, I kept wanting to call it the Green Pina. Even though I couldn't figure out how to type that swoopy thing over the 'n.'

It was fun. And green. And pina-colada-y. Enjoy.

Green Pina Colada
adapted from Angela's Kitchen
serves 2-4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $2.50
spinach: .50, pineapple: .50, juice: .50 (a bit of a guess there, honestly), coconut milk: .60, yogurt: .40

2 C baby spinach leaves
1 C frozen pineapple chunks
1 C pineapple juice
1/2 C coconut milk (from a can, though the boxed type would probably work well too)
1/2 C plain yogurt (Angela used non-dairy, but I used regular)

Combine in blender until smooth and green baby.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lasagna Roll-ups: Easy, Quick Dinner

So I love lasagna. But I hardly ever make it. Why? In the summer it's hot. In the winter, it still takes a good hour to bake (and that's not including prep time). Heaven forbid you forget the oven-ready noodles and have to actually cook your noodles beforehand. And then, after all this, someone will complain that--stop the presses--your concoction contains cheese. Or meat. Or something else unholy for one of my kids. 

But this...This takes 30 minutes from start to finish. Your kitchen isn't a sauna by the end and if you want you can even do a "lasagna bar" so that everyone can personalize their servings. That way every kid gets what he/she most wants (if that's your lenient parent thing anyway). It's also a butt-kicking idea for leftover Tuesday. Got half a chicken breast, a bit of sauce, and broccoli--perfect--throw it in there. Got some cream cheese, spinach, and Parmesan--can't beat it. But then you could go with traditional fillings too. The trick is to leave your sauce for the top. So you'll want to add your cheeses and meat, roll it up, and then top it with the sauce. 

We made a leftover one with chicken and broccoli and then a spinach one using this basic recipe (minus the artichokes and I microwaved it instead of baking it). Both were good, but that spinach one--wow. It was really good. And, yes, I let the kids wrap them with whatever fillings they wanted. 

How to Make Lasagna Roll Ups:

1. Boil some water. Add your noodles and cook them until they're al dente (or however it is you like your noodles). 

2. While your noodles are cooking, prepare you other fillings. Brown meat, mix ricotta with egg and salt; or make that delicious spinach stuff. 

3. Drain the water and lay your noodles flat. I always think this is the hardest part. Those noodles are just so darned slippery. 

4. Once flat, add whatever fillings you like. 

5. Roll it up.

6. Top with sauce (if you like). You can use a tomato marinara, but you could also make an alfredo or pesto type of sauce. The sky's the limit with these and that's partly what is so fun about them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pizzadillas--An Easy Summer Meal

You ready for another super quick meal? Here you go.

The other night when I was making plain old boring quesadillas (which I, for the record, really like), I realized we had a little leftover pepperoni and a little leftover mozzarella. An idea was born. It was a good one. My girls went absolutely NUTS over this. And it was simple and super super fast. To make several takes only 10-15 minutes and dinner is served. And as for price, it's hard to beat. Tortillas are $.99/10, cheese is about $1.00/shredded cup, and just a bit of pepperoni is necessary--50 pepperonis is going to cost about 1.00. That's about $3.00 to serve 5 people. Add some spaghetti sauce to dip it in and some olives or a simple salad and it'll come up to $5.00 or 6.00 to serve 5 people. Not bad. (Note: These are Aldi prices.)

You can serve a salad on the side or olives. And we dipped our pizzadillas in spaghetti sauce. Actually we had a sort of quesadilla bar with different types of quesadillas.

Dipping + choices = big hit.


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