Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brownie edges with Peppermint Frosting hats!
So...this may sound crazy, but I was craving brownies from a box today. Am I pregnant? I think not, but all the same, I am full of unpredictable cravings. I don't think I have bought a brownie mix in years so I was unsure of just which one to buy....I decided on a Ghirardelli (double chocolate) and the flavor suits me fine. Note: the box said to bake for 40 - 45 min. and I was like "what?" and the box was like "yes!" and I was like "no way!" (but it did take almost that long). Tip: It is always a little shorter if you bake them in 2 bread pans like I do and that way every brownie is an edge!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup

This came together the other night so quickly, less than 30 min. and was such a warm comfort!

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup

Onion, roughly 1/2 c. chopped
Garlic, one clove smashed
Carrots, 2 - 4 carrots peeled and sliced
Curry powder (I used Curry Masala) approx. 1 Tablespoon
Salt 1 tsp.
Pepper (a couple pinches)
Red Lentils, approx. 2 cups
Chicken Broth, 2 cans
1 cup water
Coconut milk (1/2 of a 13 oz. can)
Frozen Peas, 1 cup

Saute the onions over low heat with a little olive oil until they begin to get tender, add the garlic and carrots, saute until the carrots are almost completely done (they can finish while the soup boils). Add the curry powder, salt and pepper, and lentils. Stir together to distribute flavors. Add the chicken broth, water and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk. Boil over medium heat until the lentils are soft all the way through. At this point add a bit more curry powder if the soup is not spicy enough for you (some curry powders carry more heat than others). Stir in the remaining coconut milk and peas. Remove from heat, let rest a bit to heat the peas, then serve.

The Annual Halloween Cookie Decorating Contest

Sugar cookies, frosting, a few classic decorations and lots of kids = fun times!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

I'll admit I am yet to find what I consider the perfect cheese combo for homemade mac and cheese. I have determined that I like a little Gruyere, regardless of how expensive it is (you just need a little) and that (for textures sake) it really helps to have a little bit of American (I know, horrible stuff, but it helps). Other than that I use a cheddar base. The forth cheese is Parmesan - which I use in the topping. This recipe is a bit better if you replace the milk with half and half (duh) but I don't think it is necessary....of course even with regular milk this is not something you want to have for dinner every night! Everything in moderation right?

Pasta 16 oz. shape of your preference
Cheese approx 2 1/2 cups (I suggest 1/2 c. Gruyere shredded, 1/2 c. American cubed, 1 1/2 c. Cheddar shredded)
Onion finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
Garlic finely chopped, one medium clove
Olive Oil & Butter
Milk about 2 cups
Flour about 1/3 cup
to flavor the sauce: pinch of nutmeg, pinch of crushed red pepper, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt & black pepper to taste.
to top: bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and bits of butter.

First cook the pasta according to the manufacturers directions. Rinse well and set aside. Next you will need to prepare your cheeses, set aside and start the Roux (Roux is just a fancy word for the base of the sauce - made up mostly of flour and milk). First saute the onion and garlic over low heat with approx 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the onion is soft and transparent get out your whisk - now you will be going back and forth between adding a little flour then a little milk (whisking all the while) until you have about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of semi-thick white sauce - something about the consistence of heavy cream. When you have a moment (perhaps after an addition of milk, while you wait for the sauce to thicken) you can add your seasonings. The thing about flour is this... it will continue to thicken with will just need to add more milk or take it off the heat if you want it to stop thickening. To add the cheeses, remove the pot from the heat, throw in the cheese and stir to melt. You may not melt it all completely, and that is just fine. Add your cooked noodles and stir to coat. A little of the sauce should still pool up in the bottom of the pan, just a bit, and if this does not happen then your sauce is too thick: just add a bit more milk and stir. Pour the noodles and sauce into greased casserole dishes (you can use just one, but I like a higher bread crumb to noodle ratio, so I end up with one 9x13 dish plus a bread pan). Cover the noodles with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with butter. Cover with foil. Put in an oven set to BROIL. Let the pasta heat through ( 5 - 7 minutes) remove foil and allow to brown nicely under the broiler. Keep an eye on it!! Serve while warm. Yum.

Beets from the garden...what color!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and Coconut

So today I really wanted those fabulously fattening, filled with refined sugar....Mounds bars (or Almond Joys would have sufficed), but frankly I cannot justify buying that crap! I pretty much satisfy my rare, but intense, candy bar cravings once a year. That's right: Halloween. It is pretty easy to do considering that my kids still like the chewy, fruity stuff and are happy to pawn off the chocolate on Mom. In any case, the Halloween candy has hit the shelf at the grocery store and has been calling my name for days. Sadly. So I decided why not indulge in a cookie with chocolate, coconut and (to hearty it up a bit) oatmeal. I think they turned out great! So please enjoy... Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and Coconut
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar (I use organic - it is now available at Costco)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 rounded tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unbleached flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 - 3/4 c coconut
3.5 oz. dark chocolate bar, chopped

Cream together the butter and sugars very well. Add your egg and vanilla, mix, scrape down the bowl, mix again. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt separately. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and stir slightly, scrape down the bowl, add the oats, coconut and chocolate - then mix again (just until all is incorporated). Bake the cookies in mounds (about 2 Tbls. of dough) at about 10 to a sheet. They will spread slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes. They will be very fragile when first removed from the oven, let them sit for a minute before you try to move them to a cooling rack. They will harden and set up a bit more as they cool.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank you!

Well Kristin was the first one to let me know that our Blumatoes are actually called "Wonderberries", a man-made cross between Solanum villosum and S. guineense, produced in the early 20th century by renowned plant breeder Luther Burbank. Crazy. However did they pop up in my garden I wonder? If only they could speak...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bread Crumbs

Waste not Want not!
So, these big sandwich rolls I bought the other day had gone just beyond their prime. Not yet moldy, but too dry to know what I mean? So I just thought I would briefly post about the place such breads play in my life. They are perfect for making bread crumbs, which are easily frozen and ready to use for any number of dishes. I try to always have them on hand (you do not want to be near me if I reach into the freezer for bread crumbs, a dish of pasta on the counter waiting to be topped, and do not find bread crumbs - it gets ugly). I like to dress mine up with just a little of Parmesan and some salt, but it is also smart to have some with only salt - for dishes where Parmesan may not be quite the right flavor accent.
It is as simply as this: break the bread into chunks, put it in your food processor, add a little salt and Parmesan and then pulse until the chunks become fine little crumbs. Place the crumbs into freezer safe containers (I reuse these great little "to go" containers that I get at a local deli) and freeze for up to 6 months.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Has anyone ever had Blumatoes in their garden?

It's a blueberry - it's a tomato- it's a Blumato (or so we call them!)

Has anyone else had this occur in their garden? Last year we planted a blueberry plant too close to the tomatoes and they must have cross pollinated because half way through the summer these funny shoots grew out of the blueberry plant that had suspiciously tomato like leaves and strange little berries. The berries are nearly black, round, shiny and are full of seeds (just like tomatoes). They are slightly sweet, a little sour, and not terribly unpleasant. The kids say they taste like Trix, but let's just say no one wants a whole bowl of them. I am thinking that they must be pretty high in antioxidants, right? Oh anyway.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rainy, chilly days call for Chai

I am just putting this here to tempt you..... homemade Chai. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I will not give you my recipe yet, I am debating whether I will ever post it at all. We' ll see......

Easy Chicken Parmesan

I was busy writing for my internship and preparing activities for the kids in school tomorrow...who would have thought I had time to make this as well?! Surprise! And the only thing my husband had to do for dinner was boil the pasta.

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup dried bread crumbs ( I always have these in the freezer - when a loaf is just past it's prime do not throw it out - dry it up instead! Combine, In the food processor, the dried bread, a little salt and some Parmesan cheese. Throw it into a freezer safe container and keep it on hand!)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
(honestly I used half and half - we were out of milk)
salt & pepper
Fresh Mozzerella
(two - 4 slices your preference)
your favorite bottled Tomato Pasta Sauce

Olive oil (about 2 Tbls.)

1 Tbls. butter

First the chicken must be totally thawed. Take each breast, fold it between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and beat the daylights out of it with a rolling pin! They should be uniformly smooshed to about a half inch thick.
In a large rectangular casserole dish dump the red sauce. It will serve as a pool of sauce for the chicken to bake in. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. In two dishes have the bead crumbs and (separately) eggs set aside. You want an assembly line: chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs. In a large frying pan place the olive oil and butter over medium high heat. First dredge the chicken in the eggs, shake off a bit, then cover each side in the bread crumbs. Place the chicken in the frying pan and fry until golden brown on each side (but don't worry about cooking it through, that will happen in the oven). Once the breast is browned, place it carefully in the sauce in the casserole dish - you want the top to remain un-sauced. Repeat the process with the next chicken breast. Cover both breasts with a slice or two of fresh Mozzerella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes - take the foil off for the last 5 minutes to brown. While the chicken bakes boil water and cook your preferred pasta to serve the chicken and sauce over. Another fabulous idea, but one that takes more time, is to serve the chicken on top of Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
P.S. Chicken Parmesan makes for great sandwiches!! Just serve on toasted hoggies or ciabatta rolls.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pancakes and Bed Head go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Ode to lazy mornings, summertime nectarines, music (downright danceable) coming from the computer, maple syrup and perfect pancakes. Ahhhhhh. On top of that a little boy with crazy bed head who is convinced our dog dances when we leave the room (yes, I put the thought in his head, but he believed it).

Perfect Pancakes

Okay folks with this recipe the tips on "how to" are extremely crucial so read up. They make all the difference in the pancake texture.
2 T. butter (melted)
1 T. sugar (I use turbinado)
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 t. salt ( I use Real Salt or Sea Salt)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 and 1/4 c. unbleached flour
cold water

Mix melted butter with sugar. Add egg and buttermilk, mix well with whisk. Separately sift or whisk together the remaining DRY ingredients. Go stand by the sink and start a medium trickle of COLD water. Add your dry ingredients to the wet with a rubber scraper (not whisk) and add water as needed to get a thick, lumpy batter. It will usually take about a 1/2 cup of water . Don't mix it until it is uniform, it should be lumpy. Just mix it until all the flour is incorporated. As you make this recipe over and over you will begin to see the subtle changes in texture based on how long you mix the batter. But even if you do over mix it - you will have good pancakes. For perfect pancakes that are not heavy and have a high rise the batter will be thick enough that you need to sort of spread them out when you dump them onto the griddle. Set your griddle to medium heat and only flip the pancake over once the bubbles have begun to form in the middle of the cake. Butter is a good option on the griddle because it makes for a lovely taste and texture, and I for one don't use butter on the pancakes after they are cooked. We like to have ours with yogurt and jam or fresh fruit. We eat them for dinner sometimes too....yum!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brownies.... heavely brownies!

This is going to make a thick brownie in a square 9 x 9 pan or a thin brownie in a rectangular 9 x 13. Either way they are tasty so just use your preference.

1 cup flour, unbleached
1/3 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cube of butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar, tightly packed
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line your pan with foil and spray with non-stick coating.
Melt chocolate (broken into bits) and butter in a microwave. Carefully watch, pulling it out before all the chocolate has dissolved and stirring to finish melting. Set aside. In a bowl combine the flour salt and baking soda, whisk to evenly combine. In a separate large bowl (preferable a mixer) whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture lightens in color to a light, buttery, yellow. This will take a minute but it is a crucial step if you want to get the right crust on the brownies. Add the vanilla. Now take the whisked eggs/sugar and slowly pour in (while stirring) your cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Once the chocolate has been completely mixed in you can add your dry ingredients. Pour the brownie batter into your foil lined pan. Bake the square pan for 20 - 23 minutes or the rectangle for 18 - 20 minutes.
*Watch for the center of the brownies to rise up before they are done. Once the center rises up it should be about 3 or four more minutes. (This tip only works if your brownies have formed the crust I spoke of earlier.)

Oh to be cooked for......

A late night omelet with herbs and tomatoes straight from the garden,with a side of delightfully salty Halloumi cheese! All to be eaten while watching season one of Flight of the can that be beat? It cannot. We experimented with the herbs (my dear friend Reba's idea) putting basil in one third of the omelet, jalapeno and chives in one third, and rosemary in the remaining third. I liked the rosemary best, quite to my surprise, and Reba liked the basil - because it went so well with the tomatoes. I have never tried Halloumi cheese before so it was particularly special! Reba sliced it up and pan fried it without a drop of oil or any other accessory. It was salty, chewy, crisp on the outside and terribly addictive!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Delicious Banana Bran Muffins

3 c. Kelloggs All Bran cereal

2 c. hot milk
2 eggs
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
4 overly ripe bananas, well mashed
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Place the cereal into a large mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over the top, moistening all of the cereal. Put aside and wait 10 minutes. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Once cooled, whisk in the 2 eggs and brown sugar into the butter. Stir in the mashed banana. If the cereal has soaked for at least 10 minutes you can mix the wet ingredients into the cereal. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the cereal mixture and stir just until well combined. Fill muffin cups quite full and bake at 350 degrees for 21-23 minutes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cracklin' Crazy Cookies

These are a fun switch up from the usual, they have a great crackly texture and lots of complimentary flavors.

Cracklin' Crazy Cookies
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. Honey Bunches of Oats cereal (or replace with Corn flakes + 2 T. sugar)
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 c. butterscotch chips

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and mix extremely well, scrape down the bowl and mix some more. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stir slightly, add the rest of your ingredients and mix until all is incorporated evenly. Do not over mix! Form into 2 inch balls and bake on a greased cookie sheet (or silicone pad) for 8-9 minutes @ 350.

Monday, July 20, 2009

tortellini and garden vegetables with pesto

Yes - once again I am so glad that I made pesto last summer from my excess basil in the garden!!
What a quick and delicious lunch it made me today - just sauteed some yellow squash and peas from the garden while the tortellini boiled and tossed it with thawed pesto and Parmesan cheese. Yum!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pizza Dough

At home, from scratch and easier than you may think!

approx. 1 c. Warm water
2 t. yeast
2 t. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. salt (I use Real Salt)
approx 1 1/2 - 2 c. Unbleached Flour or Whole Wheat Pastry flour

First proof your yeast by adding it too the warm water with a pinch of the sugar (this will just help it proof a little faster) watch it for a bit and if the yeast begins to bubble up and expand it is good to go.

In a kitchen aid mixer (or a big bowl) add the water and yeast to the remaining sugar, olive oil and salt. Mix in one cup of the flour and mix very well for a minute or so. This will help to develop the gluten (something you would not want to do with a lighter crumb bread like pancakes or cookies). At this point either put on the bread kneading attachment (if using a mixer) or dump your mixture to a floured surface for kneading. Gradually knead in as much flour as needed to form a dough soft, subtle dough.
For mixer - one that clings to the kneading hook and forms a ball, but if you turn the mixer off will slowly slump and loose it's shape.
If kneading by hand - a dough that you can bring together into a ball, but if you let it rest will slowly slump and loose it's shape.
Either way the dough should be kneaded until it is consistent in texture and elastic.
Now take your ball of dough and put it into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise someplace warm until double in bulk. Raising times will vary depending on the temperature of the room you set the dough in - in the summer my dough raises so quickly on our back porch!
When you are ready to make your crust dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to your desired shape. Pizza should be baked at around 400 degrees and baking times vary from 15 - 20 minutes depending on the toppings you choose. Get creative!
helpful hints:
if you will be using a pizza stone be sure to let it preheat with the oven.
for a crisper crust remove your pizza from your baking sheet just before it is finished and let it cook it's last few minutes directly on the oven rack.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Dave's" Salad

I like to call this Dave's salad because he is the first one to make it for me, but I know it is not uniquely his. It is in fact a very traditional Argentinean salad and it is scrumptious! The tomatoes and avocados are sliced so thick that it gives them an almost "meaty" and very satisfying quality.
This recipe could feed two as a side dish - or as I do it - one with crusty bread for lunch.

1 perfectly ripe avocado
1 large, ripe, but firm, tomato
chopped parsley (approx 2 T.)
finely sliced red onion (approx 2 T.)
fresh lime juice
salt & pepper
olive oil

Slice the tomato and avocado into wedges and place in a bowl. Squeeze with approx half the juice of a small lime. Drizzle with olive oil. Throw in the chopped parsley and red onion. Toss together, let it sit a few minutes to soak in the flavor, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. The avocado, if perfectly ripe, will lend itself a bit to the olive oil and coat the tomatoes. It is lovely.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Peanut Butter & Chip Cookies

Note: These are actually better with Peanut Butter Chips - but I will only use the Sunspire Peanut Butter Chips (from Whole Foods) because the other brands are full of the most horrible ingredients, and don't taste as good anyway - but the Sunspire chips hardly ever go on sale and they cost like 5 bucks - so anyway, this time I made them with mini chocolate chips (so cute).

1 cube of butter (1/2c.)
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 package chips

Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla - mix until lighter in color, make sure to scrape the bowl and mix again. Sift together the flour, soda and salt. Add to the creamed butter mixture and mix lightly. Add chips and mix until combined but do not overmix. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a silcone mat or greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 convection (or 350 for regular oven) for about 7-8 minutes, until they LIGHTLY brown on the edges. After you remove them from the oven let them sit for a moment before trying to transfer them to a cooling rack because they are a bit fragile.

Peanut Butter & Chip Cookies

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BBQ time is here y'all

So today the hubby decided to put some pork ribs in the smoker and let them go all day long. "So why not put some baked beans under those ribs?" he says, because then the pork will drip into the beans and it will be yummmmmy. Needless to say, that doesn't give me time to soak beans, so this is a version of baked beans straight from the pantry. Here's what you do, and these are based on watching my Mom make beans when I was little, so I don't have measurements, just estimates.

1 large can of your favorite Pork and Beans in the can
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can black beans
1 can of other beans (I use kidney or great northern)
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
BBQ sauce, about a cup
Cayenne Pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon
Maple Syrup, about 1/4 cup
2 Tbls. tomato paste or 1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup water (you need this or the beans will not have enough moisture to absorb)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Sprinkled the top before baking with brown sugar, about 1/4 cup

Put it all together and mix well. We baked these at about 225 degrees on the smoker for around 7 hours. But the oven works just as well, bake @ 275 degrees for about 3 hours.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sour Cream Pancakes

I know - pancakes again - I AM OBSESSED! But give these a try because they are from heaven.

Sour Cream Pancakes
2 T. Butter (melted)
2 t. sugar ( I use turbinado)
1 egg
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 t. salt (I use Real salt)
1/2 c. cold water
3/4 cup flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder

Here is the very crucial order in which to do things:
Melted butter first, then sugar, then egg (now whisk very well- yes the egg will solidify some of the butter because it is cold, but that is a good thing- just mix well).
Next sour cream, salt, then water. Now sift together and put into the bowl the flour, soda and baking powder. BY THE SINK with cold water running stir (do not whisk) them together adding a small amount of water if you think you will need it. The batter should be lumpy and stirred just until combined. (Look at the photo of the pancake on the griddle - it almost looks like a biscuit the batter is so thick.)

Glorious Garden

The Garden is alive and well. All the rain we have had is soaking into the plants and making them tall and green. My tomatoes (that I planted from seed) are only about an inch tall - is that normal for this time of year? I am worried that I may have to buy tomato plants instead, but I do not want to! The herbs are just WOW though. Huge. I sent one of the boys out to take some pictures today because it had just rained and I knew everything would be so green, and these blog photos you see are the result. Quite good no? Only 10 and already a skilled photographer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Heidi's Wedding!!!

So, for all of my loyal followers (yes I am talking to the 4 of you) you have probably been wondering just what I have been up to lately...I've been so distant! Well, here is the answer: Heidi's wedding! I have been baking miles of cupcakes and preparing for her lovely garden bridal shower. Photos were taken along the way and here are a couple of my favorite recipes from this weeks celebrations.

Ricotta Pound Cake
This is not too sweet and has such a great flavor you can nibble on it plain (although it would not be too shabby with strawberries and a mascarpone cream!). If you do not have ricotta handy you can substitute with a puree of cottage cheese and yogurt. The sugar sprinkled on top gives it a nice crust and sweetens the not too sweet bread perfectly.

1 stick softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar (plus 2 Tbls. for on top of loaf before baking)
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 rounded cup fresh ricotta
2 3/4 c. unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mix the butter, sugar and eggs. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta (or substitute) and mix well. Combine separately the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until sell incorporated. Dump the batter into a well greased loaf pan, spinkle with the 2 Tbls. sugar and bake at 325 for about 45 minutes. The top should be a lovely golden brown and you may want to insert a toothpick to insure that it is done in the center. If it is getting too dark on top just cover lightly with foil.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake
This is a variation of a Hershey's Chocolate Cake recipe I found in a magazine when I was 15 years old - honestly! I have remained quite loyal to this one, with only a few minor changes. It works quite well with all different sorts of cocoa - just make sure you use the same cocoa for both the frosting and the cake to make it flow...

Mix together in large bowl:
2 c. sugar ( I use a mix of both white and brown)
2 c. unbleached flour
3/4 rounded c. cocoa
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Add all then mix well:
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. melted butter
2tsp. vanilla

Mix the batter very well on high speed. Then slowly add (on low speed):
1 c. boiling water

The batter will be quite thin. Pour into 3 8" round pans for baking a layered cake (or it will make about 2+ dozen cupcakes). Bake at 350 for 19 - 22 minutes for the rounds and 9 - 11 minutes for the cupcakes. Wait for the center to round up and rise, then bake a few minutes longer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

grow garden grow!

The garden is starting to show so many signs of life and it is very exciting! The peas are climbing and about a foot tall. Most of the beets we planted seemed to survive, their little leaves are about 2 inches above the ground and the herbs are going crazy!
I am a little worried about the tomatoes that we planted by seed straight outside, there does not seem to be much life yet. I will be so sad if they don't make it. We can always buy partially grown plants and go from there, but I was hoping that the seeds I dried from last years crop would work. They worked in the little starter pods, so we do have a few plants doing alright from that, just not many. And we had THE best tomatoes last year! Heirloom tomatoes that were huge in the most peculiar shades of pink and green. Little sun sweet tomatoes that seemed to glow they were so orange. And so many romas that I made huge batches of tomato sauce to freeze, roasted them, and dried them so they would not go to waste. I can't wait until the garden is plump full of tomatoes, basil, squash and other veggies to eat. It is my goal this year to can and freeze so much that nothing goes to waste and we have delicious, organic, homegrown products to use all year round!

"Eggs in Purgatory"

These little one piece of bread egg sandwiches (that's what Dad always called them) are inspired by our local Red Rock Brewing Company's "Eggs in Purgatory" - topped with a spicy red sauce and parmesan cheese. A savory way to start off the day!

Just cut any shape you please (little monkey choose a star today) out the center of your chosen bread. Butter both sides lightly, place on the griddle and crack an egg in each hole. Salt and pepper if you please. Cook until the bottom side is golden and toasted, then flip.
We had leftover homemade red sauce in the fridge but store bought will do, just warm it up with a little crushed red pepper for kick. We like to toast the cut outs from the bread separately, it makes cute little shapes, perfect for dipping!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just like banana bread in the form of a cookie, YUM! But watch out, they SEEM so lite that it is easy to eat a bunch of these!

1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 overly ripe banana, well mashed
1 tsp. vanilla

1 and 1/4 cup flour ( I use whole wheat pastry or just plain unbleached)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
one half package of milk chocolate chips

Cream the butter, egg and sugar very well. Beat until it lightens in color a bit. Add vanilla and mashed banana, mix well. Sift (or whisk together) remaining dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until incorporated but do not over mix. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes @ 350 degrees. (Watch for the sides to begin to brown and the centers to be fully raised and no longer doughy).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

simply delicious little sandwiches

I love how readily available good bread is these days! I can go to even the most generic grocery store and they have these artisan bread stations with rosemary bread, baguettes and my favorite - a good grainy wheat. These little open face sandwiches are simply wheat bread, a little homemade pesto (in my freezer from a bounty of basil in the garden last summer) avocado, tomato and fresh mozzarella. My little monkey had his without the avocado and they were almost as good as mine!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


There is nothing better than warm pancakes on a cool, early, summer morning. I think my little Monkey agrees. This morning he told me no short of 15 times to get up and make him pancakes. I sluggishly said I would, and then it took him nearly a half and hour to get me out of bed. He entertained himself during that time by walking out on our deck and returning repeatedly to his father and I with play by play details on what was happening with the neighbors dog. First he was barking at Monkey, then he stopped, which made Monkey bored so he started calling out to the dog, which we stopped. Then the dog jumped into and out of a "window". Then we found out that the dog has a brown bum. Next the dog got out of the yard. We think this is true, because his barking began to sound very... far... away. Ahhhhh, I will just get out of bed and make him some pancakes.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Perfect Pancakes

Okay folks with this recipe the tips on "how to" are extremely crucial so read up. They make all the difference in the pancake texture.
2 T. butter (melted)
1 T. sugar (I use turbinado)
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 t. salt ( I use Real Salt or Sea Salt)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 and 1/4 c. unbleached flour
cold water

Mix melted butter with sugar. Add egg and buttermilk, mix well with whisk. Separately sift or whisk together the remaining DRY ingredients. Go stand by the sink and start a medium trickle of COLD water. Add your dry ingredients to the wet with a rubber scraper (not whisk) and add water as needed to get a thick, lumpy batter. It will usually take about a 1/2 cup of water . Don't mix it until it is uniform, it should be lumpy. Just mix it until all the flour is incorporated. As you make this recipe over and over you will begin to see the subtle changes in texture based on how long you mix the batter. But even if you do over mix it - you will have good pancakes. For perfect pancakes that are not heavy and have a high rise the batter will be thick enough that you need to sort of spread them out when you dump them onto the griddle. Set your griddle to medium heat and only flip the pancake over once the bubbles have begun to form in the middle of the cake. Butter is a good option on the griddle because it makes for a lovely taste and texture, and I for one don't use butter on the pancakes after they are cooked. We like to have ours with yogurt and jam or fresh fruit. We eat them for dinner sometimes too....yum!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Graham Crackers and Frosting

Okay the fact of the matter is - if you did not have Graham Crackers and Frosting as a child you were (officially) deprived. Yes, DEPRIVED. Find yourself a good therapist, work through your issues and start making up for lost time by having some now. It is as simple as making frosting (see the Vanilla Bean Frosting below) and spreading it between two crackers. If you prefer (and I do) you can chill them in the refrigerator and they firm up. Delicious. Kids love Graham Crackers and Frosting because they are so simple to make that they can help out, but I assure you - the kids are not the only ones who will like eating them!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breaking Ground

Come what may I have started planting the garden! The beets (oh thank you God for beets) have gone in and so have the lettuces and peas. The weather is a fickle friend these days so let us hope I have timed it right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Soft Buttermilk Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Don't hate me for using so much white sugar everyone, I promise not to do it too often! These are delightfully light and at the same time super sweet and buttery. Enjoy.

Soft Buttermilk Sugar Cookies
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. white sugar (I used organic)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk (or yogurt, or sour cream)
3 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the butter with the sugar until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add your egg and blend very well - until the mixture lightens in color. Add your buttermilk, mix well. Scrape down bowl and mix again.
In a separate bowl combine your flour, baking soda and salt, mix well or sift together. Add your dry ingredients to your wet and mix until incorporated. Don't overdo it or your cookies will be tough.
Roll dough out to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheet or silicone mat and bake at 350 for 8-11 minutes (depending on size). When done the bottom of the cookie should have just barely started to brown.

Vanilla Bean Frosting
1 softened cube of butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 -3 T. milk
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla bean paste
1/2 t. almond extract

Cream your butter and 1 c. of powdered sugar. Mix until it is an even, smooth paste. Add the extract, vanilla bean paste and 1 T. of milk. Mix well and alternate with the rest of the milk and powdered sugar until you have your desired thickness. Spread on cooled cookies (or any number of other baked items).

more, no more, coffee

As if it is not humiliating enough to have an addiction to coffee now I am tackling my addiction to drive-thru coffee. Oh the indulgence of buying myself something nice, the feeling that I belong in the demographic of people that can afford daily drive-thru lattes, the excellent customer service.... "Hi there Jammy! What are you up to today?" it's like they are my best friends. I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home and if it were simply about the caffeine, well, this would be another story would it not? I mean we all know that if there were no caffeine, my house would never be cleaned, my children would never make it all the way to the dentist and we would eat a lot of fast thank you for caffeine. But this drive-thru thing is a sad, sorry, (not to mention expensive) problemo and I need an escape route.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

welcome to our crazy world

Jazzy and I come from a family of 10 - that's right 10. 5 girls 3 boys and 2 parents. I must tell you we are not particularly sane people, as you may well figure out, and we are obsessed with food. Thankfully our 2 parents blessed us with good metabolisms so we are still fairly slender girls. Thus far.