Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Still loving the Blendtec we got for Christmas. V made smoothies for breakfast. I've been doing these for dinner a few nights a week too when I'm feeling particularly pregnant and exhausted. Our standard version uses frozen mixed tropical fruit with strawberries (Costco bag), plain organic yogurt, orange juice, and a frozen banana. Blend well and drink it with a straw. It's more fun that way.


This is not your normal bruschetta. In Mario Batali's Molto Gusto, he has a whole chapter for bruschetta recipes. This is not one of them. This is my crap-I need dinner-what's in the fridge version. But I have read and re-read that chapter on bruschetta because it kind of blew my mind that there were so many delicious sounding versions of it. And the idea of something as simple as toast with toppings on it qualifying as fancy dinner is right up my alley. Also, it's quick.

For the above pictured version, I sauted some sliced mushrooms with butter and a very little bit of bacon. I toasted the bread until well-browned, rubbed a clove of garlic around the rim of the crust (a la Batali), then topped with gruyere and the mushroom saute. It would have been lovely served with a simple salad or some sauteed greens, but I was feeling lousy and not up for anything more than minimal. So we had toast for dinner. I mean, bruschetta.

Blendtec Ice Cream

This Christmas we got a Blendtec blender! I am so excited about it! I'd had a VitaMix on my wishlist for next Christmas but after a generous gift from my in-laws, V researched it out and we decided the Blendtec did all the same stuff for a better price. We broke it in Christmas evening with some guiltless strawberry ice cream.

3 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup organic half and half
1/4 cup rapadura (opt.)
1/2 tsp vanilla (opt.)

Blend until smooth. Eat immediately as soft serve or freeze for later.

Cinnamon Rolls

These are the other half of my Christmas brunch tradition. Breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls with OJ and fruit spells Merry Christmas. Yum, yum, yum.

2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 cup warm milk (105’)
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 to 4 ½ cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 ½ TB cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 oz (¼ cup) cream cheese
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour. Mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about one hour, or until dough has doubled in size. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about ¼ inch thick. Make the filling by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl (this is important!). Spread the butter evenly over the surface of the dough, and then spread the sugar mixture evenly over the surface. Working carefully from the 21-inch side, roll the dough to the bottom edge. Cut the rolled dough into 12-14 rolls and place in a greased 9x13 pan, evenly spaced. May refrigerate rolls overnight at this point, if desired.

If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before baking. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, or until light brown on top edges (watch them). While the rolls bake, combine the icing ingredients.  Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. Cool the baked rolls slightly before coating them generously with icing. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Breakfast Casserole

I couldn't wait for Christmas so I made one last night. I had some baguette that was getting pretty stale so it was a good excuse. The original recipe comes from my neighbor growing up - Audria. She'd bring us over a hot casserole on Christmas morning every year. It's one of my favorite traditions now.

16 slices white bread, crusted and buttered
1 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb bacon, ham, or breakfast sausage, cooked and diced
5 eggs
3 cups milk

Arrange 8 slices of bread in a 9x13 pan with the buttered side down. Spread cheese and ham over bread. Arrange remaining 8 slices of bread, buttered side up on top of bacon and cheese. 

Whip eggs and milk together well. Pour over top and let sit overnight in fridge. In the morning, bake at 350’ for 1 hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving to continue to firm up.

My adjustments: I always use bacon but generally reduce it to half a pound. I also reduce the cheese to about 1/3-1/2 a lb or just as much as it takes to make a non-skimpy layer in the pan. And I increase the eggs to 6 usually but I don't really know why I do that. Maybe I just like the number 6.

Using a crusty artisan-type bread worked just great for me this morning. I'm planning on finding a nice sourdough to use this Christmas. And it was no big deal to not crust the bread either. It's a little more like toast on the top but inside it's still casserole-like. I think using the stale bread with crusts soaked up more liquid than normal so adding more milk and egg mixture would help it be more uniform. But I kind of liked the little toasts on top so I'll leave it as-is. I'm very interested in whether or not wheat bread would work for this but I'm going to stick to sourdough for my Christmas tradition and maybe experiment more with making it 'real' later.

Gingerbread Cookies and Houses

I started the tradition of decorating my tree with gingerbread men about 5 years ago. I like that I can throw them away every year and don't have to store (and move!) boxes of breakables. I also like that I don't have to worry if the Monkey breaks or eats any of the ornaments. Plus, it's a cheap, homemade project that gets me in the holiday spirit. KC got me started on gingerbread houses when I lived in Portland and this is her recipe - and it's delicious ;)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
5 cups flour
2 ¼ tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in molasses, eggs, & water. Stir dry ingredients together, then add to liquids. Chill 1 hr. If planning to eat them, roll dough to ¼” thick & cut out. Bake at 375ยบ for 10-12 min. If making for decorations, roll them a little thinner and cook a bit longer so they dry out, but don't burn. They will continue to crisp as they cool.

For houses, design on paper roof and walls with doors with windows cut out. Cut out the paper shapes. Press dough into greased cookie pan with sides, ¼” thick or less, and bake 20 minutes. After removing from oven, immediately cut out house shapes: walls, roof, holes for doors & windows, etc. Loosen shapes from pan. Let sit in pan for 5 min. Take out or turn over to dry bottom of shapes. 

Attach with following frosting recipe: 
2 egg whites
2 tsp water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat egg whites, water and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add powdered sugar. Mix well until stiff. Use within 1 hour or less as it dries quickly. Best used by squeezing out of a frosting tube (or Ziploc bag with corner cut off).

Update: apparently living so close to the beach, combined with all the rain we've had around here lately, made it too humid for these poor things to survive. They all fell off the tree within a day of putting them up! Next year I can try rolling them thinner and cooking them longer but I'm not sure that will solve it if it rains for a solid week again.

Baked Potato Bar

We had this for lunch the other day and I want to remember it as an easy meal. I baked my potatoes in the toaster oven while we were gone at playgroup (it turns itself off). I topped it with broccoli, bacon, cheese, sour cream, green onions, and leftover cheddar sauce I had in the fridge. Quick, easy, filling.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

French Toast

Not sure this needs a recipe but I need to remember it as a good option for dinner - especially when we have whipping cream and blueberries! I use mostly eggs with a little bit of milk for my batter, dip sliced bread in it and sprinkle cinnamon on one side once they're in the hot, greased pan. Flip in a few minutes to finish cooking and serve with whipped cream, blueberries and a little bit of pure maple syrup. Delicious.

Monday, December 6, 2010


2 cups sugar
2 cups light karo syrup
1 dash salt
3 cups whipping cream
½ can eagle brand milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup broken pecans (optional)

Combine sugar, karo, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then stop stirring. Cover with lid for 5 minutes, then remove lid and boil for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the steam stops and it turns a little yellow. While this is cooking, scald the whipping cream and eagle brand milk, stirring continuously. You’ll know it’s scalded when it begins to steam. When the sugar mixture is ready, add scalded cream 1 TB (more as you go) at a time so that the sugar never stops boiling, stirring vigorously and continuously. Continue cooking over med high, stirring constantly, until 228’, then remove from heat. You’ll know it’s close to done when the mixture stops releasing steam.  Add vanilla and nuts (if using nuts), then pour into 9x13 buttered pan, pouring around the edges first. Let set overnight, cut into squares, then wrap in wax paper with ‘bakery wrap’ fold. Store in refrigerator for longer lasting caramels (3 months).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

I ordered a TON of spaghetti squash from Azure Standard this month. I had no idea I'd get so many when I placed my order. So we're having spaghetti squash alfredo a lot because I'm nervous about trying it with a red sauce! I found a recipe for this last year here, but have since gotten lazy and just do it in the oven using my standard alfredo recipe.

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 TB butter
1 1/2 cups cream
1 TB flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
cooked spinach, opt.
diced chicken, opt.

Prick a few fork holes in it and put the spaghetti squash in a pan in the oven at 350' for 1 hour or until soft. Slice in half endwise (which is apparently the word for the opposite of lengthwise). Scoop out the squash. It will be super hot. Taste test some of it to make sure it's fully cooked. If not, you can put it back into the oven now, or make it into alfredo and put it back into the oven as a finished dish.

Make the alfredo sauce. Any alfredo sauce will do. I like WM's alfredo or you could do the blender cheese sauce using Parmesan. I don't ever measure alfredo sauces anymore so this recipe is my best guess as to what I did when I made the pictured alfredo sauce. Melt the butter, add the cream, whisk in the flour and bring to a boil to thicken. Remove from heat and add Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in spinach and/or chicken, if using. Add cooked squash to sauce - only as much as the volume of the sauce warrants. Serve immediately or bake in the oven at 350' until squash is completely cooked. Cover with tinfoil if it starts to brown.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Key Lime Pie

I was totally craving key lime pie so I made one to go with the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. I ran out of pie plates so I did this one in a springform pan. It worked fine but spread the filling a little thinner than it otherwise would have been. It was really delicious though. I did use key limes because they were cheaper - go figure. But regular limes would work just as well. Thanks for the recipe Mal!

9 graham crackers (5 oz), broken into rough pieces
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

4 tsp grated lime zest
1/2 cup strained fresh lime juice
4 large egg yolks
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Make the graham cracker crust by food processing the graham crackers. Pulse with the sugar, then the melted butter. When well mixed, press into a 9" pie plate. Bake 15-18 min at 325'. Cool completely.

While crust is cooling, make filling by beating egg yolks and lime zest in a glass bowl for 2 minutes, or until yolks begin to tint green. Add the condensed milk and then the lime juice and beat well. Set aside to thicken for 30 minutes.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325' for 15-17 minutes or until the middle is set but still 'jiggly'. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold - at least 3 hours. May be made the day before. Top with sweetened whipping cream to serve. May garnish with lime slices dusted with powdered sugar.

Crescent Rolls

These rolls are also from V's family. I did a double batch for our Thanksgiving. They're so pretty and consistently turn out well.

5 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups very hot milk
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
¼ cup warm water
2 TB dry yeast
pinch of sugar

Place 3 cups of the flour, 2 tsp salt, and ½ cup sugar in a small mixing bowl. Place hot milk and butter, thinly sliced in large mixing bowl. While the butter is melting in the hot milk, combine warm water and dry yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a measuring cup, let stand until frothy. Add the dry ingredients from the small bowl to the large bowl.  Mix until blended, then add frothy yeast mixture.  Stir in another 2 cups of flour, then knead in enough more flour until a medium stiff dough is formed.  Let rise in an oiled bowl (prefer­ably a tupperware with a sealing lid) until double in bulk.

To form into crescent rolls, divide the dough into 3 equal sections.  Pat them out, one at a time, on an unfloured surface (the oil keeps them from sticking), into about a 14 inch circle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut as you would for pizza into 8 wedges.  Carefully elongate each wedge of dough to make it about 8 inches long.  If the bottom edge is too wide, tuck the bottom center to make it narrower.  Roll them up from the wide end to the point, making sure the point is underneath the roll.  Curve into a crescent shape and place on greased cookie sheet so that they don't touch.  

Let rise about 15-30 minutes, or until nearly double in size.  Bake at 375 for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. May rub tops with butter while hot, if desired.

Ribbon Salad

There is nothing 'real food' at all about this jello salad. It's a standard for V's family holiday dinners though so I thought I'd share the recipe. I always forget how much it drives me crazy to make. I could never do one of those 12 layer ribbon salads. This one takes me all day as it is. Not hard to do, just takes all day.

1 (3 oz.) pkg. Red fruit
1 ¾ c. boiling water
1 (3 oz.) pkg. Lemon jello
1 c. boiling water
½ c. sour cream
½ c. mayonnaise
¼ c. chopped nuts
1 (3 oz.) pkg. lime jello
1 c. boiling water
1 (8 ½ oz.) can crushed pineapple

Dissolve cherry jello in 1 ¾ cups boiling water.  Pour in 8 inch square pan.  Refrigerate until set.  Dissolve lemon jello in 1 cup boiling water; add undrained pineapple and refrigerate until slightly set.  Carefully pour over cherry jello layer.  Refrigerate until completely set.  Carefully pour over lime jello layer.  Refrigerate until completely set.  Cut into squares and serve.

Note: I doubled the recipe for the 9x12 pictured. Remember to use an 8x8 for the original recipe.

Standard Pumpkin Pie

I made pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and ended up using my mother-in-law's recipe. I just wasn't feeling up to trying to make it real food since we were going to someone else's house. So here is our home's standard pumpkin pie recipe. It turned out really well and even looked pretty since V did the crust.

1 29 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 12 oz. cans undiluted evaporated milk
Pastry for 2 9-inch, 1-crust pies

In a large mixing bowl, add and beat the eggs, stir in pumpkin.  Add sugar and salt, then spices, blend well.  Add milk last and mix well.  Pour into 2 9-inch pastry lined pie pans.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, then at 325 for 1 hour and 15 more minutes or until center is set (test with knife). 

Note: our's took about an extra 30 minutes to finish baking with two pies in the oven. Then again, our oven is kind of lame.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leftover Egg Scramble

I put the leftover sweet potato hash in our eggs for breakfast with some bacon, green onions and a little cheddar on top. It turned out really well. I was surprised how well the combination worked. It was great.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Hash

We had this at a friend's house and I bugged her for the recipe because it was so good! You can basically use whatever you have on hand for it too so I'm excited to add this one to our rotation.

1 buttercup or butternut squash
1-2 sweet potatoes or yams
2-3 regular potatoes
1 bell pepper
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Skin and dice all of the vegetables. Heat some oil in a large saute pan. I used coconut oil but olive oil could work too - just use a lower temperature while sauteing. Add onion and saute 2 minutes to give it a head start (optional). Add squash, yams, potatoes and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Leave the lid off and stir minimally to avoid scorching. Add garlic and fresh thyme when everything's getting soft and saute another 5 minutes.

Notes: In the top pictured hash, I used 3 small white potatoes, 2 medium garnet yams, 1 small onion, 1 red pepper, and 1 garlic clove. The picture served with sausage above used 1 garnet yam, 1 small onion, and 2 small potatoes. The total cooking time will vary depending on how small you diced your vegetables. I think mine average 35 minutes. Also, I recommend adjusting the volume of the recipe to fit your pan. If the pan is too full, the squash will steam instead of saute and could get mushy. Other suggestions from MM - allspice and coriander, seasoning salt, dill, for heat - try a serrano pepper or red pepper flakes, add ground meat for a one pot meal. Thanks for the recipe MM!

Deviled Eggs

These are so good but I always forget about them as an option. They seem too simple to warrant an actual recipe so I'll just write down the steps involved.

Boil eggs by covering eggs with warm water in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Turn down the heat and boil for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and shell. Put in fridge for a few hours to cool down or soak in ice water for a bit unless you don't mind hot deviled eggs.

Slice cold boiled eggs lengthwise. Scoop out yolks and place whites on a plate. Mash yolks and mix with mayonnaise, mustard, and salt to taste. Refill egg whites with yolk mixture and sprinkle paprika on top. Serve as an appetizer or for lunch with salad.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Here's an updated picture with the full-sized cheeseball. This one is rolled in pecans.

8 oz cream cheese
5 oz flavored, soft cheese (see note)
2 cups shredded cheddar
seasoning salt to taste, opt.
pecans, green onions OR bacon for garnish

Mash the cream cheese, fancy cheese and cheddar together. Be very thorough. You may even use a stand mixer to whip it. It helps if the cream cheese is soft. Taste and add seasonings as desired. Round into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and put into fridge to harden, at least 4 hours - overnight is better. Prepare garnish by toasting pecans and then crushing, chopping green onions finely OR frying bacon and crumbling. Roll hardened ball into garnish, forming a crust. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge again. Take out to soften about 30 min before serving. Serve with crackers. Thanks MJ!

Note: Originally, this recipe called for a small can of Kraft processed, flavored cheese. I used to use the bacon flavor and then roll it in bacon - delicious. Since that's not exactly real food, this time I found some nice flavored cheese at Costco that doesn't have any artificial ingredients in it - the boursin pictured above. It is very flavorful so I didn't end up adding any seasoning salt at all. You could probably also substitute with 5oz more of cream cheese and simply add your own additional ingredients like garlic powder and chives or some other flavor combination.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Foofy Ketchup

This is the recipe from Nourishing Traditions, page 104. Well, I cut it in half because we don't go thru a lot of ketchup around here. I don't really like ketchup in general but this stuff has so much flavor, I find myself figuring out ways to use it. It goes really well with kale hash.

1 1/2 cups canned organic tomato paste
2 TB whey
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch cayenne pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup fish sauce, Thai Kitchen brand is good

Mix all ingredients well. Place in a pint sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Leave some head space in the top of the jar. Leave at room temperature, covered loosely for about 2 days. Transfer to refrigerator. Keeps for 2-3 months.

French Onion Soup

This recipe comes from Julia Child's The Way to Cook, page 19. It's a great use for a homemade broth from a left over pot roast bone. I always wish I'd doubled the recipe because it reduces quite a lot.

1/2 cup butter
8 cups or 2 1/2 lbs onions (3 huge ones)
1/2 tsp rapadura or sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 TB flour
2 1/2 qts homemade beef stock
4-5 TB Cognac
1 cup dry white French vermouth

Thinly slice onions. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onions and cover for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add salt and sugar, raise to med-high, and let onions brown, stirring frequently, 45-60 minutes or until dark walnut colored. Sprinkle in flour and stir 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. Bring to a simmer and add the rest of the stock, brandy and vermouth. Cover loosely and simmer 1 1/2-2 hours, adding a little water if necessary. 

Serve with french bread or gratine by topping soup bowls with toasted french bread slices and Swiss or Parmesan cheese and then putting under the broiler until cheese starts to brown. May substitute Cognac with peach juice and vermouth with apple cider or substitute both with apple juice mixed with a little bit of lemon juice and water. I do the later usually.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The waffle iron died this weekend. It just gave out. Luckily, it happened on the last round of a successful recipe trial. We actually both like this one - it's been a bit of a search. This is a modified version of the one in Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen. We've used it for pancakes too.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (soft white wheat)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or whole milk plus 1 tsp vinegar)
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tsp rapadura or sugar

If soaking, combine flour and buttermilk and let sit on the counter overnight, covered. In the morning, stir in egg yolks, butter, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add sugar, then whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter and cook on greased waffle iron.

If not soaking, mix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Separate eggs and begin whipping egg whites with mixer. Meanwhile, stir together egg yolks, buttermilk and melted butter or oil. When egg whites are at the soft peak stage, add sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until moistened. Fold in egg whites and cook on greased waffle iron.

If you don't like the buttermilk flavor, use regular milk, increase the baking powder to 1 TB and do not use any baking soda. I'm not sure how you could soak this version though. Replacing the milk with yogurt and water or kefir would still give you the tangy flavor so you may as well use buttermilk. If you want to make the batter the night before and put it in the fridge, just wait until morning to add the baking soda and do the egg white whipping step.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sprouted Wheat

I experimented with sprouting wheat a while back and am finally getting around to posting about it. I want to use sprouted wheat flour instead of the soaking method for some of my recipes like pizza dough and pie crust so this is the first step in that quest. First, fill a quart mason jar 1/3 full of whole grain or legumes (mine was hard white wheat), fill the rest of jar with filtered water, top with some screen material or cheesecloth, screw on the regular ring lid and let it sit on the counter overnight.

In the morning, drain the water out by tilting them upside down in the sink with the lid still in place. Fill with more filtered water, shake and drain. Do that a couple of times and then place the jars tilted diagonally in a dark place so they can drain slowly. Rinse about 3 times a day for about 3 days or until the sprouts are desired length. For wheat, they should be about 3/4" when they're done.

Honestly, the hardest part was making myself think about how to keep them tilted like that and in the dark. This container worked pretty well except the towel in the bottom got soaked. I found this post after the fact and think I'll try it in a loaf pan next time.

After the first 24 hours, mine already had little sprouts coming out. They're ALIVE! Three days later, they were fully sprouted. At this stage, there are options. You can rinse one last time, shake well and then store in the fridge with a regular lid if you want to eat them straight with some salad dressing (thanks GC!), or you can add them to sandwiches etc. Sproutpeople is a website that sells sprouting kits and has a lot of ideas of different types of legumes and seeds to try sprouting with - some are better than others for salads (I want to try lentils).

I chose to put mine in the dehydrator so I could make flour out of it. Grinding the flour turned out to be really problematic though because all the little sprout parts would gum up in my grinder. They didn't work in the electric at all and V ended up brute forcing them thru the hand crank one. I am interested in trying again with a one-day sprout in hopes that the shorter sprouts will work better for grinding. We ended up making pizza out of the sprouted flour and it seemed to work the same as normal flour. Overall though, it was way more work than the overnight soaking method. I'm actually wondering if buying the flour pre-sprouted is actually worth the cost after all.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jack-o-Lanterns vs Pie Pumpkins

Well, partly I just wanted to post the cool Jack-o-Lantern V carved. But I also wanted to share a link about whether or not you really need to buy the fancy pie pumpkins to bake with or if you can use the cheaper J-o-L versions. Here is the link. I haven't done the comparison myself but I thought she was very thorough. I did buy a pie pumpkin to make my pie with but only because I was only going to do one and it sounded fun. If I were going to freeze a bunch of pureed pumpkin, I would totally go with the cheaper ones. If only I had more freezer space! Unfortunately, canning pumpkin at home is not recommended. So I'll just dream of that chest freezer for next harvest season and enjoy my pie for now.

Real Pumpkin Pie

1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup butter, cold
2 TB minced candied ginger
3 TB flour
1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
3 eggs
1 ½ oz apple juice
Pre-baked 9 inch pie shell

Rub all topping ingredients together with fingertips until crumbly. Preheat oven to 350’. Mix filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake at 350’ for 1 hour. Top with crumb mixture and bake for another 45 minutes or until set in center. Allowing the pie to cool overnight before serving will enhance the flavor. 

To make pureed, cooked pumpkin: Cut pumpkin in half horizontally and place in a roasting pan in ¼ inch of water. Cover with foil and bake at 400’ until tender - time will vary with pumpkin size and variety. Puree in a food processor. Thanks KC!

Note: This is the pumpkin I bought to make this with but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll post more pictures when I do. I've made it before though. If I remember right, it's really good.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pot Roast Sandwiches

Pot Roast Sandwiches are the best thing ever to do with leftover pot roast. Sometimes I even make pot roast just to have these. They are so good.

Crusty artisan bread or hamburger buns
Shredded pot roast
Pot roast gravy
Provolone cheese
Mustard (opt)
spinach or lettuce (opt)

Saute sliced onions and peppers in butter or oil. Toast bread lightly. If using one large loaf of bread, slice horizontally and scoop out some of the inner bread  on the bottom slice to make room for the pot roast. Spread mayo on both sides of bread and mustard, if using. Generously layer pot roast on bread. Top with gravy, then cheese. Add sauteed peppers and onions. Top with spinach or lettuce, if using. Place top of bread on and push down a bit to help it stay together. If using one large loaf, slice into pieces and serve immediately. (Thanks TM!)

Note: to make pot roast gravy, reduce pot roast drippings by boiling the liquid left in the pot after the pot roast comes out of the oven. I generally use a slotted spoon to fish out the chunks of onion and mushrooms. When the drippings start looking like a good broth, mix some cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour into the drippings while whisking vigorously. When the mixture boils, test for thickness on the back of a spoon. Add more cornstarch mixture and bring back to a boil if necessary. My usual gravy uses milk and flour but this style works well for the sandwiches. Feel free to use your normal version of gravy as well.

Failed Kefir

After a few months of gathering the courage, I bought some kefir grains to try to make some homemade kefir. I had made a few batches of lousy yogurt and wanted to try something new. It was a total flop. The top picture is what came out of the little packet I ordered for $20.

The directions say to soak the grains in milk for 1-2 weeks, changing out the milk daily to reconstitute the grains. Also, the grains are not supposed to touch metal. So I had my mason jar of milk on the counter with kefir grains in it and changed out the milk faithfully. I think my main problem was that I don't have a non-metal strainer small enough to catch the grains, so I had to fish them out with my hands every day. It was gross. They are really small to begin with and don't feel much different than lumps of yogurty-curded milk so I must have dumped a lot of them down the sink. After two weeks of doing this, I ended up with six itty-bitty curdy lumps, pictured below.

They never did make anything that seemed like kefir or even yogurt. I imagine if I had a strainer and ended up with all of the grains I started with in this size, they might do a sufficient job. They'd still be hard to fish out of a mason jar of thickened liquid though. Anyway, I threw them out and am happy to buy kefir for now. I think I'll go back to making yogurt. I probably just wore out my starter. I hear you're supposed to use new yogurt every once in a while instead of using it from the last batch every time.

Witch Hats and Spiders

These are some fun Halloween treats. Not real food but so cute!

Chocolate Bugles Chips
Ritz Crackers
Peanut Butter

Place cracker on a plate. Spread peanut butter around the bottom of one chocolate bugle, and place on center of cracker. If using regular bugles, use Cheez-It (or equiv.) instead of peanut butter.

To make Spiders, spread peanut butter on one Ritz cracker and top with another cracker to form a sandwich. Push four pretzel sticks into the peanut butter on each side of cracker, for 8 legs. Put a dab of PB on two raisins and place on top of cracker as eyes. Thanks Mal!

Bloody Fingers

These are a regular at Mal's Halloween Party. The recipe is from her friend MA. They're just so creepy!
pretzel sticks
sliced almonds
red gel frosting
1 cube butter, softened
2 cups Peanut Butter
2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar

Mix butter and PB in mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar until you get a good, thick consistency like cookie dough. Wrap PB dough around pretzel sticks so they look like fingers. Place one sliced almond on the top of each finger, halfway sticking off, for the nail. If you want extra effect, use a toothpick to put small lines like knuckle lines in the fingers. Drizzle a line or zigzag of frosting up the length of the finger, on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

White Enchiladas

This is the other freezer meal I made this month. It's my Mexican-Style version of creamy enchiladas - using actual cream. The recipe is for a 9x9 pan. I made extra for the 9x13 version pictured.

equivalent of 2 chicken breasts, shredded

½ onion, chopped
3 TB grated parmesan
8 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 oz can of green chilies
13 oz can tomatillos or tomatoes, drained
¼ cup cilantro leaves
¾ cup whipping cream
1 egg
8 corn tortillas

Mix chicken with onion, parmesan, and 4 oz Monterey Jack (1 cup). Add salt if needed. Set aside. In blender or food processor, combine green chilies, tomatillos, cilantro, whipping cream and egg. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350’ and heat lard in small skillet. Place one tortilla at a time in the hot lard. Hold 3-5 seconds or just until softened on each side. Drain or pat with paper towels. Roll up chicken mixture in soft tortillas and place seam side down in a square Pyrex. Pour cream mixture over the top and sprinkle with remaining 4 oz of cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with guacamole, sour cream and shredded lettuce. 

Notes: If not using Enchilada Chicken meat, cover two chicken breasts with water in a pot. Add ½ onion, one bay leaf, eight peppercorns and salt to taste. Boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 45 minutes or until tender. Cool chicken in broth. Drain, then shred chicken.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Divan

This is another recipe that freezes really well. I made three 9x9s of these in my recent freezer meal frenzy using two whole roasted chickens. This recipe is geared towards a 9x13 serving.

Half of a Roasted Chicken
1 large head broccoli
1 1/2 cups brown basamati rice
3 cups water or broth
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
2-4 TB butter
Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

De-bone the chicken and chop it into cubes or shred it. You probably only need about half of a full chicken for this and this part can be done ahead of time (recommended). Cook the rice in the 3 cups water by bringing the rice and water to a boil and then turning down to simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender. Meanwhile, chop broccoli into flowerettes. If using stems, peel and dice them. Steam broccoli about 5 minutes or until barely cooked.

Next, make the cheese sauce. I don't use a recipe for this so my amounts are estimates. Just use your favorite bechamel recipe and add sharp Cheddar to taste.You can also use the blender method I posted here. My usual method is just to melt the butter on med-high, add milk and then flour, whisking well, and whisk until the mixture boils. Remove from heat, then add lots of cheese, some salt and maybe some pepper - usually white pepper. Stir until cheese it melted.

Combine rice and broccoli first. Then add as much chicken as you want to use. Finally pour in the cheese sauce slowly, mixing as you go. You don't want to end up with rice soup and leftover cheese sauce is never a bad thing. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake at 350' for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is hot.

Note: Two chicken breasts also work in place of the roasted half-chicken. Just sprinkle with seasoning salt and bake at 350' until cooked thru. Since we eat pasture-raised chickens, I only buy whole chickens so I've adjusted the recipe based on what I use.