Category Archives: Food

Umm…Yum!

I have so many profound, weighty things to share with you. But I’m going to hold off. Give you a little breather. Throw in a little fun. Make this Saturday yummy!

Yesterday I whipped up two new desserts for a little party I had. They were scrump-dilly-icious, if I do say so myself.

I’ll provide the links and the recipes right here. The only thing I can’t do is air-mail them to you. Because…they’re gone! Well, almost, but I won’t tell you that in case you live nearby and decide to stop in for a sample. So, yes, they’re gone. (TeeHee)

Before I give you the recipes, though, I have to give one piece of advice. Feed your family first! I know it’s tempting to put out a beautiful, full tray of something-or-others or a complete cake. But you must, must, must cut some for your husband and children first. It shows them you appreciate that they are going to hide away in a room watching old VHS tapes while you cavort with your friends. It makes them feel special. And, incidentally, it makes them more willing to hide away the next time. Be kind to your family first.

Okay, now on to the recipes:

Tandy Cake

Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tasty Kake. Except me. This was spot-on for those round little chocolate covered spongy cakes with a layer of peanut butter. I taste-tested it about half a dozen times, and I can say they are fab!

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs – beat to a lemony color
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 t. melted butter
  • 8 oz. milk chocolate bar (that’s 6 reg. Hershey bars)
  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter

Preparation –

Use a baking sheet/cookie sheet with sides. Grease lightly or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix first three ingredients together. Add sugar. Sift flour and baking powder together. [Or mix with a large kitchen fork if you can’t find the sifter you put somewhere special so you could always find it.] Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Add butter. Spread batter onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20-25 mins.

Be very careful not to overbake! This layer should have a moist cake texture. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes; spread with peanut butter while still warm. [Let your five year old lick the spreading spatula and count it as lunch.] Continue cooling on a wire rack, then refrigerate for about an hour. [Strictly warn children and husband not to dip fingers in.]

Melt chocolate; spread melted chocolate over peanut butter. [Scrape out leftovers with finger and indulge before it hardens.] Refrigerate again to cool and set chocolate. [See previous family warning comment.] Cut into 2″x2 1/2″ squares. Store in pan, covered, or wrap individually in plastic wrap. Best if stored in refrigerator. [Still good if left out on counter overnight and enjoyed with chocolate blueberry tea.]

And while we’re adding a few inches to our waistlines, let’s go ahead and include the Brown Butter Toffee Blondies recipe here. I made this especially for my littlest sister, who doesn’t eat chocolate. Yes, we are blood-related and actually like each other, despite this major character flaw (wink wink).

Brown Butter Butterscotch White Chocolate Chip Blondies

[couldn’t resist making some changes]

Ingredients [my amended list]:

  • 1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 c. packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 lg. eggs
  • 2 1/2 t. vanilla
  • big handful white chocolate chips
  • big handful butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Ready cookie sheet with sides.
  2. Brown your butter: cook in skillet over medium heat til it turns a pretty golden brown. This takes at least 10 minutes. You can step away early on, but don’t leave once the color starts to change. Scrape out all the butter and deposits (whatever the heck they are) into a small bowl and set in frig to cool. Go watch television or read a novel because this takes another 15 minutes and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you watch it.
  3. If you simply cannot walk out of the kitchen, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. When the butter is finally coolish, combine it with both sugars in a big bowl and use beaters til it’s combined. Add the eggs and beat on med-high for 3 minutes, til light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds to combine. Slowly add flour mixture, beating inbetween additions. Spread into pan.
  5. Bake about 30  mins, til knife in center comes out clean. Cut into small squares, because if you cut them big, you might  not get one unless you squirrel a few away from your family and guests.

These are hugely fantastic! A little dry on the outside, for whatever reason. But yummy to the tummy. I bet you could throw them into the microwave for a few seconds to get rid of that dryish texture on top. Oh, wouldn’t they be good topped with toasted coconut?! Bing! That’s exactly what I’m going to try next time.

 

 

Herbed Bread Stuffing Recipe

Yesterday I shared my favorite turkey recipe with you. Today I’m sharing my favorite stuffing recipe. It’s awesome the second, and third days. Beyond that, I don’t know because it never lasts that long!

Herbed Bread Stuffing

(found on Epicurious.com nearly a decade ago)

[I’ll double it this year for 15 people who love to take leftovers home.]

10 c. (1-inch) cubes crusty country-style bread (1 lb.)

3 med. onions, chopped

3 celery ribs, thinly sliced crosswise

1 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. dried sage

1/2 t. dried rosemary

1 stick unsalted butter

1 1/2 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. water

Preheat over to 325. Toast bread in a large shallow baking pan in middle of oven til just dry, 25-30 mins. Cook onions, celery and herbs in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until celery is softened, about 10 mins. Stir together bread, vegetables, broth, water, and salt and pepper to taste, then cool completely, uncovered.

Note: You can make stuffing one day ahead and keep it covered and chilled. Makes about 12 cups

The BEST Thanksgiving Turkey EVER

The Perfect Oven-Roasted Bird

[This is by far the best turkey I have EVER tasted! I found the recipe in the Baltimore Sun newspaper several years ago and lament its absence when I don’t cook Thanksgiving dinner.]

Serves 10-12, 16-18 lb. turkey

Wet Rub

¾ c. fresh parsley

½ c. fresh basil

¼ c. fresh rosemary

½ c. fresh, minced shallots

¼ c. fresh garlic cloves

3 T. coarse ground black pepper

¼ c. kosher salt

½ c. olive oil

½ c. canola or vegetable oil

[Buy your herbs early; they go fast at the market and you don’t want to leave out anything.]

Stuffing (see note)

Salt and pepper

2 yellow onions

4 medium carrots

3 celery stalks

1 bunch of parsley

2 bay leaves

Dry Rub

½ c. unsalted butter

¼ c. black pepper

¼ c. kosher salt

2 T. celery salt

½ c. dry thyme

½ c. white wine [I use a good dry and drink a glass while I’m cooking.]

Remove innards from the turkey and rinse thoroughly with cold water, inside and out.

Combine all wet rub ingredients in a food processor and pulse for at least a minute until you’ve made a well-incorporated paste. [I don’t own a food processor, so I just throw it all in my blender. Works fine.]

Carefully pull the skin away from the turkey by inserting your index finger under the skin at the top of the turkey breast. Try to separate as much skin as possible from the turkey, while leaving the skin itself intact. Using your fingers, spread the wet rub onto the bird, under the skin. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 2 hours. [I try to remember to do this, but sometimes forget. It’s still awesome!]

Preheat over to 350. Salt and pepper the cavity of the bird. Coarse-chop the onions, carrots and celery, stuff the cavity; then add the parsley bunch and bay leaves to the cavity.

Melt the unsalted butter and combine all dry-rub ingredients, except white wine. When butter is lukewarm, brush it all over the bird. The, liberally sprinkle your bird with the dry rub.

Place bird in a roasting pan, on a roasting rack. Pour the white wine into the roasting pan; cover, and bake for approximately 20 minutes per pound, depending on oven calibration. [I put my bird into a Reynold’s Turkey Bag and then into a disposable roasting pan, adding the wine before I cinch the bag shut. Makes for easy clean-up and no-fuss cooking.]

Note: You may choose to eat the veggies (if so, discard the bay leaves), but this stuffing is meant to enhance the bird’s flavor. [It’s my mama’s favorite part.]

This Week’s Foodies

My desktop crashed, so I’m stealing some time on my hubby’s computer. That means I don’t have any photos to show from our fun family days. But I can share my week’s meals, in hopes to inspire you:

Chicken and Bell Peppers (red, yellow and green) in Mango Coconut Pepper Sauce, Brown Rice

Lemon Shrimp Pasta, Salad, French Bread

Pork Chops with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Green Beans

Salmon with Ranch and Parmesan, Sauteed Garlic Spinach, Salad

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Onions, Salad, French Bread

Italian Sausage Soup, Salad, Homemade Bread

If you’d like any of the recipes, I’d be happy to post them. Just leave a comment. Some, though, are tried and true and straight from my head and heart, not a recipe.

Happy Fall Eating!

New Approach to Household Chores: Hats

To tell you the truth, I was getting a little bored with the way we were taking care of the house. Not so much the getting clean part, but the “You have to do it because you live here,” line. So I decided to add a little spunk for the summer. Now we have four roles, represented by four different hats, for the children.

The Chef

This child (I still need to find a cheap kids’ chef hat…maybe Ikea?) gets to help choose the week’s meals, shop with me, and prepare dinners (which coincidentally relieves them of setting or clearing the table because if you cook you get out of those). She keeps the kitchen clean (and the nearby living and dining rooms since they’re all together). If she does a particularly excellent job, she gets to go out for a treat with mom or dad.

The Caretaker

I didn’t want to give such power by calling this the Third Parent, but this child does things similar to what only Mom and Dad can do (thus he dons an Ironbirds ballcap). He feeds and waters the dog, cleans the bathroom, and sorts the laundry. Sounds like a terrible role, right? Only this one gets to help walk the dog and stay up late one night during the week. Doesn’t matter how scummy the toilets are, they’re worth staying up late.

The Social Planner

Oh yeah, get out the plastic fruit covered hat! This child keeps the family room (where we take guests) and play room (where we keep the boxed fun) neat and tidy. She also plans family night, organizes dinner games, chooses our playdate for the week, and sets the dinner table. For a job well-done, she is invited to play a game ALONE (you know what a treat that is if you have four children) with mom or dad. This is, inevitably, the coveted position. Sometimes the kids have to beg for their hat back from me.

The Steward

This child, after donning the official gardening hat (okay, I don’t make the boys wear it), gets to help with all the “green” chores. He empties the compost bin, puts the recycling in plastic bags, takes out the trash, and water the gardens. (He also sets the dinner table–how that fits in, I’m not sure, but we needed someone to do it.) In celebration for a job well done, he gets a walk with mom or dad (which leaves zero carbon footprint).

Here are some photos of our first Steward. (She’s not too fond of the hat.)

Breadmaking with Children

I’m not a homesteader. I don’t make my own clothes or my own bread. I’m a typical suburban home school mom who enjoys living ten minutes from Target and Starbucks. So when our Patience KONOS unit presented a bread-making unit, I was intrigued.

I asked for tips on facebook, and my local home school friend Christie invited us to make bread with her family. She had everything laid out and labeled. (A true teacher.)

She walked us through her weekly ritual of making four loaves of fresh bread.

She allowed the children to watch the wheat berries being ground into flour

and the dough kneading in the machine.

Much to my surprise, the whole process took less than one hour!

She generously sent us home with two full loaves of bread. Only one of them made it home . The other disappeared into little bellies in the car ride home.

* * * * *

We’ve been trying all sorts of bread recipes since Christie showed us how to bake bread, but we don’t seem to have the knack of it. Our loaves turn out hard, dense, and pretty yucky. Brad says they’re stinky!

When I complain, a friend reminds me we are in the midst of the Patience unit. True. I was hoping for a short-term kind of patience–the kind I can anticipate and plan for. I suppose that’s not really patience, though. Patience seems to have to do more with weathering the unexpected. Seems I learn as much or more during our units as the children.

Today we finally found a recipe that actually rose and tasted good. It’s a non-knead, batter bread. It’s easy enough for the kids to make by themselves and tastes particularly yummy with Ikea’s Lingonberry Jam. I don’t have a photo because we ate it so quickly! Now you know that’s GOOD.

A Few Winter Recipes

Winter is for cooking. (And gaining weight, but let’s stay positive.)

I’ll share a few good recipes I found and tested recently. 

Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Image courtesy FamilyFun.go.com

Family Fun Magazine recently revealed this recipe for amazing, filling soup that’s fit for a cold winter afternoon. It is hearty, tasty, and a must-make-again. (I wish I’d thought to get the ingredients before this snow storm.)

Popovers

I made some Popovers to go with it. They were fun to watch rise, but didn’t have much taste (in fact, no taste). Next time I’m going to have to add some shredded cheese or garlic or sea salt after they rise.

Mrs. H’s Cream-Filled Coffee Cake

(via Kelli)

Look at that topping!

I was a little worried–I’d never used shortening before, and I didn’t know how it would taste. My kids and my husband loved it; it’s a hard thing to please them all at once! I have to admit it was really tasty.

Yes, I have gained a few pounds this winter. But since it’s on these yummies and not chips and dip, I’m okay with it. Good memories.