I’ve always been good at following directions. In classes where there are random directions that most miss, I’m usually on top of it (except that one time, I don’t like to think about it…). So this following directions bit, I do it well, except I can’t seem to get myself to follow cooking directions. Baking, I follow the ingredient list and usually all the steps required (except the whole mix in separate bowls thing, just mix in the baking soda and salt in the last bit of the flour, but I digress). But baking is so much more chemistry than cooking is. In cooking so many ingredients can be substituted in and out and then incorporated in a new way that I rarely worry about following them to a T. Thus we have this un-stuffed cabbage recipe.
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Every few weeks I roast a chicken. After I am done, I end up with about 20 cups of chicken stock. It’s a lot of stock. During the winter it’s useful and cherished, but during the summer it’s a little intense to figure out what to do with so much stock.
One way we like to use up some of the stock is by making risotto. Now, I have two little ones who run and crawl around while I make dinner. All the while we 3 anticipate the arrive of Daddy. Me, so he can take over answering the never ending stream of consciousness of questions, and the boys, well, they just miss him and don’t understand why he leaves. All that said, I (and the kids) don’t really have the patience for me to sit glued to the front of the stove continuously stirring a pot of creamy starchy goodness. Enter oven baked risotto!
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In every family there is at least one recipe that’s everyone’s favorite and gets made over and over again. In my family it was these banana muffins.
My brother, Will, was a fairly picky eat growing up and my mom would often joke that if I really liked something he wouldn’t like it and vice versa. That wasn’t the case when it came to these muffins (though it was the case with chip beef on toast, yuck). To this day whenever we go visit and my mom asks us what she should make we still request these muffins (even though Will and I are fully capable of making these for ourselves whenever we want…)
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While we have been down at my parent’s house this past week and a half we have had a ton of yummy food. One of our favorites is this brown rice salad. It is quite addicting, we’ve made it twice already and are contemplating a third time. It would be a great side dish to take to a summer potluck or a 4th of July Party. It can hold its own in the summer heat or is delish chilled right out of the fridge. Brown rice mixed with a dairy free dressing, crunch from pecans and celery and tang from ginger, shallots and orange juice. Mmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it, and I have
a bowl right in front of me eaten a bowl just now.
This is a favorite salad that we like to serve for any special occasion or Tuesday night dinner. The hardest part is waiting for the brown rice to cook, it always takes longer than I think it will. Throw the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and you are basically there. If you need it to be nut free (like me), you can always omit the pecans and it is still just as yummy, just add a little more celery to keep the crunch to chewy ratio.
Brown Rice Salad
From Momba’s Kitchen
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 TBSP minced ginger
- 3 TBSP brown sugar
- 3/4 cup of extra light EVOO
- 3 cups of cooked brown rice (1 1/2 cups uncooked)
- 1/2 cup of celery chopped (about 2-3 ribs)
- 1/2 cup of green onions
- 1/2 cup of toasted nuts (we like pecans but walnuts, pine nuts or slivered almonds would be good as well)
- 1 can of mandarin oranges drained and chilled
- salt and pepper to taste
Put your can of mandarin oranges in the refrigerator a few hours before you start.
Cook your brown rice according to the package directions (just in case, it is usually 2:1 ration of water to rice, so 3 cups of water to 1 1/2 cups of rice). Meanwhile chop the shallot and ginger and prep your ingredients for the dressing. In your food processor or blender add the first 5 ingredients. Run the machine for a bit to get it going, then on a low speed slowly add the EVOO. Mix until combined.
Chop the celery and green onions. Toast the nuts in a small pan on the stove until fragrant (make sure you watch these closely so they don’t burn). Pull your oranges from the fridge and drain them (if you forgot to put them in the fridge no worries it isn’t critical, just make the taste testing all the yummier).
In a large bowl mix all your ingredients together (you may want to reserve a little of the dressing for later, but you don’t have to). Be prepared to start crying as the onions often get really strong when mixed with the warm rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Test the salad and try not to eat it all while standing at the counter.
Chill the salad until you are ready to serve. It just might be better the next day, so feel free to make it a day (or two?) early.
Combining two pins in one, No Cook Playdough and Mud Playdough. We hadn’t made any playdough since Feb and between it drying out a bit and the dog eating much of it (bad bad bad, the playdough is not good for dogs, and the amount of salt that is in it can be toxic for them, luckily (in that he didn’t go into toxic shock or anything) for us, Buddy just was super super thirsty and peed every 10 minutes for the next 24 hours (rough night)) we needed more.
I thought the brown, mud, playdough would be fun and had seen a post on making a no cook version. Basically the same recipe, just use hot water instead of boiling the whole thing on the stove. It does seem to be smoother, and stayed fresh while we played with it the whole day (it was the only thing he did from about 10 -6:30, only taking a nap in between…)
We have moved the process up to the kitchen table as to avoid the dog sneaking some while we are out of the room. Overall this was a great success, the dog didn’t eat any and Henry had a ton of fun!
No Cook Mud Playdough
From theimaginationtree.com and icanteachmychild.com
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 TBSP cream of tartar
- 2 TBSP cocoa powder (or food coloring of your choice)
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 2 cups boiling water
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the vegetable oil and 3/4 of the water. Mix until combined to a sticky
mess dough, adding more water as needed. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Roll out onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough until it is no longer sticky and is a nice playdough consistency.
Store in an air tight container in the fridge and play with it as often as desired.
Yesterday’s Photo Challenge was “Dinner”. That was a good motivator to get my sick self off the couch and make some dinner. Since we have all been sick since Saturday evening we hadn’t made it to the store yet. Luckily we almost always have eggs, milk and flour in the house. We also usually have frozen blueberries, as Henry loves them in smoothies and in his kefir. That means we can almost always make pancakes for dinner on nights that I am stumped. Though it isn’t the most healthy of meals, it does meet a few requirements that make me ok with the solution. 1) They are homemade so I know what is actually in them 2) they contain fruit and we pile even more on top 3) the amount of sugar called for is small enough that I am sure we eat the equivalent in our box cereal every morning, c’est la vie 4) left overs are awesome in the toaster the next morning for breakfast. Next time I think I might try adding apple sauce instead of the sugar. Last night my brain was not completely on, so I decided to follow the recipe exactly.
I am not quite sure where the recipe originates. My copy came from my mom in the awesome pile of “favorite family recipes” I received a few Christmas’ ago. I do change it up a little when I make it though, I always at least double the original recipe as I can eat a whole batch by myself (whether pregnant or not), so rather than always doubling the recipe below is for a double batch. I also prefer butter over oil and (even when I use oil) my batter always seems a little too thick. I usually add another 1/4 cup of milk to the mixture once it is all combined, just until it reaches a consistency that is not runny but does spread a little on the griddle.
Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
Blue Berry Pancakes
From Momba’s Kitchen
- 2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 TBSP sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup of milk (plus 1/4 cup as required)
- 4 TBSP melted butter
- 1/2 bag of frozen blueberries (we like the Trader Joe’s organic wild blue berries, they are tasty and small and work great in pancakes)
Preheat your skillet or griddle over medium high heat until a drop of water dances across the top. Combine all the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, milk and melted butter. Mix only until dampened, don’t worry about the lumps. Gently mix in the frozen blueberries. If the batter looks too thick (closer to muffin mix than a batter) slowly add in the extra 1/4 cup of milk, adding only as much as you need.
Do not grease the skillet. Spoon batter onto skillet and spread out to about 4 inches. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake. Flip and cook the other side for a few minutes longer.
Top with your favorite topping. We love butter, fresh fruit and apple sauce, yum!
If you have any left overs store them in the fridge and pop them in the toaster for a nice snack or breakfast the next day.
Makes approximately 30 (and yes, I will eat 15 by myself)
One of the favors that I made back in February for Henry and cousin Kai’s birthday party was playdough. There was only one other toddler at the party besides the boys, but I really wanted playdough. Around Christmas time my mom found and gave me the cookbooks that I used growing up, one of which is Kids Cooking, A Very Slightly Messy Manual by the editors of Klutz Press which has a great playdough recipe in it.
We had fun with it right after the party, but it was basically packed away with everything else for the move. The other day Henry got into some of the cookie cutters that were sitting out waiting for me to find them a new home. I decided that the playdough would be perfect for him to play with along with the cookie cutters.
The dough was about 3 months old at this point and one of the containers was past its prime, but the other two were great. Henry and I had lots of fun flattening out the dough and pressing the cookie cutters into it. I think next time I will pull out some non-Christmas cookie cutters, maybe flowers and cars…
From Kids Cooking, A Very Slightly Messy Manual by the editors of Klutz Press
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- 2 TBSP cream of tartar
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tsp food coloring
Mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium pot. Next add the water, food coloring and oil. Turn the heat to medium and stir for 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring until the gooey mess turns into dough and forms a ball in the center of the pot. Turn off the stove and let the dough cool. Once cool take it out and knead the dough on a floured surface. Store in an air tight container (the book suggests in the fridge, though ours was out on the counter and did ok for a while). Have Fun!
Yesterday I made a big batch of beans in the crock pot. I make beans once every few weeks and store them in wide mouth quart canning jars in the freezer. I make them really simply with homemade chicken stock and a chopped onion so that I can use the beans for any type of recipe. They usually end up being made into re-fried beans for burritos (with some cumin, salt, pepper, and paprika, and some nights diced jalapenos). I have also been using the beans in vegetable soup a lot lately, they add a nice depth and help thicken the stock a little.
Usually I make only one type of bean at a time and rotate through my stash of beans from batch to batch, but when I went to make this batch I realized I did not have enough of any one type for a full batch. Instead I mixed together the last of the pinto, pink and black beans, which gave me enough for two batches. After soaking the beans overnight the pintos and the pink beans were left with a blue/purple hue from the black beans which I thought was really pretty. To match the bean’s color palette I thought I would use a red onion too.
Though the steps are really simple, I thought I would share my process for those who might want to make beans for the first time (Hi Will!).
Crock Pot Beans
From Daisy’s Kitchen
- 3 cups of dried beans (any will work, I like pinto, black or pink)
- 1 med/large onion diced
- 8 cups of chicken stock (or any stock or combination of stock and water, or just all water works too)
Soak the beans over night in about 8 cups of water. The next morning pour out the water and then pour the beans into the crock pot. Add the onion and chicken stock. Cook on low for a minimum of 8 hours. When done ladle them into wide mouth quart canning jars with enough liquid in the jars to cover the beans (and a good inch of head space so the jars don’t crack in the freezer).
Often there are a few beans and a good amount of liquid left in the pot, I pour all of this in another quart canning jar and freeze it with the rest, I use it for soups to add a little extra flavor. The jars thaw fairly quickly and using the wide mouth jars makes it easier to get out of the jar while still pretty frozen. The beans + liquid is the perfect ratio for re-fried beans.
For the first few years Timo and were married we had cable TV. I was constantly watching the food network, gleaning techniques from their chefs, but not really making any of the recipes myself. I always think I am not a picky eater, but really I am. I have to be in the mood for something in order for me to make it. Out of all the recipes I watched that first year, this one is the one I tried and still make today, albeit with my modifications. Continue reading …