Category Archives: Recipes

Stocking up the freezer!

My lovely husband hauled home our new chest freezer late last month. It makes a wonderful addition to our downstairs bathroom, which had an awkward blank spot that is exactly freezer-shaped.

Having a freezer means I don’t have to worry so much about what will fit in the freezing compartment. It means I can buy fresh, local/in-season produce and save it up for when it’s no longer in-season.

I’m new to freezing, mostly, and my vegetable repertoire still isn’t fantastic, so what I’ve been up to probably doesn’t hold a candle to many people’s stocks. Freezing is kind of taking a back seat to making baby food, too, though it also goes hand-in-hand at times.

So far, in the freezer:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • A few peaches
  • Corn off the cob

Baby food:

  • Peaches
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes are next

The freezer fruit will probably end up mostly as smoothies. Maybe it’s not saving me all that much money in the end, but it makes me feel really accomplished to have it done.

I haven’t tried my hand at any canning. The only thing I think I might use is tomatoes.

What do you freeze or can?

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Recipes We’ve Tried Lately

I’ve been trying to spend less time on the computer of late, and more time cleaning my house — the first part of that statement has been more successful than the last.

But here are some recipes we’ve had lately. All were winners.

  • Balsamic Lemon Chicken from Everyday Mom’s Meals. YUM. I didn’t marinate this as long as called for, but it was still delicious. Said husband to baby, “Best chicken Mommy’s ever made.” Though that’s not saying much. 🙂  I am planning to make it again for company and will marinate it the full length.
  • Cashew Cookie Larabars from 100 Days of Real Food. I have never had a real Larabar, and I’ve never had a medjool date, but I wanted to try it out. My husband ate his fair share of the results, so that’s a positive review. “Cookie” doesn’t seem like a good descriptor, though. Will probably make again, if for no other reason than that I have dates left over.
  • Crunchy Peanut Butter Power Balls from Afternoon Popcorn Snack. Said husband of the Larabars above, “I’ll eat anything with peanut butter in it.” Not sure how true that really is, but it made my interest pique when this recipe came along in my inbox. I subbed wheat/oat bran for the wheat germ and only used 1/2 cup of honey, but the results are pretty yummy. They’re filling, too, much more than they look.
  • Layered Overnight Summer Salad from Modern Christian Woman. Pretty good. Dinners that I can make in advance always make me feel accomplished. As a main dish, the taste got a little boring by the end of a big serving, but, I’d probably try it again.
  • Ravioli Cups from Tasty Thumb. Pretty good. They’re basically lasagna made from ravioli and baked in muffin tins. The only two things I didn’t like about it were the brand of ravioli I used — they were a little wider than my muffin tin cups, so I had to break the edges off, AND they had peppers in them — and it made a royal mess of my muffin tin. 12 little cups to clean out! But, it was something different and kinda fun.

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This Was Good Bread

I’ve been enjoying the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but I’ve also been wanting a light, plain, whole-wheat sandwich-style bread.

So I tried this recipe at Deliciously Organic. Easy to make — very little kneading, quick. Thanks to the bread recipe at 100 Days of Real Food for the recommendation. I don’t have a bread machine, and don’t want to use a stand mixer, so hers wasn’t for me.

My only comments about the recipe I used: Mine could have used more salt, but I’ll reserve judgement as I eyeballed the measurement on that one. (By the way, my ingredients were mostly non-organic.) Also, my rise prior to baking took a little more than the 30 minutes. I halved the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan for a little more than the 20 minutes called for. The result was a little more fragile than I’d like. Maybe that’s the nature of homemade bread as opposed to store-bought.

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The Continuing Tale of Two Breakfast Cookie Recipes

Since baby came along, and now even more since I’ve gone back to working in the mornings, there is a serious need in my home for grab-n-go breakfasts. I’m trying to be frugal about that, and I’m also trying to move toward “real food.” (For one definition of that, visit 100 Days of Real Food.)

My initial grab-n-go focus was homemade granola bars, which is at a standstill. I’d found that this recipe from “A Homemade Pantry” was yummy but still more crumbly than a packaged granola bar. I’m wondering now if it’s even possible to make a non-crumbly granola bar without the magic of chemicals or industrial presses. (That book finally came in at the library! Excited to try some more of the recipes.)

Next came a transition to breakfast cookies. I tried the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies from 100 Days of Real Food and wanted them to be a smashing success, but we deemed them too bland.

The latest trial was Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies from The Happy Housewife. (I won’t link to the recipe because I’ve been getting virus messages when I go there.) Trial #1 was yummy, though a tad delicate. All of the third-of-a-batch I made got eaten — hubby even ate them of his own accord, which is more than can be said for the majority of my baked goods.

And now we get to today, Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies Trial #2 and #3 — or maybe #2.5. I made some adjustments to the recipe, then baked one pan of cookies, chilled the remainder of the dough, and tweaked it some more. Trial 2.5 might just be a winner! Find the recipe at the end of this narrative of its life story.

The changes from version 1 to 2 included halving the butter, salt, and vanilla and using the called-for molasses — last time I was out and substituted extra brown sugar. The molasses did add nice depth to the cookie’s flavor. Cutting down the butter didn’t seem to affect the cookies, so we’ll call that a permanent change! Trial 1 was definitely too salty. Next time, I might try going to a third of the original recipe.

From Trial 2 to 2.5, the dough from Trial 2 was chilled; I then added another 1/4 cup of rolled oats and a tablespoon or so of chopped pecans. Also, I put down parchment on the cookie sheet to prevent sticking, and tried to catch them before they burned! It’s a fine line between when the tops are no longer wet-looking and the edges are burnt. Maybe that’ s a place where fiddling with the temperature would help?

Version 2.5 was really not crumbly at all. The cookies went from pan to cooling rack with much less concern of breakage.

CRANBERRY COCONUT BREAKFAST COOKIES

Adapted from The Happy Housewife

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 tablespoons molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup shredded almonds (original recipe called for finely chopped)

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar until well-blended. Add eggs, molasses, and buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients except for cranberries and oats in a separate bowl. Gently blend dry into wet. Fold in the fruit and oats. Finally, add the vanilla. For best results, chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes. Using a 1-inch scoop, drop large tablespoons onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

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A Tale of Two Breakfast Cookie Recipes

As mentioned previously, I’ve been on the lookout for grab-n-go breakfasts since I started working mornings.

Yesterday I tried out the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies from 100 Days of Real Food. They sounded great; I wanted them to be great. In the end, though, mine were just okay. Using “real” maple syrup probably makes a difference; I only had “fake,” so I used that plus a tablespoon of honey. My husband agreed that they were bland. They’ll probably all get eaten, but not made again.

Today, then, I tried the Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies from The Happy Housewife. The major ingredients advertised are, obviously, dried cranberries and coconut, and also almonds. Verdict: Yum. Proof: Husband went back to the stove for a second after I gave him his tester cookie.

As usual, there was some improvisation — I only had a third of the cranberries called for, so I made a third of a batch. Generally that was fine, except when it came to splitting two eggs in three — I just used a whole egg. Also, I was out of molasses, so I used extra brown sugar. My batter seemed too wet, so I added more oats — that may have been due in part to the extra egg. Also added a few pecans in. I think the salt called for could be cut down quite a bit (for taste, not just health), as could the butter.  Overall, I have no doubt they’ll get eaten up, and there will be a next time!

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Recipe Success: Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Once again, there were many improvisations. But the Creamy Chicken Taquitos from Stephanie Cooks were still a success!

Proof: Says husband, “These should go in our regular rotation.”

They’re pretty simple — mix together chicken, cheese, some other spices, and bake them in tortillas. Of course, I hadn’t gotten to the store yet, so I subbed Italian cheese and gruyere-cheddar for the cheddar cheese; subbed light cream cheese; red salsa for salsa verde; went easy on the hot spices; and only had two tortillas to work with in the end. I was only making a half batch, so I cut my two big tortillas in half and ended up with four half-taquitos and some filling baked over the top of them.

I feel like they could have been creamier yet, but I was eyeballing the measurements and halving the recipe, so it’s too soon to judge. But still, they were good the way they were!

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Recipe Review: Pizza-Topped Meatloaf

(Yes, I feel that “meatloaf” is one word. Just as the loaf is one, solid unit.)

Meatloaf is not a favorite of mine. Generally, I find it, well, loaf-y and boring. But pizza-topped meatloaf sounded like it at least couldn’t be worse than plain meatloaf.

And it wasn’t! (Worse, that is.) It was good enough to make again. Good enough to even remember to take a picture of it.  And really pretty easy, too, though I felt like I had a fair number of dishes dirtied. Probably my own fault. Thanks to the wife of The Ranting Chef for the recipe.

I was feeling cheap so I skipped the sausage and just used a whole pound of hamburger, and went a little easier on the milk. Also, I found mine needed to cook a little longer than the recipe called for. That might have to do with my adjustments.

Otherwise, the real test: What happens to the leftovers. My husband had seconds before he went to bed, and the rest of it will likely become lunch today.

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