Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bread Pudding

A favorite with the kids, this always goes over well as a snack drizzled with fresh cream! 

1 day old french bread, cubed
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 whipped eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup honey (plus a little extra for drizzle)
1 tsp cinnamon and vanilla

Place cubed bread in a 9 in square pan. Drizzle with melted butter or oil. Sprinkle with cranberries. In separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour over bread mixture and press bread down making sure all is wet. Drizzle with extra honey. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes or until "pudding" springs back when pressed down. Serve warm with ice cream or fresh cream.

Lentil Pea Soup

Just a quick pop-in to post a new recipe! Made this tonight for supper and it was a hit! Perfect with fresh bread =)

1 bag split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 bag lentils, sorted and rinsed
10 cups water (half chicken stock is what I did)
2 cups cubed ham
1 sweet onion, chopped or pureed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
3 celery stalks, chopped small
3 carrots, chopped small
2 potatoes, cubed small
2 minced garlic cloves

Put everything in crock pot on high. Simmer 8 hours or so in a crock pot. I put it going at 8 am and it was ready about 4:30. Otherwise, simmer in pot until done, about 2 hours. 
Serve warm with fresh bread for BEST taste =)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Merry Christmas!


 Merry Christmas and  Blessed New Year from Our Family to Yours!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pocket Sandwiches

See this little tool? It's the cut and seal from Pampered Chef. When I got married, I knew this was a must have. So, with no kiddos, I still bought it. It has saved me many a day! Running out the door, hair slicked straight back I suddenly remember.."ARGGG. Kids need FOOD!" so, to my handy little freezer to snag a few bags of these with a couple cheese sticks (another must have cut up in the fridge at all times item...) and we're ready to roll! 
I think all moms should have one.
Whole wheat bread doesn't seal AS good as standard white bread, but I still use the wheat. Loves!!

Peppermint Patties

Short and sweet, these are super easy to make and amazingly addicting. I don't mind, so much, though, because they're a lot healthier then the store version of peppermint patties! These don't last long in our house! I like them straight out of the freezer...

1/2 cup coconut butter (how to make --> here <--)
1/4 cup honey
10 drops pure peppermint essential oil
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Soften coconut butter and stir in honey and peppermint oil. Form mixture into "patties" or flattened balls. Put on wax paper lined plate and put in freezer for about 20mins. Gently melt chocolate. When melted, remove patties from freezer and dip halfway in chocolate. Let harden and store in fridge or freezer.

Crescent Lasagna

Let me first go on record in saying I've no idea why it's called a lasagna. It looks, tastes, sets up nothing like lasagna but hey, that's what I've known it as!

Next, I would also like to say I know it's not the ultimate health food. But making it twice a year, I don't care =) All the spinach pear salads make up for a little less healthy meal.

Disclaimers over, my family loves this meal. It's one of Craig's favorites. I'd never made it until I met him and it's super easy! I make a double batch because the other half goes in foil to be re-heated on the stoneware a few days later. Bakes up new!!

Crescent Roll Lasagna

2 rolls crescent
1 lb beef
1 can tomato paste
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 tsp each, basil, oregano, salt, pepper
1 8oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheese

Brown beef with onion. Drain fat if any. Stir in paste and seasoning. Follow photographic instructions. Bake on 375 for about 25 minutes. 

Using one of the crescent roll packages..
 Cover using other crescent roll package. Sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Grandma's Breakfast Cookies

As a kid, I remember sneaking into the freezer and opening a super icy cookie tin to sneak one of the BEST healthy cookies known to man. Whether I did it at home or at my Grandma's, it was no different. Always in the freezer. Always in a tin. They're so good, my grandma actually makes them as gifts! Every birthday, my dad gets his own tin. And woe unto the child who sneaks into HIS cookie tin. No way. 
So, you can imagine my excitement to get the actual recipe. I thought it was a secret or something! Now, I did a few things different because I didn't have all the "right" stuff, but it made no difference. They are fabulous! Substitutions in italic parentheses.

Grandma's Breakfast Cookies

1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar (I used pure cane syrup)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup each, sesame seed, flax seed, sunflower seed, chopped
1 cup each, raisins and cranberries (cover with boiling water for about 10 minutes, reserve 1 cup liquid)
1 cup walnuts (I used 1 c raw mixed nuts, chopped super fine..pumpkin-walnut-cashew-pecan-almond)
3 3/4 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
6 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each, cloves and nutmeg

Put raisins and cranberries in 2 cup measuring cup, add boiling water to cover and let sit while you do rest. (Save water, about 1 cup)
Beat together butter and sugars until light. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Combine flour, soda, salt and spices, add to mixture with raisins (with the 1 cup water from raisins), seeds, walnuts and mix well. Add oatmeal, mix well. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet, press down with fork dipped in water. Bake at 375* 12 minutes.
 The absolute best frozen with peanut butter and a hot cup of coffee!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soft Pretzels

I was browsing through some old cookbooks I had got from my mom when I got married and found this recipe. Beings I didn't have much "going on" today (can I even say that with three toddlers?!) I figured I'd try them out.
I know my kids love soft pretzels but I've just never made them myself. These are easy enough that I will be re-making them hence the blog post. It's so much easier to read recipes on my phone then digging through stacks and stacks of cookbooks trying to find that one recipe. =) So, this is as much for you as it is for me!

Soft Pretzels By, Naomi Waineo

1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm, not hot, water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten

Mix yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl. Let sit ten minutes. Stir in salt and flour. Knead until as smooth as a baby's rash-free bottom. (and about as soft, too).... roll into ropes about the thickness of my thumb. =) or your thumb, I guess..I used mine as a gauge. Cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Line on a cookie sheet. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with salt. Bake on 425 for 15 minutes.

Not bad, hey? Pretty basic and they are perfect for little hands! Even Vienna (10 months now!) had her fair share!

Pumpkin Pudding Cake

Last night I had the privilege of going to a Pampered Chef party.
Obviously with my baking obsession, this is right up my alley. Before we got married, my dad's family got us one lump sum giftcard to Pampered Chef as a wedding gift so I have a pretty stocked kitchen. That doesn't stop me from wanting more, though!! I am so a 'gadgets' person...! Anyway, there was The. Most. Amazing. By. Far. Hands. Down. pumpkin dessert there. No lie, when people ate it, there were so many eyes rolling heavenward and the steady sound of 'MMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!" Yeah. I got the recipe!! So. Do YOURSELF a favor and make this! If you like pumpkin, you will NOT regret it. I think there were murmurs of making while husbands were away so as not to have to share at ALL.... ;-) Thank you, Carmelle, for hosting and sharing this recipe!!

Pumpkin Pudding Cake

1 large can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter
cinnamon+sugar for dusting

Mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl until well combined and pour into 9x13 pan. Evenly dump powdered cake mix on top of pumpkin. Melt butter and pour evenly over top. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and sugar. Bake on 350 for 50-60 minutes. Serve warm. 

You will probably eat this all yourself, so make two pans if you're feeling nice and want others to have some ;-) Must be served with whipped cream!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chicken Puff Pockets

A family favorite, I don't make these often..but when I do, they don't last long no matter how many I make! They're super easy and they reheat in the oven quite well....One of Craig's favorite recipes!

Chicken Puff Pockets

1 onion, minced
1/2 red pepper, minced
1 clove minced garlic
1 box cream cheese
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tubes crescent rolls

Saute onion and red pepper in 1-2 tablespoons oil of your choice until soft. Add garlic, cream cheese, chicken, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Follow photographic instruction and then bake on 375 for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. 

cut each rectangle down the middle and...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Miniature Quiche

In the spirit of quick, easy, freezable, portable, make-ahead-and-forget-about-it meals, I present to you...Miniature Quiche.

Prep was done in about 20 minutes and I "forgot" about it in the fridge for awhile. Super easy to make and store in the fridge until you're ready dump into muffin tins and bake. My kids devoured these. Thankfully, I made a large batch!! It's all about freezability, you know? 
Miniature Quiche

8 oz sausage, cooked, crumbled, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

coconut or olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped thin
2 cups spinach, chopped small
1 cup cooked potato, chopped small (This is where canned potato comes in handy! You could use frozen hash, though, too.
Any other veg you might want. The "big" ones I made with diced red peppers...

Mix sausage, ham, eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat scant amount of oil in a pan and saute veggies until tender. Add veg to egg mixture and stir well. Fill greased muffin tins half full with mixture. Bake on 350 for 22-25 minutes for regular muffin tins and 15 minutes or so for mini muffin tins. This made 24 ultra mini quiche, and 8 regular muffin size quiche.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pizza Cups

Pardon my incredibly long absence but I was knocked flat with a crazy virus that made me unable to walk for quite some time. Mom down = lots of easy, non-nutritious meals =). But, I'm back! And planning on blogging up a storm in the near future....

Pizza cups were a favorite when I was a kid. When my mom said they were for dinner, I don't think one person in the entire house groaned. We loved them! It was fun to re-make memories with this meal. My kids had such a blast trashing my table with biscuits, beef, and cheese. It was worth the cleanup, though, to see them so happy. I'm thinking I have a few budding chefs on my hands! 

This is a large recipe (40) because they freeze and reheat in the oven VERY well.

Pizza Cups

4 rolls (10 biscuits each) biscuits
2 lbs  ground beef  (I like 90/10 sirloin..)
3-4 cups pizza sauce
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cups shredded cheese

Brown beef with chopped onion. Drain excess fat. Stir in pizza sauce. Flatten biscuits. Lay into greased muffin tins. Fill with 2 spoonfuls beef. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Bake on 450 for aprox 10 minutes or until sufficiently browned. Super quick!!

Flattening the dough~!

Pressed into pan and filled

What they lack in looks...they make up for in taste!!

The kids diving in! 

It's what's for dinner!! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy Breakfast/ Chocolate Milk

100 posts! Imagine that..the big One Hundred. All in about one year. That makes me smile! And so does this recipe I'm about to share. What child doesn't love chocolate milk? My kids would have that be their dairy choice for life if I let them. But, instead, I limit the "treats" to on occasion or else it isn't special anymore! Of course we don't like to use refined sugar if at all possible (which it's quite possible to not!) so as with most everything, I sub sugar for honey. Some people don't like the taste of honey, but thankfully my kiddos are still young and getting "used" to things, so honey is something they are so down with! Aerro loudly proclaimed his chocolate milk is as good as rotten blueberries this morning. That's supposed to be a good thing....I think...! This paired with their fav breakfast of toast, cheese, and apples, it's a quick make and a healthy fare! Not bad at all...

(Warm) Chocolate Milk (for three people)

3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons or more of hot, hot water
2 (+) tablespoons of honey or sugar depending on how sweet you like it..
2-3 cups milk depending on how "rich" you like it

Start by mixing the cocoa with the water until it's all wet. You'll notice it super powdery and "poofy" until you stir it more...then it becomes wet like a runny mud. Cool visual, right? Continue to stir until you're certain it's all combined. Then add the honey. Stir well to combine. Heat milk until warm. Add chocolate to milk and serve! You can also cool it in the fridge for cold chocolate milk, but my kids like it warmed. Add more milk if you like the chocolate taste to be less strong....


Friday, September 9, 2011

Honeyed Pear Crisp

I have jars and jars of canned pears just waiting to be used, so instead of my usual apple crisp/pie I decided to mix it up a little bit with pears. Now, my cooking time is quite low beings the pears were already "done", so I can only guess how long to cook it using fresh pears. All that aside, this was such a favorite I'm making it for the third time this week =) 

Honeyed Pear Crisp
(for an 8x8 pan)

2 quart jars pears (or around 6 cups)
Honey for drizzle
2 cups pretzels
1/3 cup butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar or succanat

Start buy cutting pears into thin slivers. Put pears in a frying pan and drizzle with honey...probably about 2-3 tablespoons worth. Heat on medium for 5-7 minutes. This really helps get the honey into the pears. If using fresh pears, I would cook them with a little bit of water until the pears get at least a little bit soft. Transfer pears to an 8x8 pan. In a food processor or blender, pulse the pretzels, butter/coconut oil, and sugar. You could do this by hand with a pastry blender like I did the first time but really, it was worth adding another dish to my sink to use the processor. Pretzels are hard, dude! Evenly sprinkle crumble on top of pears. Bake on 350 for 20 minutes if using canned pears or around 35 or so if using fresh pears. You'll have to test partway through for done-ness as I really don't know exactly how long to bake using raw pears.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three Cheese Rotini

End of summer and I'm quite tired of hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled meats. I'm ready for fall and "comfort foods"! So, despite the balmy 91 degrees, I decided tonight was pasta night. This is a weeee bit spicy so if you're not all into that, decrease the pepperjack and up the sharp cheddar. Whatever you do, don't boil the cheese mixture. You will regret it. I sure did the first time I let a cheese sauce bubble over! 

2 boxes of rotini noodles
1 lb pepper jack cheese, cubed small
1 lb sharp cheddar, cubed small
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 cups sour cream 
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Using large saucepan, melt on medium heat the cheese, sour cream, butter, and milk. I use a flat bottom whisk to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently until everything is melted. Whisk in salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directions on box state. Drain and pour into large greased oven-safe pot or casserole dish. Stir cheese sauce into pasta. Sprinkle with additional parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs if desired. Cook on 350 for 15-20 minutes, uncovered. Let sit a few minutes before serving.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Canned Potatoes

Usually when I say I've canned potatoes people give me a really weird look. But, see, they don't know what I know now! Last year Sonja and I had the grand idea of experimenting with canning potatoes. we didn't invent the idea..just decided to try it out. So we labored over the pressure canner and made two batches hoping and praying they worked. Yeah, well, they did and I had very few things on my list this year to can and these were on top. I used them for everything. Any kind of chowder, soup, or stew calling for potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Skillet potatoes. Baked potato "fries". They were so incredibly perfect! S and I were super excited. And that's why, from now on, I envision myself canning potatoes every season. Especially when the garden yielded over 800lbs of them this year. Oh, and no, I'm not canning all 800 =) Just maybe 150 or 200. 

Nice and dirty =) 14lbs potatoes should fill 7 quart jars.

My kitchen happens to be very old-school and lacking a dishwasher. To sterilize my jars I wash and rinse them super good and "bake" them on 220 for 20 minutes. Sterile jars!

The instructions are pretty basic.
Scrub potatoes. I don't peel mine.
Cube into 1 or 2 inch cubes throwing away any green bits, eyes, or worm holes, obviously.
Bring a large pot to a rolling boil.
Dump potatoes in pot, return to boil, and wait 2 minutes. This is called blanching them.
Remove from pot with slotted spoon.
Stuff sterilized jars to a 1 inch heads pace.
Add 1/2 tsp salt (for quart jars)
Fill to 1 inch head space with hot water.
Clean rims.
Add lids (that have been heated thoroughly) and rings.
Process in a pressure canner at 10-12lbs pressure for 40 mins.

 Tis all, my friends! One day of work for a whole year's worth of potatoes. This makes my heart sing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Mom's Salsa

It truly is no secret that my mom makes the best salsa. Anybody who eats it wants the recipe and it's something to put on the TO DO list for the year. Can lots and lots of salsa. We drink it like water around here. It even has it's own name. Janine's Salsa. And it's not even a rocket science recipe! It's just a perfect combination of peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro. When planting our garden this year, I made sure there was everything I needed to make salsa. Except for the vinegar and tomato paste, of course. I'm much too lazy to make those things. So, without further ado, my mom's salsa.....

Janine's Salsa

24 regular tomatoes (or 2-3 roma per regular tomato, depending on how big the romas are)
4 green peppers (or a mix of green, red, orange)
4-6 jalapenos (or more depending on how much heat you like...)
1 bundle cilantro
4 onions
8 long banana peppers (I use hungarian wax)

2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 cans tomato paste

Some people like to remove the tomato skins. To do so bring a large pot to boil. Put tomatoes in pot until skins start to blister and pop. Immediately remove to a sink filled with ice cold water. The skins will peel off easily. I only remove the skin if I'm using regular tomatoes. This and last year I used roma tomatoes and didn't do anything to the skins. It turned out perfectly!

Chop all ingredients. The easiest way to do this is to pulse them in a blender or food processor. Simmer in large pot (or two or three) for a half hour. Process in waterbath canner for 25 minutes if using quarts, 15 mins if using pints. If your new to canning, this website has great step by step instructions on how to can!
---> Website <---

My fresh picked from the garden produce

 My mom and dad's fresh picked produce from Joe's Place

Freshly Canned Salsa!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled Corn

I probably won't ever make corn in a pot of boiling water again. Not since discovering how easy and delicious grilling corn is! Not that I haven't had it before, I just haven't done it yet. (With only 4 years of married cooking under my belt, I've still lost of things to try!) With fall approaching (tho with these 100 degree temps it sure don't feel like it!) corn is in season and we really like corn over here! This is our new favorite way to eat it. As a guest said, she was doubting the recipe..until she ate it. She was in love. (Hi, Sonja ;-) ) And we are, too! Apparently, the butter mixture is amazing on grilled salmon, too. I wouldn't know, though. I don't touch sea creatures =)

Grilled Corn

 5 cobs corn
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder

Peel pack husks on corn and remove silk. Fold husks back up. You need only about 3 layers of husk, so feel free to peel the rest off and discard. Soak corn for a good 10-15 minutes in water (obviously). grill on medium/high heat turning occasionally for 15 minutes. Mix melted butter with honey, salt, and chili powder. Baste grilled corn and enjoy!!

P.S. If you've never had Albino Corn before, try it! I found and heirloom variety at the Farmer's Market and it is super good!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bean Soup

Some mornings I stand in my pajamas, staring blankly at ingredients in my cupboard and think "What the RIP am I going to EVEN make today?!!" I had soaked beans the night before so I started with those.
Well, this morning was one of those times. So I did what I commonly do on those days. Grab my crock pot and start throwing things in it. Sometimes it's a gigantic failure. Other times, it's pretty good! I'd have to say tonight was more on the good then the bad side. My kids liked it and like I've said over and over again, they determine what goes on this blog and what doesn't. If they eat it, I consider it blogworthy. After I took the picture, I decided to add 2 cans worth of pureed beans to the pot to thicken it up into more of a dip-like consistency. Definitely should be done this way!

Bean Soup

3 cups dried beans (I used 2 cups pinto, one cup black)
10 cups water 

Soak beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse very well. Put in crock pot. Add:

6 cups water
2 jalapeno, diced finely with no seeds
4 roma tomato, diced finely
1 large onion (sweet!) diced finely
1/3 cup taco seasoning
1 package ranch dressing mix
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 bay leaves
2 lbs ground beef, browned

Simmer everything on high in crock pot for 8 hours or so. Add liquid if necessary. 
Remove bay leaves  <------ (IMPORTANT).
Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. 
This recipe makes almost 6 quarts of soup so downsize if you don't want to much. I like to freeze this kind of stuff in individual portions for reheating at a later time so that's why I made so much.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Farmer's Market Friday: Onions

The market is bursting with Walla Walla sweet onions so I had to grab some to caramelize up. In my opinion they are the absolute best on grilled sandwiches! Caramelizing onions is easy. Go to >this link< to read the best instructions on how to do it. =) This here isn't a recipe, really, more like an idea to go and run with. Here's what we like on ours!

Grilled Sandwiches 

Onion, caramelized
Sauteed green peppers
Shredded chicken

Assemble ingredients on bread. Heat grill to medium heat and spritz grate with olive oil. Grill both sides until desired crispness. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lavender Lemonade

I had the most amazing Lavender Lemonade @ a local bistro/ cupcake shop last night. I knew I had to go home and attempt to recreate it. I was going out on a limb in trying it and I am SO glad I did! It was pure fabulous. So here's my recreation of the recipe. Pouring it into a frosty glass is of course the optimal way to drink this stuff. =) 

Lavender Lemonade

 3 cups water
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups cold water

Bring 2.5 cups water to boil and add honey. Turn burner off and stir in lavender buds. Put cover on and let steep 20 minutes. Strain mixture and add lemon juice and cold water. Chill and serve over ice or in frosted glasses. 

Ultimate refreshment! 

Monday, August 1, 2011


This simple to make mouthwash takes a little bit to get used to, but after using it for about a week now, I've come to actually love it. The combination of herbs is great for destroying bacteria that can cause bad breath and it also helped heal a mouth sore I had got a whole lot faster then normal. Swishing with this twice a day is sure to give you a cleaner, more fresh smile! No more wasting money on mouthwash, anymore!

2 cups water
2 tsp honey
1 tsp each, dried spearmint, clove, rosemary, thyme, anise

Bring water to a boil. Add herbs, cover and turn burner off. Let steep a few hours. Strain and stir in honey. I store mine in the fridge though I'm not entirely convinced it's necessary. 

And do pardon me if posting gets a bit less frequent. See this pad of paper, here? It's my training schedule for a half marathon I'm running come October. I'd be lying if I said my least favorite days were the "rest" and "easy" ones. =) But come October, I will complete my 13 mile run!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Farmer's Market Friday: Rhubarb

We really like rhubarb around here so at the market, I got 15lbs and chopped until my freezer shelf was full of packaged rhubarb. All year long, now, we can have crisp, bread, muffins, sauce, and jam!
A true fruit compote is slowly simmered chunks of fruit in a sugar syrup. Well, we don't do sugar 'round these parts so I used honey and a bit of juice. It worked perfectly! I was really bummed I didn't have a vanilla bean to simmer in the sauce, so I stirred vanilla in at the end. If you have a bean, put it in while simmering. This sauce is super good over toast, on frozen yogurt, or on top of pancakes or waffles. And, I admit, I could just eat it with a spoon. =)

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
2 cups strawberries
2 cups rhubarb
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick (or about a tsp of ground cinnamon)
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp extract when done simmering)
Bring everything (except extract if using that) to a simmer over medium heat in a pot. Turn down to med/low and slow cook it for about a half hour. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. If you are using extract and not the bean, stir in vanilla. Easy as that! My kids loved it best over frozen yogurt.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Veg Dip

Beings our garden is in peak production right now, fresh veg is everywhere. From cucumbers to carrots, beans to green peppers. With all the veg around, there's got to be a dip to accompany it!! My kids will eat fresh veg if there's a dip. A friend introduced me to the concept of using Greek yogurt for dip so I had to find a way to make it fresh. Now, you can go ahead and make your own form of Greek yogurt (it's pretty simple), or you could just buy it at the store. I've done both. I'll just buy it when I need it. This dip keeps for about a week so give it a whirl!!

Veg Dip
2 cups (16 oz) Greek yogurt
1-2 clove garlic, minced depending on how much you like garlic
1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh, each, parsley, dill, mint, oregano, onion
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Allow to sit at least a couple hours before serving especially if using dried herbs. Serve with veg or as a replacement to mayo or on chicken burgers! Super, super good!! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Farmer's Market Friday: Chioggia Beets & Heirloom Carrots

With weather this hot, there's no way I'm slaving over a hot stove in my tiny, microscopic kitchen  that heats to 1000 degrees if you turn a burner on. But, beings it's Friday, I had to make something from the farmer's market! I wasn't sure what would be on the menu until I walked up to my favorite Schreiber&Sons booth. 
Chioggia Beets. 
I had read about them and seen photos but never actually cooked with them. I was pretty excited. Then I saw their heirloom carrots were in season. At $3 a bundle, they're not exactly cheap but oh my word..they are SO GOOD! Sweeter and more mild then commercial carrots. And the variety in color! I had a light pink one, a yellow one, a purplish colored one and a few standard orange. So pretty and tasty, too!

So, about the beets...They're candy cane or bullseye beets. And this is why. They look all ordinary on the outside, but when you cut them open....
(not my photo)

Get a look of that! In my haste to complete my cooking, I didn't take pictures. So I took one off the internet. Aren't they pretty?!

So, basically what I did is scrub the beets and the carrots. I sliced the beets super thin and put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. A little spritz of olive oil and a dash of salt. They went in the oven on 275 for about 30-40 minutes, turned halfway through. I let them cool and some crisped up perfect. The ones that were still a big "soggy" went back inf or another ten minutes. 
For the carrots, I used my veggie peeler to make long, thin strips. I cooked them the same way but for only about 15 minutes. 

They both turned out perfectly crispy! A bit of sweet and salty in each bite. Seriously, if you talked to me a few years ago, I would have laughed at the thought of me blogging about how "good" carrot and beet chips were. But I am! My kids are always the final testers of anything and both kids ate a whole bowl. Success!

Market finds today: Kale, Romaine, Carrots, Beets

Delicious! Also great in a salad =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

A go-to for me, this dinner is perfect for assembling in the morning and popping in the oven later. Mornings are my favorite around here. I have the most energy and my kids are their happiest. Any meal that can be made then (i.e. crock pot, casseroles, etc) are a winner in this house. I assemble this recipe in my fabulous Pampered Chef stoneware deep covered baker. 
If you don't have one of these, I suggest you get one. It's my favorite PC item ever!  This recipe feeds us twice, so I'd say 8 servings or so. 

Mexican Lasagna

9 whole grain tortillas
1 recipe bean dip
2 cups salsa
2 cups shredded cheese
2 lbs ground beef, seasoned with this taco seasoning mix

Rip tortillas in 1/4's. Layer in pan three times : Tortilla, Beans, Salsa, Beef, Cheese. Bake on 350 for about a half hour, covered, or until cheese bubbles. Serve with chips, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and whatever else comes to mind!

This re-heats very well, too.