Monday, September 7, 2015

Apple wanna-be "bars"

So, I'm in the back yard, and I'm looking at our tree with its heavy, heavy limbs.
I'm looking at the ground with a bunch of windfall apples from the weekend's very brisk "breezes."
I'm thinking to myself "Man - I'm going to be busy next month when it's time to get all of these apples off of this tree, and I should probably do something with these windfall apples."

An hour later, I'm in the pantry. We're down to three quarts of applesauce, one quart of sliced apples, and three jars of apple pie filling.
"Hmmm..." I say to the spider in the corner, "I should use up some of this pie filling."
But, I just didn't want to do a pie crust. Not in the mood. (Not that it's hard or anything, but just not feeling it.)

Recently, however, I did see some yummy looking thing in a magazine that looked like a lemon bar. I think that it had pumpkin or something.
"I can do that with the pie filling," I think to myself (no longer talking to the spider in the corner - she was ignoring me anyway).

So, I made the crust from my lemon bar recipe:

INGREDIENTS for the crust:
2 cups flour
dash of salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix together. Moist, but crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a 9" round pan. Bake for 15-ish minutes at 350*.

Then, I dumped the quart of pie filling into the blender. I blended it up.
After the first half of the crust has been baked, I poured the apple mush over it. Then, I pressed the rest of the crust into flat pieces that I used to cover up the apple mush. I had to do this in palm sized sections because it's not like a pie crust...

Popped it all back into the over and baked for quite a while. The liquid mixture was bubbly the entire time.

It turns out that the pie filling had a bit too much liquid in it. It never really evaporated enough to get solid like lemon bars do before I had to pull it out of the oven (because the crust was getting on the darker side of done).
So, we're eating it in bowls instead of as hand held bars, but MAN! It is GOOD! This one is a hit with everyone!
Next time, I think that I'll add some cream cheese or some ricotta to thicken the mixture up a bit. I'll also drain off some of the liquid.

INGREDIENTS for the apple pie filling:
I think that I got the pie filling from the Ball Blue Book (the bible of canning), but I'm not sure.
a bit of flour

The windfall apples are still on the ground, BTW.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Creamy Cabbage Potato Soup

Oh, hi.

I don't know why I even bother.
Well, other than I actually make good stuff. Sadly, nobody will try anything because they're all a bunch of chickens.
I also don't know why everyone thinks that cabbage is only for kraut and slaw. This is the third soup recipe that I've made with it. I got the recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen (copyright 1982).

2-3 T butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp salt
4 cups (packed) shredded green cabbage
3 cups stock/potato water
2 medium potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large kettle, melt the butter and add the onions. Add caraway and salt after a few minutes. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
In separate pot, boil potatoes until soft.
Add cabbage, potatoes, 1 cup potato water, 2 cups stock*, pepper. Cover/Simmer about 30-40 minutes.
Once cabbage is soft, remove from heat.
Blend with blender, hand mixer, wand mixer, etc.
Add milk and sour cream, blend again.
Pepper to taste.

Now - how to make this dairy free?
I can use EVOO instead of butter, but how to "cream" something without sour cream/milk?
I'm thinking that goat/sheep cheese could be used instead of the sour cream and rice milk?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Baked Oatmeal (and I've been gone a long time)

You know what? I don't like it when things don't go the way I planned.
And, I don't like surprises that derail everything.
Finally, when life slaps me in the face, I can get a bit bummed out.

Well, YES to all of these things in the past two years except I got more than bummed out. What a funk I've been muddling through! Bless my family for tolerating me through it all. It has been an incredibly difficult time for me, but I'm gaining some perspective and trying to finally bounce back.

I've still been cooking and baking and canning - mostly on the weekends - and mostly stuff that I already know. Adventure has taken a back-seat to finances and nourishment. The boys are less adventuresome than ever - I think it's the age (6-8). It doesn't matter how much fun the food is for me to make and experiment with if they won't eat it, right? And, finances have been incredibly tight, so I can't really go out and buy new and crazy ingredients all of the time. So, it's back to the basics (and, even then, the boys might not eat it - like this AWESOME baked oatmeal recipe).

I've tried quite a few baked oatmeal recipes over the past year.
Baked because Bub thinks that oatmeal prepared in the regular way tastes like gruel and looks like paste. She may be right on the "looks" part. So, I've taken to throwing together something based on what I find online. The problem is that I can never remember which recipe I used the last time and end up using something else the next time, and it's been inconsistent. But, last weekend, I fell in love with this one, so I just HAD to get it written down!
I found this recipe here, and then Meatball and I added a couple of things to it. You can see that it gets great reviews from others who have made it.
So yummy!

3 cups oatmeal (we used quick cook even though I know that you're not supposed to - it turned out just fine)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3-ish cup fresh blueberries
1 medium banana (pretty ripe - getting brown spots and needed to be used)
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Mix dry ingredients.
Add in wet ingredients.
Stir in fruit(s).
Bake at 350*.

Ours was very moist due to the fresh fruit, so the middle was still pretty wet and goopy while the outsides were done. We just dished up from the outsides and put the whole dish back into the oven so that the middle could finish baking.
This could also be because I put the lid on the casserole dish for the first part of the baking...
Either way, it was delicious and healthy (minus the brown sugar). It was even excellent as a leftover that I took to work as breakfast for the next four days. Yes. It makes a lot. Perfect for a family of 4-6 OR perfect for that time everyone keeps warning me about when my boys will eat all of the time. I've been waiting for this to happen for almost 8 years.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 food challenge - Yum. Yum! YUM!

Ok. So the VX4 challenge ended in a total fizzle, but let's be honest..... The holidays are hard and stressful and crazy and who has time for vegetables anyway?

So, here's the thing. 2013 has started with, well, shitty news on four different fronts ( house re-fi, job, car, plumbing), and January isn't even over yet!

So, what's a food lover to do? Well, make dessert, of course! Yes. I know. It's not healthy to stress eat. It's not good to drown your emotions in food. It's just eff-Ed up to eat instead of deal.
Well, I AM dealing. I am coping. I am doing the best I can, and I deserve a treat or two. Or, three to be exact.

It's not like this is going to just be a free for all. There are some rules. I'm lost if I don't have a rule or two to keep me in line, dontcha know...

So, enter the 2013 Yum. Yum! YUM! Challenge.
Each month, I will make three desserts:
One vegan
One with only whole ingredients
One sugar free

See? Told you that it would be a challenge!

And, yes. I realize that January is almost over. What of it? You think I can't eat three desserts in one week?

P'shaw... Do you not know me at all? (plus, I'm having foot surgery in two days. I'll need something to eat while I'm laying around for two days.)

2013's got nothing on me.
When the going gets tough, the tough eat dessert!
AND, they don't give two shits who knows it!
Bring it, 2013. I'll throw a friggin' vegan pie in your face!

Friday, December 28, 2012


So, the boys wanted to make some cookies. But, drop cookies wouldn’t cut it, and we didn’t have all of the necessary accoutrements for “shape” (sugar) cookies. Yes. Mommy actually ran out of sprinkles, sparkles, and doo-dads. All we had was food coloring.

As we were flipping through the cookie book (which is AWESOME), Meatball saw some pinwheel cookies. They were red and white and very holiday with some artificial cinnamon flavoring. Well, Bub is allergic to that flavoring, so that part was out, and we didn’t even have red food coloring, so we couldn’t do that, either. But, we did have green and blue food coloring, and those are the boys’ favorite colors, AND our football teams were playing each other that day. (Eagles/Cowboys – Eagles lost. Boo-hoo – too bad for me and Meatball.)

So, these were what we picked. Little did mommy know that these would be the most time consuming cookies on the planet. First, you’ve got to make and color the dough and let it set up in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then, you flatten them with a rolling pin and place them on top of each other and roll them up – pinwheel them together – and let it set up on the fridge for another couple of hours. Then, you take them out and cut the cookies off of the big roll and finally bake them. However, you’re now baking them in the MIDDLE OF THE STINKING FOOTBALL GAME, so you forget what you’re doing, and YOU EFF-ING **BURN** THEM. Yup. I burned them. There were about 18 cookies total, and I overcooked every last damn one of them.

I wish I could say that this picture was just poorly lit, but it’s not. Sonofa….
They would have been awesome, too. The flavor – minus the burned sugar cookie thing – was really good. Grrrr…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

This is such a no brainer, especially when you have both leeks and potatoes that need to be eaten. The leeks were from my garden, and (I think I’ve talked about this) were small. They were more like mild green onions than the leeks that I see in the store. I want to figure out how to fix this for next year because they flourished in our garden, and I would love to try them again. The potatoes were from my dad’s garden. Every year, he plants about 8427 plants, and every year, his wife and I give him grief. Then, at harvest time, they spend an incredible amount of time bottling them. Again, I give him a hard time. But, they have just enough to last them the entire year until the next harvest. Me? I’ve never planted them. They are so cheap that I don’t bother. I would rather spend my valuable summer water on things that aren’t easy/cheap to find in our stores.

Regardless, I made this soup last night. Man, that was a long intro to get to the part where I make the soup, wasn’t it?

3 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 small bushes of leeks, chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 quart turkey broth
1 quart veggie broth
1 package Knorr’s Potato Leek soup mix
Some extra onion powder and some garlic powder (not much)
½ cup milk (the recipe called for half and half, but we didn’t have any, of course)
2 T sour cream (part of the substitution for the half and half)

Peel/slice leeks. Sautee them in some of the broth in the soup pot.
Once they are tender, dump everything else in except for the cream/milk.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Simmer until potatoes are very tender.
Puree with blender or immersion blender.
Add milk/half and half at the end of the blending.

And, by “serve,” I mean call the two five year olds in to have a little taste. Watch them pull faces and act like they are going to die a painful death. Rejoice as they say “Ewwwww, yuck. Wait! I like that!” Parenthood success. (Of course, they didn’t actually eat their soup. They just weren’t hungry UNTIL it was bedtime, naturally. I gave them a banana and some milk and reminded them that they wouldn’t be hungry if they just would have eaten the soup that I had slaved over. What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t add a bit of guilt to every meal?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Made Granola

I love granola. I add it to my yogurt. I add it to waffles and pancakes. If it weren’t so high in calories, I would eat it for breakfast every darn day. But, it’s really, really high in calories! So, I decided to make it for myself using a recipe that I found in my Sunset Brunch cookbook (which I live by on the weekends – especially the pancake/waffle section!).

I did not, however, look at the ingredients and add up the calories before making it. You can see where this is going, right?

3 cups oatmeal
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup corn meal
½ cup rye flour
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut
½ cut peanut butter
½ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS: mix it all together and bake it at a low temperature until nice and crunchy.

So, duh. Coconut, oil, peanut butter, brown sugar…. Could I choose higher calorie ingredients? These are common ingredients for commercially made granola, so that explains a lot. It certainly explains the 483 calories per one cup serving!

BUT – this is so yummy! And, it doesn’t have that stale or chemical taste that so many store bought granolas have.

I’ve had to use this sparingly, but I will continue to make it at home instead of buying it. This way I know what it contains, and I can tinker with the ingredients to find things that are less calorie laden while still maintaining the overall granola integrity. (Does granola have integrity? Do you have to stick to some core ingredients to still make a granola? If you stray too far from traditional granola, what does it become? Deep questions for a Monday. I think that I need more brain food. Good thing I have some fresh granola!)