Tuesday, September 30, 2008

5-minute Chocolate Cake

Wow, great idea! For that can't-deny-chocolate-craving! Check out Chocolate Cake in 5 minutes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Salsa it up, Local style

I got another 5 lbs of tomatoes at the farmstand down the road for a homemade salsa. But what recipe do I want to use? I found this recipe for "Authentic Mexican Tomato Salsa."
I used three banana hot peppers and four cherry hot peppers which I got at the same farm stand down the road; 5 cloves of garlic I got a few weeks ago at the Lull Farm in Hollis, NH. These cloves are HUGE, so I didn't use 7, like I was planning. I also used a lime I'd picked up at Lull Farm, and olive oil. That's the only ingredient not local, but I'm okay with that.
And that was it for my salsa. I used my immersion blender to mix it up and I think I blended a little too long. Now it's a bit soup-y, but this is why I think that's okay:
It's WICKED hot. I think I'm going to have to use it as a "starter" so-to-speak, and simply add fresh tomatoes (or whatever) to it when I'm ready to use it. I'm excited about this for a number of reasons. It'll still be a "fresh" salsa, but less expensive and time consuming than making it in the middle of the winter with jacked-up prices. It will also allow me to get creative with my ingredients like adding black beans, corn, and (don't tell my hubby) peaches!

From 5 1/2 lbs of tomatoes, I froze 8 cups of the salsa blend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thai Coconut Soup

I HAVE to try Stephanie's Thai Coconut Soup Crockpot recipe this weekend! Maybe my little sister will come and try it out. I know she's not thai, but she's korean and that, at least, is asian.
Is that bad of me?
Like saying I'm of european heritage so I should like french, italian, mexican, british and german food.
Which I do.
So there.

I finally tried this soup! My variations are in bold:

--4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
--1 can coconut milk (if you opt for the lite, you many want to add a drop of coconut extract to boost the flavor) I thought I had coconut milk, but it was cream of coconut (not a soup). I separated out the coconut oil (a solid) and mixed the goopier bit with the purely liquid part and added that to the soup instead of running out for coconut milk. This also contained sugar so I didn't add sugar later, as listed.
--4 limes (3 juiced, 1 for garnish)
--1/2 tsp lime zest I was using frozen limes, slightly thawed, and zesting didn't work out so well, so I left this out.
--1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips I left this out.
--4 oz sliced shitake mushrooms, cut in quarters
--1 large vine-ripened tomato, or 4 small-med, coarsely chopped No tomatoes on hand, so I used my salsa base. This also is taking place of the chili paste as it is very hot.
--1/2 pound extra firm tofu, cubed I've tried tofu many times and it never agrees with me, so I substituted mahi mahi. It was frozen when I put it in and it cooked up nicely.
--2 garlic cloves, minced
--3 T fish sauce I found this in the international section of the grocery store.
--1/2 tsp to 2 tsp red chili paste, to taste (you can use red chili flakes, too)
--1 tsp sugar (not pictured, I used a sugar packet)
--1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

The Directions.
I used a 5 quart crockpot. Add all of the ingredients, cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or on high for 2-4. This soup is finished when it is fully hot, and the flavors have combined nicely.

This smelled a little funny to me but tastes fantastic! It's sweet and spicy, but not too much of either. Definitely a hit!

Plum Syrup

I picked up a bag of fresh plums at my neighborhood farm stand. I don't know what I was thinking, except that I wanted some fresh, local fruit. I'm just not a plum girl.
Now what to do with them...since I don't really love the taste of fresh plums, and I don't want to throw them out!
I could add them to a fresh salsa, crush them up and put into tomato sauce...or make plum syrup! I'm a syrup-y kinda gal and I'm pretty sure my manly-man of a hubby won't appreciate plums in his salsa since he doesn't like peaches in it. And as a purist-style spaghetti guy, he just won't get the nuances of plums in his tomato sauce. So syrup it is!
I found this great pictoral instruction guide for making plum syrup...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Found a new blogger! Coffee with Mrs. Dani posts a comprehensive list of what can be frozen and how to do so.
Alternatively, PickYourOwn.org has a wealth of information on how to freeze, can, generally preserve anything you can get on the farm!

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

New soup recipe from recipezar by way of Thimbly Things. I can't wait to try this! I think I'll make it tonight...

Ingredients (My Variations in Bold)
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 1/4 cups beef boulion or vegetable stock, which of course I have on hand...
1 1/2 cups thick or chunky salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
6 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons sliced scallions I tend to leave out onions/scallions for my hubby's reflux
6 teaspoons chopped green chili peppers (optional)
I added a bit of Shredded Cheese on top.
1-Combine beans, boulion, salsa and cumin in a blender or food processor fitted with metal blade.
2-Process until smooth (about 1 minute). (I processed so it was in-between smooth and chunky.)
3-Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until heated through.
4-Ladle into soup bowls.
5-Spoon a 1 Tbs dollop of sour cream on top of each and swirl gently.
6-Sprinkle with sliced scallions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tag, I'm it...

I've been tagged by Virginia at Living the local life! She lives in New Hampshire, like myself, and blogs about the challenges and excitement of eating locally. This is a goal I've set for myself for the month of October and am excited to check out some of the same resources she's blogged about!

So here are my 7 random/weird facts about myself:

1. I don't think of myself as picky. But I do like my food a certain way. Turns out, I am indeed picky!

2.In fifth grade, I read at a seventh grade reading level. In sixth grade, we got a TV. In seventh grade, I read at a seventh grade reading level.

3. I rarely keep to a recipe.

4. I used to pretend I was a food network star and make commentary to my imaginary audience as I cooked or baked.

5. I'm not allergic to poison ivy. But I am sensitive to just about everything else under the sun!

6. I like to rearrange our furniture every few months.

7. 8 is my favorite/lucky number.

And here are my 7 random tags:
$5 Dinners (seriously), Jana's Journeys (Jana also contributes to the friendship of the fabulous foodies blog), Busy Bee (gardening, homeschooling, great pics, wow), The Happy Hut (refashion, container gardening, crafts, etc...), Bragger (funny funny funny!), Thimbly Things (crafts, raising kids, cooking, what doesn't she do?!).
Okay that was only six, but I tried!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bread machine recipes

I'm looking for recipes specifically for the bread machine that are simply bread machine recipes, start to finish. I'm finding lots of treasures:

Onion Garlic and Cheese Bread from allrecipes.com

Italian Cheese Bread from allrecipes.com: This was very flavorful and the italian seasonings added a great visual texture to the bread. I cubed my cheeses instead of shredding, but was surprised that I still didn't find pockets of cheese...but the flavor was still infused throughout the loaf.

Panettone from Better Homes and Gardens

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread from Better Homes and Gardens

Challah from recipegoldmine.com: This is also often called egg bread and I labeled it as such to avoid the inevitable questions and dubious looks. (Some people can't try anything new or different!) IT WAS A HIT. Great flavor, wonderfull light texture, it went FAST! This has become our every-day bread!!

Easy Sourdough French Bread from recipegoldmine.com: This was also a hit! Easy to make, no "starter" necessary.

Mexican Sunset Bread from recipegoldmine.com which calls for salsa and taco seasoning!! Virginia has already tried this, and I can't wait to make it myself!

Portuguese Sweet Bread from recipegoldmine.com

Um, I think I need to run out and get more yeast!

In a Pickle

I could swear I've seen a recipe for refridgerator pickles, but can't for the life of me remember where. It's also not on Blecipes, illustrating WHY I started this blog to begin with!
So, I went in search of a good recipe for refridgerator pickles again and found this great suggestion! Since I'm still a bit shy about canning, I'm going to go ahead and do pickles this way for now. I have a whole year to get comfortable with canning before next year's crop!

I found another recipe...this one is from cooks.com and actually contains dill...which in my hubby's opinion is a requirement for any "real" pickle!

Chex Mix in the Pot!

Yahoo! Stephanie also has an easy Chex Mix recipe made in the crock pot which Rocks!

I'll also be making this for our little trip coming up...

Make-Ahead Chicken Nuggets

Another make-ahead recipe I may try if I have time is a crockpot recipe for Chicken Nuggets from none other than Stephanie from A Year of Crock Potting! This may really come in handy this week with traveling...

10/1/08 Well I didn't get around to making this for our trip a few weeks ago, but I made them today. Right now they're cooking, but I have to tell you...this took me about an hour to prep. I consider myself sort of slow, so it might not take you that long...but just a word of warning!


After breezing in from a weekend away, I'm right back to planning more time away from home. This past weekend we spent at our local NASCAR track, NHMS in Loudon, NH. On Wednesday night, we leave to go to a semi-local track in Dover, Delaware! (About 500 miles later!) So I'm putting together as many make-ahead meals as I can, and was SO pleased to find this muffin mix page! Now for the hard part: deciding which one to make!
The base recipe for most of the recipes is the A-B-C Muffin Base Mix. It is for a huge store of mix and since I'll probably be making 6 muffins at a time instead of 24, I'm going to scale my "mix" down a bit.

Scaled down, I'll mix:
6 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk blend or nonfat dry milk
2 T baking powder
2/3 T baking soda
2/3 T salt
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg

I'll probably add 1 t ground clove instead of the cinnamon.

This will make about 8.5 cups of mix. Many of the recipes say to use 5.5 cups for 24 muffins, so if you're like me and just want to make 6 muffins, pare down the recipe to a quarter and use 1 1/3 cups. If you do it this way, you can make about 6.5 batches of 6 muffins each with this amount of mix.
I think.
Depending on if my math is right.
Which is a very big "IF."
If you know what I mean.

9/24/08: Okay, this abc muffin mix is good for sweet OR savory muffins, so if you're like me and like your sweet, well...SWEET, then you might want to add some source of sweetener in on the end-result-muffin recipe. I used one that incorperated dried fruits for easy traveling. The others enjoyed them for breakfast and I did too, but I'd have liked just a bit more sweetness.

9/27/08: I added some honey. I'm sorry, I didn't measure, but what's done is done.
And it rocks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bread Machine Magic

I finally broke in my yard sale bread machine the other day and sure enough, the first loaf just dissapeared! That's the only problem with having homemade bread in my house. It just doesn't last as long as store-bought. It seems like the minute it comes out of the oven, half of it is gone! Then before you know it, the other half dissapears!

I swear, my hubby doesn't understand that this bread is just like the other bread - it can be used for sandwiches, french toast, even hamburger buns (in a pinch). But no, he just pops it in the toaster, slathers it with butter and eats it in two bites! I don't know about that boy. I just don't know.

Well, I'm going to try it again with a sweet bread. I tremble to think about how fast this one is going to go! But I'll try it anyway! I found this great recipe for sweet bread, and this other one for Portugese Sweet Bread. But this other one uses the white bread setting on the machine, so I might try that one, because I'm not sure if I have a sweet bread setting on mine.

I'll be sure to set the clock and let you know how long it lasts!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Basil Oil

Once Upon a basil plant, I mean, once upon a cakestand has exactly what I'm looking for!

I went to a REAL farmstand not too far from work today and got a BUSH of fresh cut basil! I'm so psyched! I looooove basil! But I don't want it to go to waste, so I was thinking I'd make it into basil oil. But how?

Enter the food search button on my sidebar...it is a google tool that links to all kinds of blogs dedicated to food! I found once upon a cakestand and fell in love. It's not just a basil oil, it's a "super potent," "deluxe" basil oil! And it's actually green!

How to Freeze Basil

Found a Fantastic Food Blog using the food blog search that I've put on my sidebar. I love useful tools! Andrea outlines a good way to freeze basil so you can use it later!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

speaking of sauce...aioli

And don't forget aioli. think mayo but 1000% better!

hollandaise sauce

ohmyword, isowanteggsbenedictnow...

Pioneer Woman just made my day! I'd never had hollandaise sauce until about a year and a half ago and seriously, I couldn't belive I'd lived that long without it!

Here's her recipe for home-made hollandaise sauce. You have to link to the site, because I just can't do it justice here. Her pictures are gorgeous. Yes, pictures of melting butter are oddly beautifull. And her commentary is hillarious. Seriously.

To plastic or not to plastic

Virginia created a great post about the safe use of plastics in the kitchen, including quite a few links so you can do your own research too.

$5 dinners' Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

More great stuff from $5 dinners. I have to say, even my hubby will love this one! Of course, prices vary according to your location, and fresh tomatoes aren't free to everyone, but it's still quite frugal and tasty at the same time!

Aunt D's Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner
1 box Bowtie Pasta ($1.25)
3-4 Fresh tomatoes from the garden, diced (Free!)
3-4 FreshBasil Leaves, finely chopped (Free!)
1-2 cup mozzerella cheese ($1.67)
4 T EVOO ($.25)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped ($.10)
1 zucchini ($.79)
1 T EVOO or Butter ($.10)
1. Marinate diced tomatoes and basil in EVOO and garlic.
Add a splash of vinegar to the marinade if you like!
2. Cook pasta as directed.
Pour marinating tomatoes over pasta.
Srinkle cheese throughout.
Let cheese melt.
Serve warm.
3. Saute zucchini in EVOO or butter.
Serve with pasta!
Cost $4.16

My Variations:
I guess you could call me the queen of using what's on hand.
I'd made up a balsamic vinegar/EVOO dressing for my MIL the other day and couldn't for the life of me imagine what I'd use the rest for. Enter Marinade!
The only cheese we had on hand was parmesan, so I shredded up a bit of that and it was fantastic!
My hubby's a meat & potatoes kind of guy and although I've been able to convert him to a meat & most anything else kind of guy, I haven't had any luck with leaving out the meat, so I grabbed some leftover steak tips, cut them up in teeny tiny pieces, and added them to the pasta mix. He loved it, and went back for more!
I'm sure it ended up being a quite different taste than the original recipe, but it was still quite good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fudge Oatmeal Cookies

My all-time favorite cookie!
I had a craving for something sweet tonight, so threw together a batch of these cookies I've been eating all my life! One of the great things about it is it's a stovetop recipe, so you don't have to heat up your oven. And of course, it's chocolate!

The Recipe:
1 stick butter (8 tbls), cut into smaller pieces
1/2 c milk (reconstituted dry milk works fine)
1/2 c cocoa (I use two squares of unsweetened baker's chocolate, cut in pieces to speed the melting)
2 c sugar (this ends up being quite sweet. I used a cup and a half once because that's all that was left and it was still pretty sweet.)
pinch salt

Add the above ingredients to a saucepan, bring to a boil and allow to boil for three minutes. (It should be about 200 degrees.) Remove from heat, add:

1 t vanilla
3 c oatmeal (this recipe was originally 2 1/2 c oatmeal, but I've been adding more lately and it still tastes great. granted, with all that sugar...)

Stir until mixed well, drop on waxpaper and allow to cool.

I like it when recipes say how long it takes to make, so from now on I'll do my best to remember to add that.

I consider myself kind of a slow cook, and these cookies took me about a half hour from gathering the ingredients to dropping the cookies on the wax paper. Cooling/setting will vary according to humidity.

Chai Tea Mix


And Hillbilly Housewife has an "instant" version!

Hold me back!

Forget the candida diet, I'm making bread!

Check out Hillbilly Housewife's flatbreat recipe! Oh my gosh, I think I'll expire if I don't make it tonight!

Recipe "Author": Susanne, of Hillbilly Housewife, an incredible resource!

The Recipe:
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil or melted fat
1 cup tap water
Mixing by Hand: Get out a large bowl. In it combine the whole wheat flour and salt. Add the oil and water. Combine everything together to form a stiff dough. Mix it with your hands when it gets too stiff to mix with a spoon. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water, if it seems too wet, add a little more flour. Work and knead the dough for 10 minutes by the clock. All of this kneading is what makes a tender finished product. After kneading the dough, cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out. You may allow it to rest over night if desired.
Mixing by Bread Machine: Measure all of the ingredients into the machine’s bread pan. Start the machine and allow it to mix and knead the dough for you. Set your timer for 10 minutes, or watch the clock. When the time is up, turn off the machine. You should have a nice stiff ball of dough inside of it with a clay-like consistency. Allow the dough to rest inside the machine for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight. It won’t rise because it doesn’t have yeast in it.
Rolling & Shaping the Dough: After the dough has rested, divide it into 8 or 10 pieces. Roll out each piece into a large thin circle. I roll mine out on waxed paper dusted with flour, or a square piece of clean muslin cloth dusted with flour. Make the flat-bread as thin as possible. Roll out all of the flat-bread before you begin to cook them if possible. This makes the work go faster. The thinner you can roll the dough, the more tender the finished product will be.
To Make Chapatis: After rolling out the dough, heat a dry iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, place one of the prepared flat-bread on it. Let it cook for about 10 seconds and then flip to the other side. Cook the second side for about a minute, or until it is brown and puffy. Flip the flat-bread again and cook the first side for about another minute. It will be light brown, tender and puffed with little bubbles all over.
To Make Fry-Bread: After rolling out the dough, heat about 1/2 an inch of oil in a large skillet. Get the oil very hot, almost smoking, or about 375°. Carefully slip a prepared flat-bread into the hot oil. Press it down gently with a pair of tongs so that it is submerged in the hot oil. The bread will bubble up and puff all over. Use tongs to turn it and brown the other side. Remove it and place it on a paper towel covered plate, or a brown paper bag to drain. Continue with the rest of the flat-bread, until all are cooked.

No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna

I'm going to have to try this for tomorrow's edition of Crock Pot Fridays.

From Stephanie's "A year of crock potting" blog, I found Vegetarian No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna.

I finaly made the No Noodle Crockpot Lasagna, but I haven't had any yet. I made it overnight for lunches throughout the week, but it was literally bubbling, so I stuck it in the fridge to cool off for lunches later in the week. Or maybe we'll have it for dinner tonight! {sorry menu plan!}

Here's what I did:
--1 26 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce {I used Elizabeth's Roasted Tomato Sauce until the last layer when I ran out. Then I used my meat sauce. I don't have a recipe up for that one yet.}
--1 small container of ricotta cheese
--8 slices of mozzarella cheese
--2 cups shredded Italian cheese mix
--1 large eggplant {I used only half of a HUGE zucchini, so skipped the eggplant}
--3 summer squash
--1 pound of slices mushrooms {I skipped the mushrooms, personal choice}
--bag of baby spinach {I skipped the spinach, my hubby's choice. It's enough that he's eatting zucchini!}
--2 T warm water
The Directions.
I used a 4.5 quart Crockpot. Wash all of the vegetables. Slice the unpeeled squash and the eggplant in long, slices, about 1/4 inch thick. {I sliced my HUGE zucchini width-wise to create large circles and cut up a few to fill in the spaces} These are going to be your noodles! In the bottom of your crockpot, pour about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce. Layer in a few pieces of squash and eggplant. Smear some ricotta cheese on top. Add a handful of baby spinach and mushrooms, and a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Pour in some more pasta sauce. Continue layering the ingredients until your crockpot is full, and you have run out of ingredients. Top with the end of the pasta sauce and the shredded cheese. Put 2 tablespoons of warm water into the empty pasta sauce jar, cover, and shake. Pour the remaining sauce on top of everything. {I was tired and it was getting late, so I misread this and put a layer of sauce on top of everything, then sprinkled the water on top!}

The Results:
I woke up this morning again to a wonderful fragrance! I'll update later with how it tastes! (and if it passes the hubby test!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Helpful Candida Sites

~Yet another new blog by your's trully: My Candida Journey.

~Basic information at About.com

~A holistic approach at Holistic Health Solutions.

~A free ebook on an easy home test (spit into a glass of water...way cheap!) and suggestions on treatment at SubtleNRG.com or go directly to the report at The Candida Fix. It will ask you for referrals, but they are not necessary for getting the free report. It will be e-mailed to you whether you provide referrals or not! The spit test is described in the report.

~A blog devoted to all things candida related! Amazing amount of information here!

~A long list of what you can and cannot eat. Oi.

~Interesting link...it's an e-book for sale. The "hook" follows:
"Please don't waste money on supplements that do nothing but chase symptoms - I have been there so you don't need to.What You Need To Understand Is How To:Identify And Eliminate The Root Causes That Create The Perfect Breeding Ground For Candida Yeast.If you want a solution that is Effective, And One That Gets Fast Results -- Then Click Here To READ MY STORY" My normal policy is not to post/ advocate/ recommend sites that are strictly sales sites, but I've purchased the book & haven't had time to read it yet. I'll update here with my impressions so if you wish, wait for my report back by the end of the week (9/6/08) before you shell out $24 & change for it...

~Another interesting link, Candida Free. I've only skimmed it so far, but proves to be chock full of info. It does recommend product sales, but you don't have to buy a book!

A Granola Answer

I posted earlier about how I made two batches of granola...one for me considering my dietary restrictions, and one for my hubby. Neither will do because the one I made for me, though I said it was palatable, isn't being eaten. I made it Sunday night and it sat on the counter, waiting for me to partake all day Monday and I just didn't do it. I'm not excited about it. I won't eat it, it'll go bad, and I won't make it again. Simple as that.

My hubby's batch is half gone, true, but he says it tastes like oatmeal cookies. Nothing wrong with that, but he doesn't WANT oatmeal cookies in a bar, he wants granola in a bar. WELL. I guess he told me, huh?

Enter Kat Food. I went looking for other bloggers that have similar dietary restrictions as my own this morning and found Kat! What a blessing, this blogland!

Here's Kat's Granola:
2 c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. puffed rice
2 c. puffed millet, or any other handy puffed cereal (wheat, etc.)
2 T. of each"small stuff" - flax seeds, wheat germ, wheat bran, hemp protien, for example)
2 t. of cinnamon
2 T. sugar-sweetness equivilant of stevia
1/2 t. of nutmeg
a dash of ground clove
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. oil
Mix together. Spread on a cookie sheet so that it's no more than 1" deep, put in a 350F oven for 30 mins, stirring half way through. Let cool before storing - best if stored in the fridge.

This would TOTALLY fit in my restrictive diet! If you're wondering where to find puffed rice, puffed millet, (or what millet is), you probably don't have the same type of health issues that Kat and I do! But if your wondering anyway and want to try it out, check out the health food section of your grocery store or a special natural or organic food store if you have one in your area.

Menu Plan Sept 1st

First I have to share a tip I found for easy Menu Planning. I've searched and wondered and thought about it, and contemplated, but didn't have an EASY, organized approach to Menu Planning. This tip makes it so simple!

Okay, as for my Menu Plan for the week...
Crock-Roasted Chicken, using Virginia's idea.
Jenn's Zucchini Soup
I'll make my own pasta dough with my breadmaker, then make Pasta Salad to accompany our grilled chicken.
Chicken enchiladas with mexican-seasoned roasted zucchini
Tomato basil pizza Saturday: