dinner (11) bread (10) dessert (7) quick and easy (7) cookies (6) pasta (6) muffins (5) snacky (5) Paleo (3) Pie (3) chocolate (3) lemon (3) basics (2) breakfast (2) shrimp (2) soup (2) Pizza (1) apple (1) beverages (1) cake (1) dressings/sauces (1) nuts (1) prep (1) pumpkin (1) side dish (1)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Family Dinner

a joint effort by Naomi and Amy

Goodness, gracious, where have the months gone? After the big cross-country move at the end of June, everything has been a complete blur. It's been ages since we've posted anything, but I assure you it doesn't mean we've stopped cooking! (Though I admit that the hot, sticky summer months weren't terribly inspiring)

Our family has a delightful tradition of getting together for dinner every Friday night. The two of us, our mom and dad, and our husbands all go out for dinner, then come back to drink tea and talk and play games or watch movies for the rest of the evening. One particular Friday over the summer we decided we wanted to cook a big dinner from scratch instead, since we'd been doing so little cooking lately. Ravioli was on the menu.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Zucchini Bread

by Naomi

Got zucchini?

My garden is overflowing with zucchini right now. Yours is too or if not your local farmer's markets is and the grocery store has piles of them local, fresh and cheap!

So far this week I have made zucchini boats stuffed with chicken sausage, tomato sauce and cheese which Amy's husband ate and enjoyed. My mom then made them the following night for my dad as the main dish and they were a hit!

Then I made whole wheat calzones stuffed with shredded zucchini and spinach (squeeze well!!), chicken sausage, olives, sauce and cheese. I could eat that twice a week no problem.

I have also shedded and frozen some and chopped, steamed and frozen some zucchini for breads and soups this winter.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Honey Roasted Almonds

After a long absence, I'm happy to report that I'm back on the east coast, back with my family, and back in the kitchen! Although, today's recipe comes from the Montana kitchen, not this one. This was a recipe I'd been meaning to make for weeks before I actually did, but it ended up being a perfect road trip snack! It was also super easy to make, even in the craziness of our last-minute packing the day before we left.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb (whole wheat) Coffee Cake

by Naomi

Sorry for the long delay, Amy is traveling across the country and I really should have been more on top of things and gotten a post out sooner. Tis the season for strawberries and rhubarb. I have tried to go strawberry picking a couple times this year but they've been picked out both times. Luckily I have Tuttle's (America's oldest family farm!) to provide me with their very own strawberries and rhubarb. Not quite as fun as picking my own but it will have to do.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Italian Dressing

I can hardly express how many unusual circumstances that contributed to the making of this dressing. But alas, I'll attempt it, since I have a food blog and all. The first order of business is to assure you that I've eaten salad only once in the past four (or more) years. So you can imagine how very strange it is indeed that I made or ate salad for dinner.

I've spent the last 9 months cooped up inside, studying my life away. My escape was pumpkin muffins, which means that escaping came with a few unfortunately side-effects. One point for the "you should have a salad" motion.

I also had hot dogs and cheetos for lunch yesterday. Make that two points for the salad.

I miss my mom, and this is the recipe she always made growing up. It's from a cookbook of hers that falls open to this page--Joy of Cooking if memory serves me correctly. I hardly ever ate salad as a kid, but she also used this on pasta salad, which I ate PLENTY of. Sentimental value definitely warrants a third point.
I've been crazy busy the past few weeks, and will continue to be right up until next Friday morning, when my husband and I will hop in our car and drive across the country and move back to my hometown. I needed something simple and fast and that didn't require any special dishes or kitchen tools. At the moment all of our things are boxed up in our trailer, and we're just borrowing essentials until we leave.

The answer to all of my problems: a big chunk of iceberg lettuce (because I'm apparently afraid of vegetables that actually have vitamins in them) with Mom's Italian dressing drizzled over it!

But don't worry, I also pulled out some chicken breasts strips that I'd baked yesterday and dipped those in the dressing too! Ah, such a well-rounded meal. Someone please get me a nutritionist.

Italian Dressing
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil (or other oil, but don't refrigerate the dressing if you use olive)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid, so you can shake it vigorously before use. Commercially-made dressings must have some sort of added ingredient that help everything stay mixed longer, because this stuff separates almost faster than you can pour it out. So shake well!

And please remember that dressing is mainly oil, so you probably don't want to drown your attempt at a healthy dinner in the stuff. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shrimp slaw

by Naomi

I've been really into shrimp lately, especially the recipe I found for "Zippy Summer Shrimp" on which is presented below as part of a take-off on cole slaw. This is similar to those slaws with ramen noodles except without the ramen. Perfect for a hot summer night!

We will begin with the shrimp. Peel and rinse.

Melt coconut oil in skillet
 (sorry, blogger insists these two pictures are centered....)
Saute garlic

Add in paprika and cayenne

 Add shrimp and lemon juice

 When shrimp is cooked, season with salt and pepper (pay no attention to how I used 1/2 instead of 1/4 teaspoon salt. I have made this several times and of course the time I photograph is the time I messed up. Don't make the same mistake, it was awful!)

Set shrimp aside to cool.
 Toast sunflower seeds in skillet, stirring constantly

When they look like this, remove from heat and allow to cool.

While the shrimp and seeds are cooling chop up some cabbage, shred some carrots and wash some bean sprouts

Mix up the dressing: sesame oil, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, lemon juice and water

Mix shrimp, seeds, veggies and dressing. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to mix and dressing to soak in. This is perfect for me since 95% of our dinners I make ahead (we get home from track practice or the gym starving and with no patience for cooking).

 Ta da! This would be a great side dish at a cookout (even w/o the shrimp if you're worried about it sitting out).  Noodles would make it a fuller meal but that wouldn't adhere to my paleo diet. Mind you the dinners I make are often just one course of a proper meal. And that is not because we don't eat much, ha! The post-meal snack is equally as large- PB&J or eggs for the man of the house and trail mix or some baked good for me. Maybe someday I will master making more than one dish as once!
Shrimp Slaw Recipe

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 pound of shrimp (peeled)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat coconut oil in skillet, add garlic and cook until translucent. Sprinkle in cayenne and paprika. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Pour lemon juice on top of shrimp. Continue stirring until shrimp are pink and opaque. Season with salt and pepper. Allow shrimp to cool while preparing the rest of the slaw.

Toast 1/4 cup sunflower seeds in skillet, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

Mix together the following in a large bowl:

1/4 large cabbage (about 3 cups) shredded
2 carrots shredded
1 cup bean sprouts

 Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together

 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 c olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons water

Combine vegetables, shrimp and dressing, mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chocolate Sheet Cake

I've had Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake on my "to make" list for months now. I'm not a big fan of plain old chocolate, but I LOVE chocolate cake (as long as it's plain. No frosting, please!). I've also never made a cake. GASP. I know, kind of embarrassing. But you know what? NOT TRUE ANYMORE. Because this morning I woke up with a desperate need for chocolate cake! My husband was still sound asleep and unable to stop me from fulfilling my dreams of cake for breakfast, so I went right ahead and did it!

I should note that I only made half of the cake, partly because I didn't think the edges of my baking sheets were tall enough to corral the sloshy batter, and partly because I knew I'd eat the whole batch within a day or two, and I'd rather be guilty of eating a half cake than a whole cake. The self-controlled adult in me would prefer it, at least. My taste buds and inner 5-year-old would happily eat an entire chocolate cake! 

Let's see this thing in action!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paleo Fudge Brownies

During the Paleo diet intensive I was very very grumpy about not getting to eat chocolate. My husband was seriously concerned about my chocolate addiction. I guess he didn't know how dependent I was until he saw me without it! Chocolate is only forbidden because of the other ingredients (such as sugar) in it so cocoa powder and cocoa nibs or cacao nibs (whichever spelling your prefer) are welcome components of the Paleo diet. The first time I made these, the man who will eat anything particularly if it's healthy wouldn't touch them! I didn't use the cocoa nibs and rolled them into balls so they would be like truffles. They were dry and not sweet enough, kind of dirt-like but I still ate them because I needed something resembling chocolate. Take 2 was much better. I used more sweetener and liquid and rolled the balls in cocoa nibs for added texture. Take 3 which I will share with you is basically the same but in brownie/fudge form.

Without further ado, I bring you Paleo Fudge Brownies....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pancakes and Waffles

My extensive research has shown that most people believe pancakes and waffles are for special occasions only. My goal is to prove you all wrong!

I guess I should start with a disclaimer. I used to be one of those people who only made pancakes and waffles on special occasions or especially relaxing weekends. Then I married a man with the fastest metabolism I've ever encountered...and he also forgets to eat. And he doesn't like food. But he likes waffles! So I make them almost every morning, because it's my best chance at cramming a full breakfast into him before he has a chance to forget to eat. I've learned how to make it a daily affair without cramping my routine!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Paleo Shrimp Veggie "Noodles" with Asian Style Sauce

Big News!
The writing team is doubling! My delightful sister, Naomi, will be joining us from now on. She and her husband are doing the Paleo Diet (which she’ll explain in her post), so she’ll be adding some exciting, healthy meals and snacks for the rest of us to try! I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

Greetings Chop, Mix, Bake, Creat-ers!

I am honored to be joining you, though really I have been here all along as the annoying reader who has to comment on every single post. I am just a proud big sister :)

Before I share this very un-Amy dish, I must introduce some important terms. The first is the "food hangover". A food hangover is what happens when you eat way too much before you go to bed. The late night munchies hit, you indulge the craving, you sleep, you wake up feeling horrendous. The feeling the next morning is a combination of full, hungry and upset stomach accompanied by a slight headache and remorse. You grill your spouse as to why they didn't stop you, vow to never eat before bed again and make them vow to fight you to the death if you try. This happens about once a fortnight (haha love that word!) in our family with varying degrees of severity. Oh except Dad who never ever gets them because he has great self control and my husband who.... um.... does everything with gusto! It's a great quality at work, at the gym, around the house...but dangerous in regard to late night snacks. He gets them at least once a week. 

This dish is brought to you by the food hangover. This particular food hangover resulted from almonds (my attempt at a healthy snack) followed by Twizzlers and who knows how much LIFE cereal straight out of the box while watching the Cosby show at my parents Friday night (this Friday night gathering is known as "Clumping" which you may learn more in the future). Mom keeps Twizzlers on hand just for me, thanks mom.

So I woke up Saturday morning with a lump in my stomache, a headache and massive guilt, grilled my husband, vowed to never eat before bed again and made him vow to fight me to the death....

Enter the Paleo diet (term introduction #2). I had played around with the Paleo diet before but never gone all out. The Paleo diet is based on what ancient man ate, hunger-gatherer foods, aka the "caveman diet". They don't eat any grains, dairy or legumes which I don't personally think are evil but it certainly limits the options to healthy ones (mainly meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts). I am not an expert and may not have gotten everything right so google it if you want more info. The food hangover was the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf and give this diet a try (by "diet" I mean "way of eating" not "restrictive, temporary change in eating habits for the purpose of losing weight that you are going to regain as soon as you go off the diet").

The first dinner I made while on the Paleo diet is this: Paleo Shrimp Veggie "Noodles" with Peanut Sauce. PS. peanuts are not really paleo because they are legumes so the hard core paleo folks would use some other nut butter (cashew or sesame tahini would work well). I had always wanted to try some kind of vegetable "noodle" dish where you cut the veggies up into long thin strips and cover them in a delicious sauce which is perfect when you're not eating grains.
Sorry no pictures of the process and a less than stellar picture of the final product because this is my first ever food blog post. I'm setting myself up to win "most improved"!

  • Cut up your red peppers into long thin strips
  • Cut your cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out of the seeds, then cut into long thin strips
  • Peel carrots and use a thick peeler to make ribbons
  • Cook your shrimp (my shrimp were the cooked frozen kind since that was all I had, but I later used the Zippy Summer Shrimp recipe from and highly recommend going that way) Chicken would also work if you're not a shrimp person. 
  • In a saucepan combine nut butter, sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, and a little rice wine vinegar (I don't measure because it takes half the fun away but I promise I  will make a serious effort to measure for future recipes because I know some people need measurements.)
  • Wisk until the nut butter has melted and all ingredients are well mixed.
  • Pour sauce over "noodles" and shrimp, top with sesame seeds and decide the Paleo diet isn't half bad.
Note I also made rice for the man of the house who was/is following a slightly less restrictive "whole foods diet". I don't know if there is an official name for this style of eating but it is all WHOLE foods, nothing processed like flour or sugar. After a brief intense week eating exclusively Paleo I expanded into a whole foods eating pattern with some flexibility. Currently about 80-85% of what I eat is Paleo, about 10% is whole but not paleo and about 5-10% is neither. My whole non-paleo foods are oats and legumes. My non-whole non-paleo favorites include homemade whole wheat pizza, blue corn chips, chocolate and ice cream.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Apple Spice Muffins

    After making about a thousand batches of mini pumpkin muffins and a few hundred batches of banana muffins using basically the same recipe, I also decided to branch out into some of the apple variety. Actually, it wasn't so much of an intentional branching out as it was desperation after running out of canned pumpkin and ripe bananas.

    For my first batch I strained the applesauce through a coffee filter overnight to get a cup of applesauce about the consistency of canned pumpkin. I then used some of the cloudy apple-water for the added 2 tbsp of water that the original recipe calls for. Feel free to go this route!

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Mini Strawberry Tarts

    Raise your hand if you're sick of hearing me talk about cleaning out my pantry before I move across the country! Let me tell you, I'm waving my own hand pretty violently. I'm SO ready to go...and I still have four more weeks! AH!

    In any case, I think this is one of the more successful of my recent experiments. I made some changes to the recipes that originally inspired this, because *GASP* I ran out of sugar! And I'm cheap and don't buy fresh strawberries very often. But I DID have a big bag of frozen strawberries from a few weeks ago when I mistakenly thought that they would help me turn down the ice cream that my husband was buying. Ha.

    The good news is that my ice cream indulgence meant that I had plenty of strawberries for these cute little strawberry cream pies!

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Earthy Cookies

    These cookies were born from a desire for something mildly healthy that would use up some ingredients that we won't want to lug around with us when we move back across the country in a couple of weeks. For a cookie with no butter or anything, I'm pleased. But then again, I don't mind an earthy thing every once in a while. If you have more of an incurable sweet tooth, these might not be for you.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Holey White Batter Bread

    For a year or so now I've been looking for a white bread recipe that's fluffy enough to rival store bought sandwich bread. I'm the chewy, crusty baguette type, but my husband wants soft squishy bread for his sandwiches, and I've never managed to make it happen for him.

    This bread is one of my many attempts, and I sincerely enjoyed the final product. My husband didn't try a single piece. Gah. Not that I blame him. It was obvious that it wasn't going to have the texture he was looking for. It wasn't chewy, crusty either, but it sure was a nice loaf of bread anyway! And the low-maintenance aspect of it definitely won me over.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Burger Buns

    I have a thing for meat. Maybe it isn't very feminine. Maybe people think I'm always on a low-carb diet or something. Well, considering how many batches of muffins I've made recently, that might not be true. 

    In any case, a good burger must have a good bun. Soft, squishy, able to hide out in the background and let the burger take center stage. You know how it goes.

    These buns are just about perfect. They could be a tad squishier to be honest (maybe I'll let them rise longer before hitting the oven? And/or add substitute some potato flakes into to the dough?), but for the most part, they made my dreams come true.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Little Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

    Though I do already have one Lemon Poppyseed Muffin recipe up here, after some experimenting I found that I like this one SO much more that I just had to share it! It's an adapted version of the original, and the old post now has a link here to the new-and-improved version.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Humble Offering of Bran Muffins

    Dear Food Blog,
    I've been busy. Oh, so busy. Please forgive me for not offering you any yummy treats. I've made a few, and shoved them in my mouth as I ran out the door. Please accept this one humble photo.

    These are mini Kellogg's All-Bran Everyday Muffins, straight from the website, which is mostly done in flash or something so I couldn't get you the link. They were good, but a tad...rubbery. If I'd had enough cereal left (and enough time) I might have tried some changes.

    So please, please forgive me until I return again with something spectacular.


    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Egg Noodles

    Ever since my first experience with homemade pasta, I've been completely fascinated with it. I've been making the same basic recipe for a while now, and I decided I was ready for something with a couple extra ingredients. This recipe for basic egg noodles caught my attention so I decided to give it a try.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Baking Powder

    I try not to boss people around too often, but desperate times call for desperate measures.


    I find myself utterly perplexed by the size of baking soda and baking powder boxes/cans which say right on the label that they should be replaced frequently for best results.

    Allow me to explain:

    My previous batches of these super duper unbelievably amazing pumpkin mini muffins did not look like this. They did have the distinct "muffin top" that forms when batter rises above the top of the little crevice in the pan, but they did not puff like these beauties. They were slightly more dense, slightly less smooth on top. These, my friends, are perfect.

    The difference? Finishing up my 2-year-old can of baking powder in this morning's pancakes and peeling the seal off of a brand new can just for these.

    Please consider the age of your baking powder and baking soda. If they're old, perhaps its time to make a $2 investment and get yourself some new leavening agents.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Lemon Cookies

    When these came out of the oven, I ate eight of them.

    Then I put the rest in a big rubbermaid container for my husband to guard with his life.

    Then a friend came over and ate eight.

    Then my husband actually ate a few (SCORE!).

    Then they were gone.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Flour Tortillas

    I'm a hard-shelled taco kind of person. Or taco fillings over tortilla chips, or even over rice. Anything but a soft flour tortilla. Until last week, that is. I made my first batch of absolutely stupendous flour tortillas! They were soft, rollable wrappings for what my husband insists were the best tacos he's had in a very long time. High praise indeed from the man who only enjoys Mexican food!

    You may notice in the picture above that there are grated carrots next to the lettuce. Please forgive me. I'm not a die-hard Mexican food fan, and I happen to really enjoy grated carrots in my tacos. I also usually add black olives, but alas, my cupboard did not contain a single can!

    But enough about my strange food choices, I want to show off my pretty little tortillas!

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Cakey Brownies

    These brownies are my go-to recipe when I have dessert emergencies. As in, when I hunt through the cupboards for twenty minutes knowing there's nothing I feel like eating and finally decide I need to make something ASAP. Or when people show up. Or if it's Friday.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Successful Bagels

    My previous three attempts at bagels have been somewhat less than satisfying. The first was alright, but needed some tweaking. The second was much too dry and dense, and a little bit undercooked. The third was an absolute disaster due to overcompensating and adding way too much more water, then leaving them to rise for almost a week in the fridge because my oven was broken.

    So I've finally returned to conquer them, and this time I succeeded!

    Sunday, April 17, 2011


    Do people really need pizza recipes? Probably not. However, I eat it a lot and sometimes think that I should publicly declare my love for it. Plus you might get inspired by the pictures and decide to go create your own slices of happiness! 

    I have long ago stopped accurately measuring ingredients for pizza dough. What you're about to see is roughly 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp instant yeast, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 tsp sugar. Oh and a good splash of oil, because my husband likes it that way. Possibly. I can't be sure those are the ratios I used on this particular day. So be flexible, ok? There's no reason to be afraid of yeast.

    Pizza Sauce

    I make pizza quite a bit around here. I have a picky husband who happens to approve of it (as long as it meets certain criteria) and I'll eat anything covered in tomato sauce and heaps of cheese. I have zero qualms about opening a jar of Prego and dumping it on some pizza dough, but I've been getting into this whole Homemade EVERYTHING concept, so I thought I'd share the easiest tomato sauce recipe that I've ever found. It's cheap, it's quick, and it got my husband's approval! 

    Thursday, April 14, 2011


    Beautiful, aren't they?

    I have officially entered the marshmallow club! It seems like I've been seeing bloggers talk about their homemade marshmallows for months now, and I've felt like a little bit of an outsider. Until last weekend, that is! I hereby present to you my humble offering of squishy, sugary pillows of happiness!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Chinese Food?

    I have no idea what to even call this. When I discovered the recipe for this amazing sauce, it belonged to a recipe for something like General Tso Chicken. I've since used this sauce in so many different meals that there's no way I could refer to it as the General Tso Chicken Sauce. All I know is that it reminds me of American-Chinese food. So that's what I'm calling it. The question mark in the title is not a question, but a legitimate part of the title itself.

    Whatever it is, it's one of my favorite things to eat.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Stocking the Freezer

    This week I've been slowly stocking the freezer. I find I throw too many things away because they sit in the back of the fridge. Or I wimp out on making real dinners because I tell myself I have too much homework. So this week I've been working on these problems.

    Please disregard the big dried leaf in front of the ice cube tray. It fell off the dying plant that I keep on top of the fridge. I don't exactly have a green thumb.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Mini Pumpkin Muffins

    I've had every intention of making mini pumpkin muffins for almost two months now. But the 29c/lb bananas got the best of me three weeks in a row. And then there was the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie that didn't include butter. That recipe doesn't exist, by the way. Perfect chocolate chip cookies must include real butter.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Fettuccine Alfredo

    Confession: I usually like alfredo sauce made from a packet better than I like it made from scratch. This might be because I refuse to buy high-quality parmesan and I'm setting myself up for disappointment by using the grated stuff from the jar.

    Whatever the reason, I've been craving alfredo lately.  Unfortunately, many years ago I was suddenly unable to locate my favorite mix and I've been trying to doctor up this plain version ever since.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Meatloaf and Potatoes

    Ok, I know that this picture probably isn't that appetizing, but here's the thing: after a couple of weeks worth of recipes that didn't quite float my boat, I was ready for something to finally go right! I was also determined to win over my picky-eater husband even though he's not a huge fan of meatloaf or of potatoes (although he will eat mashed potatoes!). Thankfully, I even accomplished this lofty goal! This means that this is definitely a dinner to be passed on for others to enjoy!

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Vanilla Pudding Experiment

    I was  determined to make a yummy batch of vanilla pudding.

    It took me over a week to accomplish.

    Three batches of pudding AND chocolate meringues later, I have a favorite recipe! And I am officially sick to death of chocolate meringues. No more egg whites please. For a very VERY long time!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    The Final Banana Bread Recipe

    A few weeks ago I made a couple of batches of banana bread, attempting to improve it but ultimately deciding that the first recipe had been the best. You can recap that experiment here. Still convinced that I could improve the recipe, I made another batch with a couple of changes, and LOVED IT TO PIECES. So this morning I attempted to recreate the amazing version so I could share that recipe with confidence.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Homemade Wheat Thins

    Wheat Thins! Wheat thins make me think of my mom :) When I saw this blog with the recipe, I was super excited. Bonus-- they're REALLY easy to make!

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

    This is my second attempt to find a delicious chocolate chip cookie that uses less butter-- not because I've suddenly stopped loving my beloved, mind you, but because of the incredible rise in price lately. So I checked out allrecipes and found a recipe that used vegetable oil! My sister makes (healthy) cookies with olive oil all the time, so I had high hopes for these cookies.

    Here we go!

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Fat Pizza

    Some days, when nothing I make is turning out right, I just need to make a pizza.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Ricotta Gnocchi: Another Learning Experience

    Confession: I've never tried Gnocchi. The first time I saw it I was 21 years old and it was in my sister's freezer. I went and looked it up online later. I've since heard of it and seen it too many times to count, but until a couple of weeks ago, had yet to try it. I should probably say that I still haven't really tried it, since I've only had my own.

    When King Arthur Flour Co posed this recipe for potato gnocchi, I bookmarked it and told myself I'd get to it soon. When I found myself in the possession of a cup of ricotta cheese that was soon to go bad, and came across this recipe from Three Many Cooks for ricotta gnocchi, I made my decision. I printed the recipe and left it on the kitchen counter to stare me in the face when dinner time came around. 

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Crunchy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Has anyone else noticed the rising cost of butter lately? Butter was on sale for $1.50 a box at Walmart a few weeks ago, and I went twice and both times there was an enormous gap on the cooler where it should have been. Hmph. This is seriously putting a damper on my dessert-making.

    So I went in search of a cookie recipe that calls for shortening, even though the stuff seriously grosses me out. An easy solution-- the recipe on the oatmeal carton! That is, if you can really call it a "carton" when its cylindrical. Not only did this recipe use shortening, but it used (surprise, surprise) old fashioned oats, which I had accidentally bought a few weeks ago, intending to get the quick-cooking kind because they're much more cookie-friendly.

    So off I went, scaling back to only 1/4 of the recipe, because I just couldn't stomach putting a full cup of vegetable shortening in something I was going to eat later. I'll post the full version though and let you make your own decisions.

    I won't bore you with pictures of measuring ingredients and beating them together, but I will leave you with one important tip: these are very crunchy cookies. Not in the difficult-to-get-your-teeth-through way, but in a very crumbly way. They taste GREAT, but I highly recommend undercooking them.

    Exhibit A:
    These pictures are of the exact same cookie. After the first picture, I DID NOT put the cookies back in the oven. I let them cool until they looked like the second picture, then I moved them to a rack to cool completely. The first picture looks extremely undercooked, I know, but the cookies that looked like this had a slightly chewy center that was immensely satisfying. So please remove your cookies before they look fully cooked!

    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Courtesy of Walmart brand Old Fashioned Oats

    1 cup Vegetable Shortening
    1 cup Sugar
    1 cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
    2 Eggs
    2 tbsp Milk
    Note: I omitted the milk and used a full egg
    1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp Salt
    4 cups Old Fashioned Oats
    1 cup Chocolate Chips

    1. Preheat oven to 375 F
    2. Cream shortening and sugars together
    3. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla, and beat well
    4. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat well
    5. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips
    6. Drop by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets
    7. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until bubbly and deliciously undercooked
    8. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes
    9. Remove and cool them completely on a wire rack

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Beef Empanadas

     Mmm. I have very distinct memories of my first beef empanadas. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what they were. I was 15 years old and in Florida with my very best friend and her family, just spending the night before hopping on a cruise ship the next day. We went to a Cuban restaurant for dinner, and these are the only thing I remember eating. And I remember they were AWESOME.

    For some reason it's taken me 7 years to try making them myself.

    I didn't get too picky looking for a Cuban recipe or anything, I just took the first recipe I came across. It tastes absolutely nothing like my first experience with them, but still really, really good.

     This is the dough. It takes all of five minutes to throw together. Then you just roll it out and use whatever you have handy to cut it into circles. I used a rubbermaid container with unusually sharp edges. Yay!

     This is some ground beef that's I've already seasoned. Sorry there is such a tiny amount of meat. It's just because I only wanted to make one or two servings because leftovers don't have very good luck in this house.

     This is the secret ingredient in the seasoning. I actually used a whole bunch of onion and some taco seasoning in addition to this, because the recipe called for it, but I think next time I would just use more of these tomatoes. Pureed first, of course, because I loathe tomato chunks.

     Whatever your seasoning decision, you just plop little bits of the filling onto each circle of dough.

     Then use a fork to seal the edges, and stick them in the oven! I love how cute they are, and how badly I wanted to eat the whole pan. Thankfully, my husband LOVED these and finished them off before I came back for seconds. That's REALLY GOOD NEWS in this house!

    I especially like how they puff and how this little one almost looks like it doesn't have a seam at all! How very professional-looking!

    I take pride in my food. Even if it's hardly worthy. Dear food, I love you!

    And that's it! We had these for lunch, but I'm pretty sure they're supposed to be an appetizer or something. Or we could make oversized ones and eat them for dinner! With a vegetable of course.

    Beef Empanadas
    Yield: 38
    Time: 10 minutes for dough // 15 minutes for filling // 20 minutes baking // TOTAL: 45 minutes

    2 cups All-purpose Flour
    1/3 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
    3/4 cup Milk, warmed slightly
    1 egg, beaten (for brushing the dough)

    1 pound Ground Beef
    salt, pepper, and/or seasoning salt
    1 can Tex-Mex style Canned Diced Tomatoes
    1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

    1. Start browning the ground beef with your desired amounts of salt and pepper. When it's just about done, dump in the can of tomatoes and let it simmer while you make the dough
    2. In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients (including cheese) for the dough
    3. Add the shortening and pulse until crumbly
    4. Slowly poor in the warm milk and pulse to combine
    5. Dump onto the counter form a smooth ball, adding enough flour to keep it from being sticky. 
    6. Divide the dough into four balls and work with one at a time, keeping the others covered so they don't dry out
    7. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut circles that are about 3 inches in diameter
    8. Cut circles from all of the dough, re-rolling the scraps to get as many as possible
    9. Preheat oven to 375 F
    10. Add enough meat filling to cover half of the circle of dough, leaving a good 1/4 or 1/2 inch around the edge to seal
    11. Top with a small amount of shredded cheese
    12. Fold the top half over the filling and use a fork to press closed
    13. Arrange on a couple of baking sheets and brush with egg wash
    14. Bake for 18-20 minutes (they will puff slightly and be nice a golden)