Thursday, September 30, 2010

West's Very Academic Easy Cheese Pizza

Good marnin'. It's good to be home. I missed you, bloggie buddies. I've been in beautiful Oregon visiting an Egg Farm. I had the best time and I learned a ton. And you know me; I'm going to be sharing all of it with you, down to the nitty gritty details like how I learned to make the perfect omelet, and how I stood in a room with seven thousand clucking hens without losing my cool, and how I looked awesome in a sanitary blue mesh jump suit and white hair net. All those details are coming as soon as I get my info and pics together. For now, I'm just saying, if you ever get invited to an egg farm in Oregon-pack your bags, my friends.
Last week, my West-y boy was doing some bubble in test practice for school. You know the drill-you read the non-fiction passage and then answer twenty multiple choice questions. He'd read about round dances around the world, which he found thoroughly booooring. He read about volcanoes in the Ring of Fire, which he found thoroughly engaging. And then, he flipped the page and read a recipe with instructions: Easy Pizza. I knew, I just knew, that he would answer every question correctly. This is my child, doggone it; he better know how to make cheese pizza even without even reading that passage. Listen to these questions:
What happens after you put the dough into a bowl and cover it with a towel?
a. The dough shrinks.
b. The dough separates.
c. The dough rises.
d. The dough changes color.
The pizza pans are most likely greased in order to-
a. make sure the dough won't stick
b. add a spicy flavor
c. help the cheese melt
d. make the dough rise
What will probably happen after the pizza is placed in the oven?
a. The water will boil.
b. The dough will rise.
c. The cheese will melt.
d. The dough will divide in half.
All right, so it' s not rocket science, but I'm still proud. He got all of 25 of them correct, that little son of a baker. (Which is more than I can say about the round dance questions.) And then of course we had to make the pizza. And it was easy, just like they promised, but it was also delicious. And very, very academic. We felt smarter with every bite we took, and you will too. Especially because you'll be saving money, you scholar, you.
Money Saving Tips:
It's usually cheaper to buy cheese in block, so shred your own. (It tastes better that way, too.) Buy the big blocks for the most savings. Wrap the unused portion in waxed paper and refrigerate. If you don't have tomato sauce on hand, blend up some diced tomatoes or use jarred marinara sauce.
Easy Pizza
recipe stole shamelessly from the Test Ready program
Estimated Cost: $5.00
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast (2 and 1/2 tsps)
1 teaspoon each salt and sugar
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups flour
1 small can tomato sauce (we also added crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, and a pinch of sugar and salt)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast onto the water. Let sit for five minutes and then stir. Add salt, sugar, and oil to this mixture. Then add 1 and 1/2 cups flour. Stir until smooth. Add the rest of flour and mix until smooth. You may use your hands if needed.
2. Divide dough in half. Shape dough into tow balls. Place dough into a bowl and cover with a towel. Let dough rise 30 minutes in a warm place.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
4. Flatten each ball of dough with a rolling pin. Stretch dough onto two greased pizza pans or a cookie sheet.
5. Spread a small amount of oil on the dough. Spread tomato sauce on the dough. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Up Next:
Speedy Pan Quiche (Eggs, anyone?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Kick Off Breakfast: Apple Pancakes

I keep waiting to have a Fall kick-off dinner, but it's just too darn hot. If I walk outside at noon, it feels a lot more like July is coming and not October. I'm going to forget about sewing Halloween costumes and starting lighting fireworks instead if this keeps up. I've been checking the daily weather in Cairo, Egypt (getting ready for my trip in a few weeks), and it is cooler there than here. I mean it! I might have to host my Fall kick-off dinner in the Sahara desert since it is more pleasant than my corner of the southwest. Pumpkins and pyramids, anyone?
There is a saving grace to all this afternoon heat: the mornings are celestial. Breezy and cool, not a degree above seventy. Heaven must have the thermostat set at sixty-eight, don't you think? So this year, I've postponed my Fall kick-off dinner and we had an outdoor Fall kick-off breakfast instead. I served applesauce pancakes, with a hearty side of buttery cinnamon apples and some smoky bacon on the side. You'll think you've died and gone to heaven for breakfast. You might want to stay all day, since it's going to be a scorcher.
PS I'm going to the egg farm tomorrow morning. Really this time. I'll be back with lots of details.
Money Saving Tips:
Buy apples in bulk while they are cheap. Make your own applesauce by placing peeled apple slices in the slowcooker with some cinnamon and sugar. Bonus: Your house will smell amazing!
Apple Pancakes
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for 4-6 servings
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 and 1/2 taplespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 and 1/2 cups applesauce
For Sauteed Apples
2 tablespoons butter
3 apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and butter. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix just until combined. Stir in applesauce. Cook pancakes on preheated gridle in melted butter. Serve with maple syrup. Meanwhile, prepare sauteed apples. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add apple sauces. Cook for three minutes. Turn and cook an additional three minutes, or until apples are golden and softened. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and cook until syruppy, about two minutes longer. Serve with pancakes.
Next Up:
West's Easy Cheese Pizza

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Farewell to Summer with Easy Pasta Pommodoro

I'm frantically racing through the day with a kajillion things to do (what's new?), but I had to take a minute to post. Did you know that tonight is the Harvest Moon and also the Autumn Equinox? Don't miss it! The moon should be golden ball of butter tonight, melting away with the last of summer. Good-bye ice cream cone days. Hello pumpkin pie evenings. I've got a perfect recipe to share for this last night of summer: Easy Pasta Pommodoro. I found this little gem on the back of an Albertson's pasta box. It took me about 20 minutes to pull off the whole dish-perfect for busy nights. If you use the last of your garden tomatoes and basil, it'll cost you almost nothing. And it's marvelous. Just like tonight's sky. I'll be gazing at the moon in my little corner of the world. And it the moon is really made out of cheese, I hope it's parmesan because it'll go great with your pasta.
Money Saving Tips:
Use your bumpy, irregular tomatoes for this recipe. Just chop them up and throw them in; no one will ever know. Sub in 1 teaspoon of dried basil if you don't have fresh.
Easy Pasta Pommodoro
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for 6-8 servings
16 ounces angel hair pasta
1/4 cup olive oil (or use half oil, half butter)
4 cups chopped tomatoes (unpeeled)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons garlic
1 and 1/2 cups tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
parmesan cheese, for serving
Cook pasta according to package directions. In a separate skillet, heat olive oil. Add tomatoes, basil, and garlic; cook for five minutes. Add tomato juice and simmer for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over hot pasta with parmesan cheese.
Up Next:
Fall Kick-Off Dinner
Stay Tuned for Cookie Bookie Week in early October
PS Hey Miguel, it's Friday! Where's my comment?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp

I am here, right where you left me. I haven't moved an inch, other than to take Sailor to her voice lesson and run by the grocery store for a few eggs. Eggs. Remember on Sunday when I wrote that I was leaving in the morning to Oregon to tour an egg farm? It turns out I was a whole week early. Thankfully I discovered my error early enough to avoid a trip to the airport. But please excuse me while I wipe a little egg (ha!) off my face. Did you know that I make dozens, maybe even hundreds, of little mistakes every day? If you didn't know, then I'm telling you now. I hope you'll love me anyway, flawed as I am. If you want a good laugh and a hearty helping of self deprecating humor, then I'm your gal.
A couple of weekends ago, we packed up a late afternoon picnic and headed up to the mountains with my parents, and my sisters Heidi and Mary Kate with their families, 11 charges total. Kids + dirt +rocks = everlasting happiness. We noshed on chips and dips, sandwiches, and s'mores, but the Quiet Man got it into his head that he wanted to make something in the Dutch Oven. I'll never ever ever tell you this since it would be bragging, but that husband of mine is pretty amazing with a Dutch Oven. (He inherited this outdoorsman skill from his Dad, the Quiet Grandpa.) Since fall is coming (three more days, officially) it had to be an apple crisp. Now, you can make this toothsome treat in your oven and it will be every bit as tasty, but there is something especially-special about making food out in nature. So go out and have a fall picnic, would you? Just tell me when to be there. You better write it down twice, because I've been know to confuse a date. Or two. But I hope you'll love me anyway.
Money Saving Tips:
Do you have a pick your own orchard? Head over and stock up. I buy apples in bulk for tuppins in the fall-they keep for at least a couple of months in a cool place.
Dutch Oven (or not) Apple Crisp
adapted from Joy of Cooking
Estimated Cost: $3.00 for 8 servings
8 apples, peeled (I like Golden Delicious and Granny Smith's for baking)
3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine by thirteen dish. (If using a Dutch Oven, do not grease. Light 24 charcoal briquettes and wait until they are covered with ash, about 15 minutes.) Layer apples in pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and oats. Blend in 1/2 cup softened butter with fingertips, just to evenly distribute. (It's Ok to have some pea-sized clumps.) Cut remaining 2 tablespoons butter in pieces and dot the top of the apple crisp. Bake in oven for 50 minutes, or until apples are bubbly and topping is browned. (If using Dutch oven, bake for 20-25 minutes.) Serve with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of cream. Delicious!
Next Up:
Easy Pasta Pommodoro

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Break an Egg

Post Edit: This is a new one-even for me. I'm not going anywhere till NEXT Monday. I packed my bags and went to bed and then sat straight up and realized my mistake! KUH-RAY-ZEE!!! Um, does anyone have the number for a good therapist? It's not for me. No, sir. I just have a friend that's completely nuts...
It's Sunday night and I'm tossing things willy nilly into a suitcase again. When will I ever learn to be a better packer? Send help and extra underclothes and toothbrushes while you're at it. Even if I forget all the essentials, I'm super firecracker-excited. I wish you were coming too. I would buy you a bag of peanut butter M and Ms to eat on the airplane. That's what my little sister bought me when we went to NY and now I will never ever fly again without them. Remember that the next time you fly the friendly skies-peanut butter M and Ms. For this current adventure, I'm going to the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon where I'll be touring a model Egg Farm and learning all about using eggs in healthful, ecomonical cooking. I'm going alone but I'll betcha I'll come back with some new buddies. Maybe I'll buy them a bag of peanut butter M and Ms for the flight home. My mind is still racing with the last minute things to do. I left my little charges pages and pages of homework plus two novels that they must read before I return. (Old Yeller for Sailor and Henry Huggins for Westy boy.) They have strict instructions to continue to practice the violin (Bach's Gavotte for Sailor and Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor, 1st movement for West) and piano (New Orleans jazz for Sailor and Arkansas Travelor for West). To the Quiet Man-there are some individual tamale pies in the freezer. Remember how you loved them? You don't have any homework, except to make sure that the charges happy and fed and practiced and educated. Oh, and if my flight gets delayed you will have to substitute my college Humanities class. I left my Locke and Hobbes lecture notes on the clipboard. And if you can manage to clean out the fridge you would have my eternal, undying affection.
Well, that should just about do it. I'm off on my egg adventure! Wish me luck, dear readers. I'm sure to come back with lots of clucky details and yolkful recipes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall is Coming Tamale Pie

We planted butternut squash in our garden this year. I was a little frightened when I saw that it had been taking reproduction cues from bunnies and zucchini. For a while, it looked like we were going to have a 20 year supply of hard winter squash. But then most of them lost the will to live and withered on the vine and we ended up with just enough to satisfy my Autumnal needs . (Is Autumnal even a word? Well, it should be.) It was sort of a relief. What kind of gardener am I? Why is it a relief when my crops fail? It's because sometimes I wish that my garden would produce like a grocery list- a pound of green beans one week, a bunch of broccoli the next, a few ears of corn and a ripe tomato every couple of days. A generous bounty means labor, toil, and elbow grease right the minute the vegetables say they are ready-despite the fact that you have papers to grade, classes to teach, meetings to attend, etc. I'm not complaining, I'm just, well...complaining. Enough of that! At least my butternut squash came out just right. I've got enough for one per week, and it's going to keep just fine without any attention. I love the golden, buttery stuff. I've been tossing in a little here and there to add a flavor of Fall-is-Coming. It is coming, you know. And that means it's time for chili and cornbread and all of it's variations, like good old fashioned Tamale Pie. Here's my latest version with a little bit of that buttenut squash tossed in. I brought it over to my parent's house for a family dinner, and they've been raving about it all week. My mom even made a tamale pie to take over to the neighbors the next day. And don't worry if you didn't grow your own butternut squash. Head over to the grocery store; they've got plenty. Notes: You can leave out the meat for a cheaper, vegetarian version. If you want to double the batch, you can bake extra miniature pies in ramekins. If you're pressed for time, you can use a cornbread mix and a pepped up can of chilli. I won't judge.
Fall is Coming Tamale Pie
Estimated Cost: $7.00 for six servings
Notes: If you are pressed for time, use a cornbread mix.
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups cubed butternut squash or other hard winter squash
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (14 ounce) can chili beans, or 1 cup fully cooked beans
1/2 cup beef broth or water
Cornbread Topping:
1 and 1/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 scant tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a large 10 or 12 inch ovenproof skillet, cook ground beef breaking up with back of spoon. After five minutes, add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook until beef is browned and vegetables are softened. Add chili powder and cumin and cook for thirty seconds. Add squash, tomatoes, beans, and broth. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, about ten minutes. Meanwhile, prepare cornbread topping and preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. I a smaller bowl, combine eggs, oil, and milk. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and stir gently, just until combined. Pour over meat mixture in skillet and bake until cornbread is browned and set, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven just to melt.
Next Up:
Dutch Oven Apple Crisp

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Honey Vanilla Caramel Apples

Photo from Rachael Ray Magazine We've been studying Greek and Roman mythology, Sailor and I. She's quite smitten with the ancient world, thanks to this series. This week, we read about Perseus and his bold quest for the head of Medusa. The maidens that guard the golden apples tell Perseus where to find the snake headed beast, but first they sing him a song about golden apples. Their poem compares the apple tree to the passage of time and to the joys and sorrows of life.

We sing of the old, we sing of the new-
Our joys are many our sorrows are few;
Singing, dancing
All hearts entrancing,
We wait to welcome the good and true.

The daylight is waning, the evening is here,
The sun will soon set, the stars will appear,
Singing, dancing,
All hearts entrancing,
We wait for the dawn of a glad new year.

The tree shall wither, the apples shall fall,
Sorrow shall come, and death shall call,
Alarming, grieving,
All hearts deceiving,
But hope shall abide to comfort us all.

Soon the tale shall be told, the song shall be sung,
The bow shall be broken, the harp unstrung,
Alarming, grieving,
All hearts deceiving,
Till every joy to the winds shall be flung.

But a new tree shall spring, from the leaves of the old,
And many a blossom its leaves shall unfold,
Cheering, gladdening,
With joy maddening,
For its boughs shall be laden with apples of gold.

What was true in the ancient world is true in the moden world. Readers, I hope that your joys are many and your sorrows are few, but either way, here are some delicious caramel apples to entrance the heart and enliven the palate. May all of your boughs be laden with apples of gold.
Honey Vanilla Caramel Apples from the September Issue of Rachael Ray Magazine
Estimated Cost: $4.o0 for six
Notes: Be sure to use a big pot, since the syrup foams up at first. Green apples are just as yummy as the red, so use a combo, if you like.
4 medium red apples, such as braeburn, cortland or fuji, chilled
Ice water
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Skewer each apple stem with a lollipop stick or thick bamboo skewer. Fill a large bowl one-quarter of the way with ice water.
In a 4-quart, heavy saucepan, heat the cream and salt over medium-high heat until steaming hot. Stir in the honey and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and continue to boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 260° on a candy thermometer, 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla. Place the pan in the ice water, stirring the caramel with a wooden spoon until it’s thick enough to coat the apples without running off, about 5 minutes. (If the caramel thickens too much, return the pan to medium heat and stir.)
Wipe the chilled apples dry. Working with 1 at a time, hold the apple by the stick and dip into the caramel, tilting the saucepan and twirling the apple to coat all but a 1-inch border around the stem. Place the caramel apples on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.
Next Up:
Fall is Coming Tamale Pie

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blueberry Walnut Maple Granola

Uh, this was really supposed to be Blueberry Walnut Maple Granola, until I found out that I used up all of my walnuts on the previous batch. So could you all just pretend that all of those pecans that you see in the pictures are really walnuts? I'd feel ever so much better if you would just play along. Good, I'm glad that's out of the way now. Welcome to today's post. I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to have a great batch of granola squirreled away in the pantry. Especially if it's Blueberry Pec-uh, I mean Walnut Maple Granola. You won't want anything else for breakfast besides some vanilla yogurt and a heaping pile of Blueberry-uh-Nutty Maple Granola. It's simple to make, honest. You take some oats and douse them with some maple syrup and vegetable oil, then a dusting of cinnamon and a sprinkle of walnuts- or nuts of your choice. (Pecans are also good.) Toast it for a good half hour, stirring here and there. When the house smells like an Autumn weekend in Vermont, take it out and stir in some dried blueberries. (You can make your own dried blueberries by setting your oven temp to 150 and baking them on a cookie sheet for about ten hours.) Now go ahead and grab a handful. I'm going to the store. You know what I'm out of. Walnuts. And pecans now, too. At least I've got my Granola.
Money Saving Tips:
Did I mention you can substitute other nuts if you don't have walnuts? (Pecans, anyone?) Well, you can. And the same goes for berries. Use what you've got and what's on sale. Amen, sistuhs. Oh, and real maple is best but pancake syrup works in a pinch.
Blueberry Walnut Maple Granola
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 5 cups
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Scatter oats on cookie sheet. Toast oats for ten minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. In a medium bowl, combine syrup, oil, and cinnamon. Pour over oats and continue to toast, stirring often, for thirty minutes. Remove from oven and stir in berries. Let cool on counter. Store in airtight containers.

Next Up: Honey Vanilla Caramel Apples

Thursday, September 9, 2010

After School Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn

You know, we started school in the middle of August, but I was sort of in denial. I was pretending that we were just playing at school, just a little molecular biology for fun. Oh, a smidge of prealgebra just to fend off boredom. The charges weren't a bit tricked-they know all about school during Christmas-just to make it easier to wait for Santa, and school during summer-just so you won't get too sunburned outdoors. These tricks up my sleeve are really just for me. I just didn't want to admit that the tardy bell had rung and school was in session in overripe August. But now, it is after Labor Day, and along with putting away my white shoes, I'm storing away my it's-not-really-school hijinks. Welcome back to school, dear readers. How was your day? Did you learn alot? Bet you're the smartest one in the classroom! You're going to give that ol' teacher a run for money. But, come on and sit down and have a little snack: peanut butter and honey popcorn. It's sweet (like you), crunchy, salty, and it'll give you lots of energy to get your homework done. That's right-homework. But finish your popcorn first.
Money Saving Tips:
Pop your own popcorn for pennies. Put a few tablespoons in a brown paper bag, fold down the top and microwave-then stand there and listen. Here's a link to the complete instructions. After School Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn
Estimated Cost: $2.50
8 cups popped lightly salted popcorn (low-fat microwave popcorn is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Place popcorn in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and honey. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Add vanilla, if using. Pour peanut butter syrup over popcorn. Stir and serve. (You can place the popped popcorn in a large paper bag, then pour over the syrup and shake.)
Next Up:
Blueberry Walnut Maple Granola

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Late Summer Garden Harvest Dinner

Did you have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend? We spent the weekend with my youngest sister Mary Kate, her husband Adam, and their five children. Also present were my parents, and my sister Heidi and husband Mikey, with their four children. All in all, there were 8 adults and 11 kids. The little girls spent the weekend putting on a production of the musical, Annie. They all took turns playing the part of Annie, in democratic style. By the way, I was cast as Miss Lily St. Regis with my Quiet Man as Rooster Hannigan. He surprised me by hamming it up more than just a little bit. And me, well, I didn't take three years of high school acting for nothin'. Thanks, Mr. Byers, you taught me everything I know.
As for the little boys, they spent the weekend collecting sticks and rocks, wrestling, and trying to heckle the Annie actresses.
Ah, it was a great weekend. I think I could put on a play every weekend, provided I was just given Monday off. Pretty please. A looong break makes the week much easier to face.
Speaking of long breaks, our garden is just about to take a hiatus until next spring. I'm going to miss my backyard bounty, especially those juicy red tomatoes, the golden corn, and the crisp green beans. Last week, I fixed a dinner of all of my favorite summer garden vegetables. It's not a farewell, not quite yet, but you can tell it's coming. Here's what we had:
Avocado and Tomato Salad with Lime Drizzle
Buttered Corn on the Cob
Green Beans and Red Potatoes in Cream
Roasted Tomatoes with Breadcrumbs and Olive Oil
If you're feeling really ambitious, a nice crisp or cobbler would be ideal for dessert. Especially with your last batch of homemade ice cream.
Money Saving Tips: Use what you've got from the garden, or hit up the farmer's market. You can use any variety of tomatoes, even cherry or grape. Just shorten the cooking time. Use other thin skinned potatoes, if red are expensive this week.
Tomato and Avocado Salad with Lime Drizzle
Estimated Cost: $3.50 for four servings
1 small avocado, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
2 teaspoons olive oil
Layer avocado, tomato, and cilantro on plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil.
Grandma Darland's Red Potatoes and Green Beans
Estimated Cost: $3.00 for 4 servings
2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 lb. green beans, cut into one inch pieces
1/2-3/4 cup cream of half and half
Place potatoes in cold water in a large pot. Salt water. Bring to a boil. Cook for about eight minutes, or until potatoes are almost tender. Add green beans and cook until just tender and bright green. Drain well. Return to pot. Add cream, mashing a few potatoes with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Roasted Tomatoes with Bread Crumbs and Olive Oil
Estimated Cost: $3.00 for 4 servings
4 red ripe tomatoes, halved
olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (made from 1-2 pieces of bread)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 4000 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 25 minutes. In a small bowl, combine crumbs, garlic, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake an additional ten minutees, or until crumbs are toasted.
Next Up:
Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn

Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor Day Dinner with Raspberry Pie for Dessert

All I ever want to eat for Labor Day is the best that the changing seasons have to offer. I opened my window this morning and I could feel the Fall coming in. September is like a cool breeze of hope for those of us who live in scorching climes. It's a hint of Autumn in the mornings and evenings, sandwiching warm, sunny days. All of the wonderful summer garden bounty is still ripe for the picking-corn, watermelon, juicy tomatoes. But the Fall harvest is beginning also-apples, late raspberries, wintersquash. And, mama, I want it all. Give me a piece of corn on the cob with an apple turnover on the side. So here's what we're having for dinner on Labor Day, to celebrate the very best of late summer. Now for dessert: I've been thinking about Raspberry pie all week long. I thought about it when I was balancing my checkbook, when I was teaching my college students about Galileo, when I was peeling potatoes. I had to stop the madness and make one. It's fantastic. Except now I want another one, so the madness really hasn't stopped at all. Betcha can't stop thinking about it, too now. It's fantastic and contagious, this berry pie obsession. Happy Labor Day, my dear, clever readers. Be safe and take it easy.
Grilled Steaks with Mushrooms, Blue Cheese and Red Bell Pepper

Mexican Corn on the Cob

Avocado and Nectarine SaladRoasted Red Potatoes and an Assortment of Potato Chips for Kids
For Dessert:
Miniature Apple Turnovers
Raspberry Pie (recipe to follow) served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream End of Summer Raspberry Pie
Cost: as cheap as $6.00 if you can get a good deal on berries-now's the time!
Notes: I used frozen berries that I bought cheap a few weeks ago. No problem whatsoever.
double pie crust (click here for my tutorial), or purchase them
4 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup flour
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cream or milk
more sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard piedish with one pie crust. In a large bowl, combine berries, sugar, and flour, and lemon squeeze if using. Pour into piecrust. Dot with butter. Top with remaining piecrust. Poke holes with a fork to vent steam. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Place prepared pie on cookie sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is browned and raspberries are bubbling.
Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keys to Good Cooking

Recipes make assumptions. My dad taught me that to assume makes an-uh, never mind. Cookbooks make assumptions that the people reading them actually know what they're doing. I do it all the time when I write my recipes. I presuppose that you all know your way around the kitchen fairly well and you know not to put a lid on your green vegetables when they're cooking and how to look for fudgy crumbs on you are toothpick when your testing your brownies. Where do beginners go to learn these things? And where do experienced cooks look for handy tips about the best ways to choose and use ingredients? I'm really excited about a new book that releases in October. It's called the Keys to Good Cooking by Harold McGee. I haven't read the whole book yet, but I've been lucky enough to browse through some of the general info and tips. It is wonderful. The book covers the gamut of foods, from soup to nuts. I love the idea of having one reliable book for good information and factoids that will help me improve as a shopper and cook. I'm planning to give a few out for wedding shower presents this spring. I'll be posting a full review of the book in November, as part of a book tour for TLC book tours. Until then, I'm reading up on advice on how to perfectly cook different cuts of meat, how to pick out fruits, and how to preserve the life of fresh herbs. You can preorder the book on Amazon right here. I used the book's advice just tonight when I was deciding when to take out my meatloaves. Thanks, Mr. McGee!
I'll be back with some fun ideas for Labor Day BBQs. See you soon.