Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to Use Up Milk

Dear Turkey,

There are tons of ways to use up milk that's almost expired. I usually bake something, or make creamy pasta sauce or soup or yogurt, but I wanted to do something different, so I made pudding. I was too lazy to use the official family recipe, but I wasn't about to make instant either (I do have a reputation here).

This is almost as easy as instant. In a pot, combine:
2 c milk
1/2 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1 T vanilla
2 T butter
1/2 c chocolate chips (I used bittersweet)
Any spices you want (I used cinnamon and cardamom)
Just cook it, stirring frequently, for 5 or 10 minutes. Don't let it boil. When it starts to set up, pour it into dishes and chill it for a few seconds hours.

Well, something is obviously up with this picture. And you can see my PJs at the bottom. Quality. When I am a rich and famous blogger I will crop all that weirdness out. But right now I'm a working mom, so it stays.


Friday, May 23, 2014

It's About Time...For Another Guest Post! (I was starting to think I had no friends)

Baked oatmeal

Dear Tofu,

I'm a big fan of oatmeal. I usually make it on the stovetop, but it's kind of a pain to start from scratch every day. (Our mornings are a little hectic around here.) Baked oatmeal is awesome because you can make enough for a few days all at once, and the texture is more delicious than regular oatmeal. 

First, mix these ingredients:
2 C old fashioned oats
Chopped walnuts (a handful or so)
1/4 t baking soda
Pinch salt
Maple syrup (anywhere from a drizzle to a quarter cup, depending on how sweet you want it)
2 T melted butter 
Cinnamon to taste
1/2 t vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, beat an egg and mix in 1 1/2 C milk or milk substitute (I used Wegmans almond milk). Pour the milk mixture into the oat mixture and transfer to a baking dish. 

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Side note: Not that I need to tell YOU this, but adding chocolate chips would make this even tastier. 

Come visit soon,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Frothy Iced Coffee

Dear Mom,

I hope you enjoyed this frothy iced coffee; it's the first time I've made one that's really good (good thing I have lots of people willing to drink all of the hundreds of failures before this). I made really strong coffee in the french press (if I had had more time, I would have chilled it or frozen it into ice cubes). Then I put some ice in a glass and poured the coffee on the bottom. I added a tablespoon of Kahlua (top secret ingredient) on top of that, and then topped that with some whole milk that I had frothed in a separate glass (with one of these -- nope, not ashamed). I sprinkled cinnamon on top: 

Enjoy with some of this.

Before you leave this page, take another look at my perfect half-moon cuticle...delicious coffee,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dear Turkey,

Hanging out with you is so great: you buy me lunch, we look at pictures from the past and realize how much better we look now, you make ice cream and leave me a huge bowl of perfectly-separated egg whites in my fridge. 

So all I did was whip them up in my kitchen-aid until they formed stiff peaks (adding about 1 c of sugar and 1 t vanilla about halfway through [I'm guessing there were 5 or 6 whites in there]). Then I dolloped them onto some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and baked them at 200 degrees for a couple of hours (this might change depending on how humid it is):

People love meringues and they are so easy to make, and not full of calories.

Can't wait until next free lunch time,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two Things to Make Right Now

Dear People Who Eat Out A Lot,

Here are two things that you might make a big deal out of getting at a restaurant, but are actually cheap and easy:

Paella from Mark Bittman. I pretty much followed his recipe, except I skipped that whole business with the fresh tomatoes and threw in a can of diced tomatoes when I added the broth. I also added asparagus after I took it out of the oven. It cooked while I browned the bottom and let it stand. If you like dry paella, make it the day before. 

Chocolate Sheet Cake from The Pioneer Woman. I've never made a chocolate sheet cake, and was convinced that it would run all over my oven. But it didn't. It's almost like the recipe was made specifically to fit in a jelly roll pan. Her recipe is really easy, and I made it even easier by just using one bowl and microwaving the butter and adding hot water directly to that, instead of using a pot. Maybe pioneers don't have microwaves. I live in a log cabin, but I have one. 

Both of these would cost more per serving at a restaurant than it cost me to make the whole dish. And it took less time to make both than it takes to eat out. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Mother's Day, and You Just Ran 10 Miles

Dear Mom,

Thanks for watching my child on Mother's Day so that I could run ten miles and cook lunch. Oh, and for giving birth to me.

Here's lunch:

Caprese: field mix, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper, oil & vinegar.
White beans (for one can, drained): 1 t lemon juice, 1 T mirin, 1/2 t salt and pepper, 1/2 t garlic powder. 

I also want to tell the world about these awesome muffins from Bob's Red Mill. I know that you don't usually like my muffins, but that's why you might like these, because they aren't like my usual muffins (which tend to be cake-y). I omitted the applesauce, egg, and nuts, and increased the oil to 1/2 c. It was so easy. Warning: this recipe only makes 12, which would be gone in like 5 minute at my house.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cream of Spinach Pasta

Dear Turkey,

In case you forgot who was the pasta master, I am going to remind you. (It's me, duh.)

This is a story about cream of spinach pasta. When you eat it, you will think that you are in a restaurant, but it's way healthier/cheaper/easier/all those things I love.

And maybe when I start remembering to take the picture BEFORE I put the cheese on, you will be able to see what it looks like. 

Directions: Saute two shallots and a clove of garlic (diced) in a few T of butter AND oil. Then turn down the heat and add a few T of sherry AND a splash of lemon juice. Cook it down for a minute and add a few T of whole milk AND cream. Then turn off the heat and toss in two giant handfuls of cut up spinach, as well as two bowls-worth of just-done pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. You will need more salt than you think for that restaurant taste (albeit much less than a restaurant would use), probably a few t. Top with cheese.

The End,

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Dear Turkey,

7:30 PM. Your family is playing outside. You are left to your own devices with the following: a fridge full of seasonal (in California) veggies that need to be used up, NPR, and these instructions: 

"It's easy. Just cook the shallots in some oil, then add the broth, the carrots, the asparagus, the milk, the cream, the spinach. Do it in that order and don't overcook anything. Use salt and pepper. Just do it. It takes five minutes:" 

In case anybody cares, here is a better description of what I actually did: I cut up one shallot and cooked it in some hot oil until it started to brown. Then I added 2 c of veggie broth and brought it to a boil. I added a handful of cut up carrots and let them boil for a minute, and then added a huge handful of cut up asparagus. After another minute I turned the heat down to low and added 1 or 2 T each of milk and cream. I turned off the heat and threw in a very big handful of spinach. After it wilted I added a few t of salt and pepper. This made enough for two people, which was enough, because I think that this soup is better made fresh each night.

Happy Spring (in California -- just kidding, it's been spring there since February),

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tick-Tick Table

Dear Turkey,

At our house, the picnic table is called the "Tick-Tick Table." You may think it's because we live in one of the Lyme Disease capitals of America (which is true), but it's actually because the "P" sound is difficult to pronounce, if you are two years old. 

This is the first meal that we ate at the Tick-Tick Table this year. You can see that it consists of all things that are in season...somewhere. Actually, we have been eating either artichokes or asparagus every night for the last week, because we are pretending that we live in California:

Full disclosure: the giant bowl of salty-lemon-butter for dipping is not pictured.

Happy Spring,