Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Hiatus

Hey everyone! 
 I've decided to take a little break from blogging until Blockette starts up school.  
Look for me to return in about a month!


Thanks to you all for visiting my blog...see you back here mid August!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sausage and Bean Soup with Ditalini

Just a quick post about today's recipe.  This soup hales from The Italian Dish.
 It was super tasty!  A big hit with the whole family.

This was one of those dishes where I did all the prep work before heading to work, including pureeing half the beans with a splash of stock.  Since Blockette and I aren't big fans of chunks of tomatoes, I pureed half of those too.  I left some of the tomatoes whole because Mrblocko likes them.

Doing the prep work ahead of time meant I could just toss the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer away while I helped Blockette with homework and just generally chilled out.  I love it when all you have to do is wait and the food just does it's thing.

Look how puffy those noodles got!  They took on so much stock when they were cooking they look like they are going to explode.  Strangely, they didn't taste over cooked.  I'm not quite sure how that worked.

I will definitely make this recipe again.

Sausage and Bean Soup adapted from Italian Dish
1 c dried cannellini or cellini beans (this is about 1 1/2 c cooked) or 1 15-ounce can of any beans you like, drained - I used dried northern beans that had already been precooked
1 pound ground sausage, turkey or pork (I used Italian pork sausage)
1/2 medium onion, diced (I used 2 small onions)
1/2 medium carrot, diced (I used 1 large carrot)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 cup ditalini pasta, or any small pasta
grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese  (I didn't have any so I omitted it)

If using dried beans, place them in a pot, cover with cold water and let soak for several hours or overnight. Drain. (I highly recommend precooking beans before using them in this soup.  Not only will it cut down on prep time, but it will ensure that you don't have any dreaded "crunchy" beans.")

At this point I pureed half the beans and tomatoes.

In a large pot, brown sausage. Remove from pot. If there is a lot of fat left in the pot, pour this out but do not wipe out pot. Add onion, carrot and olive oil and saute 5 min til soft. Add garlic and saute about a minute more. Add tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf, some salt and pepper, the beans and sausage. cover pot. Cook for 45-60 min over low heat, at a gentle simmer.

 If the beans are not soft enough, cover the pot again and cook for another 30 minutes or until the beans are soft. This is where having precooked beans saves you a bunch of time.  I checked my soup at 45 min, then added the pasta. Cool til the pasta is tender. This will depend on your cut of pasta.  Mine took a little less than 15 min to get fat and poofy.  Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can add more chicken broth.

I'm sure you could do the simmering in a crock pot minus the noodles.  I haven't tried it, but I imagine 4-6 hrs on low should do it.  If I was making this in the crock pot I'd cook the noodles separately and add them in just before serving, just to ensure the noodles didn't get over cooked.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Five Cross Stitch Bookmarks

I made these five bookmarks for various teachers at the end of the school year. 

They were a big hit with the recipients.  Now all I have to do is figure out what to make for an end of the year gift next year as Blockette will have some of the same teachers she had last year.  Luckily I have LOTS of time to solve that dilemma.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cinnamon Quinoa Oat Bars

I like to buy a big bag of quinoa and cook the whole thing up.  Then I freeze it in 1 1/2 -2 cup portions.  I made something with quinoa the other day that called for an odd amount of quinoa so I was left with a heaping cup or so of cooked quinoa.  I didn't want to stick it back in the freezer as it was such an unusual amount so I looked around and found this recipe for Cinnamon Quinoa Bake from PopSugar.

One of the people in the comments stated that they replaced part of the quinoa with oats.  So i measured out my quinoa and filled up the remaining cup and 1/4 cup or so with old fashioned oats. 

I really liked the texture that the oats added to the bars.  I think 100% quinoa might have resulted in a bar that was a bit too moist as well.  The oats seemed to absorb some of the extra moisture from the quinoa, which in my opinion, was a good thing.

I thought the bars tasted the best slightly warm, but they were pretty darn good cold as well.  I wasn't sure how they would keep so I stored them in the fridge to be on the safe side.  The fridge also seemed to help the bars set up a bit better.  They were a little on the loose and crumbly side while they were warm.

The first bite of these bars are a bit of a shock.  I'm so used to quinoa in savory dishes that when I first tasted the quinoa in the bars my brain was like "Uh what on earth is this?  Quinoa is supposed to be savory."  Once you can get your mind synched up with your taste buds, it's hard to stop at one bar. 

 Cinnamon Quinoa Oat Bars adapted from PopSugar (Yields 9 bars)
1 1/4 c cooked and cooled quinoa
1 1/4 c old fashioned oats
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c  milk
1/3 c maple syrup
2 t vanilla
1 T cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place quinoa in large bowl. Line 8x8" pan with lightly greased parchment.(I recommend this as I skipped this step and the pan was a pain to clean up.) In small bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add maple syrup. Add egg mix to quinoa.  Pour into prepared dish.  Spread to even out.  Bake 20-25 min til set and golden. Using parchment, remove bars from pan as soon as possible so it doesn’t steam. (As I skipped the parchment step I couldn't do this.  This may have been why my bars were moist and didn't set up until they were placed in the fridge overnight.) Cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sesame Oil Hummus

I'm not the biggest fan of tahini. Whenever I've tried to make hummus the tahini always makes it taste funky.  I've tried a few different brands all with no luck.

Of course when I saw this recipe for hummus that used sesame oil instead of tahini at Are You Hungry?, I whipped up a batch right away.

Thing is, I don't really like it.

I'm thinking that I don't like a strong taste of sesame.  Sure sesame seed bagels are great, and give me a sesame seed bun over a plain one please!  I even like sesame seeds in my granola.  I guess I can have too much of a "good" thing.

At least Mrblocko liked this dip so it didn't have to go directly into the garbage can.  Funny thing is he would rather not eat anything with sesame seeds on it.  Guess we are opposites like that.

No Tahini Hummus from Are You Hungry?
2 cups chickpeas or garbanzo beans (if using canned drain, rinsed and towel dry)
3 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
4 - 5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, crushed or minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
3 Tbsp. sesame oil

In a food processor, blend chickpeas, lemon/lime juice, and 4 T olive oil. Add garlic,spices, and sesame oil. Blend to a smooth paste.  If  too dry, add more olive oil a little at a time until dip is desired texture. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

I love regular puppy chow.  I didn't think anything could really be better than the classic peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar combination. 

Don't you love it when you are wrong about those sorts of things?

This cake batter puppy chow knocks regular puppy chow out of the ball park.  Not only does it have white chocolate and cake mix powder, but it has birthday cake golden oreos.  Have you even heard of birthday cake golden oreos?  I swear they are made with crack. 

Get your hands on some and make this sweet treat ASAP!

Golden Birthday Cake Oreo Puppy Chow
from Life, Love and Sugar
10 oz white chocolate, white candy melts or almond bark
5 cups rice chex cereal
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup funfetti cake mix
10 finely crushed golden birthday cake oreos (I put the cookies in a zip bag and smashed them with a frying pan)
10 or more chopped golden birthday cake oreos

 Put rice chex cereal and finely crushed oreos into med bowl. Stir. Slowly melt white chocolate  in microwave, stopping every 30 sec to make sure it doesn’t burn. (I always add a tablespoon of shortening to make sure the chocolate pours well.) Gently, add melted chocoalte to chex cereal and lightly stir to coat evenly. Add powdered sugar and cake mix to chocolate covered chex. Lightly stir to coat evenly with powdered sugar. Allow to dry/set. Fold in coarsely chopped oreos.

Monday, July 8, 2013

'City Slicker' Corn Dip

I've renamed this corn dip.  Originally it was titled Cowboy Corn dip, but as I omitted ALL the jalapenos, it didn't seem fitting.  Whenever I see something called "Cowboy" whatever, I assume it's got some kick to it.  This dip sans jalapenos has no kick, but is still mega addictive!

I made it for a gathering over Memorial Weekend - Nerf War's at my friend Julie's house.  They've had Nerf wars for several years and this was the first time we'd been able to go.  It was a good thing too as this was the last Nerf War they were going to host as they are moving to Memphis!

Anyhow, back to the dip.  It makes A LOT.  This bowl contains about half of a full recipe.  There were 50+ people at the party and most of them BIG eaters.  Granted the table was filled with food of all sorts, but still only half of this dip was eaten.  And everyone LOVED the dip.  Several people even asked me for the recipe on the spot.  Luckily it was easy enough to make that I had it memorized and could share with folks.

We ran out of chips so we've taken to making sandwiches of a sort with the leftovers.  Think fancy grilled cheese with corn.  Gooey and messy, but super tasty!

Unless you are have a gigantic party, half the recipe or you will find yourself with a plethora of corn dip!

Cowboy Corn Dip adapted from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife
3 cans sweet corn with diced peppers/Fiesta corn, drained,11 oz each (Mine were 15.25 oz, but I just used the whole thing since I left out the jalapenos)
1 can chopped green chilies, drained (7 oz)
1 can chopped jalapeno peppers, drained (6 oz) (I omitted)
1/2 c green onions, chopped (I used one bunch of green onions, diced)
1 c mayonnaise (Don't use miracle whip, PLEASE!)
1 c sour cream
1 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4-1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 package shredded sharp cheddar cheese (16 oz) (this comes to 4 cups of cheese)
2 bags of Frito Scoops or other salty corn chips

In a LARGE bowl, mix all ingredients except for the chips. Cover and chill two hours to overnight. (overnight is best so the flavors can meld) Serve with your favorite chips.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Snickerdoodle Frozen Dough Balls

What do you do when you want cookies, but it's too hot to turn the oven on?  Make cookie dough balls.  These bad boys from Shugary Sweets are egg free so no need to worry about that nasty salmonella!

Actually, I made these dough balls more because I had some cream cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up.  It was just good luck that I found something that used a small amount of cream cheese AND didn't need the oven.

I didn't coat these in chocolate like the recipe suggested because I was lazy.  All I had were chocolate chips and on a humid day, they take forever to set up.  So these snickerdoodle balls are nekkid! eek!

Because these truffles weren't chocolate dipped they needed something to help keep their shape.  My dough was so sticky and loose that I increased the flour from 1 1/4 c to a full 2 cups.  I think this makes them taste even more like cookie dough.

Those of you who are long time blog followers might be thinking, wait didn't she make snickerdoodle truffles once before? Yes.  Those truffles were much sweeter as they contained a whole can of condensed sweetened milk instead of 4 oz of cream cheese.  Both versions are good in their own rights.

I think I prefer the condensed milk version for a winter treat because it is so rich.  Sometimes rich sweets are overwhelming when it's hot out.  Of course you should really try both versions out to know for sure.  Because of science.  Do it in the name of science!!!

Snickerdoodle cookie dough balls adapted from Shugary Sweets
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 c flour
1 t vanilla
1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cream of tartar

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with sugars til smooth and creamy. Beat in flour, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and cream of tartar. Scoop by small tablespoon (I use a 1 Tbsp scoop) onto a parchment or wax paper lined  baking sheet or plate.  Freeze for 2 hours until hard then move to plastic bag or other storage dish. Store in freezer, the dough will still be soft enough to bite directly from the freezer. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wild Rice Flat Bread Fail

I made this Wild Rice Flatbread from Pinch of Yum because I had all this leftover wild rice.  The pictures on the website also looked so appetizing.  Unfortunately, my flatbread did not turn out at all like the pictures.

Pinch of Yum's flat bread was a lovely golden brown.  Mine was dark blackish brown.  And before you ask if I burnt it, let me say, "NO!  I did NOT!"  It was that color after I pureed it.

The darn thing also did not want to cook. After 15 minutes I tried to flip it using the towel technique mentioned in the recipe and the whole thing fell apart completely.  It had not set at all.  I was able to mash it back together in the pan and form a patty again.

Long story short, it took an hour in the oven before the rice flat bread had set up.  This was not the quick lunch I was hoping for!

The crispy edges were OK, but the center was still quite mushy.  I'm sure I could have continued to cook it for another 30-45 minutes, but I didn't feel like spending that much time on something that just turned out OK.

So what went wrong?  I'm thinking because of the texture of the rice the original recipe resulted in a lighter bread, they used a wild rice blend.  Mine was 100% wild rice.  I think the starch from the regular rice may have help bind everything together.  Also, I think that I just don't care for wild rice plain.  Another reason for using a wild rice blend, it gives a bit of texture and flavor variety.

I wanted this recipe to work so badly, but I guess it just wasn't in the cards.  Please let me know if you try it and how it works out for you!

Wild Rice Flatbread from Pinch of Yum
2 c cooked wild rice (or “instant” wild rice, wild rice blend, etc I suggest the wild rice blend)
1/2 c water
2 egg whites
1 clove of garlic
1 tbs. flaxseed meal
 a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/2 tbs. olive oil

Preheat to 425F. Grease a heavy skillet with oil. Spread it out so bottom and sides are well covered.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until  batter-like (about 30 seconds). Pour into pan. Bake for 15 min and remove from oven. Using a spatula, flip flatbread over and bake for another 15 min. Check doneness and bake for 5 min if needed. You’ll know when it’s done because it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. (Mine never did this) Remove from oven, cool, cut, and serve with hummus or other dips.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PBJ Mug Cake

Are you ready for another microwave mug cake?  This one is for you peanut butter and jelly lovers out there!

We used strawberry jelly in our mug cakes.  I wished that there was more than a heaping tablespoon of jelly in mine.  Although, I'm not sure I'd feel the same way if it was grape jelly.  I prefer strawberry over grape.  Blockette is the opposite.  Use the jelly flavor and amounts you like best!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Mug Cake from Kirbie Cravings
1/4c flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4c milk (I've used skim and sugar free almond milk with great success)
3 T peanut butter
4 t granulated sugar
1-2 heaping T jelly or jam

Mix everything except jelly in LARGE, micro-safe mug til batter's smooth. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out half the batter. Drop jelly into middle of batter that is still in the mug. Plop the remaining batter back into the mug, covering the jam. Nuke for 45-60 sec. I've found that 45 seconds works best for my microwave.  Then let it sit for 5 min.  It will continue to cook as it sits.  If you are going to wolf the cake down immediately, then go ahead and nuke it for a minute.  If you let it sit at all it will over cook and become rubbery.