Friday, December 4, 2009

Baked French Toast and Variations

I belong to a food buying co-op and currently we have an abundance of eggs and bread - both of which we are getting more of tomorrow in our share.  So had to get a good recipe to use some of it up.  Here it is:

Baked French Toast
Makes 4-6 servings


Loaf of Bread (any bread will do)
2-6 eggs (depending on how creamy you want it)
Milk (or combination of milk and eggnog) to make ~4 cups liquid
Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, etc for tasty flavorings

Beat together eggs, milk and flavorings of your choice.  I prefer cinnamon and vanilla.

Layer defrosted bread, with or without crusts, (I leave them on) in a 9x9 pan. 

Pour egg mixture over bread layers slowly.  You may have to wait until a bit soaks in before adding the whole 4 cups.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.  Press down on the bread so it all gets into the egg mixture.

Bake 350 for 30-45 minutes until puffed up and baked through.  A knife inserted will come out clean.

Top with syrup, fruit topping (slicing apples, cinnamon, sugar and heating in water with some cornstarch to thicken), yogurt, etc.

Layer cottage cheese or ricotta cheese with the bread, not too much.  Makes a stuffed-type french toast.

Whisk plain, fruit, or vanilla yogurt in with the milk and eggs.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Crafting II

Finished the tent for the girls for Christmas.  Looks like fun.  Can't wait to give it to them!

(disregard the basement mess, please)

Thanksgiving Cooking

Thanksgiving was a success.  Mom and I made 5 pies and a pan of corn bread in about 3.5 hours on Wednesday night. 

Got a picture of our spread as well:  Turkey, mashed potatoes (mom's fantastic make ahead ones), green bean casserole, dad's home made stuffing, bro's vegan mac and cheese, fresh baked bread, and baked squash.  Not pictured is the cranberry jello/relish and the corn bread and gravy.

Our pretty holiday table.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spinning a Yarn...

I'm working currently on spinning a wonderful blue, green, purple yarn for a Christmas gift.  It's slow going, but beautiful stuff.

This is the hat that's already done and was  Birthday present.  More yarn for a scarf in the works.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beef and Gravy with Mashed Potatoes

Decided on a different dinner this evening.  It's been ages since we've had mashed potatoes (probably since last Thanksgiving) and I don't think I've ever made Beef "Tips" and Gravy since I was married, so I thought I'd give it a go from scratch.  It was quite easy.

Beef and Gravy
2 Small Steaks (I used two small NY strip steaks)
Garlic powder
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 cups water
Dried minced onion
1 can mushrooms (optional)

Mix together a few Tbsp of flour with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cut 2 steaks into small strips (bite sized).  Coat the steak pieces in flour mixture.  Brown steak in batches in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Once all the meat is browned put back in pan on med-low heat, sprinkle in some dried minced onion.  Mix corn starch with bouillon cube and water until smooth and combined, pour over beef, add in mushrooms if using, and cover.  Simmer until thickened and bubbly.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes
potatoes (I used 6 tiny potatoes and had mounds left over from the 3 of us)
water - fill the pot 2/3-3/4 full
butter - 1/4 cup ish - more if wanted
milk - enough... don't know how much.

Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water until soft (if you stick a sharp knife in and lift up a potato it should fall off).  Drain off water, mash potatoes in the pot skins and all.  Add in 1/4ish cup butter mash until melted.  Pour in milk and mix until creamy.

We served this tonight with steamed baby carrots.  Hit with the now 3 year old (or will be in 2 days)!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiday Crafting I

I finally got restarted on my holiday crafting.  Got down to the sewing machine and started on some bears for the girls for Christmas.  They're an old pattern that I've been making for years.  Fleece bears, and left over fleece from other projects.  One is grey with variegated blue ear insides and feet bottoms, the other is the variegated blue with grey ear insides and feet bottoms.  Both are stitched, but I ran out of stuffing.  I guess I make a trip to JoAnn's!

Also on the Christmas list for the girls are home made dolls.  I'm still working on the pattern a bit - got stuck on the hands.  One head, body and legs are done, other head pending design.

Many more projects in the works but I dare not list them here as they're for people that can read (and read my blog).  I don't want to spoil the surprise! :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Pursuit of Strawberry Cake (Vegan)

I've been looking for the past week and a half for a good strawberry cake that is vegan.  That means no jello mix.  The 2yo turns 3 in a week and a half and requested a strawberry cake.  I like to make the cakes vegan so that everyone in the family can enjoy without making two cakes :-/  So, the inventing began.  Couldn't find anything that I had all the ingredients to, so I adapted my chocolate cake recipe as a starter.  This is what I came up with:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 oil
2 tsp ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 warm water and whisked until thickened like eggs (binder)
3/4 cup berry puree (I used mixed berries for starters because I have more of those)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1Tbsp vanilla
1 cup cold water

Bake 350 in 9" round pan or in cupcakes (I did both for this experiment) for 20-30 mins.  The cake took 25, the cupcakes took 20.  I got 1 9" round and 10 cupcakes.  The cake is light and fluffy and dark purpley blue. (The mixed berries had blueberries, raspberries, and black berries.)  Tastes great, just sticks to the cupcake wrappers.  Not sure about how to get the cake version out of the pan as I forgot to grease and flour it... :-/  There's always tomorrow for another experiment and this time with flour and grease!

UPDATE:  Once the cake was tasted (she liked it, btw), she said, "Well, maybe chocolate..."  Ugh!  2yos! :-)  Also, the cake came out of the pan VERY easily!  Yay!!!

Birthday girl with her cake ready to blow out candles.

Cake and ice cream - you can nearly see the strawberry red center layer.  I went for a chocolate and strawberry cake just to cover all my bases.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quick Easy Meal: Hamburger Stroganoff

Hamburger Stroganoff

1 lb hamburger/ground beef
dried or fresh minced onions
garlic powder or fresh cloves of garlic
2 cans mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Yogurt - 2-3 Tbsp

1/2 lb bag of cooked wide egg noodles, noodle twists, etc.  Any large, short, flat-ish noodle will work

Brown hamburger and onion and garlic in skillet.  (If using dried minced onion and garlic powder, wait until the hamburger is mostly browned before adding.)  Season with S&P to taste.  Add in 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 2 cans of mushrooms.  Add 1/2 can of water (from the soup can).  Stir to combine and heat until bubbly.  Stir in 2-3 Tbsp plain unsweetened yogurt.

Serve over cooked noodles, or rice would probably be tasty too.  Broccoli is our favorite veg to put with this meal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Collard Greens: A new old vegetable

I know I hadn't had collard greens before and I'm sure many others haven't either.  But since I joined this food co-op we've gotten some "new" and different vegetables that I haven't tried before, like collard greens and kale, that I now have to figure out how to cook.

On Sunday we boiled them until tender then sauteed them in olive oil with some salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice and bacon bits.  Very tasty.  Tonight I decided to make a meal of them.  I started by cutting some beef and chicken in to cubes and browning it in a bit of olive oil.  Then added in minced onion, garlic, S&P.  Cut the thick stems off the collard greens and chopped them into smaller pieces and sauteed them with the meat.  When the meat was browned sufficiently I added in a cup of brown rice and the rest of the collards chopped into medium pieces along with 2 cups of water.  I simmered the whole deal on the stove for about an hour and a half and dinner was served. 

Tasty, filling and easy.  The adults liked it, the 2yo not quite sure about it, but she did eat some.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes

Going to a potluck tonight and decided to make chocolate cupcakes.  The recipe is vegan, as long as you don't put in milk chocolate chips as a special treat.  The recipe is reportedly from an old Grange Hall cookbook from the depression era (shortage of eggs at that time).

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar (I sometimes substitute part of the sugar for honey or maple syrup or just cut the sugar down to 1 1/2 cups instead.  It still works fine.)
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil (olive or canola I have used and both are good)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together all dry ingredients.  Add in all wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Divide into 1 9x13" pan, or 1/4 cup in each muffin tin, or 1 Tbsp in mini muffin pan, or 2 8" or 9" round cake pans.  Cook for 25-35 mins until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Cool and frost as desired.

Saw a recipe for vegan frosting the other day.  Something along the lines of whisking heated almond/rice/soy milk into dark chocolate chips (non dairy) until it's smooth and melted.  Then fold in rice syrup fluff (like marshmallow fluff) until it's the consistency of store bought frosting from a can.

Happy Caking!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Granola Bar Recipe

Tonight I re-attempted making granola bars.  I started by soaking 1 3/4 cups of steel cut oats and a Tbsp or so of flax seeds in a couple cups of warm water (enough to make 4 cups) for 2 hours ish.  Add in 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour, 4 tsp honey (or to taste), 1 Tbsp flax seeds, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup cut raisins, 1/4 chopped nuts, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup chocolate chips. 

Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or so until firm and the edges are browned a bit.  Cut while warm.  Pictures to follow (I hope!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apple Butter Recipe

Since so many people have asked me for it here is the apple butter recipe that I've made several times over the last few weeks.

Starts with home made applesauce (put apples in a pan with a bit of water and cook until mushy and put through a food mill)

Fill a large slow cooker with applesauce and add in the following spices:
Cinnamon (1-2 Tbsp)
Nutmeg (1 tsp)
Ginger (1/2 - 1 tsp)
Ground Cloves (a good sprinkle)

Put chopsticks across the top of the slow cooker and put the lid on top .  This keeps the lid over the apple butter but up high enough for the steam to vent as you want the apple butter to reduce and get thick.
Cook on high for 15-24 hours stirring occasionally.  Once the apple butter is done, put into jars to can or freeze.  Save some out in the fridge for "right now" if you'd like, but it's much better after it's sat a few days to meld the flavors.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This Weekend's Cooking Extravaganza

Well, in an effort to clear out some of the freezer as it is over stuffed and to use up some fresh ingredients that are in great need, I've been cooking like crazy this weekend.

Started Friday with several batches of applesauce in order to make some apple butter. Apple butter in the slow cooker over night with all the wonderful spices make the house smell great! Also made some creamy corn soup that was yummy. At least the adults liked it. Made apple crisp for dessert. (Can you tell I'm attempting to use up apples?)

Saturday I made a huge batch of pancakes for dinner. DD ate 5 pancakes! That's a lot for a little tummy. We had only 6 left :-) Experimented tonight making kale popcorn. Very crispy and flaky. Good, but odd. Recipe follows:

Kale Popcorn
Wash a big bunch of kale
Rip into 1-2 inch pieces removing the large ribs as you go.
Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Spray with olive oil spray or other oil spray/butter and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings you'd like.
Bake in 400 degree oven for 7-8 minutes turning/stirring after about 5-6 minutes until completely dry and crispy but still mostly green.

More tomorrow perhaps!

Intro to Blog

Finally decided to start my own blog. Maybe people will be interested, maybe not. I really don't care either way, but at least then I can keep a log/journal if you will of my crafting and culinary experiments.

I plant to keep a log of recipes, craft projects and general musings for those interested. So read, enjoy and be inspired!