Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Two-fer!

Tonight's plans were dinner and a movie with the kids, but we've been snowed in.  Not that there's so much snow (maybe 2 inches), but the streets haven't been plowed.  Normally, a few inches of snow wouldn't bother me, but I'm not comfortable with the driving habits of the locals and it seems wiser to stay in this evening than tempt a slushy accident.

So what, you ask?  Here's what -

Two recipes in one day!

And this second is yummy and easy, much like most of what I make around here.  I found the recipe for No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies at Morgan Moore's fun blog.  I made them while making organic mac n cheese for the boys, and husband was doctoring a frozen cheese pizza with red bell pepper, pepperoni, and mushrooms.
Mmmm.  Fudgy.  Get the recipe from Morgan's blog!
Cook's notes:

  • I think I'll use less sugar next time.  2 cups seems like a lot, and 1/2 cup less shouldn't be too noticeable.
  • It took two tries to get 'noticeable' spelled right.
  • These cookies are a little 'loose'.  Maybe it's because they are cooled and not chilled.  I think I'll try subbing corn syrup for sugar next time.  It made the cheerio snacks nice and firm, but I need to research equivalent ratios of white sugar to corn syrup.  Oh no, math....
  • Once I get the recipe where I like it, I'll post it.

Oh - I'd better hurry before I miss Thelma unveiling the bad guy!

Scooby Dooby Doo!

Nostalgic foods

I have a favorite memory from my childhood I'd like to share.  I was walking to Roosevelt Elementary on a not-too-cold fall day (I must have been in second or third grade) and my Grandpa Tony drove up in his green station wagon to give me a fresh-made, still warm waffle sandwich.  Grandma Dorothy had made waffles fresh that morning, and the raspberry jam that summer.  I remember my delight and the delicious warmth of that waffle sandwich to this day, decades later.

I share that tradition with my boys today, but with a few updates.  I use frozen waffles instead of fresh.  We've made homemade waffles, but the boys prefer frozen, and it makes cleanup easier.  And I use whatever jelly we have on hand.  Today it's organic strawberry spread from CostCo.
Still warm!  Mmm!
There isn't really a recipe, more like assembly instructions.

Take 2 warm, fully cooked waffles.
On one, spread cream cheese.
On the other, spread jelly.
Put jelly and cheese sides together.  Eat.  Say "Mmmm".

The boys have eaten all of them and are begging for more.  Time to assemble!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beans! Beans! The Musical Fruit!

Tonight was taco night, the kind of night when no one is complaining about dinner.  Ah, if only every night were this agreeable.  And while no one complained, husband and I agreed that the homemade taco seasoning we normally use has so much more flavor than the Ortega packets we used tonight.  Alas, I just bought 8 packets for less than $1, so we're going to use Ortega til it's gone.  Our normal taco seasoning:
Not sure where this recipe came from, but it rocks

If you want the whole recipe, you have to scroll down
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon flour

Combine all ingredients well in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid.  Attach said lid and store for up to a few months.  To use, brown 1 pound of ground meat, drain fat.  Add three tablespoons of taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water to the hot meat in the pan over medium heat.  Stir everything together really well and bring to a boil.  Let it boil for about 1 minute to thicken everything up, and you're done.  

  • We use it up pretty quickly, so I have no idea how long it will store for, but it's lasted for at least a month in our pantry without any flavor loss.  
  • The recipe multiplies well.  Last time I made it, I think I multiplied everything by 8 and it was great.  
  • We use beef, but I bet chicken or pork or turkey or tofu could be subbed.
  • Put it on tacos, or burritos, or a green salad, or quesadillas.  

And we love Penzey's spices, so that's where we get the raw ingredients from.  Well, we did until we moved to Utah.  I may have to become an online-only customer, which makes me a little sad because their shop in Brookfield, Wisconsin is so much fun to visit.  The first time I took oldest son there, we spent over an hour because he had to smell every spice, and every blend, and every thing.  I'll have to make a point to stop there when we head back to the midwest in July.

One more quick Mexican-inspired recipe that we love in this house - black bean salad.  I think it's more of a salsa and is great to eat with your favorite tortilla chips, but I have certainly put a healthy serving in a bowl and eaten it that way, too.  This is another recipe with unknown origins.
Nominomicon.  Food stains on the page mean the recipe is much loved.
Just in case the photo is blurry, the ingredients are
  • 1 large can of black beans
  • 1 pound plus 2.5 ounces of chopped tomato
  • 1 3/4 ounce chopped green onion
  • Cilantro to taste (from a dash to 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Wow!  Where did I get this recipe from!?  To clarify a few ingredients...
  • Tomatoes -  make that 18.5 ounces of drained, canned chopped tomatoes, or three large fresh tomotoes, chopped.
  • Green onions - I usually finely chop the top half of a small bunch of green onions, around 5.
  • Cilantro - we like cilantro around here, so we usually medium-finely chop the leafy parts of one bunch.
  • Balsamic - how much flavor does that 1/2 teaspoon really add...?  I think it adds a lot, so make it a heaping 1/2 cup total.
  • Olive oil - again with the extra half teaspoon...  Just make it 2 heaping tablespoons total and we're good.

Ok, salsa assembly is super easy.  Ready?
Drain the black beans.  Do not rinse.  Put drained beans in a large serving bowl.
Add everything else to bowl and stir well.  
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, so the flavors can meet, become acquainted, make plans for a second date.  The longer it marinates, the better it gets, much like the perfect relationship (does this exist?  really?).

And now for a recipe I don't even have written down - GUACAMOLE!  Seriously easy.  You'll need:
  • 2 large, or 3 medium, ripe avocados
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3/4C of Your Favorite Salsa
  • Salt and pepper
Remove the skin and pit from the avocado.  
Mash the avocado in a large serving bowl - I do this by hand with a fork.
Add the cilantro and salsa to the serving bowl.  Mix well.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with tortilla chips or raw vegetables.  Or spread it on your quesadilla.

Ah, and now it is bedtime for this bonzo.  G'Night all!

From Lewis Wayne Gallery

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hey everyone! The Milk is Done!

Feast your eyes on this!  The final product of the Drunk Milk experiment!
Golden nectar!
Maybe I should have posted the progress photos first and shown the finished product last, but I can't help tooting my own horn on this one.  It's sweet, creamy and very citrusy, sort of a grown up creamsicle taste.  It took hours to strain, and instead of waiting for it to be completely strained, I went ahead and poured myself a shot of the creamy goodness.  Here're the progress photos.
Open!  Strong alcohol smell.
Straining with a verrry old linen kitchen towel.  I squeezed as much of the liquid out as I could, then threw the towel and  mess away.
I was left with a thick milky liquor. I strained it through coffee filters to get rid of the milk solids.  This is the first pass.
I went through at least 10 coffee filters straining it the first time.  This is the second strain - only used three this time.
It took several hours to get the stuff strained, and it would benefit from a third straining.  I can still see some milk solids in the final product, but I don't have the patience to strain again and it tastes pretty good.  So I'm happily, contentedly done.

Would I do this again?  Probably not.  There are plenty of liquors out there that don't require almost two weeks of time and a half day's effort to get to a drinkable state.  Though this could be a good project for my drunk kitchen.  I'd love to see what she would do with this, she's so cute  :-)

I've been a little busy playing with the boys on their day off yesterday, and helping judge the school spelling bee, but I was still able to whip up these tasty peanut butter cheerio snacks.  I found them at the Kathie cooks blog.
Kathie's pictures are way nicer than this, but I'm keeping it real.

My only real project lately was cleaning the house and scrubbing toilets, and no one wants to read about that.  But I'd love to hear about your fun and exciting crafty projects.  Drop me a line!

Homework time (what IS a rhombus?),

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 11, whaaa?!

A day overdue and the drunk milk looks the same, mostly:
Madame Charnushka say "You will get tipsy tomorrow".  Prophetic!

Purple and yellow water marbles. They do not freeze well.  Go figure.
I plan on straining the supposed amber nectar from the jar tomorrow.  Pictures will be eagerly shared as soon as possible.

I worked out today, after which I usually have a craving for something sweet.  The only sweet things we have to snack on are a big bowl of halloween candy (yes, I realize it's January), so there is really nothing for me to snack on.  What to make, what to make...?  How bout THIS!
The upper right ones were made with the thinner chocolate and almond butter, bottom left with thicker chocolate and peanut butter.
Frozen chocolate-covered nut-butter banana bites!  I used nomnomnomblog's recipe here, but even following the recipe as closely as I can (I heart tweaking), it was still really messy.  Here are some of my findings:

  • First, I needed to add waaay less liquid to the chocolate dip than the recipe called for.  I discovered this *after* following the recipe, so I had some extra chocolate left over.  Happy accident.
  • I used almond milk to thin the chocolate, so I thought it would be a good idea to use almond butter.  Not such a good idea.  Even after pouring off extra oil and stirring the heck out of it, the almond butter was still oily, which made the chocolate slide off.
  • Be sure to 'butter' all the banana slices before dipping in the chocolate.  It might even be a good idea to freeze the peanut buttered bananas before dipping, so you're dipping something hard instead of something mushy.  Personal preference on the freezing, serious suggestion on the pre-buttering.

Concoction #2:
Still contemplating a color for the table.  Maybe we should just sand and bleach it.  The options still boggle my mind.
Not quite solid so the breaks weren't perfect.  It tastes perfect, though.
Paula Deen's Pine Bark.  Wow!  I followed her recipe almost exactly, using milk chocolate chips instead of bars, and adding 2 drops of doTERRA's Wild Orange essential oil instead of almond extract.  Tweaky tweaky delicious!  The orange flavor was subtle, I would even use three or 4 drops next time for a stronger taste, reminiscent of homemade chocolate covered orange peel.  I should add that to my list of things to make, haven't made it since, well, pre-marriage.  And we're celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this June - go us!

  • Side note: I tried to find a recipe to post here as a possible chocolate covered orange peel candidate, but all the initial results included the white pith from the peel.  And a lot of boiling in plain water.  Blech.  The white pith needs to be removed as much as possible.  This makes the end product much, much tastier.  And the recipe I used in the past had you boil the de-pithed peel in increasingly sugarier pots of sugar water, not plain water.  I'll find the recipe and post the results when I'm done.  Honest.

Well, I have little boys that need refereeing.  Maybe I can bribe some good behavior with these treats then send them home hopped up on sugary goodness and covered in chocolate.  There are worse ways to end a Friday the 13th.

Not feeling superstitious at all,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 8 and I haven't lost track yet

On the eighth day of fermenting my drunk milk said to me...
"The future loo-ooks clou-ou-ou-ou-dy"
Just in case we haven't mind melded lately, hum that sentence and caption to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  It goes together perfectly.  Really.  And yes, I do reference Christmas the whole year long.

The milk seems to be fermenting normally, no discoloration, and the jar hasn't exploded, thankfully.  Yet.

The other, decidedly more yummy looking product of my cooking efforts is sitting on my counter top right now - vanishing oatmeal bars!  The recipe calls for raisins, but my children run screaming from raisins (force fed too many as toddlers, perhaps), so I subbed in chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.  And if you couldn't tell, I do the bar version, not the cookie version, because the bars seem to stay moister (aka yummier) longer.
Oh look!  The Ghost of Drunk Milk Past!

The craft front is quiet, which means a storm is brewing...  I have this old table, that we got for a steal about ten or eleven years ago.
Look away from the cookie crumbs
It's a solidly built table, but the plaid seats?  Yech.  I'm loving slip covers lately (Miss Mustard Seed has a great how-to here, and Screaming Meme has some adorable examples here, and Kristi at Pink and Polka Dot has really cute stuff, too), and have you heard about using drop cloths to reupholster/slipcover tired furniture?  Fabulous and inexpensive!  Love it!

Now that the seat covers are planned (drop cloth slipcovers, of course!), what to do with the yellow wood? We *could* sand it and restain in a dark wood color, but I'm afraid that the dark wood trend is coming to a close.  I'm seeing the most interesting (in a good way) painted wood furniture all over the internets and DIY blogs.  And our neighbor painted an old thrift store table and chairs a nice cream color and they are just adorable!  Cream table and cream slip covers...?  Too creamy.  Our counter is a dark green, so maybe a dark green, with a semi-gloss coat of poly-urethane to protect it?  Or dear husband might like a dark navy blue.  Or I'm really, really liking orange lately, so maybe a slightly burnt orange with the cream slipcovers...?  A quick search on google images didn't give me any inspiration photos to go from (or persuasion material for dear hubby), so I'll have to use the pictures in my head for inspiration.  Oh, the possibilities!

What do the pictures in your head look like?  Do share  :-)


Monday, January 9, 2012

What day is it again?

It is day 7 of the drunk milk experiment.  I guess it isn't really an experiment since I'm following a recipe, but it sure looks like a chemistry experiment.  Check it out for yourself:
Madame Charnushka says "Take no long walks off short piers."
The alcohol isn't separating from the rest of the stuff anymore, and bits of citrus pulp are now floating freely in the jug.  This has been the status quo for the last two days, and we've been busy, so there haven't been any updates over the weekend.  'Busy with what?' you ask..?
Busy-ness #1:  It snowed!  And we were the first ones at the sledding hill!  Notice how dark the photo is?  It was just after 8am.  The boys were raring to go at 7, but I made them wait.  Mommy needs a few moments to get going, especially on cold snowy mornings.

Busy-ness #2:  Friday nights are movie and pizza nights at our household.  This past Friday was a Digimon marathon, and to keep my sanity I tackled one of the projects that has been on my mind - a plastic bag organizer.
A bag bag!
I originally saw this on Martha Stewart ages ago, read the how to, then promptly did something else.  I recalled the basic instructions and winged it Friday as digimon were battling each other.  Here's what I did:

  • Grab a clean dish towel.
  • Using scissors, cut the two long seamed edges off.  I did not cut the corners off, thinking that the piece would be sturdier if I left the short seamed edges completely intact.  Save the seam pieces.
  • Fold in half, right side in, cut sides aligned.
  • At this point I hand stiched the cut sides together with about a 1/4" seam allowance.  I bet this would go much quicker with a sewing maching.
  • Make one slit on the inside of the bottom seam, at both ends, big enough for a small button to pass through. 
  • Using 1/4" satin ribbon left over from the Christmas stockings, I tied one end of a 2' length to a small button. My helper Nathan threaded the button in one hole, through the seam and out the hole at the other end.  We untied the button, cinched the seam so it was gathered up and had a smaller diameter than the rest of the bag, and tied the ribbon in a bow to hold the cinch.
  • Take the reserved seam pieces that were cut off and tie them into a bow, leaving long tails at one end.  Sew the tails to the top/uncinched part of the bag.
  • Turn bag right side out.  Fill with plastic bags.  Hang someplace conveniently useful yet out of sight.

I didn't do any of Martha's ironing or pinning, I used ribbon instead of elastic, and I didn't use cotton tape for the hanger.  Oops.  I still love it.  This will hang in the pantry as soon as husband puts up a hook. I was going to do it, but he wants to help, so I wait.

Busy-ness #3: A neighbor across the street had a baby last week, and I helped make dinner for her and her family.  Someone else brought meatballs, and I brought a salad and biscuits.  Not being able to make small portions of anything, there was enough for their family and ours.  I used Erin's Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit recipe at, and they were delicious!  The salad had spinach, diced prunes, chopped toasted walnuts and asian dressing.  I meant to put mandarin oranges in too, but I don't have any cans of them, so they got the salad as-was.  After I brought the salad over, I realized I could just peel some cuties and throw them on top - it really made the salad.

Busy-ness #4:  I saw this on Pinterest, a post at Alphamom about making bento box lunches for kids.  Then I googled it and found so many images and links and whatnot, I was a little overwhelmed.  So this is what I accomplished this morning:
Nowhere near the cute perfection of Alphamom, but still tasty looking.
Now I have to get cute basic cookie cutter shapes to prettify my bento lunches.

Hasta la chow chow!