Saturday, August 25, 2012

Belated pasta

I assume this happens to many, but I seem to be notorious for forgetting about food photos I've taken with my phone. Alas! Here was Wednesday's dinner - whole-wheat pasta with olive oil, garden veggies, and local Asiago cheese ... wholesome, healthy, and delicious!

Monday, August 20, 2012


Sometimes the weekend feels like an eat-a-thon . . . or more accurately, maybe a cook-a-thon?  I do the majority of my cooking over the weekends these days, (i.e., when John's around,) and have a tendency to live off leftovers during the work week.  Does anyone else seem to follow this pattern?

Here are a few more things we made/ate this past weekend . . . 

Fluffy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies:

Homemade pizza:

Zucchini Bread:

And breakfast -- scrambled eggs with feta and basil, courtesy of John, and whole-wheat buttermilk pancakes with strawberries:

It was a tasty weekend!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

from scratch, more than ever

I have been enjoying the cooler temperatures we've had in MN these past few weeks!  I'm back in my kitchen, enjoying making things from scratch more than ever -- old favorites (bread, granola, marinara, piecrust, beans,) and new challenges (yogurt, butter, and sour cream) have all come out of my kitchen this week!

Here are a few finished products, incorporated into meals:

A simple casserole of eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, basil, and fresh mozzarella, smothered in homemade marinara:

Homemade triple-berry pie, with homemade vanilla ice cream:

French toast (made from homemade bread):

A (homemade refried) bean-and-cheese quesadilla, with salsa, guacamole, and homemade sour cream for dipping, with a side of roasted broccoli and bell peppers:

Delicious all around!  So far, this re-commitment to from-scratch cooking doesn't seem to be costing me too much extra time -- I have been spending one weekday evening doing kitchen prep and some baking, and that seems to serve me well through the week!

What are your favorite things to make from scratch?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

yogurt and beans

As promised, here are some pictures of my first batch of homemade yogurt that turned out:

(Translation: this was actually my second batch . . . )

I'm going to equate learning how to make yogurt to learning how to make bread -- you can follow directions in a book, but it's going to take a few tries to get things just right, just the way you like them. I'm still playing around with options, (fat percentage of milk, whether to add nonfat dry milk, whether or not to strain,) so I'll keep you posted.  :)

And here was a beautifully colorful, beautifully simple dinner we had over the weekend:

I simplified my meal-planning strategy this past weekend by sticking to recipes from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers, and the seasoned black beans and yellow rice I made on Sunday were super-easy, super-delicious, and super-healthy!  (In case you're wondering . . . I'm coming around to white rice a little bit more these days, partly because it is so much faster than brown rice, but mostly because I have a TON of it on hand!)  The black bean recipe suggested topping the beans and rice with pickled red onions; John has a tendency to be extra-sensitive to overly sour foods, so I skipped the onions in favor of guacamole.  :)  Guac's always a winner, if you ask me!  We also crunched through a simple side salad, containing both cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden.  Yum!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I picked up a copy of The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home at the library a couple of weeks ago, and I finally got around to trying out a few basic recipes!

First, homemade butter:

Even though this required considerable time invested in shaking up the heavy cream, I can't believe how easy it was to make homemade butter!  (Should I be surprised, though?  Probably not.  I vaguely remember making butter in kindergarten as a class project.)  It was kind of remarkable, watching the transformation the cream went through -- liquid, to whipped cream, to a thick paste, and then the final separation of the butterfat from the buttermilk, which was just WEIRD.  But fun!

We enjoyed the butter on some homemade "Broa" from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, alongside a bowl of "Red Lentil Soup with Greens" from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers.  Fantastic!

Please take notice of the chard in the soup . . . John grew that!  :)

Anyone who knows me well at all knows a meal isn't complete at my house without dessert:

Smooth & Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Hot Fudge Sauce and salted mixed nuts!  Wow.  Neither recipe took all that much time, and both turned out fabulously!  I love the subtle tanginess of the ice cream, (the base contains a considerable amount of Greek yogurt,) and the hot fudge sauce?  Words can't describe.  Tastes NOTHING like store-bought sauce, in every best possible way.  Heck yeah.

I also have some homemade yogurt in my fridge, but haven't found a photo-worthy way to serve it quite yet.  Stay tuned . . . .

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

You're only as old as you feel.

How old do you think I feel today? :)

Monday, August 06, 2012

odds & ends

What do you do when you don't really have the makings of a full meal on hand, and a whole host of veggie odds and ends leftover?  Why, pizza, of course.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Crust, topped with olive oil, parmesan, provolone, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, portobello mushroom, sliced olives, oregano, chili flakes, and zucchini.  Yes, the ever-present zucchini even made it onto a pizza.  ;)  I discovered that I left my pizza peel at John's house, so I was "stuck" making a rectangle pizza.  Well then, I guess I'll just enjoy my soft, bready, deep-dish pizza at my house, then!

To avoid generating more odds and ends, I turned the second half of the ball of pizza dough into cinnamon rolls!

I haven't made cinnamon rolls in a LONG time, and I forget how much butter, cinnamon, and sugar the filling requires.  :)  I didn't use nearly enough!  And I was desperately low on powdered sugar, so there isn't nearly enough glaze, either.  Still!  These will be great for breakfast, as they aren't too sweet.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

exactly what we needed

Sometimes, I happen to glance more closely at a product's packaging, and notice a particularly tasty-looking recipe!  Enter Creole Kidney Beans and Rice, from the back of a can of kidney beans:

If you link through to the recipe, note that the original (off the back of the can) also called for a diced green pepper, and white rice, not brown.  I think that if you chose to use brown rice, you'd want to use a bit less than called for, or increase the amount of vegetable broth you add.  Either way, this was a speedy, tasty, filling, healthy, and inexpensive dinner, with a couple of leftover zucchini fritters on the side.  After a long day of hiking, this was exactly what we needed!

Hope you all had a good weekend!  We were busy, but in a good way -- on Saturday, we visited the Minnesota History Center and saw the "New Deal for Artists" and "The US-Dakota War of 1862," then walked over to the Science Museum and saw the Omni movie "The Living Sea."  After a short nap and a stop at Mississippi Market for supplies, we headed off to Fort Snelling State Park for an evening of hiking and picnic-ing.  Today, we drove far, far away to Sibley State Park for loads more hiking (more than 5 miles!) and another picnic!  It's amazing, how much mileage you can get out of a couple museum memberships and a state park yearly pass.  ;)

Friday, August 03, 2012


A simple, garden-fresh Friday night dinner -- tabbouleh, hummus, pita, olives, and feta! Nothing quite like the scent of freshly chopped herbs, if you ask me. :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Found food

I took a few things I found in the garden (chard, basil, green onions, and tomatoes) and added them to a pizza for dinner tonight! Then I took the quart of blackberries we found hiking on Sunday, and made them into a crumble for dessert. Yum. It's a pretty good Wednesday, all things considered!