Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scary Supper for Halloween

We had a wonderful, scary Halloween dinner last night.

Pictures are on my Journeyings blog.

Here's the menu and recipes

Worms - spaghetti
Blood - your favorite tomato sauce
Slime - your favorite pesto sauce, or an alfredo sauce blended with basil
Roasted Eyeballs - meatballs (I used frozen ones from Costco)
Belly Button Lint and Dandruff (Parmesan cheese)

For dessert:

Witch's Finger Cookies

1 cup butter softened

1 cup icing sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

2 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¾ cup whole blanched almonds (or ½ cup sliced almonds)

1 tube red decorator gel (I used small ones and needed 2)

In a bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in food coloring if desired. (For a flesh color add about 2 drops red, 1 drop yellow and just a trace of green. It’s also fun to make the fingers green).

Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 325. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Working with 1 quarter of the dough at a time, roll a heaping teaspoon into a finger shape. Press almond firmly into 1 end for a nail. Press in center to create a knuckle shape. Make slashes to form knuckle (the tip of a peeler works well).

Bake 20-25 minutes or until they just start to brown. Let cool for 3 minutes.

Lift up almond, squeeze red decorator gel unto nail bed and press almond back into place, so gel oozes out from underneath. Let cool on racks.

Makes about 60 cookies.

And Spicy Ginger Spiderweb Cookies
This is a great ginger cookie recipe!

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 cup unsulfured molasses

6 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Raisins, dragées, and/or red hot candies for decoration (optional)

Royal Icing for decoration (optional)

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each third in plastic wrap. Chill for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer shapes to ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, decorate with raisins, dragées, and/or red hot candies. Refrigerate about 15 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp but not dark. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. If desired, decorate with Royal Icing.

I used this frosting recipe from Allrecipes.com

The almond flavoring would be fabulous for sugar cookies but I might try a little lemon next time I make it for ginger cookies. I made half a batch of the ginger cookie recipe and needed 3 batches of frosting. I bought black decorator gel to add words and webs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Julia's French Crepes

When our family was young, we used to have a big lunch/dinner after church and then an evening snack of French crepes - made by Daddy!

He served a mission in France and learned the REAL recipe and the REAL pronunciation (short e sound like 'bet' rather than rhyming with 'grapes').

We watched the movie Julie and Julia last week and got inspired to return to our French traditions. So Reid made Julia's crepes.

Here's the recipe from page 648:

Dessert crepes, especially if they are for crêpe Suzette, should be as thin and delicate as possible. There are numerous varying recipes for making them; some use egg yolks, others use whole eggs, and still others specify cream rather than milk. The lightness of crêpes made from the following recipe can be attributed to the used of milk diluted with water. If you wish a heavier crêpe, use all milk, or light cream. The batter for dessert crêpe -, like that for entree crêpes, must rest at least 2 hours before using.

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • 3 Tb orange liqueur, rum or brandy (we used orange juice plus a little vanilla extract)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tb melted butter
  • An electric blender
  • A rubber scraper
Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to the side of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The first crêpe is a trial one to test out the consistency of your batter, the exact amount you need for the pan, and the heat. After preheating the pan to about an 8 out of 10, immediately remove from heat and, holding hand of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Return the pan to the heat until the edges begin to separate from the pan and turn brown. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the underside is a nice light brown, the crêpe is ready for turning.

You will find it best to lift the crêpes while cooking with your fingers to turn and cook them on the other side. Crêpes may be made several hours before serving time. Pile them in a dish, cover with waxed paper and a plate to keep them from drying out.

This is the BEST recipe I have ever tasted for crêpes.

Here are some of our (not Julia's) favorite toppings:
  • fresh lemon juice
  • sugar
  • butte
  • "nutella"
  • jam
  • chocolate powder
  • fruit
  • ice cream
  • pudding

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Onion Marmalade


Onion Marmalade!!!

Yes - it's one of the yummy toppings I ordered recently at a fantastic hamburger place called The Counter. We recreated our own gourmet toppings The Counter experience recently for a family gathering. I just had to have their onion marmalade.

I searched online, combined a few recipes and came up with this:

3 sliced onions
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (I had to substitute white)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

Combine and simmer for 30 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

I also made a herbed goat cheese topping by putting soft goat cheese, fresh chives and basil, plus garlic in the good processor.

(sorry - the picture above was borrowed temporarily. I forgot to take one. I'll change it next time I make this yummy recipe)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mint and Fennel Tea

A long time ago I read a book about medicinal herbs. One thing the author proposed was that somehow plants seem to grow near their need. He gave an example of a plant that killed cancer cells growing spontaneously around a cancer center. I, being a bit of a scientist, am quite skeptical but sometimes I wonder....

Here is some scriptural supporting evidence from the Book of Mormon:

Alma 46: 40
And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate—

So here is the interesting thing. I have been suffering from undiagnosable abdominal pain for six months. Right now my yard is full of weeds because my husband and I have been away from home on a mission for three years. Almost nothing is growing


mint and fennel

they are all over the place!

so I looked up the benefits of mint and fennel tea and here is what I found:


Mint is well known for its ability to sooth the digestive tract and reduce the severity and length of stomach aches. In addition, mint teas and other herbal preparations have shown great promise at easing the discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and even at slowing the growth of many of the most harmful bacteria and fungi. The well-documented antifungal properties of mint are thought to play a role in the treatment of asthma and many allergy conditions as well.

(by the way - I also have an odd asthma condition as well)


The main active constituents of fennel, which include the terpenoid anethole, are found in its volatile oil. Anethole and other terpenoids may have mild estrogen-like activity, which inhibit spasms in smooth muscles, such as those in the intestinal tract.

In fact, fennel was formerly an official drug in the United States and was listed as being used for indigestion.

So I am busy making mint and fennel tea right now. Here is how I make herb tea:
  • Pick edible herbs that grow easily in your garden. Be sure to do a little research and make sure they are safe.
  • Boil 4-6 cups pure water
  • I like to cut the herb stalks into about 4 inch pieces to release some of the oil and to make them easier to cover
  • Put the herbs into a glass bowl, or even easier, a 6 cup glass measuring cup with a spout
  • Pour boiling water over and seep for 20 minutes or so
  • Strain
  • Add honey to taste (optional)
  • I like it chilled in the summer

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Tis the season

...for my favorite West Indies fruits

My husband and I have been living in Trinidad for the past three years. I still remember when I tasted my first perfectly fresh julie mango and my first West Indies avocado....I fell in love.

The timing is perfect because now, just as we are preparing to say goodbye and move home to the US, our trees are full of those fabulous fruits.

I honestly did not play with the color of the avocado in Photoshop - this is what they look (and taste) like here!

Just look at these tiny little bananas. They taste so sweet!

And the mangoes...what can I say?

I just had to make Mango Mousse for supper tonight

Mango Mousse

1 env. unflavored gelatin
6 tbsp. sugar (divided)
1/4 c. cold water
1 1/2 c. fresh mango puree (from 2 lg. ripe mangoes)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 lg. egg whites, at room temp.
1 cup heavy or whipping cream

In microwavable 1-quart bowl, combine gelatin and 4 tablespoons sugar. Stir in water and microwave uncovered on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until gelatin and sugar dissolves. Stir in mango puree and lemon juice. Chill mixture just until it mounds slightly. In small bowl, with electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into mango puree mixture.

In small bowl with beaters, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold mango mixture into whipped cream (reserve a little cream if desired, for garnish). Divide mango mousse among 6 serving dishes. Chill mousse until firm. To serve, garnish with whipped cream, mango slice and mint sprigs, if desired.

Serves 6

KISS Recipes

I expect you know the acronym:

K eep
I t
S imple
S tupid

(I wouldn't let our children say 'stupid' so I feel a little naughty saying that word - but I love the idea)

I love this link my son sent from the Lifehacker website for some fabulous and simple recipes. I made sure my husband had the link to Creamy French Style Scrambled Eggs - he is the breakfast man.

It was funny - last night my oldest and youngest sons were gmail chatting with me and both were firing food blog links to me - I raised a bunch of foodies (or perpetually hungry kids)!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jenny's Beef???

Jenny (non meat eating daughter) sent this recipe today

It sounds wonderful

Rump Roast

We had this for dinner tonight. I don't eat the meat, but the veggies and juice was sooo good over rice. Easy to make:
Combine 2 cups water, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup vineger, 1/2 cup soy sauce, salt, pepper, ginger, celery salt, garlic powder. Pour over rump roast in crockpot. Add lots of veggies (broccolli flowers, celery, baby carrots, mushrooms).
Cook on low about 8 hours.
Serve over rice.
We had this meal with some corn on the cob and french bread.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Easy Mexican Fiesta

We went all out for a Cinco de Mayo theme night this week and it was a hit! I made some cheesy chicken enchiladas and spanish rice and served it with refried beans and homemade quacamole. My new trick for making chicken recipes fast and easy is to have a stash of shredded chicken in the freezer. I buy the Costco rotisserie chickens and shred the chicken as soon as I get it home and keep in frozen in freezer bags.

Chicken Enchiladas

3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
4 oz can green chilies
1 can green chili enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
8 oz lowfat cream cheese
8 10" tortillas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix chicken, cream cheese, chilies and 1 cup of the cheese in a bowl.
Divide the mixture onto the tortillas and roll up and set in 9 x 13 baking dish.
Pour enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake 30-45 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Spanish Rice

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups medium grain rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt

Brown rice in olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onions are softened.
Add stock, tomato paste and salt and stir until combined. Simmer until rice is cooked through. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
*check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice and make sure you use the proper amount of stock.

Dutch pancakes

There is a special pancake place we go to every time we are in Suriname called Panekoken and Poffertjes - two kinds of special Dutch pancakes.

We love them!

I noticed this pan on the Williams Sonoma website for another type of Dutch pancake - called Ebelskiver. It looks so fun, especially for kiddies.

Has anyone ever tried them?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Addictive Tomato Soup

"My new favorite addictive taste"

That was Dad's response to this easy soup I put together tonight

There's no exact recipe

Here's what I did:

Sauteed in olive oil: half a large onion, a small pepper and three cloves of garlic - all chopped.

While cooking, added hot pepper flakes (generous pinch), dried basil (about 1/2 tsp) and dried oregano (about 1/4 tsp).

Poured in 2 cans chopped tomatoes and 1 can chicken broth

Added pepper to taste plus a couple teaspoons sugar (I used brown)

Simmered 15-20 minutes

Took off heat and stirred in 1/2 cup cream

Simmered 15 to 20 minutes

Ate with crusty fermented european bread (I'll post that recipe someday)

Cook Yourself Thin

I flipped on the TV today and came across a new cooking show - Cook Yourself Thin. It's kind of fun.

They feature someone who wants to lose some weight and revamp some of their favorite high calorie recipes.

Today they made over spaghetti carbonara taking it from about 1500 calories to 600 or so. I've never made that because of the scary raw eggs but it looked yummy.

They used bacon instead of the ham - sauteed it first, removed the oil and left the drippings, and then used olive oil to saute the onions.

Home Baked Hamburger Buns


We whipped these buns up for a farewell hamburger feast with the Staleys when they visited last January. We can get Omaha burger patties here in Trinidad.

I don't think I have ever had a better tasting hamburger.

This is from the old Betty Crocker's Breads Cookbook, 1974 (the book cost $2.50)

The recipe is actually for Double Quick Dinner Rolls (also very good). I used the hamburger bun variation.

1 pkg instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbs softened shortening (or butter or oil)
2 1/4 cups flour

Mix yeast, sugar and salt into 1 cup flour. Add egg, shortening and water. Mix until smooth. Stir in rest of flour and mix until smooth. Let rise until double (about 30 mins). Stir down and spoon into 12 greased muffin cups, fulling each about 1/2 full. Let rise until batter reaches top of cups. Bake 400 for 15 minutes

Makes 1 dozen rolls

Hamburger Bun variation

Increase flour to 2 3/4 cups. After stirring down batter, turn out unto floured surface. Divide in 12 equal parts. Shape each part into a smooth ball. Place about 1 inch apart on greased baking sheet. Let rise until double (20-30 mins). Beat 1 egg yold and 1 Tbs water slightly; brush over buns (opt). Sprinkle with finely chopped onion, sesame seed or poppy seed (opt). Bake as directed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cheap and Easy

Time magazine gives six ideas for gourmet family meals for under $10

Check it out here

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday night soup and bread

Who needs more than this?

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

And a chunk of Edam cheese


Chicken Vegetable Soup

See this earlier blog post - but I skipped the tomatoes and green beans

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

2 pkg instant yeast
2 tsp salt (or less)
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups white flour
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup soft butter

Put 2 cups ww flour, salt and yeast in mixer bowl (easiest if you have a mixer with a dough hook). Mix dry ingredients. Poor in warm water. Add butter. Mix until smooth. Add remaining cup of ww flour and white flour until dough forms a sticky ball. Either mix with dough hook or turn unto counter and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise until double. Punch down. Form into two loaves and place in greased bread pans. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vita-mix Black Bean Soup

A Joelle Staley Recipe!

I was throwing this in the vita-mix this afternoon and the girls came in from school and said, "Yumm! Black bean soup!". That is why this is one of my favorites. How else could I get my family to eat so many raw vegetables? Also, this can be thrown together in about 10 minutes and frozen or put into the fridge until you need it. Great for a busy weeknight!

Just throw all these ingredients into the blender. Chop up the big stuff to make it fit. It will not all work in one batch so I divide it up ... just make sure you have enough liquid in each batch to puree it. It all comes together in the pot so it really doesn't matter how you divide it.
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
3 cans black beans (rinsed)
2 cans chicken broth
1 can tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
handful cilantro
juice from 1 lime
Pour it all into a soup pot and heat.
Garnish with sour cream and cilantro. The kids like it with corn chips broken on top.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sweet Salad for Lunch

I needed a quick healthy filling lunch/supper today after being out and about and missing meals

In a rare organized moment I had washed lettuce the day before and had it waiting crisply in the fridge

So I gave my husband a choice - Greek salad or sweet salad?

Sweet salad it was - so here is what I did

I threw a handful of walnuts into a pan with a generous sprinkling of sugar and cooked on medium heat a few minutes until the sugar melted and coated the nuts

Then I filled a salad bowl with:

baby spinach
torn romaine
sliced red cabbage
chopped cucumber
sliced red onion
grated carrot
grated white cheddar cheese
dried cranberries
the candied walnuts

Then I tossed it with a variation of my standard (learned many years ago from my Parisian friend Therese) French vinaigrette

(this is all approximate - you MUST taste as you go)

1 tsp dijon
1/2 tsp salt (about)
generous dose of fresh ground black pepper
1 or 2 tsp honey
1 Tbs cider vinegar

mix well with a whisk

whisk in 3 to 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil until creamy

Toss with salad and enjoy an easy healthy tasty meal

Saturday, April 4, 2009

World's Best Granola

I have never met someone who didn't go NUTS over this heart healthy but delicious granola!

Yes - it's high in calories

However, if you eat a small bowl of this for breakfast (1/3 cup or so with milk or soy milk), I guarantee you won't want get hungry again for many many hours.

3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup large seeds (sunflower, pumpkin...)
1/3 cup small seeds (sesame, flax...)
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinamon
pinch salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl (oats through salt). Combine oil, honey and vanilla, then pour over dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread on oiled cooking sheet and back in preheated 350 degree oven until golden (10 to 15 minutes). Stir occasionally.

  • This version is fairly sweet - you can decrease the sugar
  • Whole almonds hand chopped are much better than purchased slivered almonds (it's something about the crunch of a sugar coated chunk of almond)
  • You can mix in dried fruits after the mixture cools

Chocolate Vita-Mix Pudding

This quick to make and satisfies that 'must have chocolate now' feeling without doing too much damage to the diet

This is a modified version of the Vita-Mix Cookbook pudding recipe

2 cups steaming milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tbs flour
1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
2 Tbs good quality cocoa powder
1 "mix in" piece of chocolate (about 1 oz - any flavor you like - I prefer bittersweet but have fun and mix it up)

Place hot milk, salt and sugar in Vita-Mix container. Secure lid. Select Variable speed #1. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to #10, then to high. Allow machine to run for 2 minutes. Remover lid plug and add flour, cocoa powder, and chocolate through opening. Replace plug and allow machine to run until mixture settles down and appears to be thickening - about 30 seconds. Drop egg in and run for 1 minute longer. Add butter and vanilla. Stop machine and pour into large bowl or custard cups. Chill and serve.

Almond variation

Eliminate cocoa and chocolate - add 1 cup almonds with butter and vanilla (maybe add some almond extract too)

Banana variation
Eliminate cocoa and chocolate - add 1 ripe banana with first ingredients, or line serving dishes with banana slices.

Coconut variation
Eliminate chocolate - fold in 1/2 cup shredded coconut when finished (better yet - keep the cocoa powder, put in a mounds bar, and make it chocolate coconut!)

Renew Your Body Vegetable Soup


Plus it's flexible - use whatever vegetables you have on hand

Here's how I made this batch:

Saute onions (2 small or one lg) and pressed garlic (plenty - 3 or 4 cloves) for a few minutes. Add seasonings - a couple of large pinches of dried basil and oregano plus some hot pepper flakes. Saute a little more and throw in cubed pumpkin (or squash), sliced carrots and sliced cabbage. I would add green beans here but I didn't have any - stir fry a minute. Add a can of chopped tomatoes and enough chicken broth to cover the vegetables and give enough liquid. Cook until the veggies are tender then add a can of white beans (drained and rinsed) and a couple handfuls of chopped greens. I also added some leftover cooked chicken breast. Cook until greens wilt. Add more broth as needed.

Perfect sprinkled with Parmesan and served with crusty bread