Archive | July, 2013

Swedish Pancakes

31 Jul

Today was my beautiful mother’s birthday – not a day over twenty-one! 🙂 We spent the morning shopping with her, filling in the wardrobe gaps she had for her upcoming trip to Hawaii (still trying to figure out how I’m going to cram myself into her suitcase for that one), and the afternoon playing dress-ups and swimming. The funny thing is that, even though she was supposed to focus on herself today, she took the baby so that I could browse, pushed around a giant double stroller so half of my kids could stay contained, and all six grandkids that were in tow left the store with a stuffed animal each, courtesy of Grandma. She let me nap while my kids destroyed her house playing with the mounds of treasures that I remember playing with as a kid – she kept it all! And again held the baby so that I could swim with my other kiddos. That is my Mom. And if anyone in the world deserves to have a happy birthday, it is her. I love you, Mom!

When we got back from shopping, the kids were antsy and hungry. You can imagine their delight when they saw the giant stack of pancakes on the counter, left over from breakfast – I don’t think my mom has ever not doubled this recipe. It is a staple for our famously enormous Christmas breakfast, which is almost as awesome as having pancakes for lunch after getting dragged around department stores – just ask my kids!

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Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 cups milk

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup butter, melted

Add together eggs, milk, sugar salt, and flour and beat until smooth. Slowly add melted butter and mix well. Cover un-greased pan with thin layer of batter (crepe style). When edges are brown, turn with spatula and brown the other side. Roll and serve with syrup- add additional toppings if desired.

Lemon Syrup

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Oven Caramel Corn

28 Jul

Just after we got home from church this afternoon, one of the little neighbor girls told my girls all about how they were going to have popcorn and watch a movie as a family. This, of course, brought about the inevitable question: “Can we make popcorn too?!” For the first time in a long time, all three girls managed to make it home with their hair in tact (we don’t usually make it past the first half hour, let alone all three hours) – how can you not reward that? So I said sure – I haven’t made caramel corn in forever, and when I suggested it as an alternative to regular ol’ popcorn, I got a, “Yeah! That actually sounds good!” A vast improvement from, “Mom, why do you always cook yucky things?” Yes, they really said that. Hubby cooked dinner, so I got to do dessert (although, truth be told, we ate dessert first – my excuse being it was done first :)).

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Ingredients:

8-9 qt. popcorn (or 2 bags of the microwave popcorn)

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 250^F. Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Add corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring well. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda, stirring quickly. Caramel will become fluffy. Pour caramel over popcorn and mix well. Tip: Spray the inside of a large bowl and a wooden spoon with cooking spray so the caramel doesn’t stick as much.

Spread caramel corn on a cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes; stir once, then bake for 15 minutes more. If you prefer sticky caramel corn, bake for less time or don’t bake at all.

Coconut-Banana Ice Cream

27 Jul

This week, we are turtle sitting Jeeves. He is very well behaved and my kids love feeding him, but he’s never answered the door, or brought me afternoon tea. He’d make a terrible butler, so I guess it’s a good thing he’s a turtle instead. He also fails to tell me that I really shouldn’t keep making different flavors of ice cream. It’s summer and all, but my freezer is starting to overflow. I blame my lack of self control. And Jeeves. Because I can.

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Ingredients:

2 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1 can coconut milk

2 cups half and half

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

*Optional – 1 cup toasted coconut

In a large saucepan, heat milk, coconut milk, and half and half. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth. To temper the egg mixture, carefully whisk in about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the egg mixture until smooth. Then whisk the egg mixture into the remaining amount of cream in the pot. Return to medium low heat, and cook up to 170 degrees F. Add vanilla and salt, mix well. Allow mixture to cool then transfer to ice cream maker. When ice cream is close to being done, add mashed bananas and optional toasted coconut. Return to ice cream maker and let the added ingredients to mix. Serve immediately or allow to set in freezer.

Coconut Banana Ice Cream

Cheesecake Crescent Rolls

24 Jul

Beware: if you do not practice some serious self control, you will eat the entire pan of this in one sitting. You would never guess that it is made with refrigerated crescent rolls! I modified the original recipe and cut the filling in half – I love me some filling, but I felt like it was way too much and made it too rich. I’d rather have a piece that leaves me wanting more, although maybe that’s a bad thing! If you’re a cheesecake-a-holic (although this is a little more custard-esqe) then double it up and revel in the richness. These are best enjoyed warm, so use that as an excuse to have another :). Great for a sweet breakfast or as a dessert.

Cheesecake Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:

1 can crescent rolls
1/2 (4 oz) pkg cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter melted
Cinnamon/sugar

Unroll and spread half of can of rolls into bottom of 8×8 pan. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread over roll layer and top with remaining rolls. Melt butter and spread over top, sprinkle generously with cinnamon/sugar. Bake at 350^F for 20-30 min

Super good with strawberries!!!

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Laundry Soap

23 Jul

Alright, in this case, please keep your mouth closed! No eating the laundry soap. I started making my own laundry soap about a year and a half ago. I had a neighbor give me a recipe  (that I keep losing – hence the reason why it’s here now), and when I found out it was comparable to about a penny a load and actually cleaned your clothes, I was sold! It is kind of ridiculous how much laundry soap costs once you realize how cheap it is to make your own. I’ve always done a liquid version because I was a little nervous about the soap not dissolving all the way and leaving a residue, but this time around I decided to go for the powdered version. All the testimonials say that it dissolves fine, even in cold water, so I gave it a go. The liquid version I make about twice a year and use 1/2 cup per load. The powder you only use 1-2 Tbsp per load, so I’m guessing it will last significantly longer. I tested out the first two loads today and I’m pleased with how everything turned out – the soap actually began to dissolve right away. If you look on Pintrest or one of those cutesy sites, everyone has their soap in really sweet containers with vinyl lettering and colored crystals…I’m boring. Laundry is laundry to me, regardless of if you dress it up in a nice bottle or not. 🙂 So, I have mine in a giant tupperware container! Real glamorous. I’ve got both versions listed below – liquid and powdered. No picture of liquid because I just ran out (remember, I’m potty training…my washing machine is working overtime right now)! I think both liquid and powdered do comparable jobs. The powdered has a few more ingredients, takes a little less time to make, and will last longer. But it’s time consuming to grate the soap bars (I only grated my knuckle three or four times and my fingernail once :)), but its a great arm workout! The liquid has to be done on the stove, but the longest part is letting the soap dissolve, and you can just leave it alone to do that – no babysitting required. You do have to come up with containers for the liquid. Some people will recycle milk jugs or vegetable oil containers, or you could just use a 5 gallon all purpose bucket. I went to the dollar store and bought six 3 qt containers. I like that size because they are small enough to shake (you have to agitate the soap before using it) but large enough to not have thirty-thousand bottles of soap cluttering up the laundry room. All in all, I don’t really have a preference as to which is better – try them both and decide for yourself!! My daughter asked what I was making and when I told her, “Laundry soap,” she said, “With cheese?” 🙂

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Powdered:

Ingredients –

1 (4lb 12 oz) box of Borax

1 (3 lb 7 oz) box of Washing Soda

1 (3lb) container of Oxiclean

3 (5.5 oz) bars of Fels Naptha

1 (4lb) box of Baking Soda

Using a cheese grater, grate the Fels Naptha bars finely (if you have a food processor or blender, you can pulse the grated soap in them until powdered – I didn’t opt for this since I was afraid of ruining my blender!). Mix all ingredients together in a large bucket or trash bag and store in air tight container. You can add essential oils or Purex crystals if you want to add scent to the soap. Use 1-2 Tbsp for regular loads.

Liquid:

Ingredients:

1 (5.5 oz) bar of Fels Naptha

1 1/2 cups Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

Total of 4 1/2 – 5 gallons of water

*optional 1 cup Oxiclean

Chop the bar of soap and melt over medium heat in 2-3 quarts of water (about 30 min). Once melted, add in the washing soda and borax and optional Oxiclean. Simmer 3-4 minutes, making sure powders have dissolved. In a 5 gallon bucket, add one large pot of boiling water. Add your soap mixture to the bucket and stir well. Add hot tap water to within 2-3 inches from the top of bucket. Stir well. Using a funnel, while mixture is still hot, pour into empty containers, leaving 2-3 inches of head space. Place lids on top and let sit for 24 hours for detergent to set up before using. You will need to shake the bottles quite a bit to break up the chunks of detergent that will form after it sets up. Detergent will stay a little clumpy – lightly shake bottles before each use. Use 1/2 cup detergent for regular loads. Use 1/4 cup detergent for HE washers.

P.S> Don’t be scared to try this! All of the ingredients can be found at your regular grocery store on the laundry aisle.

Massaman Curry

23 Jul

I need a new car. We have four kids and our car seats seven. Now, you don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that we do, in fact, have enough seats to fit everyone in our family – that’s not the problem. The problem is that, in order to fit everyone in our family including their carseats, my two year old and my four year old have to sit next to each other…in the back…alone…and they can touch each other. Heaven forbid. The amount of screaming that comes from that back seat is kind of ridiculous. My kids love each other, just not when they have to sit next to each other. Now for the real problem: I don’t think they make a car that would suit our needs. I like having my oldest next to the baby – she is such a big help when he gets fussy; but in any car layout, besides a big beastly suburban or van, that always leaves the other two next to each other. I made the comment to my sister that maybe we should just drive a motorhome around like my mom did when we were kids (yes – I said motorhome…that was our family car). To which she heartily responded, “Oh no, do not do that to your kids!” I always thought it was kind of cool – there was a special ‘high seat’ that I could see out of the window if it was my turn (we usually fought over it – I even got bit by my little sister one time because she wanted it, but I got it because she bit me 🙂 = Justice). Plus we had a bathroom with us all the time. Can you say ‘convenient?’ But I was young. Apparently, when kids ask you if you’re leaving on vacation every time you get picked up from school, it gets kind of embarrassing. So, I guess motorhome is out. I’m up for suggestions.

And because Thai food has everything to do with cars (is there even such a thing as a Thai manufactured car?) – I bring you, Massaman Curry. I like to make it with sweet potatoes, but it is good with regular potatoes also. You can substitute the chicken for beef as well. Just adjust the cooking time a bit because beef takes longer to stew. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk

2 Tbsp red curry paste

1 cup water

4 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp salt

dash of cinnamon

1 lb chicken, cubed (or beef)

1 cup potatoes, cubed

1/2 cup cashews

Heat coconut milk and curry paste in a pot over medium heat and stir – break up the paste and mix well with coconut milk. Stir constantly to keep mixture from sticking. When you see the red oil bubbling up (about 5 min), add meat and stir to cover meat with curry. Add 1 cup water or enough to cover all the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients, except potatoes and cashews. Stew until meat is cooked through. Add potatoes and cashews (you can wait and simply top your curry with cashews when you are ready to serve) and let simmer 20 min more. The liquid should be reduced, but if it is very low, add more water. Serve over warm rice.

Banana Milk

19 Jul

We’re going for simplistic today. I decided to start potty training my two year old two weeks after we brought our new baby home – I’ll give you one guess how that turned out. I quit after three days. Baby is almost six weeks old now, and as much as I hate potty training, big sister is ready and I am going to have to suck it up and stick it out. We are on day three now, so as long as I make it to tomorrow…what I didn’t count on was the fact that she’s got a little stomach bug right now. Stomach bug = diarrhea. Not really something I should talk about on a food blog, I know. I won’t go into detail, I’ll just say that I’m not having fun. We’re trying to keep with a basic diet of saltines, toast, and high fiber foods like bananas. She was really excited about the banana – so was I, until she started squishing it while still in the peel. Not much you can do with a squished banana. Luckily, I had just the thing…and yes, I totally spilled while taking my ‘pouring’ picture. 🙂

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Ingredients:

4 cups milk

2 large bananas

1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar

Place milk and bananas into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add sugar to taste – less is more! If you get it too sweet you lose the banana flavor. Blend until sugar is dissolved.

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Blueberry Muffin Ice Cream

18 Jul

As I’ve said before, I am a very simple recipe type gal. Every now and again however, I’ll get a little crazy and go outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been using blueberries a lot lately because I have a huge bag of frozen ones – nice and convenient! I found this recipe for Blueberry Muffin ice cream and just couldn’t resist. I wasn’t even scared away by the words ‘compote’ (what is that?!) and ‘browned butter’ (turns out, not near as fancy or complicated as I made it out to be – it’s really just butter…browned – go figure). I was brave – but good heavens, I’ve never spent so much time on ice cream in my life. Worth it? Absolutely. It wasn’t hard to make, it just takes some time because there are multiple components and they all need time to cool before heading into the ice cream maker. So, if you want to impress with some fancy dairy delights, start early, and wow them with this yummy treat.

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Ingredients
3 cups half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 egg yolks
3/4 tsp kosher salt
4 oz butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup blueberry compote or jam
3 tablespoons cinnamon streusel

Simmer the butter on medium heat until takes on a nice golden brown color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp. In a large pot, bring the half and half up to an almost boil over medium high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, sugars and salt until smooth. To temper the egg mixture, carefully whisk in about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the egg mixture until smooth. Then whisk the egg mixture into the remaining amount of half and half in the pot. Return to medium low heat, and cook up to 170 degrees F, constantly stirring along the bottom of the pot to ensure even cooking. Once it has reached the 170, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and brown butter. Strain through a wire mesh strainer. Allow to cool to about room temperature in an ice bath and pop in the fridge.

Once the mixture is chilled through, put it in your ice cream maker. Once it’s gotten pretty firm, pour the ice cream into a large bowl and fold in the blueberry compote and then the streusel so it ribbons through it. Put in a container and freeze until firm. Enjoy!

Blueberry Compote

Ingredients:
4 half pints blueberries
Juice of 3 limes
2 cups sugar

Combine everything in a bowl to coat, and then heat over a medium flame until the blueberries liquify and if you stir a spoon through it, you can see the bottom of the pan for a beat. Basically, it should look kind of syrupy. Pour into a jar, tighten the lid, and flip upside-down until room temp. Keep refrigerated.

Cinnamon Streusel

Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
2 oz butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Using your fingers or a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon and then mix in the butter until crumbly. Place on a baking sheet with a silicone mat and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Break apart and mix the streusel up, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Crumble and cool.

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*Original recipe found here: http://simplystated.realsimple.com/2011/07/25/blueberry-muffin-ice-cream-recipe/

Biscuit Dough Donuts

16 Jul

My grandparents celebrated their birthday’s this week – my grandma on the 14th and my grandpa today, the 16th. He is turning 95, and she would have been celebrating 93 – she passed away at the end of January this year. I miss her laugh and her voice. My grandpa is cranky and opinionated and is the scariest driver – who gave him a license anyways? 😉 – and I love him to death. I think he has struggled more than he wants to admit from the loss, but I know he has gained a greater appreciation for what they had together since she has been gone. My parents took the opportunity to make the drive to be with him on his birthday and they had dinner the other night with my cousins at the Ranch Enchilada (it was the Whole Enchilada when I was a kid, and I still have a hard time calling it anything else!), and today did breakfast at IHOP. My grandpa made the comment that he doesn’t know how other restaurants stay open when there is an IHOP. 🙂 I wish I could have been there too. One thing about death, as sad as it is, it has a funny way of reminding us how important those still here are. I am so grateful for my family – for my parents and my sisters, and my cousins who we reconnected with over our stay there for the funeral. For my sweet grandpa who gives hugs like he never did before, and has learned to say things like, “Thank you” and “I was wrong” because of the new appreciation he has gained for life and those he loves.

In honor of my grandma, I made her ‘homemade’ donuts. At her funeral, everyone talked about making donuts with Grandma. You could count on two things at her house – grapefruit and  donuts. I’m on the younger side of all the grandkids, and I had never known that she made donuts! We always had deli pastries or store bought donuts (the grapefruit never went anywhere…I’m sure she’s still having one for breakfast every morning!). But in all my years, I don’t think I saw her use the kitchen once, except the little toaster oven to warm the pastries. So, I was excited to get the recipe for these famous donuts and try them out. I laughed out loud when my cousin sent me the recipe. Biscuit dough – so easy, and so Grandma. 🙂 She would punch the hole in the middle with the lid of a salt shaker. I’m going to have to get one, just for tradition’s sake. They really are super yummy! I was expecting them to taste more bicuit-y, but they are light and perfect and literally take 5 minutes to make. Thanks, Grandma! Love you and miss you.

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Ingredients:

Cooking oil

Refrigerated biscuit dough

Icing or sugar to coat

Pour about 2″ of cooking oil into a large pot and preheat to about 350^F – be careful not to overheat. Open cylinder of biscuits, remove and separate into individual biscuits. Poke holes in the middle of each biscuit with finger, knife, or salt shaker lid :). Carefully place biscuits into hot oil and cook until bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook other side. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels until cool. Top with icing or roll in sugar – granulated or powdered. Repeat for donut holes.

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Homemade Barbecue Sauce

14 Jul

Way back when, in college, I took a cooking class. Mostly, because my boyfriend kept teasing me that he could cook better than me (and I still married him…aren’t I nice?). I really enjoyed the class, whatever my original motives for attending had been, and I came away with a book of recipes that my teacher swore were all fool proof. “You cannot mess them up,” she said – and so far I have only proven her wrong on one recipe and that was entirely my fault. Turns out, having a thermometer is pretty important when making candy – guessing really doesn’t produce the desired results. This sauce is one of her recipes and I find that it gives my meat so much more flavor than the bottled kinds. Another reason why I love it is because I have two sisters who have to eat gluten-free. Not the worst thing in the world, but after attending a gluten-free fair with one of them, I discovered how truly terrible some gluten-free things can taste (there are some equally tasty things too!) and that most BBQ sauces are off limits because they contain gluten. Since I’m not a gluten-free eater, when my sisters come over, it’s a little hard to make sure there are things they can eat just because I don’t typically stock the substitution ingredients that I would need to make recipes gluten-free. This is a very long way to tell you that this BBQ sauce is gluten-free and doesn’t require a trip to the store to make it that way. So, it’s a great dinner fix – whether you use it on chicken, pulled pork, ribs, or whatever.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup water

1 cup catsup

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp dry mustard

2 tsp Liquid Smoke (you can find this by BBQ sauces and other marinades at the grocery store)

Saute onion and garlic in melted butter. Add other ingredients and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Yield: 2 cups