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It's been awhile and nothing is as it should be. July 2, 2010

Filed under: Other,Recipe — Desiree @ 8:10 pm
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Life is crazy!  Did you know that?  I’m sure you do, because it seems I’ve heard that before somewhere…

Nothing is as it should be and hasn’t been for awhile.  First we were dealing with end of school activities and with 3 different schools, there were a lot of activities to deal with.  Throw in an ailing family member (who was able to make it to heaven just a week ago) and a couple of kids’ birthdays, I’m sure you can imagine how “un-normal” things have been.

On top of all the un-normal stuff, we’ve been working on normal stuff as well.  Getting the garden in, buying a fridge, getting tires on the van, getting used to summer vacation, wishing, hoping and bribing the rain to go A-W-A-Y and I’ve been working on a different format for my menu planning and all that jazz.  I think I’ve found something that works, but more about that later.

Tonight was a fun one though.  I’ve been recovering from a *fun* summer cold ( ahem, not fun!) and a boring dinner menu this week  (Really, what WAS I thinking?) so when Jason came home from work today, which by the way was NOT a normal work day for him so you can see, everything has been all messed up, I asked him what he wanted for dinner because I was not making what was on the menu.

He said:  I don’t know.

Oh, how I hate that answer!

(But I SO love to use it!)

So, after a while he was all, Maybe I want pizza?  And I jumped on it!  Grabbed the ads to see what was on sale, looked on the websites and got coupons and drove my butt to PapaMurphys.  I’m usually not a fan, but what the hell, it’s easy, I have coupons and it’s easy.  Oh, I said that already.

So, to jump around a bit, today was rainy.  Yuck.  It’s rained a lot lately and it feels more like April than July.  What’s up with that?  So I had black bananas in the freezer so I thawed them out and made Chocolate Chip Banana Banana Bread.  It was nummy.  Really nummy.  So nummy in fact that while I wasn’t looking and waiting for pizza number three to cook Jaidelyn took it upon herself to get a fork, knife and place to server herself up a GIANT piece!  I caught her right in the knick of time and sent her on her way, putting the plate on the counter.  Went to feed the pig and came back to no plate on counter.  “Umm… Jason?  Where’s Jaizy?”  “She’s in her room.”  “Does she have banana bread with her?”  “Oh shit!”  He and Matthew jump up and check and yup, there she is sitting at her little tea table enjoying a huge-ass piece of banana bread.

Pizzas

Pizzas number 1, 2 & 4

Pizza

Pizza # 3 baking

Time-out Jaizy

Jaizy in Time-Out because...

Chocolate Chip Banana Banana Bread

MONDO piece of Banana Banana bread

So she did time in time-out.  But damn, it is cute how she is sneaky!  One day, I might be proud…

Chocolate Chip Banana Banana Bread

Makes 1 9×5 loaf pan.  To make 2, simply double recipe.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2  cups mashed very overripe bananas
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1  Preheat oven to 350°.
    2  Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan, or spray with flour cooking spray.
    3  In large bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.
    4  In separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
    5  Stir in eggs, mashed bananas and chocolate chips until well blended.
    6  Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.
    7  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
    8  Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf      comes out clean.
    9  Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
    10  Keep out of 3 year old’s hands and room.

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    Clam Chowder in HM bread bowls April 21, 2010

    Filed under: Recipe — Desiree @ 9:20 pm
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    Ok, so funny story.  I had a great clam chowder recipe.  It was very good and everyone liked it.  Clam chowder was on my menu last week and I went to make dinner and forgot that my clam chowder recipe was a crock pot recipe.  How did I forget this?  I have no idea!  So I scrambled over to recipezaar.com to find another.  Boy, am I glad I did!  This new recipe will completely replace mine and is SOOOO good!  I don’t even care that it has canned soup in it!  I changed up some stuff, so here is my rendition.  The original recipe had bacon, so if you like bacon in your clam chowder, by all means add it.  It didn’t need it.  It also called for fresh potatoes and I like to cheat and use cubed hashbrowns.   Yeah, I’m lazy like that.

    Here it is:

    Served 8

    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 4 (5 ounce) cans baby clams, with juice reserved
    • 4 cups  frozen cubed hashbrowns
    • 4 (10 1/2 ounce) cans cream of celery soup (I used low sodium/fat)
    • 4 cups half and half
    • 2 tablespoon butter
    • 2 teaspoon dried dill weed
    1. In a soup pot cook onion until translucent.
    2. Add clam juice from both cans.
    3. Add potatoes.
    4. Cook and cover until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often so potatoes don’t stick.
    5. Add clams, soup, cream, milk, and dill weed and stir to mix well.
    6. Add butter and let melt into the chowder.
    7. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

    See how easy that is?

    It’s unbelievably delicious.

    I took a picture of the bread bowls but never got to them actually filled with chowder because… it was too good.

     

    My most favorite snack in the whole, wide world (right now) April 10, 2010

    Filed under: Recipe — Desiree @ 4:00 pm
    Tags: , , ,

    Hummus.  Is there anything more lovely than hummus?  I think not.  I’ve been devouring hummus for the past 2 months like I’m pregnant and it’s my craving.  (BTW, I’m not and it’s not!)

    Anyway, It’s expensive to buy!  Holy smokes, have you ever seen how much they charge for this?  If you have a food processor or a blender (and patience) it’s the easiest thing ever.  Here is how I make it:

    • 2 cans of garbanzo beans, juice reserved
    • 1 large clove of garlic
    • olive oil (about 3-4 Tbsp, depends)
    • lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)

    Place beans, garlic, lemon juice and 1/3 of the reserved bean juice into the processor and turn on.  Stream in olive oil until it has reached the desired consistency.   Keep processing for 5-8 minutes (or longer) until it’s as smooth as you’d like.

    That’s it.  Some recipes call for tahini but I haven’t been able to find this at my local Freddies so I just leave it out.  My taste buds don’t care.  Seriously.

    I eat this with veggies, pita chips (keep reading to see how I make quick and easy chips), pita bread and by the spoonful.  Just kidding.  I don’t eat this with a spoon!

    Quick and easy pita chips

    Buy or make pita pocket bread.  Cut into pizza-like slices and separate halves of the pocket and place on cookie sheet.  Spray with olive oil or canola oil and salt lightly.  Bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes, or until crispy.  Enjoy!

     

    Cheddar Broccoli Soup in HM Bread Bowls April 9, 2010

    Filed under: Recipe — Desiree @ 10:14 pm
    Tags: , , ,

    Yummy.  Now this is supposed to be a copy-cat recipe of Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup, but since I’ve never had soup at Panera I can’t tell you how close it is.  I can tell you it was good.  Very, very, very, (veryveryveryveryVERY) good.

    And easy.  Can’t beat good AND easy!

    I made my regular wheat bread dough (double recipe) and formed large bread balls about half the size I wanted the bread bowls to be.  They were all different sized.  Jaizy had a little one and Jason had a large one and everyone else was something in between.  Bake as directed on bread post for the most part.  I baked mine on a baking stone about 10 minutes less than normal.  If you need help with the bread bowls, just ask.  That made 6 bread bowls.

    Here is the recipe as listed, my ingredients modifications are listed below.

      Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
    • 3 cups broccoli florets
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup half and half
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 8 slices Kraft Sharp Cheddar singles
    • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
    • 1/3 cup diced white onion
    • Pinch ground black pepper
    1. Steam the broccoli however method you choose.  I used the microwave.  Chop broccoli into pieces that are about the size of peas with a knife or food processor.
    2. Pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan with the half and half.  Whisk in the flour and then add the remaining ingredients including the broccoli.  Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to bubble.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the soup is thick.
    3. Makes 4 servings

    I have mondo family so I made 2.5 times the recipe.  Plus we like leftovers.

    • 9 cups broccoli ( or thereabouts)
    • 10 cups chicken broth (I made mine with Better than Bullion paste)
    • 2.5 cups half and half
    • 1.25 cups flour
    • 4 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
    • 2 large carrots, shredded
    • 1 medium chopped onion

    I must add that I like love adore pepper, so I sprinkle layer cover my food generously.

     

    Breakfast for Dinner February 2, 2010

    Filed under: Recipe — Desiree @ 4:49 am
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    What kid (or adult!) doesn’t love breakfast for dinner. but it seems like so much work at the end of the day! At least it does for me!

    Here is our yummy breakfast for dinner from tonight:
    Scrambled Eggs
    Homemade biscuits and gravy
    Applesauce
    Remember those yummy pancakes from the other day? They started from a baking mix and this is the same baking mix I made my biscuits from. Oh yum. Seriousy, the best biscuits ever.
    So, I browned up some country sausage and made a gravy. If you don’t know how, don’t be ashamed to use a packet or pre-made, whatever. Gravy is gravy. It’s just really good if it’s from scratch. I will cover this on another post. Cuz a good gravy deserves it’s own post. But don’t worry, a lot of the time I cheat too.
    Then I cracked 15 eggs into a blender and blended with a splash of milk until fluffy. This is the secret to awesome scrambled eggs. I saw it on food network, can’t remember who though. I think that was the only channel ever on when I was pregnant with Jaidelyn. It was like watching heaven all day long.
    Scramble eggs in frying pan. I mean, this is pretty elementary and probably the first cooking-on-the-stove I ever taught my kids.
    Wa-lah! Breakfast for dinner:

     

    Comfort food in the form of bread January 26, 2010

    Filed under: Recipe — Desiree @ 1:35 am
    Tags: ,
    Here is my bread recipe. Try it, you’ll like it! It’s not nearly as hard as it seems, in fact, on review, it doesn’t seem hard at all, so what are you waiting for?
    Ingredients for one loaf. Just double ingredients for 2 loaves.
    • 1 & 1/3 cup hot water
    • 1 packet of yeast (rapid rising or regular, doesn’t matter) 1 packet = 2 & 1/4 tsp
    • Tbsp of Sugar or Honey, or more depending on your preference.
    • 3 C flour. Plus some, up to 1/4 cup when kneading. I like to use 1 C of whole wheat to 2 C of unbleached white, but you could do equal parts or all white. Just not all whole wheat.
    • dash of salt, or about 1/2 to 1 tsp. You could use garlic or onion salt for variety!
    • 3 Tbsp of oil. Use veggie, canola, EVOO, or whatever you’d like. This is approximate, sometimes I only use about 1Tbsp. Depends on my mood, I guess!
    You can do this one of two ways, I will tell you both.
    1. Place all measured flour in a large bowl. I use a large stainless steel one (Pampered Chef to be exact). Add salt. Mix and make a well in center of bowl with your hands.
    2. Pour hot water in well and add sugar/honey and yeast and mix gently, but do not incorporate flour mix as of yet! Let sit for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The wet mixture will be foamy when it’s ready.
    3. Add oil and mix all ingredients together, slowly incorporating the flour in with the water mix. I just use my hand for this, but it is messy!
    4. The other option is:
    5. Place water, yeast and sugar/honey in bowl and sit for 10 minutes to activate yeast. When mixture is foamy add flour and salt and start mixing together.
    6. Start kneading dough until not sticky, adding additional flour by the Tbsp if needed. Dough will be one piece (not liquid) and look like dough! You can continue kneading in bowl if you’d like, but sometimes it’s better to do on a lightly floured counter. Here is a great video on how to knead bread thanks to Epicurious! I knead my dough about 4 minutes. It’s very therapeutic, I think.
    7. Place dough back into lightly oiled bowl (I just spray with non-stick cooking spray) and give dough a flip to cover the dough with oil. Place towel over bowl and let rise. If you use rapid rise yeast, about 30-40 minutes is perfect, if regular about an hour works.
    8. When rise time is down check your dough! It’s all puffed up! Punch it! Go ahead, it’s ok! punch it! Actually punching it down gets rid of the air that is in the dough and knead again for about another minute or so to make sure all the bubbles are out. Remove from bowl to do this if you’d like.
    9. Take your dough and lightly pat it out into a big fat disc and roll into a loaf shape. Place in bread pan that has been lightly oiled. If you made dough for 2 loaves just split dough into two equal parts and do the same.
    10. Place loaf pan(s) into a COLD oven and turn on to 350 degrees. The dough will rise a second time while the oven is preheating! Set a timer for 45 minutes.
    11. Remove bread from oven and let cool a moment before removing from loaf pan. Set bread on cooling rack and cover towel for a bit until cool enough to sample, I mean slice up.
    12. It’s better to slice your bread all at the same time. It keeps it from being too crumbly.
    13. Bread stores in a large gallon size ziploc bag for about 2 days.
    I will come back and post step-by-step pictures the next time I bake bread, either tomorrow or the next day! Until then, here is a picture of today’s finished product!
     

    Make some dough! January 25, 2010

    Filed under: Healthy,Tips & Tricks — Desiree @ 2:24 am
    Tags: ,

    So… while I would love to mean money, I actually mean dough, as in bread dough. I got interested in making bread last August when I went on a girls-only beach weekend and one of the gals (who I was very close friends with as a child) brought stuff to make bread while we were there. Now, initially I thought “that’s nuts!” But I went home and thought about it. A lot. And then I emailed her for her recipe. Bread making is so easy and fundamental (emphasis on “mental”) I don’t understand why more people don’t do it! If you only realize how far that first loaf of bread has taken me!

    It’s a form of sanity-making therapy. There is something soothing about kneading bread. By hand. Not that I wouldn’t mind having a good quality stand mixer, but I’ll save that for another time. (Just be sure that I can’t wait for my tax return. )
    Anyway, if kneading bread is mind-soothing, imagine what eating that first slice of warm, fresh bread does to your soul.
    Since that first loaf of bread, which by the way turned out beautiful, I have started making my own laundry soap, scouring powder (think Comet without the green), dishwasher detergent, all-purpose spray cleaner, bread, cinnamon rolls, english muffins, pita bread, granola, soups and lots of other stuff on a regular basis. Homemade stuff is better for you and not difficult to do. Occasionally it can be time consuming, but nothing a few hours on the weekend can’t handle.
    And the reward is so gratifying.