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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recipe Planning

Trying to make my grocery list, and I realize I need to make my menu too!

I was nearly done, then POOF!  Apparently I accidentally deleted it.  Ugh.

So, trying to recreate the menu and links:



Can I say that I loooooove Asian recipes?  I love the fresh flavors, the healthy use of veggies, the way that you can stretch some meat into a lot of servings.  Mm, Mm, Mm....

30 minutes later .... menu finally done.  I got a little side tracked with all the beautiful Pinterest pins, but I think I found some promising possibilities.  All the recipes with links are NEW ones that I've never tried before.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meal Planning: 16 Feb 2014

Photo (c) 2014 by Stephanie Miller
My Bountiful Basket contribution this week was quite the bounty!  In the picture above, you see what $60 gets you: This week it was a conventional fruit & veggie basket, the Asian add on pack, and two flats of blackberries (24 - 6 ounce clam shells).  I vinegar rinsed, quick froze, and bagged the blackberries up to keep in the freezer.  


Beautiful black berries drying on the counter. Many of these were over an inch long.
Photo (c) 2014 by Stephanie Miller

Many of the items in the Asian pack are things I don't normally cook with, so I love the challenge of finding new recipes to try.  I am very excited to say that I spent quite a bit of time sorting, cleaning, trimming, and chopping produce, especially that which I would use in the recipes this week.  This will save me so much time later!


My first entree of the week!  Pork chops were delicious! Bok choy needs help.
Photo (c) 2014 by Stephanie Miller



Here is what I'm making this week (links take you to my Pinterest pins):

Sunday: Soy Ginger Pork Chops with Stir Fry Bok Choy (pictured above)
Monday: Roasted Pork Loin, Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Tuesday: Asian Peanut Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry, Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
Wednesday: Orange Chicken with Asparagus, Crab Rangoon Wontons (Recipe and pin coming later)
Thursday: Shrimp Fajita Quesadillas (I will be making this recipe and a Pinterest pin later), Guacamole
Friday: Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Orange Vinegar Disinfectant Spray


An easy, inexpensive, all natural disinfectant spray.
Photo (c) Stephanie Miller ~ 2014
Before Christmas, I ordered a case of citrus (I think clementines of some sort?) from my favorite co-op source of all things produce: Bountiful Baskets.  Following the advice of some people on the internet, I saved the peels, covered them in white vinegar in a Mason jar, and waited.  And shook it occasionally.  I turned it upside down and right side up at least twice.  Mainly I forgot about it under my kitchen sink.
This weekend, I decided to see how it turned out. I strained it off (though I wish I had used a coffee filter or cheese cloth to get the little sediments).  I had to use a fork to get the rest of the peels out of the jar.  You could compost these peels or just toss them.  They're not needed after this point.

I filled by 32 ounce sprayer with about 16 ounces of orange vinegar, 6 drops of Plant Therapy Orange essential oil, and then 16 ounces of water.  You wouldn't really  need the orange essential oil, but I wanted to try to get rid of some of the lingering vinegar smell.  You could also add Tea Tree oil, Lemon oil, or another similar oil for more germ or bacteria-fighting abilities.

To me, the use of essential oils to fight some of these germs and to help clean the house is old news.  I've heard about it quite a lot over the years, but I'm rather new to it in practice, especially when it comes to making my own.  Just in case you have any hesitation in using an all natural product, use Google to find some research.  For example, the first link that came up today when I Googled "antibacterial properties of orange oil" was this decades old research from the American Association for Microbiology.

Vinegar also holds antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.  Thankfully, it is also quite inexpensive, so it's easy to use around the house.  I, however, have never liked the smell of vinegar, so I'm glad to have found this concoction, although the original "recipe" was just handed down word of mouth to me by my friends and on Facebook groups.  I hope you enjoy it, as well!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Alton Brown's Guacamole

I contributed for the Super Bowl Hostess pack add on last weekend from Bountiful Baskets, just to add some more variety and quantity of produce into our family's menu.  Included were about 7 gorgeous avocados, jalapeƱos, garlic, onion, tomatoes.  It was pretty obvious what needed to happen: Guacamole!

I have yet to find a guacamole recipe without a dehydrated starter kit that I like.  So, like any good cook (?) I turned to Alton Brown.  His recipe for Guacamole is available here.  I double the recipe and followed it faithfully.



Pros: It is good and it's not difficult to make.  I love the fresh lime juice in it!  It hasn't turned brown yet.

Cons: It has a longer ingredient list than some other guacamole.  The cumin and cayenne tend to overpower the avocado, and I do like to be able to taste the avocado in it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Garlic Roasted Cabbage "Steaks"

Don't wait to try this!
Photos (c) 2014 ~ Stephanie Miller
Two words:  Ah. Mazing.

I think I may yet become a cabbage fan if I can find more cabbage recipes like this one.  I'm not usually a fan of cabbage, but this rendition is wonderful!

Similar recipes have been popping up on my Facebook and Pinterest feeds all weekend long.  At first, I was grossed out.  Ick.  Cabbage.  After a few more views, I was intrigued.  Eventually, I clicked on the link.

I started searching out more recipes for the same.  I noticed some basic similarities to the roasted broccoli recipe we love.  I combined several of the recipes I found, and this is what I came up with: SUCCESS!  My 4 and 5 year old daughters loved it (not at first sight, but once they tasted it anyway!), and my husband liked it as well.

(I have to mention a love for the really roasted outside leaves.  Weird, I know, but the caramelized flavor plus the lacy, melt on your tongue texture had me slightly addicted to eating all those pieces before putting them on my family's plate.)

Garlic Roasted Cabbage "Steaks"
1 head of cabbage
1/4 cup of olive oil
minced garlic, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage as they usually aren't so pretty.  Stand the cabbage up on its "base" -- the core.  Cut straight down from the top through the core so you have two halves.  Take those halves and cut those into two or three "steak-like" pieces each.  It just depends on the size of the head of cabbage.  I had a total of 4 "steaks."

Lay on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil.   Depending upon your love of garlic, put 1-2 cloves of minced garlic on each "steak."  Sprinkle with pepper and salt.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Turn the "steak" over and repeat with olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes.  When they are done (nice and roasted and soft), sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.  (And who wouldn't desire?!)



Some recipes of other cooks used roasted garlic (I didn't have time to roast my garlic), some used garlic salt or garlic powder.  Some did not use the cheese, while others did.  One used butter instead of olive oil.  This is very flexible recipe, and the beauty of it is you end up with a wonderfully roasted, complexly flavored, non-smelly side dish.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

. . . While Visions Of Walnut Toffee Squares Danced In Their Heads

My crazy, busy semester has come to an end, thank goodness. My wrapping is not yet finished (and this is after noon on Christmas Eve Day), but last night I spent the night baking baking baking!

Here are the fruits of my labors, some of my favorites!

Walnut Toffee Squares


Walnut Toffee Squares
Photo (c) by Stephanie Miller 2013

Walnut Toffee Squares
12 whole graham crackers (or more, depending upon the size of your cookie sheet or jelly roll pan)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
Assorted nuts and/or chocolate chips as desired.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet that has sides with aluminum foil and lay out the whole graham crackers to fill the pan.  I used a jelly roll pan, so I needed more than 12.  I also had to break some graham crackers in half to fill in some empty spots around the edges.  

Stir together butter and brown sugar in a 2 quart saucepan on the stove top.  Stir until boiling.  Boil 1 minute.

Pour the butter mixture over graham crackers.  Place the pan in the preheated oven.  Bake 3-6 minutes until it's bubbly.  Remove from the oven.

Cool slightly.  Sprinkle on toppings as desired (as shown: 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips).  Also delicious: crushed pecans, chopped or slivered almonds, heath bits, white chocolate chips, etc.  

Cool completely.  Break each cracker into 4 sections (I use a butter knife when the toffee squares are nearly cool. I then place them on a wax paper lined platter or table to continue cooling so the toffee doesn't stick to the aluminum foil.)

Makes 48 rectangles (or more, depending upon the size of your pan).  

WARNING: These are addicting!



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rumchata Buttercream Frosting

Pumpkin.
Sugar.
Bread flour.
Cake flour.
Whole eggs.
Coconut oil.
Pumpkin pie spice.
Salt.
Baking soda.
Baking Powder.

Pumpkin cookies = Fall deliciousness.

I contributed for the conventional basket with Bountiful Baskets, a food co-op I enjoy utilizing.  With our preschoolers and my husband's schedule being crazy at times, I haven't been able to volunteer as I did in the spring.  I was so excited to pull into the distribution location parking lot and see the baskets all set up outside, in the wonderful fall weather.

Council Bluffs, IA, Bountiful Basket pick up location.
Photo (c) by Stephanie Miller
Taken 12 October 2013
Even though the service fee went up slightly to cover additional costs for transportation, I think our baskets were much more bountiful this week!  You'll notice that there is a "left" (vegetable) and "right" (fruit) basket to the set.  Here is what I got this week:
Top: The gorgeous pumpkin cookies.
Bottom: The conventional basket
Photo (c) by Stephanie Miller


I also splurged and contributed something like $4.50 for a dozen Pumpkin Cookies.  These beauties are like mini Pumpkin spice cakes -- so poufy, soft, and dense.  Very moist.  With the simple ingredients listed at the start of this entry.  Although they were beautiful as they arrived, I really wanted a cream cheese frosting with them.  

I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting.  You know.  The typical pairing for a pumpkin/spice cake.  No cream cheese frosting in can in the pantry.  My dear friend Amy is at WalGreens; they only have chocolate frosting in a can.  Took the cream cheese out of my fridge, and I discovered it expired April 2013.  WHAAT!?  

Plan B: Butter Cream frosting.  

And this is what I came up with: Rumchata Buttercream Deliciousness!  (Although you should know that my mixer even broke down in the midst of beating this.  I swear, forces were conspiring against me!)

Photo (c) by Stephanie Miller 2013



Rumchata Buttercream Frosting
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 capfuls of Rumchata (until you get the right consistency)

Place the softened butter and the powdered sugar in a bow.  Mix on low until blended, then beat on medium for another 3 minutes, adding the Rumchata until the frosting is the desired consistency.  

This should frost an 8x8 pan, or in my case, 12 lovely pumpkin cookies with some left over for sampling!