Archive for the ‘In the Kitchen’ Category

Homemade Baby Food

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m a thankful woman… You know, the kind that likes to do stuff at home?  The kind that takes joy in being at home, doing homey things like cooking, cleaning, taking  care of kids, albeit tiring, though satisfying.  Just call me Mrs. Happy Homemaker.  AND I made my own baby food the other day.  What?!

I have a fairly new infant (6 month old) whom recently started eating solid foods.  If you lived with me the last 6 months, you’d wonder how I got anything else done but make breast milk.  I’m no Martha Stewart.  Admit it, she may be some kind of mad, but she’s got skills.  So, I was feeling accomplished as I prepared, from scratch, some homemade baby food and froze a supply.  So easy!

Here you see butternut squash.  It didn’t take much effort, really.  I don’t know why I don’t and didn’t do it with my other kids.  Every mama should (not guilt-tripping, though).  We peruse the baby food aisle as if that were the only choices we had, though I didn’t have those thoughts this time around.  Those little jars, albeit cute, contain, what, a tablespoon worth of food?  In essence, as an adult, you’d finish it in one bite.  And we would pay how much for each jar?  So, I feeling motivated while shopping last week, decided to buy a whole butternut squash to make my baby some food.  “It’s not that hard,” I mentally convinced myself.  And it really wasn’t.  I didn’t buy a really big one this time.  I wrapped the whole thing up in foil and baked it in my little toaster oven for an hour or so at 350 degrees while I went about my day.  When it dinged, I just left it to cool for a while.  I don’t even remember how long.  I didn’t worry about.  When I was ready and had time, which was waaay later, like at midnight, I scooped and scraped out the soft, good-for-you supply of vitamin A for baby.  I scooped portions into each section of an old school ice cube tray and froze it.  I didn’t do anything fancy.  I didn’t even mush it.  I figure I can do that later when I use it for actual eating.  Right now, I just needed to get it in and put away to freeze.  After an hour or so, I popped them all out and stored them in a container.




This is the result after freezing.  Ready to go when I need.  Isn’t that cool?  I’m feeling so domesticated!



In the meantime, I have been just blending up some bananas and pears and homemade apple sauce I jarred (canned) last year.  I just let the bananas ripen on the counter for a few days to let it develop its vitamins and nutrients.  To make it thinner (watery) for my beginning eater, I just add water or apple juice for the desired consistency.  I have also steamed yams.  Really though, just about everything can be made in the crock pot.  You can start a different pot of something every night.

It just feels good to know what my baby is eating.  Although, I have mixed in the commercial baby rice cereal mix (poison, I know) for the added nutrients.  I plan to discontinue this practice though.  At least until he grows up and eats what we eat.  Then he can consume all the cancer-causing foods that we eat!


EASY Homemade BBQ Sauce

September 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Okay, so it’s not totally homemade but definitely easy!  There are 2 ways you can make this with ingredients you probably already have on hand.  And if you find ketchup without the HFCS (that high fructose stuff), all the better.

1.)  Mix ketchup and brown sugar;  2 parts ketchup/1 part brown sugar.

2.)  Mix steak sauce and brown sugar; 2 parts steak sauce/1 part brown sugar.

See a trend?  Brown sugar is the star ingredient here.  You don’t even have to cook it.  Just stir.  The brown sugar just magically melts in the into saucy goodness.  You can experiment to your taste preference.  If you like it sweeter, add more brown sugar.  Add a touch of Tabasco or other pepper sauce of your choice for spice.  So, when you’re in a pinch and don’t have the store-bought bottle, don’t fret!  (Unless you don’t have any of the above ingredients.  Then boo-hoo you!)



Coconut Milk, Not All Are Created Equal

September 21, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m not receiving any royalties for this endorsement.  I’m not a professional.  I just love food.  Sometimes, too much.

I like curry.  I make curry.  It is good.  It requires coconut milk.  I’ve tried several different brands of milk and so far, none compare to this one:

yummy coconut milk

yummy coconut milk

This is not the type you drink straight or use on cereal.  It’s pretty dense and concentrated, in my opinion.  Although, I have diluted this with 2 cans of water to make my own milk for cereal because I’m lactose intolerant.  You don’t want to know what happens when I have straight cow’s milk.

So, next time you make curry, use this good stuff.



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Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies – Easy Peasy

So, I had another light bulb go off in my head the other night but just now getting to blog it.  I seem to be on a (little) roll.  I had some leftover pumpkin puree from making pumpkin muffins last Saturday. I saw on pinterest a recipe about making cake or something with pumpkin puree and cake mix, no eggs, no oil. As I was making some PBJ sandwiches, it occurred to me and I wondered if I could make cookies out of just pumpkin puree and peanut butter. Then I thought it would probably need sugar. So I experimented today with that and the verdict: good! I asked my girls to taste test and they approved.  Now, what will my husband’s verdict be?  I think it is pretty rich and moist.

This is what I did:
–  mix equal parts pumpkin and peanut butter and half that in sugar.  That’s it.  No eggs, no oil, no water.  You could put an equal amount of sugar if you want it sweeter.  I may try that next time.  I didn’t want to use that much sugar this time.  I do a lot of “eye-ball” cooking.  So it is with this trial as well.

– Scoop equal mounds onto cookie sheet, however big or small you want them.  Mine were average size.  I used a TBS.  Bake at 350 for 20 mins or 375 for 15 mins.  I tried both because what I made yielded 2 batches  (about 1 cup each  ingredient).  They are very moist and flaky.  Let cool completely.  These are a little fragile so transfer carefully because they will break apart.  I hardly ever cool on baking racks so I found something else to do with them.  I carefully transferred them to a plate.  I flattened the cookies after 5 minutes of baking because they don’t spread like cookies with lots of butter.  You could do it before, also.  Or you could just leave it if you like the chunky look.

I can’t imagine them being too high in bad fats.  These have to be a healthier alternative but I have to factual data to support that.  Nor am I about to figure out how to calculate that for you.  You can trust my intuition, or not.  Oh, and it doesn’t taste like pumpkin.  I’m not a big peanut butter cookie fan or peanut butter anything except maybe Thai peanut noodles.  These taste pretty much just like peanut butter cookies.  I think this may be my new peanut butter cookie recipe for ease and health factors.  I hope you enjoy!!

Let me know if you try this and how it turned out for you, or if you did anything different.  I’d love to hear about it!

BEFORE baking>>>

AFTER baking >>>

There seems to be a cookie missing.

Lasagna Pinwheels

So, tonight I was going to make spaghetti.  Well, turned out that I really didn’t have enough spaghetti.  So, what I did have was lasagna pasta, spaghetti sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, sour cream, frozen spinach, zucchini, sausage, & onions.  Those are all ingredients I’d say make a great lasagna!  But instead of your regular flat layered lasagna, I decided I’d do something a little different.  Now, I don’t know if this has been done before and I’m just ignorant of it but I felt pretty impromptu creative for throwing this together.  And, you know, I think this will be my new normal lasagna.  The greatest thing about it is that you don’t have to mess with cutting up the lasagna and risk it falling apart.  I found this just as easy, if not easier.  I do a lot of eye-ball cooking so the measurements are not exact.  I just threw this stuff together and baked.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I soaked the lasagna pasta in hot water with some salt (maybe a tsp) in a deep dish pan.  Filled it high enough to cover the pasta.  This makes it pliable.  I let this soak while doing #2.  Note: I did not precook the pasta.  It comes out al dente this way.  I used a clear 9×14 casserole baking dish that I later used to bake the lasagna.  I used 12 lasagna pastas.
  2. Sautéed the sausage with onions while breaking up into bits.  Just a note, the sausage I used was already flavored so I didn’t add any extra salt or anything other spices.
  3. Shredded 1 medium zucchini and crushed up frozen spinach (not the mushy kind in a can-like container, if stores still see that stuff).  I remember cooked mushy spinach in school and I’ve ONCE ( many, many years ago, like college or something) used frozen spinach in a container from the frozen section.  Never again.  I usually buy the fresh spinach in a bag from the produce section.  If I haven’t used it and it’s about to wilt into the spoiled stage, I throw it into the freezer.  (I hate to waste food.  I believe it’s bad stewardship.)  Put veggies in a big mixing bowl.
  4. Mixed sausage with veggie mix in its own big bowl.
  5. I mixed 1 container of ricotta, 1 c. shredded mozzarella (or more to your liking), 1 egg and 1 c. sour cream in a big mixing bowl.  I like extra head room to mix things; hence the “big” bowl.  (At this point,  I had 2 separate big bowls of mixed ingredients.)
  6. Prepped my work space.  Took pasta out of water and drained water from dish to use for baking the lasagna rolls.
  7. Laid out lasagna pasta in rows as in an assembly line.  Spread a layer of ricotta mix; then the sausage mix.  Then rolled up each pasta as in a rolling a cinnamon roll and lined up in ‘rolls’ in the baking dish.  (Okay, I called them pinwheels in my title b/c I thought that name was more catchy!  rather than ‘lasagna rolls’.  well, actually, that ain’t bad either.)
  8. After filling and rolling and lining up in casserole dish, I topped off with mozzarella and spaghetti sauce.  Baked @450 for 30 minutes.
  9. Yum!!

I wish I would have taken pictures of each stage for better visual b/c I appreciate visuals but I was in a hurry to finish dinner as my starving family awaited.  But here’s the end result.  Not as pretty as it first came out of the  oven (trust me, it was pretty) but it went down- good.

Homemade Pudding Pops

Okay so I had this huge can of pudding (I know, not the best pudding) and I needed to do something with it.  Or at least I wanted to get rid of that behemoth of a can of pudding.  So it happened that I also had a big tub of strawberry yogurt that needed eating.  So, I had the somewhat brilliant idea of mixing the two and making somewhat healthy pudding pops.  I eyeball-mixed somewhat equal amounts of each and poured somewhat eye-balled equal amounts into plastic cups; stuck popsicle sticks into the middle (it was thick enough to sit upright without falling) and put into freezer.  I didn’t cover each one but that’s your choice.  I just covered the whole tub with one sheet of aluminum foil.  You could use wax paper or plastic too.  Since this was a spur of the moment idea and I wasn’t really prepared (as I do things sometimes), I didn’t have a clean, flat shelf in the freezer to lay the cups so I had to improvise with the green tub.  It’s what I had and it worked great.  So I moved a few things around in the freezer chest and voila!-  there was just the right amount of space for it and that was the very last space I had in my freezer chest.  Woo Hoo!  It was meant to be!

Don’t they look good?!

Looks like someone’s liking the pudding pops!


Banana Chocolate Chip Cranberry Bread Recipe using Alternative Flour Mix

I ventured into new territory in recent weeks.  I have not been diagnosed with celiac or have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon or anything but in my fleeting current OCD, guilty-health-conscious-neurotic season (if that makes any sense at all), I decide to try some alternative flours.  Here’s a new recipe I threw together after reading a bit on alternative flours.  Granted this uses a little of regular white flour, I literally just mixed this stuff together and it turned out pretty good.  Why don’t you try it and see?  Let me know what you think.  I bet it wouldn’t make much difference if you replace the white flour with another flour.  But then again, I’m no scientist or chemist and I certainly am not looking to give you the chemical breakdown as to what might happen if you do.  It might flatten the bread a bit.  It might make it more moist or fluffier if you use more rice flour.  I really don’t know at this point.  It just came out good the fist time.  It past my kids’ palette.  They didn’t notice anything different.  Neither did our bible study group.  Also, I’m an “eyeball it” type cook, so I estimate a lot.  A pinch here, a pinch there.  A scoop of this and that.  I tried to be aware of what my measurements were this time so I could duplicate and share it if it came out good.  I think that’s the full list.  I hope it’s right.  Hey, it’s a free recipe, right? It’s all trial and error for me.

4 medium to large ripe bananas

3 eggs

1/2 c. melted butter (or coconut oil)

2/3 c. sugar

1 heaping tsp each baking soda and baking powder

1/2 c. each white flour, wheat flour, rice flour and soy flour

1 c. chocolate chips

1.5 c. fresh cranberries (or maybe you can try 1 c. dried)

Mash the bananas. Mix in next 3 ingredients. Then the baking soda and powder. Then the flours all at once. Then the chocolate chips.  Lastly the cranberries. I guess if you are using dried cranberries, you can add them at the same time as the choco chips.  Mix and split pour into 2 loaf pans.  bake 350 for 50-60 minutes. check for browning at about 45 minutes. If it’s too brown already and the middle still looks raw, lightly cover with foil and continue to bake and check every 5 minutes until center is done.  Just like any other quick bread.  And done. hope it’s good!

If I were ahead of my game, I would have taken a picture of my bread before it was eaten to complement this post .  But alas, I fall short, again.  Maybe next time.