Thursday, April 22, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Saturday we embark on an American Southwest adventure. We are staying in historic national park lodges at the South rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Any suggestions on what not to miss along the way?

View Southwest Adventure in a larger map

During this time there won't be any home cooking. Hopefully we'll survive the national park food.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Demon Slayer

Lately my house has been under attack by a common household pest. These demons must be attracted by all the good (or bad) things to eat around here.

I used to be able to keep up with the things. We ordered take-out a lot.

My weapon of choice: surface cleaner. Nope I don't own a fly swatter. Something about splattered guts in my kitchen really offends me.

The surface cleaner I used, before I greened up my life, poisoned them outright. Only one spray required. The non-toxic stuff does not kill them outright. You have to spray multiple times and drown the beasts.

Bet you didn't know Betty Crapper was a murderer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One of My Favorite Things

I've been making homemade ice cream since I was a young girl. Luckily, I no longer have my ancient ice cream machine that required rock salt and ice cubes to freeze the goodness. Hey, it was electric! I'm not that old.

My husband knows the way to my heart is feeding my addiction for kitchen appliances and gadgets. A few birthdays ago, I received

It's not a fancy machine, but it gets the job done. In keeping with my simple tastes (and lack of ingredients), last night I made vanilla ice cream. Real vanilla ice cream made with organic heavy whipping cream, organic whole milk, organic cane sugar, and vanilla. Nothing fancy required.

The key to excellent homemade vanilla ice cream is

You can't skimp on the star of the party.

I promise making homemade ice cream is really simple. I'd never, ever lie to you.

Combine ingredients in a bowl per recipe's instructions.

Add to the machine, turn it on, and wait.

After 10 minutes ...

After 20 minutes ...

Put it in a bowl. Notice mine is glass. Do not get me started on our overuse of plastics.

Hide, so others can't find you. Scrape up what's left in the bowl for your tasting pleasure.

Return from hiding. Take that frozen bowl of heaven from the freezer and serve up some ice cream.

I like mine with toasted chopped pecans. Yum.

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
(from Cuisinart Recipe Booklet)

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

(makes fourteen 1/2 cup servings)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meal Plan 4/19-4/23

Monday: green salad (large lunch)
Tuesday: homemade margherita pizza
Wednesday: picadillo with white rice
Thursday: tacos with shredded chicken, homemade salsa, and guacamole
Friday: steaks on the grill

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

... and then we are off on an American Southwest vacation to the South rim of the Grand Canyon, Page, AZ, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. 

No cooking for almost two weeks.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend Traditions

Just about every Saturday will find me making homemade waffles for my husband.  

He absolutely loves waffles topped with bittersweet chocolate chips and lots of homemade whipped cream.  Can you fault him loving the other-worldly goodness that is real whipped cream?  


Can you pronounce all of it?  Really?  Now that you know, do you still want it?  I didn't think so.

Organic maple syrup is the only ingredient listed on my Grade A bottle of goodness.

If you've never made homemade waffles before, you are in for a treat. My go-to recipe yields perfection every time.  (Weighing the flour yields the best results.)

Life sure is sweet in Betty Crapper's house.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

M's Banana-Nut Bread

What do you do with over ripe bananas? Do you throw them away? 

Please don't. Make my banana bread instead. You won't be sorry. It's my favorite kind of baking.  

The dump (not that kind, silly)

and stir method. The only way to screw it up is mixing too much. Notice how you can still see the flour. That's what you are looking for.

Stir it up, bake, and wait 50 minutes for this

So, do someone a favor and make two. Keep one and share one.  

yummy yummy yummy

M's Banana-Nut Bread

2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups mashed VERY ripe organic bananas (4-5)
1 1/4 cups organic brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2/3 cup organic whole milk yogurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350. 
Grease bottoms only of two 8X4 in loaf pans
Place dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk to combine.
Dump the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and stir just until combined.
Bake 50 - 60 minutes on lowest rack.
Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.  
Place top-side up on cooling racks.
Cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Here's something you may not know: I LOVE chocolate and chocolate makes me happy. Not exactly breaking news, is it?

I don't need an excuse to make chocolate cupcakes, but yesterday the perfect scenario presented itself. Every new mom deserves chocolate cupcakes :). Chocolate cupcakes make the perfect gift. You can eat many, many cupcakes when you are breastfeeding. Don't children love chocolate milk?

I've been making the following recipe since, well forever. It's no secret, it's on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa box.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (for the love of all things good, please use WHOLE MILK)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-in rounds OR a 13X9 baking pan. If you want cupcakes, this will make about 3 dozen 2 1/2 in diameter cupcakes.

In a large mixer bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed two minutes. Remove from mixer; stir in boiling water. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 min for round pans, 35-40 min for rectangular pan, 18-22 min for cupcakes. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 min and remove from pan(s) to wire rack. Cool completely and frost.

Wasn't that easy? It is just as easy as a cake mix from a box and does not have any ingredients you cannot pronounce. It also tastes waaaaay better than any boxed cake mix I've ever tried!!!!!

(also from Hershey's)

6 tbsp butter (never, EVER margarine)
1/3 cup cocoa
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter. Blend powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk. Blend in vanilla. Easy Peasy :). Makes 2 cups frosting. You will need to double the recipe to frost layers.

... and with that I'm going to have another cupcake. The baby really likes her chocolate milk.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meal Plan 4/12-4/18

Monday: spaghetti with homemade marinara and salad
Tuesday: chicken paella
Wednesday: beef manicotti and homemade bread
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday: out??
Sunday: peach chicken

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Favorite Salad

I love to make a big bowl of salad. I'll make it up and place it in the refrigerator to get used up within three days. What a time saver. My current favorite is in heavy rotation around here.

Mixed baby greens, halved grape tomatoes, thin red onion slices, and shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese served with basil-honey vinaigrette.

Basil-Honey Vinaigrette
(from Williams-Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook) 

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp full-flavored honey
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup mild olive oil
1/2 cup tightly packed chopped fresh basil

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homemade Thai Food Disaster

I love Thai food. I crave the stuff it's so good.

A few months ago I decided it would be a good idea to attempt one of my favorite dishes. I dutifully went online and searched for something that looked yummy. Mmmmmm yummy Thai food! I settled on a thai basil chicken dish and went off in search of the long list of ingredients at my local market.

Once home, I gather the required ingredients and begin chopping and measuring everything out. So far so good. Until I open the bottle of fish sauce. That stuff smells like death. I shrug and soldier on, carefully measuring out the required amount to marinate the chicken. I pause.

The smell warns me to stop immediately.

So I continue. My Thai food cravings were just too great.

I heat my skillet on high. It's a stir fry after all. Maybe the smell goes away with cooking??? I add my chicken to the skillet...

Husband from across the house "What's that smell?"

I hurriedly open ALL the doors and windows, thinking that will help. The baby is crying. The kitchen gets smoky. I take the pan off the stove. Throw everything away. Double bag it. Triple bag it. The smell of death is all over the house.

Days of scrubbing counters, cabinets, walls, even the ceiling and the smell of death is still with me.

Betty Crapper strikes again.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meal Plan 4/5-4/11

Monday: four-cheese penne pasta with romaine hearts mediterranean
Tuesday: garlic basil shrimp over whole wheat orzo
Wednesday: peach chicken with brown rice
Thursday: green salad, spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, whole wheat bread from scratch
Friday: beef tacos with homemade tortillas, salsa, and guacamole 
Saturday: homemade pizza and salad
Sunday: beef manicotti

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mini Meat Loaves yum

Last night I made Ina Garten's mini meatloaves. They were excellent and will definitely be made again. The recipe was easy to follow. The hardest part was waiting for them to be done while my stomach growled.  

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Betty Crapper Moments

I would like to think I am perfect. Alas, yesterday my husband reminded me of my Betty Crapper moments. He specifically recalled the time I took a hot skillet out of the oven and minutes later forgot the lid was hot; not once, but three times!!!

More Betty Crapper moments to come...