Saturday, October 03, 2015

Good Morning!

Cooking for breakfast is a rarity usually reserved for days off with my husband or weekend mornings with my daughter. My husband likes to bring breakfast to work to save money and to avoid eating junk, it's a good plan especially because he typically packs yogurt and fruit which requires no effort. If I have extra time and extra veggies (or eggs from my neighbor's yard) I will make a breakfast dish to last a few days. Frittata is a great dish to use up leftover vegetables or small amounts of cheese. This is the last one I made:

I used a small amount of cooked spinach, crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes, cooked white potatoes, onion, mushroom, 8 eggs, cheddar and grated parmesan.

Preheat the oven to 375, spray a 9x9 pan and set up a water bath. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and beat them well, set aside. Sauté seasoned potato slices in a bit of oil or butter to get them a little brown. Layer them along the bottom of your baking dish. The potatoes make a nice frittata base and also make it easy to get out of the pan. Next, you will layer the cooked veggies and bacon.  In the same pan sauté the raw veggies, until softened and golden. Layer them along with cheese on top of the vegetables and pour the eggs gently. shake the pan a bit so that the egg works its way in between the layers. Bake in a water bath at 375 for 45 min to an hour until egg is cooked through and top is browned. Once it's cooled you can cut it into individual serving sizes and pack it up in the fridge. It should make 4-6 servings but my husband works hard and needs a bigger breakfast so it was 3 servings.

Next up:
Loaded Waffle Tater Tots

Sometimes you need a little help from frozen food. In this case, we usually have some kind of frozen potato item (fries, tots, hash browns) for emergency snack or whatever. I treated Julia to this last weekend and it was really good. We are big fans of putting everything in the waffle iron, this was a first for tots.
First, heat the iron to 'screaming hot' while you defrost some tater tots in the microwave. Next, chop a little onion, cooked bacon, scallion, jalapeno, and cheeses. Combine everything in a bowl by trying to mash it with a fork as best you can.

Spray the waffle iron with vegetable spray and mound a good amount on the iron. Push the top down really hard so that it gets in all the grooves. It will take at least twice as long as regular waffles do. check every few minutes, you want them really crispy and the cheese to be all melty. Yum!

Finally, a cold weather, weekday favorite:
Slow Cooker Steele Cut Oats

We love Steele cut oats but they take a long time to cook in the morning. If you have a slow cooker, problem solved! It's really quick to set up before bed and you have warm oats waiting for you when you get up. The most important thing you need to do first is find a bowl that fits inside of your crock with enough room to add water around it. I have a ceramic bowl that allows a few inches of water to sit underneath and that's perfect. 
The basic recipe is 1 cup Steele cut oats, 4 cups of water and a dash of salt. The rest is up to you! I like to add 2 peeled, cut up apples, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar. 
Combine, set to 8 hours, low heat, cover and walk away. When you wake up they will be done...not pretty, but done. 

This picture was taken after my husband scooped his out at 5am. I stirred it together, added a handful of golden raisins, toasted walnuts and packed it up for his breakfasts to-go. 
I tried doing this with berries and raisins added in the beginning and I wouldn't recommend it. They get all bloated and ugly, it's better to add at the end. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

What to call this pasta?

Fall mac and cheese, roasted squash baked pasta, cheesy bacon squash penne? All I know is that this might be the best pasta I've ever made. Seriously. If fall had a flavor it would be this for me, you can keep pumpkin spice everything. So here's what's in it:
1squash- carnival, acorn, or small butternut
8 oz pasta cooked al dente 
4 slices bacon
1 onion
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 lb provolone
Grated Parmesan
1/2 cup light cream or milk
1/4 cup flour
Dried rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Roast the seasoned squash at 400 until toasty and tender. I started roasting in slices before I planned on this dish, I would have cut it in half otherwise. Remove skin from squash and break it up in bite size chunks when done. Cook bacon until crisp, set aside and sauté onion in grease until carmelized. Season and add flour, cook for a minute. Stir in stock until thickened and add cream and cheese. Stir until melted and remove from heat. Combine cooked pasta with cheese sauce and fold in bacon and squash. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly 10-15 min. Note that I tried to lighten it up with more chicken broth than cream. There is so much flavor going on in this dish that you really don't need it to be any richer. 

On the crafty home front:

Oilcloth wine bags... I'm not sure. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

Switching the chili up a little today. I meant for this to be sweet potato turkey chili but I forgot to buy ground turkey. More often than not I forget the main ingredient when I'm shopping but today  I'm glad I forgot turkey because it was really good with chicken. This dish is so hearty and very filling. 
Sweet Potato Chicken Chili
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up
1 lg onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
Peppers- sweet and not a whole bunch of them I used 1 cubanelle and a few mini peppers
2 carrots diced
2 celery diced
2 jalapeños diced
1 can crushed tomato
1 box chicken stock
Salt, pepper, cumin, ancho chili powder, cilantro and parsley. 
Sauté veggies (minus potato) in a bit of oil until tender, season and add potatoes. Sauté a minute, add tomato and stock. Bring to a boil, add chicken, reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for approximately 45 minutes until chili thickens. Add fresh herbs at the end. 

In crafty news:
I'm cranking out more cute baby hats! Crochet is my fall sport. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Multi-functional spaghetti squash

I abandoned the grey hat and whipped up this cute one on my night off. I can't wait to see the newborn that will be wearing this! It fits perfectly on this spaghetti squash but I had other plans for it. 

The day before grocery shopping results in my most inventive cooking. Leftover cheese, an open box of chicken broth, a small amount of spinach...
Cheesy baked spaghetti squash

1 squash
1 chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
Olive oil
Chopped spinach
8 oz cheese (I had mozzarella and provolone)
Handful of grated Parmesan 
1/4 cup flour
1.5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup light cream
Salt, pepper, red pepper

Preheat oven to 375, cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Sauté seasoned onion and garlic in oil until wilted and browned. Add flour and cook for a minute. Stir in chicken broth, bring to a boil and add cream. Toss in spinach and shredded or chopped cheese until smooth. When squash is done, (keep oven on) scrape it out of skins with a fork and combine with cheese sauce. Spray a 9x13 pan and transfer squash, sprinkle with parm. Bake 20 minutes and broil top for a few minutes if it doesn't brown. This would be a good enough meal on its own for me but I'm serving it with some chicken and a salad. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Chicken Paprikash

Quick dinner today and it's one of my husband's favorites. Traditional paprikash is done slowly with chicken on the bone, no time for that today. I buy the good Hungarian paprika in the red can, the hot isn't too spicy and has a very subtle smoky flavor for this dish. 

Chicken Paprikash
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup chicken stock
1/4cup flour
2 tbsp. butter
salt, pepper, hot paprika
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 large onion sliced
8 oz. sour cream
fresh parsley chopped

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. Sauté onion and garlic in butter until they are slightly brown and wilted. Remove from pan and brown the chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, you may need to add a little oil or butter. 

Add the onions back in and season with a few tbsp of paprika, add flour and cook a minute. Stir in broth until the liquid thickens. 

Toss in fresh parsley and start stirring in sour cream until you have the consistency you like. 

Cook until sauce thickens again. I served this with egg noodles and roasted broccoli today but rice or any green veggie is just as good. 

30 minutes of uninterrupted time and this baby stocking cap will be done, so I'm figuring 4 days will do it!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Baking season, the best season

I am part of a rare group in New England that loves for summer to end. Summer is great for a while but I enjoy fall so much more, mostly because I love to bake and cook (indoors). In the oven today...
Apple Blueberry Cake
This is a super easy cake that I make quite a bit, changing the topping and the additional fruit other than apple.

You'll need:
4-5 apples peeled and rough chopped
1 cup blueberries (I only had half cup)
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla (I made that vanilla, more on that later)
oat topping:
3 tbs butter cut up
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats

Pre heat oven to 375. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs, add vanilla, vegetable oil and  chopped apples and whole blueberries. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients with a spoon until just combined, don't over mix. Make topping by cutting butter into sugar and oats.
Pour batter into an ungreased 9x13 pan and drop crumbled topping over the top.

Bake at 375 for 50 minutes, let cool 30 minutes before serving.

Today's tip:
Do you compost? I do. I am a way better composter than a gardener... in my defense, it's so much easier to decompose veggies than grow them. Anyway, it can be a hassle trying to deal with the scraps if you do a lot of cooking and cant keep running out to the compost bin. I keep a plastic pitcher on the counter and line it with whatever plastic bag I have. I usually try to use a bag that veggies came in (celery, carrots, etc) so I feel less guilty about all the plastic.

 I keep that on the counter while I cook and when I am done I just twist it up and throw it in the freezer. Freezing does a couple of things; it saves you from having to run to your compost bin all the time, it keeps gnats from swarming in your kitchen and I think the frozen scraps breakdown much faster in the bin than fresh scraps. I have no scientific evidence to prove this theory, but I believe it.

Crafty preview:
Besides trying to fill up my etsy shop, I have a bunch of baby gifts to make. That pile of yarn will hopefully be a newborn hat this week.

Friday, June 26, 2015


I was lucky enough to score 8 quarts of strawberries from my farmer neighbor at the market last week, the only problem was that they wouldn't last another day. No problem! My husband stemmed, bagged, and froze them while I was at work that night (love him!) and I went crazy all week making jams. 
So far, I have classic strawberry, strawberry blueberry, vanilla bourbon strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and the last of the berries will become balsamic strawberry. I also made Cabernet Sauvignon jelly and jalapeño jelly. My kitchen is littered with canning jars. Here are some pics from last week's market
Very talented painter, Chris Ferguson
Quilted pie carrier
Pizzelle "taco"
My beautiful pizzelle baker, Julia
Fabulous Fred

Pottery by my pal James
Joel the bike guy
Beautiful produce
My stand