What Would You Do?

I once blogged about the lazy state of affairs we are living in when butter comes wrapped in half stick chunks. I vividly remember thinking how utterly ridiculous that seemed to me. That we would actually pay extra to have the same amount of butter cut and wrapped in smaller pieces so that we wouldn’t have to take the time and make the effort to actually cut a stick of butter in half.

Oh, dear friends, how the mighty have fallen! Those words came back to haunt me…to taunt me really…the other day when I was getting the ingredients to make a dessert for a dinner with friends.

I, who mocked and derided those who would buy their precut sticks of butter, was faced with a conundrum that shamed me with it’s weightiness. The irony of my decision making was not lost on me in the Walmart candy aisle.

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Do you see my quandary? On the right a slightly larger bag with a handful more of that delicious caramelly goodness, wrapped.

On the left? A slightly smaller bag with just a few less pieces of that delicious caramelly goodness, unwrapped.

The ones on the left? A little bit more expensive for fewer pieces. But still more than enough for the dessert I was making.

I did it too. With an apology in my heart for my younger more judgmental self that mocked those half stick of butter lovers.

What would you do?

Click here to see the sweet treat I made with my unwrapped Rolos. Super easy made even more so by those unwrapped Rolos and super tasty.

In Which I Talk About Rice

I know, a whole post on rice. Really? Really.

I have never been good at making rice. Honestly, rice has always seemed to me to be one of those foods that’s really just a vehicle for other foods like a hot dog bun or such and was best used in casseroles and corned beef hash. I’ve never been very good at making it so I rarely served it as a side.

Kitchen confession: I got really good with minute rice when I did need it. I had no idea what we were missing out on by going this route though. No judgement if you too love those convenient little boil in the bags or dehydrated just add water boxes of rice. I get it. Real rice can be intimidating. It takes more time. It’s tricky to get the water to rice ratio just so to ensure soft fluffy rice. And boy, oh boy, brown rice is a whole other category altogether!

But I have learned some tips and tricks recently that changed my rice making game and maybe they will be of help to you. Or maybe I am the only one who has had a problem with rice making. It is entirely possible I am in a club of one. I know what you are probably thinking. “Woman, why didn’t you just read the package directions and follow them?” Y’all, I totally would! But would somehow still end up with undercooked rice. I will totally cop to it being user error but that’s the simple truth. Making good rice eluded me for years, people. Years.

But I am living in a different rice zone these days so here are the tips and tricks that I found helpful.

IMG-0759Basmati rice. Other more experienced and knowledgable cooks in the kitchen may roll their eyes and say what type of rice doesn’t matter but I have found that basmati rice turns out perfect every.single.time. It’s a little more expensive but totally worth it in my book for the fact of consistency alone. And may I just point out that I had no idea there were different kinds of rice other than white or brown and the cheater minute rice and the real stuff reserved for elite rice cookers? Who knew?

The Rice Association apparently. Guys, there is a fascinating website all about rice! According to them there are over 40,000 varieties of rice. Crazy, huh? Apparently rice plants need a ton of rain in their early days but then require a long dry spell to finish growing. Because the plant is so particular about its water and climate Great Britain has never been able to successfully produce it’s own supply of rice.

Historians believe that America owes it’s original source of rice seed to a storm that blew a ship bound for Madagascar off it’s course. The ship made it’s way to the safety in the harbor of South Carolina and out of gratitude for help with repairs the ships captain is said to have given rice seed as a thank you gift. But then the American Revolution started and we hit a snag but I will let you read about that on your own.

Now where was I before I found that fascinating website?

Oh yes, another tip from a rice making guru…after combining liquid and rice together, bringing it to a boil, cover and reducing heat, walk away for twenty minutes. Literally forget about it. Go paint your fingernails. Fold a load of laundry, whatever, but ignore the rice on the stove. Don’t open the lid to check the liquid. Trust the process. Difficult I know but letting the steam out does something unkind to the rice making magic I think.

Two tricks I have found that make for some really tasty rice are actually pretty simple.

Toast the rice before you make it. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in your pot and when it is all melted add in you desired amount of uncooked rice. Toast it for about two to three minutes. It will smell heavenly. Add in your liquid and cook as usual.

You might have noticed that I keep saying liquid instead of water. Two words for you. Chicken broth. It adds so much flavor. I even use it to make mashed potatoes. You can use plain old water if you wish but salt is your friend. Either way, when your rice is ready don’t forget to dash some pepper on it too. It’s delish!

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So, that’s that. I’m certainly not some rice aficionado now (although I am certainly much more knowledgable than I was before this post. Thank you, Google!) but I feel confident with a few months of successful rice making under my belt. Maybe I will tackle quinoa next. Slow down there, Scooter! Don’t get carried away.

Here’s a link to this summer’s favorite cilantro lime rice. Enjoy and be sure to check how America almost ended up being a riceless nation.

 

Test Kitchen #96 ~ Lemon Tart

I think this has become my absolute favorite dessert right now. For reals. It’s cool and smooth and tart and with just enough summer tanginess. It comes from a Taste of Home cookbook my mother gave us and my youngest daughter actually picked it out (along with about ten more but this is the only one we’ve tried so far.)

I have found that opinions can run pretty strong on the matter of lemon flavored desserts but I am solidly in the go for it camp. I think it taste like summer and is so yummy.

This tart is delicious and bonus…you get a great arm workout.

What you’ll need:
1 pastry shell, baked
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 TBS grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
What you’ll do:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in milk until smooth.
Cook, constantly stirring, over medium-high heat until it thickens.
Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir for two more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Take a spoonful of the hot mixture and stir it into the eggs yolks.
Return all of it to the sauce pan and return to burner.

Bring back to a gentle boil, stirring the whole time.
Cook for two more minutes.

Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon peel.
Gently add in lemon juice.
Cover and cool completely.
Fold in sour cream.
Pour into pastry shell.
Refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting. 
Garnish with whipped topping.
Enjoy!

It really is the perfect dessert for these hot summer days.

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 87 ~ Homemade Pretzel Bites

Technically this could be filed under the Sundays With Sarah posts but since I helped I am putting it under the pinterest test kitchen. It’s one of the perks of being both the blog owner and mom so even though Sarah mixed and made the dough I’m still claiming it 🙂

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Plus we tried it once before and it could have been submitted to that pinterest fail site. But we read up on homemade pretzel making and figured out what to do differently and easy peasy we had a delicious treat for this summer’s first ladies swim night. (What is a lady’s swim night? An evening moms and ladies eighteen and older bring a favorite finger food and beverage to my house and come float in the pool. It’s so fun and relaxing!)

We served them with both sweet (chocolate and caramel) dipping sauces as well as two different kinds of cheese sauces. I couldn’t choose a favorite…it was all good!

What you’ll need:
1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
1 TBS sugar
1 cup of warm water
1 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour 
4 TBS unsalted butter, divided
3 TBS baking soda
coarse salt
What you’ll do:
Mix the sugar and yeast together in a small bowl
Add in warm water and stir until the sugar completely dissolves
Put it aside and let it sit for 10 minutes
Mix the salt and flour together
Chop 2 TBS of butter into chunks and add to the salt and flour mixture.
Mix on low speed until it becomes coarse crumbles. 
Still on low speed slowly add in the yeast mixture just until combined.
Using your hands gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead until it is no longer sticky.
Place the dough into a bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add in the baking soda.
Cutting off small pieces of dough roll it into about 1/2 inch thick ropes.
Cut the rope into bit size pieces.
Boil a few pieces at a time for about 30 to 45 seconds until puffy.
Remove from the boiling water and place on baking sheet.
Brush with melted butter and top with a sprinkle of coarse salt.
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake on 350 degrees until golden brown, about 8 to 11 minutes.

The original recipe did a few things differently. Firstly, they left the dough in ropes and made sort of long pretzel sticks instead of bites. Secondly, they also had a second  20 minute rest before they boiled the dough.

Hope you enjoy!

Sundays With Sarah #3 ~ Roasted Root Vegetables With Tomatoes and Kale

Actually the post should be titled Sundays With Sarah That Happen On Saturday With Her Sisters.

But that seems rather cumbersome on top of a somewhat long recipe name, don’t you think?

It was the way it actually went down although for the life of me I can’t remember why we asked her to cook on Saturday instead of  Sunday but what I do remember is that she and her sisters were really loud and laughing a lot and there were carrot and parsnip peeling absolutely everywhere.

Sarah is no vegetarian, the girl loves her a good bacon cheeseburger, but she is quite happy to not eat a lot of meat. Rob however needed some protein so we paired her delicious veggies with chicken for a satisfying dinner. It was the first time we had ever eaten parsnips and rutabagas and we all really enjoyed them.

What you’ll need:
3 lbs of root vegetables, peeled and chopped  ~ Sarah used parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and potatoes 
1/2 cups chopped onion
1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
6 TBS olive oil, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1 heaping TBS tomato paste
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 generous cups of green leafy vegetable ~ she used kale

What you’ll do:
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix together all of the vegetables (except the onion) and garlic in a roasting pan.
Toss with 3 TBS olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt.
Roast for approximately 45 minutes, stirring half way through.
While the veggies are roasting heat the remaining 3 TBS of olive oil in a dutch oven or large sauce pan.
Saute the onions.
Add the tomato paste and cook for about one minute.
Using your hands tear the canned tomatoes into large pieces and add them to the pot.
Add the remaining liquid from the can.
Add your seasoning and simmer on low heat until your vegetables are done roasting.
Toss in the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes
Stir in the root vegetables and serve!

Hey, did you know we made a Pinterest board to keep Sarah’s recipes organized and easy to find? We did and you can follow it here!

Test Kitchen # 80 ~ Oreo Bars

Pinterest is flooded, I mean flood-ed, with gobs of recipes of every imaginable kind of rice krispie treat combination…milky way rice krispie treats, peanut butter cup rice krispie treats, salted caramel, cake batter, cookie butter and even a red velvet version.

And I am just not even tempted because…well, I don’t like rice krispie treats. I don’t enjoy the flavor or the texture. So normally I just scroll by those recipes if they pop up on my pinterest page.

But then I saw this recipe for a rebooted version that uses oreo cookies instead of rice krispies and suddenly my aversion disappeared. I made some slight changes based on what I had on hand (I used mini marshmallows and did not top mine with additional Oreos. I also don’t have a microwave so I made mine on the stove top)

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Because I am me I was trying it out for the first when friends were coming over and instead of doubling the recipe I made two batches, one with regular oreos and one with golden oreos. I preferred the golden ones but the chocolate ones went fast.

What you’ll need:
1 package of Oreos, crumbled
1/2 stick of butter
5 cups of marshmallows
What you’ll do:
Melt the butter in a large stock pot.
Stir in marshmallows and continue stirring until completely melted.
Add in crushed cookies and mix completely.
Spread into a parchment paper lined 8×8 dish and press into an even layer.
Allow them to cool completely before cutting into squares.

They’re pretty tasty and keep well if you store them in an air tight container…if you have any left.

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This recipe came from one of my new favorite blogs so click on over and check out the tasty goodness from Kleinworth & Co.

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 67 ~ Marinated and Sauteed Mushrooms

edible fungi, mushrooms, sauteed mushrooms

I like mushrooms and, like most vegetables, once you’ve eaten them fresh canned just will not do. The nifty thing is that they can be as easy to prepare as simply cleaning and chopping them. They can be eaten raw or sauteed (my favorite) or grilled, alone or as an add in.

I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with a mushroom. I mean, it’s such a fungi!

Ba-dum ching!

Come on, you had to see it coming 🙂

Seriously though, while a mushroom is neither plant nor animal it is an extremely healthy food, really good for our immune systems and are also a good source of vitamin D.

I came across this recipe for grilled mushrooms and since I am all about some grilling I wanted to try it out. Unfortunately, I had some issues following the recipe exactly. I had no idea what harissa was much less where to find it. (It’s a Moroccan pepper sauce so no big surprise that I couldn’t find it on the shelf at Walmart.) I must be lacking in my cooking skills department too because I just could not get the mushrooms to stay on the skewers. Not one to be easily discourage though, I tweaked the recipe to suit what I did have on hand sauteed them after marinating for about 30 minutes and they were delicious!

edible fungi, mushrooms, marinaded mushrooms

What you’ll need:
1 TBS olive oil
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS minced garlic
Italian seasoning to taste
8 oz fresh mushrooms (look for ones that are as unblemished and white colored as possible)
What you’ll do:
Mix first four ingredients together.
Gently toss mushrooms until completely coated with the marinade. 
Wait 30 minutes and then saute over medium heat until the mushrooms reach your desired consistency. 

We ate ours as a side but you could use them to top chicken or steak. Next time I will double the recipe because they were just so good.

And, hey if you manage to get them to stay on skewers come back and let me know the secret.

edible fungi, mushrooms, marinaded mushrooms

Tuesday’s Table

Oh, Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

Not that it’s Christmas time or anything.

Nor would I know how to make figgy pudding but I did get to go to a friend’s house on Monday and pick some fresh figs. I don’t remember ever eating figs before but when I plucked one off the tree and bit into it my mind immediately flooded with memories. It was like it was the taste of my childhood in the way that Noxema is a smell of my childhood. (My Mother would slather that stuff all over us after getting sunburned at the beach.)

I tried my hand at making fig preserves yesterday which was something. I’ve only ever done something like that years ago with a friend so I am not really sure how it will taste or keep but I did it. Boiled my jars before and after and everything. I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) that called for a little rosemary to be boiled in and removed before canning and since I have an ambitious little bush of rosemary in my backyard decided to give it a try. I figure as long as I am experimenting with the whole process why not get creative?

And also because I am me and it’s what I do I also did a little fig photo shoot before I started cooking. I am a lover of this pinterest board and food photography in general, and the colors of the figs also inspired me. They reminded me of fall with their rich hues.

fresh figs fruit harvest

fresh figs

fresh figs

fresh figs Kim Klassen textures

Now, if the jam tastes as good as the pictures look!

Test Kitchen #61 ~ Pineapple Raspberry Trifle

Surprise!

Yes I know, it’s a blog post! I am as shocked as you are 🙂

Life is busy and, truth be told, I am practicing what I shared in my last post. I am trying to be critical of what I write and why. Am I being defensive? Making a point? Just spouting off? Wasting time writing something to avoid other chores and things I could/should be doing?

When I started this blog I purposed that it would be God honoring and helpful. And this time last year I was a blogging fool. Last summer I wrote posts on modesty, courtship, and just the overall joyful burden of life. Not to mention recipes and pictures and all manner of things.

This summer has been different though. Certainly not quieter in an everyday living sense but certainly in my blogging. I suspect it is just a season though and soon enough I’ll be at it again.

But to show that I haven’t completely abandoned my little corner of the cyber world I am sharing not one, but two, recipes. Actually to be fair the first isn’t a recipe as much as it is a wonderful snack idea. One of our favorite snacks here around the house lately is edamame. I will buy this shelled and serve them as a side dish at dinner but we devour them as a snack. All I do is boil them for a few minutes while they’re still in their pod, drain them, and toss with coarse salt.

So delicious!

Now, for an actual recipe. (Although it really is almost as simple as the edamame.)  It’s light and tasty and the perfect cool dessert in the middle of the summer heat.
What you’ll need:
One angel food cake mix, cooked according to package directions
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple, with juice
1 lg container of cool whip
1 small package of vanilla instant pudding
raspberries
What you’ll do:
Tear (or cut) the angel food cake into pieces.
Mix together the pineapple with the dry pudding mix until well blended.
Gently fold in half of the cool whip.
Layer half of the angel food pieces into the bottom of a trifle bowl.
Spoon half of the pineapple mixture into the bowl.
Sprinkle raspberries on top.
Repeat the layers.
Spread some of the regular cool whip on top and add even more raspberries on top.
Chill for at least two hours before serving.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #48 ~ Chicken Pot Pie

Good gracious, I haven’t posted a recipe since November! I knew it had been a while but not that long. It is what it is though so there’s no use crying about it. I’m just going to put this one out there with no promises about a weekly recipe right now. We shall just have to find out together whether I can get into some kind of routine again 🙂

This is one of those adaptable recipes that can be a major made from scratch (ha!) delight or a take-some-short-cuts-and-it’s-still-a-delight recipes. I’ve tried making homemade pie crust and frankly I’ve found the store bought ones to be just as good. (No offense to you homemade pie crust making women…I’ve just never made one that was so significantly better that it was worth the extra time and work.) I’ve also made this with fresh vegetables as well as frozen and both work just fine.

What you’ll need:
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups boiled and shredded chicken (I use about 6 chicken tenderloins) 
3 cups vegetables of your choice (I have used the frozen mixed veggies for soup and I’ve also chopped up celery & carrots and mixed them with corn and green beans.)
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1/2 cup milk or half & half
Italian seasoning
double pie crust
What you’ll do:
Place one crust in the bottom of a pie plate and set aside.
Add your chicken and veggies to your broth and boil for 15 or 20 minutes.
Turn your heat down and let simmer.
In a small sauce pan melt your butter.
Add your flour, milk and Italian seasoning. (You may need to remove from heat so you do not scald your roux. It should be pretty thick.)
Add roux to the chicken and vegetables and stir until it is mixed in very well.
Pour mix into prepared pie plate. Unroll and add top pie crust, pinching sides together and cutting out small vents.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

This has quickly become a family favorite and it’s a hearty meal that goes far. One pie feeds six of us with enough leftovers for my beloved to take for lunch the next day. I’m excited about trying it this week with shredded beef, mushrooms, potatoes and onions. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.