Monday, February 8, 2010

Made it Monday and a confession...

Today I'm going to learn you somethin! One of my favorite snacks is salsa. I could put it on ANYTHING I believe. Of course, I do get a little frightened when I read a regular salsa label, there's all sorts of things in there that probably don't belong. Preservatives, colors, artifical flavors. No good. So today I'm going to teach you an easy peasy way to make your own, most of this stuff you probably have on hand.

Lined up on my counter you see I have fresh cilantro, in my green bag, which I truly believe does work because it's been in my fridge for a month now and it hasn't turned all boiled spinachy, apple cider vinegar, a medium onion, 2 cans of diced tomatoes (read the labels, the ingredient should be: tomatoes) clove o garlic and some mexican seasoning. I also usually add some hot sauce and some lime juice, just whatever your taste calls for. This is a great starter and you can doctor it as you like from here.

I'm a home party girl from way back. This is I've found the easiest way to make this salsa, I use the Quick Chef from Tupperware. It'll run you like $50 from the catalog, probably $30 or so from ebay. I believe they're red now. I feel like i have a bit more control with it than I do a food processor though. I toss the cilantro in first, I just wipe down the stalks and pull the leaves off, just a handful will do it.

I just peel and quarter the onion, the quick chef will take care of the rest. Even quartering an onion makes me cry *sniffle*. Once this is tossed in, I give the quick chef a few turns because I want to get that onion pretty fine as well as the cilantro. While they both have a great taste, neither are something you want to get a whole mouthful of!

Now for my pampered chef plug with my garlic press. This thing does get a lot of use in my house! Just one clove will do it.

Now I add 2 cans of diced tomatoes. These are aprox 14oz cans, you can adjust accordingly though.

probably 2T of apple cider vinegar. At this point I really stir it up good with the quick chef and and make sure it's all mixed in well and chopped as course or fine as I want it. Take a taste and add your spices as you like them. Be creative, when you make stuff yourself, it's all about you!

I mentioned my basic bread recipe in my last post that I used for the cinnamon rolls. Here is the basic bread as it is without any doctoring. Made it in my bread machine last night then covered it and let it rise overnight in the fridge. You can let it rise on the counter (or in the microwave) overnight but sometimes it makes it a bit too yeasty for me.

And now the confession. I have a slight obsession with small kitchen appliances. On my counter currently (which means I use them a couple times a week at least) are a toaster oven, bread machine, crock pot, wine opener, electric kettle. A vacuum sealer also makes a frequent appearance. In my pantry live my stand mixer and blender. So yesterday at Goodwill, D didn't have a hard sale when she tried to talk me into this for $5.
A food steamer. She says she uses hers every night. Rice or steamed veggies she says are a snap in this baby. So for right now, it's going to live in my pantry and I'm going to find ways to incorporate it into dinner prep and we'll see where it finds it's permanent home.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I have an obsession with food, eating it mostly. Not as fuel for my body, but because it's good. I've never had a love of cooking. I mean, I would do it from time to time, but it's so much easier to just throw something in the microwave and call it a meal.

I've been a little put off however recently reading the labels of food and not understanding half the stuff that's in it. I like knowing what I'm eating, and maybe as I'm getting older I'm more concerned about this whole 'you are what you eat' nonsense. So I'm trying to eat only foods that I can read/understand what's in it. I figure this is a pretty big step and I will try to post what I'm making on here with links or recipes so you can join me in the fun!

This first one is easy peasy, just pineapple and cherries. Hubby got me this awesome pineapple slicer thingie for christmas that you just screw into the pineapple and it pops it all out nice and sliced for you!

Homemade granola. Yes, granola has a lot of fat, but you know what? People in the old days ate a lot of fat and stayed healthy. Because they knew what the heck they were eating! This is a great alternative to cereal in the morning, very filling and doesn't give you the 10am droops... Here's how I do it:

8cups oatmeal (I use quick oats)
handful of sunflower seeds
handful of coconut
1c each of walnuts, pecans, almonds and whatever else you may have, finely chopped. I tried doing peanuts too but they sort of took over the flavor
dash of salt
decent shake of cinnamon
stir all this together in a huge bowl, while you're stirring that take a sauce pan and put 1c veg oil and about a cup of brown sugar, I use light because it's easier to find
once the sugar is melted into the oil, pour over your oat mixture and mix well, like I said, you need a giant bowl for this. Break up the brown sugar if it starts to clump and try to get it fairly even in your bowl.
preheat to 350
line a big bar pan with parchment, it usually takes 2, I reuse the same pan and parchment because parchment is pretty pricy
pour about half on the pan and spread it out
toast in the oven for 10, stir it some to flip it a bit then toast for 10 more
PS. the time between toast and burn is short! keep your nose on full alert!

Soft Pretzles, this was another one of my experiments this weekend while we were blasted with a blizzard here in the midatlantic. I had stocked up on groceries earlier this week so I felt like I could pretty much make anything with my full pantry. I got this recipe from which is such an awesome site! Went much better than expected too!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, these were breakfast this morning and OMG were they good! I have a basic bread recipe that I use:
2 tsp yeast
4Tbsp sugar
1c warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt (I put these together in my bread machine pan and let them sit for 10 or so til it gets foamy
3c flour
3Tbsp oil
I throw all this in the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. Once it's done making the ball of dough, I take it out and throw it in a loaf pan, let it rise for like an hour then bake at 350 for like 30 minutes or until it passes the 'tap test'.
I use this recipe for EVERYTHING. I do my hamburger rolls the same way and I made an awesome garlic bread a couple weeks ago using garlic salt instead of regular and adding a bunch of parmesan cheese and basil before the dough cycle.
So this time, I added a few shakes of cinnamon to the mix before making the dough, then when it was done, I rolled it out flat and put a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. Rolled it all up into a tube then I refrigerated that for a bit, just because it was so squishy at that point. Then I sliced it into chunks and put them in the (greased) pan, as you can see. Covered and put them in the fridge overnight for a slow rise. Popped them in the oven at 350 this morning for 30 minutes and they were awesome!!! I had half a can of buttercream icing so I added that on top but you can also make your own very simply with crisco and confectioners sugar.

I threw chicken breast and salsa in the crock pot last night, not quite sure what would happen but I heard that the acid in the tomatoes would make the chicken very tender. I LOVE mexican food. Salsa is homemade, more on that another time.
So the chicken got done and I intended to make like a taco salad with it, but I suddenly had a major hankering for fajitas. Problem was, no tortillas in the house. to the rescue again! I know she says not to substitute shortening for lard, but one thing I don't normally keep in my pantry is lard, so I did it, and it worked, and I will probably never buy flour tortillas again. I took the additional dough (the recipe makes A LOT) and vacuum sealed it in individual balls, hopefully they'll still roll out at a later date.

That's all for this weekend, I'm exhausted from eating quite frankly! Hope all my midatlantic friends had a great weekend at home as well. Us Marylanders don't know how to deal with 2 feet of snow! I for one don't even pretend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


As much as I've been nesting in my house, I haven't gotten around a whole lot to actually putting pictures on my walls. I didn't realize it was really missing until I hung some stuff up there. So I've decided to let you in on one of my little secrets. This. Free, whimsical, printable art. Add in some cheapy frames and suddenly your house is a home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

too much, not enough?

It seems like I've had way too much going on to blog, yet, when I think about what I have to blog about, I got nothing! So here's the facts:

- I'm on a cooking binge. I'm trying to eliminate 'junk' from my life, you know, that stuff on the food labels that you can't read? So I'm striving to make wholesome meals and hoping that a healthier (thinner?) lifestyle will come with time.

- Hubby is on a woodworking binge. Hopefully pictures to come. He's been making these great coat racks with shelves over them, EVERYONE has a spot for one of these.

- My desktop died. :o( Christmas Day of all times. Hubby and I have tried to fix it, I think it's a power supply issue, but since both of us work on computers (to some extent) all day, neither of us really has the patience to deal with it, so we're going to send it to the professionals.

- I collected 225 pairs of shoes to donate to Haiti and now I'm obsessed! So a friend and I have started a new drive to collect items to donate to the God's Littlest Angels Orphanage in Haiti. Hopefully we will be successful in that, wish us luck!