Today I made chorizo for breakfast, with salsa and cheese. I ended up raiding the whole house of the peanut butter stashes and got all the jars together for peanut butter cookies. My husband has been asking for them lately and I had a jar of Jiffy, so I was excited to make a 3 ingredient cookie.
I got the last of the jiffy out of the jar and also found an organic jar of peanut butter in the cupboard.
I decided to make 2 batches. One with the jiffy and one with the organic jar. The jiffy one I burnt and was very mad when my oven was too hot too fast, and only about 3-4 cookies out of 7 were edible. So I tried again, with the organic jar, and decided to fold in some marshmallows and chocolate chips the last of my bags of both just to use them up.
Note to self and every baker out there.. folding in marshmallows, mini or not.. does not work!!!! garsh, I wish I would have learned my lesson the other day when I tried to make a marshmallow topped toll house cookie bar, that didn’t work either.
After some research I have come to find I am not the first baker with this problem, solution I have read would be to use a layer of marshmallow cream for bars and it works much better then marshmallows. The marshmallows melted and cooked way faster then the cookies itself and then leaked out and burned out the sides. I think I may have unwillingly took one picture of the disaster of the day today. My Smores peanut butter cookies, I forgot to shape them also, they were more like scoops of batter and didn’t cook evenly at all. So yea, sometimes I have baking disasters, today was that day.
For dinner we had turkey mingon wrapped in bacon from schwans. And some food bank zucchini and the last of the jasmine rice I have for this month. Crazily, I forgot to buy more. Hope you all had a better cooking day than I did. I am sure I will have a better day tomorrow. I cant wait to start over after a baking mess up day.
Potatoes about 4-5 large or 6-7 small (whichever kind you prefer to mash more or have)
Celery Diced Small
Carrots Diced small
½ a diced white or yellow onion
Frozen veggies: or fresh veggies; peas, carrots and green beans work well.
1 lb of ground beef or traditionally ground lamb
2-3 Tablespoons butter
Start by skinning and steaming your potatoes. If you diced them up before steaming they will steam faster. I use my rice cooker and veggie steamer for this always. You could always boil the potatoes instead, but I am a firm devout steamer and I do not like to boil anything. Unless I intend to drink the liquid as when I am making soup, I do not boil.
Next step is caramelizing the diced veggies. Put some diced mushrooms, onions, carrots into a sauce pan until they were nice and brown, then add the beef and cooked thoroughly.
Add your salt and pepper and marjoram after the beef is cooked. Use spices to your own taste.
Next thoroughly cook your frozen veggies, or whatever you are using for the middle layer. I mostly use frozen veggies. Your potatoes should be steamed by now, whip them up with some butter and milk until they are really soft peak-creamy.
By then you have all your ingredient layers cooked and ready to assemble; lay your cooked beef-mixture into the casserole dish first, followed by the cooked veggies. Then plop your really creamy mashed potatoes over the whole thing and smooth them over with a spoon.
Cook your casserole until the potatoes are nice and toasted on the top, but also heated up inside. In the oven uncovered at 350 degrees. For about 15-20 minutes. You could go hotter, but the insides of the mashed potatoes could not get cooked. For a fail-safe, I always go lower longer, rather then hotter faster. Let cool before you cut into it, about 5 minutes.
Today I tried to make strawberry shortcake. I used an old 1979 recipe from this cookbook.
I really wish I would have used more of my bakers instinct when it came to the dough, I am not sure if the size really worked but I tried hard. I used the recipe by the book except for one ingredient and that was the shortening, I used butter instead, seeing as I did not buy my organic shortening this month. I have previously tried it for many things and decided that I did not need to buy it anymore. But alas now I guess I could have used some. I think by replacing that ingredient that I came up with a more of a pound cake. But more on that later.
Here are some pictures of my book, the recipe and a picture from the book of the cake I wanted to make.
I first measured out the dry ingredients, then crumbled in the butter, then made a well and added the milk and the eggs. I then made a dough and shaped the cakes. Then put them into my new cake pans which I had prepped, with some oil and flour so they would not stick. They looked too thick they felt too thick and if I were to have been smarter I would have made several more cakes and not just a very heavy double layered large one. This dough seems like it would have been better in a smaller scale like for biscuits both sweet and savory.
Here is a picture of when I took the cakes out and started assembling my shortcake-poundcake layers. I started with some powdered sugar which is shown here. And I also made some homemade whipped cream, and had some frozen berrys in a small cast iron defrosting in the oven.
I started to assemble my cake and I made a layer of berries and whipped cream on the first cake and then topped with the second cake layer. I then did the same thing to the top layer. I started with berries and topped with whipped cream all around then drizzled the sauce from the berry pan over the cakes. It looked wonderful, here are the pictures.
We all ate it, although it was a little bit heavier then expected. Its was only after I shared some with my neighbor that she said it tasted more like a poundcake, hence why I have been calling it such.
Well heres to another 1970’s recipe ressurection, even though I think I could have followed the directions better, I am happy enough with the results to eat it.
Yesterday I went to the food bank. I also tried to make Calzones for dinner. Dinner wasn’t that good but the bounty from the food bank is calling to me. I got so much awesome free food and even some stuff I have never had the pleasure of trying before.
I got some WeGo brand banana flour; actual flour from dehydrated green banana’s. I even got a arrowhead mills organic bag of pastry flour, whole wheat. Now my flour selection at home is huge, not only do I have basic white flour, I also have coconut flour, banana flour, bread flour and now whole wheat, I am really set for baking now.
I also got a whole bunch of produce from the food bank, I got some dried stalks of garlic cloves a whole big bunch of them, they look so rustic, I hung them up in the kitchen. I got some large zucchini and some Armenian cucumber that I thought was more zucchini. I got a large spaghetti squash, a nice and big one. I got some fresh kale, some Roma tomatoes, some carrots both fresh and from the food bank supply. I got some apples and some pantry stuff. I got a bag of already made local pizza dough, and a whole bunch of potatoes, which I really needed.
I asked my husband what kind of “yeast bread” he wanted tonight, as I was itching to make some yeast dough. After some thought he declared he wanted me to try making calzones.
I was a little intimated because I wasn’t feeling well, and kinda just wanted to make something that I had experience with. But the only way to gain experience is by trying, so I went for it. I made my pizza dough, and set the bag of already made dough from the food bank aside.
I wasn’t sure how this experience would work out, but I asked my husband if he wanted calzones from my dough, or the food bank dough, and or bread sticks with the food bank dough. He said he wanted to try calzones with both doughs, to see which one works better.
The biggest thing I was excited to make for this meal was the pizza sauce. I prayed for finding fresh tomatoes to make some at the the food bank and my wish was granted. I put 3-4 large Roma tomatoes into the blender with a whole 4-5 cloves of my new garlic into the blender. It was a way watery mess, I knew that was only the first step.
I had already defrosted some of my frozen mushrooms for the meal so I sauteed them with quarter of a white onion diced and a handful of chard diced. I sauteed until they were thoroughly heated and toasty, and then spooned them hot into the blender with the tomatoes and pureed for about a min.
I poured the contents of the blender back into my sauce pan and tasted it, seasoned it and added a tablespoon or two of canned tomato sauce and then steamed all the water out and reduced it into a sauce. The results were amazing. A yummy reduced pizza sauce with little tiny bits of mushroom, onion and chard in every bite. I was able to save a jar of it after using some on the calzones and I cannot wait to open that jar again.
I tried to make a giant calzone with my dough, and my dough was too sticky. I rolled it out to a pretty good size filled with a layer of sauce, then Italian meatballs from Schwans that I already baked thoroughly and cut in half and then a layer of cheese, I actually successfully rolled it over and tucked it over and made a large moon shape calzone, but when I went to take it off the wax paper it stuck, and gave me a hell of a time trying to get to the cookie sheet to bake. I got it halfway onto the cookie sheet, holy, quite a holy mess, like someone shot meatballs through it…mess and half of the wax paper was still hanging off of it.
I just about had a mental calzone breakdown. I had to walk away from my monstrosity and actually take a break. My husband said while I was freaking out, that he had extracted all the wax paper on it and it was on the cookie sheet. He asked me through my crying, if I could pinch the holes up.
“Once the sauce is on, and the dough is filled and all the handmade dough is used, no you can’t pinch the holes up. In fact the best thing that you can do, is through it into a casserole dish and say its a pizza bread casserole, cause all the filling is coming out.”
And that’s just what I did. I turned that cookie sheet of a mess of meatballs and dough upside down unto a glass pyrex dish and turned the oven on 350, and stuck it in and tried to forget about my very first handmade calzone disaster.. for some reason I think its going to stick with me forever.. get it stick with me.
Anyways, I had more luck with the food bank pizza dough, although I still made some mistakes.
I stretched it out and cut it in half, and filled one with the calzone fillings. I actually had a semi ok calzone to put into the oven, then I did the next one and foolishly forgot cheese. Well at least I had a semi- ok calzone to put into the oven and its dairy free counterpart. Lol
Results are the correct food bank dough one with cheese was good. All the doughs rose like crazy so they were more like sandwiches then pizza doughs. I don’t understand why the food bank dough rose so much, I think because I didn’t stretch it out too thin, like I normally do.
Here is the only picture that survived the calzone night of hell. I am not sure if I will try that again soon. I hope your cooking for yesterday was better then mine. I am going to try and have a much better cooking weekend.
Today I made potato au gratins for dinner. I was walking by the health food store today and found a milk crate of old red potatoes sitting out. They sometimes out out un-sellable old produce stuff, and I seem to find it each time. This time finding potatoes in a crate, I thought it would be great to make au gratin for dinner.
I did it a little different today. I cant seem to get skillet serving out of my head after seeing it on t.v on cooking shows. Getting served in a skillet is awesome. So I decided to bake and serve my au gratins in my 3 skillet cast iron pans.
I started by skinning the potatoes, then slicing them really thin, I then mix them in a bowl with some milk, shredded cheese and seasonings. Then I filled my large skillet with the mix. Adding more milk to make the skillet full. This large one would be for my husband. But I am sure he will say its too much food for one person. I added more cheese on top of the mix and covered in tinfoil.
Then I chopped more veggies; carrots, leeks, onions, and chard for me and my sons servings of au gratin. I mixed in the chopped veggies with the sliced potatoes and did the same procedure. I filled my medium sized skillet with the mix and covered with more milk and topped with cheese. I also covered this one in tinfoil and I did the same for my small skillet.
I put them all into the oven with tinfoil cover for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. The potatoes steam very well when you have tinfoil. After 45 minutes I took the tinfoil off. I added more cheese on top of all of them and turned the heat up to 400, I kept them in the oven for about 10 minutes to roast the cheese on top. Results are a daddy’s size au gratin skillet, a mommy’s size au gratin skillet and a kid sized au gratin skillet. Just waiting for them to cool down before I try to hand them to the boys.
I also baked some bacon to throw on top, and my husband suggested that I brush the bacon with maple syrup halfway through cooking and I did, and its wonderful. I cannot wait to have my skillet plate topped with bacon.
I also made some guacamole today with leftover avocado my mom left here, and one that I had found by the health food store. I love free food. Last night I had mashed them all up, planning on making avocado brownies today. But instead I made guacamole.
To make my guacamole I added 1 ½ avocado mashed, 1 tablespoon lime mayo, 2 tablespoons garlic flavored salsa, salt and pepper and lemon juice. My husband said it could use some cilantro, but it is very very good. He say’s he could eat the whole bowl. I love that we both share a love for Mexican food. I absolutely would die for some one to just cook me authentic Mexican food everyday. But since I do not I try and make whatever I can, whenever I can.
I am prone to make chorizo and eggs in the morning. My husband’s mother taught him and now he taught me how to cook it properly. While my mother was here, I cooked some and she said she had never had any chorizo cooked so well, I love making it. Well until next time, hope your having fun making delicious food in your kitchen I know I am!
Before you start making anything. Get your pan ready for caramel. Line a high walled cookie sheet or small casserole pan with parchment paper or tinfoil if its all you have. Brush or grease somehow the entire parchment paper with butter. Set aside.
Get your ingredients measured out. You should melt your butter beforehand and have it ready with your cream in a small bowl or measuring cup.
Now you can start making caramel.
Heat your sugar syrup base to 320 degrees in a small pot. You will want to dissolve all your sugar. Brush down the sides with a pastry brush, if it gets on the sides of the pot. You will want to use a candy thermometer or laser temperature guide for each step in this candy making process.
The second step is very important to watch the temperature. Add your vanilla,heavy milk and butter-already melted. You do not want this part to get up to 320, you will want this part of the process to ONLY HIT 245 degrees. And this is why.
If you look at the side of a candy thermometer it will show you the following chart.
This chart will be in Fahrenheit.
220 degrees – Jelly
230 degrees- Syrup
240 degrees- Fudge
240 degrees- Soft Ball
250 degrees- Firm Ball
260 degrees-Hard Ball
280 degrees-Soft Crack
300 degrees- Hard Crack
The ball stages are what you are looking for with caramel. You most likely want a soft ball caramel, so make sure to not get it over 240 degrees, when you put the heavy cream and butter, it will triple in size and you will want that. When it changes color into that great caramel color with the addition of the caramel makings, cook it until it hits 245 degrees throughout and pour into an already lined and butter greased baking sheet with walls, or a small pan.
This is the time you could sprinkle with salt, when its sitting cooling. You may want to wait until it reads 100 degrees to do that, so it only sits on the top and not settle to the bottom while its too hot. Let sit until it gets cool to about 70 degrees and cut into squares. It can be saved by wrapping in parchment paper, and use twist ties to save. You can put into a tin and even send some to friends. Caramel can last in the fridge for up to 3 weeks I believe. Hope you have some fun making some caramel. I know it may not be the healthiest treat, and its the only rare time I EVER use corn syrup, but its so worth the bad ingredients.
If you must go vegan to make this, try using coconut cream instead of heavy whipping cream. I have actually tried a brand name vegan caramel made with this. Its called “ COCAMELS” and they were interestingly yummy, but still high in sugar.
And use vegan or soy butter substitute for butter. When it comes to the corn syrup you could probably use brown rice syrup instead. I am sure that it could be a little bit darker, but as far as syrups go, I think that brown rice syrup has high sugar content, as does corn syrup, which is key for a great caramel. I have actually tried making vegan caramel with maple syrup and date paste instead of sugar, but it did not taste like the real thing at all.
Here are some pictures of caramel that I have made. I am sure that as soon as I get some money or food stamps I will be making some again.
Today was food bank day. We actually started the day with a neat little presentation at our local Fort Bragg library on bats. We even got to see 3 different live bats at the library. Big Brown Bat, and some Mexican free tail bats. It was pretty cool, we are now hours later still singing the “Echo location” song. “ I find my prey I find my way, Echo location”, I think its pretty cool that we got to see that at our local library. My 5 year old son loved it.
After we got home, I got my bags together to go to the food bank. I got a whole lot of stuff and was loaded down with 3 bags of food, when on the way home I ran into an old colleague of mine, lost in town. That I even have old colleagues is a miracle. I have only had 2 “jobs” in my life, being a camp counselor assistant and a marketing intern, she was my intern boss. She was in town for business and looking for the health food store. So she walked with me all the way home, cause I live right next to the health food store. We got to talk the whole way and catch up, its been about 2 years since I have seen her. I felt pretty proud to give her my new URL, and contact info. To finally be set in a beautiful town, with money and enjoying what I do is something exciting to share.
Anyways, After I got home I took assessment of the bounty from the food bank. I got some more fresh rabe, which I threw into the steamer right away. I got some cherry tomatoes which I put out for snacks and garnish for dinner. I also got some more flour a little bag of about a cup or two. I decided to use that with the flour I had leftover in my jar and make some more pizza dough for dinner. Its quick and easy and I just had enough cheese to pull off a great big one for dinner.
I proceeded to make dough, and let it rise for a while. I was constantly bugged for snacks from the boy, he knows that I get snacks from the food bank, so I grabbed some ritz crackers I got from my bag to give him. I didn’t want to just give him crackers so I grabbed the peanut butter from the fridge. So I gave him a few dollops with about 4-5 crackers.
Smelling the peanut butter and ritz together gave me a crazy idea. I crumbled the rest of the package of ritz with my hands in a bowl. And added some peanut butter to them, I smoothed it out until all the ritz were mixed into the peanut butter, I thought I could make a pretty good pie crust of it. But it was lacking structure, the taste was there, but how could it bake? So I added the last of the waffle mix I had, and hoped for the best. I mixed the waffle mix into into it thoroughly and pressed it into my new stainless steel bar pan. I par baked it at about 350 degrees until it poofed from the waffle mix. It got a golden brown after cooking and I took it out.
Peanut butter pie crust.. what would I do with that? I have been looking at a whole lot of Mississippi mud bar recipes so I decided to try and make a chocolate filling. I melted some butter with some baking pips of chocolate and some sugar and made a sauce, I should have made my sauce thicker with some corn starch, but more on that later.
I poured my sauce over the peanut butter crust and actually tried to freeze it into place.. didn’t work. If I would have had some gelatin I think that the chocolate would have turned out better, or added some corn starch to make it thicker. It didn’t quite set, but I decided to proceed to my last step anyways. Meringue.
I was really trying to make marshmallow cream but I only have meringue makings. I made some meringue and poured it over the chocolate.. and baked it until the meringue was set. I was really confused while it was baking tho, the unset sauce made it seem like the meringue wasn’t cooking. I took it out and let it cool and cut into it.. this happened.
But then I drained some of the chocolate, and proceeded to be able to cut squares that we could eat out of it. Its still very good with melty gooey chocolate layer. Next time I will try and just make it better. My husband loves the taste of the peanut butter crust and really he thinks I am a genius for mixing the two. I am pretty happy with the crunch from the ritz.
Dinner was Broccoli rabe steamed and then put into my casserole dish with some tomato. I made a sauce out of some Pacific organic red bell pepper and tomato soup and sour cream. It tasted great. I made a cheese pizza and a small focaccia out of the rest of the pizza dough I didn’t use.
Overall the food bank blessed us today, and another day of food is a good day. I love good fresh food, and I cannot wait to cook and bake more tomorrow and share with you. We get our food stamps on Friday, so we only have one more day of being creative with food bank food.
Today I made BBQ pulled Beef Pizza. I used leftover pulled beef from last nights dinner and made my own pizza dough. Making dough only took about 15 min, but then we let it rise for a few hours. I split it in half and then let it rise separate for another hr. I love making dough and I am using an old sunset pizza dough recipe from 1979.
I also made a reduction BBQ sauce with some Baby Rays Honey BBQ and some Brown Shugga Pale Ale. I put the beer into a pan and added some sauce and cooked it down into a syrup. I used this instead of tomato sauce for my BBQ pizza.
After the doughs had risen. I stretched them out the size of my oven sheets. I layered leftover boboli pizza sauce and cheese one one, then started my other one. I started the other pizza dough with a tiny layer of the BBQ beer reduction and added a layer of cheese, I then compiled some leftover pulled Beef over the cheese and then added more cheese on top. I then sprinkled more beer reduction over the whole pizza.
Baked them both at 425 until they were bubbly and golden crusted. I cut my square pizza’s diagonally to get triangle shapes, and the cheese one went fast. I burnt the BBQ beef a little so it got a little dark, but otherwise the flavors work well. I almost wish I used more reduction, cause it could use more sauce.
Overall I am happy with homemade BBQ beef pizza tonight for dinner. We only have a few more days till foodstamps and I go to the food bank tomorrow, so more creativity in the next couple days for protien, but I will figure it out. We still have more pulled beef leftover too.
Today I also got my bakers set in the mail! Easy bakers set that is all stainless steel and not aluminum. I am so excited to finally have proper pans. I have been working with pyrex and shame some aluminum, but not anymore! Yay! I am happy I got to buy myself a gift, and its going to benefit everyone in the family, now they are in for some serious baking!
Today’s cooking was a little experimental. We made chuck roast in the crock pot BBQ style for dinner. Very similar to the way that I make pulled pork. However, today we used some RoundMans Smokehouse BBQ rub as well as the addition of BBQ sauce. Normally we go with just BBQ sauce. It turned out really yummy with both a rub too.
To make pulled meat in the crock pot, simply put your seasoned meat into the crock pot on high for 5-6 hrs or low for 7-8. Results are awesome! You can do anything in the crock pot pulled. You can make pulled beef like we did tonight, and pulled chicken and of course pulled pork. We have now tried all three. Although BBQ pulled pork has been a house favorite this version of it, with beef is just as tasty.
Here is my sandwich for dinner. I added some fresh salad to mine.
Also today I fixed a mistake of mine. The other day I whipped up some cream cheese and strawberry jam with some powdered sugar trying to make a nice strawberry danish icing for some sweet tasting yeast bread. I ended up putting way too much jam and not enough cream cheese, I had a juicy jammy mess. For 2 days I have been trying to figure out what to make out of my cream cheese jam mess. I put it in the freezer for ice cream makings. Then I remembered I am running out of milk and eggs, so no ice cream making this week.
I finally figured it out this morning. The other day I heard of a baker on the cooking channel making strawberry cookies with cream cheese instead of butter. So I figured that if I added some flour, sugar, baking soda and maybe an egg that I could come up with a great cookie batter. I probably could have still made cookies with it, but I ended up making a mess of it in a large 9 x 13 pyrex pan, trying to spread it out for small bars. It didn’t spread so good, I think I added too much flour. I also added some flax meal, just cause I try and add chia and or flax to everything. Anyways, I cooked it till it was done and ended up with a small odd shaped cake.
So I took a cookie cutter and cut out some beautiful mini circles out of my cake. I knew I wouldn’t get squares out of the odd shaped cake, like I wanted for bars, but circles will do fine. Ends up the cake is very springy from the egg and baking powder and super moist from the cream cheese. But the strawberry taste got a little lost. My husband tried one and said they were not sweet enough, nor could he barely taste the strawberry. So I whipped up the last of the cream cheese with some powdered sugar, made an epic mess,… added some half and half and made a frosting for the cake. Cleaned up my mess, and frosted each circle. I topped the frosting with a pip of strawberry jam, we are low anyway, and viola, now they are sweeter.
Here are how they turned out.
There are some pictures of the experimental cooking that took place in my kitchen today. What did your family make for dinner? Did you use a recipe? Did you have fun? I would love to hear about your day in the comments too!
There is just something super American about Apple Pie. It’s even in the first American published cookbook, a 1796 book called “American Cookery”, written by Amelia Simmon. We have been making apple pies far for a long time in America.
I felt as an being an American and proud, that I had to conquer this American tradition, or else I couldn’t call myself an Bakaholic. I had a hard time getting over just making cobblers. Crumbling the butter and flour was not easy for me to learn. Then I had to have a pie crust learning experience. My family could surely tell you about my fair share of failed pies. I took a while to learn but now after months of learning my way, I can make a perfect apple pie. I feel so American. =)
Here are a few of my glory pics.
An apple pie consists of only 2 things. The crust and the filling. I have read a lot of different apple pie recipes, and although I love being healthy most of the time, I indulge in a very unhealthy recipe for my favorite butter-full American apple pie.
Anyways, I fell in love with this guilty pleasure master recipe for it.
I know it may be bad but I looked to a butter company’s blog. How could I not go wrong if you don’t skimp on the butter; and you know them butter company blogs don’t skimp on that. So Land O’ Lakes ‘s recipe won. I have made this over and over and over and over, and over. And I have even made it in mini cupcake size versions. I have substituted the butter sometimes for half of what is called for and used organic shortening instead but it doesn’t end up as flaky. Really, Butter is better if you want a flaky crust and a juicy filling.
I love a flaky perfect pie crust and here’s a little tutorial I made post on how to make pie crust.
Now go on and have some American Fun! Make yourself some homemade whipped cream to go with it by adding heavy cream and some powdered sugar together. Mix it up with an electric mixer and you have some homemade whipped cream. Enjoy making some American apple pie. Really it may seem hard, but sometimes I think the hardest part is just chopping the apples.