Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lemon Jell-O Cake

I received this recipe as part of packet at my bridal shower, from friend and fabulous baker Marilyn Rands. It's fast, it's lemony, and it's super-crazy-moist. Enjoy!

This might also be nice with other flavors. White cake with orange Jell-O and orange glaze?

Lemon Jell-O Cake

1) Mix together: 1 yellow or lemon cake mix, one small package of lemon Jell-O

2) Add and beat for 3 minutes on medium: 4 eggs, 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup oil

3) Bake in a 9x13 pan 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

4) Glaze: 3 cups powdered sugar, juice of two lemons plus the lemon rind. Should be thin to go into holes (I needed more lemon juice).

5) Immediately while hot poke with a meat fork deep holes all over the top of the cake. Pour glaze over, pushing it into the holes with the back of a tablespoon.

Cold-Fashioned Potato Salad

Let Battle Potato Salad begin! (Yes, I know - this recipe and Wonder Woman's recipe aren't really the same thing at all, but isn't it funny that we both made potato salad on Memorial Day? No? Everyone made potato salad on Memorial Day? Fine. Be that way.)

Here's my last-minute/lazy take on Alton Brown's recipe. Delicious!

Cold-Fashioned Potato Salad
Adapted from Alton Brown's recipe on Good Eats

2 1/2 pounds small baker potatoes (reds would have been better)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon pre-minced garlic
2 T. sweet relish. (Cornichons would have been better!) (That's gherkin, to us mere mortals)
One green onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with cold water and place over medium heat. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and remove lid. Gently simmer until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and place into an ice bath to cool. Remove skin by rubbing with a tea towel. Slice potatoes into rounds and place into a zip top bag. Add the vinegar and toss to coat all of the potatoes. Place the bag into the refrigerator overnight. (I was unable to refrigerate overnight, so I omitted this step, instead mixing in the vinegar and letting it soak while I prepared the dressing.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, pickles, and onions. Once evenly combined, add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad Recipe

We made this for a family BBQ last night- original recipe can be found here. I made a few changes- I used ready bacon bits, only 8 ounces of sour cream, and russet potatoes. I've found that they fall apart so much I don't need nearly as much dressing as a potato salad recipe normally calls for- they make their own creaminess. Enjoy! This can be warmed in the oven, or chilled if you have the time (which we didn't.)

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

12 russet potatoes, cubed and boiled

(mix together and fold into potatoes):
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
a squirt of ranch dressing if you want
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Fold in:
(reserve a little of each to sprinkle on top)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 green onions, chopped
bacon (either 6 slices, cooked and crumbled, or bacon bits)

Spread in a 9x13 pan and top with reserved goodies. Either warm in a 350 degree oven 15 minutes, or chill in fridge.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know that's an awful big title to give to a humble little cookie, but I believe I have found a cookie that is neither little, nor humble!

Therefore, the title fits.

The recipe was presented to me as one that would make a chewy cookie, with not too much chocolate, but just enough, with just a hint of crispy around the edges. I waited for months for an opportunity to make these cookies. When a girl in my new ward agreed to watch my toddler at night (does she know kids turn into hyenas after 5?) so I could go to a doctor's appointment, I knew I had found my occasion! I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of the butter. I can never seem to keep unsalted butter on hand, so I went ahead and used salted butter and then cut the salt down to about 1/8 tsp. to compensate. I did use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to portion out my cookies, but it only made 13 doing it that way, not 16.

Oh, and we did eat these for breakfast...but I definitely wouldn't recommend it. These are more of a you-finished-your-lunch-have-a-treat kind of thing. Oh, and I cooked mine for 20 minutes, and it was perfect. Every oven is different, donchaknow!
One more thing - I used store-brand chocolate chips because I'm cheap like that, and it's what's in my pantry!

OK, so I didn't follow it exactly...but that's about as exact as I get people. Work with me here!

Robyn Lee's Killer Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
- makes 16 -
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
(After which, I adapted it from Serious Eats)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks chopped from a Green & Black's organic bittersweet chocolate bar (any high-quality bar like Vahlrona or Sharffenberger's would do)
1. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake for 23 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

Mom and Elizabeth
I think I'm turning into my mother. At about the age I am now, she gave up white flour and refined sugar, made her own yogurt and whole wheat bread, planted large gardens, and danced to MTV in the living room, with us in a baby carrier. OK, that last part is all her own thing, and she still plants huge gardens every year, but here I am making wheat bread with her Vitamix, making yogurt, and contemplating using cloth diapers for our next child. She just smiles now and says "Just wait till you start eating nothing BUT sugar."

I think I've mentioned before how I discovered an entire case of powdered milk, pull-dated this year, in our food supply recently. Up to this point, I've made my family drink gallons of the stuff, turned it into Magic Milkshakes and peanut butter balls, and made a completely failed batch of pao de queijo. However, it makes a very nice yogurt!

I had trouble finding precise directions online, and finding more than one source to back up any particular method. Seems like that's normally the case with "cottage" type products. At any rate, here's my mix of a few different sources (probably Hillbilly Housewife and WikiHow). Seems to have worked!

3 1/2 cups water
1 cup powdered milk
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt with active cultures

Quart jar with lid
Thermometer (I used a barista thermometer)
Small cooler
small jars or glasses

  1. In the saucepan combine water and milk powder. Stir to combine totally, clip thermometer to pan, and heat to 185 degrees stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat, and take your yogurt starter out of the fridge to warm up on the counter.
  3. Let your milk cool to below 120 degrees (105-115 is best), stirring frequently to make sure your thermometer reading is accurate.
  4. Add the yogurt starter to the milk, stir to combine, and pour into a very clean quart Mason jar. Seal tightly, and put in the cooler. Surround your jar with open jars or glasses of very hot tap water, shut the lid, and put a few towels on top for extra insulation. (Not sure if that's necessary, but it's what I did!)
  5. Leave, undisturbed, for 8-14 hours until set. I changed the water once, right before I went to bed, and put it in the fridge in the morning. If you mess with the yogurt early, I'm told it will take a lot longer to set up. Store in the refrigerator.
We've tried it with sugar, honey, and jam and it's all nice. Although it's not as sour as store-bought plain yogurt, it's still a little sour for our tastes right now, when served plain.

Hummus with the Vitamix

Our friend suggested (a few times!) that we really needed to try making hummus with our Vitamix. I've never really been interested in making hummus, not when a huge container can be had for $7 at Costco, but when poking aroundI found a long-forgotten bottle of sesame seeds...and I realized I had 2 cans of don't-know-what-to-do-with-them garbanzo beans at home...and I LOVE hummus. Yeah, it had to be done. And you know what, she was right! My recipe might be a little better with some added salt, or perhaps a bit more lemon juice or zest, but it's pretty good as is. Even Ernie adores it! This recipe is from the Vitamix website.

2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, one drained and one with liquid
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin

Add to canister in order listed, and blend for 1 minute or until smooth, starting on low and quickly turning to high speed. You can need to use the tamper to push this into the blades.

Serve drizzled with a good olive oil, and maybe some fresh cracked black pepper. We like it on tortilla chips, but it's also nice as a vegetable dip.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What to do with a Vita Mix

My parents recently lent us their 27-year-old Vitamix, to see what we could do with a machine capable of grinding wheat into dust in about 120 seconds. Turns out, we can do a lot! Time has done nothing but good things to this little beast.

1) Strawberry milkshake: Blend on high 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup milk powder, 2 cups frozen berries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Add ice as it runs, until this is as frozen thick as you like. Cut way back on the sugar if your fruit is sweet. Still a sugary treat, but better for you than ice cream.

2) Wheat flour: Blend 2 cups wheat on high one minute. Stop to bash the canister against the counter to knock any stray berries from the spigot, and continue to blend for 1 more minute. Now proceed to make wheat bread! (And look- no extra dishes to wash!)

3) Chocolate milkshake: Use this recipe. Super yummy! (Stop rolling your eyes at the Pam- if you like Wendy's "Frosties", you'll LOVE this.)

4) Laundry Detergent

5) Vanilla Custard- it doesn't scorch!

6) Powdered milk- just a few taps on the "down" lever, and you have perfectly lump-free powdered milk, made with cold water even! Now THAT is a feat!

So basically, this little device has made sure that my sweet family gets a yummy dessert every family night, a loaf of fresh bread or two every week, and a happy Mama who doesn't have 18 dishes to wash from preparing one recipe! Pretty sweet.

So tell me, Blend-Tec folks, Casey and Ted & Co. : How does it compare? What do YOU do with your machine? Any favorite recipes to share?

Everyone else, what would you make with a machine capable of pulverizing any grain (or anything, really) into powder?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thai-Style Ground Beef

Richard said that I simply must post this recipe up, for anyone who would like to try it.

He claims that it tastes like a very "real" authentic curry.

Sounds delicious to me! Now who wants to make it for me? :)

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam!

Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Jam

Makes about 4 cups of jam.
Note: Make sure to buy the bright red stalks of local (not hothouse) rhubarb. For vanilla beans, we recommend the bulk aisle at PCC where they are under a dollar apiece.

2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed of all leaf bits and cut into 1/2” pieces
2 - 2 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split open and scraped

In a (non-aluminum) saucepan, cook the rhubarb over medium-high heat until it starts to release some juices. Add 2 cups of sugar along with the vanilla bean, both the skin and scraped seeds, and continue to cook. When the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook jam for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the all of the chunks of rhubarb have broken up and the mixture starts to thicken. At this point, taste the jam for sugar and add more if you like. To check the thickness, take a teaspoon of jam and put it on a plate in the freezer. Once it's cool, check and see if it’s the thickness you like. If not, continue to cook for several minutes and check again.

Jam will keep in the fridge for several weeks. Freeze any you’d like to keep longer. If you are canning-inclined, feel free to jar this jam as usual; it does start to turn a little bit brown over time, but the flavor remains.

Sounds delicious... no?

Via Seattlest

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


At one point last year I checked my food storage- between Cannery cases, Costco bags from my parents, and cartons purchased at the grocery store I had WAY TOO MUCH oats. So, rationally, I looked for a way to mix it with sugar and oil and eat it for breakfast.

Following is the recipe I found online, and then modified myself. In keeping with previous recipes, I find the most basic one I can and mess around until we like it. You can mix in any dried fruit you like after baking- we used dried cannery apples this time. In the past I've used raisins, Craisins, and dried goji berries.

This is different than the granola you'll find at the store- because it's so much lower in fat and sugar it doesn't form sugary clumps or clusters- each oat is coated, but separate. Of course it's good in milk, but my favorite is to eat it over a bowl of yogurt. As the nuts cook with the oat mixture they roast a little bit, giving this a delicious nutty taste. Pecans are my favorite nuts to use, mostly because I had a lot of broken ones in my freezer left over from this endeavor last Christmas.


4 cups oats
1 and 1/2 cups nuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups dried fruit

  1. In a large bowl stir together first 5 ingredients (the dry ingredients)
  2. Either in microwave or on stove heat together vegetable oil and honey. Remove from heat and add vanilla- I like to add a little more than it calls for.
  3. Pour liquid over oat mixture and stir to coat well. Spread on a 15x10" jelly roll sheet (baking pan with sides) and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Let cool and put in storage container- add fruit, mix, and seal. Will keep for a week at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Seems like I'm the only one posting (and reading) these days, but it sure is handy having all my favorite recipes online so I can make them when I'm away from home (or can't find my cookbooks...I KNOW I labeled that box!)

This is a smoothie that is very popular in Brazil, where avocados are considered sweet and not savory. The notion of mixing avocado with salt and tomato and serving it on salty chips would be just ludicrous! (Or so I'm told.)

Make sure your avocado is ripe, but not over-ripe. If it's starting to darken and shrivel in spots inside, you'll need a LOT of sugar to counter-act the bitterness of that fruit.

So, here you go- ignore the green, and enjoy!


1 very ripe, but not dark, avocado
About 3 cups of milk
1/4 cup sugar, more or less to taste
A splash (about a tablespoon) of lime juice

  1. Scoop avocado flesh into blender, and add the rest of the ingredients. The blender should be about 3/4 full so let that be your guide for the milk. If it's too thick it just won't pour, or blend! Start with less than a 1/4 cup sugar- you can always add more and re-blend for a few seconds.
  2. Mix until blended and smooth. Serves 2-3 if you're using big glasses.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mark Lahey's No-Knead Bread

I have made this a few times now, and it turns out great every time. It probably costs about 50 cents to make, but takes at least 15 hours so plan ahead! I like to chart backwards from the time I want to serve it. Start it at 9:00 or 10:00 pm if you want to serve it for dinner the next day. I think it's best hot out of the oven, spread with butter and maybe some good jam. But it's also good cold, with a thick slice of cheese.

The recipe can be found here, but I want to copy it into this post just in case the NY Times article ever goes away.

I've considered adding raw garlic cloves when initially stirring the dough to together, or maybe sprinkling them over the top just before step 2. What would raw garlic do to the yeast? Would it rot, sitting on the counter for 18 hours? I think the hour long cooking time should be enough to cook anything you threw in there. If you try any variations, leave a comment and let us know?

Mark Lahey's No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.