Friday, February 26, 2010


This is less of a recipe, and more of a "Lemonade from Lemons" kind of thing. We were snowed in today, and with the piles and piles of fresh snow...I decided to introduce the kids to snow cones! Since I didn't have any cones...we had snow bowls.

Super simple: scoop snow into a bowl, and drizzle with syrup. (In this case, Hale's Blue Boy Cream Soda flavor.)
Please do be sure to pack the snow, instead of Lightly Heap. Lightly Heaping will only result in...a really fast melt. Heh. Snowballs work best!
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Peach Granita

Last summer I bought a box of peaches. Perfect, fresh, straight-from-the-farm peaches. A gal at church sent out an e-mail offering to pick up as many boxes as we wanted, if we'd pitch in for her gas. At $10 a box, we all said YES!

My little sister came over that night and we spent hours parboiling, cutting, pitting, and canning those peaches. The next day I made the leftover juice into peach honey. And I swore I'd never do it again.

But this winter, eating those peaches....I'd do it again. I'll do it again every summer, if it means eating canned peaches like these in February!

We ate a bottle of peaches this week, and as I cleaned the kitchen afterwards I looked at that bottle, half-filled with golden colored syrup, and couldn't bring myself to throw it away. I know sorbet is just sugar and water and fruit... so I dumped all the syrup into a 9x9 pan and stuck it in the freezer.

It worked even better than I hoped! The sugar content is so high that it couldn't freeze completely solid- it easily flaked with a fork, and stayed flaky in the freezer after I packed it away.

You can do this with any syrup left over from canned fruit, as long as it's packed in syrup and not water.

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Easy Macaroni and Cheese

When I asked my daughter if she wanted macaroni and cheese for lunch, I received an enthusiastic "Yeah! But can we have it with real cheese, and not the cheese from the box?"

Almost made my little food snob heart burst with pride.

So, for Ernie, here's "real cheese" macaroni and cheese that just as quick as from a box.

Macaroni and Cheese

Salted Water
Shredded Cheese

Cook noodles in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and drain.

Return the noodles to the pot and set over low heat- stir in a splash of the past water, and then grated cheese. For a box of macaroni noodles I used about 1 cup of cheese, but you can do this to taste. As the sauce thickens, add a bit more pasta water at a time until you have a consistency you like.

Serve and enjoy!
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Make Soy Milk

This was cross-posted over at DIY Mama

Homemade soy milk is easy, inexpensive, and delicious!  If the only soy milk you've ever had is from the grocery store, you're in for a real treat.  It keeps in the refrigerator for three days, so you can make as big (or as small) a batch as you need.  I make 2 quarts at a time, which is enough for my daughter for three days, plus a glass or two for me.
This is a really simple process- soak your beans, grind your beans, boil your beans, strain your beans.  The rest of this post is a LOT picture heavy, but keep those four steps in mind!
Homemade Soy Milk
What You'll Need (for 2 quarts)
1/2 pound dried soybeans
8 cups of water
bowl for soaking
large pot
cold water
tea towel or cheese cloth
large bowl or pot (needs to "nest" under the colander.)
Are you ready?
Measure out your soy beans, and let soak until you can easily bite through- about 8-12 hours or overnight.  Change the water a few times during the soaking time.
soaking soybeans- 1/2 pound is about 1 1/4 cup.  See those bubbles at the top?  The beans make the water kind of slimy.
This is what dried soybeans look like- they're round.  Don't spill them, you'll never find them all!
Soaked soybeans.  They're not round anymore.
At the end of the soaking time, reach into your beans and massage them a bit with your hands to crack them in half and slough the skins off- this will make the process more efficient.  Drain and rinse your beans, and either float or pick as many skins out as you can.
massaged beans
Here are three possible outcomes: whole bean, split bean, sloughed off skin
Soybeans have an enzyme that, if not destroyed with heat, will make your soy milk bitter or beany.  Microwave your drained and rinsed soybeans for 2 minutes before putting your beans in a blender with enough water to just cover- blend on high 2 to 3 minutes.  (If they don't blend, add a bit more water.)  They should turn into a foamy puree by the end.
foamy soybean puree
Measure 8 cups/2 quarts of water into your biggest pot, and add the soybean puree.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook 20-25 minutes.  Don't walk away for a little bit- this will foam up.  You need to be there to stir it down.  If it can't be stirred down, toss in a bit of cold water to deflate it- maybe a 1/4 cup.  It will slow down after a few minutes, but come back every 5 minutes or so to stir and make sure it's not sticking.  I like to get this going while I'm cleaning other parts of the kitchen, so I'm right there and it's not a big deal to reach over and stir.  You can brush a little oil or non-stick spray around the top of the pan to keep it from boiling over, too.
Starting to foam up.  Two seconds after this shot I threw down the camera to stir.
Just added some water- see where it foamed to?
After it's simmered 20-25 minutes, the foaming should have stopped and you can see grains floating in your milky liquid.
Nest your colander over a pot or bowl, and line it with a thin towel or a few thicknesses of cheese cloth.  You could sew your towel into a simple bag shape, and that would make the process easier too.
I'm pretty sure that using a raggedy old flour sack towel, with my dorky embroidery, makes for a much finer product.
Pour the soy milk into the colander, and start stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon.
Just poured it in
Scraping soybean puree from the bottom, so the liquid can pass through
keep stirring and scraping
it's getting there!
When most of the liquid has drained out, gather up the edges of your cloth and twist together to push as much liquid out as you can.  I hold it steady with the wooden spoon while I twist with the other hand.
You've made soy milk!
What's left over is called okara- it's bland and a little beany.  You can dry it to a powder in the oven and use it in cooking, but I give it to my worms in the vermicompost bin.
Enjoy!  This is delicious plain, or you can sweeten with a bit of sugar.  I like to add a few tablespoons of sugar to the pitcher with a pinch of kosher salt.

Sources I researched: (Best resource I found- she has information on making this into tofu, too.  She says you can use a food processor to grind your beans, but I didn't have good luck with that.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Whole Grain Blender Waffles and Pancakes

Whole grain as in PUT WHOLE GRAINS IN YOUR BLENDER.  That's right- no fancy flours, no worries about over mixing.  These are tasty, healthy, easy, there anything left to describe how great they are?

From DIY

The original recipe can be found here. (and at the end of the post.) Knowing how well these turn out, I'm working on developing a similar muffin recipe.  Yummy!  Here's my recipe, and check hers out for more ideas on gluten-free and dairy-free options.

From DIY

Whole Grain Blender Waffles and Pancakes, the way I make them:

Blend in blender 2-3 minutes 1 1/4 cup sour milk or soy milk with 1/2 cup wheat, 1/2 cup oat, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  I have an industrial-strength blender, so I only go 2 minutes.  Yes- this is LOUD.  You're grinding grain in a blender.  Send the kids out to play!

Add 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed (because I have a Costco tub of it, that's why!) and blend again.

Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Blend again, and pour onto heated griddle or waffle iron.

This makes just enough for our family- 2 adults and 2 small kids.

AMOUNT: 3 - 4 Servings ( 8--6" pancakes or 3 to 4--7" waffles )
1. Place in blender; blend at highest speed 3 minutes (less in a Vita-Mix or Bosch), while adding enough liquid to maintain a vortex:

    1 cup buttermilk or yogurt thinned with water to same
       consistency or 1 1/4+ cups for waffles
--a thinner batter is best
       (Non-dairy allergy alternatives: rice, coconut, almond milk,
        apple juice or apple sauce + 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil  (optional, but recommended)
     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 (optional for flavor, omit with buckwheat)
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats or whole oats or other grain
     1/2 cup buckwheat, brown rice, corn, millet, or other grain

These are raw whole uncooked grains, not flour! We urge you to experiment with millet, barley, spelt, and Kamut® grain for varied tastes and textures. Avoid bothersome allergies. For those who are gluten intolerant try the gluten free grains:brown rice, corn, and millet.

"Prior to this recipe we did not have pancakes at all in our house because of my 10 year old son's allergies. The whole family loves them. We make them at least 2 to 3 times a week. . . sometimes even for a silly supper!"  Reesa D. Florida

2. Cover blender and let stand at room temperature several hours or overnight for improved nutrition. Optional but recommended: See The Two Stage Process.
3. Preheat griddle on medium-high (until water drops sizzle on surface),
    or waffle iron at highest temperature.

4. Just before baking, add and reblend for 1 to 3 or more minutes until smooth:

     1 egg (or alternative)
     1 tablespoon flax seed (Optional for added nutritional value)
    additional liquid (as needed to keep batter churning)

5. Blend in thoroughly, but briefly, "sifting" these through a small strainer
    (assist with rubber spatula, if needed):

   1/4 teaspoon baking soda
   1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste 
(Believe it or not, a little salt enhances a
     sense of sweetness in whole grain baking It overcomes the "flat" taste feeling.) 
   1 teaspoon baking powder 
(Optional: With the Two Stage Process the baking
     powder can be omitted and the baking soda increased to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed).
    Technique tip: If you can successfully drop the soda & salt into the spinning blades at the bottom of the vortex, you can omit sifting.

6. Bake on hot griddle or in waffle iron (3 to 5 minutes until crisp), lightly
   sprayed with non-stick olive oil spray as needed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Braised Kale With Pasta and Goat Cheese

Braised kale again, but this version turned out so well I wanted to share with you guys.

I saved out some of the plain noodles for the girls, and my toddler quickly powered through most of those then a few helpings of the gussied up pasta too.  Like, fistful after fistful of noodles, shoving another noodle in whenever  and wherever an opportunity presented itself.  (She really, really likes new foods.  What can I say?)

Pasta with Braised Kale and Goat Cheese
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 bunches kale, cut from the stem
2 cups water or broth (chicken or veggie)
splash of cider vinegar

1 pound boiled pasta, plus a little pasta water
3 oz. goat cheese

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet, and add onions, salt, red pepper, and smoked paprika.  Saute until onions are softened.  Scrape onions to one side and pour a little water in a deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Add the rest of the liquid, the garlic, and the kale.  Lower heat to medium and let cook for 10-20 minutes depending on your preference, stirring occasionally.  Add a splash of cider vinegar at the very end and stir.

Have your pasta drained and ready- try to time it so the pasta finishes about the same time as the kale.  Crumble the goat cheese into the pasta pot, with heat on low, and stir to melt.  Add splashes of hot pasta water until noodles are coated with a creamy sauce.  Add braised kale, stir to combine, and serve.