Tag Archives: time

Breakfast is Ready

9pm. And breakfast is ready. Ok, well, not completely… but I have finished what I can do and the rest is up to the trusty ol’ slow cooker. We will get up in the morning to a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, and all we have to do is scoop it into our bowls and add our favorite toppings. There. Breakfast. Done.

I know what you’re thinking… oatmeal? slow cooker? HUH? Here’s the deal. I am NOT a morning person. Even the simple task of boiling some water to cook up some oats is just too much for me. I need immediate food in the mornings, otherwise I tend to eat nothing at all. So before going to bed each night, I have to set my coffee pot to brew my coffee before my alarm clock ever goes off and I have to figure out my breakfast. If I’m having a banana or a bagel or a bowl of cereal, I set it next to my coffee pot, ready to go. My oatmeal bowl is sitting next to the slow cooker, with the butter, brown sugar and dried fruit right there to be stirred in as well. No thinking for me before I get my coffee and my food.

Yes, it is July. Yes, it is hot outside. But I need a hearty breakfast for a long day of traveling for work tomorrow (in which I often don’t get lunch until very late in the day), and the girl child has morning soccer practice, so she needs a nice hearty breakfast too. It’s also a great breakfast to have ready when the kids are having friends stay the night. That way whenever they get up, breakfast is ready.

I know you’re just dying to know how you can make this for your family. I promise you, it will be one of the easiest breakfasts you make for them!

Gather your ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup steel cut聽oats (important to use steel cut, NOT rolled or quick cooking)

Mix the above in a heatsafe bowl (not directly in the slow cooker). Place bowl in the slow cooker and fill the slow cooker insert with water until the water reaches the top of the liquid in your other bowl. Cover with slow cooker lid. Plug in your slow cooker (like how I remind you of that very important step? I’ve forgotten it a time or two…or more… 馃槈 ), turn it on low. Now go to bed and wake up to fresh cooked oatmeal!

Mixins (as many or as few as you like):

  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • dried fruit, raisins
  • cinnamon

Variation:

You can add a chopped up apple to the oats as they are cooking. You can also add all the flavorings like cinnamon and sugars, even the dried fruits, while it cooks. I keep it plain because we all like ours a little different.

Leftovers:

We don’t usually have leftovers of this. But I sometimes make sure we have leftovers because it does re-heat pretty well and then I can take it to the office with me on a crazy morning. When I do that, I reheat it with the butter and dried fruits and stir it really well before adding in the sugar.

Oatmeal is also a great addition to bread. So if you’re making your own bread, you can mix in some oatmeal to add some texture and make it a little more hearty.

Enjoy your breakfast!

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Bagel Day

Making bagels is one of those things people just don’t expect to be so easy. A bit time-consuming, but easy and worth the effort! I have made these bagels many times, and the last time I made them was Memorial Day weekend while my sister聽was in town. She went for a quick run one morning, (I say “quick”, but it wasn’t. It was 13 miles- a half marathon! She’s AWESOME!) and I thought she’d enjoy some fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels. (And she did.) My niece came by that afternoon also. Just to hang out with my kids and my sister’s foster daughter. They hung out, played some games and she marvelled at me actually making bagels from scratch. She called me an awesome cook. Yeah, my head got a little bigger that day.

On this particular day, I created blueberry bagels (using a bag of dried blueberries) and cheese bagels (using a mixture of asiago and parmesan cheeses). There are still a few sitting in the freezer. I think my kids have forgotten that they are there. But my niece remembered. She was over a few nights ago and asked if she could steal a couple bagels before she left for work. Of course I said yes. Because what good is making the food if I’m not gonna share it, right?

In the past I have made bagels to bring to work, and even sent a few along on a hunting trip for a friend. And do you know what’s funny? I don’t really love bagels all that much. But I really enjoy making them! And sharing them, of course! 馃檪

The bagel recipe follows… it uses a mix (that I also included the recipe for) and someday I’ll post other recipes that use this same mix. Enjoy!

Bagels
路 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast or 1 (1/4-oz.) package
路 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water 110F (45C)
路 5 cups HOT ROLL MIX **
路 Cornmeal
路 3 qt. water
路 1 Tablespoon sugar
路 1 egg yolk, beaten
路 1 Tablespoon water
路 Poppy seens, sesame seeds or coarse salt
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water. Beat in 4-1/2 cups HOT ROLL MIX. Let rest 2 minutes. Add enough mix to make a very stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth, 5-10 minutes. Add more mix to surface as needed. Dough will be quite firm. Lightly butter bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn to butter top. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.

Punch down dough; knead 4-5 times. Divide in half. Divide each half into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Flatten each ball with palm of hand. Holding a ball with both hands, force one thumb through center. Place bagel on lightly floured surface. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover lightly; let rise in a warm place 2-30 minutes.

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside. In a 5-qart pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add sugar. Lower hear to keep water boling gently.

Use slotted spoon to carefully lower bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. Turning often, cook until slightly puffed, about 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Drain bagels briefly on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Arrange bagels, not touching, on prepared baking sheets. Combine egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Brush bagels with egg yolk mixture. Leave plain, or sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or coarse salt. Bake 15-20 minutes in oven until browned. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 bagels.

鈥-Make-A-Mix cookbook

My notes: Add more flavor! You are limited only by your imagination!
路 Mix in chives and garlic to the dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
路 Mix in cinnamon and craisins or raisins
路 Mix in dried minced onion and top with additional onion

** Hot Roll Mix
路 5 lb. (20 cups) all-purpose flour
路 1-1/4 cups sugar
路 4 teaspoons salt
路 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together to distribute evenly. Put in a large airtight container. Label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6-8 months. Makes about 22 cups Hot Roll Mix.

Variation
Use 9 cups whole-wheat flour and 8 cups all-purpose flour instead of 20 cups all-purpose flour. Decrease sugar to 1 cup.

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Confession

I have a confession to make. This may come as a shock to many of you, but to those closest to me, they will just laugh with me about my inability to complete such a seemingly simple kitchen task.

Here goes: I can’t make over-easy eggs. Nope. Can’t do it. I’ve tried. And it is not important enough to me to learn how to do that whole flipping thing without breaking the yolk.

I have two tricks for when I am craving over-easy eggs:

  1. I ask my kids to make them for me. (Yes, my kids can make over easy eggs [perfectly, by the way], and I can not.)
  2. I go for a “poached” kinda effect. This means that I crack the egg into the pan as if I were making an over-easy egg, let it sizzle just long enough for me to crack a little pepper over the top and pour some water into the pan. Then I cover the pan with a lid and watch it until the whites are set up. And VOILA! Whites that are cooked and a yolk that is runny, perfect for dipping my toast or mixing with my hashbrowns*.

So, what are your true kitchen confessions? I’m sure I’ll have more to share as we go along.

*I cheat with my hashbrowns, too. When we have baked potatoes, I make extra and then I cut them up and fry them with onion and/or garlic to make my hashbrowns. Much easier and quicker than shredding fresh potatoes and cooking them up.

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Cherries to Cheer You

Yesterday was National Cherry Cobbler Day. Cherry Pie is one of my favorite desserts (not that I eat it, or any other dessert, very often… In fact, last time I had Cherry Pie was when I had lunch with a friend back in October at Twede’s Cafe.) As you know, I’ve never really been great at making pie crust, so Cherry Cobbler is second best, since it does not require the labor (of love) of making the crust.

So, in order to celebrate the Holiday, it seemed appropriate to make a cobbler. And since the day’s work brought me to Prosser, home of Chukar Cherries, I took a moment to stop in. I had never been to their store previously, and I was greeted by one of the best smiles backed up with the most excellent customer service I’ve experienced in a long while. (Thank you, Tami! You were a true bright spot in my week.) So, I was happy to pick up a beautiful jar of cherries, along with a snack pack of nuts and dried cherries to stash in my desk for a quick “pick me up”. And because I was made to feel important while in that little shop, I will definitely be stopping in again.

Now, I know that what you’re actually waiting for is to see the cobbler come together, right? So, without further ado:

Triple Cherry Pie and Cobbler Filling from Chukar Cherries, and some Dove Dark Chocolate

Pour cherries into ungreased casserole dish, and grate chocolate over the top.

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Bake at 400* until biscuits are browned and filling is bubbly.

Invite a friend over and enjoy with ice cream and laughter to cheer you!

I was blessed to have my best friend and her kiddos join me and my kiddos for this cheerful dessert. We agreed that the chocolate grated over the top of the cherries made all the difference in this wonderful mid-week treat. Thanks for joining me, friend!

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Evolution of a Recipe

As a young Cook starting out in the kitchen, I was given a recipe from Mom that has stayed with me ever since. We made it together once, and she wrote it down for me. The original recipe she wrote out was not exactly what we cooked together. I think this must have been the beginning of the end of following recipes “to the letter” for me.

Over the years this recipe has served me well as a quick, “throw it together at the last minute” meal, and it is also a “company worthy” meal, especially if paired with a nice salad. What started in my kitchen as simply “Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli”, has evolved into something that I still call “Chicken & Broccoli”, and yet, it is a rare occassion that broccoli is the only vegetable in the pan/on the plate.

Tonight’s version included nearly 2 heads of garlic (much more than the 6 small cloves called for in the original recipe), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, and angel hair pasta. Amounts? You got me! I have no idea, except that all of it together more than filled my very large Stir Fry Skillet and will provide leftovers for dinners and lunches this week.

聽RECIPE EVOLUTION:

聽~Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli~

陆 lb. spaghetti

录 c. safflower oil

6 sm. cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches broccoli, cut into small pieces (3 cups)

3 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned, halved and cut into strips (1 陆 lb.)

戮 c. chopped fresh parsley

Black pepper

聽Boil spaghetti until AL DENTE; drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add broccoli and saut茅 for 2 minutes, then transfer to a heated dish. Add chicken to skillet and saut茅 until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Toss pasta with broccoli and chicken. Garnish with parsley, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

聽Serves 6

聽cal. 421聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 chol. 57mg

carbo. 37g聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 sod. 79mg

prot. 28g聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 pot. 802mg

t fat 18g聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 fiber 2g

sat fat 3g聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 calc 159mg

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 iron 3.5mg

Mom鈥檚 notes:

When I made this, I saut茅ed the garlic along with the broccoli and sprinkled with lemon-pepper. If you use a salt-free lemon pepper, the sodium count from above stays the same. One with salt adds to the sodium content of the dish. I also sprinkled some lemon-pepper on the chicken as it cooked and skipped adding the pepper at the end of the recipe. Most times, my broccoli took longer than the 2 minutes to cook properly, too.

/end Mom’s recipe

For years I have posted online with a group of women. We are bonded together by our love of cooking, but our relationships have grown to be so much more than that. This is where the above recipe was in it’s evolution stage when I was still pretty new to online groups, and this is how I shared my recipe at that time.

Chicken And Broccoli With Pasta Recipe

broccoli flowerettes (approx 1 pound)
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (approx 1 pound)
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I probably use more than that, b/c we like garlic)
angel hair pasta

In a large skillett cook broccoli until crisp-tender, chicken until done. cook each with as much garlic as you like (we use A LOT!!) cook pasta, toss all together. I sometimes add a little parsley, and lemon pepper. it’s fast and easy, total of about 15-20 minutes. I put soy sauce and parmesan cheese on the table, and everyone picks their own topping.

Serve with Garlic Toast (or Garlic Cheese Bread) and salad.

Fully grown now, and this is the first time I’ve looked at this recipe in, well, I don’t know how long. I wasn’t even sure I’d still have the original copy from Mom. And tonight, I made my much-loved “Chicken & Broccoli”. It was really just my way of using up the vegetables in the fridge that were in need of cooking and taking up my valuable fridge space. Yes, tonight, it was as my recipe above states, except that I used nearly 2 heads of garlic, and added to the pan a head of cauliflower and several carrots. I have been known to include mushrooms and/or zucchini, and any other stray vegetables that may be laying around, just wanting to be added to a sizzling pan of oil and garlic and tossed with pasta.

I have discovered that freshly grated/shredded parmesan is better than the powdery stuff from a can. (Although, I do prefer the powdery stuff from a can when making my garlic toast. A little garlicky butter spread on french bread, and sprinkled with that and then broiled until brown… it’s like a slice of heaven that reminds me of spaghetti dinners from my childhood!) I have served this up to many people, and everyone tops it differently. For a friend who likes spicy food, he would add chili paste to his portion. My kids eat it just as it is, no toppings. I like fresh parmesan *and* soy sauce sprinkled on mine.

My Notes:

If you start the water for pasta at the same time you start the cutting and slicing and dicing, you should be eating dinner by the time the pasta is finished cooking, if you’re using angel hair pasta, that is. I definitely prefer this with angel hair pasta!

I cook this now with extra virgin olive oil, and the pasta gets coated with a generous amount of same to keep it from sticking together in one big clump.

As I said, this is an easy way to use up whatever veggies are on hand. I’ve put just about any veggie you can think of into the pan, and always love how it turns out. I mean, really… it’s cooked in garlic! Everything tastes great cooked in a little (or a lot of) garlic, am I right? 馃槈

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Filed under Chicken, Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Breakfast Burritos

  • Large Flour Tortillas (I bought 2 packs of 16 each, but did not use them all)
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 cans black beans (you can use dried beans if you prefer, you just need to cook them up, of course)
  • Salsa
  • Colby-Jack cheese
  • Plastic Wrap

Gather all ingredients in one place

Brown sausage in a large skillet (mine is 12″)

While the sausage is cooking, grate cheese (or set the kids to work on grating the cheese, which is what I always do…) and drain & rinse the black beans

Set browned sausage aside. Scramble eggs in a large bowl. Heat the same skillet used for the sausage and pour the eggs in. Cook and stir until cooked/scrambled.

Pour the beans and sausage on top of the eggs in the skillet and mix well.聽(Why bother dirtying another bowl for mixing, right?)

Warm tortillas so they fold easily (You’ll want to warm just a few at a time so they don’t cool before you’re ready for them). Lay 1 tortilla out on your counter, and scoop about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture onto one side (don’t use anymore than that, or they won’t roll very well,聽but you could do a little less and get more burritos out of the mix, if you wanted to)
Top with a little salsa and shredded cheese. Then fold, starting at the end with the “stuff” on it, then folding in the sides and roll until it looks like a burrito. Once it’s all rolled/folded up, wrap in plastic wrap.
Continue until all the mixture is gone, or until you run out of tortillas, whichever comes first. You can, of course, personalize these to suit your family’s tastes. Leave out the salsa, leave out the sausage, add veggies, add shredded potatoes… you are limited only by your imagination!
Once you’ve finished all the rolling, place the wrapped burritos into a large freezer-safe container or freezer bag. When ready to eat, just unwrap, and wrap in a microwave-safe paper towel. Microwave on high 1-3 minutes (You’ll have to test it, and it will depend on how much or how little stuffing you put in, and on your microwave, too….)
Enjoy for breakfast, after-school snacks, or late-night snacks!
This is a perfect recipe to have on your “Power Cooking” rotation, and is very budget friendly!!!

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Mom’s Stuffed Green Peppers

4 med. Green Peppers
1 # Ground Beef
1/3 c chopped onion
salt
pepper
1 # can tomatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c uncooked long grain rice (not the minute rice)
1 tsp worcestershire (I tend to use a lot more than that!)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane. Precook green pepper cups in boiling salted water about 5 minutes; drain. (for crisper peppers, omit precooking)

Cook ground beef and onion till meat is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes, water, rice & worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer till rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cheese, shredded (about 1 c) Stuff peppers; stand upright in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350掳F for 20-25 minutes.

I love this dinner! I like to add baked potatoes and a salad to finish it off, and some fresh baked bread! If you know the next day is going to be busy and you may not have time to get dinner together, this is a great one to do. Make it up the night before and put it in the fridge. Add just a couple extra minutes onto the cooking time!

***Notes

  • Mom has renamed her recipe to “Hidden Pepper” and uses only 1 pepper these days. She puts the single pepper in the middle of the pan, fills it with聽the mix聽and surrounds it with the remaining mix. I mostly do it this way, also, except that I use 2 peppers, but I usually double the meat mix, and it’s a great lunch the next day. 馃檪
  • I often make life easier for myself and cook up a large amount of rice on a weekend for use throughout the week. Then I’ll just use a few big scoops of the already cooked rice, omitting the extra water in the recipe. I’ve also been known to skip the canned tomatoes and chop up the tomatoes that are sitting on the counter, begging to be used.
  • Admittedly, I don’t follow this (or most) recipe exactly. I add things all the time, or change it here and there. But this is the basic recipe and a good starting point for budding cooks.

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If You Build it… They Will Eat

The kitchen table is a magical place. Wouldn’t you agree? It is there where you dream and where you get to have long talks with your family and your friends. It is the kitchen table that makes life, dreams, and love possible. If the kitchen table is so magical, I have to wonder why more people don’t sit around theirs. It seems to me that the best way to have a magical life is to create it around your kitchen table.

My dream of building a house is on hold, but that’s ok. It gives me more time for planning every detail. I once drew a quick sketch of what I wanted in a house. When I showed it to a friend, he asked “Why is half the house a kitchen?” I couldn’t even come up with a reply to that. My question when I see house plans is always “Why is the kitchen so small?” I say get rid of the living room, because I want everyone to gather in the kitchen with me, around that magical table. I want people to enter my home, whether through the front, back or side door and be transported to a special memory of sitting around the kitchen table at Grandma’s house. I want my kitchen to be what envelops my home, with access to all other parts of the house coming right through the kitchen.

As I go outside, I want to pass through my kitchen and into a garden that is fit to feed my family and all my friends, using only the freshest, most high quality foods, grown right outside my door with love. A view of mountains surrounding my home, with endless trails through forests of trees and meadows filled with wildflowers in every color will make the backdrop for the outdoor kitchen with even more magical potential for gatherings of loved ones.

I could dream for days, weeks, months… well, years, really, about my dream home, and every time I think of my dream home, it is, of course, filled with love, laughter, friends, family, and even friends we’ve yet to meet… and in all those dreams we are gathered in my kitchen cooking and eating, laughing and dreaming.

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“I don’t have time to cook”

This is what I hear from many people I talk to for their reasoning to eat dinner “out” on a regular basis… To people who tell me they don’t have time to cook and then question how I find time to cook with how busy I am, I say “I don’t have time to eat out”… let’s think about this… and if you have kids at home, this especially applies to you…

I’m going to use my favorite local mexican restaurant as my example for the following reasons:

  1. I rarely eat dinner out, but when do, this is usually where I go
  2. They have probably the fastest service of any restaurant in town
  3. Moderate prices, friendly service 馃檪

For the sake of argument, let’s assume you aren’t going out for dinner during “peak” dinner times. (Although we both know, if you’re going out to eat, you’re probably hitting the dinner rush along with everyone else who believes they don’t have time to cook.) Let’s also assume you know the menu pretty well, and it only takes as long as the drinks arriving at your table to make your menu selection… with those things in mind, let’s see if we can time it…

  • It’s dinner-time. 5 o’clock.聽You decide to go out. If you’re lucky enough to live in a small town and not have traffic to fight (I am that lucky!), let’s say 5 minutes to get to the restaurant. 5:05.
  • You are greeted by your favorite cheerful waitress who immediately takes you to your favorite table, chatting along the way. Drink orders are placed as you sit in the booth. 5:07
  • Menus open. Chips & salsa (and of course the guac you always order 馃槈 ) and waters arrive. Menu choices are made. Drinks arrive. 5:12
  • Place your order, but of course you know the waitress so there’s a little chatting, as well. Afterall, you eat out often, right? Because you don’t have time to cook… so you know the waitress. 馃檪 5:18
  • Look at that… almost 20 minutes has gone by…
  • Now you’ll get a chance to visit with your family and eat some chips, salsa & guac and wait for your food. Since you’re supposedly not eating at “peak” dining time, let’s say food arrives quickly. 5:28 (Yes, at my fave place, when I go at off-peak times, my food really does arrive that fast, or faster! Sometimes even that fast at peak times…)
  • Listen to that sizzle, smell that yumminess in front of you! How fast do you eat? Well, that varies for everyone, but let’s say 15 minutes? 5:43
  • Your waitress is sweet and realizes you’re always in a hurry, so she left your bill while you were still eating. Get out the card to pay (paying with cash and don’t need any change? that’ll save you a few minutes). Credit card slip arrives to sign and you’re ready to head home. 5:45 (let’s just pretend that it only took 2 minutes to process that payment… we all know it takes a bit longer, though. 馃槈 )
  • Load up the family, drive home. 5:50

There you have it. 50 minutes for dinner! And guess what?! Your kids still have homework to do, and showers to take, and wouldn’t it be nice to get in a little snuggle time or reading time with them, too? And let’s be completely honest here… you’re probably eating at the dinner rush time, which will add quite a bit of time to your evening, not to mention聽 most people linger over their meals at a restaurant more than they would at home, and sit at the table long after they’ve finished eating… so we’re really looking at an hour+ for dinner…

My proposal to you: Spend 15 minutes on an evening, or a weekend sitting down with your family, planning out your week. Know what’s on the calendar for everyone, and plan your menus accordingly. No fancy software required. A simple notepad, lined or unlined, or a simple menu planning calendar like this one I found at a craft store will work just fine. Use your slow cooker for those craziest of days/nights, and you’ll spend 10 minutes prepping in the morning to come home and have dinner ready to eat! Next, by taking the time on a weekend, or evening to prep some foods for the week, you’ll be more likely to eat at home, knowing you have things ready to go. Cut the vegetables, slice or cube some cheese for snacks, shred some cheese, too, so you don’t have to buy the pre-shredded cheese (that’s not only more expensive, but has extra “stuff” on it to keep it from clumping!). Anything you can prep ahead of time for the week will save you time, and then MONEY by not eating out. You’ll also be saving your health!

Stay tuned for more on menu planning and quick meal time tips! I’ve got plenty, because I’m a busy momma and “I don’t have time to eat out”.

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