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I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.
And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.
I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.
Or an epic failure.
And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)
But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.
Dude, we got a new oven!
I’m in love.
Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.
Watch out world!
Remember those bacon things?
That just doesn’t seem like something I’d do.
Call something by its proper name? Not me!
I made bacon things and apple things, which is why there’s bacon in the photos. I briefly considered combining everything into bacon/apple things, but I was lazy. It will happen soon, don’t you worry!
2 apples (of your favorite variety) sliced thinly
1 can crescent rolls
8-12 tsp cream cheese
brown sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375F.
I’ve made these with baked apples and raw apples. Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference, so if you’re pressed for time, just slice the apples and go.
“Bake” the sliced apples by gently heating them in a skillet or griddle over medium heat. You may want to use a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking.
In the meantime, spread out the crescent rolls. Drop a teaspoon to teaspoon and a half of cream cheese on each. Sprinkle the cream cheese with brown sugar and cinnamon. Top with several slices of apples, and roll up the crescents.
Bake for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for several minutes before serving.
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you on something mediocre! I’m told this was an excellent pie.
The bite I tried was…cherry pie.
If cherry pie is your thing, this one shouldn’t disappoint. It has a nice balance of tart and sweet, decadence and simplicity.
But man, it’s still…cherry pie.
Makes one pie
2 chilled pie crusts (making your own is easy!)
4-5 cups of frozen pitted cherries
1/3 cup sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
juice from one medium lemon
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk mixed with 1/2 tbsp cool water
Preheat oven to 375F
In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Toss together until all the cherries are covered.
Roll out one pie crust, and place it in a 9 inch pie pan. Fill with the cherry mixture. Roll out the other pie crust and top, crimping the edges together to seal. (If you don’t want to mess with a lattice top, I don’t blame you! Just make sure to cut slits to vent the steam) Brush the top with the egg wash, and then sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake for at least an hour, and as much as an hour and a half. Cover the edges of the pie with tinfoil after a half an hour to prevent them from getting too brown. You will know the pie is done when the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
Allow the pie to rest at room temperature for several hours before serving. It’s even better (I’m told) the next day, so if you have time, make it a day ahead and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
“So then what’s with the overly dramatic title?”
I have these ingredients on hand 99% of the time.
ALL the ingredients.
And these bars are so fast to throw together that you can basically have them done before you give it a second thought.
“Yeah, but I’m not a food blogger. I don’t have fancy ingredients around 24/7. I’m not in any danger.”
Do you see what I mean?!?
I took these bars to my son’s school for Parent Teacher night, and I was stopped in the hallway twice by someone who wanted the recipe!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Makes 1 9×9 inch pan
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups oats (quick cooking works best)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the oats and stir until everything is moistened. Turn heat to low and continue to stir this mixture until the chocolate is ready.
At the same time, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir often to prevent the chocolate from burning. When the mixture is completely melted and smooth, remove the pan from the heat.
Pour just over half of the oat mixture into the 9×9 pan. Use a spatula to spread and compress the oats. I used a sheet of parchment and pressed the mixture down with my hands. When you have a smooth surface, pour the chocolate over top, and use your spatula to spread and smooth the chocolate. Carefully drop the remaining oats over top to create clumps.
Freeze the pan for 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight. Allow it to sit out at room temperature to make the bars easier to cut.
And while you’re at it, you might as well make a double batch and keep one in the freezer.
You know, for emergencies.
When you buy something at Costco, you don’t just end up with one package. So, the other package of sausages have been sitting in our refrigerator long enough that I was worried we’d have to throw them away if I didn’t come up with something.
Our broccoli was the same deal. We had a lot of it, and although we’d been slowly nibbling on it for awhile, (and adding it to a few dinners) I knew that if I didn’t use up a big portion of it, a big portion of it was going to go in the trash.
Ok, so we totally can, but we needed to use it up faster than nibbling would allow.
You can freeze what you don’t need right away, thereby not wasting any food, and you have back up dinner or lunches when you’re pressed for time.
And Nick thought the sausage taste was disguised enough that he didn’t even realize it was the same sausage. Win one for me
Chicken Sausage Calzones
1 pre-made pizza dough (I used my bread machine, but lots of stores have ready made stuff in the freezer aisle)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 sausage links (3 oz each) sliced into rounds. I used these
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 350F
On a cookie sheet, spread the sausage out to create one layer. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes (or until done), making sure to move the sausage around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
On a separate cookie sheet, spread the broccoli and the onion out to create one layer. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, moving everything around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
Set the vegetables and sausage aside to cool slightly before adding the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir everything together until fully combined.
Increase the oven heat to 400F
Prepare a stone baking pan or cookie sheet by sprinkling cornmeal onto it.
Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions, and roll or spread the dough to create little circles. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling onto one side, leaving about 3/4 of an inch edge. Fold the other side of the dough over to create a pocket, and use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a slit or two in the top, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
You know that scene in Amelie where she reaches her hand into a sack of beans because it’s one of her life’s simple pleasures? That’s how I feel about a bag of cornmeal. I have to resist the urge to dip my fingers into it every time I get it out of the cupboard.
It’s ok. I know I’m an odd duck.
1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 425F
**Follow your favorite cornbread recipe, omitting most–if not all–the sugar. Add enough batter to an 8 inch round pan to fill the bottom about a half inch. (Use the leftover batter to make cornbread muffins!)
Bake the cornbread for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli.
Pour the egg mixture over the cornbread, top with the cheese, and reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Put the quiche back into the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Just until the eggs are firm and everything turns a nice golden brown color. Serve hot.
If you want a little more kick or moisture, feel free to add some salsa as a topping.
How’s your summer going?
We’ve been pretty busy, but we’ve managed to do 90% of all the very fun things we love to do when it’s warm outside.
You know, Farmers Market, canoe trips down the river, run through sprinklers, tour with a dance company…that kind of thing.
And because we’ve been so busy, we’ve gotten really good at the seriously fast, seriously easy dinner prep.
These kabobs taste fancy. Like someone spent all day mixing a marinade and then slaving over a hot grill.
(But there’s only four ingredients! Shh, no one has to know that these took no work or thought at all. Just go with it)
Are you ready for the mind-blowing list of ingredients?
I know it seems weird to marinate steak in lime juice, but you just have to trust me. Your mouth will thank you.
Lime Marinated Kabobs
1 pound of roast or steak, cubed
5-6 limes, juiced
Vegetables (we used onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and pineapple cause it’s delicious, but use what you love)
1/4 cup olive oil
Place the cubed meat in a bowl or ziplock bag, and pour the lime juice over the meat. Allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator for up to a day, but no less than 2 hours.
If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in a pan of water for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skewer the vegetables and then brush them with the olive oil. Use separate skewers for the meat. We like to do all meat kabobs and all vegetable kabobs to allow for varying grill times. We also have some vegetarian friends who appreciate not having to pick off the meat. We also have some meat eating friends who appreciate not having to pick off the vegetables.
Grill the meat kabobs first, adding more lime juice if they start to dry out. After about 5 minutes, add the vegetable kabobs to the grill and brush on more olive oil if they start to dry out.
You can serve them on the skewers or pull everything off and mix it in a bowl, as you prefer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear the sprinkler calling my name.
We’ve had a long spring this year. A long wet spring.
Great for the grass and my water bill, not so great for morale.
But even though I’m seriously a happy camper, turning on the oven when it’s 85F in my kitchen is just asking for trouble. And melted popsicles.
So what’s a Jo to do? Make a giant salad! With chicken! And vegetables! And no oven!
Summer Survival Salad
4 unfrozen chicken breasts (I like boneless and skinless, but use what you’ve got)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1-2 cups sugar snap peas (you can leave them whole, but I cut them in half for easier eating)
your favorite mix of lettuce
Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes, up to a day, in your favorite Italian salad dressing or vinaigrette (I’ll give you my favorite recipe at the bottom).
Grill the chicken (outside! not in your kitchen!) until fully cooked, adding more marinade each time you turn the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest covered in tin foil before you slice it into strips.
In the meantime, assemble your salad. I like to do it in layers, ’cause it’s more fun that way. Then plate and serve.
My favorite salad dressing/chicken marinade
from Emeril Lagasse
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 clove pressed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Add all ingredients into a lidded container. Shake or whisk until everything is combined. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What are your favorite summer survival foods?
I’m going on a road trip this week, and I can’t tell you how excited I am!
I’ll be performing “Views from Grandma’s Porch” with Bare Bait Dance, a fantastic modern dance company right here in Montana. I get to hang out with five of the loveliest ladies you’d ever meet, and dance till I drop.
Don’t you dare pinch me if this is a dream!
Because our schedule will get a bit hectic here and there, I’m going to be bringing some homemade snacks to get me through our techs and workshops. I was trying to think of what would be easy to make, easy to throw in a dance bag, and not be heavy in my belly.
Yes, yes, and yes.
From Good Housekeeping
makes 12+ muffins
1 cup oats, processed in a blender until mostly uniform in consistency
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, see the notes below)
3 tbsp olive oil (or substitute unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)
Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin tin with liners or non-stick spray.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl until fully mixed.
In a smaller bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, then add the remaining wet ingredients.
When everything is almost fully incorporated, add the blueberries and fold them into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into a muffin’s center, and the tops should be golden brown before you remove them from the oven.
Yes. Always! Variety is the spice of life, my friend. And tempeh, like tofu, is excellent if you take the time to do it right.
Tempeh doesn’t need to get pressed like tofu. And it’s a bit more substantial than extra firm tofu, so it works really well if you’re looking for a meat substitute. Even if you’re not looking for a meat substitute, this fits the bill as hearty and filling, without being heavy. Total comfort food*
*Don’t roll your eyes at me. Tempeh can totally be comfort food!
Sorry, that was my mom sass coming out.
and spices. I threw it in a bag and let it marinate for 15 minutes. It’s hard to get the flavors to soak into the tempeh, so if you really want it saturated, allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight. I did not plan that far ahead.
Orange Tempeh Stir Fry
3 small blocks of tempeh, cut into cubes
juice from two oranges
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of minced fresh garlic
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on how spicy you like it
1-2 bell peppers, any color, sliced
2 cups chopped broccoli
6-8 small mushrooms, sliced
For the marinade:
Place the tempeh, juice from one orange, 1/4 cup soy sauce, brown sugar and spices into a ziplock bag. Allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or overnight. Remove the tempeh, but save the marinade.
Heat an oiled wok or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the tempeh and stir fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the tempeh and set it aside for now.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in the wok and then cook the vegetables until tender crisp. About 3-5 minutes. Add the tempeh and remaining marinade to the vegetables. Then pour in the remaining orange juice and soy sauce. Feel free to add more spices at this point as well. Cook until very hot, making sure that all the vegetables get covered in the sauce. Serve over rice, quinoa, or by itself.
I kept eating this thinking that bok choy would be delicious in here, and if you hate mushrooms, leave them out. Stir fry’s are an excellent way to just use up whatever you have.
Remember, don’t be scared of tempeh if you’ve never had it before. Let me know what you think!