Category: call for recipes
Wednesday, November 28
Remember a few years ago when I went to the Fancy Food Show with my lovely French, food-blogging friend Vanessa? And how she introduced me to confiture de lait, a.k.a. milk jam, a caramel sauce made from milk that is a specialty item from Normandy? And how my life was never the same because from that moment on I knew milk jam existed but had no way to actually buy it? You don’t remember? Well, trust me. It’s all true.
You may be wondering even after my roundabout description above, what the heck is milk jam? It’s just that…a jam of sorts made from milk and sugar. It’s kind of like sophisticated sweetened condensed milk. And it’s heavenly.
Since you can’t buy it in the States, I decided to make confiture de lait myself once. And I failed. Miserably. This past month, however, I felt like I needed to give it another try, maybe using a slower cooking technique. I followed this recipe for confiture de lait exactly because it looked like it would turn out very nicely. I had a day where I was going to be home all morning and doing a bunch of other cooking anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I started cooking the milk around 9 am, it would be done by the time I had to pick kids up at school at 2 pm. No problem. Easy peasy.
Yeah, not so much.
ELEVEN hours later I had a small pot of confiture de lait. Yes, you heard me. Eleven. I picked Anna up at school then rushed home to stir. I picked Cate up at school then rushed home to stir. I dropped the girls off at dance then rushed home to stir. I picked up the girls from dance then…you guessed it…rushed home to stir. It was bananas, people. Bananas.
So, was it worth it? Nope. It wasn’t. My milk jam just wasn’t the same as the stuff from Normandy. Mine is still good, but just not the same. And, to top it all off, once I refrigerated the confiture de lait after it had cooled, I ended up with a giant, hard, sugary lump of milk jam in the center of the container. Only half of the batch ended up being useable. Quel horreur!
It’s story-sharing time! Tell us about the most time- or work-intensive recipe you’ve ever made. And tell us if it was worth all that time, labor and love. And, if it was worth it, please share the recipe because it must be amazing!
Tuesday, October 30
First off, lots of happy thoughts/prayers/positive energy to everyone on the East Coast affected by Sandy. I planned today’s post before the storm hit, but the topic and call for recipes might actually be helpful for those of you living off your pantry this week, as long as you have access to the Internet to even read this in the first place!
Each Sunday when I plan my menu, I build my grocery list based on that menu. As a result I am a pretty efficient shopper and only buy food for that week. We spend less money and waste less food this way, but I tend not to have much stocked away for go-to dinners. However, one of the few ingredients that I always have on hand is canned tomatoes. As long as there are canned tomatoes on my pantry shelf, I can always throw something together!
As I have mentioned, I am currently working with Hunt’s canned tomatoes. When they first approached me, it was a no-brainer deciding to work with them. I use canned tomatoes all the time and love the Hunt’s product. You’re probably going to get sick of hearing me say this, but the Hunt’s petite-diced tomatoes are my FAVORITE and I’ve been buying them for years. The size of the dice makes the tomatoes super versatile for many of my recipes. They’re the best!
Once I actually started working with Hunt’s, I learned more about where the tomatoes come from and how they are canned. What I found out makes me like the Hunt’s product even more.
Hunt’s tomatoes are all grown in Oakdale, California and are picked when they are ripe. All of the tomatoes go from harvest to can in a matter of hours, which means they really are canned at the peak of freshness. I think this approach does in fact make for a flavorful canned tomato, which becomes obvious whenever I make my super fresh-tasting homemade tomato sauce.
Here’s the other great part of Hunt’s canned tomatoes that I did not know previously. Hunt’s uses what they call the FlashSteam process for peeling the tomatoes, as opposed to using chemicals like some other brands, and there are no added preservatives.
I tried canning tomatoes once. The peeling process about killed me. As much as I would love to can my own tomatoes every year, I simply do not have the time or, quite honestly, the energy. But canned tomatoes are a staple, so, I’m just going to let Hunt’s do the work for me! They’ve got it figured out and the tomatoes taste great. Done and done.
Time for today’s Call for Recipes! Please share your favorite recipes using canned tomatoes! Now that we are entering the winter months when fresh produce is scarce, I’m ready to crack into the canned tomatoes more frequently and would love new recipes! And I’m pretty sure there are lots of folks on the East Coast who could use canned food recipes this week!
I’ll kick us off with my most favorite recipe using canned tomatoes: Tuscan Tomato Soup. This is super crazy delicious soup, people. On your mark, get set, go! Share your canned tomato recipes!
Thursday, May 17
I have to admit something to you. One of my least favorite parts of parenting is feeding kids…of all ages! But I especially dread the days when it’s time to introduce baby to solid foods. It involves way too much thinking, it takes FOREVER to feed the baby, it’s super duper messy, my hand cramps up from holding that tiny spoon ‘just so’…you get the drift. Of course it IS cute, don’t get me wrong, but STILL…
Call me crazy, but I am tempted to eat that scrumptious baby!
Owen is finally beginning to eat baby food. He’s not that into it yet, but we’re getting there. Today we let him have his hand at toasted oat cereal, you know, the classic first finger food. I thought for sure he’d pick them up and immediately stick them in his mouth, since that is what he does with everything else that he picks up. Funny enough, he just played with the o’s for 10 minutes or so before one ever found its way to his mouth. And when he finally ate one, well, he was not such a big fan…there was a lot of gagging going on there. So funny.
Going in for the o…
Look mom, I’m totally going to eat this…
Gotcha! Come on, why would I put that in my mouth? It’s food! Dirty shoes are much tastier.
Anyway, as I struggle through this process yet AGAIN, I am thinking maybe this would be a good Call for Recipes of sorts…a call for baby food recipes, advice, tips, favorite products, anything! I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated and/or overwhelmed by the prospect of feeding a baby FOOD. Let’s share our wisdom with one another…hopefully it will make some of our lives a little easier. Or at least we can commiserate together! And if you love feeding babies solid food, please share some of that good positive food kharma. I need it!
All I have to offer is that avocado is a good first food and that I like the Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice Cereal. Beyond that, I’m useless! It’s amazing what one can forget in just a few years’ time!
Wednesday, May 9
I think we need to do a smoothie post. Because it’s been on my mind for, well, years! I want to share a few tips, a few flavors that we love, and then open up the floor to tips and recipes from all of you!
First, a small plug for expensive blenders. I have to say that one of the best things that ever took residence in our kitchen is our heavy duty blender. This is an appliance that I think is completely worth saving up for. We use it all the time and it can handle anything. Our previous blender, which was just your regular run-of-the-mill blender, just didn’t cut it. I don’t care if you get a Blendtec or a Vitamix, just get one. Or start saving up for one. They are awesome.
Okay, on to technique! Do you know how to build your smoothie in the blender? After I got my Blendtec and read the instruction manual, I realized I had been putting the juice and fruit in the opposite order than I should have been! The logic my brain followed was that you should put the harder-to-blend items in first so that they get blended better…but it just jams everything up. As soon as I reversed the order of things, my smoothies improved immediately and significantly. Here is the RIGHT way to do it.
Essentially you put the ‘liquidiest’ and softest stuff first then move up in order to the hardest items. Make sense?
- Juice first. You can also use grapes as your juice base.
- Softer, unfrozen fruits.
- Harder fruits and frozen fruits. Say you’re doing frozen pineapple and frozen banana, put the frozen pineapple in first. Basically you want whatever is easiest to blend to go in first.
Now, on to flavors! Nate is the smoothie master in our house. He’s always blending up some sort of smoothie or “juicey” for the family and he’s quite the master! Here are the fruits and juices he most commonly uses:
- Mango juice for the base. I also love papaya juice as the base. If we don’t have either of those, we’ll go with orange or grape, which are both nice. Apple is just too, well, apple-y for us. It’s still good in a pinch, but definitely our least favorite.
- Frozen strawberries, frozen mango, frozen pineapple and frozen banana make the most frequent appearances in our smoothies! Oh, and when peaches are in season, we love frozen peaches!!
- I love tossing coconut into the smoothie. Nate isn’t such a big fan of coconut, but it makes me (and the girls) super happy!
- Yogurt…usually plain.
- ICE. Lately Nate has been making “juiceys,” which basically means there’s no ice and the smoothies aren’t so slushy. They are very tasty and the girls like them, too…but I gotta say, I love a good, slushy smoothie! Bring on the ice!
No specific recipes from us…our smoothies change pretty much every time we make them, which is part of the fun! We’ve also recently started adding SPINACH to the smoothies and that is a great trick! I know some of you have been telling me to do that for years…glad we finally jumped on board!
Your turn! Please share your favorite fruit/juice combos, specific recipes, tips, anything smoothie related! Can’t wait to be inspired by all of you!
Wednesday, March 28
Recently Jenny Rose, lovely reader, sent me an email requesting today’s Call for Recipes. She is going to be quitting her job to stay home with the kids and is anticipating a tight food budget. She asked if I would ask all of YOU for low-cost recipes, and I thought that was a great idea and something we would all be interested in.
So here we are! Please share your favorite low-cost recipes that help you stay on a budget. Also, any tips for keeping to a budget when meal planning would I’m sure be welcome!
I’ll kick us off with a few thoughts and a recipe.
- Ever since we started eating less meat around our house, one of the biggest impacts has been the positive impact on our wallet. Meat, even on sale, costs money…a lot more than beans and veggies. I love not having that added expense on my grocery bill every week.
- Cooking recipes that make a lot of food (lasagna, soups, etc) always make for pro-budget meals.
- Eat in season. Food that is in season is cheaper…and more delicious!
I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes that has been on the blog for a while but fits all the criteria above! The Pasta Primavera recipe from one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks is SO yummy. It makes a ton of food, uses a ton of veggies (which you could keep seasonal), and there’s no meat! I think next time I make it I am going to throw some white beans into the dish to up the protein factor…plus I think the beans would taste good!
Game on! Share your low-cost recipes!
Friday, February 24
I need your help today. As you know, I had oral surgery yesterday. Not only did it take ALL DAY (which we were not anticipating) but YOWZAH my mouth hurts. Also, I sound like a crazy person when I talk. Just ask Helen Jane. I called her last night to get some help on work and she literally laughed when she first heard me. Rightly so, my friends, rightly so. Don’t feel bad for me. If you were Helen Jane, you would have laughed, too.
Anyway, back to the help-from-you part. I have to “eat” a liquid diet for two days and then soft foods for one week. I’ve got chicken broth, green smoothies (thanks, Cherisse!) and ice cream all ready to go, but certainly there must be other options, right? So, I’m coming to you for advice. Share your best ideas for liquid and soft meals…especially if you’ve been in this boat in the past and have experience. And if you have strong opinions on things I should not eat at this time, share those, too!
Our goal is to create the greatest liquid and soft foods list in the world! Pretty awesome goal, eh? When some poor soul like me searches “liquid and soft foods to eat after oral surgery,” I want them to find your beautiful and comprehensive list. It’s a public service we’re performing here, folks. Now, share those ideas!
Tuesday, January 10
Bethanie, a long-time reader, recently emailed me asking if I would be willing to put the following question out there: What do you pack for your kids’ lunches? Like my daughter, her child doesn’t have the ability to heat food at school but is sick to death of sandwiches. I am in the exact same boat, so I was totally down with this call for “recipes” of sorts!
AND…for that matter…I’m having a bagel for lunch today. Which is what I had yesterday. Not exactly nutritious and definitely boring. SOOOO…
Today’s Call for Recipes is three fold!
- What do you pack for kids’ lunches, especially where they can’t reheat food?
- What kinds of food do you pack for your own lunch?
- If you eat lunch at home, what are you eating?
Bethanie ended her email with “I know the blog is ‘This week for DINNER’, but I’m desperate!” and I actually feel the same way. I’m good about getting my dinner plan together each week, but I’m terrible about lunches! Can’t wait to see all of your great ideas and tips!
Tuesday, November 8
Unlike Andy, eating the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich ever made does not happen to be on my bucket list…although, perhaps it should be. Regardless of its bucket list status, I do love a good grilled cheese. While Nate’s mom Pat was here, we had butternut squash soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner one night and of course we couldn’t help talking about what makes a grilled cheese amazing (thanks to Andy’s inspiration).
Here’s what we came up with:
So, what do you think makes the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich ever? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts because I have a feeling this is a topic that many of us will unexpectedly have passion for! Share your tips, tricks, recipes, opinions, whatever…it’s time to discover the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich ever made!!!
- I think the bread is key. You have to go with white bread, and the higher the quality the bread, the better. We used the La Brea Bakery Pugliese bread from Costco and our sandwiches were amazing.
- Pat said her aunt Margaret taught her a trick that she still stands by…butter the outside AND the inside of the bread. That’s right, butter, butter everywhere. As I always say, oodles of butter makes anything amazing.
- Nate and Pat both agree, American cheese is the way to go. I’m not sure if I can stand by this 100%, but I must admit that American cheese is pretty amazing for some completely inexplicable reason (can you tell I’m an American cheese snob?).
Friday, September 23
Sorry I disappeared. No baby. Just Cate and her broken arm. She had surgery on Tuesday and is doing very well…today was her first day back at school, where she was welcomed by applause and many interested friends who were very happy to see her. Between her doctor’s appointments and mine this week, I’m plum worn out! The baby should be coming this weekend, so stay tuned for an announcement!
All this nuttiness had me craving baked goods. I had seen a recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies on Pinterest recently and decided to give them a whirl last night. When I sat down and read the recipe, I realized it was an adapted recipe by a mom who’s son has an egg allergy. The cream cheese was serving as an egg substitute in the recipe. I can eat eggs, so I was just going to throw an egg in there, but I decided to be courageous and give it a try.
I dug around the web, found a few similar recipes and ended up going with this recipe from a blog called Art of Dessert. The verdict? The flavor is great, but it took some tweaking to get the texture right. I cooked the first batch right after making the dough. Combine that with not cooking them quite long enough at 325 degrees and they were super flat and sort of gooey. After letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight, things improved greatly. I highly recommend cooking the cookies after the dough has been refrigerated at least overnight. I also cooked them longer and at a higher temperature. The shape and texture came out much better. Once I got it figured out, the cookies were fab! Definitely a great eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe!
Yes, these two cookies came from the same dough! Left: Unrefrigerated dough, not cooked long enough. Right: Refrigerated dough, cooked at the right time and temperature.
In the spirit of ‘Equal Opportunity Cookies’ everywhere, I thought it would be fun to do a special Call for Recipes today. The theme? Cookies for people with special food considerations! Please share your best vegan, gluten-free, eggless and/or allergy-friendly cookie recipes!
Art of Dessert’s Ultimate Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
- 1 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions (rewritten a bit by Jane):
Preheat oven to 375ºF (Jane note: my batch that came out was cooked at 350 degrees in a convection oven).
Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer – beat until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and vanilla – mix well. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt then gradually blend dry mixture into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoons (Jane note: I used my medium scoop, which is 2 Tablespoons) onto ungreased cookie sheets (Jane note: I cooked mine on my Silpat) about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375ºF for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown (Jane note: I cooked mine at 350 degrees F in a convection oven for about 10 minutes).
Tuesday, August 16
So, last week when I opened up my CSA bag, I found these little guys.
And when I say little, I mean little. Maybe 4 inches long or so.
Instead of doing my own research, I just went straight to Facebook and Twitter. Because you people are smart. I posted the above photo and of course immediately had bazillions of responses from people.
And the consensus was…lemon cucumbers. And while I’m obviously no expert, I think you’re all right (or at least close to right!).
Cate loves cucumbers. They’re her favorite veggie, hands down. So it was lots of fun cutting into these with her.
I must admit, they didn’t taste that different from the regular cucumbers. The texture was a bit more tender and juicy, but bottom line, they taste like cucumbers. But they were delicious and it sure was fun to try something new! Another 10 points for joining a CSA…
While we’re here…if you have any good cucumber recipes to share, please do!