Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Natural Disasters

Know what we went through last week? An EARTHQUAKE AND A HURRICANE! Both of 'em. In the same week. And I never want to go through either one again. Just sayin'.

Our cat, Taco, really wasn't sure what to think.
So, the Earthquake was a once-in-a-century sort of thing. I'm hoping, anyway. It absolutely freaked me outtttt. Being on the 8th floor of a large building does not make the quakey feeling any more pleasant mind you. It was very calm as it happened. I guess I always expected earthquakes to be more rattly and rumbly. But this was just a very weird silent swaying feeling, where I just knew the building was going to fall over a lot like a Jenga game would when you pull too many blocks out from underneath. Not pleasant for the equilibrium or my stomach for that matter. Nausea settled in and said hello all afternoon. Yuck!

As if that weren't enough, we survived with not even a scratch from Hurricane Irene, although several friends and neighbors did have downed trees, flooding and no power, but all of the prayers and wishes from friends from here to California kept us safe and sound.

Since we were cooped up inside, there was plenty of time for family activities. We spent most of our time watching movies and playing games.I had stocked up on tons of pantry items, you know, things that have a shelf life of 10 years and that we wouldn't eat pretty much ever.

We did make s'mores!

Thankfully we didn't have to go without power, which meant we actually were able to prepare food. I made some herbed chicken with a potato casserole, delicious!

At the end of the day 2 snuggly sisters loved camping out in the living room!

My friend Linda, who is a fantastic cook, gave me this idea for a Caprese Sandwich. Which is basically slices of silky mozzarella cheese, thick cuts of vine ripened tomatoes, and fresh basil. You can add bacon for a bit of smokiness and crunch. And then, the best part, is slapping it together in tons of butter and making it the same way you would a grilled cheese. You've got to try it. Thanks Linda for a superb idea!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Start with your regular vanilla ice cream.
1 pint heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla

In one medium bowl, whip cream until fluffy. In another bowl mix together milk and vanilla.
Gently fold cream into milk mixture until well incorporated. Pour into a 2 quart freezer container.

Then, make your cookie dough. I'm sure you could get away with adding store bought cookie dough (though, I'm sure that's ill advised).

You can make an egg free cookie dough to mix into your cream mixture.

4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips, processed

cream butter, vanilla and sugars in a mixing bowl for a couple of minutes until fluffy. in another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. stir. add flour mixture into creamy butter mixture. mix. add chocolate chips. mix. shape dough into a long 1/2 inch wide snake. cut 1/2 inch pieces. Add to the cream mixture and freezer for about 6 hours or until firm. I like to freeze it overnight.

*NOTE: This will make a good bit of cookie dough, just add as much as makes you happy. If you like to eat plain ol' cookie dough, you'll have some left over that's egg free and safe to eat.

Once frozen, lock yourself in a room with no children and eat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hello Irene

It appears that a Hurricane is upon us. Hello Irene. This coming just days after an Earthquake rippled through the area! Unbelievable.

We were informed today that we needed to "be prepared for local impact", which meant another trip to the store with a list of supplies. But what kind of food would we eat in the event of a power outage. We rarely experience a power outage here, so I wanted to be certain that we were set. I was on a mission to find some creative ideas for hurricane suppers!!

I think our youngest is set. If the only thing left on Earth was peanut butter, she'd be one happy camper. She has her own jar. Not kidding.

So, what do you do for hurricane suppers?? And what kind of tips are there for making meals? The obvious choice is grilling. If you have a grill, propane or charcoal, use it. You can make the most of what's in the deep freeze by firing it up and not allowing your already-paid-for food, to go bad.

Food Prep and Cleanup
Use disposable plastic gloves to mix things by hand so you don't dirty utensils unnecessarily. This saves water used for cleanup. And use self-seal plastic bags instead of mixing bowls to mix salads and marinate meats. Just put the ingredients into one, seal and toss to mix. No need to wash a container. Food stored in plastic bags in an ice chest take up less space than plastic containers. Use paper plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils.

An easy salad: If you have any canned vegetables or beans, drain and mix them with a good olive oil and vinegar such as red wine or balsamic. Toss to combine. Any fresh additions such as onion, carrot, celery or olives are welcome.

If bread becomes a bit stale, don't throw it out. When you make soup, break up the bread and put a few of these croutons in the bottom of the bowl before you ladle the soup into it. The bread will soak up the soup and make a heartier broth.

Fresh Eggs
Safe unrefrigerated for five to seven days. Discard if shells are cracked or odor or discoloration is present.

Use Fresh Veggies and Fruits
Using what fresh veggies and fruit you have on hand can make a great addition to otherwise bland food. Like add mashed banana to instant oatmeal and water. And add fresh veggies and onions to any soups. Soups are easily made using any items that might otherwise go bad.

Add store bought pesto, olives to add zest to pasta, jarred cheese dips and salsa for chips for an easy snack or spread on tortillas, canned chocolate frosting on graham crackers for a sweet treat.

Starchy foods will help sustain you for a longer amount of time. Pasta, instant rice, and instant mashed potatoes are easily boiled on a grill or a portable camping burner.

OTHER things to remember
Boil-water orders are often issued after a hurricane. That's usually because the public water utility has lost pressure in its water-moving systems, making it possible for contaminants to enter water lines. The danger with tainted public supplies is from bacterial contamination that can cause severe diarrhea. Untreated diarrhea can be life-threatening.

And certainly don't forget the pets! Make sure you stock up on plenty of pet food and extra water for your furry 4 legged family members!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Banana Nut Waffles

We love our waffles around here. I've been experimenting with some different flavors and I thought one of my regular flavors that I love in just about anything is "banana-nut", so I thought let's throw it into the waffle batter. It's a winner.

2 cups baking mix
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (2 medium)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Heat waffle iron; grease with vegetable oil or shortening.
Stir ingredients until blended. Pour onto center of hot waffle iron. Close lid of waffle iron.
Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Apple Butter

Well, this week was a doozy! I have never been so happy to see a Friday in all my life. I've been dreaming of a desk that flushes itself. Yep. That bad.

I'll tell you what made my day, though!! My awesome boss laughingly said, "I was waiting to see if you brought something to eat before I went to get something."

Could that be because I brought a basket full of hot fresh biscuits this week with jars of homemade Apple Butter and Strawberry Jam? Possibly. I do like to treat the office to fresh home baked yummy treats. This week was no exception.

Apple butter is a sweet jam like treat that's delicious on toast and hot fresh biscuits. It's also great mixed into maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

I decided to make a small batch this week. This recipe makes about 2 cups. Start with about 3 pounds of your favorite baking apples. I prefer Gravenstein and Granny Smith for apple butter.
Peel and chop. Add to slow cooker. (I prefer to peel mine so as not to use a mill or sieve later on.)

Add 1/2 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract. (This gives it a nice mellow flavor. It's my secret ingredient.) Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook on low heat for 8 hours.

I prefer an "almost-but-not-totally-smooth" apple butter. If you like yours smooth, you can use an immersion blender. I just mash mine with a fork. It makes it perfectly voluptuous.

Transfer mashed apples to a sauce pan and add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of white sugar. Stir well and bring to a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust sugar based on your personal taste.

Transfer to jar and refrigerate. It's best if eaten after it has time to chill and the flavors develop.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheesy Mummy Bread

Onions and Peppers and Beef! Oh my!! Think of this as an open faced sub of sorts made with ground beef, strips of sweet peppers and onions, and wrapped in a blanket of cheese.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing
1 loaf (1 lb) Italian bread (12 inches long), halved lengthwise
4 slices (6 oz) thinly sliced provolone cheese, quartered

Set oven control to broil. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef, bell peppers and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in 1/4 cup of the dressing.

Spread remaining 1/4 cup dressing on cut sides of bread. Place both halves, cut sides up, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Broil with tops 4 to 6 inches from heat 2 to 4 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove bread from broiler. Spread beef mixture on cut halves of bread. Top with cheese.

Return to broiler; broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut each half into 2 pieces.

Chocolate Stuffed Pancakes

You read it right. Chocolate Stuffed Pancakes. Not a myth. This is for real. Imagine it. The cool steel of a fork gently slicing into golden brown flapjack. Butter and syrup dripping slowly from the edge puddling onto the cold ceramic plate and gooey molten chocolate oozes from a cocoon of perfectly fluffy pancake.

2 cups baking/pancake mix
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
Hazelnut spread with cocoa

Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except hazelnut spread until blended.

For each pancake, pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Add 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut spread to center of batter; cover with a small amount of batter. Cook until edge is dry and bubbles form on top of pancake. Turn; cook until golden brown. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

The sweet flavors of maple and pecan have been haunting me lately. I think I'm so ready for Fall to arrive that I'm already awaiting all of the great recipes that Autumn brings. There's nothing quite like a quick freezer ice cream though, so how about Butter Pecan Ice Cream? Rich, creamy, and a great transitional flavor from summer to fall.

2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted*
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon maple extract

Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks in large bowl. Combine sweetened condensed milk, pecans, butter and maple extract in large bowl. Mix well. Fold in whipped cream.
Pour into 2-quart container; cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.
*To toast nuts: Place nuts in dry nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat, shaking pan until nuts are lightly browned. To avoid over browning remove from pan immediately.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Apple Week

Hands down favorite apple is probably Granny Smith. I love the color. The sweetness. The tartness. It's just a happy apple in my opinion.So it's Apple Week!!! I've been perusing all of my favorite apple recipes with plans to make some slow cooker apple butter to take to the office with some hot fresh biscuits. Perhaps next week.

Until then, I'll have to make do with an Oven Baked Apple Crunch,

6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 cup granulated sugar, or less if apples are sweet
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
cinnamon (1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup butter

Place peeled and thinly sliced apples in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle sugar over apples. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; add egg and mix well until crumbly. Sprinkle flour-egg mixture over the apples; sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.

Melt butter and drizzle over top of apples. Bake at 350° until apples are tender, and top is browned, about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

National S'mores Day

I get excited about my favorite food holidays! And it's always so much fun to get others excited about otherwise overlooked occasions.This time of the year is often stressful at the office, so as a little pick me up for a chaotic afternoon, I thought it would be fun to celebrate this delicious holiday with warm gooey s'mores for everyone!! I was shocked that even some of the ladies had never had a s'more before. I'd hate to miss out on the classic gooey marshmallow and creamy melted chocolate smooshed between the crunchiness of two grahams.
My best buddy Tim brought the ingredients and we prepared them in our little kitch. Although there was no fire pit, I made it work in a toaster oven. The marshmallows puff up and get all toasty, just like when you top sweet potatoes and bake them for Thanksgiving.I took a tray full of these around to each office with a stack of colorful napkins and the campfire favorite was a huge hit and brought a little happiness to the most hard working group of people I know. Their smiling faces made my heart happy!
I hope you were able to celebrate this fun food holiday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Basil Tomato Pasta

With temps in the 90s and triple digits across much of the country it's hard to feel like cooking and going to any trouble in the kitchen. I know I'm not one to enjoy slaving over a hot stove, if I am slaving, it means it's not any fun for me and if I'm grouchy, no one will be happy and then I'll realize I should've ordered pizza. And then dinner won't taste good and I'll be kickin' myself all evening and wishing I had paid the $2 delivery fee AND a tip just so that I wouldn't have had to cook in the heat and make me and everyone else miserable in the mean time.

However, I love when dinner can be as simple as dressing up a 10 minute pasta with simple tomatoes and fresh basil. Delicious.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (14.5 oz) organic plain or fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
4 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
8 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper flakes; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, butter, garlic and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain; place in serving bowl. Pour tomato mixture over pasta; toss gently to coat. Add basil, cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

National Peach Month


I'm a happy camper when it comes to fresh summer peaches. And this year the crop is supposed to have been one of the best ever. I can think of a lot of different ways to use peaches and I plan to share a few ideas over the course of the month!

But now that August is here, next week happens to be apple week, followed by some exciting food Lemon Meringue Pie day and Filet Mignon Day and my personal favorite is National S'mores Day, I have a feeling I'll be making my toaster S'mores for the office that day!

I always go back to my teen days when I think about peaches. If you're 30 something you'll remember this song and you'll know why. "movin' to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches...."
Warning: This song can get stuck in your head.

I've got a bowl full of fresh Carolina peaches and I'm thinking a batch of warm peach pancakes with praline topping.


1/2 cup maple-flavored syrup
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 medium peach, peeled, chopped (3/4 cup)

2 cups baking mix
1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
2 tablespoons pecan pieces
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 container (6 oz) peach yogurt

In 1-quart saucepan, heat all syrup ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot; keep warm.
Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat; grease with shortening if necessary (or spray with cooking spray before heating).
In large bowl, stir all pancake ingredients until blended. Pour batter onto hot griddle. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook other sides until golden brown.
Serve with peach maple syrup.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipe Collection!!!!

I'm very excited about the new cookbook!! It has been a labor of love for over a year and I'm so happy that it's finally ready to share with you. It will make a great gift for the cooks in your family! So stock up for Christmas :) I hope you'll order 2 or 20!!

I really want to thank you all so much for your support! I have so many people to thank, that I would probably forget all of their names.

You'll find it easy to use Paypal on the blog. If that doesn't work for you, send a message and I want to ensure delivery of your copy of Simply Satisfied.

*******Please allow adequate time for delivery!!*******