Thursday, July 30, 2015

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Ice cream. One of my favorite treats. I was sad to discover last year that one of my favorite store bought ice creams is no longer "ice cream." The flavor I liked now says "frozen dairy dessert." I don't even want to know what that means. (Same brand's vanilla still is labeled "ice cream.") Sometimes it's better to make your own.


I grew up in an ice cream making family. And our much loved old recipe was made with raw eggs. Not a concern back then, but I am hesitant to use them now. I have substituted Egg Beaters, which is pasteurized, but still raw in a sense. But I found a new recipe! No eggs. I do know that you can make a cooked custard base and then chill it, but that is work. And it doesn't taste like our old recipe.


My plan was to use the online recipe as a starting place but change it to be more like our family recipe. It was a happy accident when I misread the recipe and used a large can of evaporated milk instead of the small one. It was perfect! It tastes like the ice cream I grew up with.

I love my little 1-1/2 quart ice cream maker. I have room in my freezer to keep the inner container ready, so it's easy to pull it out, pour in the ingredients and flip the switch. No crushed ice. No ice cream salt. Not much mess. In about 20-30 minutes, it's ready—if you like it soft-serve style. If you want to scoop it up, put it in the freezer after it's done.

HOMEMADE PEACH ICE CREAM

1 (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk (like Eagle Brand)
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
1-1/4 cups milk (I only had 1%)
about 1 cup of cut up ripe peaches (I used 2 large peaches)
2 tablespoons sugar
a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about a tablespoon)
pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Use a whisk to mix the 3 milks together thoroughly and chill for 30 minutes. (I just put my cans of milk in the refrigerator ahead of time.)

Mash up peaches with fork until there are no big pieces left. Stir in sugar, lemon juice and salt. Mix peaches with milk mixture.

Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to appliance directions.
Freeze until done, about 20-25 minutes.


At this point, it's very soft. You can place the ice cream container (removed from maker) into the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm it up a bit. Or, transfer to a plastic container and freeze it.

We enjoyed some of it straight from the maker in it's soft serve version. The next night after it was frozen, we scooped up. It's good both ways.

Don't like peach ice cream? I'm sure you can use this recipe and change the fruit. Or, double the amount of vanilla if you want to make vanilla ice cream. Google "no cook ice cream" for other flavors.




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Make It At Home


This summer we've had cucumbers and green peppers and tomatoes in the garden. That means lots of salad on the table. Just to do something new, I decided to try the homemade version of salad additions that I usually buy. Two recipes for you today. Delicious. Easy. Thrifty.

Homemade Croutons

Little Sister calls them "crunchies" and I had to buy croutons while she was here. She likes salad. She likes the "crunchies" better. When I was cleaning out things in the kitchen, I nearly threw out a half loaf of stale sourdough bread. Then I thought why not make croutons? A loaf of sourdough costs over $4.00. Making croutons was a much better choice than tossing those stale slices out.


HOMEMADE CROUTONS

stale bread
olive oil
any seasoning--such as Italian seasoning, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, etc.

Slice bread into cubes. Put in a large bowl. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to coat all the cubes. Sprinkle generously with your desired seasoning and toss again. (I used McCormick's Garlic Bread Sprinkle.)

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing several times as it bakes, until browned and crunchy. The exact time depends on the size of the cubes and the dryness of the bread.


Let cool and store in a sealed ziploc bag, unrefrigerated, for up to two weeks.


Italian Salad Dressing

I have made homemade salad dressings before. This is another good one. This recipe makes a big batch. It's easy to make if you discover you've run out of the store-bought kind. You might discover you like this better. I like this recipe because it does not call for fresh herbs. I love fresh herbs, but I don't always have them. All of the dried herbs here are always in my pantry.

ITALIAN SALAD DRESSING

1 cup vinegar (use any kind--apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc...)
1-1/3 cup oil (I used half olive oil and half canola)
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon salt

Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Put lid on the jar. Shake vigorously to mix.
It is ready to use now, but you can store it in the refrigerator a long time.

Adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes or to accommodate the seasonings on your shelf. I don't think you can really go wrong.

Next time I think I'll pour this into a bottle (note to self--save the nearly empty vinegar bottle when it's used up) to make it easier to pour.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

One of the crazy nights while the little girls were here, I was thrilled to find a casserole in our freezer that Jessica had made on one of her visits here. (See how she did it on her blog here.) I was away and she came home and cooked for her dad and left him a couple of dishes for later. It was perfect for our dinner.

For many years, this was the dish I took to families with new babies. The older brothers and sisters seemed to like it. Baby Girl certainly ate her fair share the night we had it. I have delivered it with just a can of cranberry sauce and a can of peas. My own daughters were small then and I had to keep it easy.

The recipe is one my sister added to a family cookbook over 30 years ago. I don't know if she still makes it, but we have been using it for these many years. I always think the list of ingredients looks long. Don't let that scare you off. It's really easy.

CHICKEN TETRAZZINI

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

1 (4-oz) can sliced mushroom *
2 cups diced cooked chicken (we like larger pieces)
1 (8-oz) box of spaghetti
1 cup bread or cracker crumbs, buttered

Make a sauce of butter, cheese, flour, milk, soup, oregano and pepper. Stir over medium heat until cheese melts and sauce thickens. Add mushrooms, green pepper, pimento and chicken.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and put into greased 2-qt. oblong baking dish. Pour chicken mixture over spaghetti. (I stir slightly to get sauce down into the noodles.) Top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Now, when Jessica makes it, she uses fresh mushrooms. That's delicious. I often use the canned ones because it's easy.

It can be frozen before it's baked. Jessica divided the recipe into smaller baking dishes and froze them. Put the bread crumbs in a small bag and put with the dish. Add those just before you bake it.

Take it out of the freezer the night before and bake according to directions. You may need to bake it a little longer. Just be sure it's hot all the way through.


* I often use chopped mushrooms, but if I'm taking it somewhere, I'll be sure to use the sliced ones. The larger size is easier for non-mushroom lovers to pick them out and avoid eating them.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Perfectly Imperfect!


Remember weeks ago when I wrote about embracing "good enough?" Well, this is the finished shawl from that post. It is perfectly imperfect! (Or maybe imperfectly perfect?) I love it. It is huge and I can wrap up in it—if the weather ever cools off. I know that there are mistakes in there and that's okay. I'm glad I was realistic when I decided to keep going forward instead of trying to undo and correct mistakes. I might never have finished. I did know that these mistakes were not the kind that would lead to the shawl coming apart. "Good enough" doesn't mean shoddy. It's more about accepting the imperfections that are part of life.


Yarn: 227 grams of leftover fingering and dk yarns
Needles: size 5


This is how it began—I pulled out all my leftover bits of yarn, weighed them and lined them up in order. I had about 700 grams of yarn--that's enough to make a bedspread! I had to eliminate a lot from the line up.


Then I took the little balls that were left and wound them into one big cake of yarn, joining them together with a "magic knot." I learned that this same knot is used by rock climbers, too. (Bet they don't call it that.) Surely that meant it was good enough to hold my yarn together.


For a long time, this was my airport knitting, my car knitting, my porch knitting, my early morning knitting and my tired brain knitting. (That's how a couple of big mistakes got in there--I did take those out and make corrections.)


A friend looked at this and remarked, "Well, we can surely tell what colors you like." Since most of this yarn was from my own stash of leftovers, the colors did blend well. Many of these shawls are made at retreats and camps where knitters swap their yarns. That's fun, too, but since my wardrobe usually involves blue jeans, these colors work for me.

Thank you, Paula, for teaching us how to make a magic cake at your retreat in Georgia. And thank you, Robin, for sharing some samples of your handspun. They are beautifully tucked in there among my own yarns. I love that I have knitting friends scattered across the globe.





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Last Of The Summer Squash

Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

Did any of you ever watch Last Of The Summer Wine? It was a wildly popular sitcom on BBC, lasting 27 years if my math is right. We used to watch it every Saturday night on our PBS station. Tonight I thought about that show as I cooked the "last of the summer squash." (Doesn't quite have the same ring as "last of the summer wine," does it?) The last of the yellow squash. The last of the zucchini. Both of these vegetables are readily available at the grocery store, but this was the last from our garden.

I have been hanging on to this recipe for a few weeks now. And last night I knew if I didn't make it right then, I would have missed my chance if I wanted to use our garden produce. I found the original recipe online from Cooking Light.

Well, mine isn't quite as "light" as the original but I think it still qualifies as healthy. I upped the amount of pasta and cheese—but only a little. I just knew that Daddy-O would be happier with a little more of the good stuff.

I did ask him if I had sufficiently hidden the yellow squash. He really doesn't like yellow squash. He said he could still see it. I meant could he taste it. When he went back for a big second helping, I knew I had succeeded. He did suggest that it might be even better with some crumbled bacon added to it. I won't argue with that. Maybe next time.


This is such a lovely light pasta dish. Very unlike the heavier meaty pasta recipe I posted yesterday. (Which is also wonderful.) We will for sure make this one again. Even if I buy the vegetables at the store.

BAKED ZITI WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES

5 oz. uncooked ziti (that's about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups chopped tomato
1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Saute squash, zucchini, and onion in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and saute 3 minutes more.
Remove from heat and stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, basil and oregano, 1/2 tsp, salt and pepper.
Combine ricotta, egg and 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir into pasta mixture.
Spoon into 9x9-inch baking dish which has been sprayed with PAM. Top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

Makes 4 servings.


We only had fresh cantaloupe (also from our garden) on the side. It was a perfect light summer supper.

I used Ronzoni Ziti No. 2 pasta. I did weigh my pasta and then measured it so that I could give you the amount in cups. I know not everyone has a scale. I have found a kitchen scale is a tool that I use often.

I had a couple of garden tomatoes, but I used grape tomatoes from the store this time. They were so easy to cut into quarters. I'm saving the big tomatoes for BLTs today.

I really think fresh herbs are the way to go in this recipe. And I was able to find them at the grocery store in my very small town. So you likely can find some, too. But if you don't have fresh herbs, the rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs. (There are 3 teaspoon in 1 tablespoon.)





Monday, July 20, 2015

Kindness Is Baked Rotini


While we were so busy keeping up with little girls, I was still cooking. Just didn't have time to post the recipes. But I did try to make photos as we went so that I could share them later. I'll be caught up soon.

This baked rotini is a dish that a friend brought to Mommy's house when Mommy was in the hospital for weeks just before Baby Girl was born. Comfort food to the max. So in my mind, it will always be linked to kindness. What a good way to remember a recipe. Around here we will probably call it "Carla's Pasta" forever.

I made Carla's recipe for Mommy and girls as their last supper here before the car was packed (to the gills!) the next morning and they all headed to the new house. Big Sister got back from her summer travels just in time for supper. She liked this recipe so much that she had it for breakfast the next morning.

I think it would be a great dish for feeding youth groups, too. It is simple, basic food. Not too much in it that kids would dislike. It makes a big dish. Mine was full to the top.


Here is the recipe just as Carla shared it:

ROTINI NOODLES WITH BEEF

1 box rotini noodles (mine was 16 oz)
1 large jar spaghetti sauce
1 (8-oz) container sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
1 (15-oz) container cottage cheese
3/4 to 1 lb. ground beef (my package was 1.4 lbs)
lots of Mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper to taste (I left this out)

Brown ground beef and drain. Add sauce. Mix together sour cream and cottage cheese. Cook noodles until done. Basically, put this together the way your would do lasagna. Put one half of the meat mixture in the bottom of (9x13-in) pan, then layer of noodles, then half the cottage cheese mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Repeat steps above adding lots of mozzarella on top.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Take out of oven, remove cover and bake for 15 minutes more.


Now, you know I tend to redo recipes slightly. The only things I changed here was that I used more meat and I arranged my layers differently. I put a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom, then layered noodles, cottage cheese, meat sauce. Second layer of noodles, cottage cheese, meat sauce. Then topped with Mozzarella. But I don't think it would matter a bit how you do it.

When I removed the foil from the dish, some of the cheese stuck to it. Might want to lightly spray the foil with PAM to keep it from sticking.

I also assembled this earlier in the day and baked it at supper time. I added about 5 more minutes to the cooking time since it was coming out of the refrigerator.

I put a couple of individual size dishes (after it was baked) of this in the freezer for Daddy-O to pull out later.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Making Muffins In The Morning

Applesauce Muffins

Yes, I really found time to make muffins while the little ones were still here. The trick was to start early--before the baby woke up and get as much as possible done before Little Sister figured out what I was doing and wanted to help. She came into the kitchen in time to stir. That was about the right amount of help. My timing was perfect. The muffins were coming out of the oven when Baby Girl woke up. Daddy-O fed her some of the leftover applesauce for her breakfast.

I made these muffins for the first time last summer when Little Sister was here. (It was easier with only one little one in the house.) And I've made them several times since. But it's a recipe worth posting again. This time I'm rewriting it with measurements to make 2 dozen muffins. I'll put about half in the freezer. I like to put four muffins in a quart Ziploc freezer bag. That's the right amount for me and Daddy-O to pull out for a snack. They are great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

APPLESAUCE MUFFINS (2 dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups applesauce
4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup of your favorite add-in...diced apple, raisins, or chopped nuts (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in applesauce. Combine flour, baking soda and spices. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in add-in, if using. 

Fill greased muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Cool for 5 minutes and then remove to wire rack. 

Makes 24 muffins.  Pop some in the freezer for later. 


For this batch, I added in diced apple (pretty good size pieces) and I think maybe this is my favorite. Daddy-O pulled a little 4-pack out of our freezer last night. A muffin with a cup of tea was a perfect bedtime treat. And this morning, we each had one with a mug of coffee for breakfast.  These really do freeze well.

When I pulled up this photo that I made a couple of weeks ago, I am reminded how much we miss these little girls now.