Maple Mustard

Yes.

This recipe tastes as exactly as amazing as you would think it does.

As I am sitting here, scooping it down by the pretzel-full, I got to thinking that I should probably share this with the world. No need to be greedy (more like I want you to make your own because I ain’t sharin’).

It definitely could use some tweaks and improvements, so I am totally open to tips and tricks.

A few weeks ago, MIL and I took the girls on the Maple Taste and Tour. You drive around to all the local Sugar Camps (places where people tap maple trees and make maple syrup), to learn the different processes everyone uses and taste their specialties. It is really fun, and education. Not to mention, free food. Some camps had maple sugar cookies, maple fudge, kielbasa, beer, popcorn, etc. Only one camp had maple mustard.

It was AMAZING. We bought a jar and had it almost gone within just a few days. Now sugar season is over, and I am in a different state with no hope of buying more. But, I NEED IT. So I had to try and make my own. They made theirs with vinegar, egg yolks, dry mustard, and maple syrup (it was on the label) . I didn’t have access to dry mustard and FIL is constantly preaching about the dangers of raw eggs in food so I decided to play with it and this is what I came up with.

It does not disappoint.

Maple Mustard

2tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
2tbsp Yellow Mustard
4tbsp Maple syrup
1/4 cup Sour Cream

Whisk together.

Devour like a starving African orphan.

It’s still pretty runny, so I need to find a way to thicken it up without detracting from the flavor which is on point. You can obviously add or subtract any amounts you want. Sometimes the spicy mustard gets a little overpowering and I have to add in a little extra syrup, most of the time I just dump the ingredients in without measuring and taste test until I get it how I like it.

Not only do I dip my pretzels in it, but I also recently used it as a marinade for chicken breasts and they were delicious! I added some garlic and salt/pepper to that recipe. It is so versatile and yummy! Not to mention super easy and keeps in the fridge for quite a while (not that I would know because I eat it all immediately)

I am already thinking that this will probably be in my Christmas baskets this year if I can figure out how to preserve it so it doesn’t need refrigerated.

So, go whip yourself up a batch, grab your closest dippable object, and enjoy!

Key Lime Cookies

I have spent a lot of time wondering what I should do with the limes my mom brought me. They are cute little things, and incredibly ripe. But, I don’t have a single lime recipe in my kitchen that calls for actual limes, only lime juice, and even those recipes are few and far between.

Enter Pinterest.

Not sure how the average woman ever survived without Pinterest. Still wondering how my mother survives without Pinterest. I am on it at least 10 times a day looking for information and recipes and helpful tips. It is my life saver.

So I found this Key Lime Cookie recipe.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus 2 cups more for rolling
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup fresh key lime juice (regular lime juice is ok)
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the egg yolk, lime juice, and zest until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until combined. The dough will be very crumbly. Using your hands, knead the dough gently until it comes together and forms a ball. Roll the dough into 1″ sized balls and place 1″ apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  3. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the reserved 2 cups of powdered sugar, and place back on the baking sheet to cool completely. Sift the remaining powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The only thing that I would change is the baking time. I had mine in for 20 minutes and the bottoms got burnt. And you really don’t have to use your hand to mix the dough together. In fact, it is really advisable that you do not use your hand, otherwise you just end up with a hand full of dough goo and you have to explain to your husband why there is key lime cookie stuck to your wedding band set.. not good.

I am in love with these cookies though! They were really simple and delicious. I must confess I have been eating them for breakfast with my cup of coffee, and in the evening with a cup of tea, and sometimes at lunch time as dessert… they are just really light and refreshing. And the recipe makes a ton! I will definitely be making these in the future. I am thinking lemon, orange…maybe ever coloring the dough somehow to make them pretty?

Oh my god. Green lime cookies.

Dried Bananas

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My mom and I have been having a wonderful time with our dehydrators. I never knew the satisfaction you could get out simply drying food. It is just so wonderful to know that you are preserving food that would otherwise go to waste and you are going to be able to store it and keep it and eat it in the future instead of throwing it away. When you see a good deal you can snatch up a lot and not have to worry about eating it before it goes bad.

Last week my mom ended up at a grocery store that was having a huge produce sale so she brought me bananas, oranges, and limes. I immediately dehydrated all of the bananas.

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They are freaking delicious. My mother and FIL hated them, but I have been snacking on them regularly and really wish I had more bananas to dry!

I am still working my way through all of the apples we have, I load up the dehydrator almost every night before bed and let it run for about 12 hours, then all I do is take the contents out and put them in bags. It is so easy! and this food is good for, like, ever.

I would definitely say a dehydrator is worth the money, although we didn’t have to pay for ours, it was given to us by Wonderful Husbands parents. Even if we had paid for it ourselves it has more than paid for itself already because I use it almost every night and have saved a ton of money on fruits that otherwise would have been in the trash.

What are some of your favorite dried foods?

 

 

Cake Bakin’ Stepford

I have had an amazing day! Sometimes, life just comes together in beautiful symmetry and you are in the mood to do stuff and you have the ingredients to make stuff and the baby is behaving and it all just works.

This morning did not start out that way at all…

We got up at our normal time but instead of having our morning bottle in bed, I brought Little Darling downstairs to her highchair and let her have some Cheerios and her bottle there. I have been starting to mix some whole milk into her morning and evening bottle to get her ready to wean at the end of the year. Breakfast went well. She was happy, I was happy.

After breakfast I decided we needed to get a shower. I have been introducing her to showers since they are slightly less messy than baths and easy for us to take together, thus answering the question of what to do with the baby while I shower on the days she wakes up before I do. She loves playing in the water and splashing around on the bottom of the tub, I enjoy not wondering what she is getting into while I am indisposed. Everybody wins.

I got the shower going and started undressing Little Darling. After she was down to her diaper, I went about getting myself ready to get in. I took my eyes off of her for all of about 3 seconds while I took my shirt off. She managed to flip the full length mirror onto herself, its not hung because the bathroom isn’t finished yet. Thankfully, it isn’t really heavy and it mostly just scared her, but she fell backwards and hit her head on the floor and the mirror landed on her arm. She was screaming and crying and shaking and holding on to me like the world was ending. It was fun. Let me tell you.

I managed to get my clothes and her diaper off and we got into the shower. She instantly perked up and began playing in the shower spray and completely forgot that just two minutes she was near death. I finally unglued her from my hip and got her to play on the tub floor while I indulged in some hot water and shampoo. As I am rinsing my hair, she crawls in between my legs and looked up. Shampoo right in the eyes, of course. More screaming, more crying. It just wasn’t my morning.

Everything got better after her morning nap. She was much happier and had completely forgotten the disasters of the morning. I was in the mood to work on some food so we got to work. I got my butternut squash in the oven to roast. All I did was slice it in half, clean out the guts and seeds, sprinkled each half with some lemon salt and put a slice of butter on top.

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In the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour. Then all I had to do was remove the skin, chop up the flesh, and get it into the freezer. I now have 4 squashes in my freezer to make some delicious soups this winter.

After the squash, I still wasn’t satisfied with my kitchen time, so I cleaned all the pomegranates I had bought at the Aldi sale and put those in the freezer too. Then I got to thinking that I should bake something with those pomegranate anils.

I poked around on Pinterest for a while looking for an easy recipe and finally decided to just make one up. The result was delicious, moist, protein packed pomegranate cranberry cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup greek yogurt (I used vanilla because that is what we had)
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 -1.5 cups pomegranate anils

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Recipe:

  • Mix it all together and put it in an 8×8 pan
  • Bake for 45 min to 1 hour

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This cake was delicious! It was so moist and flavorful. I would love to use unsweetened cranberry juice and plain greek yogurt next time to cut down on the sugar, and use cranberries instead of pomegranates to make it a true cranberry cake. Maybe as a holiday dessert? I may also try putting it into a 9×13 pan because the 8×8 took FOREVER to bake and I was concerned the edges were getting to dark while the inside was still complete goo. I added a glaze to the top, just powdered sugar with some melted butter and a few splashes of milk, to make it pretty.

The vanilla yogurt has 20 grams of protein per cup, so you are getting a healthy dose of protein when you eat it, you can almost feel good about taking a second slice. Which I guarantee you, you will want to. It was all I could do not to eat it all in one sitting.

Chicken Fried Rice

I was feeling really hungry last night for dinner. Since I spent most of the week sick and living on hot tea and saltine crackers I was craving something good and delicious from dinner. What I really wanted was for Wonderful Husband to stop at the Chinese place on the way home and bring home several orders of deep fried grease general tso’s with pork fried rice and crab rangoon. Instead, I decided to make chicken fried rice.

Healthier, cheaper, and arguably easier.

Here’s what I used:
Coconut Oil3 Chicken Breasts
1 onion
1 spoon of garlic
1 bag frozen peas
1.5 sweet potatoes (diced)
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cups cooked rice

Here’s what I did:
I put some coconut oil in my largest frying pan, put the three chicken breasts into a medium sized pan, and the rice into the microwave. I sauteed the chicken with a little bit of butter and salt and pepper. I put the garlic, onion, peas, and sweet potatoes into the large frying pan with the oil and sauteed them, covered, until the potatoes were tender.

When the chicken was done, I cut it up into little chunks and added it to the frying pan with the veggies. When the rice was done I added it as well. When everything was all mixed up, I dumped in the soy sauce.

This turned out dramatically well. We both ate two platefuls. I would actually have liked it to have had more soy sauce, but it was really good as it was.

I will definitely make this again, and it is totally customize-able with whatever you have on hand. A much better alternative to wasting half a pay check on take out!

Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

I bought an eggplant last week. I am not sure how this keeps happening, because we are supposed to be on a budget and following strict buying and purchasing rules. But random new fruits and veggies and meats keep ending up in my cart and subsequently back at my house.

This time we ended up with an eggplant.

I didn’t have a freaking clue what to do with an eggplant. But here is a fun story.

When I was in kindergarten, we all had to pick our favorite vegetable and do something with it- make a picture? bring it in? the teacher did something? I have no idea what the end game was- all I know is that we had to pick our favorite vegetable and I picked an eggplant, for no other reason that it was purple. The teacher was stunned and even told my mom that she had never had another student pick an eggplant before because most kids don’t even know what it is. I am not real sure that we ever ate eggplant at home? I don’t have any distinct memories of mom cooking eggplant. She hated cooking, so somehow I doubt it. But I knew what it was, and I knew I would like it. A prophecy obviously.

So here I sit, 24 years old, the proud owner of my own eggplant, and no idea what to do with it. Pinterest here I come..

I found this recipe, and followed it pretty exact. It was incredibly easy, and I will definitely make it in the future. And now that I know how yummy eggplant is, I will be branching out to make more eggplant-y things in the future. As long as Aldi stocks them for $1 a piece that is.

Recipe:

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large eggplant cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 24oz tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated*
½ cup Romano cheese, grated*

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8×8 pan (I would almost go to a 9×13 because 8×8 was a tight fit
Put the eggplant cubes into a bowl of cold water for about 20 min
Drain and dry the eggplant cubes
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with garlic, onion, and salt
Add the eggplant and saute for ten minutes or so
Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 20-30 min
Combine Quinoa, pepper, eggplant mix, and 1/2 cup parmesan
Transfer into baking dish and top with remaining cheese
Bake 30 minutes
Top with Basil or Oregano, allow to rest 10 minutes

I made this the night before I had a friend over and after it had cooled I just put it into the fridge. The next day I heated it up in the oven while we fed the kids and then we enjoyed it. It was delicious! In the future I would def add way more eggplant. It tasted very similar to a lasagna. I ran out of shredded parmesan so I ended up using some cheddar. It was still good.

Pretty versatile and easy to make!

Enjoy!

Homemade No Knead Bread

I thought long and hard before posting this recipe. This is my favorite, beyond favorite, best recipe I have ever made, could eat the entire loaf in one sitting, actually have done that before, bread recipe.

It is easy, it is simple, it is delicious, it keeps in the fridge for upwards of three frickin’ weeks.

It is obviously a recipe from angels, and tastes like God baked it himself.

I make loaves upon loaves of this bread for Christmas gifts and give them out to friends and family every year. And every year it is a struggle because I hate sharing my amazing bread that much. This year I have already made 5 loaves for Christmas and only two of them have actually made it into the freezer, and who knows if they will actually make it to the holidays.

Simply put. I am addicted to this bread.

Are you ready? Are you ready for this recipe?

I certainly hope so.

You will need:
3 cups warm water
1.5 T salt
1.5 T yeast
6 cups flour

What you do:
Put the warm water into a large resealable tupperware container. Mix in the salt (feel free to play with the salt here, 1.5 T is really salty, sometimes I only use 1). Mix in the yeast. Leave it alone for 5 minutes. When you come back your yeast should be all bubbly and thriving. Add in the flour, don’t putz around adding and mixing, just dump it in and stir it with a wooden spoon or something. Let it rise for 2 hours. Punch it down. Put the lid on it and put it in the fridge to be baked whenever you want.

When you are ready to use it, just spray your hands with some pam (it is incredibly sticky) and then rip off a hunk of dough. Slap it into loaf shape and drop it into a pan. Bake it for about an hour in a 350 degree oven.

I normally double this recipe because, you know, addiction. And, it barely ever makes it into the fridge. I will say the longer it stays in the fridge, the better the taste gets, something about fermentation and yeast and such. It makes anywhere from 2-3 loaves depending on how large you make them.

I have used this dough for a lot of things, pizza, rolls, bread… its pretty versatile. But as a loaf of crusty bread is definitely my favorite option.

I hope you enjoy!

But seriously, don’t start making it as Christmas gifts, unless you plan on gifting it to me.