Vegan Bacon made from beets is simple and delicious.
Vegan Bacon made from beets is simple and delicious.
Chewy steel cut oats are cooked risotto style for optimum creaminess. Filling and comforting, with plenty to share.
tiny DIY Pop-Tarts with only a handful of ingredients
Jason is a guy who loves breakfast junk food. Chocolate chip pancakes, gallons of syrup, full fat chocolate milk, waffles with a layer of chunky peanut butter 1-inch thick; an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It doesn’t bother me because he doesn’t eat like this on a regular basis. We’re all allowed our food vices.
Even if it did bother me, he’s the stubbornest husband in the world, so I could nag my head off and it wouldn’t make a lick of a difference.
Last week, he mentioned something about Pop-Tarts. I tucked it in the back of my mental food Filofax, but then I decided that it needed to be pushed up to the front. I didn’t want to make anything complicated, and these are simple as can be. They are actually rather low mess, which fit well with my goal of “oh-please-let-the-kitchen-be-clean-for-longer-than-30-minutes.” I didn’t have to leave the house for ingredients, as they were already tucked in various corners of my kitchen*. And lastly, it was Valentines Day and food is full-blown love gesture in my world.
He ate more than half of them within 20 minutes or so. That made me incredibly freaking happy. I love feeding my guy.
Frozen blueberries are one of my favorite ingredients. I can’t say that I’m hypercreative with them — I cycle between smoothies and jam, smoothies and jam. There’s no shame in this apparent redundancy — there are dozens of blueberry smoothie recipes and a plethora of ways to use jam.
I’ve been making frozen fruit and date jam for awhile now, and I like it because tastes better than store jam, and is simpler then pectin jam. You just throw dates and fruit in a saucepan and when it gets jut right, blend it up and you’re done. It’s easier when you have an immersion blender, which I currently don’t. Mine burned out several months back I have yet to replace it. I gotta get on that because it’s winter and I’m backlogged on my creamy comforting soups.
Also, another thing about this jam — it’s less messy than other jams. That sounds very weird and suspicious and y’all aren’t believing me on this, but don’t know how else to describe it. See how the jelly is peeking out a little from the side of the crust? Well, when you bite into it, it doesn’t squirt out or anything (at room temp. no promises on hot jam). Maybe Hot Jam! should be me new exclamation. Hot Jam, it’s cold out! Hot Jam, you look cute those boots! Hot Jam, Annie’s a real nerd, isn’t she?
I used my omnigrid sewing square to make the rectangles just right. i think i use it more in the kitchen than i ever did when I sewed a lot. if you have one buried in your craft stuff, relocate it to the kitchen and store it with the cutting boards. you'll find yourself using it over and over! that said, if you don't have an omnigrid, a regular ruler will also do the job here.
aka Pretty Ugly Muffins
Do you like coffee cake?
Annnnnd do you like peanut butter chocolate things?
These are a lot like coffee cake, but instead of the traditional cinnamon-thick crumble, you use a salty peanut crumble. The results are pretty fantastic. And there’s chocolate chips in there too, because chocolate and peanut butter tend to make folks happy.
Unfortunately, they are kinda ugly too. If I were a better photographer, I could have made them look like the hottest thang since um…Paul Newman? Or maybe the guy who plays Neville Longbottom? Elizabeth Moss?
Elizabeth Moss, definitely. Though I’ve never seen a single episode of Mad Men, I’ve long admired her seemingly effortless sensuality. Don’t judge me for not having watched Mad Men! Sorry. I know I’m getting off topic here, but it’s been a long week and I just need a bit of unstructured narration to loosen my mind.
In-shell peanuts were on sale this week, a huge bag for merely a dollar. Superbowl overstock, I suppose. You don’t have to start out with unshelled peanuts, but they honestly don’t take all that long to shell, especially once you get into a rhythm. And like I said, they’re much cheaper than canned nuts.
To make the crumble, you just take a handful of nuts (teehee) and pulse them with some oatmeal till it begins to crumple and clump. Then just add a few extra nuts in there for fun.
Also, for fun and to distract from the ugly muffins — a cute little Mickey. I found him at the flea market for 88 cents and he was just like one I had when I was a kiddo. He was sat on the kitchen counter when I was shooting, looking all optimistic.
And since I’ve personally been feeling a lot better lately, I thought optimism is in good order. I feel like pushing sunshine on others is aggressive and counterproductive, so you feel free to ignore Mickey’s optimism. But don’t ignore the salty peanut chocolate chip muffins. I don’t need to give you any rationale here, saltypeanutchocolate wins its own case.
happy weekend y’all
1 1/2 cups shelled peanuts is about 5 cups of in-shell peanuts
muffin batter adapted slightly from damn delicious
I’ve loved ricotta from a very young age. Only I didn’t know it was ricotta, I just called it “that white pie that Nana makes at Easter.” She put little bits of canned cherries in there, and it was my favorite part of the Easter meal. Other than the rolls, obvs.
Other ways I love eating ricotta
This is a bit of a combination of pancakes and pie, but it’s easier than either of them. There’s no need to guard the griddle or flip this pancake. Flipping regular pancakes is requires care and attention, but flipping ricotta pancakes is a delicate art. An art that I have perhaps not studied enough.
Ricotta pie can be simple, but it can also be complicated — recipes ranging anywhere from 4 eggs to 12 eggs, heaps of sugar, cream, liquors. I never glanced at Nana’s recipe, so I can’t tell you how fussy it was, but I can tell you that it never tasted overwrought. It tasted simple and comforting.
And then there’s always the pie crust to contend with, enemy of even the most veteran baker.
This humble cake has five simple ingredients. The fruit topping is purely optional — you can omit it and drizzle on some honey instead, or just eat it plain. I chose raspberry because I have been on a major raspberry drive lately. I just want raspberries in everything and on everything, especially when they are bright and tart.
Fresh out of the oven, the texture of this cake is soft and cake-like, egginess noteable but not overpowering.
If you leave it to mellow, the next day you will find it sweeter, with the vanilla more present, and carrying a definite custard texture.
Wonderful either way.
You can mix this cake in less than five minutes, but it takes about 40 to bake. This is a gift. Get up, make the cake, and spend the cooking time cuddling in bed. hello sunshine.
*light ricotta and part-skim ricotta are not the same thing.
I once knew a girl from New Orleans. She was spunky and smart and worked at the zoo, but what I remember most about her is that really knew how to have fun. Once, she had a little Mardi-Gras get together, but instead of calling it Marti Gras, she called it Stephanie Gras. It was funny because she was the teeniest person, and in no way gras. She’s probably forgotten about it, but it still makes me chuckle. I like to use it as a somewhat annoying term of endearment — Jason Gras. teehee
Mardi Gras may still be a few weeks away, but I am totally ready for spring party colors right now. Tout de suite. That, and I have a few deliciously gras-ening recipes coming up, so I thought I’d preempt them with this nice, clean, fruit bowl. Bright blueberries, tart little raspberries all topped with sweet sliced mangoes, carambola, and kiwi. Doesn’t that make you want to throw confetti up in the air? Okay, well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it is refreshing and energizing, which is kinda the same thing.
Speaking of throwing confetti up in the air, I realized it’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of interweb goodies that have made me cheer. Thus, I present Vol IV of Cookies and Coffee with Friends:
Shelly’s unicorn bars! Sprinkles and sugar cookies are the absolute magic cure for the winter blues
Sally’s Salted Maple Roasted Almond Butter This is how I feel about it: 😮! 😍 😛!
Speaking of almond butters, I admired Erin’s Dreamy Almond Butter Chia Pudding. Chia pudding is back with a vengeance, and if you need further proof, just take a look at this citrusy dream from Jeanie & Co: Sunshine Citrus Chia Bowls. After seeing Erin’s pudding, I ended up making chia pudding for breakfast for the next three days. Using her approximate proportions, I made something wonderful. I mixed 3/4 cup of almond milk with 3 tbsp chia seeds, and added a little almond extract and brown sugar. Then I defrosted 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of raspberries, and mixed 1 tbsp into each of those. Layered it into a jar and popped it in the fridge. Yum. But……I didn’t really like the way the picture came out. ⬆️
Which leads me to Kristen’s 366 Imperfect Photography Project. I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but this post gave me a little sense of solidarity. I only just got my camera at Christmas, so I’m still learning how to use DSLR . Before, I used my phone or Jason’s old point-and-shoot. This means my photos are going to be imperfect. I will strive to improve them. One day, I will be pleased with them. It’s okay if today is not that day.
I have got to try Karen’s 5-ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Quick, practical, and thrifty.
Carla’s cheery Lemon Drop Cream Soda is just plain wonderful. This is what I want to be sippin’ on this weekend, and the weekend after that too.
Y’all know I can’t say no to roasted cruciferous veggies. I will stink up my kitchen all day for Beth’s Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Garlic Tahini.
What goodies did y’all like this week? Share something that you made that you’re proud of (or share someone else’s treats, if you’re so inclined)
Blackberries were on sale this week! I know that some people will frown on me for having bought them because seasonal/local yadda yadda, but if we eat tomatoes from Mexico during the winter (boo winter tomatoes 😫), then why not blackberries? Besides, blackberries are still in season down there, brudder. Er…..hermano.
I was excited and purchased plenty, with plans for salad and baking and all kinds of wonderful things, but then ended up eating most of them by the handful. Guess I’ll have to go get more, oh darn. One of my favorite things ways to eat them is with salted almonds and chocolate chips. While this combination makes a wonderful snack, it does not make a very good breakfast. I had some of it before class and was rather hangry by 11. So this good little snack needed a hearty upgrade, which is where the oatmeal comes in.
In the past few years, fancy oatmeals have become suuuuupper popular. Um, I’m not sure this falls into the category of fancy, but it’s not your powdery-apples-in-a-paper-package oatmeal. Not that there’s anything wrong with powdery apple oatmeal, but I just like this a lot better. I hesitate to even introduce the word fancy because this oatmeal actually comes together rather quickly. You can even microwave the oats and save yourself a pot scrub, if you wish.
If you don’t finish all of it (I might have overshot on the hearty part just a little), you can put in in the fridge and the chocolate-maple sauce turns to fudge. Fudge, I tell you. Speaking of fudge, how many times are y’all planning on watching A Christmas Story? We run Roku instead of cable, which means no TBS. However, Netflix holds a wealth of terrible-wonderful-terrible Christmas movies. The Mistletones, anyone?
My mamabear came to see me and she brought me a huge bundle of fresh herbs. My aunt works on a little New Jersey farm and sent them over to me. I put a little sage in with the almonds, it gives it just a little bit of a Christmas note. I think I like the holidays best this way: start with subtle notes, and then build to to a song, and then the whole show.
P.S. it’s finals week (ugh what the crab) and I have a project that needs some finishing touches. I might be out for a few days while I focus on, ugh, priorities. Please cook up a lot of goodies so I can daydream about them on my study breaks. ❤️
I usually don’t make pesto, because I find if far too addicting. If there’s pesto in the house, I will go at it with a spoon — or a piece of crusty bread and olive oil. But my week has been insane and I wanted something that would come together fast. And pesto is fast. You don’t even have to boil it, like tomato sauce, or stir it or anything. You just put in in your blender and it makes itself.
That, and the fact that I wasn’t going to be home enough to eat it all, so I was safe. Sort of.
I have been going through a caraway phase — sprinkling it on roasted veggies and other things. But sometimes the little seeds get stabby going down your throat and that’s not a pleasant feeling. So I decided to make them into a pesto. Stab me? I’ll grind to a pulp.
Um, I’m not actually a violent person.
I need to save just a little of this cause my mom’s coming into town and she loves pesto. Are y’all ready for your folks to come trooping into town?
This will be the first full-sized Thanksgiving in about 5 years. Lately it’s been just me and my mom, or just me, my mom, and Jason. And for the past two years, this has been the main course for me and my mom, with ground turkey tacos for Jas. Now that we live in Ohio, we’re going to have a big family Thanksgiving — my first with his family. I’m kinda glad that I have to work Thanksgiving morning so that I don’t have time to freak out. I like Jason’s family a lot, but sometimes being around a lot of people makes me nervous, no matter who they are. If I go to a party, I’ll spend most of my time talking to the little kids or the dogs. You know the type. Lucky for me, there are going to be a lot of little kids there. Last time there was a big party, I got to play with plastic farm animals and a pop gun. Talk about fun 😀
I’m too old to read YA fiction, yet I’m old enough to read it and not care who judges me for doing so.
Who decides what “young adult fiction” is anyways? Maybe they’re the ones who need to grow up, judgey-pants.
Right now (like the rest of America, I guess), I’m enjoying the clever prose of Mrs. Rainbow Rowell. I’ve just finished Carry On, Simon, and I’m still relishing it in my head.
I’ve read RR’s Fangirl more times that I care to admit. Carry On, Simon came out of Fangirl to a certain degree, but with too many layers of meta to fully describe here. If you’ve read them both, you know what I’m referring to. And if you haven’t read either, you should! Start with Fangirl.
Simon loves sour cherry scones. He has a list of things he misses about this school, and sour cherry scones take the #1 spot. As soon as I read that, I knew I had to make myself some of these scones.
The book version of these treats are “soft and light and a little bit salty.”
The ones here are soft for sure, but they’re also dark and nutty and rich, with a thick layer of sour cherry jam slathered right in the middle. I wanted to give Baz a nod, so I coated them in chocolate to resemble bloody vampire teeth. But they are lovely with or without the chocolate. And that’s saying a lot — I’m not often a chocolate optional kinda gal.
Hey! Jason just got home and ate two of them before he even kissed me hello. I need to go hide the rest of them.
Since this isn’t how Mrs. Rowell wrote the scones, they are sort of pastry fanfiction. Which is rather appropriate for Fangirl/Simon Snow fan.
I have this habit of absolutely refusing to turn the heat on until we have to — aka five degrees away from the pipes freezing. It drives my husband crazy.
I just don’t like the feel of the dusty heat all blasting down on me, or how quickly it gets stuffy and you can’t even open a window. Summer heat, stinky sweaty heat, I love. But indoor heat is just a necessary evil. There are other ways to get warm, like cozy sweaters and tea, snuggling.
And cooking. Doesn’t cooking always make you feel warm? When the kitchen is full of spicy aromas and the stove burners are glowing, you can’t help but feel snug. This is a sauce is the kind that keeps you warm from the inside out. But it also tastes so good when it’s right out of the fridge.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I like my applesauce spicy and chunky. And I know that everyone has their favorite applesauce recipe, so wanted to share mine. Like sharing playlists and books and running paths.
I swear it tastes like an apple and pumpkin pie were baked in the same pan, but with a lot less effort. You can even cheat and buy cubed butternut, which I may or may not have done. No judgement please, I had midterms this week.
You can eat it warm or cold, and if you eat it cold, eat it with plain yogurt. I just love applesauce and yogurt together. Make a bowl of this, and then crawl back into bed with a good book. What is everyone reading lately? I recently re-read Still Alice and I just downloaded Rainbow Rowell’s newest book. I just love her, don’t you? I kind of want to make some Carry On, Simon themed foods now.