Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Old-Fashioned Pudding

I participate in a photo challenge blog, where we're given a challenge a couple times per week and have to post a picture that demonstrates what that challenge means to us. This weekend the challenge was "Vintage." And one of the first things to pop into my mind was vintage recipes - which I totally love! I decided that instead of taking a picture of a vintage doll, or vehicle, or other item, I would cook up a vintage recipe and take pictures of that.

Currently, my favorite source for vintage recipes is The Economy Cookbook, published in 1910. I've posted about it before, having made the Woodford Pudding and the Cottage Pudding. This time I decided to try one called Sunderland Pudding - it was by far the simplest pudding recipe in the entire book. Here's the original recipe:

Sunderland Pudding

Two eggs, well beaten, 1 scant cup flour, 1 cup sweet
milk, salt, beat well together; bake in a drip pan 1/2 hour.
Serve with cream, sugar and nutmeg.

Only a small handful of ingredients, incredibly simple directions - both made this a very desirable recipe since I still don't have much energy lately. So I quickly mixed up the ingredients, baked it in an 8x8-inch square pan at 350 for 30 minutes, topped it liberally with cream (which we happened to have because it was on sale), sugar, and nutmeg, and took lots of pictures.

Here's the picture I used for the photo challenge:

And the original, before I made it look all old and vintage-y:

The pudding ended up similar in texture to Dutch Babies or German Pancakes - which I guess isn't surprising since it is comprised of the same basic ingredients. It puffed up in the pan when it baked, then sank back down with the top beautifully cracked when I took it out of the oven.

All in all, it was a fun way to complete the photo challenge, and get a dessert out of it at the same time!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chili Man!

Most of our meals lately are very simple. Case in point: lunch today was canned chili and green beans. But sometimes we like to make things a bit more fun for the kids. Plus, Zaylee sometimes balks at eating chili. Enter Chili Man!

His head is chili, with shredded cheese hair, mayonnaise face, and green bean body. Zaylee ate her whole serving and smiled the whole time. And I'll let you in on a little secret - this plate isn't Zaylee's. Jeff thought it was so cute that he did this to his own plate! Silly hubby. :-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm on a Layered Salad Kick

Lately I've been enjoying salads. Not just plain lettuce-and-tomatoes salads, but funner salads that are layered together in a bowl (how I wish I had a clear glass trifle bowl, these salads would be so much prettier) with the sauce spread on top and all the ingredients fresh and crisp. Delicious!

I didn't take pictures of this, but it was so tasty I thought I'd post it anyway so I remember for future reference. Today's lunch salad was sort of a taco salad, but using leftover turkey meat. We bought and roasted a turkey this week because it was on sale for really cheap. We're keeping a tally of how many meals we get out of the entire bird, and are already up to three, with plenty of meat and broth left. We definitely know how to stretch our meat around here!

Anyway, back to the salad. First I prepared a simple guacamole (avocados were on sale for 50 cents each this week) by smashing up two avocados with some lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and salsa. This is my favorite way to make guacamole, and it turns out delicious every time! Then I set that aside to work on the rest of the salad. I layered these ingredients in this order:

Torn leaf lettuce
Chopped tomato
Chopped turkey
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Crushed tortilla chips

It was extremely simple (very important during early pregnancy) and very delicious. Next time I make a salad like this I'll try to remember to snap a picture. Just take my word that this was a pretty salad with lots of bright colors and wonderful flavors!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Day-After-Easter Feast

We were a bit slow with the holiday this year. But we did finally go out and buy a ham this morning (well, Jeff did. I was stuck home with morning sickness). So Jeff cooked it up and made some mashed potatoes and frozen peas (so much better than canned!) to go with it. My contribution was finding a delicious glaze recipe for the ham, and adding cream cheese and sour cream to the potatoes to make them creamier.

I'm not putting any recipes in this post - even for the ham glaze we just used this recipe as a guideline instead of following it completely. The potatoes were just thrown together, with Jeff adding whatever seasonings he thought would taste good. Basically, this post is just me being excited that we actually cooked and ate a fancy-ish dinner, and I took a picture of it! Go me!

I spooned some of the pan drippings / glaze over the ham and potatoes on my plate. So good!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Excused Absence

It's not like me to not post in over a week. I usually do something new every few days - I'm really big on trying new things and remembering old favorites, and sharing everything we eat with the blogging community.

But it's really hard to do when morning sickness makes me want to eat nothing but macaroni and cheese, boiled or fried eggs, and breath mints. And makes me turn my nose up at my perennial favorites like cakes, cookies, pies, brownies, and other baked goods.

Yes, dear readers - I'm pregnant! I'm about six weeks along, and struggling with morning sickness and fatigue, the combination of which has been keeping me out of the kitchen. Jeff takes care of most of the meals now, and even if we do eat something blog-worthy, I don't have the energy to take pictures and post it! Kind of frustrating, but I know eventually I'll regain my energy and desire to cook. Until then, here's a few favorites that we have actually prepared and eaten in the past few days. They are easy and delicious, and actually palatable to my pregnant taste.

Hot tuna salad - we've made this several times since I posted it, and I love it more every time! This was our dinner tonight.

Egg drop soup - super simple, delicious, and easy on the stomach.

Garden saute with pasta - using canned tomatoes and cheap Mexican squash, this was a very easy dish to prepare.

Homemade salsa - the local Hispanic market had cilantro on sale, so we added some to the salsa and it was so fantastic! Cilantro really makes a salsa that much more special. I was craving chips and salsa and this totally hit the spot.

I don't know when I'll be up for posting regularly again. I do have a universal quiche recipe that we made a while ago and I already took pictures and everything. Maybe I'll muster up some energy and post that in the next little while. Until then, check out the recipes, they're some of my personal favorites (especially that hot tuna salad - it's awesome!).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taste & Create - Barbecue Beans

I almost forgot about Taste & Create this month - luckily I looked on the the website soon enough to realize that the post is due today! So here is my submission to this fun blog event.

I was paired with a blog called Caviar and Codfish. I knew right away that this month would be ... interesting. Such a title told me in no uncertain terms that the author, Robin, is by no means a foodie tightwad, and that many of her recipes would call for ingredients that I do not have on hand and will not go out and buy. Everything looked incredibly delicious - and incredibly pricey! But I gamely went about searching her blog for something that I could cook without going over budget.

And I found it in this recipe for barbecue beans - one of Robin's favorite recipes. I know, I did a bean dish for the last Taste & Create I participated in too. What can I say? I love beans!

Barbecue Beans
1 teaspoon oil
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on their size, minced
1 can (15 oz.) Navy beans, drained (I used a bag of frozen pinto beans I cooked earlier this week)
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup mustard
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
a few drops of hot sauce, or more to taste

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes (I took the liberty of adding some diced carrot here for extra nutrition). Add garlic and cook until tender and onions are translucent. Add beans, BBQ sauce, mustard, and maple syrup (I added sliced olives too; I love olives!). Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Uncover, add cider vinegar and hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings if you want. Serve with white or brown rice (I served it with some of the sourdough I just made).

The beans turned out deliciously flavorful. I loved the sharp and tangy bite, and the maple was a wonderful touch.

Sourdough Bread with Creamy Cheese Dip

***I realized this after I posted the recipe, but today is National Sourdough Bread Day. What a great coincidence!***

I've been making sourdough bread off and on for a couple years. I recently started back up again and have a nice fresh batch of starter in my fridge. I love the tangy flavor of the sourdough. Plus it's super inexpensive - one of the cheapest breads you can make. After you have the starter (a simple mixture of yeast, flour, and water), all you need to make the bread is water, salt, and flour.

Sourdough does take a long time from start to finish. A little bit of planning ahead is necessary if you want the bread done on a certain day. But there isn't any more hands-on time for this bread than there is for any homemade bread. I'm trying to make bread once or twice a week so we always have some on hand.

Last night I went to a girls' night. We had a recipe exchange - everyone brought a favorite dish and copies of the recipe to share. I brought a fresh loaf of sourdough and a delicious creamy cheese dip. I don't have a printer and didn't want to hand write all those copies of this recipe, so this gave me a great excuse to go ahead and post it here. I've been meaning to for a while, so I'm glad I finally had a reason to get around to it!

The recipe I use comes from The Tightwad Gazette. I mostly quote the book directly.

Sourdough Starter
The first step is to make a starter. The simplest way is to mix 1 tablespoon of yeast with 2 cups of chlorine-free water (allow your tap water to "air out" in a jug for a couple of days) and two cups of white flour. Combine these in a glass, plastic, or earthware container - not a metal one. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours, until it foams and develops a pleasantly sour smell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You can also get starter from a friend who makes sourdough. (The sourdough books warn that if the starter turns orange, pink, or any other strange color, you should throw it out.)

Notes on using the starter:
~Each time you remove some starter, you must "feed" it. Just add back 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups flour, stir, cover loosely, and return starter to the refrigerator.
~You can use your starter, fresh from the fridge, for weeks at a time. Eventually the loaves may start to rise a bit more slowly. Whenever this happens, just leave the jar of starter out at room temperature overnight to speed its fermentation.
~If you are an infrequent baker, you'll need to drain off some starter and feed it at least once every two weeks to keep it alive.
~The starter separates in the refrigerator. This is normal. Always stir it well before using, and stir it well again when feeding.

Sourdough Bread (To make two loaves of bread)
5 1/2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)
2 cups starter
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. (Some sourdough books say you should not use a metal bowl.) Add the starter, and then the flour (I have found that in a dry climate, 5 1/2 cups is sometimes too much. I start with 4 cups and just add more as necessary until it's the right consistency). Stir, then knead into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, punch down risen dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X-shaped slash on each top, and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about four more hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

The dip I made to go with the bread was absolutely fantastic. I adapted a different recipe, but can't remember where I found it. This version is changed enough it's not really the same recipe anyway. It turned out so flavorful and delicious - I couldn't get enough!

Creamy Cheese Dip for sourdough
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 oz. black olives, sliced
Garlic powder and onion powder to taste (I added about a dash each)

Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer; beat until smooth. Refrigerate until serving.

To serve, cut top off a loaf of sourdough. Cut out the inside of the loaf and tear up inside and top to use for dipping. Spoon dip inside the emptied loaf of sourdough.

I didn't take a picture immediately after arranging all this on the plate, which I do regret. I forgot to take the picture until this morning, after the bread had been thoroughly mutilated. But it still looks delicious to me!